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Posts Tagged ‘Return of the Jedi’

a long time agoThere has been lots of talk about where the Star Wars saga should go.  I was skeptical about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and if it were a good idea, ultimately it turned out to be fantastic.  The as yet untitled Han Solo movie is a step further.  Firstly to make a young Han Solo movie it requires a new young actor to plan Han Solo, if you have to do it, Alden Ehrenreich is a good choice, but do they have to do it?  Is Han Solo’s past not best left a mystery?  It is clear why Disney want to make the film; existing properties are the vain of gold that the studio are most expert at tapping, the value of this vein is greatly increased by the addition of an A list character from the franchise.  So where does the franchise go from here? han solo movie cast

Around the time of the original release of Return of the Jedi, I remember an interview with George Lucas where he spoke of a nine film series.  The original trilogy followed by two further trilogies, one prequel, on sequel.  By the time the prequels came out Lucas had changed his tune suggesting that he was too old to make any further films beyond the second trilogy and furthermore, there was only ever going to be two trilogies, the original and the prequel series telling the story of the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. star_wars_episode_one_the_phantom_menace_ver1

As luck and a strange twist of fate, or to be more honest money would have it, we are now getting the third trilogy.  But what next? to quote Winston Churchill (hopefully correctly) “This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is just perhaps the end of the beginning”.  So what next, after the Han Solo movie and episodes VII and IX?  There has been constant suggestions of a Boba Fett movie, I am not sure why, he has never been an interesting character.  There is however a whole universe and a thousand generations of stories to be told!

A notable thing about original story is the time in which they are set.  The fight for good and evil, light and dark is told over three films, each set over no more than a few days, this works for the original films but will not work with an origin story.  The second and third prequels stretch the idea to tell their storey over a longer period, this is to their detriment. So back to those thousand generations.  The original conversation between Ben/Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker tells us so much of the Star Wars universe, in some ways too much as George Lucas had to retcon so much of it to fit the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi into the mythology, this was even before he started rewriting everything to make the prequels work.  But there remains one statement from Obi-Wan Kenobi still untouched of diluted:

“For over a thousand generations, the Jedi knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic… before the dark times… before the empire.”luke and obi wan

How long is a thousand generations and what stories could be told?  Best guess, a thousand generations is around 20,000 to 25,000 years.  The stories are endless, You could start with the origin of the Jedi and the start of the battle between light and dark.  This however could be too much of a religious allegory , far better would be individual stories of turning points in the battle.  These could be told in a single stories or trilogies.

The possibilities are endless.  Where and when did the Jedi begin?  Was this a time before intergalactic travel and set on a single planet?  Would you tell the story of The First Jedi?  Who came first, The Jedi or The Sith?  Did one begin as a balance to the other, or did they start out as the same thing and one broke away over disagreements on the use of the force.  I like the idea of a story of a young apprentice learning the ways of the force with his master, only to discover that they are the bad guys not the good guys, we the audience should realise this before the apprentice but not before long before.  The final act would be the apprentices own personal battle between good and evil as he/she has to choose between what they have always known and what they now understand to be right.  Both the prequels and The Force Awakens suggest young Jedi are taught as a collective before been taken on by a master, is there room for a Jedi high-school movie? Jedi are presented as little monk like, how about the story of the first female Jedi? What about Yoda origin story, or even better a story of a power struggle on the Jedi council with a young Yoda as new, headstrong and less wise character than we know.yoda and younglins

As mentioned, the possibilities are endless, I am sure Disney have both the quality and quantity of writers to be able to think up more and better ideas than me, I just hope they do it, I want to hear a thousand generations of Jedi stories.

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As I work on my inevitable list of best films of 2012 I started thinking about Argo. Not the Ben Affleck film that we saw, but the un-filmed Star Wars rip-off Sci-Fi movie that featured in it. For as long as I can remember Star Wars has been essential Christmas viewing, but why? Probably because as an action adventure fantasy film it is yet to be surpassed. It is often stated that Star Wars changed films for ever, it certainly built on the idea of the summer blockbuster that began with Jaws two years before. All this is most probably true, but surprisingly Star Wars has never inspired a successful and credible action adventure set within a alien universe. The greatest failing of most of them is an unnecessary attempt to ground the plot in the reality or to earth, this is true from The Last Starfighter (1984) through to Avatar (2009). It worked for Star Trek as the idea of humanity exploring space was central to the premise. After its cancellation in 1969, it gained cult status, around the time of Star Wars a plan to resurrect the television series as Star Trek: Phase II.  It was a planned and quickly abandoned, ideas from the pilot were however saved and became Star Trek (1979). The  highlights of the film series that followed are: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and the reboot Star Trek (2009). 1977 star wars

The latest failed attempt of the genre was John Carter (2012) based on A Princess of Mars by (Tarzan author) Edgar Rice Burroughs. So uncomfortable in its own skin the producers dropped the Sci-Fi “of Mars” title from the movie shortly before it hit cinema screens. Telling the story of a civil war era gent who is transported to Mars that is going through its own Civil War. A lot of the story involves the fish out of water scenarios as Carter adapts to the culture of the society and then imports his own sensibility. Going back to the time of Star Wars, the biggest of the early attempts to cash in on the Star Wars was unsurprisingly by Disney. The Black Hole (1979) had a budget of around $20million, around double that of Star Wars but only grossed around the same as Star Wars took in its first weekend. There is a good reason, for all its technical accomplishments, the movie is just plain dull. I have seen it at least twice and remember very little about it. With a budget of around $4million Starcrash (1978) is certainly low budget but isn’t quite the Z Movie it is often claimed to be. Poorly acted with terrible effects and unintentionally funny moments it isn’t very good. However it does deserve a certain amount of praise as a low budget movie that has grander ambitions than many of its contempt competitors, it is also good silly fun at times.

Starcrash

The one success of the genre (artistically if not financially) was Flash Gordon (1980). The plot is a rehash of the original thirteen part film serial starring Buster Crabbe from 1936. One of the reasons the movie looks so good and worked so well is the retro design including long shiny almost phallic spaceships that were inspired by the original 1930’s comic books. The result is utter camp, the characters and the performances are totally bonkers and over the top in the vein of Barbarella (1968). All this was held together by a an equally camp and over the top score by Queen.

Flash Gordon

The story goes that David Lynch turned down Return of the Jedi instead opting to replace Ridley Scott as the director of Dune (1984). Unlike most people, I am glad he did. I first saw Dune on video in 1985 and loved it. A few years later I read the first three or four of Frank Herbert’s novels. It was the first David Lynch film I saw, I have seen and loved everything he has made since. The movie shares producer Dino De Laurentiis with Flash Gordon, that is where the similarity ends. While Flash Gordon is fun and camp, Dune is sombre serious but when you strip away all the religious symbolism, mythology and the ideas of loyalty and betrayal it is simply a story of trade and politics, possibly an allegory for the fight for the control of the worlds supply. The TV mini series is heralded as a superior adaptation, it may be but it is painfully dull, something the movie can not be accused of even in its three hour cut.Dune

Star Wars often plays like a western set in space.  This is where the genre has found the most sucess.  A film that took this idea a stage further was the Roger Corman produced Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) that took its plot from Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai. It has a certain degree of pedigree with a screenplay by John Sayles, a score composed by James Horner, and the special effects directed by a young James Cameron. A similar idea had been attempted in the “High Noon in space” Outland (1981) with Sean Connery in the Gary Cooper role. Not a classic, but far better than its reputation. The best space western is probably Serenity (2005) based on the too short-lived TV show Firefly (2002-2003). It is still rooted in the reality of humanity but unlike the movies that suffer for this, Serenity plays its hand perfectly.Battle Beyond the Stars

The Star Wars prequels failed to live up to their billing, will the new Disney produced movies be more successful or will we have to wait for someone else to create a new Space Opera in a believable alien universe? Star Wars: Episode VII is expected in 2015.

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