The New Star Wars Will Be Like A Bad Beauty Queen: Pretty and Vapid

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I saw Star Wars well over fifty times in the theater.
I met my wife in a Star Wars chat room on Compuserve, where we debated the dubious wisdom of the Death Star Trench approach.
When we got married, we put Luke and Leia on top of the cake.  (I’m not a Han, and you can’t make me.)
And I am dreading the new Star Wars movie.
It’s not that I’m not excited about the idea of a new Star Wars movie, but it seems that “an idea” is all Disney had… well, that and a release date.  Which they aren’t changing.  So the new Star Wars is coming out next year – and they may not have finished the script, or finished casting, but by God they sure are shooting footage because when the date is looming, dammit, you start filling celluloid.
And what we’ll get, barring some miracle, will be something like Pirates of the Carribean 2 and 3 – also Disney productions that started shooting before the scripts were finalized, pretty things with plots and motivations that hold together only long enough to carry you to the next scene, stitched together with a lot of witty one-liners that you never quite remember because they’re witty like some Twitter status, not witty locked into characterization.
(“Witty locked into characterization” is like the first Pirates, where someone told Jack Sparrow “You’re the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of” and he riposted, “But you have heard of me,” which told us everything we needed to know about the Captain.)
And I like JJ Abrams, but he’s only done an okay job on Star Trek.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the movies… but I enjoy ’em largely because I’m a Star Trek fan, and I tend to forget about them when they’re not around.  Yeah, people like the new Star Trek, but do you see half as much fangirl squee about it as you do, say, Sherlock, or Doctor Who?  Hell, I’ve seen more happy posts and image memes devoted to Adventure Time than I have these two movies.
The new Star Treks are fire-and-forget summer blockbusters – a good place to be, don’t get me wrong, but it’s coming from a show that was the formative fandom, literally the first adult sci-fi frenzy in history.  Those old Star Treks were so popular that the fans went seven years of isolation, not a film or a show or a bone, and still they threw conventions, warming themselves by the fire of old episodes.  Those old Star Treks were so popular at the time that they made Doctor Who fandom look tiny.
And now we have two movies, and if there was never a third, I don’t think anyone would have a great uproar the way people still moan for a Firefly reunion.  We like those movies.  They made us happy.  But there’s a difference between “That’s cool” and “ZOMG I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT THIS,” and I’d argue Doctor Who and Sherlock and even Downton Abbey fill that role more than JJ Abrams’ remakes.
And Star Wars?  A high bar, man.  And JJ Abrams has already shown us what he’s capable of with infinite time to work with: he’ll come up with something sleek, clever, and ultimately dispensable.  I’m not bashing JJ Abrams – trying to recreate that magic is all but impossible – but JJ really does like ZOMG PLOT TWIST over character-building any day, and what people ultimately stay for is character.  And what happens when the script – the thing that builds character – is being back-written to accommodate Big Splashy Action Sequences?
So I’m pretty sure what we’ll get.  It will be pretty.  It will be fun to watch.  It will be entertaining.  And it will slide out the back of our heads, getting dumped into the neglected back yard of Blockbusters We Enjoyed, and won’t take up residence in our souls.  It’ll be something we’ll be happy to watch if it comes on late-night television and we’re bored.
But will it be like Princess Bride, or Galaxy Quest, or any number of other films where we don’t just consume it, but actively crave it time after time?
I hope.  But I doubt.



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