Sunday, January 27, 2013

Guest Post: A Fangirl's Thoughts on Episode VII and Beyond...

By Elian Lisette

I can still recall the chills racing up my spine as I followed my parents into the darkness of the movie theatre to see Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. I've seen many films in theatres, but none of them equal my first and last Star Wars cinema experience. I was born long after the original trilogy and, because I was too young, my parents wouldn't take me to Revenge of the Sith.

Now, I'm starting to get those chills all over again. Because almost a decade since Revenge of the Sith, a whole new series of Star Wars movies is on its way. It could become what Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy was for the Batman franchise, or what The Avengers and its predecessors were for Marvel. On the other hand, it could flop. As of now, it is still hard to say.

I know there are many fans who don't want to talk about Episode VII, for fear of having their hopes ground into tiny pieces and blasted into oblivion. But think of this: if you aren't hoping for anything, you'll miss the delight of surprise or gratification. The other day, I was talking with my dad about the new film and the fact that J. J. Abrams will be directing it (mind you, my dad was the one who showed me A New Hope when I was just a wee youngling). His opinion was simple but significant.

The Star Wars fan following has changed drastically since the first film was released in 1977. The Internet has allowed fans from all over the world to share, communicate, role-play, host podcasts (like these awesome people!), and make fan videos. The spin-offs through shows, novels, and games are countless. The merchandising industry alone for figurines and collectables is insane in its size and grandeur. What used to be a simple film trilogy for people like my parents thirty years ago has become an entire subculture!

Still, in another way, the fan following remains unchanged. The underlying themes in the Star Wars universe are the same as they always were—the Force, the ways of the Jedi and Sith, and someone will always have a bad feeling about this. The timeless characters like Darth Vader and Yoda are still with us. Whenever I watch Attack of the Clones I feel like I'm back in the darkness of that movie theatre, surrounded by an asteroid field of popcorn and candy wrappers. There are elements of Star Wars that should never be touched, never be altered, and certainly not “modernized” or “updated”. There is an unexplainable, unidentifiable Disney-like magic (get it? Disney?) in the air whenever someone so much as mentions those words...Star Wars. And nobody I've met can either explain or identify it, but every fan knows it's there, and there is a way to do it and there is a way not to do it.

What my dad told me in regards to Episode VII is this. The minds behind the new films should acknowledge how Star Wars has changed, and how it has not changed. It is that simple. It would be suicidal for Abrams to try to mimic the original trilogy. So also for him to create an entirely new and different world. It is the same thing I saw in the 2011 film Super 8 (also directed by Abrams). Super 8 had the feel of a classic alien movie from the 80's, complete with kids on bicycles who were ten times more street-smart than the stuck-up adult cops and soldiers...E.T., anyone? But it also included the elements of a fresh, modern thriller with the kind of special effects and nail-biting suspense 80's movies did not and could not have.

That is what we need for Star Wars: Episode VII. And yes, I believe J. J. Abrams is up for the challenge.

Before I close up, there is another matter regarding Star Wars I would like to discuss. I mentioned earlier that the fan following of Star Wars has changed drastically since its inception. While the new series of films must maintain both the timeless qualities of the franchise as well as appeal to the younger fans, another aspect of Star Wars is waiting underneath all the Episode VII hype, simmering and boiling. It is a spin-off along the same lines of the Expanded Universe or The Clone Wars CGI-animated series. If brought to life, it would go above and beyond the family-friendly, figuratively black-and-white Star Wars we have always known. Yes. I am talking about a Star Wars made for adults only.

Hear me out before you dismiss me as trying to tarnish what has always been a family-friendly franchise. The new films should not exceed PG-13 ratings, I agree. However, to pin all of Star Wars as “family-friendly” denies potential for the franchise. I believe a Star Wars sub-genre allowed to take those ratings up a few notches would open the door for a whole other level to shine. In other words, without restriction as family-friendly, we could learn a lot more about what goes on in the Bounty Hunters' Guild, the Imperial Empire, the Hutt clan, the Coruscant underworld, and so much more. Good and evil have always been well-defined in Star Wars. What if all those gray areas of the in-betweens were addressed directly? Have we truly seen the wrath of the Sith or the Empire at their finest?

Yes, we can have all those while still maintaining family-friendly content, but let me put it this way. No one would deny that films like The Departed or Schindler's List (both rated R for graphic content) would not have been the same if watered down to PG or PG-13 ratings. Heath Ledger's 'Joker' didn't impress us until he slammed a pencil into a man's head as a personal gag. Bruce Willis' famous line from the Die Hard movies wouldn't have been the same if it was, “Yippie-kai-yay, die, foul beast!” (All right, maybe the last example was a bit lame.)

You might have guessed that I am getting to a specific topic: Star Wars: Underworld. I have heard lots of rumors about this supposed live-action series. For now, all I can say is I hope it comes through and we get to see it happen. I hope this is the Breaking Bad or The Godfather of Star Wars. I really do. I am also thinking about the video game, Star Wars: 1313, which should be released this December. These two are taking a new Star Wars sub-genre in the direction it should go. Not everyone is going to like it, but it is going to draw in the people who love Star Wars but also want some real, raw, and, yes, mature stories. I am one of those people.

Keep the kids entertained with the Star Wars we all know and adore. But do not neglect to feed the adults with something a bit deeper under the surface.

To put it plainly, what I want to see in the years to come is a break-off from the Star Wars we have always known. I want to see what has been happening behind the scenes. I want to see a darker, scarier, more complex world where there are no Jedi values, no distinct right or wrong, an unpredictable twist at every turn. I love the fact that Star Wars has always been family-friendly, but as I already mentioned, I'm not talking about the movies nor the Expanded Universe. Rather, a Star Wars I can sink my teeth into.

Those are my thoughts on current Star Wars events and issues. Thank you for reading!

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization

About Elian: I am a college student and have recently succeeded in self-publishing my first e-book. I love the Star Wars films and the fact that more are on their way. My favorite Star Wars character of all-time is and always will be Cad Bane...and yes, mostly because of his hat. In my mind, General Grievous still lives and Obi-Wan Kenobi is really a posh Brit in disguise. Other than that, I write whatever I can, wherever I can, as long as I have enough coffee and chocolate in my bloodstream.

You can follow her further adventures here!


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