11 Essential Ingredients for a (Successful!) “Star Wars” Movie

So the  new Star Wars trailer came out. I may have teared up – just a little – when I saw Han Solo and Chewie again, like a pair of old pals. (Fine, I admit it.)


But the trailer as a whole was super promising. There was… something there. That old feeling, somehow. Lots of other folks have broken it down shot by shot – but here’s a question: what does a Star Wars movie need to have, if it’s to be a successful Star Wars movie? (I.e., not the prequels). What has to be in the mix to make that cake a success?  Here’s my partial list, in no particular order:

  1. Broken-down, beat-up spaceships. It’s gotta be hard to travel through space, people. Besides that: the grit and the missing panels added visual interest and tactile authenticity to the vessels. The prequels looked like shiny cartoons and slick fakes. 
  2. Droids with personality, beyond R2D2 and C3P0. The original trilogy had LOTS of other droids, each with their own quirks. I loved that the world of episodes 4-5-6 had some models of droids that worked well, some that didn’t at all.  Much like versions of Windows. (4-6 were very much a PC universe. 1-3 were Apple. But fake Apple.)
  3. Weird but somehow recognizable aliens. Jabba’s palace, the Cantina Band. And while we’re at it…
  4. Puppets and masks, not just CG that will age badly. Jabba, Yoda, Admiral Akbar – all MUCH more real than (I’m going there) Jar Jar. Or CG Yoda, for that matter.
  5. Daring space escapes – leaps through hyperspace.
  6. A clear plot that thickens in its own time.  The story doesn’t have to be intricate – at least not at first. “Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi – you’re my only hope!” sets Luke off (eventually) to save the Princess. It’s only later that he finds his own entanglement with the Empire. And the wranglings of the Impreial Senate are nowhere to be seen. Ugh.
  7. Romantic tension. “I love you.” “I know.”
  8. A powerful villain with an iconic look AND some personality. Darth Vader, yes. Darth Maul: cool-looking, but a drip.
  9. Sassy quips and humor. Zero of that in the prequels. Can we just pretend they didn’t happen?
  10. Lightsaber fights. They need to be cool, and they can’t be entirely digitized. (Again: leaping swordfighting Yoda is a fail.)
  11. New environments. Hoth, Tatooine, Endor – each take us to new places with unique ecosystems and weather patterns – which placed different strains on the locals and the warring rebel / empire forces. 

Those are the things I think of. What else did I leave out? I’d love to hear from you. What would you stir into the mix?

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