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Every J.J. Abrams Sci-Fi Movie Ranked from Best to Worst

J.J. Abrams on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Find out which J.J. Abrams science fiction movie is the best and the worst. J.J. Abrams is now directing Star Wars Episode IX and fans are on the fence. He's done some amazing films but made some stinkers too. Abrams has had a long career and is loved by audiences. He's been a writer, director and\or producer on all these films.

Find out which J.J. Abrams movie is a blockbuster and which is a bomb.

1. Star Trek (2009)

J.J Abrams produced and directed the reboot of the Star Trek movies. After ten movies based on the Star Trek franchise, Abrams faced a daunting task. How to revitalize the franchise after the failure of Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) and the end of several Emmy award-winning shows?

In the 11th film, the story is taken back to before the television series and follows the crew of the original USS Enterprise on their first mission. They fight to stop the evil  Romulan captain Nero from destroying the United Federation of Planets.

At this point in Abrams career he a newbie at feature films. He’d directed popular television series like Alias and Lost. But this is his second time directing a theatrical film after the popular Mission: Impossible III (2006).

Working off a script by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, Abrams set out to bring the fun and excitement of the original series back to the films. While he admitted he was a Star Wars fan first he used that perspective to make a movie that was accessible to newcomers. The movie is funny and thoughtful with mind-blowing action scenes. It’s Abrams' greatest science-fiction film.

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

After revitalizing the Star Trek franchise, what’s a visionary director to do? Tackle Star Wars of course. J.J. Abrams served as co-writer, producer, and director of the first sequel to Return of the Jedi (1983).

Set 30 years after the destruction of the Death Star and the Galactic Empire, the movie follows a group of unlikely young heroes as they help the New Republic battle the evil First Order. Along the way, they uncover surprising clues about General Organa’s Jedi brother Luke Skywalker.

Abrams had become a hot director after two successful Star Wars film. He was reportedly reluctant to enter the Star Wars franchise. But, as a child, he had preferred the Star Wars movies and decided to tackle the film.

Working alongside Lawrence Kasdan he helped craft a story that felt familiar, but fresh and new. While some have complained that the movie borrowed too much from the originals he felt that it was important to have familiar elements before branching out into new territory. The controversial prequels had broken new ground and introduced some wonderful new elements. But the prequels didn’t capture back the magic of the first series of films.

Abrams succeeded wildly and introduced new and exciting characters, brought back familiar ones and took us on a wild ride through the galaxy.

3. Cloverfield (2008)

J.J. Abrams produced this found footage “low budget” ($25 million) horror movie. It’s about six young people who find themselves trapped in New York during an attack by a massive creature. They make their way through the city to find their friend and escape the city.

While Abrams didn’t write or direct this movie it was his vision that created it. The concept came to him in Japan. He was doing promotional tours for Mission Impossible III. He and his son went to a toy store and noticed all the amazing Godzilla toys.

"We saw all these Godzilla toys, and I thought, we need our own American monster, and not like King Kong,” Abrams told the crowds at Comic-Con 2007, “I love King Kong. King Kong is adorable. And Godzilla is a charming monster. We love Godzilla. But I wanted something that was just insane and intense."

There are a bunch of “found-footage” horror films and most are terrible. This is one of the few handicam first-person style gems in the sub-genre. The movie is paced perfectly by director Matt Reeves and filled with emotional scenes that make you quickly fall in love with the main characters instead of rooting for the monster to stomp the life out of them. Drew Goddard’s script ending is problematic but wraps up to a satisfying conclusion. P.S. Watch for the after-credits scene.

4. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

After the runaway success of Star Trek, Abrams was under a lot of pressure for the follow-up. Could he keep the momentum going? The answer was a critical success, but the first of Abrams missteps. Star Trek Into Darkness picks up where the last movie left off. After a terrorist attack on Starfleet, the Enterprise crew go on the hunt for the mastermind.

Abrams again returned as a producer but he almost passed on the director's chair. He finally agreed after the script was done. He’d done a number of films like the comedy Morning Glory (2010) and his second MI film Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011).

The film was a commercial success but lacked some of the humor, fun, and excitement of the first film. The biggest plot twist in the film was contrived and obvious. The action often overwhelmed the character development. There are scenes that inexplicably reference scenes in the original films and the movie suffers for it.

It’s not a failure by any stretch of the imagination, but it shows that Abrams’ films can drown in his own creativity.

5. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

J.J. Abrams talks about 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Abrams is a producer on the “kinda-sequel” to his 2009 hit film. In this movie, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is taken into a shelter by a mysterious man (John Goodman) and his friend (John Gallagher Jr.) who say the world is being wiped out by a global disaster. As time goes on she begins suspecting there's more going on than she's led to believe and plots her escape.

By now, Abrams was a hot commodity after several blockbuster hits. While he was constantly talking about the first Cloverfield he's more than happy to have others talk about 10 Cloverfield Lane. Technically this isn’t a direct sequel to the original, but a “spiritual successor” of the first movie.

All the action and charm of Cloverfield are gone from this film. It's replaced with psychological drama and intrigue. It's also boring. The movie treads water till the end when it suddenly turns into an action movie before revealing one of the most poorly conceived “twist” endings in movie history.

6. Super 8 (2011)

Abrams served as co-producer, writer, and director on Super 8 (2011). The found-footage movie follows a young film-maker and his friends as they try to uncover the strange events and their connection to a creature in the small town.

After the blockbuster success of Star Trek Abrams was able to slow down and work on a passion project.

In 1989, Abrams met director Steven Spielberg at a film festival. They talked about him writing a possible Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel. Years later J.J. Abrams conceived this film as a throwback/homage to Spielberg's early films like Close Encounters of a Third Kind and E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial. Spielberg even produced the film.

For an original film, it’s well done but it's too predictable. It captures the fun of coming-of-age movies like Stand By Me with the thrills and visual dazzle of modern blockbusters. Unfortunately, the ending feels forced and makes the film mostly forgettable.

7. Star Trek Beyond (2016)

After J.J. Abrams went to work on the Star Wars film there was speculation that he wasn't going to work on Star Trek anymore. Plus the demands of working on high-profile blockbusters are too much even for Abraham. So he didn't return to direct the third film in the franchise. Justin Lin, best known for the Fast and the Furious movies jumps into the captain's chair to lead the production.

After a devastating attack in space the ship crash lands on an alien planet. It’s revealed that an alien dictator Krell is searching for a relic the Federation unknowingly possesses.

The plot is paper thin and the characterization is weak. While director Justin Lin crafts heart-pounding action scenes they feel lifeless and forgettable without the character depth the last two films have. Abrams wasn’t a writer or director on the movie, but he did take an active part. Whether that helped or hurt we’ll never know, but it came out terrible.

8. Forever Young (1992)

The screenplay for Forever Young was written by J.J. Abrams. The movie is about a test pilot in 1939. After his love falls into a coma he asks his best friend to turn him into a human popsicle. He’s accidentally awoken from the cryogenics experiment by kids 50 years later in 1992. Hijinks ensue.

In the 90s Abrams spent time as a screenwriting “doctor”. "I was part of that machine of screenwriters that goes from project to project, but over the years had found myself doing things that weren't so meaningful," Abrams told The Guardian. This is one of those scripts. Abrams sold Warner Bros the spec script for “The Rest Of Daniel” for $2 million in 1990. That was the most ever paid for a screenplay at the time.

The story is so full of cliches and sentimental pablum that it falls apart even before the ludicrous ending. For the 1990s it’s a lame film, but by today’s standards, it’s abysmal. Forever Young doesn’t age well.

9. Armageddon (1998)

Armageddon (1998)
Armageddon The movie is about a massive asteroid due to collide with the Earth. A rag-tag of deep-sea oil drillers are sent into space to try and blow it up before it hits. is one of J.J. Abrams early screenplays. He had written several other movies like Gone Fishin' (1997), Regarding Henry (1991), and Taking Care of Business (1990). This is the worst movie he ever worked on. But it’s not entirely his fault.

Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer, hired a total of nine writers to work on the script starting with Robert Roy Pool. J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Hensleigh, Tony Gilroy, Shane Salerno, Paul Attanasio, Ann Biderman, Scott Rosenberg and Robert Towne all tweaked and refined the script. So it’s impossible to say which part he worked on.

Hopefully, he didn’t write cringe-worthy lines like “Requesting permission to shake the hand of the daughter of the bravest man I ever met” or “Did NASA find oil on Uranus, man?”


Which is your favorite J.J. Abrams movie and why? Which do you hate and why?

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  1. That's about the order I'd put them in. I've never seen Forever Young though. I might also bump Super 8 up a bit. Amazing he's had his hand in the two biggest 'Star' franchises ever.

  2. I loved all of the Star Trek films. He's handled them so well. The word reboot can be scary, but they went in the right direction.

  3. The exact opposite of how I'd rank his Star Trek films, and I think The Force Awakens is far better than any of them.

  4. The Force Awakens and Star Trek: Into Darkness are out of position, they are both terrible movies.

  5. I hated the first two Star Trek movies though Beyond was slightly better. I liked Force Awakens and Super 8 probably the most on this list.


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