Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thursday Top Twelve – Star Wars Edition

Welcome to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. I’ll be featuring a “top twelve” list for the rest of 2012 each Thursday, with a variety of themes. Please leave suggestions for future focuses in the comments!

With the shocking news this week that Disney has acquired Lucasfilm and will produce three more Star Wars movies, there’s plenty to consider. As one of the outspoken few who actually enjoyed Episodes I and II (III less so), I still understand the potential risks of adding to a franchise that’s already unbelievably popular. Without further ado, here are the Top Twelve Things That Could Make or Break the New Slate of Star Wars Sequels.

#12: Rating The first five films were all rated PG, while “Revenge of the Sith” earned a PG-13, for sci-fi violence and some intense images. Those involved with the script will have to decide whether they want this to be a new, darker force-fueled world or if this decade’s Star Wars will be just for kids.

#11: Length With the exception of the most recent film (barely), each entry in the series has gotten progressively longer. “A New Hope” was 121 minutes, while “Attack of the Clones” clocked in at 142 minutes. If enough of the story is populated by action, that’s fine, but excessive and unexciting plot development just won’t do, especially if there are three films to come.

#10: Music Think what you will about “The Phantom Menace,” but John Williams’ “Duel of the Fates” provides an excellent anthem for the eternal battle between the Jedi and the Sith. If five-time Oscar winner Williams continues his involvement with the franchise, at least one element of the movies is sure to be terrific.

#9: 3-D Given that Episode I already came out in 3-D and Episodes II and III are slated to do the same next year, it makes sense that Episodes VII, VIII, and IX will be put out in 3-D. The visuals could be pretty damn cool if done right, and we just have to hope that the eye-popping technology doesn’t come at the expense of the story.

#8: Dialogue The script is important, crucial even, despite the fact that this is sci-fi more than anything. Classic insults like “Nerfherder” and “Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper?” should reign, and campy bantering is fine too. The prequels took their dialogue too seriously.

#7: Acting The same goes for the acting. Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn and Alec Guniness’ Obi-Wan Kenobi were great, but the rest of the cast needs to find a balance between wooden performances and celestial overacting. Guinness exempted, no one from this series is going to be nominated for an Oscar for acting.

#6: Secrecy I remember my excitement at finding teaser photos for “Attack of the Clones” before it came out, and hearing only some of what was to come. Too much hype and predictions of what’s going to be at the center of the movies, or worse, accurate confirmation, could ruin part of the thrill of this series.

#5: Directing George Lucas helmed four of the films that exist already, and the other two directors – Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand – are both dead. The creative vision behind the camera makes a world of difference, and longtime producer Steven Spielberg could be a great choice to indulge his love for aliens. There are a host of other options as well, and it would be interesting to see how a new director could steer this franchise in a new direction.

#4: Visual Effects One criticism of the prequels was that its technology was more advanced than what existed in the original films, mainly because they were made 25 years later and thus had better effects. In the future, things are be as advanced as possible, and a subpar story wouldn’t be as disappointing if the scenery is mesmerizing.

#3: Casting Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman may not have delivered Shakespeare-caliber performances in the prequels, but nothing compared to Hayden Christensen, who won Razzie awards for both of his performances as Anakin. Simply put, Kristen Stewart would be a bad choice to play a young Jedi, while Chloe Grace Moretz or Freddie Highmore might make more sense, for instance. The acting doesn’t need to be excellent, but it needs to be better than it was.

#2: Cameos Presuming that Mark Hamill certainly won’t be coming back as the films’ star and that Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford likely won’t be front and center either, it’s important that their inevitable cameos be brief and poignant, not unnecessarily highlighted or distracting.

#1: Plot Much has happened in the Star Wars universe aside from the films. I remember reading young adult novels about Han and Leia’s children, Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin. There’s so much from which to draw, and the focus of the films matters a lot since setting them after “Return of the Jedi” means that anything could happen. I’m sure no one wants another Jar Jar Binks to appear, no matter the circumstances.

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