Can I love again? Do I have the strength to endure another heartbreak? Will George Lucas intervene and fuck up the new film if it actually ends up being good? These are the questions rolling around my head the last twenty-some hours. One human being can only take so much.
When I was a small child and watching the original trilogy cycle on a loop every single weekend (no, seriously), my heart had a seemingly limitless capacity for Star Wars love. But when I got a bit older and Lucas made us realize through new material that the originals must have been good by accident, those hackneyed, over CGI’d audio-visual torture chambers chipped away at my geeky heart with an icepick that only the exceedingly low standards of Hollywood could wield, I thought I had lost my first love forever. So, I searched for solace in the past, greedily hoarding DVDs of the un-ruined cuts of IV-VI and hiding them throughout the house in preparation for the day that the LucasFilm Special Task Force For the Eradication of Quality Cinema would break down my door and confiscate everything I owned that was produced before Young Indiana Jones. I lived in almost constant fear, vowing that I would never love again lest I be Jar Jar’ed once more.
I turned to television to express my geekic urges-General Grievous and Watto couldn’t find me there. I doubled down on Buffy, and embarked on new, exciting trysts with Doctor Who and more cynical space operas like Battlestar Galactica (Revisited) and Firefly. But then two things happened. First, I became a Lost fanatic, waking up mornings thinking that my legs hadn’t worked the day before and that I needed to find my “Constant” before I became completely dislodged in time. It turned me into a Bad Robot disciple. I decided this guy JJ was alright, even if he did cowrite Armageddon and create Felicity. He gave us a good Trek “reboot,” after all. I liked Fringe. I even tried to get through a whole episode of Undercovers. I really tried. The second thing that happened was they started making good Batman movies again. Trilogies can still be good, I thought. Maybe I had been too negative all this time, jaded by I-III‘s treachery. Between this new Dark Knight series, fond memories of IV-VI on VHS, Amy Pond, and that BSG episode where they keep setting the clock for thirty-three minutes and popping adderall, I could live a fulfilling life. I just have to ignore how so many of the Marvel sequels have been terrible…
Then they gave My Beloved to JJ. I became extremely nervous; not because I didn’t like his stuff (because I did) or because I thought it should have been Whedon (which I did), but because I really just don’t want them to make them at all if they’re going to suck. I realize full well that you run this risk with everything and if no one was willing to accept the possibility of making a complete piece of dog shit nothing would ever be made in the first place. But this is different. This is Star Wars. Furthermore, it’s a new extrapolation. Stories we don’t know. We knew the lore of the prequels before they made them. Now they have all new territory to potentially butcher. I really, really, do not want to get hurt again.
What has scared me the most as a jilted lover is that there are continual developments that provoke an initial reaction of-oh, man, I can’t even type it-optimism. There have been a series of what I consider to be positive developments. The first and most important ones I remember feeling good about were the revelations that Lawrence Kasdan, one of the best screenwriters of all time and co-writer on Empire and Raiders, came in to write with Abrams. This is good news. The other was that Dan Mindel would be shooting the new trilogy on 35mm. Even better news. Later it was revealed that they were shooting some stuff on 65mm Imax-cake: meet icing. Then they cast Adam Driver. I love Adam Driver. He’s my favorite actor on my favorite show, I’ll watch anything he’s in. If he’s doing it, it can’t be awful, can it? Then again, who would turn down Star Wars? Would you need to see a script?
A larger official cast list has been released and there’s more undeniable goodness here. Andy Serkis: brilliant. Oscar Isaac: awesome actor. Max von Sydow: one the best actors in world cinema history. Brendan Gleeson’s kid: good acting genes, interesting in most everything I’ve seen him in. Original cast members: the virtue of that one is fairly obvious, isn’t it? I’ve never actually seen David Boyega in anything but I hear good things and I confess I’d never heard of Daisy Ridley until the release but it looks like nobody else has either. Plus, I’m a big Fitzgerald fan so somebody named Daisy must be okay, right? Yeah, that’s what I’ll tell myself.
It’s an undeniably exciting cast. It’s good news. I love actors, I get excited very easily over cast lists. But I know full well that good casts, sometimes even great ones, make shitty films all the time. Because they can’t carry the story on their own. They just can’t. No department can. The story and the characters must be on point. The prequel trilogy had an excellent cast. An excellent cast with nothing to do and nothing to say. It’s the worst work almost everybody in those films has done (with the exception of McGregor, who I think was actually pretty top-notch despite everything).
I am willing to hold out for the possibility that these films will actually be good-I have to. But I cannot and absolutely will not blindly trust the team assembled to do so. My little geek heart couldn’t take it. Part of me thinks that it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Even if VII-IX are really really bad, the low-point of the franchise must have already happened, right? But the canon has been compromised. We can’t just pretend the prequels never happened. And further damage can indeed be done. Even by mere mediocrity we could end up with a situation where the originals are sandwiched between unworthies and basically become anomalous gems in an otherwise sub-par franchise. I swear this is not just nostalgia for the good old originals talking. In my professional opinion (whatever that is), the originals are truly and legitimately great and the prequels are truly and legitimately awful. Inferior stories, clumsy, lazy storytelling, and weaker characterization polluting that wonderful, awe-inspiring universe. I’m fully prepared for these upcoming films to suck and suck hard. At least I’ll still have those Back To The Future Blu-Rays I’ve been saving for a rainy day. But if they don’t suck, that would be fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.
…that reminds me; I should probably go self-medicate with some Who before I work myself into a “state” over this…