Star Wars Episode VII: is it a good idea?

They may not live up to the originals, but could Disney's new Star Wars films make up for The Phantom Menace and co? Vote in our poll...

A long time ago (in 1980 to be exact), George Lucas said: “Star Wars is really three trilogies, nine films… it won’t be finished for probably another 20 years”. Well, it’s taken a while longer than that, but it turns out Lucas’s hoped-for 7th, 8th and 9th Star Wars movies will see the light of day, even if he won’t be writing or directing them…

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Yesterday’s landmark $4bn sale of Lucasfilm to Disney came as something of a surprise, as did the announcement that Disney intends to pump out new Star Wars films “every two or three years.”

The news was was met with a predictably mixed reaction and Twitter users have responded either by vomiting bile (“Mickey Mouse owns Star Wars. It is now time to eat your cyanide capsule and shoot yourself in the head. See you on the other side”)  or going giddy with glee (“I was stunned to hear #Disney bought #Lucasfilm!! And more STAR WARS films!!! Never would have imagined, but so excited! Woohoo!”).

Of course, the reality of the situation is that this deal is enormously beneficial for both Lucas and Disney.  It means that the director will be able to retire from filmmaking with more money than God and gives Disney total control over one of the most lucrative movie franchises of all time.

But is it a good move artistically? Some people seem worried that Disney is somehow going to “ruin” Star Wars and that any new films the company makes will automatically cheapen the series’ legacy. But is that really so likely?

I’m not alone in thinking that the Star Wars prequels (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) were pretty crummy movies. If they did anything for cinema, it was to prove that all you need to make a fantasy film these days is a few actors, a green screen and a team of CGI animators. But as engaging works of drama? They were awful – full of boring plotting, stilted dialogue and wooden acting.

The prequels also managed to mangle the original trilogy’s mythology, not least by trying to explain away the formerly mystical, ethereal Force as something physical (to paraphrase Jim Royle: Midi-chlorians, my arse). They changed Boba Fett from a battle-scarred Imperial officer into a kid. They showed us that Darth Vader had once suffered the indignity of being Jake Lloyd. They gave us Jar Jar Binks. Need I go on?

So Disney can’t possibly do anything worse to Star Wars than George Lucas has already done, can they? In fact, they might well make up for the disappointment of the prequel trilogy.

Disney’s been behind some genuinely great films over the past couple of decades. Gone are the days of the company pumping out twee little cartoons about talking mice – these days Disney, through Pixar, make super-smart family films like Toy Story and Wall-E, and they’ve also produced all those highly-regarded Marvel Comics movies of the past few years. Remember how cool and cutting edge Avengers Assemble was? Well, that’s Disney in the present day.

Plus, taking Star Wars out of George Lucas’s hands might not be a bad idea. If you’ve never seen RedLetterMedia’s hilarious and insightful deconstructions of the Star Wars prequels, I urge you to check out this segment from their Phantom Menace review, in which they suggest that Lucas’s undemocratic running of things during the making of parts I, II, and III was the reason the prequel trilogy was so bad: 

With all that said, though, will any new Star Wars films measure up to A New Hope, Empire or Jedi? Probably not. To employ the full force of cliché, lightning rarely strikes twice and you can’t bottle magic. But could Disney’s Star Wars movies potentially add something to the universe which has built up around Star Wars over the past thirty years in books, comics and video games? Quite possibly.

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Does making more Star Wars movies sound like a good idea to you? Cast a vote in our poll and have your say…