Earlier this week, entertainment giant Disney announced that they bought Lucasfilm, the studio that brought forth the entire Star Wars franchise, for $4.05 billion. The company promises to “breathe new life” into the Star Wars franchise, announcing plans for an Episode 7 release in 2015.
For some, this is great news. Creator George Lucas will still be involved, albeit simply as a kind of “creative consultant.” Hopefully there’s still some magic left in Skywalker Ranch and the Lucasfilm studios to make something special.
On the other hand, there are those purists who believe this could only be bad news for Star Wars enthusiasts everywhere. These are the same fans who were angry when the original three movies were re-released and remastered, only to see that Jabba the Hutt was no longer an amorphous puppet. Yes, I was one of these people. I was raised on old VHS tapes of the original Trilogy. Those puppets made the movies.
With Disney, a company famous for endearing children’s films, and a penchant for acquiring everything great in animation under the sun (Pixar), the future of the Star Wars franchise is uncertain. How will Disney proceed with this legendary series?
Here are the pros and cons:
Pro: Star Wars-themed rides at Disneyland and Disneyworld. Disney has had the “Star Tours” ride and the “Jedi Training Academy,” but neither of these was a legitimate ride at the parks. Now, I eagerly anticipate a ride where one sits in the cockpit of an X-Wing fighter, desperately outrunning Tie Fighters through the galaxy, or possibly a speeder bike rollercoaster. You can bet that Disney will take full advantage of the pod racers from Episode I.
Con: Overuse of CGI and other special effects. Don’t get me wrong: lasers, crazy-cool starships and awesome monsters do it for me, and although I was not a huge fan of Episodes I, II and III, the Yoda-Count Dooku lightsaber duel in Episode II was nothing short of epic. However, it was a little too much. What happened to Yoda being a feeble little puppet Jedi? Or Jabba being pulled along by strings as he threatened Han Solo?
With the remastered editions in the late '90s, we saw small changes in the somewhat-lower budget originals that were there to make the movies slightly more modern and flow better. But, with Episodes I-III, they went crazy. It was cool, but after a while, too much is too much. In a franchise that was dominated by character development and plot structure, the addition of the insane amount of special effects detracted from that. So take it easy with the CGI, Disney.
Pro: Sequels. Sure, we know the backstory behind Darth Vader, Luke, Leia, and the current state of political affairs in that galaxy far, far away, but what happens to Luke and the gang after? This is the perfect opportunity for Disney to actually breathe new life into the franchise with Episode VII (and more). Exploring Han and Leia’s relationship, the fate of Chewbacca, Luke’s newfound powers--the possibilities are endless.
Con: The potential for more Jar-Jar Binks. Do I even need to elaborate? Jar-Jar was a character brought in to make the movie more appealing to younger children, but was so relentlessly annoying that all I wanted to do when he started talking was throw soda at the screen. And, since Disney primarily caters to younger audiences, there’s always that danger that they’ll bring back that goofball. Luckily, it would mess with the continuity of a sequel, since the Gungan race was nowhere in the original Trilogy. Please, Disney. Don’t try to revive them. I’m begging you.
Pro: The potential for MORE EWOKS. Yep. No more to say here.
All in all, it’s an interesting prospect. Disney is known for entertaining and does not often mess with a good thing. I am hopeful, and will be one of the first in line, dressed as Han Solo, blaster in hand, when those tickets for Episode VII are released. But I swear, if I see a single Jar-Jar looking character, there will be boos. I’m counting on you, Disney. May the Force be with you.