Marc Alan Fishman: New Star Wars? Meh…
Blow out the torches and put the pitchforks back in the barn, kiddos. Any longtime fan of ole’ Marc Alan Fishman knows well that he isn’t much for the lightsabers and midichlorians. I’m not here necessarily to slight a multi-billion dollar franchise that helped spawn a legion of fanboys that in-turn became the heroes of my youth. Instead, I’m here to explain calmly and coolly why I’m skittish that the hype machine that will churn out the next Star Wars will not be the second coming all the wookies and rogues are awaiting with baited breath.
- J.J. Isn’t the Messiah
J.J. Abrams is a talented director and writer. But he’s not a miracle worker. While his track record and profit margins have never been snickered at, I look over his IMDb resume and nothing strikes me. Yes, he created cult (and successfully syndicated) hits like Alias, Lost, and Fringe. Yes, he helmed Cloverfield – lauded for its original take on a typically tropey concept. And yes, he successfully brought the Enterprise into our modern cineplexes.
But I specifically look to his Star Trek movies when I attempt to envision an Abrams’ Star Wars joint. And it has me fretting for the future set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Abrams’ Trek was clean to the point of stringency. His lens-flared Apple-esque vision held with it no lasting memories beyond the tepid jokes. While he crammed every spare inch of celluloid with today’s troop of tasteful thespians, can anyone here denote a single performance that was anything more than brilliant pastiche? I love Simon Pegg. I tolerate Karl Urban. Hell, I’ve pined for Chris Pine. But cast as living ret-cons, they all floated on the “close by not quite” vibe for their namesake roles.
“You incredulous Dewback!”, you chortle, “J.J.’s Star Wars is using the original cast and veritable no-names for the new roles!” Too true. And if it’s one small saving grace as to why I think the new movie will be reasonably entertaining and not the new testament, it’s largely because I think Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher have plenty more to pump into their historic roles. But I digress.
J.J. Abrams has the chops to make a palatable port of the seminal series. But, to date, he’s done nothing that screams to me that he was/is/will be the end-all be-all director that will remove the taste of the prequels from my memory. Which leads me to reason two:
- Episodes I, II, and III happened.
Preach to me all you want. Rebels, countless in-canon comics penned by incomparable scribes such as our very own John Ostrander, and a litany of extended universe novels may all showcase how amazing the Star Wars universe can be. But in all those aforementioned examples, the target market clearly was always the hardcore Star Wars fan. Not John Q. Averageguy.
The fact is this: Episodes I, II, and III did make it to movie theaters. And sure, they banked considerable cash. But find me someone who walked out of any of those flicks, declaring that they trumped the original trilogy in any way (and “CGI” sure as a Sarlacc don’t count) and you’ve found the village idiot. The prequels were bloated, underwritten, over-produced crap-fests that proved to an entire generation that George Lucas’s original vision had forever been tarnished by the very commercialization that originally made him his fortune. And I’m being nice – we know there’s plenty of people who didn’t walk out of Return of the Jedi singing ole’ Georgie’s praises. The fact remains: the prequels happened, and they’re not going away. Episode VII may end up amazing… but it’s still sitting on a foundation of midichlorians… and of wooden acting.
- Hype is a dish best served virally.
I’m wracking my brain to find the last thing in this world that lived up the hype built up over countless marketing ploys. The Dark Knight comes to mind. That’s about it. The fact is Star Wars is a globally recognized juggernaut franchise. When it comes to hitting the multiplex, Lucas and Disney will spare no expense ensuring the world at large knows of the impending Episode VII. Count the coverage of the teaser trailer alone, and then multiply it exponentially as we march closer and closer to the midnight premiere.
Do you remember Episode I? The tent cities that dotted the movie theaters, coated in cosplayers? Do you remember the aisles of every toy store choked with every non-chaser action figure of every background character that would be in the upcoming film? Or how about the happy meal tie-ins. Or the Hostess snack-cake collectible mini-comics. Or the 7-11 collector cups. Or the Pizza Hut Jabba the Hut slice-n-dicer. OK, I made up a few of them, but don’t deny the past (and the inevitable): nothing will stop Mickey and George’s empire from marketing en masse come this December. Santa doesn’t stand a chance.
And if you think Episode VII will be that good enough to forget the sins of the past, and the sins to come… well, I’ll see you at the North Pole.