When it was announced that Episode VII of Star Wars would start development, there was both excitement and trepidation in the air. While any canonical addition to the Star Wars universe is naturally intriuging, the horrid prequels had marred a once infallible franchise. J.J. Abrams, who has done an excellent job bringing Star Trek to a new generation of moviegoers, was announced to direct the newest movie and quelled some of those fears. But even a new director could use some advice from some of the most devoted fans. Here's a small wishlist of the the things that should and shouldn't make it in the next Star Wars movie.
No Jar Jar BinksThis just goes without saying. And this just doesn't apply to the annoying Gungan. This goes for any computer animated character that's clearly racist and is catered to sell as many toys to children as possible. The Star Wars franchise already has dozens of cool action figures and doesn't need another one taking up shelf space at the toy store. Please show some restraint and just leave these sort of characters in the trash bin. If a new kid-friendly character has to make it into the new movie, take a cue from the characters Pixar has created in their critically acclaimed movies. They're memorable, endearing but still manage to sell millions of toys to children everywhere.
Don't Ruin Han SoloThe prequels dramatically damaged the appeal of several of its iconic characters. It reduced the imposing and ruthless Darth Vader into a snivelling teenaged brat, and turned the wise and battle-hardened Obi-wan Kenobi to an ineffective commander and mentor. Although George Lucas insists that Greedo shot first, true Star Wars fans still believe that Han Solo is still the scruffy looking nerf herder they all idolized. Before the sequels were announced, fans were joyful that the prequels didn't even mention his name and thus kept his appeal intact. Now that sequels represent an opportunity to change all of that, fans are keeping their fingers crossed that Han Solo will remain the anti-hero they love and cherish.
Tone Down Lightsabers
Here's a tip: let a Jedi or Jedis use ingenuity, stratagem, or even the Force to get out of a pickle for once. Not every situation needs lightsabers whizzing around. Remember when the elder Kenobi used the Force to distract a couple of Stormtroopers who were in his way? It's simple, yet effective and stealthy. The prequels would've had him slash them in half and alerted the entire Star Destroyer to their presence. And for Chrissakes, duels shouldn't last 17 minutes long! It becomes boring to watch two actors twirling their batons for that long, and it simply gets in the way of actual storytelling. So for the sequels, exercise some restraint and just tone those lightsabers down.
Make Jedis and the Force Cool AgainThere was a time when a single Jedi could inspire fear among a squad of Stormtroopers. After the prequels, we've seen Jedis were reduced to cannon fodder for droids, without so much as a fight. I think the problem with the prequels is that the Order let anybody and everybody in. They should take note of what Mark Zuckerberg said in The Social Network: it's about exclusivity. Not everyone should be Jedi. Only beings at the very least capable of deflecting blasters directed at them can be considered eligible for Jedi status. The rarity of such characters will only build upon the impressive aura the Jedis had in the original Trilogy.
Stop Paying Homages to the Original TrilogyThe original trilogy was a beloved set of movies that captured the imagination of a generation. However, fans of the those movies are also clamoring for something new. "I have a bad feeling about this" was repeated so often in the prequels that the phrase lost any luster it once had. Recreating scenes from the original scenes aren't poetic codas the bookend and tie together all the movies. They're simply the basest form of fan service, reaching out to nostalgia without actually contributing any form of quality to the film. These new movies should create new catchphrases, new iconic scenes, and display some form of originality.
Develop a Character-Driven PlotAll the glorious and beautiful special effects in Hollywood cannot create a compelling story. One of the reasons why the original trilogy is so beloved is because they had characters we simply cared about. It's basic screenwriting 101. Interesting and compelling characters drive the plot and make better movies. And please, keep it simple. Don't include any of that nonsense about the taxation of trade routes.
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Election Day is upon us, my friends! After months of campaigning, debating, stumping, polling, hand-shaking, baby-kissing, and just about every other politically-related gerund you can think of, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are about to find out who will be sitting in the Oval Office come next January.
But it’s not quite over yet. In fact, the most important part has just begun: you know, actually voting. You’d think that in the 24 centuries since the Greeks invented democracy we’d have gotten this whole casting-your-ballot thing down to a science. Not so. Here, near Hollywood.com’s office in New York City, people are waiting 60-90 minutes to vote in relatively modest lines. But in my home state of Florida some people have had to wait six to nine hours, a queuing-up experience that only Comic-Con geeks, Twihards, and iPhone-covetous Apple cultists can appreciate. Speaking for myself, as a worshipper of all things Star Wars, I have also endured my share of marathon-caliber line waiting. In particular I remember the three-hour wait for my first screening of Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace on a bright, sunny day that Star Wars fans will long remember: May 19, 1999. Here are five things I learned from that experience that voters waiting in line right now would do well to remember.
1. Use your time in line to brush up on all the important policy issues at stake.
Be productive while waiting in line! Surely you already know what presidential candidate you’re voting for, along with your various Senate and House contenders, so brush up on all those little amendments that are attached to your ballot. You know, the stuff about school zoning issues and five-cent tax increases. I made the mistake of focusing on all the big stuff, too, while brushing up on my Star Wars lore when waiting in line for Phantom Menace: memorizing all the contenders for Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, familiarizing myself with the members of the Jedi Council, when I really should have been brushing up on the taxation of Outer Rim trade routes and the need to repeal crippling regulations on interstellar corporations (the Trade Federation is a person too!), and the parliamentary procedure of the Galactic Senate. Ah, and the really sneaky thing is the way the people who make the ballots sometimes stick a bombshell issue into all that Legalese, like you’re not going to notice. Maybe there’ll suddenly be a referendum on gay marriage or reproductive rights that’ll affect countless people’s lives. Like how all of a sudden slavery and its abolition became a huge theme in Phantom Menace, sandwiched between eye-glazing monologues about the legality of blockades and no-confidence votes. Stay alert, voters, and be prepared!
2. Reminisce about the good old times.
Star Wars fans like to remember the halcyon days when Han Solo still shot Greedo first, before the Dark Times. Before the Special Editions. That's just like how supporters of the president prefer to recall the Barack Obama of the “Yes We Can!” speech at the Democratic Convention four years ago instead of the Obama who spent most of his time on camera during the first presidential debate this year looking down and studying the intricate woodwork of his podium. When it comes to Star Wars, 1977 beats 1997 anytime, and for Obama, 2008 trumps 2012. The key is to cling to hope. Sure, those of us standing in line before The Phantom Menace in ’99 had been dejected by the Special Editions, but we had "a new hope" that what we were about to see would wipe all that disillusionment away...
3. Remember that it’s all filtered through “a certain point of view.”
Maybe you’ll find yourself disappointed after you vote tonight, like so many of my fellow Star Wars fans in line felt after Phantom Menace. But focus on the positive! Yeah, you could look at the still-weak jobs numbers and despair, or you could focus on all that President Obama has done: saving the auto industry, curtailing predatory lending and regulating credit card companies, passing the most comprehensive piece of healthcare legislation in fifty years, killing Osama Bin Laden for God’s sake! Or if you insisted on voting for Romney but were disappointed by his “47%” comments and lack of a coherent tax plan, you could still take comfort in how well he organized the 2002 Winter Olympics. Maybe, with Phantom Menace, you were horrified by the inordinate amount of screen time given to a certain Gungan, the green screensaver-looking landscapes of Naboo, the way that “Wizard!” was supposed to be an exclamation of joy. But we still got a killer podrace and a lightsaber battle that may be the best of the series. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke Skywalker, your point-of-view can change everything.
Now, admittedly, it also helps if, like me, you were 13 when Phantom Menace came out. But oddly enough, a 13-year-old mindset may be the best way to view politics as well. It’s worked for Paul Ryan, anyway. Look how well he’s reconciled the completely incongruous output of Ayn Rand and Rage Against the Machine.
4. Dressing up can be fun, but within reason.
I’m sure you’ll see a lot of Obama/Biden and Romney/Ryan pins stuck to the chests of voters in line today. Maybe even an elephant or donkey hat or two. Well, when Star Wars fans line up, you’re bound to see a lot of stormtrooper armor, maybe a Slave Leia, and plenty of drawn, plastic lightsabers. As long as the Star Wars fans don’t actually use their plastic lightsabers to menace passerby, and the political fanatics don’t come out wearing masks of Obama looking like Heath Ledger’s Joker or “Romney Thinks You’re a Moocher” shirts, maybe we can keep it civil. Hopefully we won’t ever get to the point where we’ll need to pass out blue lightsabers to Democrats and red ones to Republicans to settle their differences.
5. Remember that you’ll get a do-over in just a few short years.
If you didn’t like Episode I, you knew you’d get another installment in three short years. As disappointed as people were with the prequels, look how excited everybody got with the announcement of Star Wars: Episode VII for 2015 last week. And if you don’t like the outcome tonight, you’ll get a do-over in four years. I’m just thankful we’ll get to see Episode VII a whole year before the round-the-clock madness that is another presidential election. Can we all at least agree on that?
[Photo Credit: Carrie Devorah/WENN]
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