The 411 Movies Top 5 11.30.12: Week 350 - Top 5 Star Wars Requests
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 11.30.2012
From resurrecting Yoda and gruesomely killing off Jar Jar Binks to bringing back the original cast, cutting down on the CGI, picking the right director and more, the 411 staff ranks their top 5 wanted things in the new Star Wars films!
Welcome to Week 350 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.
5. The return of the Ewoks and Gungans- and they get to live
I know a lot of serious Star Wars fans absolutely despise both the Ewoks and the Gungans because they're too lame and "kiddie" or, even worse, just schemes for George Lucas to make money off "kid friendly" merchandise. And I wouldn't be surprised to find out that plenty of serious Star Wars fans would love to see them come back, but only for a second or two so they could be massacred. I am not one of those Star Wars fans. I actually like both the Ewoks and the Gungans and would love to see them both come back and participate in the battle against the bad guys. They're an integral part of the Star Wars universe, they really do matter (why would the arrogant Trade Federation, under the direct control of Darth Sidious, or the Empire, think goofy lizard creatures and little furry midget bears are any threat to them? They're the Trade Federation/Empire). There's also nothing wrong with trying to appeal to kids. Star Wars is, after all, for kids (it's for everyone, and kids are part of the "everyone").
4. More Pod Racing
The Pod racing sequence in The Phantom Menace was one of that flick's many highlights, and I think it would be cool to either see more Pod racing in general in the next trilogy (sort of a "bringing an old tradition back to bring the New Republic together" kind of thing) or, even cooler, a kind of spin-off where it's all about Pod racing. Maybe there's a galaxy wide circuit, like NASCAR, where various drivers try to earn a living racing. The drivers could go to various planets, various terrains, and race. It would be the ultimate special effects extravaganza for sure.
3. No annoying "young" characters
If the next trilogy is going to focus on young characters with the original trilogy characters only appearing in supporting roles, the young characters can't be annoying. And by annoying I mean they can't be like those two characters on Revolution, the girl with the bow and arrow and the blond guy (I'm sorry, I can't remember their names). Nor can than be "young heart throb" types, obviously picked so they appeal to tween girls (basically, no Twilight kind of stuff). The young characters, and the actors chosen for those characters, need to make sense, need to be broadly appealing, and just not annoying. I'm probably asking too much here, but it's what I want to see.
2. A Boba Fett movie
If Boba Fett doesn't reappear in the next trilogy after escaping the Sarlacc Pit he needs to have his own spin-off movie. Either a straight up sci-fi action fantasy deal that focuses on the Star Wars underworld and has Fett at the center, or maybe a prequel sequel where we see the young Boba Fett figuring out how to make his way in the universe without his father. Regardless of what form the potential Fett movie takes, I think just about everyone would respond positively to a little Star Wars badassery. And then, if the Fett movie is a hit, maybe Disney can figure out how to make a plausible Darth Maul movie. I think that would be cool, too.
1. Continuity with the movies, not the Expanded Universe
The Expanded Star Wars Universe is a vast and complicated thing that has served the franchise well the last decade plus. As long as people keep buying the novels, comic books, video games, action figures, etc. the Star Wars franchise remains relevant. However, if we're going to get a new Star Wars movie trilogy, the new trilogy should stick to the continuity established in the movies, and if it needs to talk about something that the Expanded Universe has already dealt with/discussed, it shouldn't be a big deal if the new trilogy completely disregards the EU stuff. The movies should always be supreme over the EU stuff. It should always be about making a great movie. Leave the EU alone and let it continue to make its own money.
5. Pick a director for the material, not vice versa
A great line from Attack of the Show was on how you shouldn't assume you need an A-list director for these. "I don't want David Fincher or Steven Soderbergh making a Star Wars movie, I want them making Fincher and Soderbergh movies." Let's face it, Irvin Kershner was hardly a huge filmmaker but he directed the best of all the movies. Sure, sounds cool to have Joss Whedon or Peter Jackson doing these but always the chance they'd let their own influence mar things (especially Whedon) and hurt the overall story. Just look at how Gary Ross was able to make Hunger Games work, not hidebound by the book but creating a faithful vision of its world, it's that touch needed for these. So don't worry about which director would be the best name to attach to the film, consider who can serve the movie best and deliver a great final product.
4. Don't overwhelm the story but don't let it dominate too much
I know people complain about all the political stuff in the prequels but it's important to show how Palpatine used the Republic's own laws to turn them into the Empire. We still had major action in lightsaber duels and more. Yes, Empire had good character depth but also the action to back it up. Don't assume fans will want nothing but lightsaber fights and space battles but also don't turn this into a Tarantino movie of constant dialogue and such. You have to find the right balance and fit that with a good story for a tone that can appeal to new and old fans. Which leads to…
3. Remember, they're for all ages
Here's something a lot of the classic trilogy fans who bash the prequels forget: There is an entire generation who have never seen those films on the big screen, they don't have that connection. My young nephews love the prequels, they don't see them as a horror and they liked that tone. Let's not go for some R-rated antics of limbs flying from lightsabers or such. Also, don't try to appease just the older fans who loathe anything different from these three films they've elevated to near perfection, remember this is for newer fans as well who haven't seen a Star Wars movie on the big screen and want to experience something different. Also, do not assume the teen market can only be won by copying Twilight or Hunger Games, they can respond to good story and such, just make sure to remember these were family films in the first place, not just sci-fi genius and they can respond to that if they get the right balance rather than try to simply win over prequel bashers or just newer fans, just make a good movie first.
2. Don't be hidebound to the EU
Yes, Lucasfilm has done a fantastic job over the last two decades building up the expanded universe via novels and comics. But here's the thing: at least 90% of the general public has never read any of those. They wouldn't know who the Vong are or that Chewbacca was killed or any of the children of Han and Leia. If they want to keep to timelines, that's fine but don't feel like fans will tear them apart because they contradict what happened in a novel most will have never read. This is a chance to make Star Wars take to new flights, don't be held back by older stuff now if it gets in the way too much.
1. Christina Hendricks as Mara Jade
It might be tough working the Thrawn trilogy in now of course. But come on, seeing this gorgeous redhaired talent as the feisty former Emperor's Hand would be amazing on screen, a must-have for casting.
5. Practical Sets and Special Effects
Yes, I realize in this day and age, after the CGI heavy prequels as well as the whole Lord Of The Rings trilogy, this one is a bit of a no-win sitch. CGI enables filmmakers to create vast worlds and battlegrounds with thousands of soldiers that cannot be done practically in the real world. However, the downside of this is the fact that we all know CGI when we see it, and that brings forth the prospect of surface artificiality taking one out of the movie going experience.
What made the original Star Wars so real and compelling was the fact that everything was constructed to make the universe the characters inhabited seem real and lived in. Massive sets sporting large Millennium Falcon replicas to real world hand-made miniature models filmed and manipulated to give the illusion of flight. Sure, they pale in comparison to what can be done with CGI today but I ask why can't we meet with a happy medium between the two?
Bring back Matte Painting Artists! It just looks so much better than freaking CGI! You want a massively impressing looking landscape? Matte paint it on glass old-school style and then turn around and CGI the ships flying around in the scene.
And don't even get me started on the creatures. While CGI Yoda leaping around and proving his worth as a lightsaber wielding badass Jedi Knight back in the day was fun to see, it doesn't compare to the original trilogy's version that was done practically. THAT seemed real and plausible. It was an actual physical performance pulled off by skilled animatronics experts working expertly with the great Muppet co-ringmaster Frank Oz. And Jabba? Don't get me started. Jedi's Jabba worked so freaking well because he seemed real, and not a CGI cartoon. He was there on the set. A great big massive puppet that the movie magicians managed to pull off practically and expertly. More of this, kind of stuff, please, and leave the CGI cartoons, caricatures, and set building to Cartoon Network' s Clone Wars series.
And as if I need another real-world reason to back my stance? Hellboy 2. Perfect balance and blend between CGI and the practical, which made the world it inhabited seem all the more real. This is the approach they should take…
4. Dramatic Character Depth
Yeah, I know I might get slagged for this one, considering that the original trilogy featured weakly drawn out broad archetypes at the start; The hero on a mission, the damsel in distress he attempts to rescue, and the mercenary pirate that begrudgingly joins the cause, et al.
The difference was that the characters in the original trilogy evolved beyond those stereotypes and became something more. And it happened not by accident. Han was the outsider hero with his heart in the right place. Leia proved that she was not just some damsel in distress. Luke had something to prove to himself. And throughout the original trilogy, the character interactions, not just with these three but Lando, Chewie, and the Droids mixed in as well, added great depth to each of the characters as the movies moved forward.
Contrast that with the prequels? Not so much. Padmi, kinda-sorta tried to be Leia as a badass female leader but she was undercut by poor scripts by Lucas as while she had her moments, the whole misguided romance with Anakin was just just wrong-minded, all the way around. .
3P0 and R2? Fully drawn out characters in their own right in the originals, but are treated in the prequels as either heroic or comic relief afterthoughts. CGI Special Effects to trot out just as if to say, ‘hey look, R2 and 3PO are also here! They're not important in this current story, but we know you love them, so here they are!"
In closing, please treat all the characters as such, each individual and with depth of character, and not simply serving the story being told, and relegated to serving the plot for the plot's sake. Make each of them important in their own right. They all serve a place and a purpose, but this aspect seemed to be lost in the prequels.
And to finalize this argument; who was the prequel trilogy's Lando? Fucking Jar Jar. And not because he had financial or emotional stakes he had to protect, but because he was a clueless idiot CGI character that could be easily manipulated in service of the plot.
3. Get A Real Director
George Lucas directed the original Star Wars, and considering the behind the scenes mess he had to deal with, he did a damned fine job of it. Prequels, not so much, but we'll get to that.
For the sequels, Lucas decided to be the man behind the curtain, so to speak, and hired his former USC film professor Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand respectively to direct the sequels that followed. While neither of those names throw up thoughts of "artistes" in any way shape or form, they knew the medium and their role with the job that they were given to make the best of it. As a result, Kershner wound up making the best Star Wars movie to date, and while hardcore adult Star Wars addicts bitch about the Ewoks, Marquand managed to bring the original trilogy to a satisfactory and emotional conclusion.
Matthew Vaughn is currently being touted as the frontrunner to be the director of Episode VII. If this is true, I find that outstanding. Vaughn has shown more than once that he's more than a capable director with his previous endeavors, on top of the fact that he's a Star Wars fanboy since he was a lad. That's what this series needs; People who grew up loving the original movies making sure that what comes next doesn't suck.
2. Keep Lucas at Arm's Length
Yeah, I get that it's George's baby, and he's invested in the future of the franchise and his legacy and all of that. He managed to protect all of that quite well for a good while, until the tech caught up. Hence all the revisions on subsequent DVD releases and the prequels, which he deemed unfilmable up until that point where the tech could provide his "vision".
Um, George, your vision of the future/past/whatever wasn't all that bad to begin with….
I get keeping Lucas on as a "consultant", because, again, it's his baby. But keep it at just that. Keep him out of the writer's room, unless it's just providing a vague outline. Do not give him veto powers over anything. Do not let the man tinker and play any further in this sandbox. He's done enough damage to this franchise. Do not let him mess things up any further. Yes, it's his baby, but in the last decade? He's done a lot more harm than good, not only with regards to the movies that have come out subsequent, but his actions and choices overall.
1. Can We Torture And Kill Jar Jar Oncreen Painfully After The Initial Scroll? Don't Fuck It Up
I grew up with, and loved all things Star Wars unconditionally. And while I didn't hate the prequels as much as many others, I do see and understand that things took a dramatically noticeable dip in terms of overall quality once George decided that he was the best man to do the prequel trilogy job and oversee the whole thing himself.
But now the prequels are thankfully behind us, George sold his rights to Disney, and as a result, we await to see what comes of it. If anything, Disney has proved more than once to us, as pop culture consumers, that they are to be trusted with regards to the products they peddle. They've revitalized the Muppets. They didn't interfere or meddle with Joss Whedon's vision of The Avengers , and yeah, there's Pixar.
So in closing; Don't mess with what works. Give the franchise to someone (in his case, Kathleen Kennedy, who has a great track record) to oversee, and let them run with it, and see if it flies. If it doesn't, they at least tried.
I'm hopefully optimistic.
John D-Rock Dotson
5. The gruesome death of Jar-Jar by a Xenomorph
I think the brutal death of the one they call Binks can be accomplished very easily. It's quite simple. All Disney has to do is buy the rights to Alien from FOX. Then tie in the universes together where Jar-Jar encounters the lair of the Xenomorphs. Have him do that stupid clumsy thing he did all throughout Phantom Menace until he confronts the vicious aliens. Disney can make it as suspenseful as they want by making it seem like he may just escape the situation. They could have him runaround flailing his arms saying "mesa screwed" or something catchy from his infamous quotable archive. And just before Ripley can storm in saying "Get away from her you bitch!", Jar-Jar dies a vicious two mouthed death… And scene! But seriously Disney, don't bring this character back. Ever.
4. The return of the hardcore Jedi
I'm not saying the Jedis weren't as charismatic and tough as they were in the originals. But guess what? That's what I'm saying. I want to see what made being a Jedi so badass again. I want them to put the "Die" back in Jedi. Yes, I know Anakin ended as a Sith in the Prequels, but he was a whiny Jedi baby leading up to the event. Even when Anakin finally rises as Lord Vader, he still cried like a bitch. For that matter, bring back the darkness in the Sith as well. Let the badassery reign!
3. Less of episode 2… More Empire!
Besides the surprise throwdown from Yoda, which no one saw coming, I basically have no generosity or goodwill towards Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Every time I watch it, I still have zero understanding or comprehension of what the hell is going on, or why anything is happening. Either that or the movie just didn't make me care. I would even argue if you just skipped Episode 2 and started on Episode 3, your viewing would not be hindered. Attack of the Clones is 2 and a ½ hours of meaningless spectacle leading to nowhere. Don't get me wrong, meaningless spectacle can be enjoyable, but at least have me invested. That's the one thing I absolutely loved about Empire Strikes Back. They should bring back a sense of danger to the story. Make me care that these characters could die. I want to be on the edge of my seat again. Just make me care dammit!
2. Yoda resurrection
With Yoda's demise in Return of the Jedi, they are going to have to come up with a creative way to bring back the little green man of awesomeness. So here is my pitch. In the new film, Yoda returns as a savior to the Jedis, Lord of the Rings style, as "Yoda the White" and unleashes an ass-whooping that boldly goes where no man has gone before.
In all seriousness though, I will miss Yoda, and it's going to be tough to imagine a new trilogy without him. Here is hoping Disney can make this not matter by delivering other great iconic characters.
1. Strong writing and direction
I know I may have been harsh in areas of my Top 5, but I promise it comes from a deep respect I have for the property. I'm honestly not even trying to bash George Lucas. He gave us a memorable and amazing franchise that is universally loved whether you are a movie nerd or not. I just want to see someone who is inspired and driven to bring back the property's epicness. Let's face it, Lucas has no reason to be as driven with storytelling anymore. The man is filthy rich. He has made the right decision by handing over the throne. Disney, focus on telling the best possible adventure and give it to someone with great vision. Take us again… to a galaxy far, far away.
5. For the love of all that is holy, don't start Episode VII with a trade dispute
It was probably a dark omen for what was to come when The Phantom Menace started out with a blockade and the chief antagonists were the dreaded, fearsome...trade federation. You know...Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, those sad-sack puppets of Darth Sidious. A trade dispute? Seriously? We went from Princess Leia and the Rebels fleeing Darth Vader and the Empire Fleet, to Qui-Gon and Obi=Wan trying to end a blockade? Riveting way to start out the first Star Wars feature film in 16 years, no? It was indicative of a larger problem with the new prequel films though. Lucas – for reasons known only to him – felt it necessary to shoehorn as much political subplots and government parallels as humanly possible, and have it be a major focus of the new prequel films. It might have worked if it had been written better and cut down a bit, but Lucas couldn't help himself. All too often, Episodes I-III felt more like Lincoln meets The West Wing in space. Except suckier and with lightsabers.
4. Don't treat your adult fanbase like idiots
The Star Wars films are for children as much as they are for adults. That doesn't mean you have to "dumb it down." There are actual ways of writing quality stories that work on multiple levels for both kids and adults without making them confusing, boring or condescending. Jar Jar Binks might be great for kiddies, but he's death for teens and adults. Ewoks weren't as bad, but mostly since they didn't talk and hung out with Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher – they're just cooler by association. Unlike what some adults believe (George Lucas perhaps?), kids aren't dummies and can handle more than grown-ups are ready to admit. Smart writing that will work for both groups and a tight, dynamite story that gets audiences engaged would be greatly appreciated, after three films which didn't feature nearly enough of either. Let me put it this way: if there is a Gungan anywhere near these next three films, we riot.
3. Ease up on the CGI please
Speaking of Gungans...Get back to basics. Make it as authentic-looking as possible. That doesn't mean cheap and it doesn't mean not to try to make it look as good as possible. But one of the great things that people remember most from the original trilog is a gritty, textural look to the whole thing. Fast-forward to the the new prequel films and Lucas went CG-crazy. Everything was shiny and smooth and perfect...and yet it just wasn't the same. Get back to real sets. Get back to real costumes, real hair & makeup, real f'ing art direction. I'm not saying CG doesn't have a place. I'm just asking to not let it smother everything. It says something that a TV show like Firefly felt more like the old-school Star Wars than the prequel trilogy ever did.
2. Casting. Casting. Casting
George Lucas made two major mistakes with the last set of films. The first was the writing. He lived in a bubble, thought he could create something all by himself in a vacuum and paid the price. He's more of a big-picture guy and definitely could have used some real input on the scripts. The second – and perhaps more troubling mistake – was casting. A young Daniel Day-Lewis and Meryl Streep couldn't have made these scripts work, but it might have been at least an interesting effort. The fact that Hayden Christensen was tasked with anchoring Episodes II & III is unbelievable in hindsight. I almost don't want to blame him since he was so ill-suited to the task. He was terrible and his lack of chemistry with any of his co-stars – particularly his supposed love interest Natalie Portman – just murdered everything on-screen. Get the casting right and it helps solve a lot of problems.
1. Take risks. Tell your story. Don't be a slave to what's come before or the fans
I'm a Star Wars fan...just not quite as hardcore as some. I totally understand that everyone hopes Kathleen Kennedy and company do what Lucas hasn't for decades and listen to the fans. It's almost cathartic, not having Overlord Lucas doing what he wants, fiddling and altering everything to death, almost to the point of thumbing it in the noses of fans. It's a good thing for the franchise that he's being marginalized as the franchise moves on. However, that doesn't mean we want a new Star Wars story that feels piecemeal and meant to make every fan's wish come true. Pick a story. Tell it. Pick a director. Give him the freedom to not only move Star Wars forward, but leave his own imprint on the series. Pick a cast. Let them work in conjunction with the director, writers, Kennedy & Lucas to better flesh their characters out. Finally, don't be afraid to fail. Don't play it safe. Don't water it down and don't play to the lowest common denominator. Do what Lucas did at the start of this whole saga before he became a billionaire. Shoot for the stars. Star Wars deserves nothing less.
Shawn S. Lealos
5. C3PO vs. Jar Jar Binks
I have to agree with everyone else. I hate Jar Jar Binks with a passion. However, I understand what Lucas wanted to accomplish with the character. Like it or not, C3PO and Jar Jar Binks are the same character type. Both are strange and awkward and made for the kids. However, there is one big difference. Jar Jar was introduced as an annoying comedy character, while C3PO was introduced as the hapless character that the audience saw the action through the eyes of. C3PO and R2D2 have survived because they are the Laurel and Hardy of the Star Wars universe. Jar Jar is the Rob Schneider of the Star Wars universe. Keep C3PO and vote Jar Jar off the island. Or better yet, let the awkward C3PO accidentally knock Jar Jar into a deep dark pit on accident before he can say a word.
4. Boba Fett Movie
I am preaching to the choir when it comes to a Boba Fett movie. He remains one of the favorite Star Wars characters, despite little screen time. Either somehow have him survive his demise in the monster pit (which should be easy to explain, they did it in the books) and then bring him into one of the big movies. Then let him loose in own movie. This could be a great movie and make a ton of Fanboys happy.
3. Hire the best directors
Marvel set the template for this. They hired the right directors for the jobs. Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branagh, Joe Johnston and Joss Whedon were the perfect choices for their movies. Now, Star Wars needs to follow suit. I think Matthew Vaughn, the current frontrunner, is a great choice. He directed Stardust, which tells me he is good with fantasy and he did a great job with the X-Men franchise, which proves he can play in worlds that already exist. Other men to look at as great options are Brad Bird, J.J. Abrams, Duncan Jones, Andrew Stanton and David Yates. Give those men the reigns to various movies and use great screenwriters (Jane Goldman, anyone?) and these movies can be great.
2. Bring back the original actors
I feel that, if these movies take place after Jedi, the original actors need to come back. I want Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford back for sure. I wouldn't mind seeing Billy Dee Williams come back too. Either way, these characters need to be a big part of at least the first movie to transition into the new heroes that the universe introduces. Without Luke, Leia and Han, this isn't the same universe that we all love.
1. Build to Thrawn
I know a lot of other writers don't want the new universe to feel obliged to the large Star Wars universe, but I absolutely love Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy. He has to be the best bad guy outside of Darth Vader, but I am worried that they might not make him as great as he was in my imagination. However, if they get the first movie down pat, maybe they can build to actually introducing Thrawn, and maybe Jade. I would have rather seen the Thrawn stories than the prequels, and this gives them the chance to introduce a great, fan favorite, character in the future.
What do you want to see from the new Star Wars movies? Chime in below.