The Top 5 Things Disney Should and Shouldn't Do With the New Star Wars Trilogy
I originally wrote this article for my friend's video game website called Known Griefers (www.knowngriefers.com) and was published in November 2012. Since it's publication, Disney has already done something I said it shouldn't (see #4) and rumor has it that the original cast may be back on board (see # 5).
In case you’ve been hiding out in a hut on Tatooine and haven’t heard the news, last week it was announced that the Walt Disney Corporation purchased Lucasfilm and the rights to all Star Wars properties from George Lucas for a cool $4.05 billion. Shortly thereafter, Disney said it would start production on “Episode 7” for a tentative release date in 2015. With this news, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster. On one hand, I am HUGE fan of the original trilogy and would love to see more Star Wars movies in my lifetime. On the other hand, I remember all too well the letdown I felt after experiencing the prequel trilogy. Disney has all the cards in their hands and is in a unique position to bring back the magic from the original trilogy. Here are the top 5 things I feel Disney should and should not do with the new trilogy:
5) Should: Bring back the original cast. Should not: Hire too many big name actors or “hot at the moment” actors.
How exciting is it going to be seeing Luke Skywalker back on the big screen? What made Star Wars a household name back in 1977 wasn’t just a sci-fi movie spectacle that wowed the audience with special effects; it was a movie that had a cast of compelling and unique characters that you cared about. I realize that Harrison Ford is 70 years old, Mark Hamill is 61 and Carrie Fisher is in her late 50’s, but rumor has it that the new trilogy is set decades after the events of Return of the Jedi. Therefore, seeing older versions of Han, Luke and Leia is a no-brainer. The original cast MADE those characters compelling, and I would love to see them reprise their roles once again. Sorry to all of you fans who like Samuel L. Jackson, Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman, too many big names take away from the story. Instead of seeing the depth of the character, you have trouble getting past the name of the actor or a previous role they have already depicted. And if I see Robert Pattinson in this movie, I’m going to throw up.
4) Should: Hire a director that puts the story first. Should not: Hire a director who puts spectacle first.
Too many times in movies, a director likes to put on a show of explosions or special effects to wow the audience. In my opinion, Star Wars needs its dramatic elements to make it work. The dramatic elements come from a well written story and script, not by how many times something blows up on screen. I think a few directors who fit the ideal role of a storytelling director are Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Serenity, the Firefly series), Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) or John Avildsen (Rocky, The Karate Kid). Please, Disney, please stay away from Michael Bay or J.J. Abrams. I don’t think Christopher Nolan would work either. As much as I am a fan of Inception and the Dark Knight Trilogy, Mr. Nolan is a little too existential for the Star Wars Universe. Give us a director that will do Star Wars some justice!
3) Should: Provide new characters that have substance. Should not: Introduce new characters that are cute and kid friendly.
Well I know I’m going out on a limb here, but we are talking about Disney. Simply put, Disney should stay the course of The Avengers. There wasn’t anything cute about that movie and it worked. As much as I love George Lucas for creating one of the things I love most in life, some of the characters strayed from what made Star Wars great (see Jar-Jar Binks and the Ewoks). You can argue that R2-D2 is “cute” but that character was functional and had his own personality. When the characters are cute and kid friendly, you run the risk of your movie being seen as a vehicle to sell toys and becoming the dreaded “sell-out.” We want characters with substance, and we want to care about them. I don’t want to see a character become responsible for starting an Intergalactic civil war because there was a huge fall out from his or her creation (see again Jar-Jar Binks).
2) Should: The style should fit the story. Should not: Have the story fit the style.
This point may be hard to see, so I’ll explain the best I can. George Lucas created the story of Star Wars, and then had to practically INVENT the special effects to make it, and has since turned ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) into the premier special effects company in the industry. It’s almost as if the prequel trilogy was written to accommodate the fact that it was going to be almost entirely computer generated. The style of a movie should always serve the substance. I think Disney should go back to the roots of the original trilogy and not completely rely on computers to visually tell the story. Dust off the old models, and of course throw in some computer effects if you have to, but not at the expense of telling a great story.
1) Should: Put the story first. Should not: Have any ideas from comic books or novels adapted into the story.
I’ve been harping on this the whole time, the story needs to come first. This ties into also finding the right director as in number 4 above. Another rumor is that George Lucas has already turned over the story treatments for the next trilogy, and I’m hoping it’s mostly original. Too many of the comics and novels dealing with the story after Return of the Jedi have been slightly unworthy of what we’ve come to expect from a Star Wars story. I think Timothy Zahn is a great writer, but why would I want to see Luke Skywalker not be able to use the force, as he was depicted in the middle novel of his Grand Admiral Thrawn Trilogy? Give me a break. This new trilogy should tie into the original trilogy with no gaps in the story and recapture the depth of the core characters that all of us grew to love.
I feel like Disney is giving all of us a new hope (you like that reference???) that maybe we will be able to see a Star Wars movie that recaptures the magic we all felt the first time we saw the original Star Wars. Let’s do it Disney. You have the money and the know how to “make it so.” Whoops, wrong character. “Do or do not. There is no try.”