Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Star Wars sold to Disney: new film in 2015

The things that happen when you go to bed early, eh? In a nutshell, George Lucas has sold Lucasfilm to Disney, who intend to continue the series. George will continue as a consultant. We can only speculate, at this point, what direction this will take. First, what does this transition mean in terms of popular appeal? Disney was a wildly varied reputation, from employees referring to it as Mauschwitz and Duckau, to it being the beloved object of adoration for sweet little children. It also controls the innovative Pixar studios and the Marvel comic franchise. It is this latter piece of ownership that may make many people swoon. The recent Marvel films have been unanimously well-received, filled with derring-do, action and likeable characters. These elements all bear comparison with Star Wars, but there is one major difference. Whereas Star Wars fans tend to be split on whether the Prequel Trilogy is incomparably glorious or diabolically disastrous, in part because of George's creative decisions, there is no such evident split in fan appreciation of the recent Marvel flicks.

There are some people who still associate Disney solely with fairy-tale princesses and talking furniture, but there is clearly a wider aspect to the corporation. I shall make some people swoon now by suggesting the first thing that I thought: the director of the Avengers flick was Joss Whedon, who has shown consistently good form on the small screen and the silver. He even has specific experience of a sci-fi show in which a small rag-tag band of rebels fight against an evil empire. Heck, the band's leader is clearly in the mould of Han Solo. Whether Joss would be interested is arguable, and the extent to which George's consultant role will enable him to poke at stuff is as yet unclear. The potential of the situation is pretty clear. For some years now, there has been talk of a live-action TV series, and George had apparently been unwilling to proceed without firm editorial control and the certainty of not being cancelled if the start was bumpy. With the backing of the Disney corporation, that coming to pass just became much more likely.

Something else that strikes me as very promising is Disney's lust for marketing and selling associated paraphernalia. Is there a major shopping centre that lacks a Disney Store? A lustful and mercenary nature is something unattractive in a human, but in a corporation, it means they desperately want you to give them money, which can have excellent consequences. Something I have wanted ever since I was a little boy is a ruleset for playing Star Wars fleet battles. Taking into account the current release of the X-Wing skirmish game, as well as Disney's mercenary nature, that just took another step closer to reality. I should say that I am aware that there are rulesets out there suitable for the setting, and that what I am really after is a large range of correctly-scaled models.

When it comes to George, I don't tend toward either of the extremes. I don't appreciate his faffing about with the details of the original films, e.g. inserting Christiansen in place of Sebastian Shaw at the end of RotJ. On the other hand, I do not regard the Prequels as the unmitigated disaster that some folk do. I even harbour a heretical thought about Jarjar that will enrage both camps: he's so bad he's good. The largest problem I have with George is that old maxim: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Too long has he had his own way about everything. This has led to some thoroughly boneheaded ideas: who was the protagonist of Episode I? What's with choosing accents that will make people think you're a racist? Why is a Black and White Minstrel with floppy ears the comic relief? If anyone had been prepared to stand up to him and point out these problems, we would probably have got a better film. If George had decided to get a better director than himself in, we would probably have seen a better film.

He himself says that he wants to see the franchise outlive him, and he wants to oversee the handover while he still has time. George has had some great ideas, but he has had some truly awful ones, too. I expect that what we will see from Disney will divide opinion. We can only wait and see whether they decide to use Thrawn for Episode VII. He is much-beloved of fans of the Expanded Universe, but who else has heard of the guy? If you haven't, then he's a blue-skinned, red-eyed alien admiral, commanding the remnants of the Imperial Fleet five years after Endor. He is Sherlock Holmes on a spaceship, and his loyal confidant is Captain Pellaeon, who is rather in the mould of Nigel Bruce's Dr Watson. The trilogy (written by Timothy Zahn) in which he appears is very enjoyable, but I am not sure we shall see it on the big screen. First, it is full of detail. Second, George has never been keen on using others' visions of his work, and he will be a consultant. Third, it means working to an established script: we do not yet know whether Disney will take a wholly new tack or decide to recycle work. All we can expect for sure are Jedi, spaceships and blasters. I am looking forward to this. Pardon me the inevitable pun, but I see this acquisition as -



  1. I will also stand up and say Jar jar Binks does not bother me in Phantom Menace, I actually like his comedy relief. I do however object to the five minutes he's in Attack of the Clones because after standing beside Amidala who has openly opposed a clone army for years as soon as she puts him in control he goes 'meesah thinks it's a good idea for a clone army'. I can only justify that by assuming Chancellor Palpatine manioulated him with the Force but it still make it painful that they put someone with such a weak mind in charge of such a potnentially disastrous decisison.

    1. Yeah, he's awful subsequently. I recall a reviewer suggesting he's hungover. That would explain his choice of clothing!


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