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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Top 5 Things We Want to See in Star Wars Episode VII



Star Wars being sold to Disney is the best news I’ve heard in film in a while. It seemed like the sequel trilogy was dead in the water after the prequels were almost unanimously disliked (I think they were decent movies. If separated from episodes IV, V and VI, they stand as pretty decent sci-fi movies, though certainly flawed). But the resurrection of the franchise and bringing in both Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, which he won an Oscar for, Toy Story 3, and the upcoming Hunger Games sequel) and JJ Abrams (if you don’t know who he is then you probably stumbled on this website by mistake and don’t belong here at all) is extremely exciting for a Star Wars geek like me. First off, I know there are thousands if not millions of people who think a new Star Wars movie is a bad idea. I couldn't disagree more, especially under these circumstances. The new movies are being produced by the most successful company in the history of companies, penned by an Academy Award winning writer, and is going to be helmed by a director with some serious geek cred who grew up as a Star Wars fan (just watch any of his TV shows or films for proof of this) and wants to make a movie that will make Star Wars fans proud. I think I've made my excitement clear. We already know there is going to be mind-blowing interstellar dogfights, state of the art effects from the folks over at Industrial Light and Magic and back flipping, saber-spinning, seizure-inducing lightsaber battles, so let’s get into the Top 5 things I want to see in the new Star Wars movie. 

Mark Hamill, or Meatloaf on a diet?
5. Go Easy on the Vets. Look, a bigger Star Wars fan you will not find but let’s face it, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are no Meryl Streep and Marlon Brando, and certainly less so in their old(er) age. These two have not gotten any more attractive as the years have passed and their performance creds have lingered around the Kathy Griffin level of acting (that is to say, not acting). While I absolutely love the fact that Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa Skywalker Solo Cougar Mellencamp will have parts in the new movie, I really believe it should be relegated to minor ones. I mean, I want to see them. I want to see what they’re up to and by all means I want them to play important roles, but I think limited screen time would probably be best for the pair. And this is certainly possible; think how important a role Emperor Palpatine played in the movies, and was really only given 3 or 4 total scenes were he didn't appear as a blurry hologram. Shit, look at Boba Fett, he has probably 5 scenes and says a total of 15 words and has since become one of the most popular characters in the history of science fiction. Harrison Ford on the other hand, we could probably stand to see a bit more of. He has been steadily acting (successfully) since Star Wars ended and is a legend in the field starring in some enormously successful movies. Just as long as his role isn’t that of a desperate father or husband trying like hell to clear his name or save his family. And as long as he doesn’t utter the words to a Russian terrorist aboard the ship that made the kessel run in twelve parsecs: “Get off my Millennium Falcon!” 

Sexy Mara Jade
4. A New Jedi Order. Who doesn’t love a good light saber duel? The strongest sequences in the entire prequel trilogy were the lightsaber duels (particularly the Darth Maul vs. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon scene from the first movie), so we certainly need to have some newbies who know their way around a lightsaber.  With Luke (and Leia) being the last Jedis in the entire galaxy after the death of Vader, the new movies seem to be lacking the Jedi or Sith adversary it so desperately needs. And with Luke and Leia being old farts now (how cool would it have been to see Leia as a Jedi in her prime?) their clearly has to be some new Jedis coming up in the minor leagues. I think the obvious route to go is have Luke and Leia opening a school for young Jedis to come and train under the only two Jedis left in the galaxy. With that, a pretty decent idea would be to have one or several of their students go rogue and betray Luke’s New Jedi Order. It’d be a good way to establish a sexy young villain that could last through the sequel trilogy. I’m also curious how many (if any) of the characters from the Expanded Universe will appear, and in what capacity. Mara Jade (Luke’s eventual wife with a somewhat troubled past) is one of the most complex female characters in the entire Star Wars Universe (much more so than Princess Leia) and has so much depth. I’d be surprised if they were to use some characters from the Expanded Universe (like Han and Leia’s kids Anakin, Jaina and Jacen [a possible candidate for the student who goes rogue]) but left out Mara Jade. 

Walter Bishop enjoying a cool Slusho
3. Some Sweet JJ Abrams Easter Eggs: JJ Abrams is famous for inserting Easter Eggs (or intentional hidden messages) into his work. Hidden Lost mentions in his works like Person of Interest, Fringe, and Cloverfield, the appearance of Slusho in Cloverfield, Star Trek, Fringe and Alias, the name “Kelvin” (Abrams’ grandfather) in Star Trek, Lost and Super 8 are all fun little hints that JJ Abrams drops into his works. We, as fans have come to expect Easter Eggs in all his works (one of which may play particular importance in my number 1 thing I want to see in Episode VII). I hope it is safe to assume that some of his frequent collaborators will also make an appearance (whether behind or in front of the camera). Greg Grunberg has appeared, in some less obvious ways than others, in almost every JJ Abrams Joint since Felicity. Damon Lindelof (another gargantuan Star Wars fan, see the little known TV show LOST for further references) has collaborated on multiple JJ Abrams projects and could potentially bring some fascinating new ideas to Episode VII (while Michael Arndt is the primary writer for the new movie, Lindelof is no stranger to rewrites, having rewritten my favorite Sci-Fi flick of 2012, Prometheus). It would be great if Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, and the satisfyingly chilling Let Me in) were brought in in some capacity, and eventually direct Episode VIII or IX (as Abrams is only signed on for VII). My suggestion for an Easter Egg would be for a character to say that he found a blue planet with a mysterious island that is responsible for keeping all of the evil in the world in and that moves when you spin a Frozen Donkey Wheel. 

2. Keep George Lucas Away: I love George Lucas. He is responsible for the best and most complex universe since… well, the Universe. His ideas have spawned incredible movies, fascinating video games and complex literature in the realm of science fiction. Not to mention his saga has created an entire generation of visionary scientists, filmmakers and writers (I would not be interested in science fiction or perhaps even writing itself had I need seen Star Wars and had my imagination expanded for the first time). All that being said, George Lucas should really have a minimal role in these movies. Yes, it’s his vision. Yes, it’s his franchise. Yes, it’s his universe. But look what happened when Lucas was allowed to write, direct, produce, edit, compose, distribute and basically have violent congress with Episodes I-III. The prequel trilogy was a substandard inception of the story of the Skywalker clan (as I discussed before, not bad as a standalone series, but as a predecessor to perhaps the most iconic trilogy ever conceived?).  As much as I love the man, I’m perfectly happy only seeing his name next to “Based on the characters created by:” and nowhere else. What worked about “Empire” and “Jedi” is that they were Lucas’ brilliant ideas brought to the screen by more capable directors and writers. That is what I believe we have here. A much more talented director in JJ Abrams and a brilliant up-and-coming writer in Michael Arndt, who has now been entrusted with three of the biggest franchises in recent memory (Toy Story, The Hunger Games and Star Wars). 

R2D2 outside the Enterprise
1. A Shared Star Wars and Star Trek Universe: I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not sure how feasible this idea really is. I mean Star Wars is set “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” (I still get chills when I see those words) and Star Trek is set in the 23rd century, the distant future. But the mere fact that JJ Abrams is responsible for rebooting the two biggest space-based franchises ever, presents us with a unique opportunity: set Star Wars and Star Trek in the same universe. Really, how cool would this be? I’m certainly no Star Trek aficionado so I couldn’t really begin to theorize how this could really happen. And by no means am I saying: “Hey! What if Captain Kirk and Han Solo opened a bordello together called Captain James T. NerfHerder’s??” or “How about Data is actually a much further advanced model of C-3PO?!” (I actually kinda like that one). But, in the same way JJ Abrams drops little hints and Easter Eggs into his work (like R2D2 in Star Trek), why not drop a random Romulan in the background of the New Republic? Or why not have a planet designated"Ceti Alpha V"? I'm just saying JJ, it's something to think about.

1 comment:

  1. 5)I agree that the older actors should not be the main focus of the film. I disagree with the notion, at least in terms of Mark Hamill, that he has not had a successful acting career since Star Wars. He was, in my opinion, the best Joker ever (even better than Heath Ledger), capping 19 years in the role with Batman: Arkham City. 4)I like the idea of the New Jedi Order, coupled with aspects from the Thrawn Trilogy thrown in. 3)I've only seen Fringe and Super 8, so I most likely missed likely missed a lot of the easter eggs in those movies. 2)This might be a tangent, but it does have something to do with the topic. When I was young, I used to watch the Universal Monster movies on VHS. Like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon that inspired George Lucas, these antiquated horror films had wooden dialogue, implausible scenarios, a tiny budget, shoddy effects, and the total violation of natural laws and logic. Star Wars was an homage to the science fiction of George Lucas' childhood. Although millions of people over the world have experienced it and love it, it was really only created for George Lucas and maybe a few of his friends, like Steven Spielberg. His horrid experience with how management butchered his first film, THX-1138, is what caused him to crave complete control over his projects. Personally, I find the Prequel Trilogy nuanced and while not perfect, its blemish are somehow more heinous that more grievous ones in the Original Trilogy ::cough:: EMPIRE ::cough::. ROTJ was kinda a retread of ANH while concluding events from ESB, with only the interactions between Luke and Vader having any real weight. The Special Editions (which I only have problems with Greedo shooting first [detracts from character development for Han], Vader saying "NO.NOOOO!!!" in ROTJ [better for audience to guess what he is thinking], and Vader's ghost being replaced by Hayden Christensan [Sebastian Shaw-No, not that Sebastian Shaw-had very little screen time]), helped to bring the world alive and make it feel less like a sound stage. 1) I'm just not sure about it. It was okay for E.T.'s species to appear in TPM and a Yoda costume to appear in E.T. because Spielberg and Lucas were longtime friends. One thing, once again in my opinion, that Star Wars is NOT is a Post-Modern piece. It'd be like Optimus Prime being one othe Ents in the background of LOTR: The Two Towers. It would just take me out of the moment, personally.
    -APK

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