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Peter Martin
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Posted: 30 April 2014 at 6:11pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

You didn't say it was a 'sausagefest', you asked why it was still one.

Maybe you meant this was a great thing, but I would infer some criticism in the still and the why. 

Normally, when someone asks why something is still a certain way there is a clear implication that the person asking it thinks things should have moved on.

Which is why it sure sounds like a nitpick to me.


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Koroush Ghazi
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Posted: 30 April 2014 at 6:32pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

 Rick Senger wrote:
Just to add: the below picture is admittedly cool but seems incredibly calculated to take on a quasi-historic staging. When was the last time you saw the first press publicity still for what will be the highest tech, possibly most expensive scifi movie ever filmed be black and white? (Who but auteurs shoot in black and white these days, honestly?) Could this be Abrams + co's subtle attempt to reassure stalwarts that this is going to be an old school throwback to vintage Star Wars, not the recent Lucas soulless all green screen prequels? From the apparently deep and thoughtful discussion, carefully and prominently positioned scripts in many hands to the "uncrated" R2D2 between Ford and Abrams, the message I'm getting is the exact opposite of what we got from Abrams' Star Trek, which was "This Ain't Your Daddy's Trek." Quite the reverse, Abrams here seems to be going with "This IS your daddy's Star Wars" in this picture, and for me it's a very good marketing angle.


These are all good observations, and I agree that the whole thing is orchestrated to make it look like a return to the "good old days" of Star Wars. But in practice I think JJ will make a dog's breakfast of the whole thing the way he did with Star Trek 2009. Instead of subtle undertones that hark back to the original, I have no doubt he'll throw in lots of obvious "easter eggs" for the sake of fan service. Like having Han make some witty comment about shooting Greedo.

The original Star Wars was like lightning in a bottle. Any attempt to recreate its atmosphere, given modern sensibilities and penchant for CGI-laden effects, won't come out well, especially by a "hip" director like JJ. I'd much prefer that they didn't dig up the bones of the original to potentially ruin the original characters.


Edited by Koroush Ghazi on 30 April 2014 at 6:33pm
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 30 April 2014 at 7:12pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

You didn't say it was a 'sausagefest', you asked why it was still one.

Maybe you meant this was a great thing, but I would infer some criticism in the still and the why. 

Normally, when someone asks why something is still a certain way there is a clear implication that the person asking it thinks things should have moved on.

Which is why it sure sounds like a nitpick to me.

------

Of course it was a criticism and a nitpick. It was a legitimate criticism of the original trilogy, which I hear is well-regarded by people. But Adam is doing a whole lot of bad mindreading there. Or does any criticism mean I'm looking for the movie to fail?

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Peter Martin
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Posted: 30 April 2014 at 8:37pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

A criticism of a film when you know enough to actually make some kind of informed judgement is fair enough, but when it's before a single second of footage has been released (or possibly even filmed) it does seem to have little legitimacy or point beyond having a negative dig for the sake of it. 

I don't know what kind of story they're going to tell, you don't know what kind of story they're going to tell, so maybe a wait and see approach might be better advised.

Is there some kind of acceptable ratio of sexes that needs to be met for good storytelling? 

Star Wars is a magpie hotch-potch of Western frontier tale, WWII bombing run flick, Arthurian/Greek mythological fantasy and Kurasawan Samurai story. None of those roots neccesarily dictate a higher ratio of female characters.

More the power to Abrams and Kasdan should they create a greater number of interesting and memorable female characters than the previous films managed but I don't think we can claim it's a legitimate criticism to nitpick about failing to meet an arbitrary quota from one still photograph and an incomplete cast list. Give them a chance!


Edited by Peter Martin on 30 April 2014 at 8:48pm
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Stephen Churay
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Posted: 30 April 2014 at 8:45pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I can definitely understand those skeptical and indifferent to the
announcement. I for one am actually more excited than I thought I
would be. I'm glad to see the return of the original cast but, I'm more
excited about the casting of Max Von Sydow and Andy Serkis. To this
old time Star Wars fan, they are welcome editions to the saga.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 30 April 2014 at 9:02pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I forgot to mention Flash Gordon as one of Star Wars' big influences.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 30 April 2014 at 9:16pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

A criticism of a film when you know enough to actually make some kind of informed judgement is fair enough, but when it's before a single second of footage has been released (or possibly even filmed) it does seem to have little legitimacy or point beyond having a negative dig for the sake of it. 

I don't know what kind of story they're going to tell, you don't know what kind of story they're going to tell, so maybe a wait and see approach might be better advised.

Is there some kind of acceptable ratio of sexes that needs to be met for good storytelling?

-----

Where was I criticizing the FILM? Why do I need to reserve judgment to point out that there are few females in the announced cast? There are are only two (possibly three) females in the announced cast. True or false?

Does that observation mean I think the film is going to be bad? No.
Do I see it as a negative? Not necessarily.
Would I prefer a more balanced cast? Definitely.
Does it mean that I'm being negative about the film just because it doesn't meet my preferences? NO.

And sorry, but pointing out the weakness of female representation in Star Wars is hardly arbitrary or invented, and I don't feel it's invalid. It's long been a criticism of Lucas and Star Wars. If you don't believe me, use the Google. I think it's worth noting that Abrams and co. don't seem to be making strides in addressing those criticisms, at least in terms of the number of main female roles. I think it's telling that for female fans of the original trilogy, the main ways of representing their fandom are Princess Leia with hair buns and Princess Leia in a gold bikini.

Perhaps Daisy Ridley will be the primary protagonist and will dominate most of the screen time, addressing some of those criticisms, but I don't see how it's unfair to point out that there are very few female roles. Which again, for the oversensitive, does not equate to tearing down the film.





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Koroush Ghazi
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Posted: 30 April 2014 at 10:56pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

 Peter Martin wrote:
I don't know what kind of story they're going to tell, you don't know what kind of story they're going to tell, so maybe a wait and see approach might be better advised.


This is true to a certain extent, however the best predictor of future behavior is the past.

- What has JJ Abrams done with other licensed properties?
- What has been the quality of most of the other films that have followed the original Star Wars?
- What does Hollywood usually do with big-budget "blockbuster" films, especially sci-fi movies?
- Are recent films based on licensed properties respectful of source material, or are they more parody/fan service type affairs?

If you can truthfully answer those questions, then I think the chances of a decent Star Wars: Episode VII are pretty slim. Of course it all depends on what your expectations are for this upcoming movie.
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Robert White
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 2:31am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Andy Serkis must have a universally accepted contract that stipulates that he has to be in every blockbuster flick or it doesn't get made.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 5:47am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

And sorry, but pointing out the weakness of female representation in Star Wars is hardly arbitrary or invented, and I don't feel it's invalid
------------------------------------------------
Do you make the same criticisms of The Avengers, Die Hard, Seven Samurai, Lord of the Rings, Robin Hood, Dambusters, Saving Private Ryan, Deliverance?

Are you over in the Age of Ultron thread asking why there are only three female characters in the cast? Ditto the Godzilla thread?
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 6:39am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Koroush, the point  I was trying to make about the storytelling was more about taking a wait and see approach to the appropriateness of the casting. Can we blanket say that the storytelling will be hampered by not having the right mix of females and males until we know the tale they're telling?

Does Oliver! have too many kids? Does Sister Act have too many women? Does Escape to Victory have too many men? Does Toy Story not have enough real people?

But answering your questions anyway:

What has JJ Abrams done with other licensed properties?
I though he did OK with Mission Impossible and my reaction to the 2009 Star Trek was: a bit dumb and he's too desperate to shoe-horn in fast-moving action sequences; he'd be better-suited to Star Wars. Into Darkness was deeply flawed.


What has been the quality of most of the other films that have followed the original Star Wars?
Assuming you mean the other Star Wars films, the prequels are crap and ROTJ is bland. This is a disappointing haul, meaning that the vast majority of the films in the series have been shitty. On the other hand, the bar has been set pretty low as time has worn on...

What does Hollywood usually do with big-budget "blockbuster" films, especially sci-fi movies?
Spend a lot of money? This question is a bit odd because there isn't much to compare Hollywood blockbusters with. Where else are blockbuster movies coming from? Some of the best blockbuster movies I know came from Hollywood! Having said that, Lucasfilm, by the why, is technically not Hollywood. Lucas moved it to Northern California specifically to separate it from the Southern California Hollywood community.

Are recent films based on licensed properties respectful of source material, or are they more parody/fan service type affairs?
You seem to have some films in mind. The ones that spring to mind for me are the Marvel licensed films, which have been of varied quality, not particularly faithful but probably lean more to the respectful side than parody. Ditto the Tolkien and Potter films, the latter of which I would say are extremely faithful.

I have no idea whether the new Star Wars film will be good, bad or indifferent. If I had to lean one way or another, I'd say I was quietly optimistic, if only because I like some of that cast, I like Lawrence Kasdan and Disney is a fairly switched on studio when it comes to licensed properties.





Edited by Peter Martin on 01 May 2014 at 6:40am
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Koroush Ghazi
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 7:54am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Fair enough Peter, I respect your right to be optimistic. I just keep in
mind a story that Frank Darabont told:


 QUOTE:
Hollywood doesn't trust smart material. If you show them a really
smart script. I actually had a studio head read that script and say:
"Wow, that's the best and smartest script that I've read since running
this studio but I can't possibly greenlight it. I asked why and he says
"How am I going to get 13-year-olds to show up at the theater?"


My point regarding big-budget blockbusters is that because of the huge
sums of money involved in making them, it's imperative for any studio
that they have the broadest appeal (i.e. lowest common denominator),
and not be innovative or thought-provoking (i.e. risky). It's strictly a by-
the-formula affair.

I'll definitely be reading as many reviews as possible before deciding
upon seeing Ep. VII.

Edited by Koroush Ghazi on 01 May 2014 at 7:59am
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 8:25am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Studio Executive: We want to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
JJ Abrams: I can do that!
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 11:10am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Do you make the same criticisms of The Avengers, Die Hard, Seven Samurai, Lord of the Rings, Robin Hood, Dambusters, Saving Private Ryan, Deliverance?

Are you over in the Age of Ultron thread asking why there are only three female characters in the cast? Ditto the Godzilla thread?

-----

Why are you so desperate to miss the point, Peter?
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 11:46am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Spell it out for me please.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 12:34pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Spell it out for me please.

------

The lack of female characters is a historical complaint about the Star Wars films. This is not a recent criticism. Star Wars has a lot of female fans, who have praised attempts to include more females in other aspects of the franchise, such as the Expanded Universe and the Clone Wars cartoons.

So to act like I'm inventing some personal axe to grind is disingenuous. To throw up a list of male-dominated movies, as if I were somehow demanding that all movies require a specific quota of women is bullshit. 

I did not invent a time machine and have people write articles like this more than a year ago:


I did not rally various media organizations to all report on my personal nitpick:






Now, none of this means that Episode VII will be a bad movie if it doesn't include more female characters. But the issue can at least be acknowledged.
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Jason Czeskleba
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 1:12pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I'm guardedly optimistic about this film, and I'm puzzled by people who worry that Abrams will ruin the franchise as he ruined Star Trek.  They really are quite different things, and I think Abrams' skill set might actually work all right here. 

I loved the original Star Wars but don't have much use for what came after.  The original film was not complex or thoughtful science fiction, it was an incredibly exciting fantasy adventure story with characters that were broadly-drawn archetypes.  Abrams is rightly criticized for dumbing down Star Trek and reducing the characters to caricatures/cliches.  But can he really dumb down Star Wars when it was hardly intellectual to begin with?  In the original film there really was not a lot of depth or complexity to the main characters.  They hardly were the nuanced, well-developed characters of Star Trek.  And the original story was quite simple also, a deliberate homage to Buck Rogers serials that focused on action and adventure. 

So if Abrams makes a film that is nonstop action with broadly-drawn, simple characters (like his Star Trek films) I'd say he is being successful at recapturing the tone of the original film.  Lucas is the one who erred by trying to make the Star Wars franchise  into A Serious Artistic Statement, in the process making it pretentious and (in the case of the prequels) incredibly boring.  If Abrams goes the direction of mindless action, he's being truer to the spirit of the original film than the pretension of the sequels and the tedium of the prequels.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 1:21pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

The reason I mentioned the other male-dominated movies was because I thought you were saying that a low female ratio in a cast was a general grounds for criticism. I didn't see that you meant it was standard that should apply only to Star Wars.

It does beg why only Star Wars?

I also thought you were expressing your own opinion rather than parroting what you had read elsewhere and I had responded in kind to specific points you had made. You did clarify after all, that you were criticising and you were nitpicking and you though it was a legitimate criticism. How am I being disingenuous by responding to that and explaining why I don't think it is legitimate unless we know the story being told?

There are some people on the net who think the Star Wars film should have more females. Fair enough -- as I said, more the power to Abrams and Kasdan should they include more. 

But in response to the various links you post,  I repeat: I don't think it's a legitimate criticism to nitpick about failing to meet an arbitrary quota from one still photograph and an incomplete cast list.


Edited by Peter Martin on 01 May 2014 at 1:26pm
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Jozef Brandt
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My question is who cares how many females are in the cast?  Who cares how many wookiees? 

Who says movies are supposed to be demographic fishbowls?  The only thing that should matter is whether the movie is entertaining.

It's not BBC television where they go down the list of their checkboxes to make sure they've covered arbitrarily covered everything.

And citing a bunch of bored glorified bloggers who try to deconstruct everything that people like in the most boring ways isn't really helping your point.  The grievance industry can take the fun out of almost anything, and Star Wars isn't an exception clearly. 
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 4:23pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply


 QUOTE:
I also thought you were expressing your own opinion rather than parroting what you had read elsewhere and I had responded in kind to specific points you had made.

I wasn't parroting anything. I had made my comment before I has seen any of those links I posted. You miss the point yet again. 


 QUOTE:
I didn't see that you meant it was standard that should apply only to Star Wars.

Again, something I did not say. This deer-in-the-headlights approach is getting tedious.


 QUOTE:
How am I being disingenuous by responding to that and explaining why I don't think it is legitimate unless we know the story being told?

Because absolutely nothing is forcing the story to be male-dominated (unlike several of the examples you cite above), so a criticism about CASTING is not deflectable with "We don't know the story yet."
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 4:45pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Who says movies are supposed to be demographic fishbowls?  The only thing that should matter is whether the movie is entertaining. 

----

No one?

But why is it when the scale is constantly skewed in one direction, do people find it offensive to point out "Hey, the scales might be imbalanced, and you had an opportunity to do something different."? Is white male privilege really that blinding?

No one is requiring Episode VII to have a balanced mix of characters. What they are saying is that fans have long been asking for more female characters, and they seem to be missing an opportunity to do so.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 5:56pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

OK, so you weren't demanding that all films have a specific quota of women, and you weren't saying the standard should only apply to Star Wars. Which films should the standard be applied to? Who dictates this? 

Does the right of the creator to tell a story he wants to tell not outweigh the sense of entitlement of the fans to piss and moan about the balance of genders?

I've said twice now that it would be great if the creators decided to put in more female characters, but you know, if they feel the story they want to tell is about two male leads and one female one because that reflects the original Star Wars or the roots of Flash Gordon or whatever that is the prerogative of the artist.

As an aside, I think it's simplistic to knock Star Wars purely on a numbers game. When I look back at great heroines in action films over the last 50 years, I think of Ellen Ripley and Princess Leia Organa as topping the list by a country mile (and maybe Clarice Starling as distant third), so I think it's underselling Star Wars to say it's so male dominated. Leia  was given every bit as much weighting as Han and Luke in that first film and Luke is way more wan and whiny a character than the tough, smart, feisty Leia. Eveyone else pretty much plays up to the archetype, barring the damsel in distress that Lucas chose to strengthen up considerably.

Maybe they are missing an opportunity with the new film. Fans can vote with their wallets if they don't like it. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 6:25pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I'm guardedly optimistic about this film, and I'm puzzled by people who worry that Abrams will ruin the franchise as he ruined Star Trek.  They really are quite different things, and I think Abrams' skill set might actually work all right here.  
++++++++++


I can't disagree with this.


HOWEVER. 


However, after what he did to STAR TREK, he doesn't f***ing deserve STAR WARS, his dream project. 




It's a personal bias of mine, I admit. He may well make an amazing STAR WARS movie. But, the whole thing is already tainted for me by what he did to TREK. Perhaps that's harsh and unfair, but it's how I feel.


On a less emotional level, I've previously stated my more intellectual concerns--milking the franchise dry, no real story-based reason for more movies, Abrams being able to ape the style but not the heart of SW, etc., etc.


I've reached a point where I just don't want to see my happy memories of beloved properties tainted by horrible, soulless fan-wankery projects that come 30 years too late to be of any good.


I survived the prequels, and think there are some interesting elements, there. I don't think that George Lucas raped my childhood. I've made my peace with STAR WARS, and can enjoy the existing films, to varying degrees.


Now, though...now, I'm totally dubious about more STAR WARS for the sake of more STAR WARS. That has to mean something's wrong, right? Have I become old and jaded, or are Disney and Abrams wrong for dredging up SW and pumping out more films?

The whole thing is weird and disorienting. I never, ever expected to see another movie with the original cast. And, I never expected that I would be dreading that film, rather than being excited about it.


Time changes all things, eh?
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Jason Czeskleba
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 10:02pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

But was there really a "story based reason" for any of the sequels, including Empire?  Star Wars was a complete story, done in one.  Everything that has come since has been padding out that original film into a larger, longer story, and could be described as "Star Wars for the sake of more Star Wars."  In serial fiction, does there have to be a compelling reason to tell more stories aside from the fact that the audience wants more and wants to see what happens to characters they like?  Ultimately what it comes down to is how well-done or not the new stories are.

As to your karmic argument againts Abrams, I get what you're saying.  There's no refuting that, since it's admittedly an emotional rather than rational view.  I guess it doesn't bother me as much. 

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 01 May 2014 at 10:24pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

But was there really a "story based reason" for any of the sequels,
including Empire? Star Wars was a complete story, done in one.
Everything that has come since has been padding out that original film
into a larger, longer story, and could be described as "Star Wars for the
sake of more Star Wars." In serial fiction, does there have to be a
compelling reason to tell more stories aside from the fact that the
audience wants more and wants to see what happens to characters
they like? Ultimately what it comes down to is how well-done or not the
new stories are.
++++++++

Can't disagree with this, either.


However, it should be noted that the original film did leave a few loose
story threads, such as Vader escaping in the classic serial villain
tradition. So, the idea of a sequel--whatever it might have been--wasn't entirely out of left field.

ROTJ, serving as the end of the original trilogy, was pretty firmly
stamped with "THE END!" Lucas said from the start that he wanted to
go back and makes films that revealed the backstory, but had no
tangible plans for true sequels taking place after ROTJ.

Then, the prequels came along to fill in the backstory that Lucas had
been teasing since the days of EMPIRE/JEDI. Debates about the films'
merits aside, they did fulfill that function. Thus, ROTS was also pretty
firmly stamped "THE END...AND THE BEGINNING", since the
backstory had finally been dealt with. And, just to put a bow on it, we
were taken back to the first film via a reprise of the iconic binary sunset
scene.

Combine all of that with Lucas' repeated statements and whitewashing
about the story being the six-part TRAGEDY OF DARTH VADER, and it
seemed that the series was finally over and done.

Now, less than a decade later, Disney says it's not done...just because.

After the initial burst of post-STAR WARS retcons, the overall "mission
statement" of the series has been pretty consistent for the past 30
years: Three movies, then maybe three prequels, with the Sequel
Trilogy as more of a never-gonna-happen, flight of fancy than anything
else.

Now, that's changed.


I suppose any real negativity about this film must come down to
emotion, though. The one-two punch of Abrams and the "fool me
once..." aspect of the prequels is enough to give me major
reservations.


Plus, the track record of unnecessary sequels that come 20 years too
late (DIE HARD, CRYSTAL SKULL, etc.) does not fill me with
confidence that STAR WARS is somehow immune to the trend.


Mind you, I've been a grumpy, "get off my lawn"-type who hates change
literally since I was a kid, so my perspective may be skewed!

Edited by Greg Kirkman on 01 May 2014 at 10:27pm
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