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Lucas has gone to the dark side

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By Becca Owsley

 

There was a great disturbance in the force last week.

After years of frustration with George Lucas and his complete bumble in the prequels to the original “Star Wars,” he went one more step to annoy fans. He sold his production company, Lucasfilm Ltd, and the “Star Wars” dynasty to Disney.

Disney acquired Lucasfilm in a stock and cash transaction totaling $4.05 billion

While this was shock enough, the announcement went on to say Disney will produce Episodes 7-9 of the series.

Needless to say, the nerd world was shaken.

Let me give you a little background on why this could be a bad idea.

George Lucas became the hero of all sci-fi fans when he introduced “Star Wars” to the world in 1977. The special effects and heroic story captivated the minds of moviegoers through many generations. The release of “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” created even more interest in the Star Wars universe.

Action figures were collected, merchandise flooded the rooms of fans and we all loved “Star Wars.”

Then, Lucas began his slow slide to the dark side in a love/hate relationship with fans.

In 1997, Lucas re-released the films in theaters. Fans flocked, some in costume, to see their favorites on screen once again.

Then it happened. He tinkered with the films in the guise of saying he improved them but angered the diehard fans into a collective mantra “Han Shot First!”

Lucas had made so many changes that he even changed who shot first in a shoot out between the bounty hunter Greedo and Han Solo. For those of you who haven’t memorized the films, the point is, he messed with the original.

Then in 1999, Lucas went one step further in irritating fans with the release of the first of three prequels, “Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” This film not only disappointed most diehard fans but also introduced the world to one of the most annoying characters who ever graced the big screen, Jar Jar Binks.

Episode II was even worse and Episode III, finally, was something worth watching.

With this jaded history with fans, you’d think Lucas would just leave the movies alone. He didn’t.

By selling the franchise to Disney at least he will not be as involved anymore and not mess it up further. But, the release of future films is a nightmare to whoever produces them.

Those involved with the film said the story will not follow the popular novels in the Thrawn Trilogy but will be an original screenplay built off Lucas’ ideas. This will change many fans preexisting notions of what happened after Jedi.

The next problem is what to do with the original cast. Fans will expect to see them but the cast has aged so much it would mess with the timeline between “Return of the Jedi” and when an another story begins. Fans will not want the next “Star Wars” films to turn into a flop like Indiana Jones 4.

Another problem with selling to Disney is it makes Disney larger and in control of a big chuck of Hollywood. The company already owns Pixar, Marvel and the Muppets and now has Lucasfilm and “Star Wars.” If Skywalker Sound and Industrial Lights and Magic were purchased in the Lucasfilm deal, Disney owns most of the sound and special effect innovation in film today. In short, the mouse is out of control.

While Disney has had a hands-off approach to Marvel’s Avengers series of films, I’m not sure they will do the same with new Star Wars films. Fans don’t want the films to serve as a launching pad to a new theme park ride.

The only hope for “Star Wars” fans rests in who will direct the next films. My preferences are “The Avengers” director Joss Whedon, “Star Trek” director J.J. Abrams or the director of the Dark Night Batman trilogy, Chris Nolan. These men already have shown they can take on popular fan-driven franchise and create new films that stay true to the things fans love.

Right now, I stand on the side of this entire thing being a bad idea. It’s time they left “Star Wars” alone. But, I have a small sliver of hope that in the hands of the right director this series can be salvaged from the nightmare it has become.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.