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J.J. Abrams responds to complaints that ‘The Force Awakens’ was a ‘complete rip-off’

Published Jan 11th, 2016 11:32AM EST
Star Wars The Force Awakens JJ Abrams
Image: Star Wars

No matter what you think about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there’s no denying that the film, penned and directed by J.J Abrams, is a rousing commercial triumph. The film has already smashed a number of box office records, including becoming the fastest film to ever top $1 billion in ticket sales.

While most people seem to have enjoyed the latest addition to the Star Wars series, others have absolutely thrashed the film for poor character development and less than stellar dialogue. But above all else, the one unifying thread that seems to link all critiques together is that the film’s overall structure is nothing more than a carbon copy of 1977’s Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

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During a recent episode of the ‘Awards Chatter’ podcast from The Hollywood Reporter, Abrams addressed such complaints head-on. As it turns out, mirroring much of what we saw in the original Star Wars film was a choice Abrams made consciously and one he felt was necessary. As a result, Abrams fully understands why some viewers left theaters wholly unimpressed.

I respect every reaction. I completely see that that is a problem for some people.

It was obviously a wildly intentional thing that we go backwards, in some ways, to go forwards in the important ways, given that this is a genre — that Star Wars is a kind of specific gorgeous concoction of George [Lucas]’s — that combines all sorts of things. Ultimately the structure of Star Wars itself is as classic and tried and true as you can get. It was itself derivative of all of these things that George loved so much, from the most obvious, Flash Gordon and Joseph Campbell, to the [Akira] Kurosawa references, to Westerns — I mean, all of these elements were part of what made Star Wars.

I can understand that someone might say, ‘Oh, it’s a complete rip-off!’ We inherited Star Wars. The story of history repeating itself was, I believe, an obvious and intentional thing, and the structure of meeting a character who comes from a nowhere desert and discovers that she has a power within her, where the bad guys have a weapon that is destructive but that ends up being destroyed — those simple tenets are by far the least important aspects of this movie, and they provide bones that were well-proven long before they were used in Star Wars.

The full interview is chock-full of interesting information that’s well worth checking out. On a related note, it’s somewhat refreshing to hear Abrams address complaints about the film in such a candid manner without necessarily dismissing them as being completely invalid.

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens now a done deal, Abrams made a point of noting that the franchise’s upcoming films are far more likely to veer into unchartered territory.

For anyone interested in listening to the entire podcast, you can download it via iTunes over here.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.