Wednesday, 31 October 2012

On 31.10.12 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments
Film cynic attention-grabbing headline of the week - Disney have purchased Lucasfilm, giving them control of the Star Wars brand, and intend to revive the film series under a new team of filmmakers and produce Episode VII for 2015, followed by - take a deep breath - a new film every two years.

Despite my fanboy affection for the original Star Wars trilogy, my immediate reaction to this is one of cynicism. The two main reasons for this are the Star Wars prequels and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

The original Star Wars trilogy was big Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking at its best; an accomplished fun adventure. Sure, George Lucas tailored it for a mass audience, and it lacks the distinct charm of British sci-fi such as Doctor Who, but the result is infinitely watchable and genuinely does feel like a lot of care has been put into it; a big budget Flash Gordon, with influences ranging from Westerns to Joseph Campbell and Kurosawa. I even like the Ewoks. Since then, however, the series felt like nothing more than an attempt to milk all the money possible from the series, with no real storytelling care put into the prequels - a jumped up firework display of a toy advert, according a very well argued Simon Pegg.

So where could the new films go? If they're set after the original trilogy, there's a load of expanded universe content to draw upon. There's a trilogy of novels by Timothy Zahn called The Thrawn Trilogy which seem like natural successors to the original trilogy; keeping all of its swashbuckling style and expanding on the main characters' lives in a way which feels both truthful and cinematic. The problem with adapting that is that it's perhaps a little too low in scale, with the main villain being a fragment of the Empire already brought down in the film trilogy; Disney will only want to go bigger and better, as those Hollywood types are wont to do. There's also, of course, the practical matter that Mark Hamill et al. have aged considerably more than five years since Return of the Jedi.

The other major piece of post-original trilogy fiction is the New Jedi Order, a massive book series  following a much older version of the original cast and their children as they fend off a galactic invasion from a sinister alien species. The problem with adapting this is that it's rubbish; frankly, this is where Star Wars fiction lost its grasp on what made Star Wars great and descended into dry, overly serious, drawn-out pulp.

So Disney will most likely be wanting to create their own stories and characters, to expand on the Star Wars universe how they see fit. Wherever this would be, my main feeling is that Disney would be milking a series that already lost its charm quite some time ago. Just like they did with the Pirates of the Caribbean series. 

Pirates was a similar situation condensed into a smaller time frame. Pirates 1 was great, Pirates 2 not  entirely awful, Pirates 3 soul-gratingly offensive, and yet they carried on relentlessly in the face of shitness, like a profit-spinning Wile E Coyote. I haven't watched Pirates 4 and don't intend to watch 5 or 6.

To sum up, I'm cynical. On the other hand, they haven't done a bad job with the Marvel banner, so let's keep an open mind, eh?

There is another potential silver lining to this. As Nigel Floyd pointed out on Twitter, George Lucas has, for many years, been stating his intentions to make a smaller, more personal film. Maybe now that he's relinquished his overpriced playground, he'll get around to that.


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