Tuesday, April 18, 2017

In Defense of Episode IX

There's more where that came from!

Some folk appear to be up in arms that Carrie Fischer (a moment of silence, a raised glass of Scotch) won’t appear in Episode IX.  They claim this proves that the Disney-ification of Star Wars is now complete.  They’ve altered the Star Wars universe, and fans should just shut up and pray they don’t alter it further.

Except they’re wrong.

The most amazing thing is that Disney totally gets what Star Wars is all about.

It’s not just explosions and whizzing gadgetry (which is what Lucas devolved it into), but rather about the relationships—those who are family, and those who become family.  Anyone who doubts this need look no further than Star Wars: Rogue One which took a few lines from Episode IV’s crawl and crafted it into an impressive movie that displays exactly that depth of understanding about the franchise.  This is not to say that Rogue One is a perfect movie—it’s not.  But it is a perfect Star Wars movie because it taps into all the things that made the Original Trilogy great, without relying on the upping the ante from the elements which have started to get tired.  Jyn Erso is plagued with relationships.  She tries to play herself off as tough-as-nails rebel without a cause.  She sneers at any authority figure like Brando replying to the question, “What are you rebelling against?” and says, “What have you got?”  But really, much like Vader, Luke and Leia, it’s her family background—her biological parents and her adoptive father-figure—who have placed her in this position.  To move forward, she has to form new relationships, new ties to unlikely people.  Essentially, Jyn stiches together her own “family” through shared needs and goals.

You don't know the POWER of CGI.
Disney even put money into the iconic characters, like Tarkin, who we’ve been quoting and fan-storying for years.  We get to see the walking, talking legends from another camera angle making new what was once old.  Sure, Tarkin strays into the uncanny valley from time to time, but on the whole, for a character that filled a supporting role, we get an impressive CGI creation that makes you forget that Peter Cushing passed away in 1994.  Even when Disney dips back into the well, with The Force Awakens, they didn’t trot out Han and Luke and Leia and Chewbacca and C3PO and R2D2 and all the rest just for a dog and pony show.  If that had been the case, Luke and R2 would have had lines and actions beyond the few moments they were given.  Think about the “prequels” (those “things” that only exist in a parallel universe for some) and how much fan-service Lucas crammed in with R2 being able to fly, C3PO being “programmed” by Anakin and other such nonsense.  Instead, Disney treated the Original Trilogy with the kid gloves of a high priestess unwrapping the Holiest of Holies to reveal before a congregation of true believers and new acolytes.  They pay just enough fan service to the former, while whetting the appetite for the later, telling both groups, “Yes.  It’s true.  All of it.” 

But you HAVE heard of him!
Chewbacca, what a Wookie, is the perfect example of this.  In The Force Awakens, instead of treating him as a throw-away character present for comic relief and not good even to receive a medal (please don’t retcon in the comments for me, I already know the arguments), we see the deep, deep friendship that had to exist all along between Han and him.  We see that he has friendships beyond the Falcon and Solo.  He argues, cajoles, grows angry and emotional, especially during THAT ONE SCENE at the end.  He doesn’t swing on a vine with a Tarzan-esque cry for the sake of juxtaposed “hilarity”.  He’s an intelligent being of deep emotion that has never been revealed on film before now.  And yet, there he is, and you can just feel, just FEEL the waves that come off him during THAT ONE SCENE.  Of all the Star Wars souls we've encountered, his may be the most . . . human!

There are so many clever nuanced moments that reflect Disney’s deep understanding of the Original Trilogy.  Gone (mostly) are the days when Disney would release sequels direct-to-video to suck at the pockets of parents trying to keep their children silent for thirty minutes.  This Star Wars crew knows they’re dealing with a series that has both hardcore fans and casual viewers.  They’ve walked that line perfectly with both The Force Awakens and Rogue One so much so that I’m willing to cut them a great deal of slack on these kinds of decisions, including leaving Leia out of the “last” movie.

After all, Han Solo won’t appear in Episodes VIII and IX either!

No comments:

Post a Comment