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Disney to do Star Wars? I thought they already had...
Like a news laden Star Destroyer, if you move in movie circles you probably haven’t been able to avoid this week’s big story; George Lucas has flogged the Star Wars empire to Disney, who purchased Lucasfilm this week for an eye-watering $4billion. The media never credits the general public with much intelligence and were set to run with stories of angry fanboys burning Mickey Mouse effigies. But once again us film fans have proved the newsmakers wrong. We’re not as dumb as they think we are.
Star Wars isn’t the sacred cow it once was. The three prequel movies smashed the whole franchise from atop its pedestal and Lord of the Rings ran off with most of the pieces. The disappointment at the time was palpable but thirteen years on from the shiny CGI turd that was The Phantom Menace (1999) this is no bad thing. Untouchable status removed the franchise is opened up to all kinds of exciting possibilities. Fans no longer worry about the Skywalker legacy being trashed as George Lucas has done this already, partly. Its time to rebuild Star Wars confidence and most fans recognise this as something exciting to look forward to. In an odd twist, the three sets of trilogies may begin to mirror the original trio of films; the 1977 to 1983 films as the classic Star Wars: A New Hope, the 1999 to 2005 films as the gloomy difficulties of Star Wars: The Empire Strike Back, and 2015 onwards as the celebration and fun of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
We’re also supposed to be worried about the lack of George Lucas control. The beardy one has said that he will retain "creative consultant” status and has already mapped out a basic story for episodes seven to nine. But there will be someone else in the director’s chair and this is no bad thing. Where Lucas got his reputation from as a legendary movie director, I’m not quite sure. There was a twenty-two year stretch between The Phantom Menace and his previous directorial effort, Star Wars (1977), and prior to that he only directed twice before, THX 1138 (1971) and American Graffiti (1973). And people wonder why Episode One was such a clanger. Lucas still has his role to play, no doubt. Star Wars is his baby and he fully deserves all the plaudits earned and continued involvement for creating this marvellous world. But imagine how much better further instalments would be with the likes of Christopher Nolan or JJ Abrams taking the reins. Or even more exciting than that, Lucas’ buddy Steven Spielberg.
The news has been met with some grumbles, chief amongst which is the thought of Disney as new Star Wars overlords. Some idiots are bemoaning the fact Tatooine and Alderaan will now be overrun with childish, family friendly, day-glo coloured Snow White wannabes. What these nerf herders fail to realise is that Disney stopped operating solely as Jungle Book peddlers years ago. They are now a massive multi-national company, overseeing the likes of Marvel Comics’ movie arm and the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Disney also owned Miramax back in the days when that studio was knocking out offerings like Pulp Fiction (1994). Anyone that is worried about having to stomach a Disney-fied version of the Star Wars galaxy really needs to get a grip.
More to the point, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’ve already had the Disney / Star Wars hybrid; just rewatch The Phantom Menance and Attack of the Clones. Jar Jar Binks, Boss Nass and the Gungans, little "Anne” Skywalker, it all stunk of old school Disney kiddie baiting. If the very worst happened and 2015’s Episode Seven got the full Disney treatment take solace in the fact that it won’t be any worse than what Lucas served up at the turn of the last century.
So worries aside we can start looking forward to three new Star Wars movies, something that is well worth getting excited about, albeit with a watchful eye on the manic hysteria that preceded the 1999 return. By the time Revenge of the Sith (2005) was released the harm had been done and fans were reticent. This was a shame as the movie was a good one, with a wonderfully dark story and some great set-pieces. Its ace in the hole was the last act when the Star Wars universe we all know and love reappeared on the big screen; it looked and felt fantastic. This is what Disney Lucasfilm needs to recapture. Talk of new storylines has already gone into overdrive, and there’s a mountain of extended universe literature to draw upon from novelisations to computer games. But lets be honest, what we all really want to see is Han, Chewie, Luke and Leia back up on the screen. Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and the rest might be a bit arthritic these days, but they’re not old yet; just look at Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones role. Lucas tried introducing new characters and it was a bit hit and miss. Blend the old with the new and get the original gang back with some well-written new faces along for the ride. But for the love of Yoda, keep Lucas away from dialogue writing duties. "Yousa thinking yousa people gonna die?” – we will if we have to stomach much more of that crap.
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