(Text) What Star Wars: Episode VIII can learn from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (J. J. AbramsLawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt) has been released and it’s… well, it’s not good. But I’ll be seeing Star Wars: Episode VIII (Rian Johnson) anyway, to see if Snoke turns-out to be Plagueis. That’s the kind of twist that would make Star Wars: Episode VIII remembered by fans. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens drew on Star Wars Episode IV (George Lucas), and it’s likely that Star Wars: Episode VIII will draw on Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan) to be a “dark sequel” while also being the low point of the trilogy before the expectedly triumphant third act.

So here are some suggestions that will make Star Wars: Episode VIII better than Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force AwakensStar Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens failed because Kylo Ren was a weak antagonist. A large part of that was the ambiguity as to who the protagonist was – Rey or Han – and thus couldn’t focus on the right aspects of his personality. There wasn’t enough time to reveal Kylo Ren as Han’s son and develop that part of him, making it seem like a Forced twist.

Similarly, there also wasn’t enough time to develop the sub-plot of Rey searching for Luke, making the map toward him completely irrelevant by the end and also seeing Forced. See how a weak antagonist can affect everything else?  The plot of Star Wars: Episode VIII will probably involve Luke explaining more of what happened during his absence, and hopefully why Kylo Ren abandoned the new Jedi. The Knights of Ren should have some relevance as well.

This is a good opportunity to really substantiate the plot a bit more – is Rey Luke’s daughter? If so, Kylo is her cousin. That would add to the tension – there’d be a familial relationship between them. And it’s likely that Luke and Kylo Ren know each other, which would skip the establishment of their relationship too.

Basically, Luke’s involvement will provide the opportunity to make the Sequel Trilogy more interesting. The amount of exposition he knows could potentially fill-in the gaps not yet explained, all within the first act, leaving the remaining screen time to actually do something with it. Kylo Ren’s motivations should be properly explained, Rey should be tested more as a character to make her less unbelievable, and Luke can be the one to do this – tell Rey who Kylo Ren is, then train her to fight him. All culminating in some sort of personal showdown with Kylo Ren giving us a reason to actually dislike him, as opposed to us simply being told we’re supposed to.

If Star Wars: Episode VIII is successful, I’ll come away thinking that it’s a great science-fiction film that works because of its antagonist. An antagonist that is well-written this time, who isn’t simply “evil” because he is, but has his own, justified agenda that makes me question my own position in that situation. I never really expected Abrams to do it, given the way he directs his other antagonists… but Rian Johnson? Well, I don’t know much of his work, but let’s just say that this time, he’s working with someone else’s character, not his own, so there’s some possibility of restraint from Lucasfilm.

Will that be good or bad? Who knows? I just hope they realise the fault with Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. They probably won’t, though.

The critics adore it. I can’t think why. Rian Johnson, I anticipate your May 2017 film. It’s on you now.

Because I’m probably not going to let this go until then…

Top 10 Star Wars Deleted Scenes (Original Trilogy)

(Via Collider)

The Anniversary‘s John Campea on scenes deleted from Star Wars by George LucasStar Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK by Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett

It’s three days until the United Kingdom foreign preview release of Star Wars: the Force Awakens – Episode VII in the saga. At least, officially. There are some midnight screenings, but the official release date is still the 17th. Which is the date I’m sticking with regardless – it makes the counting-down easier. So, rather than going in release order like everyone else, I’m doing it in Episode order. Nyer. Here’s Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett‘s screenplay to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

The working title was Star Wars IIThe Empire Strikes Back came to exist as a handwritten treatment from producer George Lucas after story conferences held up to November 1977. The treatment followed the same plot as the final film, except for Luke’s confrontation with Vader being prepared by a visitation from his father, Anakin. Brackett finished this draft in early 1978, much to Lucas’ dissatisfaction. Brackett wouldn’t complete a second draft due to death from cancer. Draft two was therefore written by Lucas, who had no other writers available. Lucas’ second draft was the first instance of Star Wars Episode numberings – “The Empire Strikes Back” became the subtitle of “Star Wars Episode II“. Unlike what was now Star Wars Episode I, Lucas enjoyed writing Star Wars Episode II: The Empire Strikes Back when merging Anakin with Vader, creating the twist of Vader claiming to be Anakin – inspired by the emotional weight created by Anakin visiting Luke. This inspiration helped Lucas write draft two quickly, followed by drafts three and four in April 1978. Han’s imprisonment in carbonite and uncertain fate emerged by the fourth draft to give the sequel a darker edge. Vader claiming to be Luke’s father caused a continuity problem – it’s debated amongst Star Wars scholars whether Vader had ever been intended as Anakin and if Lucas had even considered that possibility before writing Star Wars Episode II: The Empire Strikes Back‘s second draft. Though Vader reveals himself to be Anakin, nothing in the series had foreshadowed this – leading to the argument that Lucas improvised this twist, rather than planning it. Hence, the fourth draft was influenced by back story developed during the writing of drafts two and three; Anakin was Ben’s student and is Luke’s father, who was turned to the Dark Side of the Force by Emperor – who was now a Sith and not just a politician. Anakin was wounded by Ben during a fight on a volcano, and was resurrected as Vader. Ben hid Luke on Tatooine as the Galactic Republic became the Galactic Empire while Vader hunted down and killed the Jedi. Hence, draft four moved The Empire Strikes Back from Star Wars Episode II to Star Wars Episode V; the Saga was now a duology of trilogies. Draft five was written by Kasdan, who was hired by Lucas, working from material in draft four. Director Irvin Kershner also had creative input. Producer Gary Kurtz considered it a mature development of the adventure genre.

Nominee: Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay [1980].