Friday, April 17, 2015

Not as long ago, in a galaxy still far, far away

J. J. Abrams is a master craftsman and did a fine job rebooting the Star Trek franchise. I’m confident he’ll set Star Wars aright after George Lucas mutilated the prequels with his stilted character development and stilted computer-generated sets.

It looks from the new The Force Awakens trailer that Han Solo’s and Princess Leia’s progeny will play a central role.

The trailer replays Luke’s monologue when he tells Leia the Force is strong is in his family, that she’s his sister, and she has the Force, too. The great, untapped potential from the original trilogy was Leia’s gift of the Force. “There is another,” Yoda said cryptically in The Empire Strikes Back. We found out later the another is Leia. But she never uses the Force, not consciously. At best, the Force guards her life and helps her to communicate telepathically with Luke. “I can feel it,” she tells Han Solo when he assures her Luke didn’t die on the exploding Death Star.

The name of the movie, The Force Awakens, implies a heretofore dormant Force, which would reasonably describe Leia—or her bloodline. Carrie Fisher is iconic as Leia, but at her age she’s not going carry this movie or the next. The importance of bringing back her and the rest of the main cast from the original trilogy is to bridge the old and new story lines, to pass the torch to new characters.

Which brings me to another point. Leia, Luke, Han, and Chewbacca are expendable. They could be killed off with the same suddenness that Obi-Wan Kenobi died in A New Hope. Having that kind of creative license with the lives of beloved characters can really expand the scope of what is possible from a storytelling perspective. Game of Thrones fans can attest to that.

J. J. Abrams might do it. He almost killed Captain Kirk in Star Trek: Into Darkness. In fact, he did kill him, but then brought him back to life with Khan’s blood, a farce if you ask me. He could have left Kirk for dead, ripped the audience’s guts out, and charged us all double price to see revenge-mode Spock in the next movie. Alas, it didn’t happen.

But Star Trek is a reboot. The Force Awakens is a sequel in a multi-decade story arc. No major characters from Episode I are alive by the end of Episode VI. The same might be said between Episode IV and Episode VII. I can’t wait til Christmas to find out.

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