For Day Five of Sci Fi on my blog, it has to be a talk about the well known franchise of Star Wars. I think it would be sacrilegious to any Sci Fi fan if it were missed off the list; and as Disney have just announced that they have bought LucasFilm from creator George Lucas, it seems apt that I give my take on a series that has undoubtedly taken over the world.
The first film to be released, which would later become Episode IV, was Stars Wars: A New Hope in 1977. Here we were introduced to the well known characters of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. They find themselves thrown in to the very middle of the civil war that rages the galaxy and antagonist Darth Vader makes his appearance. The film was hugely successful and spawned two sequels, The Empire Strikes back and The Return of the Jedi respectively.
In 1999, released sixteen years after the last film, The Phantom Menace was released to cinemas around the world and started off a well publicised, well budgeted prequel trilogy that stars some of the more well known celebrities of today; Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Liam Neeson. This prequel series had to dramatise the events that led up to the first three films; events that fans of the series already knew about. Despite receiving mixed reviews, these films went on and became huge Box Office hits raking in millions.
I’ve got to be honest, because I only feel it fair, I wasn’t a fan of the Star Wars franchise, and to some extent I’m still not. What I do respect is that the first trilogy helped create a new Science Fiction cult following and the second trilogy (the prequel series) introduced an ageing franchise to a new generation of fans. There are not many film series’ out there that span six films and what this does is help create a world full of possibilities and endless ventures that fans can be drawn to.
I think I need to back up my reasoning of not being a Star Wars fan before I receive hate mail. I was born in 1987 and by the time I was old enough to watch these sorts of films, the original three films seemed outdated and very wooden to me. I didn’t quite grasp the idea of other galaxies and life amongst the stars; I was drawn more to fantasy worlds such as The NeverEnding Story and adventure films such as The Goonies. Despite being reputable at the time, the special effects seemed a little naff to me and I had a particular annoyance with the Light Sabre and preferred much more to see real sword fights that seemed more realistic.
But when The Phantom Menace came around, I did go and see it at the cinema. I was 12 at the time and I was blown away by the special effects, but not so blown away by the acting. However, I did like the storyline and I loved the character of Queen Amidala and the trouble down on Naboo. I quite liked the concept and despite many critics I completely understood the appearance of Jar Jar Binks.
However, to my dismay, when the sequels were released, imagine my surprise when the Anakin Skywalker had grown up and was replaced by actor Hayden Christensen. Is it me, or can that actor not act? He completely ruined the films for me and I took yet another backseat to all of the mass media surrounding the trilogy as a whole.
If you ever get the chance to come over to England, one of the things you’ll be quick to discover is that we British have a love of soap operas, or soaps as we call them. Long running serial dramas on TV that cast dysfunctional characters into our lives as if they were real. Despite some of the cheesiness, we do love them. To me Star Wars is just like a long running soap, cheesy, yet well loved. A bit harsh?
But what you can’t deny is the success of the film series, never mind the other media’s such as books, games, cartoons etc. The film series as a whole (the six films) has grossed a whopping $4 billion dollars. That is some serious money – so there must be a demand for more?
I suppose what Disney need to do for me is re-invent the series, not changing anything dramatically, but give it a new sense of life. Sustain well acting with realistic, explosive special effects, and if they manage to do that I am sure they will create a new series for a new generation of Science Fiction fans. If they do that, then we will probably see a resurgence in the original two trilogies as well.
So being panned for a 2015 release for Episode VII and you may be surprised to hear that yes, in fact I will be going to see it. I want to like the Star Wars world, I really do, but to do that some things need to accepted. I think I need to accept that I am not going to fall in love with it like other people will. But, if I can sit and watch it, without getting bored or seemingly fall unconscious at a badly written script, then I think that would be successful.
I welcome any discussion on the series as a whole whether you loved it or hated it, but please do respect that people will have differing opinions than your own and that is OK. What is your favourite film out of the six? Are you looking forward to the new release in 2015? Or are you fuming that Disney are taking over the rights?
*Please note: i have taken the pictures above from various websites. I do not own any of the them*