Bringing Balance in Star Wars

by Todd King, contributing writer
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All Quiet on the Galaxy Front

Although Star Wars seems to be all around us and always giving the feeling that something is always happening, the franchise is kind of quiet right now. Disney has begun constructing the two Star Wars lands in California and Florida; there's not much more than grounds being leveled at this point, but things look to be speeding up in the near future.

Season 2 of Disney Channel's Star Wars Rebels ended this past March with positive reactions, and a third season is forthcoming. Episode VIII is soon to be wrapping up principal photography (so they hint). The Force Awakens just officially ended its record-breaking theatrical run (even though it's been on Blu-ray Disc for a couple months already). But, is that all that's not-happening?

Rogue One Reshoots

Rogue One is getting a few headlines because of its reshoots. Usually, big-budget movie reshoots don't make headlines like this one has. Rumors circled that Disney wasn't happy with the cut of the movie and ordered something like 40 percent of the movie completely redone. Other rumors dismissed those earlier ones, saying that reshoots are always part of movie production, and this is nothing more. I'm in the latter camp, believing the reshoots to be just the producers polishing the film. I hope that's all.

There was yet another rumor that suggested Disney wanted to "fix" the movie by adding in more recognizable Star Wars things like lightsabers and Jedi because they thought it wasn't up to the level of The Force Awakens and needed some of its ingredients. There were many fans who didn't like this idea, me among them; I want Rogue One to stay true to its purpose at the outset as a stand-alone movie, separate from the primary saga. Other fans are open to such ideas, especially after the well-received inclusion of Darth Vader in Rebels. In the end, I just think our curiosity, accompanied by our anticipation, is getting the better of us, and we're conjecturing without all the information. Still, I can't shake the feeling that something about the movie has changed at this point, and we can only wait to discover the truth.

Balancing the Force in the Movies

After all this banter on rumors for December's movie, it has led me to believe that Rogue One probably has one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, problems to solve: how to be a Star Wars movie without totally being a Star Wars movie.

Think about it: The Force Awakens set out to be wholeheartedly a Star Wars movie, even in spite of itself. It did succeed in truly being a Star Wars movie in its look, feel, sound, plot, and characters, and most of the criticism it got was for being too much of a Star Wars movie. Many reviews said it rehashed too many similar plots and devices from the original trilogy. At the same time, the movie was praised for being clearly identifiable as a Star Wars movie where it incorporated the fun, the mystery, and the character arcs of the old ones. Now that it finished its theatrical run and the numbers are in, we know it was absolutely a financial and critical success. And yeah, fans liked it, too.

However, Rogue One has to incorporate the elements of setting, pacing, plot, and characters of a Star Wars movie but be able to stand on its own as a different kind of Star Wars movie. It has to do this, and connect with fans, and be a success at the box office. It has to do this without a Skywalker, without Jedi, without the usual ingredients. And it has to hit profit margins so that Disney and Lucasfilm will make more. The "episode" movies were going to happen anyway, and The Force Awakens proved that they will be fine and accepted. The spin-off movies are a whole new thing. Disney already plans to release more of them, but there is a great deal that hinges on this first one. If it doesn't do well, movie-goers may be hesitant to see the next one. It's a matter of trust, and after Episode VII, I believe Disney/Lucasfilm have earned our trust; the movie was more than just accepted, it was loved. So how do you get Rogue One to have the right balance of new stuff and Star Wars stuff and still tell its own story in the same galaxy and be an all-around success? Probably need some magic.

Movie magic will bring it all together but to strike that balance, the movie's spirit and goal have to be in the right place. The Force Awakens needed to be a good Star Wars movie that was also a good movie on its own. Rogue One must be a good movie that happens to be a Star Wars movie. As Lucasfilm builds its new side fiction, Rogue One must stand on its own and be that side story the franchise needs.

What I hope for the most is that Rogue One accomplishes these ideas without resorting to too much fan-service. There will be fan-service, we can be sure of that, but it shouldn't need to throw it in just for the sake of a fan-service quota. By fan-service I mean, for examples, just adding in a character that's related to Leia or a principal character, or revealing the Emperor as the original owner of R2-D2, or having Boba Fett show up and disintegrating someone much to Vader's chagrin… wait, that last one might actually be cool, no wait don't add that—argh! I'm guilty myself of wanting such things. If director Gareth Edwards, the heads at Lucasfilm, or even Disney thinks the movie's gotta have more Star Wars-y references, then my hope is that they be in service of the story. Such things should be at the will of the movie's goal: be awesome without relying on cheap tricks.

A New Source – The Star Wars Show

Disney is trying a new way to connect with Star Wars fans. Last month, the official Star Wars YouTube channel launched a new show called, simply, "The Star Wars Show." They present a new episode every Wednesday, with additional episodes appearing at random. It is shot from within Lucasfilm headquarters with hosts Andi Gutierrez and Peter Townley in a nicely decorated room with a few trinkets from the films and a TIE Fighter coffee table, and they are sometimes joined by a mouse droid named Cheese (isn't that the name of the mouse in the Tinker Bell movies? … yes, I've seen them—besides, I'm surprised the droid didn't get named Mickey).

The program shows footage and reports news on all Star Wars media, from the films to the TV show, announces contests like the fan-film competition, and gives information on upcoming events like Celebration in London this July and the next Celebration in April 2017 in (where else?) Orlando. The hosts also conduct celebrity interviews, and most recently interviewed Dennis Muren, a long-time Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) special effects artist. It has been an interesting show so far, and I expect things to get much more exciting the closer we get to the next movie release.


An episode of "The Star Wars Show" on YouTube featuring Dennis Muren, Star Wars table top games, and Star Wars Fan Film Awards news. © Star Wars.

It is nice to have an official show like this to get some information from within the company in a short, less-than-10-minute video format. I look forward to seeing more. Since it is official, it is not going to delve too much into what fans are discussing online; there are plenty of outlets, including YouTube and here at MousePlanet, where Disney and Star Wars fans can openly discuss these news and events. But with seemingly little exciting news to report on for our favorite galaxy, it is refreshing to have this new streaming series. I just wonder if Disney and company also realized this same dry spell of events, too, and chose this late-spring season to launch the show? So far it has a lot of variety, and seems open to any kind of feature, so there's no telling what to expect next. I recommend subscribing.

The Half–Year Point

I've spoken about our seeming dearth of information these days, and I think it stems from our particular point in the calendar. We are a half-year gone from the previous movie, The Force Awakens, and we have a half-year more to go until the next, Rogue One. It makes me think the pendulum is about to swing, and pretty soon, we'll get a new trailer for Rogue One and perhaps by late fall we could get a teaser for Episode VIII. A new season of Rebels will be coming, and hopefully as the bulldozers and dump trucks in the two U.S. parks break and level more ground, we will get details, names, layouts, drawings, and drafts of Star Wars land. While I'm curious about the rides, I'm anticipating learning as many details as I can about this expansion's creative process. What are the intentions of Disney imagineers for this Star Wars experience? What do they hope to accomplish and what are their goals for the guests? I hope my curiosity doesn't get the best of me, again.

Comments

  1. By danyoung

    Yes, reshoots are a normal part of the film making process. But 40%? This movie is in big trouble. Doesn't mean that they can't still bring it home. But it ain't looking good right now.

  2. By Jimbo996

    I rather they have no information for it ruins the surprise. Then you'll have a spoiler alert as if people care to not hear what they already heard.

  3. By xezat

    Personally I can't stand Rebels or their other cartoony spinoffs, they may be canon but I personally try to pretend they don't exist. All this junk about wannabe-sith inquisitors and junk retroactively added in since they sure didn't warrant mention in any of the 7 movies...especially ruining the whole rule of 2 with the sith. Sure I do get not all Jedi could have been purged, but there sure are quite more than I would have expected wandering around it seems...

    But I digress, as for Rogue One, I agree it shouldn't be a pure "war" movie if that was one of the complaints execs had against it; the rebel alliance has always been a rag-tag group of guerrilla fighters, they don't march en mass and fight giant army battles against storm troopers; even massing all of their ships together for the Death Star assaults, they still are outnumbered severely and only have the advantage of generally superior fighter craft. Ultimately, it boils down to being a heist movie since the main purpose is to steal and deliver the death star plans after all. So I would expect to see more sneaking about and stealth strikes and not large scale battles between troops for example. And I would be surprised if say Vader didn't make an appearance somewhere as he was in hot pursuit of Leia at the start of IV, so my guess is he likely killed off whoever stole these plans or otherwise tortured the info out of them to be able to get right onto Leia's trail. It doesn't need tons of Jedi or lightsabers, it just needs 1 ruthless sith lord at the end to be fine. And it would be totally awesome refernece if Boba Fett fries someone in the movie, which leads to the Vader instructions in V.

    At any rate it's better conceptually than the planned Han Solo spinoff, I mean Han was still a pretty young guy during the events of IV, so just how much history can you really cover? Will they keep to the former book canon where he's related to disgraced correllian royalty, his past as a storm trooper before his smuggling days, and of course they would need to show him saving Chewie in here somewhere as well. That's a tall order to fill and not a lot of years to put it in either before IV.

  4. By foxtwin

    Quote Originally Posted by danyoung View Post
    Yes, reshoots are a normal part of the film making process. But 40%? This movie is in big trouble. Doesn't mean that they can't still bring it home. But it ain't looking good right now.

    I'm in denial of this.

  5. By foxtwin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo996 View Post
    I rather they have no information for it ruins the surprise. Then you'll have a spoiler alert as if people care to not hear what they already heard.

    Me, too. It seems very difficult to keep secrets these days.

  6. By foxtwin

    Quote Originally Posted by xezat View Post
    Personally I can't stand Rebels or their other cartoony spinoffs, they may be canon but I personally try to pretend they don't exist. All this junk about wannabe-sith inquisitors and junk retroactively added in since they sure didn't warrant mention in any of the 7 movies...especially ruining the whole rule of 2 with the sith. Sure I do get not all Jedi could have been purged, but there sure are quite more than I would have expected wandering around it seems...

    But I digress, as for Rogue One, I agree it shouldn't be a pure "war" movie if that was one of the complaints execs had against it; the rebel alliance has always been a rag-tag group of guerrilla fighters, they don't march en mass and fight giant army battles against storm troopers; even massing all of their ships together for the Death Star assaults, they still are outnumbered severely and only have the advantage of generally superior fighter craft. Ultimately, it boils down to being a heist movie since the main purpose is to steal and deliver the death star plans after all. So I would expect to see more sneaking about and stealth strikes and not large scale battles between troops for example. And I would be surprised if say Vader didn't make an appearance somewhere as he was in hot pursuit of Leia at the start of IV, so my guess is he likely killed off whoever stole these plans or otherwise tortured the info out of them to be able to get right onto Leia's trail. It doesn't need tons of Jedi or lightsabers, it just needs 1 ruthless sith lord at the end to be fine. And it would be totally awesome refernece if Boba Fett fries someone in the movie, which leads to the Vader instructions in V.

    At any rate it's better conceptually than the planned Han Solo spinoff, I mean Han was still a pretty young guy during the events of IV, so just how much history can you really cover? Will they keep to the former book canon where he's related to disgraced correllian royalty, his past as a storm trooper before his smuggling days, and of course they would need to show him saving Chewie in here somewhere as well. That's a tall order to fill and not a lot of years to put it in either before IV.

    With Rebels, books, comic books, games, and more it seems these are all entryways for people of all kinds to enter into Star Wars. The movies, hopefully, will always be the 'main' thing--it's how it all began, after all. And speaking of theatrical releases, I too try to pretend Clone Wars doesn't exist (the film). You bring up a good point that much of the TV stuff (or all of it?) isn't mentioned in the movies so it seems there is a disconnect between them, probably on purpose?

    And now it has been revealed that Vader will indeed make some kind of appearance in Rogue One, your ideas about his role may come into play - and I like how you would keep it balanced with focus still on the new cast. We'll see how this plays out.

    For Han's spin-off, yeah, that is going to be a monumental challenge to the filmmakers.

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