Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Star Wars: VII, VIII & IX

Haven't posted in a while (and there's a good reason for that, but that's another post for another time), so I thought it this would be a good excuse...

Those who know me know that Star Wars is and always has been my first love. I dare say I grew up in an ideal time to be a fan; my first 'encounter' was the 1997 special edition release of the original trilogy in cinemas. Of course by then I never knew they started twenty years beforehand (in fact it was only just before Episode I that I realised how old and significant they were). And when I heard they were to make more of them, I couldn't have been more excited! Any Star Wars was good Star Wars to me at that point and with The Phantom Menace I couldn't get enough of Darth Maul, Podracing, incredible lightsabre action and the wait for the next films.
   Then along came Attack of the Clones...By then I was starting to realise the bigger connections with the original trilogy (the Fetts, Slave I and Clones of course) and between then and Revenge of the Sith I understood more why so many people were attached to the original trilogy and what they disliked about the prequels...It was actually a shock at first (looking at a 'two-star review' for Episode I); there were people who disliked Star Wars...! Anyway, I loved the saga as a whole and even now, nothing can take that away (but nothing's perfect). With Revenge of the Sith I was impressed how much Lucas had improved on the previous two (except the dialogue...Even The Matrix trilogy doesn't have anything as unnatural and awkward as "you're breaking my heart..."). But even with the circle now complete, there was a sense that something was missing...Thank the maker that it was announced by Lucas himself that 'Star Wars is not dead', leaving us on nerf-tenderhooks until 2008...
   Along came The Clone Wars. I loved the Genndy Tartakovsky micro-series in 2003/2004 so I was naturally intrigued for the plans to expand upon it, creating a 3D CGI version of the gap between Clones & Sith with not only a fully-fledged TV series, but a feature film to set it off! Under fresh direction and a new creative team, Star Wars had a new home on Cartoon Network where it's been ever since. Executive producer Dave Filoni, a die-hard fan himself, understood that the magic, fantasy, adventure and humour of the original trilogy were missing from the prequels. It reinvigorated my love for Star Wars once more with fresh new tales, 20-odd minutes at a time. The Clone Wars proved that the prequel universe is just as relevant as the original trilogy, subtly and slowly bringing together the once-divided generations of fans with a true sense of voyeurism that everyone can enjoy. Currently in the fifth season, The Clone Wars storytelling has moved from strength to strength, the animation has become more impressive, the sound design, acting & writing talents are second to none and people are desperate to discover what will happen with certain character arcs.

The Clone Wars showed us that there are so many characters and stories to explore within the Star Wars universe (even within the space of a few years) outside of the Skywalker arc...Which makes sense considering the double-barrelled announcement yesterday...

Disney has bought Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars and they intend on continuing the cinematic saga with more films (the first of which is set to be released in 2015 and currently entitled 'Episode VII' of course). When it was announced, I wasn't sure what to think; shock and confusion were the main reactions. I didn't know if it was fake or not. It was odd timing too...Just one of the many questions racing around faster than a Speeder Bike. Other concerns included the impact of the Expanded Universe (EU), due to so much material being released set after the destruction of the Second Death Star...And it's gone further than a century, where a new Sith Empire reigns and the only hope is the ancestor of Luke; Cade Skywalker.
   The biggest question of all was 'why'; the saga seems complete...Lucas only wanted to complete the Skywalker arc. But then we remember that he had always wanted to do three trilogies. Episodes VII, VIII & IX, (the 'sequel trilogy') were always rumoured and always toyed around with...But after the ending of Return of the Jedi, it just didn't seem possible to continue. Although as the EU has shown, there are many, many more ideas to play with; Han & Leia's children, Luke's family, the reapperences of Boba Fett...And that's just for starters. As Disney made the announcements, it wasn't explicitly stated that the new trilogy will be a new arc; in fact they even suggested that each film will be a stand-alone story...Perhaps they too will follow Dave Filoni's example and set them in between the major events of the EU to create whole new ones...

As the impact of the news has sent a shockwave throughout the Star Wars fandom...Initially I kept seeing positive reactions and wondered why hardly anybody was questioning it all. But then as I watched Tweets from fans (particularly Amy Ratcliffe) flood in and saw all the reporting bodies that I follow spread the news, I got used to the idea; 'Disney owning Star Wars...The more you think about it, the more sense it makes...' Disney has always had a good relationship with Lucasfilm, especially with Star Tours located at their theme parks (I was fortunate enough to experience it before the revamp). Of course there are many who ridicule the idea of Disney owning Star Wars, but remember that same reaction happened when they bought Marvel in 2009. On the other hand, remember too that they bought long-time collaborator Pixar back in 2006...In terms of film at the very least, we've had some top-notch cinema since both acquisitions; WALL·E, Up, Toy Story 3, Brave, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger & Marvel's The Avengers...And we've much more to come.
   And that's the biggest relief for me. I listened in to the announcement conference with Disney CEO Bob Iger, who seemed very keen to preserve everything that the fans know and love about Star Wars. Since he's done that well enough with Pixar and Marvel, that can only bode well, can't it?

But most important of all is that this is part of Lucas' retirement plan (which we've known about for a while). This is his way of letting his offspring go and flourish with all the back-up possible...Basically he's secured the future of his company, the way he wanted. As a fan, I'm absolutely okay with that. Since 2005, he has always remained the creative force behind the big decisions of the Star Wars universe (especially with The Clone Wars), and he will continue to do so with the new films. To be honest, I believe that's the best way possible for Episodes VII-IX.

The Maker himself discussing the future (From

And here's an interesting and sweet extra bit of news on how Lucas will use the money from the multi-billion dollar sale for philanthropic and charitable endeavours (from

So, getting past the initial shock, we begin to realise the potential for the new films. The family that Disney takes care of means that Lucasfilm has links to many others who could contribute a humongous amount to the canon. We could see Star Wars directed by; Jon Favreau, Brad Bird, Gore Verbinski...Or even Joss Whedon.

Of course, I'm just one person...Here are lots more details and reactions via these highly-clickable links:

(Via Amy Ratcliffe on

EDIT: A most important link to the Star Wars Blog which details the history Lucas' 9-film plan (at some points a 12-film plan...Yes, four trilogies in total...!):

There remains a few unanswered questions naturally, whether it's regarding the future of The Clone Wars, Star Wars Detours, the comics (possible return to Marvel for Star Wars), the merchandising, etc....However until then, as the general accepting consortium sees, this is a fantastic way for Star Wars to continue and flourish with new ideas, new directions and new adventures. Regardless of whether it's successful or not (there's always that possibility...As Obi-Wan would say; "we must be cautious..."), any Star Wars, like I mentioned earlier, is good Star Wars.

Bring on 2015.


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