I am old enough to remember when the original star wars first came out. And when I say original, I am talking about the 1977 phenomenon that went on to become a legend of the sci-fi movie world. Not everyone loves sci-fi, but even if you are not a fan, I’m pretty sure you have still heard of the movie.
George Lucas tried to replicate the same genius with another trilogy two decades later. This time he wrote the Star Wars prequel, but in doing so missed the mark, leaving the original, still the best.
This second (prequel) trilogy was relegated to mediocre, due to a couple of things:
- The cute factor
Everyone loves the droids C3PO and R2D2 in the original movie. The concept of an overly pessimistic and somewhat dramatic robot and his silent, but stubborn counterpart was a critical ingredient in the original movies appeal. Even the Ewoks—those feisty teddies from Return of the Jedi—while not everyones ‘cup of tea’, were certainly tolerable.
The two droids were still around in the prequel trilogy, but in a minor way. The main cute / comedy presence was picked up by the now infamous Jar Jar Binks. Jar Jar proved to be an unmitigated disaster. Upon his introduction he passed from cute, into irritating, and onto—-will someone please kill him—in a very short period of time.
Above: The infamous Jar Jar Binks – less cute, more irritating
- The cast chemistry
I think Natalie Portman gave a credible performance, as did many of the prequel cast. However, the key star of the prequel was the young Anakin Skywalker played by Hayden Christensen in the second 2 prequel instalments. It was the movie that was supposed to make his career, and he was hailed at the time as the new up-and-coming name. Unfortunately, instead of commanding the screen as the forceful dawning of the dark legend that would go on to be Darth Vader, Hayden was closer to a petulant child who struggled when not getting his own way. Not quite what George Lucas had in mind I’m sure.
Above: The original and the best: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo
- A compelling story
Writing a prequel, and a near present prequel at that, is a hard task. Fundamentally your audience knows how the story will end, which means you need to make everything that happens before doubly exciting. The Star Wars prequel held only some of the original’s magic, I think for the most part because of the disastrous inclusion Jar Jar Binks, and the lack of charisma in some of the cast.
That said, the prequel trilogy was a visually stunning set of movies with plenty of action, and plenty of new and interesting creatures and robots. Alone, these things were not enough to carry the movie to the heady highs the original Star Wars trilogy achieved.
What should we expect from the new movie?
So, here we are once again, and George Lucas is about to give it another shot. A part of me, the child that loved the original Star Wars so much, who watched it a couple of hundred times, is hoping with everything that this time he will find the same magic spark. It’s going to be tough though; of that there is no doubt.
Another part of me wishes that he had embraced this final chapter of the story while the three heroes we loved so much were not quite so ‘faded glory’. After all, it is their chemistry, which made the original so good. Their inclusion, all be it a minor one, in this new movie is driving a media frenzy, but is it just a gimmick? Do they still have what it takes?
The fact is, that we (the audience), were not ready to let Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo go after the original trilogy, and anything and anyone who followed was doomed to be pale shadows in their light. We wanted more, but more of them. This isn’t a new lesson, but it is one that writers everywhere who create a masterpiece of a character or characters, should heed. If you continue a story in the same world but with new blood, make sure that the new blood can fill or surpass their original counterpart’s shoes.
As readers or viewers, it is so hard to put much loved characters to rest. So very hard to let them go.
As writers sometimes you need to make the hard call, let the $$$ opportunity go, and if you are going to put your stars or heroes out to pasture, put their world to rest too.
All images source: IMDB © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.