With a confident director in JJ Abrams, a great new and returning cast and a series of impressive trailers, signs are pointing towards The Force Awakens being a satisfying addition to the Star Wars series – but we’re trying not to get too optimistic just yet. Remember how good 1999’s The Phantom Menace looked until you actually saw it?
No, we need to consider the possibility that things could still go wrong – so here are just a few pitfalls that Episode VII could stumble its way into.
1. The overhyping
We all have to accept some responsibility for this one. The buzz surrounding Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is probably greater than any other film in history (except the Phantom Menace, cough cough), and no matter how good the finished film is it’s bound not to live up to some people’s sky-high expectations.
On the other hand, it could be so amazing that it surpasses even those, and we totally think that’s going to happen. GET EXCITED!!!!!!
(We may be part of the problem.)
2. Crazy plot twists
Full disclosure: we kind of love that we’re being kept in the dark about The Force Awakens, and all the fun speculation we’re having about what could happen.
That said, any big plot twists in the film will have to be handled carefully. Anything that tampers with the mythology of the series (Luke being evil, Rey being Han Solo’s daughter etc) will have to feel earned, which will be tricky considering we haven’t seen these characters for 30 years so key developments will have taken place offscreen.
Also, the last time JJ Abrams tried to hide a huge plot twist – the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch’s character in Star Trek: Into Darkness was actually classic villain Khan – it ended up a bit of a damp squib, with fans guessing his role early on and Abrams’ denials appearing a bit pointless in retrospect (as co-writer Damon Lindelof has since admitted).
So we’re sort of hoping we HAVEN’T guessed any of the twists yet – another shock “I am your father”-style moment has to be something we’d never see coming.
3. Dodgy romance
Star Wars has had mixed results when it comes to matters of the heart. While the snarky banter and subsequent affection of Han and Leia felt fairly authentic, the stilted romance between Anakin and Padmé in the prequels was a disaster in tone and dialogue (though in fairness he may have been controlling her mind).
By all means, show us the evolving 30-year relationship between the now older Leia and Han, but if episode VII tries to include any more romance (perhaps between John Boyega and Daisy Ridley’s characters?) we may kick off.
At the very least, we’re hoping that nobody kisses their sibling this time around.
4. Comic relief
While it’s important that the Force Awakens doesn’t seem too portentous or serious, there may be a slight issue with lightening the mood – because historically Star Wars doesn’t do funny that well. Han Solo may have had a witty line or two, but generally speaking the attempts at comedy are at best awkward (see the Ewoks) and at worst cringeworthy (see the horror, the horror of Jar Jar Binks).
Still, it doesn’t have to stay that way – Star Wars is for kids, but that doesn’t mean the humour has to be juvenile. In his Star Trek films JJ Abrams managed to find a good balance between physical comedy (Kirk being poisoned, for example) and sparky dialogue, so hopefully he can do something similar here.
The interminable political squabbles of the Republic were one of the biggest issues in the prequel trilogy, substituting the exciting good-v-evil struggle of the original movies for complex trade agreements and fun-sapping sit-down meetings.
Happily, at the moment the Force Awakens seems to be reverting to the earlier, more compelling dynamic – here’s hoping they don’t try to overexplain it.
OK, this is early days – the movie’s not even out yet – but it’s important the filmmakers resist the temptation to do a George Lucas and keep fiddling with The Force Awakens years after release.
The Star Wars creator’s continued alterations to his original trilogy have ranged from the annoying (Han Solo no longer shooting a bounty hunter in cold blood) to the inexplicable (lots and lots of stormtroopers riding lizards in the background), and often throw the pace of the films off. Why fix what wasn’t broken in the first place?
A compilation of George Lucas’ changes
Still, Disney seem to be moving in the right direction for this – with each new Star Wars director only staying for one movie, it’s doubtful any single person will have as much continuing influence as Lucas once did.
7. Jar Jar Binks
Just… please leave him out? We know you’ve said he’s gone but… could you check again? Just to be sure. We’re frightened.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is in UK cinemas from the 17th December