Wednesday, September 12, 2018

"Recapturing the 'Magic' of 'STAR WARS'"


When a good number of critics and STAR WARS fans start talking about how Lucasfilm and the Disney Studios need to recapture the "magic", I could not help but wonder what "magic" to which they were referring. The "magic" of Disney's first film in the franchise, "STAR WARS: EPISODE VII - THE FORCE AWAKENS"? The six films that George Lucas had produced between 1977 and 2005? Or the "magic" of the franchise’s Original Trilogy? 

If these fans and critics were referring to the "magic" of the Original Trilogy, I find this demand rather ironic. And I find it personally ironic, considering that it took me several years to appreciate that particular trilogy after it first came out, long ago. Do I want the "magic" of the Original Trilogy to be repeated? No. Not really. Or should I say . . . not literally. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, "you can’t repeat the past". But a person can move on and experience or create something new in his or her life. And in regard to a movie, a novel or any other works of art . . . a person can create something new, while at the same time, pay homage to a past work of art or form a narrative connection to it. 

I am a big fan of the Original Trilogy movies, the Prequel Trilogy movies, "ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY" and "SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY". Even though it took a few years to appreciate them, I became a big fan of the Original Trilogy. And one of the reasons why I am such a big fan of the Prequel Trilogy films, "ROGUE ONE" and "SOLO" is that while having a connection to the Original Trilogy from a narrative point of view, those five films managed to offer something new to the franchise. 

The Prequel Trilogy had depicted the downfalls of Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader, the Jedi Order, and the Galactic Republic. The trilogy also conveyed how these calamities led to the emergence of the Galactic Empire and the Sith in the form of Emperor Sheev Palpatine. And the trilogy did all of this with a great deal of ambiguity that I found more than satisfying. This ambiguity was also on display in stand alone movies like "ROGUE ONE" and "SOLO""ROGUE ONE"not only told the story of the theft of the Death Star plans; but with a great deal of brutality hardly ever seen in previous movies of the STAR WARS franchise. "SOLO" conveyed the origins of Han Solo, one of the leading characters from the Original Trilogy. Unlike the STAR WARS films before it, "SOLO" gave audiences more than a mere peek into the criminal underworld within the STAR WARS saga. Ironically, the leading protagonists of both stand alone films were not Force sensitive individuals. 

The Original Trilogy was not perfect. Neither were the Prequel Trilogy, “ROGUE ONE” and “SOLO”. I believe that the two trilogies and the two stand alone films had their flaws. But for me, their virtues . . . in which originality happen to be one of them … far outweighed their flaws. However, I cannot say the same about the first two films featured in the recent Sequel Trilogy, produced by Lucasfilm and the Disney Studios.

I am willing to give the trilogy points for conveying some originality. None of the three major protagonists is a white male. The main antagonist, who is constantly compared to Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader, did not come from an obscure background and/or upbringing. And this same antagonist had killed his evil mentor halfway into the trilogy. Despite these bouts of originality, I am simply not that impressed by this new trilogy. I believe there are too many plot holes and inconsistent characterizations for me to regard it as worthy entertainment. Worse, I feel that the trilogy’s first two films had borrowed just a bit too much from the 1977-1983 movies for me to regard it as truly original. In fact, the Sequel Trilogy’s overall narrative seemed to be a re-hash of the Original Trilogy’s Rebel Alliance-Galactic Empire conflict and the rise of Luke Skywalker as Jedi Knight. And the numerous plot holes make me begin to wonder if the trilogy’s main narrative was ever outlined in advance.

When people talk about recapturing the "magic" of the past . . . or the Original Trilogy, I find myself wondering what exactly do they want. Do they want a re-hash of the Original Trilogy? If so, the Sequel Trilogy seemed to be fulfilling that demand. Or perhaps this demand is centered around having major protagonists who are white males. Who knows? But if these fans and critics are referring to the "spirit" of the 1977-83 trilogy, then I am at a loss. What exactly is this "spirit" or "magic"? I cannot help but wonder if an answer my last question might be riddled with pitfalls. I believe it could easily be perceived in so many ways.

Personally, I simply want a STAR WARS movie that not only connects to any of the previous films in the franchise, but also provide something truly original . . . and well-written. The movie does not have to be perfect. I have yet to see a perfect movie - even one from the STAR WARS franchise. Nor do I expect it to be. But I hope that the franchise’s future movies . . . whether they are parts of a serial or merely a stand alone . . . will be a lot better than the first two Sequel Trilogy films.

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