Saturday, 18 May 2013

Star Wars Episode VII: Disney Strikes Back

I debated whether or not I should upload this post on Shared Universe Reviews. So far all my updates have been reviews or something akin to a review. I stated in my Mission Statement that I wanted to stay away from comic book or pop culture news. I’m still doing that. I can’t think of a future where I would conceive of doing such a thing. The problem is that I continue to read such news. I even hesitate to use the words news to describe it because it’s little more than announcement of forthcomings projects, trailers and previews along with a very large dose of rumours and speculation. It’s not something I want to be a part of but I inevitably am because I still read the stuff. That’s why I’ve got some thoughts on Star Wars Episode VII. There are very few facts in this post and most of it is just me spouting off my frustration with the news of more Star Wars movies, specifically by Disney. You know what though? This is my blog so tough. I’ve written two other rants because of stuff I’ve seen on the internet (one on Mark Millar and the other on Jules Verne being called the father of Steampunk (NO!)) but this is the first time I’ve actually posted one. It feels good to be the master of my domain! Shared Universe is mine and I will post whatever I will, consequences be damned!! Enjoy the read.

Star Wars Episode VII is going to be a big disappointment. I don’t want it to be. I want a good Star Wars movie I can enjoy but, how can it be anything else but a disappointment? Fans of the Expanded Universe, be it video games, novels, comics, tv shows or all of them combined, have steadily grown over the years. These fans included people who generally enjoy Star Wars movies and will go see another one if and when it makes it to theatres. All fans, from casual fans to fans that have read and reread all Star Wars material they could get their hands on and have wet dreams of their girl next door crush dressed up in Leia’s golden bikini. Most of those fans, including myself, will be disappointed.

The problem with a new Star Wars movie that takes place after the end of the original trilogy is that so much of the story has been filled in already. How can you make a movie that respects all of the story elements, characters, political development, alien races, et cetera, that are now considered Star Wars canon? You can’t. With nearly every choice the Star Wars Episode VII film crew make, they will be upsetting several Star Wars fans. The most frustrating thing about this is that the fans you will be upsetting more than most are the lifelong Star Wars fans. I’m talking about the fans that have read some books and played some of the video games. It’s those very same fans that introduce younger generations to the many galaxies of Star Wars. They are the lifeblood of the franchise. Casual fans or people who have seen the movies a couple of times will probably be less disappointed because their criteria for a good Star Wars movie are more relaxed. Spaceships, Jedi Knights, lightsaber battles, some dude talking funny, all of which happening to a John Williams score, they’ll be happy. They’ll probably enjoy new movies but only just as much as any other space opera film with laser guns and spaceship battles.

The fact that George Lucas won’t be involved will also have an impact. Say what you want about Lucas, he’s still the guy that created Star Wars, including all good and bad elements to be found in the movies. More importantly, the visuals of Star Wars are integral to Lucas’s participation in making the movies. Without him, who will say yay or nay to new designs and story elements? Say what you want about some of his decisions in the past, he has a profound understanding of all things Star Wars. Most importantly, Lucas is a visual storyteller. The dialogue in Star Wars is nothing spectacular and, quite often, it’s borderline terrible. The visuals matter more than anything else. In the prequel trilogy, the story barely even mattered.

One of my other concerns is the Disneyfication the Star Wars universe. Star Wars will never be considered serious science fiction, there is too much of a swashbuckler influence to the franchise, which is apt, considering the Robin Hood influence on the original trilogy. But there was a shift in Episode III towards a distinctly more juvenile story. Check out this link if you don’t believe. An article on Film Threat extrapolates, point by point, just what I’m referring too better than I ever could have. I don’t agree with the whole list, but it does a good job of pointing out some of the reasons that influenced the difference in tone of Return of the Jedi compared to Episode IV and V.  

Lucas shifted the tone back to something that is truer to Episode I and II in the prequel trilogy. Sure, I’ll definitively agree that there are several points of contention to be had with the prequels, but there big brush strokes, the larger story and the thematic importance, are all there. I believe that will be the greatest shortcomings in Episode VII and beyond. This is also missing in some parts of the Expanded Universe which seems to have embraced the swashbuckling more than any other aspect of Star Wars (that’s not entire true. The novels tend to focus one a few elements of the movies and expand on them, few, from what I’ve read anyway, have dealt with all the star wars elements in a cohesive whole while providing the reader with interesting themes or character arcs).

J.J. Abrams at the helm also worries me. Like many others I really like the latest Star Trek movies but it’s not a Star Trek movie. It’s a Star Wars movie pretending to be a Star Trek movie. It’s all lasers and crazy space action. Where are the interesting human and alien exchanges of culture? Where are the philosophical and moral discussions based on problems the crew of the Enterprise are facing? The little bits of Spock questioning his identity don’t count because it’s something we’ve seen quite a few times before. If Abrams can’t even keep some of the most defining elements of Star Trek in his movie, how is he going to keep the difficult-to-pin down elements that make up a great Star Wars movie? Not only that, but we already have an Abrams space opera movie and a sequel! Why do I want more of the same? Challenge me as a moviegoer and offer me a Star Wars movie I haven’t already seen before. I don’t want a rehash of previous movies and I don’t want a diluted movie that panders to the most juvenile person sitting in the theatre and I don’t all my science fiction to be filtered through Abrams and I don’t want an R2D2 spin-off à la  Wall-E. You know what? Maybe I don’t want another Star Wars movie at all. Strangely enough, as soon as I typed that I was a bit sad at the thought of never seeing another Star Wars movie. What’s the solution here? Could it be the one-off Star Wars movies we’ve heard rumours of? There might be far more potential for good movie that focuses on one already established characters than there is with a new trilogy that follows the end of Return of the Jedi. What do you think? What are you concerns with new Star Wars movie and how would you address them?

One final note: have you seen the redesigned of Merida from Brave before Disney inducted her as the 11th Disney Princess? That’s the sort of nonsense I’ve come to expect from Disney. For more on that, check out this great web comic from Dork Tower.Nothing more needs to be said on that subject. Expect a ridiculous Disneyfied Star Wars Universe that will suck.

1 comment:

  1. Oh jeez, I will have nightmares of stormtroopers wearing Mickey Mouse ears. I truly hope Disney doesn't become the Death Star and destroy the Star Wars franchise as if it were Alderaan!

    There, a good nerdy reference in a comment lol. ;)