“Pirates of the Caribbean 47/Johnny Depp stars as the robot pirate who loses his wife in a game of poker and tries to win her back with hilarious consequences.”
These are lyrics to “Robocop 4: [Bleep] Off Robocop” by Future of the Left, who appears Monday at Bottom Lounge. The song’s message comes through loud and clear: As Hollywood churns out sequel after sequel, plots only get more and more ridiculous, but, hey, who cares? They make money, so there’s no reason to stop making them, right?
By sheer coincidence in relation to the band’s Chicago show next week, yesterday it was announced that, in fact, more “Star Wars” sequels are on the way thanks to Disney’s $4.05 billion purchase of Lucasfilm, with the seventh episode of the franchise expected in 2015. On the surface, even to someone who really doesn’t care about the “Star Wars” series, this is clearly blasphemy. George Lucas has long denied any interest in continuing beyond his original trilogy and more recent, um, prequelogy, and most who saw those newer movies would agree that’s for the best.
What makes this curious, however—and I realize no one who loves the first three movies, I mean episodes 4-6, will agree—is the suggestion that a different filmmaker will be taking the reins for the new “Star Wars” installments. These days it’s common for giant hit franchises to spin through a revolving door of filmmakers; from “Harry Potter” to “Twilight” to the “Bourne” films, a different director (and often different writers) continually attempts to put his or her own spin on widely beloved material. Usually this leads to a box set of related movies of wildly varied quality and the sense that no one in particular owns the on-screen translations.
“Star Wars” is different. It’s George Lucas’ baby. Its visual imagination and clunky writing is the embodiment of Lucas as an artist. And yet if he’s comfortable, at least to the tune of $4 billion, turning over the controls of his historic, influential series, it might actually turn out to be for the best. Or at least lead to a more distinctive, relevant new effort than Lucas himself would have turned out.
This, of course, depends on who takes over in the director’s chair. Clearly someone like (and I’m not saying this would ever happen) Ridley Scott (“Blade Runner”) would be a better choice than Adam Shankman (“Rock of Ages”). But very simply, it just needs to be someone who wants to bring something of themselves to “Star Wars,” rather than taking over just because they can or because they’ve always wanted to mimic Lucas.
In another coincidence, this week also brings “Flight,” the latest from Robert Zemeckis, who told me in an interview that he will never make another “Back to the Future” movie and doesn’t believe in going back and changing films after they’re made (such as re-releasing them in 3-D).
However, he also says there’s a finished script for a sequel to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” waiting for the go-ahead from Disney, so never say never. Speaking of “Never Say Never”: I’m now terrified that “Roger Rabbit 2” will plop in Justin Bieber as the voice of Roger and Angelina Jolie as Jessica Rabbit. Ignore me, universe!
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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