As I’m sure nearly everyone reading this has already heard, Disney has bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas for $4 billion, with plans to release Star Wars Episode VII in 2015. I learned about the buyout this afternoon while I was listening to NPR. This was my immediate reaction:
I’ve seen some mixed reactions about this acquisition on Facebook, and while both sides make decent arguments, I’m firmly in the “this is a terrible idea” category. Let me explain why…
You see, the Star Wars franchise has always been something kind of sacred to me, as I’m sure it has been for countless other fans. I can vividly recall watching Episodes IV, V, and VI with my dad when I was five or six years old. (I also remember watching the Holyfield-Tyson fight with him. Having DirecTV had its advantages.) They set the standard for what “epic movie” meant to me. All of the quotable quotes, the instantly recognizable John Williams score, the Jim Henson-crafted characters… Even then, I knew that there was something important about these movies.
Han Solo was one of my first crushes. In fact, I even had a life-size cardboard cut out of him in my bedroom when I was in elementary school. However, Han isn’t the only good-looking, rugged character in the Lucas universe played by Harrison Ford. I can’t imagine what the Indiana Jones trilogy would have been like if Lucas and Spielberg had been able to hold on to Tom Selleck to play the bad boy professor/archaeologist, but CBS had him locked down for a TV show at the time. (Who would my mom have drooled over on Magnum P.I.?!) Dr. Jones
probably definitely had a strong influence on 2nd grade me wanting to be an archaeologist. Raiders, Temple of Doom (scary as it was for a little kid), and Last Crusade were all very important to me growing up, too.
The originals will always be classics for me, and I’m sure a lot of other fans understand what makes both of these franchises special. Personally, I hated the Star Wars prequels; they felt sort of… icky. (Jar Jar Binks, anyone?) I don’t know anyone who prefers Episodes I-III over IV-VI. However, I don’t have any opposition to Ewan McGregor as the younger version of Alec Guinness’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. That worked just fine. Of course, there are all of the video games and animated shows and books that go along with Star Wars, but I feel, if anything, the video games and the animated shows get kids interested in the larger story. Brian has read a few of the books based on the movies, and it seems like they generally revere the original story line, staying true to the plot and characters. In 2008, another chapter was added to the Indy Jones story: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I only watched this because I felt obligated to do so, but I knew it was going to be terrible. I just didn’t know how terrible it was going to be. While several critics gave it good reviews, the film garnered a largely negative reaction from fans, earning it the 2008 Razzie Award for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off, or Sequel. Trey Parker and Matt Stone even shared their opinion of it in South Park‘s mid-12th season premiere with “The China Problem.” For those of you who aren’t fans of the show, I’ll just say that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were not very nice to Indiana Jones. Not nice at all.
Am I the only person who gets the idea of leaving well enough alone? The Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies clearly stood the test of time; studio execs know that fans will continue to throw money at the franchise regardless of how lame any of the sequels and prequels turn out to be. When does it stop? Disney should not have made Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I love the other three, but the fourth one was just bad. Almost all of the Disney “classics” I loved to watch when I was growing up have at least one straight-to-video sequel, but why? I think my disappointment over Disney’s buyout of Lucasfilms boils down to this: I don’t want to see Han Solo become a caricature of who he was to me when I was a kid. That’s exactly what happened with Jack Sparrow in the Pirates movies — he’s a joke. I’ve heard the argument about how Disney has done great things for the Marvel franchise, and I can agree with it, to a point. The Avengers was the second-best movie of the summer, behind The Dark Knight Rises, but were all of the others that (very quickly) led up to it (Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk) really that great? It seemed like it was a “let’s get these back stories out as quickly as possible so we can release a summer blockbuster opposite Batman” situation. I have a hard time judging Iron Man, because, well… Robert Downey, Jr.
I know there’s no stopping the machine that is Disney. If they must, though, make more sequels, I hope they will take these 15 “do’s and don’ts” into consideration, especially the idea of bringing nerd king Joss Whedon into the mix and getting John Williams into a recording studio as soon as possible. Maybe, like this article from The Atlantic argues, Star Wars will survive whatever silly things Disney does to it. However, I can see one positive to Disney’s new purchase:
Disney will finally have a princess who can really kick some Stormtrooper keester, although as far as strong princesses go, Brave‘s Merida , Disney/Pixar’s latest princess, is still my favorite. (Even for a practical, liberated princess, I would still recommend having a tissue handy for this movie.) Besides, who knows? We may even get a follow-up to another Lucasfilm classic: