Something a bit different today as we talk about something beyond our normal Theme Parks and Halloween stuff. Something that's been hyped up a lot this week ...
Unless you've been living under a rock you'll know that there is a new Star Wars movie coming out this December, and that this week a new trailer was released and that online tickets went on sale and broke all kinds of records and the internet (sorry Kim Kardashian).
And along with all the posts that are excited about the movie you will inevitably see some post from somebody asking the very legitimate question "but what if it sucks".
And this is a very fair question. Afterall, in six Star Wars films there are pretty much 3 good movies. Episode IV - Great. Episode V - The best. Episode VI - Great moments, a few missed opportunities (especially in the "Special Editions").
And then there are those other 3 movies we don't like to talk about. But let's face it, they are part of the Canon, they are part of the history of the franchise and they aren't going anywhere ... although from what we've seen on The Force Awakens they aren't really referring to those movies at all. But we won't know for sure until December 18 (17 for us hard core nerds).
But there's one huge reason why Episode VII isn't going to suck. And that's the fact that George Lucas isn't involved. AT ALL.
Let's run down the career of one Mr. George Lucas so I can make my point.
THX 1138 - This is pretty much a student film, has some interesting moments, more a must-watch for the future references made to this movie in Star Wars.
American Graffiti - A fun movie, easily his best non Star Wars movie, but if this was all he'd ever done we wouldn't be talking about George Lucas today.
More American Graffiti - Full disclosure, I didn't even know about this movie until I Googled it.
Red Tails - We're going to skip ahead a bit and just look at the movies he directed, and this was the next non Star Wars one. I tried watching this once, it looked like a video game. Sad because the story is a good one.
Indiana Jones Series:
Raiders of the Lost Ark - My favorite movie all all time. Hands down, no question, end of story. Speaking of the Story, it was George Lucas' idea, but the Screenplay is all Lawrence Kasdan. And of course directed by Stephen Spielberg. He would continue to be credited as "Story by" for The Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade and that other one we don't talk about Nuke The Fridge, er, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Obviously we aren't sure what happened there, but I'm guessing Spielberg gave him a bit more control than he had on the previous 3. Just speculation on my part though.
Episode IV: A New Hope - The one movie that George Lucas both wrote and directed that is a masterpiece. It introduced us to the Star Wars universe, to these characters we've loved for almost 40 years and pretty much changed cinema forever. So a billion kudos to Lucas on this one. He deserves the praise he gets.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back - Widely accepted as the best of the original Star Wars Trilogy and by default the best Star Wars movie. Why? The darker story? Sure. The characters growing a bit? Absolutely. A director that wasn't a George Lucas "yes man" and was willing to push back and make the movie he wanted to make, undoubtedly. So really, we have Irvin Kirshner as well as writers Lawrance Kasdan and Leigh Brackett to thank for that one as they made an absolute masterpiece.
Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi - The last of the original trilogy, not directed by George Lucas but by Richard Marquand who really didn't have the balls to push back to Lucas and make his movie. Coincidence that Lucas was back as the primary screenwriter on this one? So the Ewoks, the yub-nub song, etc ... all Lucas.
And of course, this doesn't even take into consideration the "Special Editions" that Lucas took control of. But if you look back on the original trilogy which film has the least bit of additions? That's right, it's Empire Strikes Back. Which is also the one Lucas was presumably the least involved in. Hmmm ...
Which brings us to the Prequels. All 3 George Lucas directed, executive produced and was the head writer on.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace - This is where people start bringing in their comparisons of the hype for Episode VII because, really, the only thing that can match the hype that we are experiencing right now is the hype we experienced in the months leading up to May of 1999. It was huge. Which meant the let-down was also huge. I remember seeing this movie 4 or 5 times in the theater, hoping each time it would get better. Even going to the "all new digital projection" showings they added a few months later. It didn't help.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones - Finally, after all this time we were finally going to see the Clone Wars Obi Wan referred to back in 1977. Oh wait, flat acting, more CGI than any other movie ever and a love story that, well, makes most Jennifer Lopez romantic comedies look good.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Finally, clone wars, a fantastic battle sequence, clones and ships and heads chopping off. Sure, a lot of CGI, but whatever. And then, wait, Darth Vader became Darth Vader because he had a bad dream? And he's the one that killed his wife? And he never put two and two together that the Emperor was manipulating him? I will give this movie one thing, the fight between Obi Wan and Vader is amazing, it's just too bad that wasn't the end of the movie.
Where George Lucas' true genius lies is in innovation. Yes, he went overboard with the prequels, but the creation of Industrial Light and Magic, the things they have been able to do since it's inception, without ILM and Lucas, movies today wouldn't be like the movies of today. And nobody should ever try and take that away from him. The sheer amount of films he's had a hand in from a technical standpoint is simply staggering, far too many to get into here.
Which brings us to Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Now, on Wikipedia it lists George Lucas as a writer, he's not. I'm guessing that was something with the Disney purchase of LucasFilm that any future releases have to have him credited that way due the the "Characters created by George Lucas". And that's fine. But he's not involved at all. And this is a VERY good thing.
Look at JJ Abrams track record. Alias (one of the best TV shows ever). Lost (amazing until it was ruined not by JJ Abrams but by Damon Lindelof). Seriously, look at Lindelof's track record ... Tomorrowland anybody? Star Trek, yes, Star Trek. The first one is amazing, the second one, well, it's not as good, but it's still a really good movie. I don't know how you ruin the character of Khan, but they did manage to pull it off. Super 8, fun and exciting. Give this one a re-watch if you haven't seen it lately.
And the last reason this is going to be great, the cast. No, not Luke, Han and Leia, although having them back is going to be amazing. The panels for Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher at Star Wars Celebration were amazing, and they seem genuinely excited to be back.
No, I'm talking about the new cast. Their reactions to the trailer that came out the other day, priceless. They are as excited to see this movie as all of us are. Sure it's going to be life changing, their lives will NEVER be the same. But they are fully embracing this.
We haven't seen some of the other cast members out in the public eye as much as we're seeing Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaacs, something tells me that's being carefully managed due to their roles in the movie. And the fact that there is still so much mystery surrounding the plot of the movie is amazing.
I can't wait for the lights to go down on the evening of December 17, seeing that "LucasFilm" logo, the theme, the scroll and then being fully immersed in the Star Wars universe I grew up with.
And when that's done, I'll get right back in line and watch it again. I won't be alone ...
So what do you think? Are you approaching Episode VII with caution or are you fully on the hype train?