The name may invoke nostalgic memories of youth. It may remind you of the bitter after taste left by the rather disappointing prequels. Regardless of how you feel about Star Wars, it cannot be denied that it has defined numerous generations. Now, with J.J Abrams at the helm of Episode VII, it’s all about to happen again. Hopefully (please, please let it be good).
Star Wars is undeniably a cultural phenomenon. It was the first motion picture event. It doesn’t need to be categorised or marketed as one. It just is. When George Lucas set out to make his vision of Star Wars the movie industry thought he was mad. Lucas, much to everyone’s surprise, managed to deliver Star Wars: A New Hope and ignited the world into a Star Wars frenzy. The rest, as they say, is history.
An unfortunate side effect to the success of Star Wars and Indiana Jones was George Lucas became some form of movie deity. He could do no wrong and it was on this wave of utter reverence that Lucas went into the prequels are writer, director and producer. The people surrounding Lucas were in no position to question the man who made Star Wars, how could they? In the special features documenting the making of the prequels, many of the producers and staff supporting Lucas were afraid to voice their opinions. Tip toeing around the all-powerful Lucas. This collection of yes-(wo)men that surrounded Lucas failed to question him on missteps the prequel trilogy was making and the end result was resounding disappointment.
Characters were one-dimensional. Dialogue was wooden and uninspired. The plot made little to no sense at times. Who could blame them for thinking it was impossible to screw up Star Wars and somehow they managed to. Key plot lines in the Star Wars universe were farted out onto the big screen. The rise of the Galactic Empire and Anakin’s transformation into Vader were met with shock horror rather than the glee and excitement that the original trilogy invoked in audience members.
It seemed the magic was lost. Lucas eventually sold Star Wars to Disney in a deal that rocked the movie industry. Star Wars was now in the hands of one of the most successful production companies in the world. Disney wasted no time in announcing their plans to continue the franchise. Star Wars: Episode VII releasing in 2015 and the introduction of the Star Wars Anthology, a set of spin-off tales set in the Star Wars universe, in and around the main trilogy sets. Rogue One (releasing in 2016), the first in the anthology, is an interesting proposition. One that is exciting and one that could have, or indeed should have, been the prequel we received back in 1999.
“It’s about the fact that God’s not coming to save us. We’re on our own and we have to do this ourselves.” – Gareth Edwards
The prequels made the mistake of fabricating story lines that people weren’t exactly clamoring to be told (I was dying to hear about the trade embargo of Naboo, honest). The original trilogy did have moments left open to the imagination and ripe for expansion. The details we’ve received about Rogue One so far are: “A band of resistance fighters must unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans”
Felicity Jones (who was spectacular in The Theory of Everything) has been tapped to play a rebel soldier. Not a Jedi Knight. In fact this film seems to deal with the ordinary beings apart of the rebellion and not the conflict between the Jedi and Sith. That’s a refreshing take on the Star Wars universe, one that hasn’t been emphasised before. Gareth Edwards is directing. His history is a mixed bag. His version of Godzilla (2014), while lacking in the narrative department, certainly looked wonderful. The imagery and direction was probably the strongest part of Godzilla so he could prove to be an inspired choice. The right man to bring a sense of realism and grittiness to the Star Wars saga.
The Star Wars Anthology could prove to provide us with a set of films that flesh out the Star Wars Universe in a way the prequels couldn’t. Rogue One answers critical questions from the original trilogy and ultimately could be the prequel treatment we deserved all along.
Taj Sandhu is an editor and co-founder of NovaCritic.com.