Monday, May 5, 2014

Star Wars 7.0: Return of the Ninja Master

at 6:00 PM

With more Star Wars in the news, it's time indeed for another Big Nerd Rant (TM). 

Wouldn't it be sweet if they made Luke Skywalker evil and Mark Hamill did his Joker voice? in CGI?

kidding aside, on one hand something like making Luke evil is certainly playing with fire - making one of the top ten cinematic heroes of all time into a villain is dangerously close to sacrilege. On the other hand, I think they extremely need something like that to give these movies a purpose. If the old people don't have character arcs and just come back in supporting roles as what you'd expect (Luke being New Obi-Wan, Han being Now A Parent, Leia being Woman Leader) the movie will fall prey to exactly what makes all the extended universe stuff pointless: it's just random-ass made-for-TV scifi with lightsabers and Jedis, connected to Star Wars only through superficial elements. Considering Star Wars was the most singly influential scifi property of the late 20th century and pretty much every movie/game/book since the 80s reflects its DNA in some way, an officially branded "Star Wars" story like Knights of the Old Republic whose Star Wars elements consist of Jedis and saying "Galactic Senate" every 30 seconds isn't actually any more Star Wars than Firefly with its y'know Galactic Empire and pseudo-storm troopers and rebellion and space mysticism and snarky smugglers. So if the new movie is going to be working with the old characters they better continue the old characters stories and add some new original wrinkles - especially because they have fucking three movies to work with. It's not like you can say it would be too crowded to try to work in all those stories and some newbies.

The prequels had a purpose by having shared characters and a ready-made story that we were all dying to see: the birth of Darth Vader. They blew it (from a story perspective, let's not even get into listing all the ways the prequels sucked) despite that immaculate premise and great existing characters like Obi-Wan and Palpatine because Darth Vader ended up not being the protagonist of the majority of a story about Darth Vader - he was some asshole child/teen pest whom the movies were so busy villainizing (accidentally or not - casting Hayden Christensen counts as villainization) that we never saw anything from his POV. Instead we got a story about the birth of The Empire, as if space politics was ever what was driving this franchise. When they did focus on Vader we got a stupid love story that no one was expecting or wanted (and that the filmmakers were certainly not capable of making compelling) until the very fucking end when we finally got to see him driven over the edge and fighting Obi-Wan etc. - at which point Episode III almost threatened to get good, except for all those other not-to-be-mentioned things shitting up the entire party (Lightsaber Yoda). 

Point is, Episodes VII-IX don't have any built-in story with our built-in characters equivalent to Darth Vader getting born, so they need to come up with something really high concept. Not just shooting lazers and driving ships with Chewie along for the ride. If they try to use the characters as old coots to fluff up a new love and podracing story, it will be the prequels all over again. At least kill someone off. Maybe make Han a Jedi in training? If they have kids (and face it, someone's gonna have kids - they're all like 70 now so you can easily have 20/30-somethings be the original characters' kids without making a Prequel Blunder and involving children), definitely one of the kids has to be evil. Maybe make them kill one of their kids. Something to give some serious fucking pathos beyond fabricated plot events like "oh wow Luke has to found a New Jedi Order" or "oh wow Leia has to become first female Prime Minister of the United States". Maybe Luke made a New Jedi Order (I'm using that term because haha it's from the extended universe) but then all his New Jedis ended up Dark Sidin' it. Maybe Leia gave birth to a half-Wookie child...?

Maybe (in all seriousness) they should just go back to Kurosawa and steal some more from him. Not like that's a rare or bad thing in the world of film. They could easily manage an interesting take on Seven Samurai where the old people form the core group of ronin (Luke in Takashi Shimura's role) and they naturally build up the new folks as they're added to the group, same way Kurosawa does. Since you can't really tell a protecting-a-village story in a Star Wars movie (you can't drop the scale that far when the previous movies were about saving the galaxy), maybe you can make the entire galaxy the village - make it a last stand against some kind of new alien invader now that everyone has been united in the wake of the Empire (this was done to great success in the EU books, where that became their entire subject matter for like a decade or possibly forever). That's not three movies worth of material but it would certainly make a good setup or finale. Obviously this is wishful thinking, but they need to realize that the original movies were adventure stories, NOT space politics stories. Cut the complicated shit with Droid Bargainers and Dracula faking a space war so that Boba Fett has to get cloned, that's all just annoying and drags the story away from the core characters. Plus come on, that's what The Clone Wars was? Stormtroopers? Fuckin' lame. 

Also, if they keep going with "Sith", and "Sith" being a thing, I will personally mail George Lucas a bomb. I cannot stand how flamboyant and unnecessary and unbelievably fruity and lame that is. Jedis turning to the dark side was excellent, something derived from the innate personal struggle of every human being. Making it into a Satanic dress-up religion with special tattoos that mizzunderstood teenagers choose when they're mad at their parents was the single worst idea introduced in the prequels and polluted the entire continuity forever. Just drop it. It's become so ingrained in the video games/comics that it's easy to forget it was a massive retcon introduced by the prequels, but it was indeed a massive retcon introduced by the prequels. The original movies don't use the term once, so it's not like we'd notice its absence. If I have to hear Luke Skywalker say "Sith Lord" I will... well I already have totally given up on Star Wars fandom, but I guess I'll double give up. 

I'm pretending to be optimistic right now (and ignoring the whole "directed by JJ Abrams" thing) because idunno I'd actually enjoy some good scifi fantasy. The genre is such complete trash - the Mass Effect Effect, where space operas have lost all of their dramatic operatic sense and "epicness" is instead judged by how many alien races' backstories you can write and how much fake physics you can use to justify your convoluted technologies (and of course how much lens flare explosions you have, Star Trek). It'd be nice for a freshly started Star Wars to give things a kick in the pants, and let's not kid ourselves, it's a movie I'll be seeing in the theater no matter how bad or good it turns out. 

wait a minute this isn't my Star Wars blog this is my dormant video game blog


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