Monday Morning Question: What To Do With Star Wars Episode VII?
As noted, I heard about new Star Wars and I was originally a little bit “meh.” That is, until I realized that the new film is going to be coming into my son’s life at around the same time that the original film did for me. Suddenly I envisioned some kind of crazy father-son generational sharing thing where we can both high-five over our own respective trilogies and, I dunno, frown at that weird “prequel” trilogy that keeps hanging out in the corner and throwing up in a potted plant. Right? Right. HA HA HA STUPID JAR-JAR HIGH-FIVE, SON.
So. Disney has the films. Michael Arndt is writing.
And, until proven otherwise, J.J. Abrams is directing.
This is not a post about J.J. Abrams directing. (For the record, I think it’s a good fit. He appreciates the magic and mystery of storytelling, and to me any weakness he may have had has leaned toward the script side of things, and that shouldn’t a problem here.)
What I want to talk about is what you or I would do with the new Star Wars film. A pontification, if you will, of what direction to send the new films. This is always dangerous territory because you set up expectations and then when a thing doesn’t meet your needlessly elevated expectations, you get mad (“I bought this dog but I wanted a duck, ZERO STARS”).
Still, fuck it. I am geek, hear me yawp.
Here’s what I’d do with the new Star Wars films, should anybody let me near them.
• The films must continue the generational advancement of the Skywalker clan. Which means: Luke or Leia’s gotta have kids and this film has to be about one or several of them.
• Let’s see a female protagonist all up in here. A Skywalker daughter.
• Doubly interesting if it’s Leia’s daughter. Luke more in the background. Hey, why not?
• Since we’re getting all progressive up in here, I think it’s time to banish the racist miasma that hangs over the films (particularly from the prequels) and cut all the white-washing. White-washing is a big thing in film (“Hey, that character’s black but in the film we can make them white for no other reason except we’re all white and yay whiteys!”), and if Star Wars proudly does no such thing, maybe it’ll lead by example.
• Fuck politics. Listen, I give the prequels credit for actually being unusually on-point in terms of our own political situation here in the country, particularly post 9-11. Good job. Except, it was really, really boring. Listen, politics make for a great Extended Universe thing. I’ll read your Star Wars novel/comic/pamphlet about galactic politics (okay I won’t), but in the films? Cut it out.
• Let’s make it about adventure. The original trilogy has a great sense of adventure to it — dire, suspenseful adventure, but adventure. The same kind of adventure you feel in the Indiana Jones movies. The kind you don’t feel in the prequels. I want that back. Like, the first trilogy has the vibe of a D&D group coming together — cleric, rogue, paladin, whatever. MORE OF THIS PLEASE.
• No Mara Jade. Actually, let’s ditch the Zahn prequels. I love them. I do. But, yeah, no.
• Fuck that green-screen. Okay, listen, I’m not an idiot: while I think the new Evil Dead film should be given big bloody high-fives for (apparently) filming without any CGI at all, I know in a film like Star Wars you’re can’t escape CGI. But what’s on film is nearly always more effective when the CGI compliments a real set with real objects and real people. No more “actor talking to a tennis ball on a stick that will eventually be replaced with some jabbering alien.”
• Plus, you’ve seen that “photos of impossible places” post, right? Pick three of these places, and film some awesome shit there. You don’t need to invent whole new places with CGI. The real world is full of alien landscapes. Tatooine = Tunisia, remember?
• Also, the style shouldn’t be all glitzy-shiny. Keep the trashed-junk motif of the first three. It felt more real. You can polish it up a little, but it’s been a generation — still okay to showcase a galaxy climbing out of the hole dug by an oppressive Empire.
• Minimal Jedi. The original trilogy highlights the power of the Jedi by minimizing their presence — hell, Anakin Skywalker really did “balance the Force,” because he basically left the world with two light-side dudes and two dark-side dudes. Then the prequels come along and it’s like EEEE JEDIGASM but before too long it just looks like a bunch of cosplayers running around with glowy boners. Let’s not fast-forward to a time where suddenly it’s Jedi-palooza.
• Write it like a young adult story. Coming of age, whatever. Teens with teen problems.
• I don’t see how you can’t have the Sith as the enemy in some capacity — Sith and the Dark Side are inescapable. But what else? Is this about a resurgent Empire? I feel like we’ve been there, done that. They’re not going to be building a third goddamn Death Star, I mean, c’mon. So, who’s the enemy? What’s the conflict? Emperor’s dead. Vader’s dead. Death Star went kaflooey. The Empire felt pretty gone to me. But evil never dies. The Dark Side remains. So…
• To go back to the teens thing — value in a Jedi Academy story? In the Harry Potter mode? The drama of young Jedi soon compounded by a sinister conspiracy?
• If anyone in the film says “Midichlorians,” I’ll karate kick a theater usher. That poor guy.
• You need all the old actors and characters, but keep all but one to the sidelines. One of them can serve in an Obi-Wan like capacity — the old mentor, Gandalf coming into the world to help save it. The obvious choice is Luke, but damn if I don’t wanna see a cantankerous Han Solo fill that role, instead. But but but — if Luke is sidelined and this is about Leia’s kids then Luke can be the “crazy uncle,” ala Ben Kenobi. Hmm.
So, with all that said —
What would you want to see in the new films?
What would you do, if you were in charge?