‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ Will Be More ‘Empire Strikes Back’ Than ‘Attack Of The Clones’

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy says this time they're aiming for a character-driven film with 'complicated stories.'

When Lucasfilm and Disney announced that they would team up to bring a new trilogy of “Star Wars” movie to the screen, what got the most hardcore fans excited wasn’t the idea of seeing new films along the lines of “Attack of the Clones.” The promise of more “Star Wars” movies — especially if they continue the story of Luke, Han, and Leia — came with the hope that things might go back to how they used to be, back when Yoda was a puppet and nobody knew what a midi-chlorian is.

So it’s hard not to get excited when Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy speaks at “Star Wars Celebration Europe” (via IGN) and says something like, “The story and characters are all we’re talking about right now. We have an amazing team at ILM, who can create fantastic effects, but if we don’t have a great story and characters, the effects mean nothing.”

Kennedy — who’s splitting her time between Lucasfilm and Bad Robot to shape up the script — implied that the new trilogy will hew closer to the original three films.

“I do think making huge popular culture — and I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of a lot it — is really hard to do and get right,” Kennedy continued. “And if you don’t spend the time you need on developing characters, and finding stories, complicated stories, the audience gets tired because they think they’re seeing the same thing again and again.”

Back in February, “Empire Strikes Back” and “Episode VII” script consultant Lawrence Kasdan told the LA Times that he saw the new trilogy and the intermediate spin-offs as a chance to go back to the character-centric style of episodes four through six.

“I’m trying to start fresh. There are certain pleasures that we think the saga can bring to people that they’ve been missing, and we’re hoping to bring them that, and at the same time, have them feel that it’s all new,” he said. “The ones I worked on were a long time ago, and they had a slightly different feeling than the ones that followed. The first three, ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Empire’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ are all sort of more about people than the ones that followed.”

This could all be dismissed as playing to older fans of the series, but with Kennedy meeting frequently with the writing team, including Kasdan, there certainly seems to be an agreement on what the new trilogy should be doing story-wise.

Back at “Star Wars Celebration Europe,” Kennedy explained that the script’s harkening back to the original trilogy isn’t the only similarity we’ll see. She also elaborated on discussions she’s had about using more practical special effects.

“It’s a conversation we’re having all the time in the development of ‘Episode VII.’ Looking at all the ‘Star Wars’ movies and getting a feel for what even some of the early films did, combining real locations and special effects — that’s something we’re looking very seriously at….So we’re going to find some very cool locations that we’re going to use in support of Episode VII. And I think we’re probably going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox to create the look of these movies.”

Warwick Davis, who was moderating the discussion, asked Kennedy to clarify what she meant by this, and she explained that she wants to use models, real droids, and “artwork that you actually can touch and feel.”

Are the original “Star Wars” fans getting the sequels they’ve always wanted? We’ll see as the next few months play out and “Episode VII” goes into production, which is currently scheduled for early next year, ahead of a 2015 release date.

Writer/editor for MTV. If it involves cowboys, spies, or hitmen, I'm there. All three would be ideal.
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