This is the 18th year of Ain’t It Cool News. I guess that means AICN can serve in the military, go to strip clubs, but can not yet consume alcohol… but soon enough. There’s a few of you that have been reading since the very first day AICN opened up… but then there’s those of you that joined on in the days of LORD OF THE RINGS… and still others of you that have joined our site in recent years… point being, there’s many readers on the site now that were not even born when we got started and perhaps need a refresher… SO… by way of STAR WARS… here we go.
I was at Comic Con when they played a teaser for the original Star Wars. I saw it. Lost my mind. My father talked to someone who made a 16mm reduction of the teaser – and I saw it… over and over and over again. BEFORE THE RELEASE OF THE FILM. At that time, the Light Sabers didn’t have colors yet. There was no John Williams music… and This Was All Happening Right Now… not a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. It was a sprawling space saga of romance and rebellion. There was no saga, there was only STAR WARS. My oldest friends… many of them, the first time they heard of Star Wars it was me babbling about it incessantly. Like most – when the curtain parted and the 20th Century Fox fanfare began… our brains were never the same.
In those days – if you were obsessed with something… like my generation was with Star Wars… you read magazines, newspapers, bought books – tried to scower the TV guide for any mention of Star Wars and with your new fangled VHS or BETAMAX – you would sit there with your wired remote actively taping what came on TV. There was no magical device where you could enter STAR WARS and have everything magically recorded. You had to dig.
As a result – a goodly portion of my youth was spent at gas stations reading magazines, going to Austin Books and buying the genre magazines – which had lots of information about Star Wars. It was a big deal. The STAR WARS information that you had, seemed to directly translate to friends. At least in my life.
When RETURN OF THE JEDI came out – it made more money than EMPIRE STRIKES BACK – and I was convinced that I would never not have STAR WARS movies. I mean, back in the 70s there were stories that this was all part of 12 part saga. The number of parts have changed over time… Usually being decreased. For a long long time… it looked like it was going to be the holy trilogy and that was that.
I never believed it. I held fast to the knowledge that there was supposed to be a whole lot more. The first clue that something NEW was coming came from Todd MacFarlane. It was in the letters column for one of his Spawn comics. My baby sis was a huge Spawn nut – and it was something we were into together – and Todd was mentioning visiting ILM for some SPAWN tests – and that he saw CG X-WING tests that blew his mind.
That was all I needed. I became obsessed. The internet hadn’t quite gotten super cool yet. I bought my first modern computer with the express notion of playing WING COMMANDER III, so I could be Mark Hamill… but then DARK FORCES came out – the Star Wars DOOM ripoff that was just heaven… And somewhere in there, my pal Roland DeNoie said I could use his internet connection to go online. I’d fooled around on the internet a bit over at my pal Glen Oliver’s house. When there was that Star Wars AOL offer, he signed up and we spent hours trying to find people online that would talk STAR WARS in the AOL rooms… there was no shortage. People thought I was insane talking about future STAR WARS movies. But then, most had given up hope.
Then… one fateful day – we caught wind of something happening in Bryan College Station at their little convention. Steve Sansweet was going to give a never before seen look at something new from Lucasfilm. There was nothing we could do, but to roadtrip it to Texas A&M. The very first report I ever filed on the internet was about that talk. I posted it in the Newsgroups in a very SPAMMY fashion. Glen & I were called liars. Why on Earth – would the greatest announcement of all time take place in a room with about 50 people on the Texas A&M campus? We had to be making it up.
We weren’t. We so the Ronto, we saw CG Dewbacks and new Troopers on Tatooine… and Sansweet dropped the news of the Special Editions as lead ups for the Prequels.
AICN was still a few months away from happening. But the report I filed on the Net was copied and used without credit – and this pissed me off something fierce – and thus began the first big internet fight that I was in. Then when I received the first image of a CG X-wing and I posted it in newsgroups – I got flamed about posting images where you shouldn’t – and how I should start a website. But as many of you probably are aware, my technical prowess are far outmatched with my insane geeky passion, and sitting down to self train for coding just seemed a massive waste of time that could be spent learning about STAR WARS.
WHEN AICN began – it was a very weird time in my life. I was paralyzed below the waist – stuck in bed – with no real clue what my future held, I just wanted to see more STAR WARS. I couldn’t believe it was finally happening.
If you’ve been reading all along – you know that I’ve always held that at some point after around 2012, I said we’d be getting the Sequel trilogy. George said it would never happen, but that’s because he wanted everyone focused on what he was delivering, not looking past it to Episode VII. But those of us that never lost track of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew and the rest… We believed – and it wasn’t wild fandom that made us believe – it was comments from Mark Hamill specifically that made us believe.
I’ve taken shit FOREVER in regards to my love for the Prequels. I really don’t care. Never have. For this Original Trilogy Fan, the Prequels represented a rebirth and a celebration of the possibilities of the STAR WARS universe. More than that even, it was the sounding board for modern Star Wars fandom. As I camped for 10 days to see THE PHANTOM MENACE – I met all sorts of folks in line. People my age, that were camping with their children… and as I met fans around the world… I learned a lot about Lucasfilm.
One thing that I’ve always held firm to is this… THEY, the people in charge, don’t want us to know anything that they don’t tell us. And… FUCK THAT NOISE. This is STAR WARS – we’re invested. Our parents spent untold thousands on toys, sheets, curtains, wallpaper, shoelaces… I had files of magazines and newspaper clippings and even once – after seeing WARGAMES, my best friend (who had a modem) and I went to the public library to find a phone book that could give us the data line for Skywalker Ranch. Cuz we fully intended to break in.
On the prequels – I had all three scripts in advance of the film. ATTACK OF THE CLONES I saw months prior to release, without the permission of Lucasfilm. I got things I never asked for… like all the records on George & Marcia Lucas’ divorce… they just showed up one day. One never knew what would arrive at my P.O. Box or in my email. It was a magic time.
If you could go back in time and listen to the conversations that Moriarty, Harry Lime, Frosty Skywalker, Merrick and I all had… it was beautiful. Pure dream material. At that point we celebrated that we could share our passion with so many. It is still something we all cherish.
Digging for knowledge on The Prequels is what taught us to dig. Something of immense value to the careers our mania was setting us all upon.
SO… what do I know about STAR WARS EPISODE VII…
Pretty much the same things as everyone else. The lid has been screwed on very tight, George had ok security, but… well, you know the line… “The more you tighten your grip, George, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” The same will be true on the Sequel Trilogy.
We have heard a rumored title, but no confirmation as of yet… I actually hope it comes to be, as it is an evocative title. We’re staying pretty true to the two source rule on this Sequel Trilogy, so know that as we move forward.
I do know that for a period of time, there was quite a nervous feeling about this film from those that were working on it. At one point, the script was apparently seemingly too close to being essentially a remake of the original STAR WARS – but, those fears have now completely been washed away. Nobody that I’ve talked to is frankly speaking about what they know. We’re at the “tease” stage, where people that know things, know there’s so few that know things that they cherish and hold onto what they know. But, I do know that the coolest part of this upcoming film is the revelation in regards to the advancement of practical effects that apparently JJ is quite committed to. I hear that very intricate things are built in computers then 3D printed – and that how they’re going to use technology in this film is going to blow minds. I like that… a lot.
You see, JJ is 5 years older than me. He was 10 when STAR WARS hit – it blew his mind. And the minds of his friends he not only grew up with, but has made every TV show and movie with. They clutched to every ounce of knowledge they could gleam. And they dreamt of making STAR WARS like so many of us – only now… they’re doing it.
I look at that photo of the STAR WARS EPISODE VII Script reading, and after examining with an electron microscope, I’ve come to sadly realize… I can’t read anything from the picture of worth… but I do wonder one thing.
Look at JJ. He’s sitting between Lawrence Kasdan and Harrison Ford with R2D2 over his shoulder. Does he take a moment to fully realize HOLY SHIT. I mean imagine as the script began to verbally come to life… imagine the looks that JJ would share with his long long time friend Bryan Burk sitting across from him.
That photo is a perfect perfect perfect image. Mainly because… I know the session is recorded… that right now, it’s probably been married to a feature length animatic – and that somewhere in this world there’s a cartoon version of fucking STAR WARS EPISODE VII that’s got the right voices for some of the cast logged in.
I’ve heard reports on JJ’s mood over the weekend – and people are describing him by saying things along the lines of saying… “I’ve never seen JJ more animated and passionate” and “He was born to this!”
I do know that the preproduction process has been exhaustive. They tried a ton of different things before arriving at the point they’re at now. Through that process, there was ups & downs, but creatively - right now – when I speak to people on this – they’re ecstatic. They all feel they’re a part of a dream.
And really. Who can blame them? I was 11 with RETURN OF THE JEDI came out. For 31 years I’ve been waiting for the next chapter. I knew the characters needed to age properly… and now… right now… everything is exactly right.
We all need to eat right, use our turn signals, take the cab home if we drank too much… or essentially… STAY ALIVE! This is what we’ve been waiting for – and this time we’re in right now. This is the time where we are permitted to DREAM what this film could be.
As we get each revelation, each bit of knowledge… let it fly with your imagination. I know people that felt burned by the prequels, but I recommend to everyone to watch the whole of THE CLONE WARS series – it may even evolve your feelings about the films. You might see that I was right all along… giggle. Seriously though… it is THE CLONE WARS. It is what the films were missing and it is epic. Some of the best STAR WARS action you’ll ever see – but also – you learn what’s up with the disappearing and the Force Ghosts. You get greater depth upon Palpatine, Anakin, OB1, Yoda – and even Jar Jar is greatly redeemed. Dave Filoni did tremendous work on that show and should really be heralded for it.
Also – this May 4th, I watched the whole saga in reverse order, beginning with RETURN OF THE JEDI and ending with THE PHANTOM MENACE. I find it helpful to sometimes see things exactly how they were not meant to be seen. It asks your brain to see the de-evolution of the trilogies instead of their natural flow. I love that both major swings in Anakin’s story came at the suffering of others.
We are on the precipice for that point in time where STAR WARS spreads its wings. I’m probably happiest to hear about stand alone films… the idea of directors and teams exploring cinematically this universe I so dearly love – well… it’s just terribly exciting. As I watched the original STAR WARS this Sunday at pre-dawn I realized as we entered the Cantina… that it was this moment that STAR WARS became something greater than anything I’d ever seen before. In that bar, there were hundreds of stories that I wanted to hear. I mean, we sat down and heard what Luke and OB1 and Han and Chewie said, but all those other stories. Most of us learned some of that from the Action figures and the comic books… or the novelizations and the expanded universe books.
Now – we dive in again. STAR WARS will rule forever!
GOT A STAR WARS SCOOP? Send it this way: Harry here!!!