By Darren Franich
Updated October 01, 2013 at 06:26 PM EDT

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: J.J. Abrams, lens flares, joke joke joke. As a producer and a multi-platform pop storyteller, Abrams has become a defining figure of his geek generation. As a visual stylist, Abrams’ main contribution has been to fill the screen with lots of eye-tickling points of light flickering from every corner of his images. Spielberg did lens flares; Abrams loves Spielberg; Abrams does everything faster and more intense; ergo, Abrams uses lots of lens flares. Star Trek had lens flares and Star Trek Into Darkness had more lens flares, and it was beginning to seem possible that Abrams’ Star Wars movie would be a two-hour lightsaber fight composed almost entirely of lens flares.

Abrams is a lens flare addict. He knows it. And, as he tells Crave Online, “Admitting you’re an addict is the first step towards recovery.” In an interview from the Into Darkness Blu-ray release party, Abrams admits: “It’s too much. I apologize. I’m so aware of it now.” He even offers a personal anecdote about showing an early cut of Into Darkness to his wife, who at one point bravely admitted that she could not see what was happening onscreen because of the lens flares.

Abrams even consulted his pals at Industrial Light and Magic, who used the full weight of their futuristic film technology to remove some lens flares from the frame. “Which is, I know, moronic,” says Abrams, who looks chastened beyond belief — further proof that the response to Into Darkness was a sobering moment for the hitmaker. Anyhow, the important thing is that Abrams realizes that he has a problem, and he’s working to fix it for Star Wars. But he’ll probably still use lots of close-ups, because close-ups are totally sweet.

Star Trek Into the Darkness

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