A long time ago, before Disney broke my heart November 12, 2012 9 Comments Share tweet John Murray By: John Murray Disney recently bought my childhood for $4.05 billion, and I’m about as hurt as Luke was when, yes, he found out who his father was. Just look at George Lucas’ face when he signed away part of his own soul/Lucasfilms. You know what you did, George. And you, Disney. Go to hell. Look, I’ve seen money-grabbing commercialization ruin a good thing before (to put it in basic terms) and I was mostly fine. I could handle having Jersey Shore shoved down my throat. I could bear the fact that “Twilight” might end up being the “Anna Karenina” of our time. I don’t mind that Snoop Dogg, err, Lion, has sold out to both the pistachio and microwavable pizza-burrito industries. Nickelback doesn’t even really bother me that much. Because there has always been better TV, literature and music; there’s always something else, though maybe not as popular, that can fill in. But dammit Disney, there’s only one Star Wars, and while the first Star Wars movies may have helped bring about the conception of the big, epic blockbuster, this isn’t 1977, and when I hear that Disney is going to try to release a new Star Wars movie every two or three years, it sounds to me like a death sentence. I admit that it’s somewhat silly to be making verdicts at this point — in reality, there’s a slim chance that these new movies could re-energize the series in a way that the recent “Skyfall” seems to have done for the James Bond saga. But I don’t have much hope. The idea of new Star Wars movies simply screams of a corporate studio-driven money grab. Sure, every (or at least nearly every) commercial movie is a product trying to be sold for a profit — but there is a still a variation in what artistic qualities a studio is willing to sacrifice and/or compromise for the sake of the dollar. And when I see things like “Angry Birds Star Wars” or when I hear that Harrison Ford, coming off a yes-I’m-that-desperate-for-money performance in “Cowboys & Aliens,” is “open” to the idea of bringing Han Solo back to the big screen in 2015, I can’t help but cringe. Look, Star Wars is huge. Beyond the six movies are countless books, TV shows, video games, action figures, Lego sets and Halloween costumes. The bottom line is that this seventh episode won’t be first time Star Wars has ventured beyond the original movie series. But what’s made Star Wars so great is not just its cultural relevance, but also its ability to balance its popularity with a feeling of inclusiveness. This is part of what separates “Star Wars” from similar ongoing series like James Bond or Indiana Jones: Star Wars is a cult, in the loosest of interpretations. While membership is free, there is a certain amount of investment that is needed from a viewer for them to fully appreciate the Star Wars movie experience. Which is part of what makes this inevitable future endeavor so tragic. Because there’s something about Star Wars. There’s something beyond the lasers, and the cute little Ewoks, and James Earl Jones’ rumbling growl, something in the heart of those first three movies that simply connected with viewers and fans at a different level than the standard blockbuster does. Star Wars wasn’t Hitchcock, but it wasn’t “Transformers” either. I can’t put a name on what makes Star Wars special, and wouldn’t want to, for fear of ruining it. But mark my words, there was something there, and no amount of Disney magic is going to bring it back. Disney doesn’t make cult movies, and as many fantastic movies that have been made by the big D, the odds are that this next Star Wars will most likely be a commercial success and a cinematic failure. Which, to be honest, may only be fair. After all, it was that first Star Wars movie back in 1977 that gave birth to the summer blockbuster: Its emphasis was on a simple, good vs. evil narrative, dosed in original special effects and loaded with memorable lines and characters and helping to generate a template for how to make freakin’ epic movies. But now the summer blockbusters have been stuck in a downward spiral for decades. Star Wars was the first, and there have certainly been some good ones since (see “E.T.” or “The Dark Knight”), but this genre has been slowly strangled by its over-emphasis on eye-pleasing technology, and its hard to imagine these new Star Wars breaking that cycle. It can all be traced back to that fateful opening scene from “A New Hope”: that first Imperial ship never seeming to end, the possibilities for this new cinematic frontier stretching before the virgin viewer’s eyes. But now it’s past, and goddammit, it looks like Mickey Mouse is about to drive that thing straight into oblivion. Oh, a long time ago… 2012-11-12 John Murray November 12, 2012 9 Comments Share tweet Subscribe Click here to subscribe to our daily newsletter of top headlines.