This week in bummer news: bonkers Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro turned down an offer to direct Disney's upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. Del Toro, whose awesome Evangelion-lookin' robots v. aliens flick Pacific Rim is set to hit screens in July, said he was simply "busy enough" with his own projects right now, probably liberating candy princesses from Dracula dragons, or some such.
Disney must now seek A New (directorial) Hope, as Del Toro's polite resistance to their offer is only the latest of several such rejections. J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, and Ratatouille director Brad Bird have each been approached by the studio, and each has summarily declined a role on the project for one reason of another. To quote the cast of Star Wars...
Del Toro might be out of the running, but we think asking him was a step in the right direction. It shows Disney producers erring more toward whimsical fantasy than Abrams-style explosions-for-explosions-sake shenanigans, which is the right move for this B-movie reboot. The offer also got us thinking: Which, of all today's talented working directors, would be the most qualified to turn in the best new Star Wars possible? We came up with five entries for our Fantasy Filmmaker team. Check 'em below, and tell us if you agree in the comments!
1. James Cameron
As if he'd have any time, working on the next two Avatar sequels while doggy paddling to the Earth's lowest depths and all, but like Cameron, we're dreamers. Think about how gorgeous and expansive the JCam version of a galaxy far, far away would look; think about how epic and operatic the sound and cinematography would work together. The best part of this deal: Titanic director Cameron doesn't have to write a single page! Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt has already been poached for the screenplay, so there's absolutely no risk of seeing Han and Leia clasp wrinkled hands together and mutter cheesy nothings as the Millennium Falcon sinks sadly into the sea.
2. Ridley Scott
Even during days when papier-mache was considered the height of mind-zapping special effects, Ridley Scott was building worlds so immersive they were unsettling to inhabit for two earth hours. Between the release of Star Wars episodes IV and V in the late '70s, Scott took the world to space on his own dystopian terms via cult classic Blade Runner and just-plain-classic Alien, and his vision hasn't let up with age. Last year's Prometheus was so crazy tense it had us birthing alien babies in our seats, and once we clean all that mess up we'd be more than ready to drool over the dark and dangerous universe that would be his Star Wars.
3. Terry Gilliam
From his legendary quest for The Holy Grail to a recent tumble into the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, this Monty Python graduate has always had a touch of the crazy, and we love it. Early attempts at world-building like the Lewis Carrol homage Jabberwocky and the dimension-hopping adventure Time Bandits combined the joyous spirit of the Python crew with exuberant extra-terrestrial exploration—and that's a necessary combo for any Disney-produced space opera.
Oh, and, uh…"ni."
4. Christopher Nolan
Props to the man who took an orphan in a leotard and turned him into a hardboiled ninja super-detective with enough gravel in his voice to pave the Wayne Manor driveway in a single cough. Given a cast of Jedis and space pirates to populate his spinning hallways, Nolan could give the campy cast of Star Wars a coat of high-stakes gloom like no other. Is a brooding neo-noir the kind of Star Wars people want to see? Probably not. Would it be totally badass? You betcher bat-thong.
5. Peter Jackson
The modern master of the fantasy epic is long overdue for a trip outside Middle Earth (and frankly, we're long overdue a trilogy that isn't driven by hairy dwarf feet). PJack would rock this series—rock it, baby, like the Mines of Moria—and the hardest part of his job would just be explaining why Tatooine suddenly looks so much like New Zealand.
Who is your dream director of Disney's Star Wars: Episode VII?