Yesterday it was announced by Disney and Lucasfilm that a new “Star Wars” film would be released once a year, beginning with 2015’s “Episode VII.” The announcement, which was given at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, stated that future films would alternate between installments in the main, Roman numeral-based series, and standalone films. The overall number of films that Disney intends to produce at this time is unknown.
For my money, I couldn’t be happier about this news. Let’s see twenty new Star Wars films, one every year. Let’s make looking forward to the next Star Wars film an annual tradition. Why not? To me, the prospect of getting a new film from my all-time favorite cinematic universe delivered to me every year, at the same time, indefinitely, sounds like we’ve arrived at the freaking promised land.
Now, this might sound kind of odd considering my opinion of a lot of the Star Wars output from the last decade and a half. In spite of having seen all of the prequel films in the theaters, and even recently going back and shelling out like 15 bucks to see the first one in 3D, I honestly hate the living fuck out of those movies. They are terrible films that sully the name of a beautiful work of art. In my opinion the “Mr. Plinkett” reviews of those films by Red Letter Media were the best thing to come from that whole disgusting affair. I was also not very interested in Cartoon Network’s CGI animated “Clone Wars” series, although some said it was decent.
But the reason I didn’t appreciate that stuff wasn’t just because it besmirched a film franchise that I had put on a golden pedestal for so long, but because it totally killed my trust in George Lucas’ ability to tell his own story. This was a guy who started out with an inspired science-fiction spin on Joseph Campbell’s classic monomyth, a post-modern space opera for post-Vietnam America, and in some kind of crazed mid-life crisis he went back over the whole thing and ran it into the ground. Actors became action figures. Lightsaber battles became toy ads. And any remaining political satire was now as dry as watching three hours of C-SPAN.
But now that Lucas has relinquished the reins to his series, all bets are off. To be sure, Disney is now at the top of the command chain, but optimistically, they still have a better track record of producing films that I enjoy than Lucas did on his on. I’m sure that some of the films they release will be shameless toy commercials, but there are bound to be a few that are worth seeing. Certainly more than there have been.
For starters, J.J. Abrams and “Little Miss Sunshine” writer Michael Arndt are already onboard for the upcoming “Episode VII,” the first in a planned sequel trilogy. Abrams proved he was ready for it back in 2006 when he turned in a “Mission: Impossible” film that was equally smart and cool, a film that saved that series from the abyss, before essentially re-imagining “Star Trek” as a Star Wars film in 2009.
Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Who wouldn’t love to see a Brad Bird-helmed Star Wars film after seeing him turn in one of the smartest action movies of the last decade with “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.” Maybe “Firefly” creator Joss Whedon will get a chance to take the Millenium Falcon out for a spin. Perhaps Genndy Tartakovsky will be given a feature-length sandbox to play in and finish what he started with his 2003 animated “Star Wars: Clone Wars” shorts. I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing a few Star Wars movies from Pixar. And now they’re saying standalone movies are being planned? Spin-offs showcasing earlier adventures of characters like Han Solo and Boba Fett? Bring it on!
Aside from my overall optimism at the prospect of Disney taking over the franchise, I’m also at the point where I just don’t care anymore about being a cynical, territorial, jaded fanboy. The original trilogy will always be a beautiful little cinematic gem for me, it will always have sentimental value for me, but aside from that, go crazy. If we have to get over-produced summer tentpole flicks every year, they might as well be Star Wars flicks instead of bullshit like “Hunger Games” or “Percy Jackson.” The Star Wars ones I might actually go see. And in the future, if I have kids, I want to be able to take them to new Star Wars movies. That would seem like an awesome family tradition to have. Who the hell is losing with this?
I can’t blame anyone for feeling wary at the news that Disney will be pushing out a new Star Wars film every year until Kingdom Come. For a fanbase that has already been burned once, this news sounds like more abuse just waiting to happen. But I’m optimistic. What’s the worst that could happen? You saw a bad Star Wars movie by Disney? I’d almost guarantee it isn’t the low-point of the series, and you’ll still have a good time with it. And you never know. Some of these movies might actually turn out to be pretty freaking cool.