I’ve been debating with myself, whether or not to comment on these. I don’t have that much to say, and not much good stuff either, but, I figure, eh, what the heck.
First, Jurassic World.
This is one of those movies where, the more I hear about it, the more skeptical I become. Not only does it smell like “just another rehash sequel” (ADD Moment: another thing Marvel is doing right: their heroes do not just face the same thing and go through the same adventure over and over and over again), but as I was watching the trailer, I found myself thinking, “Seriously? Sequelmania is so bad that they have to rip off Deep Blue Sea?”
For those who don’t know Deep Blue Sea, it’s about what happens when the scientists at a research facility in the middle of the ocean experiment with making sharks more intelligent. It does not go well. Most everyone dies.
So now the people at Jurassic Park, who have recreated dinosaurs on land and even in the sea (which is incredibly stupid because they can just swim away now and eat everything) come up with another attraction for the kiddies to come and see without the company of their parents (really? you’re sending your kid to the island of dinosaurs alone, with a quip about running away from anything trying to eat them? can anyone say “attempted murder by dinosaur?”), namely a hybrid dinosaur (because creating giants is not enough, they must create a living weapon for the kiddies!) which is highly intelligent (because when something is bigger and stronger and faster, and your only advantage over it is your intelligence, it makes perfect sense to make it smarter!).
Naturally, it escapes, and begins hunting and eating people, including the kiddies. (I’m sure the psychotic parents will squeeze out a few crocodile tears as they sue the company for millions, then go live idle lives, free from needy, snot-nosed offspring, in the Caymans)
Good grief. Taking a dangerous creature and making it smarter so it can kill you. Yep. Jurassic Park meets Deep Blue Sea.
There is some small hope, of course. I mean, they have Chris Pratt, who is now very recognizable thanks to his role as Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy, and who also played the lead in Lego Movie. He’s definitely not sitting idle, is he? Here’s hoping his acting chops can bring something redeemable to this terrible, terrible idea.
Which leads into Star Wars. Episode VII. The Force Awakens.
Now, this one, I have much more hope for. While it also feels like the result of sequelmania, and I know next to nothing about it, I do know at least two things which give me hope: 1) George Lucas is not making it, and 2) Disney is rocking the house right now. I’m on the fence about J.J. Abrams running things, as his Star Trek movies were fun rides but still unsatisfying in a number of ways (more on that another day), but I’m choosing to be optimistic about things for now. With the original Star Wars cast reprising their various roles, and Disney running things, a little optimism is warranted, I’d say.
No, my complaint about Episode Seven is simply this:
It’s a sequel.
As in, taking place after Episode Six, Return of the Jedi. (obviously)
This bothers me. Please allow me to explain why.
Compared to the original trilogy of movies, there are entire libraries of post-Return-of-the-Jedi novels out there, each one with its own take on what happens. There are a number of similarities between them, such as Han and Leia having twins, Jacen and Jaina, and another boy, Anakin. Luke rebuilds the Jedi in one fashion or another. And, the more annoying thing, they often feature the return of old enemies in some fashion, such as a remnant of the Empire, or the Sith, or even the father of Jabba the Hutt, as the antagonist, and they somehow have some weapon which makes the Death Star look insignificant. There are new enemies, and there are more subtle weapons, but, by and large, it’s the same old conflict.
There are pros and cons to the novels, but they are usually enjoyable works, with some sort of new imagining of things. The character Mara Jade, for instance, is a very popular character and Luke Skywalker’s wife, with whom he has a son, Ben. Some tales have Jacen Solo falling to the dark side, while others do not. Some feature great weapons, some feature plagues and catastrophes, and some feature intelligence and luck as the enemy’s greatest weapons. But it is these books, published in various formats, which have made the franchise a great deal of money and kept it in the public consciousness.
Geroge Lucas, if I heard rightly, authorized all of these novels. The authors were forbidden from writing anything set before the conclusion of Return of the Jedi, but everything that came after was fair game.
Now, with this new set of movies, these official, canonical sequels, each and every one of these novels, each and every series, will be reduced to nothing more than fanfiction. They will be relegated from a semi-legitimate status, what any given author could imagine happening after the events of the original trilogy, to nothing more than, “it didn’t happen that way.” Their sales, which I imagine have been fairly consistent as they’re still selling them decades after the movies came out, are going to be gutted. The safe ground George Lucas provided for all of these authors is going to be annihilated, a literary Alderaan.
Then again, perhaps I’m over-thinking things again. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic. But I’ve read several of these books, I’ve liked them, and already, on some level, the appeal they hold for me is lessened because they are no longer what could be. They’re just whimsical imaginings. So how can I expect people who haven’t read these books to like them? Or even read them in the first place?
And that feels a bit like the mutilation of perfectly good reading material.
This is one of those times I hope I’m wrong.