Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Star Wars 7. How I would've done it.

Title: Star Wars Episode VII.
Subtitle: The best of all possible worlds.

John Williams' theme perforates your eardrums in THX surround sound. And we --

Open with the usual crawling crawl. The reborn Republic is doing battle with the fallen Empire's last batch of die-hard bitter-enders on some forceforsaken moon or whatever. This is a last ditch stand. The refusniks got their hands on a doomsday weapon which could destroy the whole galaxy, blahblah.

Go to --

Battle sequence, nail-biting stuff. Looks bad, folks. Everything that could possibly go wrong does. The Dark Side's going to win this time. But, boy howdy, at the last possible second, the good guys win against all odds!

Said heroes cheer and congratulate themselves, just like they did at the end of Return of the Jedi. Abruptly, they pause in mid-cheer -- a high-def freeze-frame. Off-screen, a woman's voice says, "The Battle of Krylon-4 closed the dark chapter of the Empire's abominations. Throughout the galaxy, darkness turned to light."

The dark moonscape becomes a white shiny classroom -- the Second Republic equivalent of middle school. A wide-screen rectangle floats at the front, our cheering heroes frozen inside. We've just seen a propaganda video.

Now we also see the chirpy teacher who's been slinging that darkness/light jive. Pretty, smiling, a little too damn perfect.

"The battle was won," she says.

Cut to a bitter-looking kid at one of the high-tech desks. He sits there, just looking at his happy teacher. But he's not happy.

Back to the teacher --

"Thanks to the Force and the wisdom of the Jedi Knights, the Second Republic triumphed."

Back to the sulking kid. His wounded eyes are pools of hate and knowing.

Then a few frames of the teacher --

"Now, today ..."

Back to the brooding adolescent. 

Off-screen, the teacher says --

"We're living in the best of all possible worlds."

The bitter kid mouths her words as she says them.

Class ends, the kid hits the hallway. A hologram pops up in front of him. It informs the kid that his Jedi guidance counselor senses a disturbance in his mind and wants to discuss it tomorrow during home room period. He waves the hologram away.

The kid goes home. Not a palace. But his widowed father has a get-rich-quick scheme. Something involving a not entirely legal exploitation of a slightly more primitive intelligent species. An ethical grey area, OK? But it's a victimless crime. And the money could save what's left of the family.

Dad's scam unfolds over the next sequence. The kid helps.

Elaborate set-up, lots of hard work and risk. Just when it looks like the pay-off is coming, a Jedi pulls the rug out from under them. Dad gets community service -- designed to make him a better person, of course. But it still breaks up the family. The kid gets a foster home --

But he runs away.

A few parsecs yonder, the Jedi Council celebrates VE (as in Victory over the Empire) day. A merry band, these Jedi Knight. All smug and self-congratulatory, telling war stories, tales of the Empire's stupidity, Only one party-pooper in the bunch -- the battle-scarred, 70-something Luke Skywalker. Jedi Whoever asks him what's the problem.

Luke: You don't see the problem?

Jedi Whoever: No, I don't.

Luke: That's the problem.

Luke tries to explain that this is what happened the last time. The last time? What are you talking about? First Republic, that's what I'm talking about. And ... what happened? We dropped our guard, that's what happened. That's why we fell. Hmm. An interesting perspective. Insincere this statement is. Truth be told, the Jedi Knights don't need his stinking thinking. They humor Luke, deflect him, shut him up. The party goes on.

Meanwhile, in the ruins of some Empire installation, the kid meets up with various conspirators. Four or five of them. They huddle around a fire. Above their heads, a shattered slab block the eyes of satellites. They're going to hear the truth at last. If the mythical "Leader" ever shows up ...

He does. Appearing out of nowhere, then hunkering down with the rest.

The fire reveals the scar running down his face. The slash of a light saber, obviously. Nobody brings this up. They just wait for him to talk. Then he finally does.

The scar-faced Leader points out that the Light side is really the Dark side. According to him, the Jedi are friendly fascists. (Or whatever word they use for "fascist" in this stupid universe.) Nobody gets away with anything these days. That's what's wrong with the world. 

The kid nods. Yeah, I know. These Jedi bastards nailed my dad for a victimless ...

But the Leader isn't taking questions. He continues his rant, paints a picture. We get the picture.

We see that the Second Republic became a weird combination of Minority Report and With Folded Hands. A republic in theory, a police state in fact. The goody-good Jedi Knights weren't exactly in charge. But they were. Said knights were telepathic, telekinetic, clairvoyant, and precognitive, after all. Predicted crime was usually prevented. Jedi mind-control made utopian schemes work -- whether they really worked or not. In a nutshell, the Jedi forced rotten human beings (or rotten aliens) to play nice. Rotten sentient beings hate that.

And the Leader shouts ...

I'm sick of being nice! Ain't you sick of being nice?

He's pointing at the kid. For awhile. The kid finally realizes he's supposed to reply ...

Uh ... yeah, says the kid. But what choice do I have? 

Right now, none, says the Leader. But we can change that.


Yeah, says the Leader. Us ... and a few new friends. Thing like this, we're going to need help. 

Who could argue? But the punk kid doesn't drop it.

What friends are you talking about?

I was getting to that.

The Leader pulls out a piece of paper.

Look at it quick, he says.

The huddled conspirators study the paper. The kid gasps.

The paper turns to dust and blows away.

And we go on from there.

OK. A heartbreaking work of staggering genius this is not, I know. The classroom gag in the opening is a rip-off of Serenity. I know, I know -- though it only occurred to me after I wrote it. But at least it's a new direction ...

We've seen the plucky rebels on the run from the Evil Empire. We've seen the rebels win. Now what? Well, in Abrams' new timeline, a new Evil Empire takes over five years after the rebel victory. (Lousy track record, huh?) Abrams now shows us a new batch of plucky rebels fighting a new Evil Empire. F@#* that. I've seen that movie and it was bad the first time.

Abrams rehashes the same old crap. This is new crap. I show you why the Republic fell. Essentially, because the smug, self-righteous folks in charge let their guard down.

Much like certain formerly promising filmmakers, eh?

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