The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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November 2, 2012

Joe Hadsall: Disney’s purchase good for ‘Star Wars’

JOPLIN, Mo. — A few weeks ago, I gave a coffee talk at the Joplin Public Library about the life of a Joplin Globe journalist. I talked to a small but intelligent and inquisitive crowd, and the hour went by way too quickly.

One of the attendees told me that she reads my column every week, and that she often doesn’t know what it’s about, but she still likes to read it.

That’s understandable. I talk about some pretty obscure stuff in this column -- from prog-rock to prestidigitation. But I’m fairly certain that most of you know what “Star Wars” is, and what Disney is. So I have no problem diving right in and telling you why I am completely geeking out over the $4 billion sale of Lucasfilm to the House of Mouse.

“Star Wars” was what turned me into a geek. I was 4 years old when my dad took me to see it for the first time. It was back when we lived in New Jersey, and the movie blew me away. It was the first movie I remember seeing.

Later that year, I got sick -- sick enough to have to go to the hospital. I fell asleep, and woke up right when the doctor was trying to give me a shot. I kinda freaked out.

The next time I woke up, my parents were there with the Kenner action figures of Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker. Had I known to keep them in their packages back then, I probably could have made thousands on them today.

But I was four. Of course I ripped them open and played with them so rough that I broke their retractable light sabers right out of their unnaturally straight arms. I replaced them with colored toothpicks, which stuck better and were longer. I was kind of awesome even as a 4-year-old.

This is just my long-winded way of saying that I loved the first three “Star Wars” movies.

But the next three were just terrible.

The acting was horrible -- only Ewan MacGregor did a passable job. The effects were too over the top -- way too much reliance on CGI instead of creating sets. The stories were cheesy -- there really wasn’t a decent plot until the final movie of the trilogy.

To make matters worse, series creator George Lucas went back and digitally altered key parts of the first three movies. It’s as if he was trying to change my childhood memories, and that I cannot abide.

Ever since he completed the first trilogy, Lucas has been his own worst enemy. That’s why the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney is something that every geek should cheer.

Look at the job Disney has done with the Marvel line of comic books: Ever since it acquired Stan Lee’s empire, the movies have tied together nicely. And for an Avengers coup de grace, Disney hired Joss Whedon, creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly,” to direct “The Avengers.” Pixar Animation is also in good health under Disney’s ownership.

“Star Wars” is in good hands. As part of the sale, Lucas will basically retire. Control of the company will go to co-chairman Kathleen Kennedy, who will become its new president. When “Episode 7” comes out in 2015, I’m betting it’s going to be a pretty decent movie that gets back to the franchise’s endearing roots, not its abominable transformation.

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