Today: May 29, 2024

What We Know About Star Wars VII

With news this week finally confirming who will star in the Star Wars VII FilmJuice thought it was time we took a good hard look into the galaxy far, far away to establish everything we now know about the latest in cinema’s most popular saga.

A New Studio
To fully understand how Star Wars VII has come into existence you have to travel back to 30th October 2012 when Disney Studios acquired Lucasfilm for a whopping $4.05 billion. While George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars universe, had planned out a new trilogy as far back as 1980 it seemed unlikely that these films would materialise anytime soon, especially given that Lucas had strongly hinted that he was thinking of retirement. No sooner had Disney acquired Lucasfilm did they announce that a new Star Wars film would be very much part of their agenda and were aiming for a 2015 release date. On a side-note Disney owning Lucasflim also means that an Indiana Jones 5 is likely to happen at some point in the future. In other words Disney are likely to be lining Harrison Ford’s bank balance as well as Mr. Lucas’.

A Director Strong In The Force
While many names such as X-Men: First Class’ Matthew Vaughn, Iron Man’s Jon Favreau and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’s Brad Bird were all rumoured to be in talks to direct Episode VII at one point or another there was only ever one man that producer Kathleen Kennedy wanted. Having re-booted and given a much needed adrenaline shot to the Star Trek franchise JJ Abrams seemed like the perfect fit to become only the fourth ever Star Wars director. Look at any biog on Abrams and his reverence and love for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope is clearly a huge influence on his career, much more so than anything the Starship Enterprise had ever offered. It was for this very reason that, early on, Abrams distanced himself from the project, insisting that, as a fan, he would rather be in the audience not knowing what to expect from a new Star Wars film. Kennedy wasn’t going to let him go that easily though and like the tractor-beam aboard The Death Star had Abrams in her sites like a crippled Millennium Falcon. Then on January 25th 2013 Lucasfilm released a statement that told us what many had only dreamed of, that JJ Abrams would direct Star Wars Episode VII. Crucially George Lucas himself gave Abrams the seal of approval when he said, “He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.” – It seems the student has indeed become the master.

Return Of The Cast
For years George Lucas had been telling anyone who would listen that he had treatments for Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII and IX, which he duly handed over to Bob Iger when Disney bought Lucasfilm. Lucas had made it clear that the only characters who would appear in all nine Star Wars films would be Anthony Daniels’ C3-P0 and Kenny Baker’s R2-D2. Then as far back as 1983 Lucas hinted that Han Solo, Leia and Luke Skywalker would all return for Episode VII in their late 60s and early 70s. When Disney announced a new Star Wars franchise Lucas stated that he expected to see a return of the original cast members including Harrison Ford as Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Those key cast members had for sometime been photographed in London leading many to assume that, despite a lack of official announcement, the trio were in fact back in England in preparation to start shooting at the home of Star Wars; Pinewood Studios. On 29th April 2014 those rumours were confirmed with the announcement of the full set of key cast members which included Ford, Hamill and Fisher. Some internet rumours have suggested that Episode VII will include a meaty role for Han Solo. Just be careful what you wish for as Ford famously wanted Lucas to kill Solo off at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. In fact the odds on Solo being killed-off in the latest Star Wars is are as low as 5/6!

The Phantom Cast
While many had expected the return of the likes of Ford, Hamill and Fisher, not to mention Daniels, Baker and Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, JJ Abrams was able to throw out a few surprises with the casting announcement that included a host of new names to the Star Wars franchise. Andy Serkis, most famous for performing motion-capture for Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings, King Kong and Ceasar in The Rise Of The Planet of The Apes may well be doing the same for Star Wars. Max Von Sydow, most famous for exorcising young girls in The Exorcist screams of a villain while Girl’s Adam Driver has been rumoured to be playing a Sith Lord in the vein of a Darth Vader character. But the really interesting bits of casting are on the younger generation who are said to play a key part in the new franchise. Attack The Block’s John Boyega was a stand-out star of Joe Cornish horror-comedy and one can only hope he continues that trend while wielding a light-saber or blaster in Star Wars. Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaacs are both fantastic character actors who you feel could play all manner of characters in the Star Wars galaxy and it’s proof that Abrams is looking to flesh out the cast with genuine talent, not dissimilar to what Lucas did when casting Brits Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing in the original franchise. Perhaps the most interesting piece of casting is that or relative newcomer Daisy Ridley. The young British actress has appeared in TV shows such as Mr. Selfridge and Silent Witness but there are already strong internet rumours suggesting that Ridley could play the key role of Han and Leia’s daughter, will she be strong in the Force? Watch this space. It should also be noted that there’s been no mention of Frank Oz, the man who famously voiced Yoda so we probably shouldn’t expect to be seeing the little green Jedi even in ghost format in the new film.

Revenge Of Original Aesthetics
Most Star Wars fans will tell you that the reason the latest franchise (starting with The Phantom Menace through to Revenge Of The Sith) never felt like proper Star Wars films were their reliance on computer-generated effects. That and Jar Jar Binks. Lucasfilm recently confirmed that not only would the new franchise be shooting on 35mm film, rather than the more trendy high-definition digital cameras most modern films are shot on, but that they would also utilise scale models, akin to Lucas’ original films, over the more CGI-heavy effects of most blockbusters. The result of this should be a return to the aesthetics of the original films and a hark back to the nostalgia so many Wars fans place such importance on. Combine that with the franchise’s return to such pivotal locations as Pinewood Studios as well Morocco and Tunisia and we’re not only likely to be returning to Tatooine but getting some of that classic Star Wars magic back. Indeed recent photos captured from the sets being built certainly hinted at what looked like an AT-AT foot being wheeled into a studio.

A Plot Hidden Like A Sith Lord
While it has been established that Episode VII will not be influenced by the expanded Star Wars universe; all the comics, books and television shows, little else is really known about the plot of the new film. Director JJ Abrams and Empire Strikes Back writer have now finished the script but Abrams is a master of running a tight-ship when it comes to keeping plot details very much hidden from the prying internet. In fact many Bothans would have to die to get any real information on what we can expect from this galaxy far, far away.

For now that’s pretty much all we know about Star Wars Episode VII other than it is scheduled for release 18th December 2015, making it the first live-action Star Wars film not to be released in May…let’s hope the Force is strong in this one.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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