J.J. Abrams loves lens flares. Some would argue that the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens loves lens flares a little too much, and there is no better example of his overuse of the effect than Star Trek Into Darkness, a movie so full of lens flares that it has become part running joke, part cautionary tale.
Abrams heard the criticisms, though, and dramatically cut back on the lens flares for The Force Awakens. That in itself is not surprising, but what might be surprising to some is where some of that criticism came from: Abrams’ own wife, PR executive Katie McGrath.
Abrams has mentioned before that McGrath was not a fan of the lens flares in Star Trek Into Darkness, but brought up the subject again recently when he appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote his newest production, 10 Cloverfield Lane.
“Katie’s told me to stop a lot of things. But lens flares, I was like ‘OK. I’ll stop with it.’ There was one scene in Star Trek into Darkness where you literally couldn’t see what was going on, and it was a very important, emotional scene. Alice Eve, the actress, was somewhere behind this crazy lens flare glaring, and Katie looked at me and said, ‘OK, I think this is it.'”
Abrams seems to be on somewhat of an atonement tour as of late, admitting not only to his previous overuse of lens flares, but also to mishandling a certain key scene in The Force Awakens. Having directed movies for two of the most popular science fiction series of all times in recent years, Abrams has certainly gotten his share of criticism from fans who have strong opinions on how the movies should have been made. While he hasn’t agreed with all of the criticisms, he at least appears to be open to change.
With Abrams continuing to take more of a producer role with upcoming projects such as Star Wars: Episode VIII and Star Trek Beyond, his particular visual style will no longer be front and center in those films. However, his legacy may still live on in filmmakers who have learned the wrong lessons from his past films and continue his tradition of overusing such stylistic trickery as lens flares and jump zooms. Here’s hoping that those filmmakers will have spouses as honest and forthcoming as McGrath.