Star Wars 7 Goes Back to Basics

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Star Wars 7 and its cast and crew have to work under a lot of pressure. Fans of the classic science-fiction property were largely disappointed by the long awaited prequel trilogy that began with the oft-maligned Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1999. One of the most cited problems with the prequel trilogy is the over reliance on digital visuals that left the films feeling inauthentic and lacking focus on the most important aspects. In order to avoid this same mistake, Episode 7 director J.J. Abrams has made it clear that Star Wars is going back to basics. A few leaked set photos showed glimpses of actual set pieces being created with not a hint of green screen to be found.

Soon after the leaked photos began making their way around the web, Abrams officially released a video with two purposes. One was to introduce a contest to appear in Episode 7 supporting Unicef. The other unspoken purpose of the video was to prove to skeptical fans that Abrams had the best interest of the property in mind and truly understood it. He did this in a subtle and rather humorous fashion by appearing in front of a small section of what could only be a Tatooine marketplace set on the new film. Not only did the director appear on a real, physical outdoor set, but also he was joined by an alien creature that walked through the shot. The important thing about this creature was that it was in no way computer generated. It was created with practical effects, a masterfully realistic puppet with very natural movements. With that one short video, Abrams calmed the fears of a crowd of anxious fans. However, Star Wars 7’s return to the basics of the original Star Wars trilogy has a different set of fans worried.

This other group of critical fans is those that enjoy the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU). The EU is any officially licensed Star Wars story outside of the main films, and now The Clone Wars and Rebels TV Shows, and has existed since soon after the release of the first film. It truly came into its own with the release of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy in the early 1990’s. Since then the EU has grown exponentially into hundreds of stories spanning books, comics, video games, and more. The abundance of authors and creators necessary to bring such a universe into existence has resulted in the fleshing out of nearly every possible aspect of the Star Wars universe, allowing fans to experience exactly what they specifically love about Star Wars.

The problem fans of the EU have with Episode 7 of the Star Wars movies going back to basics is that Abrams intends to return to the simplicity of the original trilogy. EU fans are a small group relative to all those who will see the new Star Wars movies, so in order to appeal to the majority whose fondest Star Wars memories are of the original trilogy, the EU is now officially regarded as more or less glorified fan-fiction.  Everything released so far that is not a Star Wars film or The Clone Wars or Star Wars: Rebels will be released under the new “Star Wars Legends” banner. What this means is that until one of the new movies or TV shows confirms an event or character as canon nothing appearing in the EU can be considered to count towards the overarching story of Star Wars.

Therefore, by going back to basics with Star Wars 7, J.J. Abrams is doing his best to make a good film. What he also might be doing is getting rid of years and years of complicated and layered universe building loved and experienced by thousands. The EU will always exist, to be enjoyed by fans as stories, no matter what their canon status. However, if Abrams and those who come after him decide to take a new direction with the Star Wars saga and ignore the most well loved aspects of the EU, an entire generation of fans could be alienated. Many feel that without some of the established characters and themes of the EU the new trilogy would be wasting its potential. It will be a long wait until December 2015 for moviegoers and EU fans alike.

Opinion by Matt Isaacs

Sources:
Variety 
Star Wars
LucasFilm

11 Responses to "Star Wars 7 Goes Back to Basics"

  1. Dan Sailor   June 24, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Give Luke Skyporker more time to hit the gym!

    Reply
  2. Dan Sailor   June 24, 2014 at 11:36 am

    The prequels were somewhat bloated, the effects mainly detract from the cinematic weight of the scenes. Theres something really powerful about the simplicity of the lightsaber fights in OT, very powerful. That said in my opinion Attack of the Clones went too far for most of the film, Revenge of the Sith wasn’t as bad and Phantom Menace was as bad as ROS. Attack of the Clones is pretty ridiculous to my memory, but they didn’t completely fail at wrapping up the full circle with Vader.

    Those six movies were about the chosen one though, a prophecy to be told through film..a religious experience so to speak…how are you supposed to make sequels to something of such grandeur I guess. At the very least be patient, work around the actors and delay filming to make the best film with Harrison as possible. This is the kind of film you don’t just rewrite when the lead gets injured.

    Reply
  3. Jeff Jensen   June 24, 2014 at 3:24 am

    A Seeley, well said.

    Reply
  4. Aaft   June 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I personally love the prequels and the originals!

    Reply
  5. A Seely   June 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    I agree with JH. This retor-reporting that the prequels were CG filled and didn’t use practical effects is not the case at all. Q-Tips were used as audience members of the podrace, miniature models for Theed Palace and actual lava was shot at an erupting Mount Etna for the climactic battle between Obi Wan and Anakin in Episode III. I am fully behind JJ Abrams going for a higher percentage of practical effects, but I’m tired of that being used to undermine Lucas’ approach to the prequels. A special effect carries “suspension of disbelief” whether it’s a puppet or a pixel, and the important thing is that they serve the story. Lucas’ story was just as strong in the prequels as it was in the arc of the OT. Sorry if people missed that, but it’s the truth. George Lucas was interested in telling a story in the prequels, and not only did he tell the first parts of the greatest story ever told, he strengthened Episodes IV-VI in the process with the way he unfolded his saga.

    Reply
  6. Jeff Jensen   June 23, 2014 at 4:14 am

    Agree with JH, I do. Also, the scene in the temple which Anakin and Obi discuss spying on the chancellor was the largest set in history, IIRC.

    Reply
  7. JOhn   June 23, 2014 at 4:09 am

    EU lovers are nerds and just a little bit OCD. We don’t need to learn the etiology of every damn thing and before they complain, EU lovers should also remember, now they can start a whole NEW pulling apart of characters, story lines, obscure references etc.

    The biggest risk to star wars is that it will turn into the Bold and the Beautiful with light sabers. All those family connections. Would be a better movie without it and I just don’t think I care about following Han and Leia’s kids or Luke’s kids and what adolescent growing pains they have etc etc. Get back to the original idea of loyal friends going on an adventure and looking out for each other…with light sabers.

    Reply
  8. mr me   June 23, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Its very star wars you twit. Have ever seen the original movies?

    Reply
  9. Pål Erland Langsholt   June 22, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Shows you can never please everyone. I like them.

    Reply
  10. Bernard32   June 22, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    So disappointed in those Star Wars 7 creatures. Just terrible. That giant pig thing looks like it’s made out of mud. Not impressed. The design is shocking. Not very star wars.

    Reply
    • JH   June 23, 2014 at 2:46 am

      The prequels shot in the desert too, with real alien costumes, etc. A lot of people love the prequels. Sorry you don’t. Oh, and a lot of people hate JJ Abrams movies too, so…

      Reply

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