As Last Jedi opens, a new Star Wars trilogy could reveal Hollywood’s dark side
PUBLISHED: 17:00 16 November 2017
Star Wars has become a welcome cash cow for the cinema industry. Arts Editor Andrew Clarke worries that the announcement of a yet another new trilogy will undermine the quality of this culturally important film series
The Last Jedi, the second film in the latest Star Wars trilogy, has yet to hit our cinema screens and yet, this week, Disney have announced that they are all ready preparing a new Star Wars trilogy set in a conveniently unexplored corner of that galaxy far, far away and another TV series.
This comes in addition to the unreleased final instalment in the current trilogy and an unfinished Han Solo origins movie.
Now, I love Star Wars as much as the next 1970s teenager but are we in danger of killing the goose that lays the golden egg? Can there be too many Star Wars movies?
One of the reasons that rivals Star Trek has survived so long is that they rationed their movies. One film every two or three years made Star Trek a must-see event. It was only when the franchise went into overkill, with a glut of TV series: Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, did the series start to falter.
I believe you can have too much of a good thing. And a good thing ceases to become good, imaginative and surprising when the creative teams are constantly being pushed for stand-out moments. It is at times like these that you run the danger of ‘Jumping the Shark’ – creating a situation which is absurd or ludicrous, named after the notorious Happy Days episode where the Fonz did indeed hop over the king of the deep and lost his cool for good.
In my youth I had a liking for Batman movies. I liked the darkness, I liked the fact that he didn’t have superpowers and had to use his wit and ingenuity to foil the rather exotic looking villains. Today, I loathe superhero movies simply because there are too many of them. They are everywhere. You can’t escape them.
I feel that my little bit of Bat-darkness has been taken from me by the all-pervading presence of the superhero universe. Now, you can’t simply pick and choose your superhero movies, choose one character and ignore the rest because they are now all inter-connected.
Batman features in his own stand alone movies, in team-up movies with Superman and now the Justice League of America. In the Marvel Universe all their heroes appear to be connected featuring in their own films and co-starring in the Avengers and each other’s movies – and the plots dovetail and overlap, making it impossible just to duck in and out at will.
In effect you have to see them all or none at all. This has had the effect of alienating me and I fear the same thing is going to happen with Star Wars. I am afraid that there is just going to be too much of The Force and this will allow the Dark Side to take over.
It wouldn’t be quite so bad, if I felt that the creative team had a burning story they had to tell but the way the announcement was made at a Disney shareholders meeting when the CEO Bob Iger was explaining why the fourth quarter profits were down suggests in my cynical brain that this was purely a financial decision.
I do understand that show business is a business and the big studios are in it to make money but if you treat the fans merely as cash cows then you end up driving away your audience and tainting the good films that have gone before.
The questions that need to be asked are: ‘Is there a good enough new story that needs to be told? Is this going to be an innovative, imaginative addition to the series of just a tired rehash of what has gone before?’
I am not against doing more Star Wars movies but tough questions need to be asked and you certainly should wait until the current series has run its course before announcing any more.
George Lucas created a rich diverse universe when he first unleashed Star Wars on the world in 1977 and there are lots of areas for exploration but studios like Disney have to be careful not to alienate the fans and not take them for granted.
The studio may not care about the integrity of the franchise in its race to boost the shareholders dividends but the fans definitely do and it will take only one bad movie, one more mis-judged movie series like the prequels and the movies that many millions cherish could be tainted forever.
Hollywood seems to be reluctant to understand the law of diminishing returns and seems not to care about the its own legacy and achievements. However, the fans, their audience, do care about quality and imaginative storytelling and they will not forgive if Disney reveals the emptiness of its Dark Side.