This Disney/Star Wars Lark

The internet (and elsewhere) has been exploding with rumours and speculation in the last couple of weeks following probably the biggest film related news of the year; the announcement that Disney had bought Lucasfilm and is developing more ‘Star Wars’ movies.

Of course, the reactions were mixed, with plenty of idiotic comments about ‘childhood raping’ and such still appearing, alongside other people’s excited anticipation.

Me? Well, I just didn’t care.

I’ve tried to like ‘Star Wars’, I really have. Every few years (this one included) I’ve watched the original trilogy in an attempt to understand why so many people like it so much. I just can’t. They’re not bad films, but they are very, very far from perfect, and I have many problems with them (something I might write about in detail when I next try a re-watch). It’s always angered me to see them topping ‘best film ever’ lists. Better films come out every year.

That said, I can’t get behind the negative reactions to this news. ‘Star Wars’ hasn’t been anything even vaguely resembling a filmic sacred cow for decades now. They’ve been continually fiddled with and altered for numerous shameless money-grabbing re-releases, the latest of which, the 3D ones, are mostly still to come. They’ve probably been milked harder and more times than any other films.

Then of course, there’s the prequels. Now they may not be entirely deserving of all the bile spewed at them by long-time fans they’re hardly good films worthy of praise either. It’s unlikely sequels would be received any worse.

This brings me to why I think the Disney takeover is a good thing. Firstly, despite all the negativity surrounding the prequels, each one was huge. Not just in terms of box office but the hype and anticipation building up to their release. If ‘Star Wars’ films are coming out every few years, maybe people will stop treating each release as some kind of earth-shatteringly important event.

Then there’s Lucas himself. I could never dislike the man, after all he created Indiana Jones (and I love ‘American Graffiti’ too), but he’s a man of ideas, not of execution when it comes to movies. His stories seem better off being brought to the screen by other people. Plus he’s said so many contradictory things about ‘Star Wars’ over the years that it’s hard to tell what he really thinks. The one thing I feel I can say for sure is that he certainly did not have the whole story planned out from the start. Did he want to make the prequels? I don’t know. Was he the best man to do it? Almost certainly not. Free from the burden of ‘Star Wars’ maybe he’ll make smaller, interesting films again, (he’s suggested such), I hope so.

Most of the questionable decisions Disney could be feared to make, such altering old stories, aiming everything at a younger audience, overemphasis on merchandising, keeping older films unavailable for eventual re-releases etc. are things that have already been done to ‘Star Wars’. They seem to be two companies fairly in tune with one another, and a good match. Let’s not forget that Disney is hardly a company known for making bad films either.

This is also one of a series of acquisitions Disney has made recently, others being Pixar (which sold for considerably more) and Marvel. They’ve both turned out more than alright. If they do the same job with Lucasfilm, people needn’t worry. They need to hire the right people, and allow them to explore the possibilities of the ‘Star Wars’ universe without having to be slavishly tied to the previous films. If any of the original cast appears, it should be in a plot centric cameo. With the confirmation that Michael Arndt as screenwriter (‘Toy Story 3’, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’), they already seem headed in the right direction.

Who knows, maybe there’ll end up being a ‘Star Wars’ movie I really like?

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