Star Wars VII Cast - Copyright and Photo Credit: David James

May is dedicated to Star Wars and Impending Doom.

With Star Wars Day occurring this Sunday, this month is dedicated to appreciating one of the earliest and most enduring temples of geekdom – Star Wars.

Do you have someone you’re keen on but don’t want to make the first move till you find out if they are into Star Wars or not? Well Star Wars Day is the perfect time of the year to find out – just use the traditional Star Wars Day greeting of “May the Fourth Be With You” and if they respond with a wink, nudge and/or some sort of unprompted Star Wars reference in response, then you know you’re in with a shot of gaining a geek-partner for life.

Alternatively they won’t pass the test and your hopes and dreams will be crushed as you realise you are not geek-compatible.

Speaking of Impending Doom, the cast of Star Wars Episode VII was recently announced.

Having been burnt by the Jar Jarring treatment of the prequels, and re-fiddling of the originals by George Lucas, many 1st generation fans of Star Wars perhaps have a good reason to be a little wary of just what Disney and JJ Abrams will do with the franchise from here onwards.

The title picture for this post is a stylishly black and white ‘cast shot’ from Star Wars VII that was released on – the “official” Star Wars website. The original post can be found here.

This picture is a pretty good combination of Star Wars and Impending Doom in one shot:

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for: original cast, but will it be like the good ol days?

All of the original Star Wars three amigos of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamil and Carrie Fisher are this shot since they are all signed on for “significant” roles in the new series – but will they be able to recapture the same chemistry they had the first time around?

Movies have a tendency to “fix” characters in time and the first Star Wars was released nearly 40 years ago. In the real world, people (and actors) change, so if we go into Star Wars VII expecting the same Han, Luke and Leia we are just going to be disappointed – using the same actors does not necessarily result in the same characters.

After all, Harrison Ford was also in the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. All that did was demonstrate Indie should have retired after The Last Crusade. It also demonstrated that conveniently located lead-lined refrigerators aren’t a great example of good story telling either.

Will there be too much lens flare?

With JJ Abrams front and centre in this shot as Director, this is both a serious and not-so-serious criticism. Having recently watched all 5 series of Fringe back to back I’ve realised that Abrams really is obsessed with the lens flare, and has so for a VERY long time.

He has a distinctive visual style and while many criticised it when he brought it to Star Trek, it was somewhat forgivable since it was a reboot – and Star Trek really was in need of one.

Star Wars VII however is a sequel – there is not ‘fresh start’ for Star Wars. JJ Abrams is going to have to put his ego in check and fit his sequels visually in an existing style – otherwise the whole thing will just be too Jar-Jarring.

R2D2 in a packing crate the background? Really?

Yeah that part of the shot is REAL subtle guys… Because it doesn’t look totally staged or anything.

George Lucas was given free rein to include excessive and ridiculous connections to the original characters in his prequels, the end result was a lot of kinda lame call outs that were about a subtle as a lightsaber to the face:

So, Anakin created C3PO in his spare time as a kid, Chewbacca knew Yoda back in the day, oh look it’s Greedo as a kid on Tatooine! Fans and critics alike questioned the sledgehammer approach of connecting characters across movies, the fact that they have taken the same approach to this official cast shot with R2 does not bode well for subtlety.

When senior company executives show up to a cast read-through…

The Expanded Universe of books and comics that flesh out Star Wars is huge – and a lot of it is really well written. Many fans have suggested that Star Wars VII draw from this wealth of good story telling to base the new movies on.

Alas no – film executives are a funny lot, so Star Wars VII will be a completely new story so all the events of the Expanded Universe set after the original movies are now void – or, in an “alternate timeline”.

Alyssa Rosenberg from SMH summed up the problems with this pretty succinctly.

Film executives don’t have a really good track record of improving the story telling experience. Or at least, they have tendency to take a good story from another format, then completely butcher it till it’s about as appealing as being digested by a Sarlac.

The more involved film executives are involved in the plot of Star Wars VII, the more likely we are to end up with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), or Batman and Robin (1997) or Catwoman (2004) or Dungeons and Dragons (2000), or Queen of the Damned (2002).

Hence the working title should be “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force of Impending Doom”. Here’s hoping they don’t screw it up.

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