Thursday 31 October 2013

Laugh it up, Fuzzball! - What We Want To See In Star Wars Ep. VII

On October 30th last year, the Internet went into meltdown. This isn't a rare occurrence of course; almost any slightly controversial news sends Twitter into instant disarray (think Miley Cyrus twerking into history at the VMA's, Ben Affleck being cast as Batman), but this was bigger than any of that. 

For millions of movie fans across the world, the news that Disney had bought the rights to Star Wars exploded out of nowhere. All of a sudden we faced the horrific prospect of more Jar Jar, more disappointment and more mislaid expectation. I have a bad feeling about this, many would cheekily remark.

Of course, the immense hyperbole surrounding the announcement has since died down. For the last year, a steady stream of news and rumour has trickled across blogs, forums and internet columns; Star Wars Episode VII (the first in a new trilogy) may in fact not suck after all.

In order to mark the date, I decided to put together a list of everything I want to see/be included from the next Star Wars film; there is seemingly little that will stop me from getting excited for more Star Wars movies. After all, it can't possibly be as bad as Phantom Menace, can it? CAN IT?

Give it the 'Star Trek' treatment - keep it light, approachable

2009's Star Trek (and 2013 sequel) opened up
the series for a whole new generation
of audiences
I'd never given Star Trek two glances before 2009's wonderful, approachable reboot. In fact, I'm pretty sure the same can be said for 95% of people who didn't avidly follow the show in all of its various forms. Some people may disagree, but the same needs to be done for Star Wars.

It's been a long time since Star Wars has been relevant. TV shows and video games haven't kept the franchise atop of pop culture in the intervening years since Revenge of the Sith wrapped the prequel trilogy up in 2005. 

For Star Wars VII to succeed, it needs to open itself up to as wide an audience as possible. This doesn't mean aiming it at kids or making it a family film. It means not weighing it down with baggage newcomers can't get thier heads around. 

Why 2009's Star Trek worked so well was because even your nan could watch it without getting lost; it was a simplified, streamlined and fast-paced adventure that didn't get bogged down in Trekkie jargon that only a die-hard fan would appreciate.

Star Wars needs to take the same route and shake off the excess weight; no midi-chlorians, no trade disputes and no dull as dishwater Galactic Senate. Just simple, stripped-back space adventure that dazzles with special effects, gleeful action and a funny, snappy script. Is that asking too much?

Don't play it for laughs or sell toys - this isn't a cartoon

Don't get me wrong, I love the Ewoks; all cute and adorable, the way they waddle around and sniff things. But the Galactic Empire should not have been brought down by Paddington Bear's fucking jungle cousins with rocks and trip ropes. Return of the Jedi made the mistake of introducing the Ewok's as a tool for selling lunch boxes to kids; I don't want to see that kind of mindset driving creative decisions on Star Wars VII

Jar Jar Binks; most hated movie character
in the history of ever
It didn't stop there though. The prequel trilogy was littered with ideas that screamed "I AM A TOY". You could almost hear the Lego sets rattling off the production line as soon as the credits began to roll on Phantom Menace.

Remember that Jar Jar character? Hilarious! Like in Episode I when he stood in poop? AHAHAHA I could not stop laughing for days. And then he zapped his head with Anakin's pod-racer and his tongue went all numb? That was definitely the best part of The Phantom Menace.

Said no-one ever.

I'm not saying don't make Star Wars funny. Hell yes make it funny. But not kiddy-funny. I don't want there to be any fart jokes in Star Wars on my watch. I want to see witty banter and snappy dialogue between Han and Leia-esque characters. You know, "laugh it up fuzzball?" "Of course, your worshipfulness?" That kind of stuff. 

Again, if J.J's work on Star Trek is anything to go by, there is hope for this yet.

Don't bathe in nostalgia

Then and now: Harrison Ford could return as Han Solo
This is the biggest sticking point I have with the news on Episode VII so far; the apparent need for original trio Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford to return as Luke, Leia and Han. 

But, the new trilogy is going to be set after Return of the Jedi, so it makes sense for them to come back, right? Ehhh. Let's be honest here; who really wants to see Mark Hamill standing around swinging a lightsaber at the age of 65? 

The new films should be the start of a new chapter. This means not centring the storyline on characters whose stories are already done and dusted. And if people want to explore the rest of Luke's life, there isn't a shortage of expanded universe reading material to plumb through.

The films need to be a launchpad for new fans to jump straight into; drenching the new trilogy with back-story is only going to alienate a wider audience.

I'm not saying start from scratch; every film franchise includes subtle nods and Easter eggs for fans to enjoy. I'm just saying that the new trilogy has to look to the future and not throw in characters and plot-lines for the nostalgias sake.


Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman
on a promo shoot for Attack of the Clones
One thing that bugged me most about the prequel trilogy was the odd casting choices. Most notably, Hayden Christensen. 

If you are casting potentially one of the most important (and iconic) characters in one of the biggest film franchises of all time, at least make sure the guy can act. Of course, Christensen's poor acting ability was highlighted by the uneven scripting in Attack of the Clones, but the guy was a flat, wooden and stiff dud throughout both of his appearances as Anakin Skywalker.

I mean, if genuine talent like Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor can come across as damp squibs, there really was no hope for Christensen. Casting is always a tricky business but for Episode VII, it is crucial. 

When casting the lead characters for Episode VII (whoever they may be), Abrams and co. really need to go for someone with proven talent and a track record of films under their belt. Someone with the proven ability to carry the emotional gravitas of a franchise like Star Wars and also swing a lightsaber.

Now, I'm 100% certain these names will have cropped up thousands of times in regards to casting Episode VII but heck, here's a list of actors I'd love to see in there; Michael Fassbender, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jeremy Renner, Logan Lerman, Nathan Fillion, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, Daniel Bruhl, Idris Elba, John Hurt and Tom Hardy.

Now how hard was that?

Stick to the formula

It's not a Star Wars film without the iconic title crawl
This means no deviating from what audiences will expect from a Star Wars film; opening title crawl, John Williams' fantastic and iconic score, lightsaber duels, space dogfights, alien worlds, a hero, a heroine and a scoundrel. A mentor, a robotic sidekick or two. A villain (a good one). 

This is Star Wars okay? What we want to see more than anything else is an exciting adventure with entertaining characters and story-lines. Don't try and make the film a tween-romance or a gloomy noir-thriller just to be edgy. There has to be tonal consistencies from the original and prequel trilogy so that the new films look and feel like a Star Wars film. 

So what do you want to see in Episode VII? Let me know in the comments below. I'm thinking of keeping this as a regular feature on the films progress so let me know what you think and I can incorporate ideas into the next edition! Be sure to subscribe and receive updates on each new post. 

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