Monday, November 05, 2012

Free Advice For Disney On The Next Star Wars

After digesting what is probably the geek-news of the decade, I’ve accepted the fact that there will be new Star Wars movies – in perpetuity, probably – and that these will be further and further removed from the film that made such an impression on me as a child. George Lucas decided to retire, secure his brain child with a corporation that will mint money off of it until it’s public domain - or they spend enough money lobbying in Washingtonto prevent that  - and let go of the reins once and for all.

There are inherent pros and cons with this. I’ve found myself growing more and more excited about the idea of a new Star Wars movie, especially one set in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi, that could potentially feature so many of the characters and elements that people felt missing in the prequels.

So here’s some free advice from a life long fan to Disney on how they can not just make money, but believers out of a willing but skeptical fan base (if it goes bad - we know it – there will be blood):

1)      Two words: BIG. FUN. Star Wars returned from it’s first long sabbatical in 1999 with Episode I, and what many consider to be a Disney movie; it’s big, bright, silly and harmless. But since then, the series and its TV offshoot The Clone Wars have been increasingly dark, brooding and infatuated with the decline of the Republic and Darth Vader. Ok. Got it. Let’s go back to the big fun of the original trilogy, the optimism and panache of those films.

2)      Two more words: Emotional investment. Of all the criticism levied at the prequel films, the most on target certainly has to be the fact that we felt nothing for the characters. The writing in and many cases the acting prevented any kind of connection. Watching the prequels felt at times like watching a video instruction manual. From the get-go, the new films have to make us care about its characters, and the stakes involved.

3)      Dance with the one that brung you. One way to get people involved is to bring back some of the characters from the Original Trilogy, who should still be around in whatever timeframe this occurs in (purely speculation at this point, but most of it assumes something like 20-30 years). The most obvious and popular choice is Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, forecasted by Lucas himself when he initially discussed the idea of an Episode VII 30 years ago. For me, this is a must have. Seeing Luke in the role of the wise old wizard would be tremendous. And not just him; if Carrie Fisher or Harrison Ford can be persuaded, why not. The ageless characters – R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca even (Wookies live for hundreds of years don’t you know) – will be on hand certainly, so let’s get the whole gang back together for one last hurrah.

4)      It’s Star Wars, stupid. It’s not rocket science. Lightsabers, space battles, fathers and sons. The magic seemed to have gone from the prequels but others – namely Genndy Tartakovsky in his Clone Wars micro series and to a certain extent, Dave Filoni in his larger 3D series – have shown that they can bring the swagger and spirit of old fashioned Star Wars back. Let’s see it!

5)      But don’t forget to give us something new. Some tropes in Star Wars are played out. I personally don’t want to go back to Tatooine again. Also, we don’t really need to blow up a gigantic ball shaped object again. The biggest opportunity for these films is to give us vistas and creatures and worlds that we haven’t seen yet. Star Wars is the biggest universe in fiction – let’s see more of it, not the same corner we’ve been in for the last 15 years.

I’m cautiously optimistic about a new trilogy. On one hand, a lot of fans have what they want: new Star Wars films without the heavy hand of George Lucas. On the other, they have the reality of that, whatever that is. It could be the movie they always wanted, or it could be pilot-less. We’ll have to wait and see.