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Friday, December 18, 2015

(EXCLUSIVE) What We Learned From #TheForceAwakens

Note: This is a (mostly) spoiler-free article.

Story by Matt Cummings

With audiences basking in the glory of Star Wars:The Force Awakens, it's clear that the galaxy far, far away is back in a big way. With that in mind, the film has revealed several important lessons about the future of the franchise, some of which aren't necessarily good. We've put just a couple of them below, doing what we could to keep our thoughts spoiler-free.

Star Wars No Longer Needs George Lucas
For all the great, amazing, and fundamental changes Lucas brought to film-making with the original trilogy, two forces are currently at work that make his future participation and cooperation no longer necessary. First, when he agreed to sell Star Wars to Disney in 2012, he knew that any further involvement would be based on what the owners of the store wanted. Based on recent reveals by Lucas, it's clear that Disney wanted very little to do with him. Second - and perhaps harder for him to accept - is that Lucas took something special and turned it into less. The prequels are derided (and rightfully so) for their silliness, poor writing, and less-than-solid execution. In other words, Lucas ruined his chances to make more films because he made so many bad decisions with SW 2.0. Based on what we've seen from Director JJ Abrams, he and others can duplicate the feel of the original trilogy without worrying about trade federations, Midi-chloran counts, or superfluous political intrigue. Depending on how you look at it, Star Wars is either in good hands now or we no longer need Lucas to tell us a big space epic.

There IS an awakening...sort of.
Abrams envisioned The Force Awakens as a bridge connecting the older characters (Luke, Leia, Han) with a younger posse (Finn, Rey, Po, Kylo) ready to take the reigns. And yet, that new universe feels not only crowded but also underutilized. The new connections make sense, given the events that transpire in the film, but Disney needs to be careful that its universe doesn't actually shrink or (worse off) repeat the plot lines from previous films, something Abrams does with Episode VII on more than one occasion. It's clear that he made the right choice in several newbies, but there must be new stories one can tell that don't include terror weapons or the rise of The Empire 2.0. Characters should serve the story, but the story must expand the universe as well.

Practical Effects Are Still Effective
For years, it was beleived that CGI was not only effective, but that practical effects (models, expansive sets) were obsolete. Not so: Abrams proved that practical does have its place, from large landing strips to desert outposts and even in droids ike BB-8. There's just some things you can't (and shouldn't) build in the computer, as shadows and perspective just look better on real sets. Still, it's clear that going forward, Star Wars is a CGI universe as well, and here JJ also dmeonstrated their need, both in revealing excellent space vistas and on sets where CGI kept costs down. The last time I checked, the cost of building an entire world was a bit cost-prohibitive. If the movie got one thing right, it's that both can (and must) function in a world as big as Star Wars.

What lessons have you learned from the newest Star Wars film? Has your appreciation for the franchise increased or decreased as a result? Comment below!

Discuss this story with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.


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