By Matthew DeMello
Fanboy guru and filmmaker Kevin Smith. Photo by Gage Skidmore, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
A long, long time ago at a day care center far away in Rhode Island, I spent my summer after college graduation volunteering with children. I engaged with them best way I knew how–through Star Wars. During heated debates with 8-year-olds as to who was more “awesome,” Han Solo or Boba Fett, I discovered, surprisingly, these tykes preferred the freakin’ prequels to the original trilogy.
Unsure if their opinions would persist as they matured, I held my tongue and tried to appreciate their reasons. All of which pretty much boiled down to the fact the prequels had obviously better choreographed light saber duels and bigger, more epic battle sequences.
In other words, what younger ones love about the Star Wars prequels is exactly what millennials and their elders hate about them: they are all style and very little substance.
The Star Wars generation gap became most evident a few weeks ago, when fanboy guru Kevin Smith toured the set of Episode VII. Because he signed an NDA before touring the set there’s not much he could give back to the world of what he saw in the way of detail. Well, besides this Instagram photo of him crying.
So restricted, Smith largely elected to use a single adjective when describing Episode VII in future public appearances: “tactile.”
I suspect that Smith’s description of “tactile” connotes that JJ Abrams learned from the “failure” of the prequels and tried to make spaceships out of trashcan lids, like George Lucas and company did back in the 70s. As an aging Star Wars kid who came of age just in time for the 90s special editions, Smith’s reaction should give me that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing a millennial icon is catering their multi-million dollar project according to my tastes.
Though how much can the promise of a “tactile” Star Wars experience really appeal? Obviously another episode filled with computer-generated characters and action sequences wouldn’t fare well with the public. With JJ Abrams at the helm and Disney behind him, it’s not the visual effects I’m worried about–it’s how this team handles the mythological soul of the series.
No matter how many tears Kevin Smith sheds, we already have plenty of Star Wars movies that haven’t aged well (arguably four of the six). Do we need another? Honestly, Abrams’ batting average for preserving the “soul” of a cultural reboot isn’t very good, whether he’s using primitive muppets or innovative special effects.