PCP: Rehash of the Jedi
Star Wars: Disney gives this galaxy A New Hope
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 02:11
If anyone has doubts about how Disney will handle Star Wars and the rest of Lucasfilm, take a look at the revamped Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Tons of people, like me, will always have a place in their hearts for the original Star Tours. It was a true classic of a theme park ride, and it will be missed. But Star Tours: The Adventures Continue is by all accounts an extremely entertaining ride through a meticulously rendered universe. It’s been made at incredible expense, presenting a different experience with every ride, and is packed with in-jokes and trivia for Star Wars fans.
If Star Tours is good example of Disney’s management of outside franchises, The Avengers is a better one. Against conventional wisdom the mouse kept its hands off the Marvel universe, and oversaw the hiring of a widely worshipped auteur who elevated a good superhero story to brain-searing, first-rate entertainment.
Jesus, I sound like Gene goddamn Shalit. But my point is still valid: Disney can breathe new life into Star Wars, and give it hope. Dare I say, A New Hope? Sure, like any other impossibly gargantuan corporation, Disney is ruthless and cruel with its content and its policies. Some Lucasfilm stuff and Star Wars stuff will be lost in the shuffle—will I ever get my Pixar Grim Fandango movie?
But if Disney makes the right choice and gets an iconoclastic, talented director—Alfonso Cuarón, Ang Lee, Danny Boyle, Guillermo del Toro, or a young up-and-comer who has yet to make their name—to direct Episode VII, we face the incredibly exciting prospect of not just a respectable Star Wars movie, but a really good and artistically relevant Star Wars movie.
There’s always going to be an avalanche of Chinese-made Star Wars crap. The franchise’s merch is already reaching deadly levels of self-awareness. But when you’ve stamped Admiral Ackbar on anything that could possibly be made out of plastic and made three movies that just about everyone hates, there’s nowhere else to go but up.
It’s basically a win/win situation: Star Wars becomes newly relevant, and George Lucas gets to channel his unique and often annoying gifts toward smaller, more Quixotic films and make his own Death Star out of $50 bills. To paraphrase that old starship jockey Han Solo: get cocky, kid.
The original Star Wars trilogy rules. It’s not too hard to argue. There’s the dashing rogue, the princess in peril, the mystery of the force, and the battle between good and evil.
Lucasfilms is the production company responsible for the creation of Star Wars in 1977 and was recently sold to Disney for $4.05 billion dollars in October. GeorgeLucas states that he sold out in order for the series to have a “longer life.”
Why, though, does it need one?
Star Wars was a success because it was the first of its time. The original trilogy’s storyline, characters, and innovative visual effects all lead the series to become a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon.
However, it was only when the series was continued 16 years later in 1998 when there was a problem. Though popularity was still high, Star Wars Episodes I-III tanked, gaining terrible reviews and tainting the franchise. Let’s not even start with Star Wars: The Clone Wars the CGI television series and film remake put out in 2008.
History proves that remaking or continuing films decades after their original release dates is almost always a terrible idea: Planet of the Apes, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Poseidon, Nightmare on Elm Street, Psycho. All of these were terrible remakes of historically wonderful films. Why blemish the original series by, again, continuing the series?
Disney is no doubt able to offer the state-of-the-art technology to create breathtaking films. However, Star Wars isn’t Avatar or The Avengers. The appeal of Star Wars is the classic hero’s journey, not necessarily the flashy digital effects and action scenes. The clunky and silly looking duel between Vader and Kenobi in A New Hope has ten times the emotional resonance as any of the elaborate action scenes in the prequels and, unfortunately, anything we’re likely to see in the sequels.
Just because it’s possible to continue, doesn’t mean it should. Why can’t audiences just appreciate the genius of the original Star Wars trilogy and leave it in the past? Drilling at the same bit will eventually run it thin, which is the last thing that we want to happen to this series.