Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Karl Puschmann: Disney to milk Star Wars cash cow dry

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Harrison Ford as Han Solo and his bro Chewbacca. Photo / Supplied
Harrison Ford as Han Solo and his bro Chewbacca. Photo / Supplied

I hope I'm wrong, but I have a bad feeling about this ... Disney have been talking up their plans to once again pair the words Star Wars with the word 'prequel'. A galactically foolhardy move that was a disaster the last time this galaxy far, far away revisited the events of a long time ago.

This time around, instead of ruining Darth Vader, one of cinema's most iconic villains, they will be ruining Han Solo, one of cinema's most swag anti-heroes.

Yup, that's right. The adventures of young Han Solo are coming. Yay?

Nay.

It really is hard see this as anything other than a cynical cash-grab engineered to sell toys and breakfast cereal off the back of an extremely popular character.

While it's true that brazen marketing can be considered a core value of the Star Wars franchise, there's usually been method to the marketing.

But when thinking about a young Han Solo movie I reach an inescapable conclusion; this is not a story that needs to be told.

When we first meet Han in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope he arrives complete. Cool as ice, knocking back Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters with his bro Chewbacca in a seedy dive bar and popping caps in any alien ass that steps up to him. In this one near-perfect scene we learn everything we need to about the character.

This week, in a room full of bankers and telecommunication executives, Disney chief Bob Iger dropped details on the film - an origin story that focuses on Han and Chewbacca becoming best friends forever.

Yawn. Does anyone want to see that? All it will do is undo all the good work of that first Han scene. Besides, most fans already know all about the saving from slavers and life debt and all that stuff which binds Han and Chewie together.

Did Disney learn nothing from the prequel trilogy?

Obviously not. After years of hearing about The Clone Wars it was only a CGI muddled disappointment when we finally saw it. Some things are better left to the imagination. A Han Solo origin prequel is better left in the trash.

Besides, so much of Han's cool comes from actor Harrison Ford. He singlehandedly brought much needed swagger and charisma to the nerdy world of Star Wars. First by refusing to say any of creator George Lucas' corny dialogue and, secondly, by carrying himself with a detached bemusement that stayed on the right side of arrogant.

Disney is yet to announce which young fella is going to pull on Han's iconic vest but good luck with that.

Harrison Ford singlehandedly brought much needed swagger and charisma to the nerdy world of Star Wars.

Ah well. They've got plenty of time to get it as right as they can. This year there's another Star Wars prequel to sit through. Rogue One is about a bunch of rebels trying to steal the Death Star plans. Because we haven't seen enough Death Star action yet, right?

Then next year there's Star Wars Episode VIII: Luke's in this one, we promise to look forward to it. And then, in 2018, Young Han Solo hits cinemas.

The title is yet to be announced, but may I humbly suggest Han Solo: The Phantom Mischief? A Trick on the Clones? Revenge of the Smuggler perhaps?

With two prequels in as many years it would appear Disney has officially run out of ideas of what to do with Star Wars.

All this stuff is supposed to be happening in a massive galaxy, spanning countless universes and hundreds of planets populated by gajillions of citizens. So why do we keep getting stories based around the same handful of people?

Money, mostly. Disney's bean counters don't think we'll go see a new Star Wars film without it being shackled to its worn out, dusty past.

It's a damned disgrace and such a waste of one of the most fully fleshed out and recognisable settings in all of fiction. There are so many original stories with so many amazing characters that we could be seeing. But nope. Instead we get Han bloody Solo and the creaky old Death Star. Again.

Creatively speaking, Star Wars is bankrupt. Moneywise, however, it's in rude health. The Force Awakens recently grossed US$2 billion, a number matched only by Titanic and Avatar.

Considering Disney bought Star Wars off George Lucas for a comparatively low $4 billion, you could say they are laughing all the way to the bank. The sale price also acts as a commemoration of the final poor decision Lucas would ever make concerning Star Wars.

I hate to say this because I do love the setting but the series is now a triumph of commerce over art. May the force be with you. You're gonna need it.

- NZ Herald

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Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

A pop culture junkie, Karl has spent his career writing about the important things in life; music, film, television, comics and video games. He was editor of a popular music rag for five years and has since written regularly for every local culture/arts/lifestyle magazine worth a damn. His recent expansion into travel writing has flung him far, far from the comfort of his couch and into that bewildering place known as the ‘outdoors’. He is also currently endeavouring to make sense of the world by reviewing it over at critikarlreviewstheworld.com

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