Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Unluckiest Numbers in the Galaxy

It has happened.
Disney bought Lucasfilms. They want to make. A Star Wars Episode 7. 8. And 9. Guys. A Star Wars sequel trilogy. Do you get it? More Star Wars in an era where a five-year Clone Wars franchise and a spinning, jumping Yoda were thought to be good ideas. I mean, just say it out loud: Disney bought Lucasfilms and has green lit a Star Wars sequel trilogy! It’s a mouthful of horrible-sounding syllables. But… why is that so?
With each movement cinema has been through since Revenge of the Sith disgraced our silver screens, we’ve been seeing disappointing contributions to the sci-fi fantasy genre: Transformers is an explosive mess, Pirates of the Caribbean became too self-aware for its own good, Harry Potter went missing in action, and even Star Trek doesn’t explore space so much as it punches people. A fearfully recognizable possibility of lightsaber-filled movies to come looms forth in geek minds everywhere… and we tremble.
We dread another awful Star Wars movie.
First off, let me declare here that I’m not reviewing anything with this article but examining what is behind at least my own personal anxiety surrounding this news. Read also: pardon the many vagaries and broad ideas.
Let us take a much-needed breather and look at the chances for a sequel trilogy as 50/50, given three masterpieces and three shit-pieces. Luckily, the criticisms of the prequels are widely known that they might be learned from. Thus, the upcoming post-Return of the Jedi project could fall either way, but with a name as hyped as Star Wars, the efforts needed could really only produce one extreme or the other. They’ll either go too far with story-weak flash and glam or work carefully to create a quality picture.
Joss Whedon managed the latter achievement with Avengers, making a movie that worked magnificently in marketing, the surface level of fun, and the deeper levels of art and storytelling. Couldn’t the same be done with the galaxy of Luke Skywalker?
Star Wars is one of the prime components in geek culture, one that we feel can offer a story to match in quality with its effects sequences. In one sense, Star Wars as a six-film set has been a perfect illustration of geek likes and dislikes. Remember: we love stories. Yes, we also like our space battle candy and our silly references to “the droids you’re looking for”, but the movies, books, comics etc. that remain most with us have well-told stories. We who are fans of Star Wars long for a continuation of the marvelous saga that enraptured us.
But what about “live and let live” and “it’s only a movie”? Why not hang up your critic’s coat and just enjoy it? Why is it so important that familiar movies be made well by the standards of the culture they appeal to?
It has to do with how we enjoy them.
            When a movie is done well, we can enjoy it, discuss it, think about the ideas, analyze characters, and ultimately achieve the escapist element by getting immersed in the content. When they are done badly, we get stuck in the tangled web of what was technically wrong about the movie and then it all becomes so much minutiae, pragmatism, and nitpicking.
            So, what to think about these nerve-wracking newcomers to our pop culture family? Well, obviously that’s up to you, but since you’re reading for my take, I say: don’t actually panic. Come what may, we’ve always got our pure original trilogy and all the Force it retains. Even if Episodes VII – IX will suck and even if they do tarnish another big expected Star Wars revival, remember that no matter what, the first transport is away.

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