Discussion: The Promise of Episode VII

In an effort to build more of a community here, I’m gonna try to regularly do posts like this in addition to all the movie reviews. So to start a new series, I figured I should do it with a bang, and no recent film bang was louder than the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney. Whatever you or I thought about how horrible those prequels were in comparison to the original films, I’m very optimistic about the future of the series outside of Lucas’s hands. No matter what Disney cooks up for Episode VII, it’s bound to be better than the prequels, right?

You would think, but then there’s that key detail about the sale where Lucas also sold them very detailed story outlines of Episodes VII, VIII, & IX. The idea of another Lucas-scripted trilogy is not one that I welcome, but the fact that they aren’t scripts is a sign of hope. Who’s going to be working on it—top men, I’m sure— is still unknown, but I imagine that whoever they get can pull together a better script than Lucas.

But really, the main reason I’m actually excited again for what Star Wars might bring to the screen is held in the fact that Disney has committed to bringing Episode VII to the screen. Not a sidestory, not another prequel or an Old Republic tale, but Episode VII. And with Episode VII, this essentially means that it’s almost a foregone conclusion that it will include the elements that most fans would deem necessary to the success of a Star Wars property: The Empire, Stormtroopers, X-Wings, Tie-Fighters… the list goes on (and I’m not assuming that it would have any of the previously established characters). By focusing on Episode VII, Disney will—hopefully—be bringing the series back to what made it famous.

Will Lando make a triumphant return in Episode VII?

This is one of the key flaws of the prequel trilogy in my eyes, and while I have to applaud Lucas’s “artistic integrity” for “doing something new” and throwing every iconic design out the window, that’s an uphill battle that never should’ve happened. Nobody remembers the shitty ships in the prequels (except for the uninspired silver SR-71), but everyone knows the X-Wing. Hmm, I wonder why. Oh, that’s right, it’s because it looks like an X! Iconic, simple design, and if they’re making new ships (C-Wings, anybody?), then ideally they will be able to make ships that fit alongside these greats. So hopefully Disney learns from Lucas’s critical error and gives the fans a movie full of X-, A-, B-, & Y-Wings dogfightin’ every configuration of Tie-Fighters known to man. They should also look deeply into creating a major villain that lasts the entire trilogy. No one is going to be as badass as Vader, but someone formidable enough to last three movies is a definite step in the right direction after the cavalcade of dumb villains the prequels offered.

But really, even the promise of a Star Wars film with all those things that made me love Star Wars is a sticky proposition as it could easily tread all over my fond memories. And it’s gonna be absolutely dripping with CG. Oh God, imagine a new Star Wars film that made a commitment to stop-motion and  practical FX. I can’t think about it too long or else my head will explode. And besides, it would never happen anyway.

Hmm, I don’t know. Could go either way, but I’m definitely excited about Star Wars again. That hasn’t happened in years.

What do you think? What would you like to/not like to see in a new Star Wars film?

 

15 comments to Discussion: The Promise of Episode VII

  • Whatever they decide to do, as long as it’s a live-action feature, I am there on opening night.

    Discussion over.

    😉

    • Wow, giving them that kind of free range seems generous on your part! “Whatever they decide to do”? What if it’s Episode VII: The Return of Jar-Jar? You never know!

      I’m not sold for an opening night just yet, but I’m eagerly awaiting the trailer whenever that comes out in a couple years.

      • Stephen

        I think if it’s “Return of Jar-Jar” Rodney can claim the technicality of it not being live action.

        • I’m hoping for a live-action kaiju film where a man in a Jar-Jar suit stomps a mini-Coruscant set for the entire runtime. It’s a planet of buildings! It’s a movie of non-stop destruction! It’s fun for the whole family!

          I’d totally watch that.

        • Indeed, I can and will. I would, however, watch any film where a scene included Jar Jar in the belly of a Sarlacc, digesting for a hundred years.

          • “Oh, me so hurt so bad! Whysa you godda be so mean, Wodney?”

            Hahaha, but you just reminded me of something else that I’ll potentially enjoy about Episode VII! No Boba Fett! I hated how they smashed him into the prequels for no real reason other than fan service. Perhaps we’ll see some more of those other awesome bounty hunters, though! I love those guys.

            But I have a feeling that it will be set like 40 years later, and thus won’t be much like what I want it to be like.

  • Matt Reifschneider

    I have to be optimistic! I’m not some sort of die hard to begin with, but the promise of new writers and better directors should excited anyone.

    I agree about the villains.so many potentially awesome villains were cut down far too quickly in the prequel trilogies for more complex storytelling. It was crap. How could you screw up Christopher Lee as a Star Wars baddie? Just ask Lucas.

    • I was a die hard in my youth, up until the release of Episode I shattered that. I saw it 4–5 times in the theater, hoping that it would get better with time, but I became more and more disappointed with it over time as it slowly eroded all the goodwill the originals had built up. By the time Episode III came out, I didn’t even see it until a month or so after it came out. But yeah, new creative talent is a big boost!

      Hahaha, I know! Christopher Lee could have been massive, but instead he’s given a shitty name (pun intended) and not much to do. Boo.

      I can’t imagine it’ll be the train wrecks that the prequels were. Like you, I’m being optimistic!

  • Stephen

    I’m honestly still pretty worried. To me, the big thing that sent the prequels down the drain is that they were aimed mostly at children. Sure the originals had their own campy feel at times, but I never felt like I was watching something dumbed down for kids, and that’s what things like Jar Jar and little Anakin felt like. Since Disney’s bread and butter is even more childish material that anything Lucas ever did, I can’t work up much excitement.

    I’m not writing it off, and it really can’t be worse than the prequels, but I’m keeping my hopes in check until I get some proof that everything’s going to work out.

    • Oh, I’m most definitely worried that it’ll be awful filth, but I have hope that it won’t be as bad as my imagination has the power to go. They’re aware of the bad blood Lucas has with fans, and if they want their “new SW every 2–3 years” plan to work, it has to excite the fan base. But then you could argue that the prequels did fantastic business despite an intensely negative response, so it may not even matter if they’re all that good. But look at the Marvel film franchise. Disney owns them now and they are allowing Marvel to shepherd unprecedented, comic-style cinematic arcs. If nothing else, I think Star Wars as made by people other than Lucas will be far more interesting than the prequels.

      You’re right that the original films never felt specifically aimed at kids, and this is one of their strengths, but they’re also a product of their times. The ’70s and ’80s were much more lenient with what could get into a PG-rated kids movie, so in order to keep that PG rating on the prequels he couldn’t necessarily have smugglers blasting bounty hunters in rundown dive bars. At least that’s the “giving Lucas the benefit of the doubt” way to think of it.

      Jar Jar and Kid Anakin were huge missteps, and I always thought that if they were gonna do the prequels it should’ve started with him in his teens or so, and then keep the same actor all the way through for continuity (and to echo Luke’s arc). Then in part 2, instead of the incredibly stupid, thinly veiled fan service of “oh shit they’re cloning Boba’s dad into stormtrooper-like clone troopers!” but then having the actual clone wars unfilmed, we woulda got a dark middle film of Obi and Anakin kicking ass and takin’ names together. That would’ve built their relationship up much better for the eventual downfall too. Oh, and why the fuck weren’t those clones just Stormtroopers? The prequels are just constant fuck ups in my opinion, on nearly every level. Even when there was a great opportunity to include an iconic piece of the originals, Lucas reinvented the wheel. I would imagine that others wouldn’t be quite so bold.

      But one of the only things that I love about the prequels is the production design during the last act of Episode III. That film is easily the worst of the trilogy to me; it sends me into uncontrollable fits of rage. And I say that without hyperbole. The last time I watched it a few years back, I had the house to myself and I literally talked to myself for hours about how fucking awful it was. Anyway, during that last act there’s excellent recreations of the original Star Wars ship interiors and stuff, and it made me think about how great the entire trilogy could’ve been if they had adhered to a similar style of designs, and really tried to sync everything up. If Episode VII can do something like that, goddamn! I’ll be through the roof.

    • The prequels were aimed at children? I think a more accurate statement might be “they were aimed at adults with childish intellect.” Take The Phantom Menace, for example: what kid understand about “trade federations” and “blockades” and why the fuck the Queen of Naboo is elected by popular vote? None that I’m aware of.

      Seriously, people wanted Star Wars and all we got was two hours of a bunch of people arguing like little children in front of a green screen. We had to wait a whole film to see a fight between three full-blown Jedi warriors in Phantom Menace.

      Then it got worse in Attack of The Clones, where the action, while looking cool, had sweet fuck all to do with anything we gave a crap about, and people STILL stood around on green screen sets trying to emote to shit that didn’t exist.

      Revenge of The Sith was okay in parts, although the poorly executed transition of Annakin from White Knight to Sith Lord undermined everything Lucas was working towards.

      The prequels weren’t designed for children – they were designed for imbeciles.

      I, for one, am glad the reins are no longer in Lucas’s hands.Disney can’t possibly screw it up any further.

      • Stephen

        Well, there certainly are a lot of imbeciles out there. One of them found his way to where I work and started up a random conversation because I happened to be standing there. (you always know something is wrong when random strangers spontaneously decide to explain things to you) Somehow the guy got onto Episode III, and he told me, with wide eyed awe and wonder, that Vader really IS Luke’s father after all! As if it had been some kind of mysterious rumor that no one could verify until then.

        But the franchise took a real childish turn with the prequels. Like Will mentioned, they made tons of money despite all the hate. And they made that money off children, who almost always love Jar-Jar. The whole franchise is aimed at kids now. How many Star Wars products in the past ten years have been aimed at anyone over the age of twelve? All I can think of are the Bioware video games, and the Force Unleashed video games, none of which had any relation to the prequels. There are dozens of kid’s books, but nothing along the lines of Timothy Zahn’s novels or the Darkhorse comics which added real depth to the world and its lore.

        Maybe the prequels themselves weren’t specifically childish, but they sent the series in that direction, and now I can’t even take that world seriously as a source of stories. I suppose this is a case where I have just become too jaded by all the garbage to get excited over the name anymore. The franchise has burned me too much now to do more than raise an eyebrow at the new developments. When the movie actually comes out, and if it’s good, I might start to care again.

        Anyway, number one on my list of things to avoid is Jedi with guns. I was never so disappointed with Obi-Wan as when he decided to take down whichever villain it was, I can’t even be bothered to remember, with a fucking blaster pistol. Really? That was your big finish? How lame of a Jedi do you have to be to resort to guns? You’re supposed to be cooler than that Obi-Wan!

        Something I would like to see is a reversal of the Rebel/Empire fortunes. Then we could get the X-wings and Y-wings and such looking shiny and brand new as the Rebels gain power and affluence, while the Empire forces take on the grungier just-scraping-by look that the Rebels always had. It would be a simple way to get both the nostalgia of the originals and still have a look and feel of it’s own.

        • Your first paragraph – Dear God.

          Your last paragraph – Interesting… unlikely, but interesting.

          Personally, I’d like to see them go the Zahn novel route (the Zahn novels with GA Thrawn are the only SW books I’ve read) and set the last trilogy after events in ROTJ, but after that I’m keen to see them explore more of the untold stories of the SW universe.

          As long as they don’t “dumb it down” for the kids, I’m relatively jazzed to see Star Wars given a new lease of life – I hold out hope it’ll turn out for the best. I can guarantee, though, if Disney screw it up with Episode 7, it’ll spell the end of the whole shebang from a fanboy point of view. It’ll become a shell of its former glory.

          ….If it isn’t already, as you alluded to.

        • I love the switch of the Rebel/Empire forces that you suggest! They must do it! Get me Kathleen Kennedy on the phone!

          There’s actually a fairly healthy stream of adult novel series, all kicked off by the fun Zahn trilogy (of which he’s done a few more, but I can’t vouch for those). I know in one they killed off Chewbacca. Anyway, “adult” product does exist, but the majority of it is definitely for kids.

          I think they could make a successful film that can appeal to kids and adults alike, such as Avengers did. I think that Lucas burned the franchise down to the ground already, so anything they can do to it now is more picking up the pieces and rebuilding that love. So I have hope.

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