Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Star Wars VII- What I Would Have Done
Star Wars is back! With the release of the upcoming episode VIII and Rogue One, we're going to have plenty of Star Wars to keep us busy for the next few years. The Force awakens got a lot of acclaim for "getting it right", which baffled me because I thought it was very derivative of the first Star Wars movie. To me "getting it right" would be breaking some new ground while still capturing that Star Wars feel- which admittedly may be harder than it sounds, but instead they went in the opposite direction. They intentionally mimicked the plot of Star Wars and by doing so played it safe- I thought I was watching a retread of the first movie.
So... what would I have done differently? Well this post is meant to answer that question. Now this will by nature be a self- indulgent exercise- after all I'm telling you what I like and would have done, and of course everyone's ideas will be different. So this was just fun for me to write as an exercise in what if, and I'd love to see your thoughts or reactions. So here's the direction I would have gone.
So thirty years later you have a fledgling New Republic, trying to extend its rule over a galaxy riven by war. There would still be Imperial remnants, former governors and warlords in command of perhaps substantial elements of the star fleet. And no Death Star or Starkiller for crying out loud- how many times do we go to the well on that one? Enough already.
To me the biggest difference would be the state of the galaxy and the New Republic. I imagine the seat of government would be on Coruscant- after all that's where the levers of power are, including the Imperial palace and the Jedi temple. Plus Coruscant is just cool- I understand they may have wanted to minimize the prequels and avoid Coruscant, but I think that was a mistake. Coruscant should have been where Leia and Han were.
Let me explain. After winning the war against the Empire, it makes sense that Leia would be on the most important planet in the galaxy. After everything they've fought for, Coruscant is the prize. As a war hero and the face of the Rebellion it just makes sense for Leia to be there, involved in the New Republic. I can see her frustrated with politics and having enemies (as portrayed in the new Star Wars novel Bloodlines) and one neat thing about that book is- what would happen if people knew she was the daughter of Darth Vader? Let's explore that.
Also I think Han would be with her- they're married and while he's not into politics he would still be involved in the New Republic military. He was a general in the Alliance after all. Why would he leave after victory? To resume smuggling?? That's just silly. With Leia in the political realm it just makes sense he would remain as an adviser on military affairs or something. I can see him at some function pulling on his collar and commiserating with Leia about the good ole days! It would be a good way to highlight the fact that even in a time of peace there are still challenges.
Now I'm not saying the movie would have to be a boring exercise in politics. On the contrary, Coruscant is the place to be and there are zillions of story ideas you could go with. And that leads to Luke. You can still have Luke looking for the first Jedi temple or training new Force sensitives. But consider this. The Emperor and (presumably) Darth Vader were based on Coruscant and had residences there. If you were Luke and wanted to explore the Jedi origins (and keep in mind he's a VERY new Jedi), wouldn't you explore the Jedi temple where Yoda and all of them hung out? Imagine the knowledge there, the archives, the libraries and storehouses of knowledge.
And even more intriguing- what knowledge could be found in the Emperor's domicile? Or Vader's? Imagine the dark forces Luke would encounter if he explored those chambers. Would he have to destroy a Sith shrine, and would he be tempted by it? Would there be clues there that the Jedi had a dark secret perhaps- introducing a situation where you make the Sith somewhat sympathetic? Then Luke has to deal with this secret and somehow reconcile that with the teachings of Yoda and Obi- Wan.
Luke redeemed Vader. He was willing to give his life to save his father, and Vader sacrificed himself to save Luke. Imagine the emotional moment you could have with Luke entering Vader's chambers for the first time. What would he discover there? Sure it's been thirty years, but you could use a flashback to show what happened the first time he entered. Maybe there's so much lore there (or in the Jedi temple) that he's still researching it after all this time, or still walling off something so dangerous he doesn't dare unleash it.
Part of the appealing aspect of Star Wars are the various planets. To have the Alliance win the war and not show Coruscant is baffling to me. The problem is the new planets are not very distinctive. Jakku looks just like Tatooine (without the cool Jawas or sandcrawlers) and the planet that the Resistance is on (I don't even remember the name) was like- well we don't see any of it. We see a landing strip and the inside of a building. The world where the New Republic is apparently located also only appears for a moment (and gets blown up).
Luke, Leia and Han are the big leagues now- they're gonna be on Coruscant. They're movers and shakers. Make new planets distinctive- don't go to Tatooine and call it Jakku. Go to Tatooine or come up with something new. Remember how Hoth and Dagobah were a big part of the movies they were in? That should be the model. Also use C3PO and Artoo. They are in many ways the heart and soul of the original trilogy- they're comic relief but they're also absolutely essential to the plot. I think the prequels and yes The Force Awakens suffered for not having them front and center. They should be the glue that connects the new cast with the old guard. "This R2 unit has been around for a while, but he's got it where it counts," Leia or even Han could tell Rey as they pass the droid to her. Sort of like passing the torch. BB-8 is cute but he replaced Artoo essentially and that connection was missed.
Han's a Corellian- maybe we get to see Corellia or another Inner Rim world. Maybe he has to schmooze his contacts in the underworld, and we can see the famous shipyards where starships are built. Show us new stuff! He could be a great mentor to Rey and give her the Falcon- again passing the torch- not have her find it sitting in a junkyard somewhere. What's Lando doing? He should have a role somewhere- and probably still has a foot in the scoundrel world. It sounds like I'm focusing on the old cast- and I am- but Rey is going to take center stage and you build that here with new stuff- not a rehashed plot from thirty years ago.
So that's what I would do. Something along those lines. Instead of introducing lame new characters (Snoke?) deal with the legacy of Vader and his master. What's on Coruscant? Make it matter. Take us new places, like Corellia, places that matter because our heroes are in the big leagues now- they don't always have to be on some dump in the middle of nowhere. Let's SEE the galaxy. A Star Wars movie should feel like nothing we've ever seen- not a reimagining of the first movie.