It’s Star Trek Month here at Flickering Myth, but as J.J. Abrams prepares to swap the Federation for a galaxy far, far away, Ozzy Armstrong celebrates Star Wars Day by looking towards the future of the franchise with Star Wars: Episode VII….
When people talk about Star Wars, most people immediately think back to the Original Trilogy – Darth Vader, Ewoks and fond childhood memories. After Return of the Jedi, we had to wait 15 years for the next episode and unfortunately the high hopes that we felt were swiftly replaced by annoyance, disappointment, and in many cases, hard-core fan boy anger. The next two offerings weren’t much better and left many of us wondering whether we’d ever see worthy successors to the original classics.
All was quiet for many years until the startling announcement came that not one but three new Star Wars films would be released starting in 2015. The internet has been abuzz with casting rumours, directorial choices and possible storylines but in the last few months several concrete facts have emerged which have left everyone simultaneously happy and worried.
Firstly, the director tasked with continuing the story of the battle between the Sith and the Jedi is none other than writer, producer and occasional director J.J. Abrams. Abrams is a sensible choice in as much as he seems to be a genuine fan of the subject matter, which can only help as he must have felt the ill-effects of the Prequels like the rest of us. He also has a great recent track record directing such movies as Super 8, Mission: Impossible III and of course the well-received Star Trek reboot. All this combined with an honest, enthusiastic and generally vibrant personality usually unheard of in Hollywood should make him the perfect fit for this behemoth of a franchise. Shouldn’t it?
While many people have praised the choice, there is a section of fans that is a little more skeptical. While he did a decent enough job with Star Trek, Abrams’ style doesn’t mesh too well with the Star Wars universe and the themes running through it. His ability to handle frantic action is wonderful but so far in his films it seems that emotional connection to characters isn’t his strong suit – which in terms of Star Wars seems like a very large issue.
The most common complaint however is his supposed love of ‘mysteries’ in his work. Looking back through some of his credits, you do notice a theme of the unknown and I ask you: is this right for Star Wars? Think of it like this; do we want to find out more about the mythology of Star Wars by investigating midi-chlorians (à la The Phantom Menace) or do we want to see excellent characters battling evil forces? I think we all know the answer there.
While people may talk about who could be a better fit, one issue that seems prevalent among many fans is simply “Why is it going to be Episode VII?”. The general thinking behind this is that the end of Return of the Jedi was perfect as it closed off all main story arcs and told us everything we needed to know, not really giving the option of a sequel (something horrifically absent from many modern movies). It also allowed us to imagine what all of our favourite characters would do after their trials and tribulations…
– Would Luke try and find out more about the Force?
– Would Leia and Han have a baby?
– Would Admiral Ackbar ever get to create his own cereal after destroying the Death Star?
All of these are questions that best remain unanswered but the news that original cast members – including Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill – are going to be involved conjures up some very worrying feelings. Even if they are just cameos and not fully-fledged roles, it does feel as though it’s for purely sentimental purposes, which is a huge blow. The writers and producers should be able to come up with something original instead of parading Harrison Ford in front of us to stir up memories of him and Greedo in the bar. Star Wars has a wealth of material available that could be explored such as the original Sith Empire, the Old Republic or a whole host of other stories. Of course, without knowing the possible story or direction they are taking, it’s very hard for any fan to have any serious gripes just yet. But, I’m sure there will be many when the time comes.
Further to this, there is of course the distinct possibility of over-saturation of the Star Wars brand. While there were many years between trilogies, there has always been a huge amount of merchandise available to satiate any cravings for lightsabers and Sith that we may have. With these ranging from books and comics to computer games, board games, television shows, Lego sets, collectibles and even phone cases; add in a distinctly horrible phone advert and we’ve had nearly as much as anyone could take.
And the new film will of course introduce a whole new line of products which can only muddy the waters further so we have to ask where the line is between ‘eagerly anticipating’ and ‘seen it all before’, a line which could be costly indeed if not paid attention to.
Am I nervous? Yes. Do I think it won’t be as good as the originals? Yes. Am I at all excited? How could I not be? In spite of all probable issues and future misgivings, I am at heart a big Star Wars fan and as such am very excited. Whatever feelings I have towards the idea of Episode VII, I will inevitably end up in the cinema with goose bumps on my arms as the classic music blares out of the speakers. And when I hear the iconic sound of the lightsaber crackling into life, I may begin to giggle like a little girl.
Whether it’s more of the same or a new and inspiring direction, time will only tell if the Jedi Empire does indeed strike back.
Ozzy Armstrong – Follow me on Twitter.