This week, The Huffington Post reported that Peter Mayhew, the looming actor who portrayed Chewbacca the badass Wookie in the original Star Wars films would be returning to play the role in Episode VII, the yet unnamed Disney addition to the franchise that has fans excited but painfully nervous. This is good news, as this means that J.J. Abrams and the Disney crew are respecting the old characters, and trying to stay consistent with what may be George Lucas’ original vision.
The hype around the new Star Wars films has been considerable, but the buzz has included many a naysayer. After the prequel trilogy, many fans are dubious over the quality promised by this new film, especially after Disney’s acquisition of Lucas’ company and original story ideas. The thought process is that Disney will tear the franchise apart more than Lucas ever could himself (Hayden Christensen isn’t even close to the possible Disney princes that could appear in Episode VII if Mickey Mouse’s cohorts have their way).
But weirdly, I’m on the light side of the Force on this whole debate. J.J. Abrams, to me, was a good pick to direct, as he really cares about the series and wants things to look and feel like they once did (we can forgive him for Lost). As well, the most likely appearance by the original cast (now in mentor roles or something sweet like that) makes my life worth living again. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford back in their best roles ever? That alone will be a reason to line up in 2015 (when the film is slated to be released).
And I know the pitfalls. Disney, a slightly loony Lucas, and a whole new production team could spell disaster for the next step of the franchise, but the news surrounding Episode VII continues to give me optimism. Adam Driver, of Girls fame, has reportedly been cast as a villain (a young villain to act as a foil for the young leads, none of whom have been cast yet). Although I kind of dread the villain the new writing team are going to come up with, I am secure in the fact that Driver will play it well, especially with that deep voice of his (I can picture him slicing young Jedi with a red lightsaber).
John Williams is set to return, meaning the score for the film will be equally epic as before, and Lucas himself is more of a story guy, vetoing certain story details but ultimately not quite at the reigns like he was for the prequels. They’ve got him working in the conceptual world, where he most thrives (the giant epic story is his, after all). And, in keeping with the old school look of the original films, Abrams has stated that models and real locations will be used, which means some of the organic beauty we got in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi will still be present. That respect for the cinematic craft that made episodes IV-VI give me hope for Abrams’ vision of Star Wars.
Of course, the whole thing could be absolutely terrible. The studios could still smother it in CGI, the story could be sloppy, the new Sith or whatever could be lame (nothing will live up to Darth Vader), and the three original stars could be lying to us. That’d be extra Bantha poodoo.
Even with the possibility of failure, though, there is something to be said about trying to bring the old magic back. With Abrams at the helm, the film will be exciting at least, and a fresh take on a legacy that really needs a revamp (but an old school revamp). All we can hope for is the three players the producers are choosing for the main protagonist roles (mirroring the original trilogy) are unknowns like Hamill, Ford, and Fisher were, but also awesome actors who know when to ham it up correctly in pure space opera glory. So far, I’m optimistic, and I think the Force may actually be with us this trilogy around.
Hopefully no more Bothans will die bringing us this information.