Apart from my Dad, everyone can remember the first time they saw Star Wars: A New Hope. My father saw it as a good opportunity for a nap when he took me in 1982. It was after all a double bill with Empire Strikes Back, and why stare a gift Bantha in the mouth. He woke up to contribute his critique that it was ‘a bit loud,’ which could have equally applied to his snoring as to the destruction of the Death star, (sorry for the spoiler).
However, there are plenty of people who remember seeing A Phantom Menace for the first time only far too well. The loudest sound in the cinema was jaws hitting the carpet with disbelief as the anticipated swashbuckling adrenaline was replaced by intricacies of intergalactic trade taxation and CGI muppets with comedy ears.
‘A bit loud’ perfectly sums up the imminent onslaught of the new Star Wars films, of which there is one a year planned until at 2019, or the end of time, Disney are undecided. And that excludes the TV series spin off, the toys, the lunchboxes, the soaps, bathrobes and stickers. Intergalactic domination plans by the Imperial Empire seem rather lacking in ambition compared to Disney’s intentions.
There are soon to be films between films, inc. Rogue Squadron – Episode 3 1/2, which covers how the plans to the Death Star were recovered. These are sorts of details that even George Lucas hadn’t considered. The Force Awakens, will presumably be followed by the Force Awakens, and scrambles for its reading glasses, before The Force Awakens and realises it left its wallet in the taxi home last night. .
The problem is that everyone has ‘their’ Star Wars. Part of its appeal was that peripheral characters had a fully implied back-story, even if we weren’t ever going to discover what it was. It allowed for us to fill in the blanks with our imagination. Boba Fett obviously had a heart-stoppingly cool spaceship which rather gave his line of business away (Slave 1), but we had no idea if he slept in his helmet or not. We know that Nien Numb was evidently a shit hot pilot but without being told why, nor how he and Lando met. We didn’t know about the bylaws for parks and open spaces on the Death Star, or the Republic Senate’s taxation policies. George Lucas made the mistake of telling us the later, and it was possibly selling the saga rights to Disney that prevented him from explaining the former.
More people would only have seen the trailer for JJ Abrams’ new The Force Awakens, if it had finalised the meaning of life, which of course it didn’t; although seeing a Star Destroyer crashed into a planet came close. The new film has raised (new) hopes to escalated levels. It is reassuring that the new droid destined to replace R2D2, BB-8, is a real-life model.
One suspects even Abrams lost sleep over George Lucas deciding that R2 D2 could fly in Attack of the Clones. This ranks as one of the most annoying things ever committed to film. I mean how can a character have a crucial skill that is then forgotten for a subsequent three films. It’s like Daniel LaRusso already knowing karate, and not requiring Mr. Miyagi to teach him.
If R2 had rocket thrusters then why didn’t he fly to give Luke his light sabre in Return of the Jedi, as opposed to risk shooting it across the Sarlacc? Lucas claims that the droids were re- programmed, which is about as robust as telling your wife that the mistress wanted the carpet manufacturer’s details to explain her presence under the bed. And don’t even get me started on the fact that Darth Vader actually made C3-PO. And how about Obi-Wan saying: I don’t seem to remember ever owning a droid..” He doesn’t recall THREE films in which he had 2 droids? This being a man who can wield a light sabre and control people’s minds, yet would fail at naming missing objects in the tray game.
Even the toys had their own frustration, AT THE TIME I hasten to add, I do not sleep under an IG-88 duvet surrounded by Storm troopers in their original packaging. I have a girlfriend instead. But, the scale of the model Death Star was so disappointingly small that the trash compactor from which Luke, Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca escape is so near to Princess Leia’s cell that that its operation would have kept prisoners awake at night, and frankly in no fit state for effective interrogation. Admittedly, an accurately scaled Death Star would have been the size of a small London suburb, but 7 year olds have never been interested in practicalities.
It’s hard to know who is going to be more excited about the imminent onslaught. There are grown adults who when asked ‘what are you thinking?’ at short notice, would admit to having been imagining red Imperial guards in actual combat. While others maybe thinking that the new character Captain Phasma is a slightly rubbish name, like she named herself this when she was 14 and wishing it hadn’t stuck.
But then it was always kids film. So, making a film to appeal to both is an interesting tightrope for the makers. Knowing how quickly children outgrown anything deliberately aimed at them, one hopes the new films will be made for adults, and the children can tag along. Mind you, I feel sorry for anyone who thinks Star Wars is overrated, and even for those that love it. We may about to be encountering too much of a good thing.
My novel – the Life Assistance Agency is available to buy here – myBook.to/lifeassistance