By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Each year, Hollywood releases hundreds of movies. Some become box-office hits, while others come and go making barely a ripple.
Among 1977’s releases were “Annie Hall,” “A Bridge Too Far,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” and “Saturday Night Fever.”
That same year, a film with an intriguing title, a promising young director and a largely unknown cast also made its debut.
At the time it was known simply as “Star Wars.” And the rest, as they say, is filmdom history.
The movie was a classic good vs. evil morality tale that could have been set in the Old West, in medieval times or in Middle Earth, but instead took place “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” Moviegoers were transfixed.
The film became one of the highest-grossing offerings in movie history, but, more important, it sparked one of the most valuable franchises ever in the world of entertainment.
To date, there have been six “Star Wars” films, grossing more than $4 billion worldwide. The films have garnered 10 Academy Awards.
But the Star Wars universe has expanded as rapidly as the real one, encompassing animated series, comic books, several hundred novels, video games, action figures and collectibles.
There are Star Wars attractions and rides at Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland. Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park hosts annual Star Wars Weekends every summer.
In all, Disney paid more than $4 billion last fall to acquire the Star Wars universe lock, stock and Ewok, then promptly announced it was planning to release a new Star Wars film in 2015.
Star Wars geeks like myself were at first thrilled, then somewhat apprehensive. Would the House of Mouse stick to the script? Would Disney give us the Star Wars universe we have grown to know and obsess over?
Then, this past week, came word that the principal stars of the original trilogy, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, are in line to appear in the seventh Star Wars film.
In the original, Ford was the cynical, wisecracking, rakishly handsome smuggler Han Solo, Hamill portrayed spirited farm boy and would-be Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker and Fisher played Princess Leia Organa, the comely damsel in distress with a spine of steel the two unlikely heroes team up to save from the clutches of the galactic Empire.
The problem is, not even intergalactic space heroes can stave off the ravages of time. Ford is now 70, Hamill is 61 and Fisher is 56.
I question just how much spacey swashbuckling these three will be able to do at their advanced ages. I admit I am in their age range and have trouble even finding my swash these days, much less getting it buckled.
Instead of jumping to light speed to avoid an attack by an Imperial Star Destroyer, will the new film find Han, Leia and Luke jumping into the Millennium Falcon and cruising off to take advantage of the senior citizen early bird discount at a popular eatery the next star system over?
Instead of using Jedi mind tricks to help him defeat Imperial Stormtroopers, perhaps Luke will spend much of the film trying to recall just exactly why he walked from his living room into his kitchen.
If Luke and Leia feel a disturbance in the Force, will it be the result of the presence of the activities of a Dark Lord of the Sith, or the effects of the bean burrito they had for lunch? In that case, the phrase “I have a very bad feeling about this,” is likely to take on a whole new meaning.
I’m afraid at their ages, our heroes will have to turn Yoda’s famous admonition, “Do, or do not, there is no try,” into “Try, or try not, there is no doo doo.”
And who will be the new villain, given that the evil Darth Vader demised in “Return of the Jedi?” Will it be Darth Geezer, Darth Methuselah, Darth Droopy, Darth Depends, Darth Varicose or Darth Geriatric?
Han won’t have to worry so much about running away from the debt he owes bariatric crime lord Jabba the Hutt as he will running to the drug store to refill his cholesterol and blood pressure meds.
Will our heroes have traded droids R2-D2 and C-3PO in for a couple of electric blankets, a cappuccino maker and a foot massager?
I wonder if we’ll see Leia sporting the metal bikini she wore when she was enslaved by Jabba in “Return of the Jedi.” Fisher has lost weight thanks to Jenny Craig, after all.
If she does, I fear we will learn the true meaning of Yoda’s words from “Return of the Jedi,” “When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not.”
Finally, what will the new film be called? How about “Star Wars VII: I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up?”
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at email@example.com.