Star Wars holds an important place in many people’s hearts. I was just seven-years-old when the original came out and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. I was instantly hooked, so much so that when The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980, I begged and pleaded with my dad to take me when we were in Wales. And let me tell you, they were queuing round the corner.
So when The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, I was one of the millions across the world who was left sorely disappointed. It seemed like all the things that made the original trilogy so unique and wonderful had been lost over the years. Gone was the simple-to-follow story bursting with heart–my favourite science fantasy epic had become something else entirely.
There was something so appealing about a hopelessly outgunned rebel force trying to rock the status quo, but for the prequel trilogy, the passion was replaced by quasi-political debate and over-reliance on CGI.
With so many fans upset with the direction the series took, it’s truly a testament to its impact that there is so much excitement surrounding the forthcoming new films. And it’s because what little we’ve seen and heard seems to owe so much to why we fell in love with Star Wars in the first place.
There are very few directors better suited to reigniting Star Wars than J.J. Abrams. His turn with rival series Star Trek saw him, whether you like it or not, take the framework that made Star Wars so great and apply it to the Enterprise. He basically got people excited about Star Trek again by giving it the space opera treatment, and I for one thank him for that.
Combine his directing chops with some really exciting acting talent (and quite a few Brits for good measure) and I think we’ve got something truly exciting on our hands.
But I must admit, the recently announced Star Wars: Rogue One has me even more excited. Since being taken over by Disney in 2012, LucasFilm is taking a few pages from the Marvel Cinematic Universe book of filmmaking. In addition to seeing a new Star Wars episode every other year, we’re also getting spinoff ‘Anthology’ movies. Rogue One is the first of these, set between the events of Episodes III and IV, and explores a group of rebels in their attempt to steal the plans for the Death Star. What’s really interesting, however, is that there are no Jedi in this tale–this is a war movie in every sense of the word. Rather than following a chosen one, we’re with the regular people on the ground, fighting a rather more familiar battle. They’re incredibly outmatched, just like in the original trilogy all those years ago, and that’s where the intrigue lies.
With direction from Gareth Edwards, of Monsters and Godzilla fame, and cinematography from Greig Fraser, who worked on Zero Dark Thirty, we’re going to get something special with this one, I can already tell.