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November 2, 2012 at 6:30 AM

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Civil Disagreement: Should we have a Star Wars VII?


Photo: Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

Civil disagreements between two members of the Seattle Times editorial board is an occasional feature of the Ed Cetera blog. This one pits editorial writer Bruce Ramsey against editorial page editor Kate Riley.

Bruce Ramsey

Bruce Ramsey: Kate, Disney has bought the Star Wars franchise and plans a 7th movie…. Really? A seventh one? Has this fantasy universe not been exhausted?

I enjoyed the original “Star Wars” movie in 1977. The scene near the opening in which Luke Skywalker gazes into the sky of Tatooine and sees two suns was a moment of wonder. This movie was going to be great. And it was. The cantina at Mos Eisley… The Millennium Falcon… The Death Star.. What a universe! And in 1980, “The Empire Strikes Back” was even better. “Return of the Jedi” (1983) had the fuzzballs in the woods, but it was not too bad.

Sixteen years later, in 1999, came “The Phantom Menace,” the first prequel. The story line was so-so, and the characters were so-so, and Jar-Jar Binks was just dumb. The movie was a letdown.

Then “Attack of the Clones” (2002) is when I tuned out. There were the Republic and the Separatists. One had an army of clones and the other an army of droids. What were they fighting over? The story didn't add up to anything I cared about. There was a romance between Anakin and Padme that was worse.

In 2005 came “Revenge of the Sith”. I think I sat through it, but I can’t remember a thing about it. I look at and see reader comments like, “kiddie-pandering, muppet-populated, CGI-overloaded dreck” and “script worse than Godzilla.”

It made money. No doubt that’s why Disney bought this franchise and now plans a seventh movie. They’re going to keep going until the cost of the computer-generated imagery meets the law of diminishing returns.

Advice to Disney: if you really must do a Star Wars VII, give us a plot that makes sense, characters that people care about, a script that tickles the ear and actors that can act. Have some action in it, sure; but set it up so that we know what they’re fighting about and we care about who wins.

Kate Riley

Kate Riley: Bruce, I have fonder memories of the first trilogy also, but as the mother of a son who is working on his reading, I'm grateful for Star Wars-related books that are geared to his reading level yet still capture his imagination. Then there's the cartoon series and the Lego sets that correspond -- all kinds of opportunities for children to engage.

The point is, the enduring popularity of the whole, um, empire, is something generations will continue to enjoy, even if you don't. Come on, Bruce, Jar-Jar does have his charms.

So what if there were three more Star Wars movies? The previous ones have all been commercially successful, so people want to see them. Apparently, the rumor that George Lucas always had a master plan to make three trilogies - for a total of nine films - was an offhand comment that became legend, he says.

You can bet, if there’s a seventh, and it flops, Disney won’t venture an eighth or ninth. And Disney might just bring something that will elevate the movies to a level you would enjoy and maybe leave you begging for Star Wars X.

I have to say, what I love most about this deal is that, finally, Disney will have a formidable action hero among its coterie of princesses. Princess Leia might not be a soprano who frolics with robins and bunnies or relies on a fairy godmother to make thngs right, but she’s authentic royalty and can wield a light saber along with the best of the rebel forces. She won’t wait for any prince to rescue her.

It’s fitting that Leia joins the Disney princesses this year. In June Disney released the animated feature, “Brave”, which introduced a heroine that any mother can be proud of her daughter emulating. Merida is the daughter of a Scottish king who resists her parents’ intentions to betroth her to the winner of a competition among young men from allied clans. An archer, Merida wins the competition herself, saves her family from a curse and wins her freedom from an arranged marriage. She rides off on her trusty steed with no prince in sight -- at least not until she's ready.

Now that's a modern women for you. And so is Princess Leia, even if her story happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Screenshot from Facebook.


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