Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Disturbance in the Force?

Today's purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney seemingly came out of nowhere, at least to me and apparently everyone I know.  Like with anything, opinions seem to be all over the place.  As so many thoughts were going through my head when this came out and more and more thoughts seem to pop up by the second, I thought I would get them all down in a blog post.  If anything, I can look back on this in 2015, the year the next film is set to release, and see how much of this comes true. 

The first opinion I have read a lot is that this will be a disaster as Disney will ruin the franchise, make it too much for kids, etc.  People who have those thoughts have apparently not seen episodes I, II, and III.  Was there ever a film series that took such a drastic change in tone as this series did going from the original trilogy to the new trilogy?  The new series is totally for kids.  Lucas has even come out and said as much.  It's childish with childish jokes.  Yes, C3PO and R2D2 were comic relief in the original trilogy, but not anywhere to the childish extent that the new trilogy has with terribly silly CGI characters.  Not even the Ewoks were that bad.  And why do people automatically think that because Disney is in charge, it will be childish.  I don't know about you, but the general consensus is that the Avengers film was pretty damn good under the Disney brand.  And was it childish?  No.  Someone actually posted that because it is Disney owned, we will probably see people like Justin Bieber and other kid friendly people star in the movie.  C'mon, let's not be asinine here!  Remember that little film called Pulp Fiction released by Miramax?  Not very kid friendly, right?  Who owned Miramax when the movie came out?  Right, it was Disney.

Ok, so if Lucas is gone and can't make any more movies like the newest trilogy, then we can expect nothing but good things from Disney, right?  Well, again, not so fast.  Lucas is gone, but Kathleen Kennedy will be in charge of Lucasfilm now for Disney.  Who is she?  On the outside, she has been a very successful producer for some of the best (or funnest) films in recent times - E.T., the Indiana Jones films, Goonies, the Jurassic  Park trilogy, Back to the Future trilogy, Schindler's List, Sixth Sense, and countless other hits.  Not a bad track record, right?  She's pretty successful and knows about being involved in great films.  But just this Summer, she left her own production company to join Lucasfilm and become his second in command.  Fast forward a few months and Lucas sells his company with the stipulation that Kennedy be the new head of Lucasfilm.  It's just too convenient.  I just have to believe that this has been in negotiations for a while and that she was brought on with the big picture in mind.  So with her in charge, I just wonder how much influence Lucas will have in the decisions she will be making.  Are we really free of the questionable decisions he has been making in recent years?  I am not so sure.  Sure, she could be completely independent of him, but I am skeptical just because of the timing of all of this. 

Ok, so regardless of how we feel, a new trilogy IS coming.  They have already announced that Episode VII will come out in 2015 (which Lucas has already said he has mapped out so being totally free of him appears to be out of the question).  So the question has to be asked - what SHOULD the new trilogy be about?  Should this be set way in the future after Return of the Jedi or should it be close enough to the ending of Jedi so that we can bring back Luke, Leia, and Han?  Obviously, most people want to see these iconic characters back, and really, how awesome would that be to see these people we never though we see again?  Yeah, BUT, the counterpoint is, what if they do come back and they absolutely ruin the characters?  It could be a boost the series needs or it could leave a bad taste in our collective mouths.  I would love to have the lasting memory of the characters be positive rather than bring them back for something embarrassing.  Just know, Ford's wish was always for Han Solo to be killed off so if his character does return, prepare to watch one of the best characters off all time to lose his life.  Not something I am sure I want to see.  Or hey, maybe they will surprise us all and do it right?  But just to be safe, perhaps way in the future is the way to go.  Who knows?  I'd be willing to bet money that we will see two certain droids in the film, for sure. 

In the end, this is all happening and the next couple of years as more news comes out will be quite exciting.  The recent trilogy, despite my thoughts on it in this post weren't the worst movies in the world.  But then again, they weren't the best either.  I enjoyed parts of them, but if they had never been made, if the only part of Star Wars lore that I had in my memory was the original trilogy, I wouldn't be at a loss.  These new movies have a chance to further ruin the original trilogy's legacy or it has a chance to redeem the franchise.  George Lucas created something that is very important to me and then proceeded to tarnish it because of questionable decisions.  With him "somewhat" gone, what will happen next? 


Mom said...

Excellent post and a lot to think about. My first reaction was disaster too, but after reading many of the comments as well, it is definitely food for thought. I am looking forward to 2015 either way to see which way this all turns out. I guess we will know even sooner once we start seeing tidbits of casting, etc. so let's all keep our fingers crossed.

Sal said...

Although I know you can't see my account anymore, I mentioned on Facebook that I'm more or less indifferent at this point. That will likely change as the hype starts to grow, but as a big fan of the franchise, or at least the original films, I should be far more excited. Or far more worried. Or far more something. In my opinion Lucas relinquishing control of Star Wars came about fifteen years too late. The Prequels kind of killed it for me and in fact I can't remember the last time I watched any of the films, the originals included. That doesn't mean I no longer like them, of course. It simply means that I have to some extent moved on.

When I heard the news I didn't immediately think "disaster"; it certainly could be, but I'm guessing that a critical disaster is more likely than a box office disaster. Star Wars fans will buy anything in the hopes of recapturing the nostalgia they felt for the original films. That being said, I'm concerned by Kennedy's involvement. As you point out, I believe she was hired by Lucasfilm specifically to be in charge after the acquisition by Disney. I'm also concerned about Lucas remaining a creative consultant, though I question how much overall control he'll have. He's apparently written treatments for Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, which has a lot of fans concerned, but I don't think this is a problem as he mapped out the stories for the Original Trilogy but declined to write or direct Episodes V and VI. This is the level of involvement I would have preferred he have in the Prequels, to be honest.

I'm also concerned about how Han Solo will be used in the trilogy. Given Harrison Ford's interest in seeing Han killed off in Return of the Jedi, I would be surprised if he returned for a new film and I fully expect that the character will have died in the thirty-plus years between films. If they do manage to get Harrison Ford back I assume he'll be killed during the film, and I'm sorry but I don't want to see that. That's a fundamental problem I have with continuing the series with the previous group of characters. They've attained legendary status, and I question the prudence of killing any of them off, even if doing so would be a great move dramatically. Some complained that the Prequels tainted their view of the originals but I think that killing Han Solo, or any of the characters could taint the Original Trilogy even further.

I'm aware that Disney-produced Star Wars films will likely be immeasurably better than the Prequels. I'd like to be more pleased about this, but the fact is that the story is for all intents and purposes complete after Return of the Jedi. I don't need a new post-Jedi trilogy. I would have preferred a better backstory, one that would truly have made the six films feel like one cohesive unit, but it's too late for that. So I guess we have to make the most of what we've got, and what is to come in the future.