Thursday, November 1, 2012

Star Wars: Episode VII?

One of the bigger stories of the past week (in and out of that part of the news media devoted to speculative fiction) was the sale of Lucasfilm, and the Star Wars franchise, to the Disney corporation for four billion dollars. Making the story even bigger was the announcement that Disney will use its newly purchased rights to make another Star Wars film, due out by 2015.

The Star Wars films were, of course, foundational for me when I saw them way back when. Later I enjoyed the prequels, which I regard as having been treated unfairly by many a fan of the original trilogy. Still, I'm not sure how to feel about the prospect of Episode VII. Certainly the series offers an appealing universe, without real parallel in the history of Hollywood space opera, and the idea of returning to it in additional stories has its attractions. And as the films are expected to be based on an original story, there is at least an avoidance of the obvious complications entailed in filming the Heirs to the Empire trilogy (which, at any rate, seems at best a postscript to the larger saga of Episodes I through VI)--like recasting the roles of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia.

Yet, this franchise has already been very heavily mined at this point, so much so that I'm not sure the company will recoup its outlay to buy Lucasfilm anytime soon. And Disney's crassness can be nothing short of spectacular. Consider their lack of compunction about debasing their hit films with cheap straight-to-video releases (Aladdin IV: Jafar May Need Glasses only a slight exaggeration of their practices), from which they have graduated to big screen sequels no one asked for (like 2011's Cars 2). And frankly, wouldn't it be nice if filmmakers were actually allowed to work with NEW IDEAS, instead of being pressed into feeding the studios' addictions to old IPs, with the result that (the recent and highly anomalous Avatar excepted) our grand-scale space opera franchises all go back to the 1970s (Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien)?

At best I'm ambivalent--though yes, I would enjoy a good, new Star Wars film.

In Defense of the Star Wars Prequels

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