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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: A Disturbance in the Force


A Disturbance in the Force

By now the word has gotten pretty effectively distributed, so I can't really call this a news article. Maybe it's an editorial, or a diary entry, or just a monologue uttered on the windy plains of the cyber-frontier. I dunno. What I do know is that when I heard that Disney had bought Lucasfilm, I was pretty excited, but I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm. It seems like just yesterday Disney bought Marvel (something I never saw coming, not in a million years) and just before that, Pixar. Both times Disney bought another company, people were blown away. This most recent one has a lot of people utterly baffled – and one of my favorite comments I’ve yet read was “I sense a great disturbance in the force. Though for good or bad...I am not sure.”

Just so. Looking objectively at this, I’d say it’s 50/50.

The Pixar buyout resulted in a lot of Pixar’s keenest minds being integrated into Disney itself and subsequent Pixar films therefore falling short. I doubt it’s a coincidence that the Disney theme parks have seen a jump in quality over the past few years (they were always great, but they seem even better now) with John Lasseter as the Head Imagineer, but Pixar’s last couple of films have been...well, not up to par. This, regardless of the improvements I’ve seen around Main Street USA, makes me resentful.

Next came Marvel, and what a knockout that was. I remember seeing a newspaper with a Mickey Mouse in a Spider-Man suit, and listening to all the folks at work moan about how Marvel was going to be driven into the ground. I thought the prospect was exciting, but I too wondered how two ideologies, so markedly different, would mesh. With the recent release of The Avengers, I think we can rest assured that Disney’s backing of Marvel might be the best thing since sliced bread – so long as they continue to let Marvel do their own thing and fork over the funds to do so.

So, we’re at one positive change and one negative change. What’s it going to be with Lucasfilm? We already know that a new Star Wars is coming out (for those who haven’t heard, yes, Star Wars Episode 7 is coming in 2015 and bringing back the original heroes – Luke, Leia and Han Solo - with it.) and that George Lucas will be a “creative consultant," whatever that means.

Personally, I’m excited. I was skeptical when I first heard that they were revamping the Star Tours ride in Disney Hollywood Studios (I’m a traditionalist, what can I say) but when I went on it last fall, it was like the entire Star Wars universe had been reinvented before my very eyes. For those who haven’t ridden the new ride in Orlando, you really should. It’s fantastic. I remember being on that ride and wishing that someday we’d see a new Star Wars movie with a...ahem...fresher director at the helm. With this merger, we might get just that.

Disney and Star Wars have been very tight for a long while, and while the bond wasn't quite as close with Indiana Jones, it was still definitely there. The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular has been running in Disney World since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Same jokes, same stunts (though for some reason it closed in the middle for a while there. Never did figure why.) and same jam packed crowd every time. With this purchase, we might see a new Indiana Jones movie, too. Hopefully, the next one...well, let’s just hope the next one doesn't nuke the fridge.

What’s most encouraging in the end, I think, is that it seems like we are in an era of cinematic revitalization. What I mean is that we've seen a lot of re-envisionments lately, with Christopher Nolan re-inventing Batman and his nemesis, The Joker. We watched as Martin Campbell picked up James Bond, dusted him off, and turned him back into the gritty, murderous womanizing bastard that Ian Fleming intended for him to be.

Hell yeah.
Maybe Disney buying Lucasfilm was exactly what two great franchises (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) needed. Maybe instead of being a catastrophe, we could see these wonderful worlds re-envisioned, redesigned, reinvented to inspire us and entertain us and amaze us once again. That’s what we stand to gain, anyway. What with Hurricane Sandy and the election and the war...well, I like to think positive once in a while. Regardless, either way, it’s done.

Star Wars Episode 7 is on the way, by God.

May the force be with us.

Check out the Yahoo! article here.

Check out the Walt Disney Company statement here.

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At October 30, 2012 at 6:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, I am excited as well. I mean, I honestly think they can bring something new to the table without Lucas. I think by now everyone thinks Lucas botches things up. All I hear now is CG gophers and nuking the fridge. I think Disney can bring a level of freshness to Star Wars

At October 30, 2012 at 6:35 PM , Blogger Ries said...

Dave, I totally agree. I think having Lucas as someone to reference is great - it's his universe, after all, it's good that he's still involved. But I want to see what someone who has a love for the films will bring to the films, and Disney can recruit pretty much anybody they want for that job. Also, this opens the doors to all sorts of awesome theme parks/resorts. Star Wars themed park at Disney World? Yes, please.

At October 30, 2012 at 7:12 PM , Blogger Andrew Keck said...

I'm very excited by this development. As long as Disney pays for Lucasfilm to hire the right screenwriters and creative team to bring the new trilogy to life and then stands back and lets them do their work, I'm all for it. Lucas is retiring, he'll probably only be involved in name only, and that can only be good for the franchise. Same with Indy.

Can you imagine what directors out there might take a chance at directing a new Star Wars film? Who would want to take that chance, or who would Disney feel good about giving the reins to? So many possibilities. Very excited.

At October 30, 2012 at 7:43 PM , Anonymous Tom said...

Part of me agrees with you. I mean there is definitely a lot of potential with this move, because it's such a rich story. But the other part of me says leave well enough alone. The Episodes 4, 5, and 6 were something special, and we should just leave well enough alone after the prequels.

I totally agree with you on the new James Bond films though. They reinvigorated what had become just kind of goofy at the end of the Brosnan era.

At October 31, 2012 at 2:58 AM , Blogger Ries said...

Andrew, Couldn't have said it better. I think that so long as Disney does what they've been doing with Marvel, stands back and let's Lucasfilm do their own thing...we could be witness to some really cool movies over the next few years. The people that grew up with Star Wars are now officially on the front-side of being old enough to direct a film. We could see Star Wars films by people who love Star Wars. That could be awesome.

At October 31, 2012 at 5:09 AM , Anonymous Belinda said...

Wow I really need to step up my Disney game, I am so behind. But, as always I agree with you Ries *wink*, I think some awesomely amazing things can come out of this, but that might just be my immense love of Disney talking.

I may for the first time bust out my popcorn machine and watch some 007 and Star Wars (the originals) :)

At October 31, 2012 at 6:28 AM , Blogger Ries said...

Tom, the prequels are an example of...what we stand to lose. (See also the new Pirates of the Caribbean for an example of good things ruined) I think the trick lies in doing sort of what James Cameron did when he made Aliens. He knew he couldn't beat Alien at its own game (Ridley Scott pretty much monopolized the idea at that point) so he took the whole thing in a new direction. I think that's what could happen with Star Wars. I forgot to mention in my article the JJ Abrams interpretation of Star Trek. What Abrams did with Star Trek is an example of what we stand to gain - Star Wars made new, fresh, sexier than ever and possibly even redeemed. Not to mention Indiana Jones. I want to see either young Indy or Indy's son. Shia could be great, given the proper guidance. He's been wonderful in roles before (see Disturbia or New York, I Love You). I think he could pull it off, so long as he doesn't try to be Indy - but instead be Indy's son.

At October 31, 2012 at 6:29 AM , Blogger Ries said...

Belinda, Disney rules. This is all. P.S. Be sure to keep an eye out for CineKatz's Animation Month, which is on its way... ;)

At October 31, 2012 at 6:30 AM , Blogger Ries said...

Oh, and yes. Watching Star Wars (originals) is imperative. You must. Or the world will end. The 007 movies/books are also worth a look!

At October 31, 2012 at 7:34 AM , Blogger Dan Fogarty said...

I'm super ecited for what this means for Star Wars.

Star Wars without Lucas. I never thought the day would come, but... it has. Hallelujah!!! :D

At October 31, 2012 at 7:51 AM , Blogger Ries said...

Dan, I think you're right. George Lucas leaving Star Wars could be the best thing for Star Wars since George Lucas invented Star Wars.


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