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Thursday, December 6, 2012
This IS the Mega Deal You Were Looking For
There’s something about being in your mid-thirties to early
forties where you can say without a shadow of a doubt, what a major impact Star
Wars has had on your life. I remember
being so sick and home from school with a cold in 1980 and all I wanted was for
my dad to sneak me into the local theater to see The Empire Strikes Back. Of
course that didn’t happen. Those crazy
parents, always being so parental; bless their souls. Little did they know the scars it left me
with as I had no choice but to watch the greatest of all Star Wars films on VHS
– FOUR YEARS LATER and after having seen The
Return of the Jedi. Oh the humanity.
Of course I eventually forgave my parents for
their…insidious lack of vision – as I’m sure Palpatine would be remissed to
point out. Yes my parents raised a good
(hopefully) person who’s turned into a well adjusted, successful adult and a
married parent to his own two year old daughter - who’s soon to be initiated
into the world George Lucas envisioned some 35 years ago. So when I heard a few weeks ago that George
Lucas announced his retirement from filmmaking and decided to sell Lucasfilm to
the Walt Disney Corporation, I became full of more mixed and odd emotions than
the result of a Luke and Leia kiss. I
felt as if a part of my childhood had been surgically removed via lightsaber and
sold to a bunch of pesky Jawas (for $4 billion no less). Yet at the same time I
felt that if there was onecompany
that could not only preserve but also cultivate the Star Wars Universe for
years to come, it would be Disney.
The Walt Disney Company already has quite the portfolio
having acquired Pixar (which ironically was a subsidiary of Lucasfilm created
in the 70’s and later sold in 1986 to Steve Jobs) early in 2006 and most
recently in 2009, added Marvel Studios. And with the success of this past
summer’s The Avengers,it’s a safe bet that Lucas’ decision to
sell to Disney will solidify that company for years to come. But the questions on the minds of fanboys and
girls alike are, “Did the maker sell out?” Meaning will the Star Wars franchise
become even more watered down now that Disney is in control? Granted, that’s somewhat overly critical but
I thought about this for a while and with respect to George Lucas, after seeing
the prequels, can it really get more watered down for the masses?
"Say Rebel...one...more...damn time."
I get it, George Lucas isn’t Quentin Tarantino and it’s not as
if everyone is pining for a Star Wars version of Pulp Fiction (other than me
perhaps). Part of what makes Star Wars
so universal is that it speaks to everyone at any age but at its core, lay the
very foundations of classic storytelling.
Themes such as redemption, revenge, friendship, loyalty, the very battle
of good versus evil, all of which make Star Wars timeless. As jaded as some Star Wars fans have become
thanks to the mixed bag that are the prequels, I’m actually not worried that
Disney will suddenly slip mouse ears onto Vader’s shiny dome – well maybe if
it’s to sell merchandise – but hasn’t all of that cheese been done already and
under Lucas’ force grip?
"Gratuitous product placement you have"
I’ve always believed that the qualities that make George
Lucas as great as he is are some of the very same qualities that have
constricted much of his work and disappointed some of his fans. Like any filmmaker, Lucas has always desired
(and more times than not has attained) total control over his films as he was
essentially one of the original independent filmmakers in Hollywood.
Sometimes the trade off that comes with total control ends up resulting
in tunnel vision. As much as I’m a fan
of his work, I don’t think there’s one fan of filmmaking that thinks George
Lucas is a master of the English language.
Dialogue has just never been his strong suit as even Harrison Ford was
always fond of saying, “You can write this shit, but ya can’t say It.” – in
regards to Lucas’ scripts.
Another drawback of Lucas’ is his almost fervent desire of
filming everything digitally. Any Star
Wars fan worth his salt knows the visual differences between the original
versus the prequel films. Because the
technology didn’t exist back in the late 70’s and 80’s, Lucas literally had to
create the technology himself thus ushering in ILM. There isn’t a filmmaker in Hollywood today who doesn’t owe a bit of
gratitude for the work Industrial Light and Magic have afforded them but
sometimes a good thing can be overused and abused.
There’s a lack of substance and physical reality to some of
the work ILM did on the prequels. Was it
really necessary to digitally create a single clone trooper in a single
scene? Was it necessary to replace
actual landscapes with digital mock ups?
Sometimes just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should and
Hollywood seems to be gravitating more towards blending technology with
traditional techniques rather then totally relying on computers to enhance
It has to be difficult for Lucas to turn what has
essentially been his life’s greatest work over to someone else even if it is
someone he’s known his entire career. But
letting go of the reigns may be exactly what is needed to bring in new, fresh
ideas. Luckily for both Lucas and fan’s alike he’s turning it over to someone
who has had a hand in creating some of the most memorable films ever to grace
the silver screen, films such as, E.T.,
Raiders of the Lost Ark, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, to name a few.
Kathleen Kennedy has been given quite the daunting task of
maintaining one of the greatest film franchises ever made. Kennedy, a highly respected Hollywood vet,
has worked along side the likes of Spielberg, Eastwood, Fincher and Scorsese
over the years. She’s one half of the
powerhouse producing team of Kennedy and Frank Marshall, her husband, and
alongside Steven Spielberg, formed a triumvirate at Amblin Entertainment.
Letting go for a filmmaker is probably the most difficult
thing to do. There’s a quote that films
are never really finished, only abandoned.
I for one feel great hope about the future of Star Wars and what it’s
going to mean not only to my child very soon but perhaps even to her children
someday. Plans have already been in
place for new films to hit theaters starting in 2015, starting with Star Wars: Episode VII. Star Wars is rightfully going to become a
rite of passage passed down from one generation to the next. That my friend is what Star Wars is truly
about. Not the special effects or the
merchandise or the theme parks.
In the words of Master Yoda (sort of): Hopeful, you should be.