Prime Time Review - Star Wars: Episode VII casting draws praise from Hamill, mixed reactions from fans - Tucson Local Media: Liven Up

Prime Time Review - Star Wars: Episode VII casting draws praise from Hamill, mixed reactions from fans

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Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 4:00 am

Slated for release Dec. 18 of next year, Star Wars: Episode VII is quite possibly one of the most anticipated events in recent nerd culture. Since the installment was announced to be in the works, questions swirled from all around: Who will be directing? Will any of the original cast make a return? How far in the future is this episode? It seems as though some of the final questions were answered when the official Star Wars website announced the casting for the new movie:

“Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.”

Yes, the original three will be making a glorious return to the big screen in their timeless roles. Interestingly, the decision was made somewhere along the line to also bring back the original actors Daniels, Mayhew and Baker.

While this is by no means a discredit to their abilities as actors, the physicality of all three of their roles seems to be a big roadblock. It will be interesting to see if Daniels can still bring C-3PO to life with the same lovable effect he once had. Mayhew’s role as Chewbacca will also present some difficulties; Mayhew hasn’t been in the best of health for some time and has arguably one of the most physical roles in the movie. In the world of computer animation that we live in today, it seems as though putting Kenny Baker back into the R2-D2 can seem a little over the top.

The Disney produced film will be directed by none other than J.J. Abrams, known for his work rebooting the “Star Trek” series in the past few years, among numerous hit television shows the likes of “Lost” and “Fringe”. With such a fantastic and proven director, could there be any issues with what is now the complete picture of the new movie?

Mark Hamill sees nothing wrong, tweeting his excitement shortly after the casting was released:

“UK table read- I was knocked out by the diverse & extraordinarily talented new cast members. WOW they’re good! The saga is in superb hands.”

Despite the backing of Luke Skywalker, the casting does pose some other interesting questions. Aside from the return of three original cast members with taxing physical roles, the main members of the cast have a slight mono-chromatic tinge. There have always been disgruntled fans pointing out the lack of racial diversity amongst the main cast in the history of the franchise, Mace Windu and Lando Calrissian being the African Americans of note. It African Americans of note. It seems as though the galaxy has suffered from a diversity issue. This, clearly, does not mean the franchise or Abrams is racist, just that there has been some slight overlook to simulating a more realistic, diverse cast.

Women also seem to be noticeably absent from the spotlight throughout “Star Wars” film history. Princess Leia was, by no means, a pushover, but she is the sole strong female figure of note in the history of the films, as Padmé left a lot to be desired.

By continuing the trend of this style of casting, Abrams seems to have missed his chance to bring some huge changes to the film series. In recent years, the Star Wars Expanded Universe has made colossal advancements in developing strong, female roles, bringing in many new and diverse characters. The return back to the film series will not be taking place in the expanded universe.

Any negative feedback is assumptive, at best. The casting does not dictate how the characters will be written, or how they will interact with one another. After the overall poor performance of the prequel trilogy, fans have extremely high expectations for this Abrams-captained reboot of the much beloved universe.

Somewhere in the world, the galaxy far, far away is being rebuilt for the big screen.

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