Samuel Brace on four things that Disney has got so right with Star Wars…
Navigating the toxic pages of the internet can open oneself up to a host of narratives that are infuriatingly mendacious. This is, after all, a place where dwellers operate routinely in schadenfreude and where negativity rules the day. It’s hard not to get sucked into it all, it’s very difficult not to engage in it yourself (I know I have) and it’s even harder still not to be lured into believing that the animadversions promulgated are the views of the majority. You see, the internet isn’t a place for the majority; it isn’t a place for calm and rational discussion. Only the vocal minority can thrive here and only censorious asseverations attract enough collective bandwidth to gain any traction. A perfect example of what this wretched hive of scum and villainy can be capable of is the bizarre levels of antipathy that often surround Star Wars – namely the content created by the franchise’s new owner, Disney.
This company went to the underworld and brought Star Wars back from the dead, or at the very least returned it to the light of day, where more than the most zealous of fans could catch a glimpse of it. And while 90 percent of what Star Wars has conjured since its return has been nothing short of triumphant, unwarranted vitriol towards what the vast majority are enjoying so greatly is sadly prevailing over everything else. It’s hard to hear the millions who say quietly: “That was great and I can’t wait for the next one” over the angry but impressively determined few who shout: “Disney sucks! They ruined Star Wars”.
It seems to me rather clear that Star Wars is in the best place it’s been since Return of the Jedi and for those who will bark vituperations across cyberspace that the Disney area of Star Wars has plunged to depths uncharted by the prequels, well… I won’t insult their intelligence by suggesting they really believe what they are saying. This isn’t a dig at the prequels in any way – certainly, these films are far from perfect and are littered with frustrating flaws but they nonetheless have a certain magic about them and are replete with fond Star Wars moments, especially Revenge of the Sith – a film that only improves with the passage of time. The Disney era of Star Wars films is clearly an improvement in a number of areas and most importantly of all has breathed new life into this most beloved of franchises and if anything only further compliments what has come before. With this in mind, I thought it prudent and hopefully a nice change in tone, for those open to receiving it at least, to delve into a handful of things Disney has got so right with Star Wars. The wins are legion but I’ve assembled four that stand out in particular that deserve our recognition.
The original trilogy era of Star Wars films is known for its gorgeous visuals. Even when looking back on these now decades old movies, they stand out as top-notch cinematic eye-candy, especially The Empire Strikes Back – a film with the most iconic of aesthetics. The key to what made Star Wars feel so real back then was in large part thanks to the way it appeared on screen, as the world felt lived in and this galaxy of planets felt like it might actually exist somewhere out there far beyond our reach. This is an area that was severely lacking in the prequels. Not only were these films unnecessarily riddled with obnoxious CGI – the practical approach of the originals (at that point a must) sadly abandoned – but they also lost that grounded look that brought this universe to life. Luckily, the sequels have returned to both practical effects and that much needed grubby and dirty visual style that was a signature of the franchise. The new films look glorious, over the top CGI is not to be found, the ships and environments appear real, and the cinematography is on par with anything that has come before it. A film’s visuals are the window through which we explore a story and this is a department in which Disney has certainly triumphed.
A careful and growing embrace of the prequels
Disney and Lucasfilm were in a tricky spot when it came to the scale of presence the prequels would have in their Star Wars content – mainly in this new era of live action movies. With the animosity many feel towards the prequels, especially from those who grew up closer to the original trilogy, it’s not hard to understand why Disney decided to tread lightly with both references and characters that stemmed from that period in Star Wars history. It seems to me that they took the correct approach, focusing on recapturing the magic of the OT while still sprinkling in references to the prequels occasionally to remind everyone that yes, the events of the clone wars did indeed happen. Some would have liked to see more of this and that’s an argument that can certainly be had but it also seems like Disney and Lucasfilm are trending in this direction anyway, with more and more call-backs to characters and events from this period finding their way on to our screens, especially in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Restraint was what was called for but not outright amnesia and Disney has done an admirable job in this area.
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