On Oct. 21, a number of legitimate filmsites ran a tip regarding the strong possibility of a third “Star Wars” trilogy — an all-3D venture which would see George Lucas ceremoniously perched in the Emperor’s swiveling producer throne, overseeing the directorial efforts of such artistic luminaries as Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola.
Despite being leaked from a notoriously dubious source, it took precious little time — probably less than 12 par secs — for movie message boards and Twitter to be bombarded with fervent fanboy-driven hoopla.
Of course, it also wasn’t long before the story was coolly shot down X-Wing-style by Quint from Ain’t It Cool News, who published a succinct rebuttal of the hot gossip — straight from the mouth of Lucasfilm themselves. You can read the report, as well as the writer’s own take on the situation HERE.
Although, in this glorious age of the interwebs, the swirl of new “Star Wars” movie rumors has become pretty much old hat, I was frankly stunned by the amount of Gunganian goodwill being heaped upon this fictional project. Fans declared that, with James Cameron’s “Avatar” fast approaching, it was finally time for Lucas to deliver his oft-referenced, but admittedly unwritten, third chapter in the Skywalker saga, which would see the rebels rebuilding the galaxy after the honorable death of Darth Vader and the smashed-to-space-paste fate of Palpatine.
Now, few can sympathize with “Star Wars” fandom more than yours truly. The original trilogy was one of the most significant inspirations — alongside “Jaws” — behind my following the seductive lure of the film-writing siren call and, even as I type this piece, I’m shadowed by the ungainly forms of a vintage Millennium Falcon and AT-AT Walker looming imposingly over my head. Untold sums of my hard-earned pay have been depleted in order to attain classic merchandise, glossy autographed photos and one-of-a-kind art-work.
I still fondly remember drooling with anticipation over the prequel development news in the now-defunct publication Cinescape’s debut issue back in the summer of 1994, and then donning a meticulously crafted Darth Vader costume for the opening night premieres of both “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith.” (Unfortunately, I didn’t have my act together in time for “Phantom Menace.”)
Yes, I’m even a Prequel trilogy apologist. There I said it. They may be somewhat pale, overly-talky imitations of the original trio of films, but they still contain a Bantha-load more exhilarating action and creative invention than the majority of the modern blockbusters foisted upon us like concussive thermal detonators every summer.
With all that said, however, it just feels like it’s time for all of us diehards to just let “Star Wars” go. If there was one lesson to be derived from last summer’s painful Lucasfilm dual-assault of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “Star Wars: Clone Wars,” it’s that George Lucas, the man behind the galaxy far, far away, has, along with the rest of us, grown older. That vibrant spark of youthful vigor, so vital in fuelling the dazzling original films, is mostly gone, leaving behind a talented, industrious showman who can remember the notes, but not the music.Besides, has anyone actually considered the logistics of capper trilogy? Harrison Ford hasn’t exactly been charitable towards the notion of donning his roguish smugglers vest once more, and even Mark Hamill has shown great trepidation when considering whether returning to the role which made him famous. Plus, has anyone seen Carrie Fisher lately? She’s a brilliant, razor-sharp-witted woman -– and a real killer on the talk-show and comedy circuit — who has unfortunately, judging from her appearance in Sorority Row, aged along the same lines as Kathleen Turner. There are few more depressing images I can conjure in my mind than a wrinkled, elderly Hamill swinging a light-saber against a CG army of next-gen storm-troopers, while Fisher, wielding a clunky blaster rifle, hurls raspy zingers at an inexplicably flying R2-D2.
While I do completely believe that Lucas is still capable of conjuring up impressive conceptual ideas for new planets, characters, vehicles and wacky robot sidekicks, his trusty ability to weave fast-paced, compelling tales in that particular universe seems to have gone the way of the population of Alderaan. If original trilogy writer Lawrence Kasdan and producer Gary Kurtz were able to move on –- and their absence was sorely felt in the prequels — to more diverse pastures, there’s no reason he can’t follow suit.
In fact, Lucas would be best served ripping a page from his former-mentor Coppola’s book and throwing himself into accomplishing those small, micro-budget art-films he claims he’s been dying to do. God knows, “Star Wars” merchandizing guarantees that he’ll never have to worry about paying the rent or putting (blue?) milk in the fridge for the rest of his life.
And before you start rapidly clicking the comment button, yes, I realize that Lucas is currently elbows deep in a pair of “Star Wars” television spin-offs; The Clone Wars, now airing, and an untitled top-secret live-action drama -– both of which fail to pose even the slightest interest to this writer. This is a very similar case as the mid-1980s, when those terrifying “Ewok” made-for-TV movies and the lame “Droids” and “Ewoks” cartoons ruled the airwaves, yet then he was still finding time to develop and executive-produce “Temple of Doom,” “Labyrinth,” Disneyland’s Michael Jackson-tastic “Captain EO” attraction, “Willow” and, um, “Howard the Duck” –- not to mention guest-star in “Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird!”
Prolific, he once was, however nowadays the only non-“Wars” project we have to look forward to is his questionable-sounding WWII Tuskegee-airmen project “Red Tails.”
Maybe I just hold too much respect for “Star Wars” in my geeky heart to bear the thought of watching it limp on as a film franchise for no other reason than to feed a ravenous fan-base who can’t, or won’t, let go. This series has given us all so much, from the pioneering technological innovations, which led to a whole new generation of audio and visual wonders, to the by-the-seat-of-your-pants whizz-bang storytelling techniques which forever launched the imaginations of so many gifted filmmakers who have, or will, take us on amazing journeys to their own distinctive and astonishing lands of discovery.
How terribly romantic and poetic it would be to at last say farewell and allow “Star Wars” to finally become one with the Force of cinema history, its luminous spirit destined to forever enchant the minds of all who come seeking adventure, excitement and, most important of all, magic.
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.