Robot 6

Animated open letter details how to make ‘Star Wars’ great again

dear jj abrams

Director J.J. Abrams will undoubtedly receive a lot of unsolicited advice about Star Wars: Episode VII, on which hangs the future of the blockbuster franchise and the hopes and dreams of countless fans, but none will likely be as succinct and stylishly rendered as “Dear J.J. Abrams” (or, “4 Rules to Make Star Wars Great Again”).

Produced by Prescott Harvey with the creative agency Sincerely, Truman, this love letter to A Galaxy Far, Far Away manages to capture much of what made the first three films so special, why the others were so … well, terrible, with just four rules. However, there was at least one more that didn’t end up in the video.

My favorite rule that didn’t make the cut is ‘The Jedi are Pacifists,’” Harvey told io9.com. “In the prequels, Qui Gon, Mace Windu and Yoda are a bunch of acrobatic ninjas with crazy special abilities. But what makes the original movies so interesting is that the Jedi (Yoda and Obiwan) are true pacifists. They refuse to fight, even to the point of death. Now, that doesn’t make them as interesting for the action sequences, but it really contrasts the good guys from the bad guys. It also made Luke’s internal struggle more compelling. Who do you choose, the morally sound boring guys, or the corrupt guys with all the awesome abilities? I think this rule really contributed to the strong mythology created in the original films. But it was difficult to explain this concept in twenty seconds of video. Plus I don’t speak for all fans on this one. Lots of people cite the Darth Maul lightsaber battles as the best part of ‘The Phantom Menace.’”

There’s even a petition you can sign at DearJJAbrams.com.

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26 Comments

Rule 2 isn’t true. Star Wars is not gritty. Some episodic moments are, but overall, Star Wars has always been somewhat polished–maybe the 70′s palette and film quality fools some into thinking otherwise, but it’s pretty polished.

Wow, even by internet standards this comes off as whiny and entitled.

Translation: The prequels and the Clone Wars animated series AREN’T THE STAR WARS I GREW UP WITH! TEHY IZ NOT TEH STAR WARZ!!! Get over it. There have been thousands of stories by hundreds of creators in the SW Expanded Universe that embrace dozens of “styles” or “genres” of story-telling. Saying that something is definitively Star Wars and something else is not betrays a lack of imagination. You don’t like the prequels? Fine, I get that. Some people actually do. There is a whole generation of Star Wars fans that has been introduced to Star Wars via the Clone Wars TV series. Are they “wrong” too?

The revelation of STAR WARS was that the future tech looked old. That’s what he means by gritty. Before then, SF movies were shiny and new and polished. But when we saw that rusty, dirty, clearly clapped-out aircar, that’s when we knew this was a world ordinary schlubs lived in.

So I’m with Rule 2. In STAR WARS, things look used.

This is all great. However, Star Wars is now being produced by Disney, which will run interference and aim for making a product that’s appealing to as broad a market as possible and likely to bring in big sales.

Some things in Star Wars should look used and dirty, others not so much. When you are a smuggler living from job-to-job, a poor farm boy or a rebel alliance put together with whatever they could acquire then yeah, your stuff should look a little run down. Look back at the Star Destroyers or anything that the Empire had… was any of that stuff rundown? Heck no. Even in Star Wars some people buy things used other people get to buy them brand new.

A lot of these problems people whine about actually go away if the acting and writing vastly improve. Lucas isn’t exactly the best writer and with the exception of Harrison Ford nobody really did all that great of a job acting.

My 2 cents, and I know I’m in the minority here: I’d rather Star Wars remained as it is and no more movies made. It’s been milked and exploited beyond belief, beyond any other franchise in the history of cinema. It’s been turned into happy meals, and beach balls, and toys for every character in the movies and beyond, a kid’s cartoon show, a whole trilogy of movies which was useless and boring and killed off a lot of what made Star Wars great by including Trade Federations, racist characters, silly pod racing and Jar Jar Binks along with kid Darth Vader Anakin… It was perfect just the way it was and all the releases have been fiddling with it, changing entire sequences, removing backgrounds, adding cut scenes in and remixing the audio, revising it hundreds of times, tweaking it, double dipping, triple dipping, quadruple dipping, it’s ridiculous. I’m not even sure those original trilogy movies are even qualified as being the same movies which won their respective Oscars anymore, they’ve been messed around with so much. They even changed the STARFIELDS in the background… It’s so insane the amount of harm Lucas did to his own franchise, he finally decided to remove himself from the equation as the ultimate sell out deal… Now Disney’s poised to continue the milking cycle and put it back in the public interest with movies which will be sanitized, for kids, safe and bland. As soon as the interest in these is renewed for a whole new generation of viewers, they’ll flood the market again with products and toys. I was in Orlando this summer and the amount of Star Wars garbage in the Disney park stores was absolutely preposterous. Jedi Mickeys, R2D2 mouse ears… it made me sick to my stomach as a original trilogy Star Wars fan. I just don’t know what else to say except that I hold no faith in the future movies having any chance of being remotely good. They’ll appeal to the safest common denominator and you’ll probably be able to see them in IMAX 3D theatres, and buy your own brand new lightsabers with Mickey ears… you’re welcome to that garbage. I prefer to enjoy my original unadultered trilogy… at least the bad transfers Lucas has allowed the fans to keep… Laserdisc and bonus DVD for the Special editions. It’s a shame really. I grew up with these movies and I’ve seen them being crapped upon and the Episodes I, II and III became pale shadows with little resemblance to the original movies. Just something to make money from and sell toys. Lucas should be ashamed and so should JJ Abrams. His work on Star Trek should let us know how much he cares for established franchise’s backstory and mythologies. Which is nothing at all. Cue in the lens flares and shiny surfaces. The kids will love it.

RegularSyzed Wayne

September 27, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I, too, hope a corporation doesn’t exploit for profit the movie franchise whose toy line I played with as a kid.

Also I liked the cereal.

There’s a difference between creating a toy line out of a good movie and making a toy line advert and call it a movie. The first 3 episodes Lucas came up with are basically the latter. Don’t kid yourself thinking JJ Abrams is going into this to create anything special. He’s a director for hire who destroyed Star Trek for the fans and made it available to the general public. I’m sure he’ll do the same with Star Wars.

This video, though nicely done, is dumb and the person who made it fails see why there’s a difference in looks between the two trilogies.

NO. It’s about the rise and fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker and how his rise and fall is linked to the fall and restoration of the Republic. Anyone else recall the mention of Palpatine dissolving the Senate in Episode IV?

Before Episode IV… Things were all shiny and sleek until the Clone Wars broke out. A five year-old can figure that much out. Most of the weapons used by the rebel forces were old and outdated… If I recall, Snow Speeders weren’t actually made for snow.

“Frontier”? Uh, that would be “Star Trek”.

Not for children or nice?… C-3PO and R2D2. If they weren’t “cute”… That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

The only thing I 100% agreed with is “Han always shoots first”!

I agree with all four points of this. The force being mystical and mysterious is my biggest complaint about the prequels and if I hear about midi-chlorians I’ll be happy. I do agree that the aesthetic of Firefly would make the movie much better and bring it back to it’s roots, but I can live without that if I have to. Also, I really really really hope these movies are made for adults rather than kids because I really could do without the cutesy crap.

Sounds like Firefly to me . . .

I found it amusing that the narrator can’t stress enough that the movies happen outside.
Then, the animation shows the interior of the Mos Eisley cantina…

Awesome animation, disagree with what it says. Star Wars is NOT REPEATING EPISODES IV TO VI again.

“The Force is mysterious” no that’s not exactly right. The point I always thought that was cool about the Force (before the whole Midi-Chlorian level BS) was that anyone with the right training, insight, wisdom etc. into the way the Universal Energy Field worked could eventually become a Jedi. Now all I need to do is pull a James T. Kirk in “Plato’s Stepchildren” and inject myself with Master Yoda Levels of Midi-Chlorians and I’m instantly the most powerful Force user in the room.

Star Wars is best when it is on the Frontier, shows a used/real world, keeps the force mystical and keeps the cute on the less obvious side of Jar Jar.

However, Star Wars is also a very fleshed out universe that can accommodate most genres very easily.

All you have to do is recall the Millenium Falcon, a popular ‘character’ in its own right. The intrepid if tatty ship that didn’t always work right the first time. It’s realistic and builds tension. There was nothing like that in the new movies. Everything was shiny, perfect and always worked right the first time.

I’ll be honest. I really don’t care about Star wars anymore. The ship sailed off for me and I moved onto other interests. But for the millions of others out there, I hope Abrams makes something they like.

so character growth/ development is not a major rule to make it great again? (ex: Anakin my have grown up physically but he never stopped being a scared little boy till he saved Luke in ep 6). … and Jedis are… really? so why do they cary something they can use to cut someone down… and hell didnt Jedi Obiwan a true pacifist cut some dudes arm off at a bar… he could have just said “i will not fight, I will go home” and the drunk dude would have done that… he chose to chop a dude as apposed to talk it out (using Jedi skills talking it out way easy). Both the vidoe and article written here are so short sighted… We knew that once upon a time the Jedis ran as the Galaxy sherif, and that they fell out of power and that the general public then viewed them as strange outcasts (sounds more like shogun then cowboys fyi, and it is neither… its its own thing)… it was not bad because of political ideas or big cities, that was one of its cool factors, it srtuggled most of all because of lack of a character growth and journey… and what it did have of that it struggled to deliver… there are so many possibility in star wars, like a spin off detailing the scattered jedis dealing with anti jedi propaganda as they are hunted down… not to say it deserves its own trilogy but comics, cartoons, and videogames have all benefited from this vast world, why can movies do the same?

I don’t know what folks around here are smoking but this guy’s dead on.

Alternative rule instead of all 4: “disregard any creative impulse and simply replicate my experience as a 10 year old boy”

Yay nostalgia rules everything we do!

The Jedi as pacifists is an interesting idea. But EJGF does make a god point — about Obi-Wan being rather quick to use his light saber in that cantina. Here’s something else to consider: We don’t find out until near the end of Episode II why Yoda is (originally, in Episode V) found hiding out in a hut in a swamp on an unoccupied planet. He’s not just in hiding, he’s in exile! Because it was Yoda who actually started the Clone Wars! Remember, Anakin decided to check out the bad doings under that mountain on his own, without backup. OK, the lad doesn’t have really good impulse control. But then, when he gets into trouble, his friends come to his rescue — again without backup. Things quickly degenerate from one guy in trouble, to three people in trouble, to a whole squadron of Jedi in trouble — about to get offed — all of them for running around, loose in space, with poor impulse control. So what does Yoda do to throw a fix at this situation. He invokes the Clone Army! Playing right into the bad guys’ plans . Be embarrassed, Yoda. Go hide your head in a swamp.

Frankly, I don’t think new Star Wars movies are gonna reclaim their original glory unless Disney figures out a way to reincarnate Joseph Campbell.

“Now all I need to do is pull a James T. Kirk in “Plato’s Stepchildren” and inject myself with Master Yoda Levels of Midi-Chlorians and I’m instantly the most powerful Force user in the room.”

Sigh, no you can’t. It’s been tried before (General Grievous, for one) but midichlorian injections do not give the receiver any force powers.

I gave up listening to criticism of Star Wars, because most of the critics can’t even get the facts or the themes straight.

“Star Wars is a WESTERN” Yeah, I’m sure that sounded clever in your head, but if you are going to compare it to another genre, you would be much more accurate if you said “Sword and sorcery fantasy.” Really though, it was the blending of westerns, samurai flicks, fantasy, swash-buckler serials, basic sci-fi etc. tropes that made it work so well. It was when Lucas got away from the emphasis on old-school movie tropes and got way too invested in a pretty simple and generic plot that we got shitty movies.

This has nothing to do with re-living youth and everything to do with good storytelling.

Science fiction and fantasy stories rely heavily on the principle of suspension of disbelief. When there are inconsistencies, it is difficult for the audience to stay engaged. The original trilogy had a loose but consistent theme and mythology running through them that the new trilogy discarded. This creates a break for most people.

Adding to that … the new trilogy was more about special effects and “wow” moments rather than promoting a solid story.

The authors of this video are clearing trying to address both of these factors and I think they did a great job.

PS. I also agree that the genre really is fantasy in space rather than western but … w/e.

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