Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Lucas Responds to Episode 7 Release

I'm glad to know that it's not just me. I'm not alone in the pit of despair in determining personal feelings for Star Wars Episode VII. Since the film's release, as more professional reviewers and audience responses are posted, the Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes scores has been steadily dropping on the film. Metacritic users score it a 6.9 out of 10. Still a good score for a film, but not as high as the initial 9's and 10's being issued prior to December 18th. And what I've been seeing from the updated reviews echo my concerns: there is nothing in Ep 7 that propels the Star Wars universe forward. It feels like a modernization of the original trilogy- a fan fiction of what J.J. Abrams and Disney execs liked about Episode 4 through 6, and popped it into one movie.

And George Lucas, creator of the universe that we fangasm over, agrees. Appearing on the Charlie Rose show last week, he gave his input on the new film (having to provide a follow-up clarification on a statement; which is a rare thing for this man) and the direction of the upcoming Episodes.

"They wanted to do a retro movie. I don't like that. Every movie I work very hard to make them completely different, with different planets, with different spaceships, make it new."

Lucas continued by commenting that he had created story lines for Episode 7-9, but they were scrapped by Disney in favor of appealing to the older crowd that was likely to bring in more money. Which means retro! It's kind of a thing, particularly with marketing. While the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney allowed Lucas to retain a position as a high ranking shareholder and a creative consultant to future projects, Disney ultimately has the final say in what happens.

They didn't want Lucas to be involved.

While some of you may think that it's a great thing because you didn't like the Prequels, I would argue that the lack of his voice (as the father of the galaxy) stifled the creativity of Episode 7. We saw a re-imagining of Episode 4; not a new story.

If you think about it, Hollywood films have been doing this for decades. It's become more apparent lately as fewer original ideas are produced. It's a lot of rehashing of older films, making books and graphic novels into movies and tv series, and so on. When you look at the top grossing films of 2015, the only movie that could be considered a unique idea of the top 10 is Inside Out. I could only pick out 1 other movies in the top 50 (Home, a Dreamworks animated film), that could be classified as a new idea or non-remake. Everything else is either a reboot, remake, sequel, or some amalgamation of all of the above. And it works. People clearly still buy tickets for older products that have a fresh coat of paint. It's something that Lucas did not want to do with the Prequels, and still won't do with new properties/titles that he invests in.

Can you blame him? I'm tired of it as much as the next film critic. I want new content.

Love or hate Mr. Lucas, he makes some valid points about the state of Hollywood and commercialism. The industry is being held back to pursue profits. Eventually audiences are going to get tired of the same thing and want new ideas. By then we'll be so far removed from creativity that we won't have content to give. Scary.

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