or the record, I love Star Wars.
Back then, it was a wondrous storytelling with interesting characters, mixtures of magic and technology, just a fun story.
I liked it so much I reffed a Star Wars role playing game that went on for fifteen years. We watched the movies intently for clues about how things worked, what things did. And when I finally got my own VCR, the first movie I bought was Star Wars for $80 (which, in the mid 80’s, was a lot of money). And I watched it over and over again.
So what changed (and why is a writing column talking about movies?).
This is the classic example of what happens to storytelling when a visionary creates it, but then a studio (with it’s committees and profit-concerns) projects it. The original Star Wars was fun and clever and fresh. Now, with episodes 1-3, they just ground it out with a sausage maker. Really, how long can you worry about the nature of good and evil when it goes on and on and on? You look at the battles between dark and light and start to see it as no difference from Protestants and Catholics, or (now) Christians and Muslims. Yes, theocracies collide, but ground between them are fighter pilots, troopers, and a whole lot of other characters who’d just as soon not have died for some pesky blood-borne disease.
Worse, the nature of the story has changed. Han shot first. But that has been “re-imagined” and PCed. And now we know that the force isn’t some sort of magical power, a greatness that comes to a chosen few, but from creatures in the blood. And with Disney in charge, with Disney money and Disney re-imagining, look for the destruction of any merit of storytelling. Rather than take you to someplace you’d never been, they tune the story to meet the audience’s desires. You can see that in the overuse of Tatooine in followup movies (a million stars in the galaxy, and we continue to come back to the one farthest from its bright center).
Case example – Jar Jar Binks. Studio committees green-lighted the idea. Yes, a sidekick who was transparently a sidekick, a character so manufactured he made the Ewoks look like dignified characters of literature. People saw through this as an obvious move of a committee to jam a “beloved character” down our throats. So if that’s clear and evident, why isn’t the remainder of the storytelling given the same level of scrutiny? Why do we accept all the other hackneyed plot devices and stale characterizations we’ve come to expect (with line-standing, forum-gossiping relish)?
It’s the difference, I suppose, from getting a story you need and the story you want. And if your expectations are lower, you’ll never notice that you’ve shelled out ten bucks for exactly the same thing you’ve seen before.
The force is weak in this one. And it gets weaker with every “project’ of this “franchise”.
Go to your local bookstore, grab something off the scifi shelf, and enjoy it. You’ll find a deeper, richer story there.
Trust your instincts.
>>>OR MAYBE YOU SHOULD LOOK FURTHER THAN SCIFI. MAYBE HISTORIC FICTION WOULD BE EVEN MORE EXOTIC THAN THE SAME SPACESHIPS, OVER AND OVER. HAVE A LOOK AT MY BOOKS, RIGHT HERE, AND CHEAPER THAN THAT BUCKET OF POPCORN YOU’LL BUY IN THE THEATER<<<