New hope for ‘Star Wars’ fans

Chris Hamble

In less than a week, those stupid political ads will be gone for another two years and I can safely watch my favorite mind-numbing TV programs without being accosted by politicians. Now, I can go back to being accosted by toy companies.

But that is not why I am writing today. As many of you may have heard on Tuesday, Disney shelled out $4.05 billion for Lucasfilm LTD. My mind exploded shortly after hearing the news, because of what this could mean to the most beloved franchise in science fiction history, “Star Wars.”

Before I go further, I should warn you that I’m going to get real nerdy this week. I apologize for that, but sometimes the occasion calls for it.

This news, in my mind, is wonderful, if not a bit worrisome. I say “wonderful” because I, along with all the other Star Wars nerds that were born “pre-special edition,” have been calling for George Lucas’ ouster ever since Greedo shot first. When you take a beloved franchise, tinker with it, then hear a collective, “What the crap did you do?” from all of your fans, the correct move is to end the experiment there, and just re-released the old versions on each new platform and not continue tinkering with it and take every last bit of charm and enjoyment away from it.

Granted, it is “technically” his story, so he can do with it as he pleases. However, as with a few other stories, “Star Wars” has become more than the sum of its parts and taken a life of its own much like “Star Trek.” Gene Roddenberry was a genius, but “The Next Generation” was failing.             Once Roddenberry left the helm, writers passionate about the source material took over and that series enjoyed a long life unequaled to any of the other “Trek” franchises. Sure, Roddenberry died before he gave over the reins, which was infinitely unfortunate, and no one wishes that on Lucas, but as with “Trek,” I think the same can now happen with “Star Wars.”

Disney has capital, and Disney likes to make more of it. They did a great job with “The Avengers” didn’t they? So the inevitable Episode 7, which has just been announced, could bring back the kick-butt sci-fi action and story from the original trilogy. It could put to rest the Jar-Jar “kiddy” editions that were the prequel trilogy, which turned Darth Vader from hardcore galaxy villain who comes to redeem himself only at the end by way of his son, to intergalactic whiney-crybaby. Yes, I think the prequels made Darth Vader uncool and growing up, which was pretty much considered impossible.

So, how can Disney fix this? Well, first give the original, unaltered trilogy a proper Blu-Ray release. They were released as a bonus on some DVDs, but it was really more of a middle finger to fans than anything. It had horrible sound, and was presented in 4:3 letterbox, which meant that if you had an HDTV, you had to physically zoom in the picture to make it fill the screen. That killed the already horrendous quality they were produced in.

Second, they can give us sequels that remember the core audience, who are getting older. There is plenty of licensed “Star Wars” literature out there, some taking place directly after Episode 6, which would make great movies (I’m thinking the Timothy Zahn “Thrawn Trilogy”). That’s not to say they can’t make something new, as long as they don’t put in any more Jar-Jar-esque characters.

They also have some of the best computer animators in the business, so maybe we can get a proper space battle this time? One with the classic ships again? I’d pay top dollar to go watch the triumphant return of the Encom T-65 X-Wing “Snub Fighter.” Just saying.

But wait a second. Disney owns Lorimar too. Perhaps this could mark the greatest crossover of all time? The “Last Starfighter” meets “Star Wars?” A nerd could only hope.

Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.