Feature: Why it’s okay to get excited about Star Wars again

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens

Originally published on The National Student on 20/10/15. 

With the cultural event of the decade now just two short months away, the first full-length ‘official’ trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has finally been released, and if the teasers weren’t enough, this is surely one to convert any non-believers. 

Breaking down and analysing the trailer itself seems somewhat pointless, considering you can watch the whole thing in its entirety below (which you should definitely do like, right this second) so instead, here are a few reasons why all the fuss the internet seems to be making is definitely justified. The new dawn of the most famous franchise in blockbuster history is finally here, and it’s actually okay to be excited about it. 

George Lucas (and Jar Jar Binks) are long gone

It can’t have been easy for the man who started it all to give up his most successful venture ever and let someone else take the reigns. But at 71, and with a string of really quite awful projects somewhat tanking his contemporary career, it seemed like the perfect time for George Lucas to retire. 

After all, it may have been all sunshine and rainbows in the beginning – 1977’s original Star Warsmay well be one of the most culturally significant films ever made – but by now we’re long past that. What am I talking about? Trade negotiations George. I hate to sound like a broken record or, y’know, every other film critic on the face of the Earth, but it takes a special kind of person to turn one of the most talked-about and profitable franchises in Hollywood into what can only be described as (to quote Simon Pegg’s Tim from Spaced) “a jumped-up fireworks display of a toy advert”. 

The cherry on the cake of such a butchering was of course (and again, apologies for repeating the obvious) the offensively unfunny Jar Jar Binks, who much like some sort of half-arsed, fart-spitting children’s TV show character, has become nothing more than a universal emblem for something considered to be unwatchably terrible. And just like that the Star Wars legacy was in tatters. 

Although not for much longer. With Lucas off the scene and the people responsible for creating such a monstrosity no doubt now far, far away in a walled-off mental asylum somewhere, the slate has been very much wiped clean, and there’s certainly potential for a redemptive new chapter. After all, look who’s behind it…

J.J. Abrams is incredibly talented

True, he’s had his mishaps, but on the whole, J.J. Abrams – the noble director chosen to lead this new trilogy into battle – has something of an incredible filmography behind him. In the last ten years alone, he’s co-created Lost, rejuvenated the Mission: Impossible franchise, given the world one of the best adventure films since the Amblin days (Super 8 in case you didn’t twig), and well, he’s kind of nailed the space thing already too – see: Star Trek

More importantly, Abrams is a self-confessed mega fan of the series, so much so that he’s triumphed practical effects over digital wherever possible and totally refused to direct any more of the Star Wars sequels, so that he can simply enjoy them from a spectator’s perspective. He cares just as much about the legacy of the franchise as a lot of the rest of us do, and considering his proven abilities behind the camera, not with just huge-scale spectacle, but deeper, more emotional beats too, there’s plenty to get excited about. 

Disney are in charge

A few years ago, Hollywood behemoth Disney bought Lucasfilm and thus, the rights to the Star Warslegend, for a pretty scary amount of money. Something that rivalled the economy of a small country. And they’re definitely going to get their money’s worth. 

For anyone worried by such a move, just remember who Disney are. Architects of your childhood, supporters of the multi-generational Pixar and of course, those deep-pocketed big-wigs who made Marvel’s Avengers (and thus, shared movie-universes in general) a world-beating ideal to strive towards. Even if somehow you’re not a fan of any of the above, you have to admit that Disney very obviously have their heads screwed-on right. They know how to make an incredible-looking and well-received film, and they certainly know how to get you excited about it. 

And for those worried about your favourite Jedis losing their badass nature and becoming “disneyfied”, Abrams, and producer Kathleen Kennedy (long time friend of Lucas) have your back.

The start of something big

If you thought the Marvel universe was big, just you wait ’til you see the plans Disney have for Star Wars. Nope, we’re not talking some episodic build-up again – this isn’t a Marvel clone; Disney are treating this franchise with all the respect it deserves, carving its own organic path. 

With the soon-to-be released The Force Awakens acting as Episode VII in the grand chronology of things (meaning it’s to follow straight on from 1983’s Return of the Jedi), there’s a whole new trilogy on the cards. Episode VIII even begins filming incredibly soon, with sci-fi geek and all-round protector of the realm Rian Johnson at the helm (the guy who made the jaw-droppingly great Brick andLooper), whilst Episode IX is still a little way off, but has just welcomed Colin Trevorrow (the mastermind behind this summer’s crowd-pleasing delight Jurassic World) aboard as director. 

Not to mention Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards being given free reign on next year’s spin-off Rogue One, a heist-style prequel set within the Death Star. Disney have truly outdone themselves with the talent they’re using to shape their new franchise – exciting directors with exciting visions that are sure to offer up an even wider and more interesting take on the classic Star Wars universe. We’re not talking the same thing year after year, expect each of these to have their own dramatically different styles – opening up even more exciting times ahead. 

The trailers

It’s rare that a trailer can have such a profound effect on its audience, and yet, all three of the officially released Star Wars sneak-peeks (not forgetting the summer’s ComicCon sizzle reel) have managed to essentially crash the internet with speculation and anticipation over the new film. 

And you can sort of see why. There’s just enough lightsaber-twirling, John Williams scoring and epic space battling teased here to wet the appetite for inter-galactic mayhem, but not nearly enough to give even an inkling of what’s going to actually go down. We’ve seen characters, we’ve seen potential battles, but nothing is quite adding together and well, that’s kind of perfect. 

The curse of the modern trailer is that it gives every single beat of the film away, leaving nothing to get excited about. Here, The Force Awakens has done very much the opposite, and its effect is overwhelming; this latest trailer has received more coverage than most blockbuster movies do in their entire cinematic runs. 

After all, this one is a little bit special. The franchise that flipped Hollywood on its head and changed the game forever is well and truly back, and with Abrams, Kennedy and Disney providing a new hope in the form of a Lucas and Jar Jar-less clean slate – there’s every reason to jump on the bandwagon and give in to the excitement. 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set to open in IMAX 3D in the UK on 17th December. Tickets are on sale now.  

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