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The universe is expanding.
"Star Wars" is the largest and most influential pop culture franchise and I say this as someone who loves "Star Trek" most of all. (I also make sure to have a Pepsi when I'm at Burger King — it's just my nature.) The decision of its Emperor, George Lucas, to segue into the role of a Deist God and allow others to work within the structure he has created is nothing but absolutely fantastic news.
Yes, you can argue that he's been doing this for years, with the hundreds of books, comics, games and a even a current animated television show that, so my friend's nine-year old son says, "is SO RAD!!" But for "Star Wars" to truly count it has to be a feature film. (This sentiment, a drive to return to the point of spawning, is why I feel "Star Trek" won't truly be back until it is on TV.) We learned the news yesterday that new "Star Wars" movies are coming — and coming soon — and it can only be a good thing.
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For starters, new work can't sully the old films. That's already happened. "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones" really and truly are horrible. I've seen them each more times than I care to admit, always hoping something will spark, but, no, they are dead lumps of ego. ("Revenge of the Sith" isn't exactly what I'd call a great movie, but it isn't wretched. Tom Stoppard for the win, perhaps?)
With Lucas kicked upstairs there's no reason to expect the forthcoming episodes can't be good films. This new regime will find filmmakers with passion and their own voice, but are happy to work within the set paradigm of the franchise's pre-existing structure. J.J. Abrams need not apply; John Williams' score will stay. How do I know this? I just know.
LucasFilm will be run by Kathleen Kennedy and all you need to do is check out her credits. Forget the fact that she's been a producer on nearly everything Steven Spielberg has done — she's got some out of left field (and terrific) recent credits like "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Persepolis" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." As far as corporate parent Walt Disney is concerned, they'll leave her the heck alone, much like they've done with similar acquisitions Pixar and Marvel.
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I should say, they'll leave LucasFilm alone where the feature films are concerned. In other areas of licensing — where you WANT them to play around — I think this opens a lot of doors. A Saturday morning cartoon where Tony Stark and R2-D2 work on science projects together? Comics where Jabba the Hutt teams up with the Hulk? Dengar the Horrible and The Punisher off on bloody vigilante missions? (Or Zuckuss and Henry Pym hanging out? I mean the resemblance, provided they are at the same scale, is uncanny!)
Are these likely? No. But they are possible. And they'd be, to quote that nine year old, "SO RAD!!"
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If you consider that a new theme park has been built solely around "Harry Potter" (and, pfffft, what is that other than an opportunity to drink butterbeer and walk around in a dopey cloak?), can you just imagine what will happen when they announce groundbreaking on "Far, Far Away"?
Okay, they may need to work on the name a little bit, but a few extra Yodas wandering around Fantasyland isn't going to cut it. You can bet your last credit that there will be a major "Star Wars" theme park. Hopefully, within walking distance of my house.
There we will be able to visit Dagobah, Kashyyk, Coruscant, and, most importantly, get blitzed at the Mos Eisley Cantina. (I already know what song will be playing!)
It's hard to pin down when I stopped caring about "Star Wars." I was doing backflips of anticipation for "The Phantom Menace." By the time "Revenge of the Sith" came out I think I saw it in the theaters a measly three times. Ridiculous. This new announcement has breathed new life into a franchise that desperately needs it, and it in no way can possibly get any worse. It is, dare I say, a new hope.
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