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Ever since Force Awakens hit theaters it’s slowly become obvious that the production values in The Galaxy Far, Far Away have fallen even as the budget has gone up. Sure, things usually look good in the center of the screen, but as anyone who’s racked up repeated views of Force Awakens, Last Jedi and SOLO will notice- Only the hero’s weapons are any good.
Part of it is technology may have simply enabled the developers to the point where they became the opposite of Creative, they are now “Risk Averse”. So while we got a decent effect for Star Killer Base’s main weapon its sort of alone amidst dreadful new props and bad Foley Art (sound effects).
More Elegant Weapons from a More Civilized Time
Bigger, blander has been the trend and of course nothing is worse than Kylo Ren’s three bladed lightsaber. It’s at once stupid, poorly imagined, and thought provokingly impractical. The weapon was just a terrible vision of a lightsaber variant. It might have been forgivable alone, but it had plenty of (bad) company!
This is all on Disney. It’s cheapness, laziness and a lot of re-use of things from the Avenger’s Universe. It’s not like they can’t get it right, when they shelled out for lots of Lucas property in Rogue 1 and embraced the feel of the original movies things worked out. Everyone had a pretty cool weapon right down to the US Omaha Beach gear some of the Rebels sport in the final assault. They took the time to really study the original gear and art from the first movie. They also correctly realized that George Lucas was homage-ing World War II movies and added some real WWII movie looking features to the whole production. It’s not rocket science!
Even in the heavily criticized pre-quel series George Lucas designed better looking and sounding weapons than Disney has ever bothered with. For example, when Lucas decides to give the lightsaber an upgrade for Darth Maul it results in a cool, dangerous and logical looking weapon. Same thing for blaster pistols. Jango Fett has a great set of silver blasters that sound awesome when fired. It seems like the Solo movie’s Lando has one just like them judging from the look and sound of it.
Continuing on the topic of Blasters we have lots of stand out bad props. It seems perhaps no one wants to use their best ideas on a weapon that will end up being property of Disney anyway. A lot of highly boring weapons are showing up for whatever reason.
The Force Awakens shows us our lamest weapons to that point. Consider it a watershed moment where lack of creativity would always be accepted so long as a huge special effects scene was enabled. The Star Killer Base itself is just not that creative a weapon. It’s a mega Death Star. It’s acceptable but it also seems like the galaxy’s most expensive fire and forget weapon cause they suck that star dry! Some enabling dialogue could fixed that in a second, but the movies sloppy. “After we fire prepare to tow the base to the secondary star in the next system!” There- see how easy that was?
The standard Stormtrooper weapon for the First Order is only okay. Its got white plastic on it probably incorporated for the sale of the toy (keeping it from looking too real). If we’re going to start designing movies around creating more effective Cosplay outfit we should just quit making Star Wars movies right now.
Rey’s blaster is a good example of a terrible weapon. It looks awful and lacks any menacing quality. It also sounds pretty crappy when she fires it. I won’t even waste a
paragraph on the LEGO style rifle Finn gets from Han Solo. I will indulge one more sentence and say its so bad it makes Rey’s modded vape rig of a pistol look a lot better.
In general they’ve given up on putting that worn, hard-used look into people’s personal weapons. In the past generally when Lucas was calling the shots the coolest weapons (and ships) had a convincing beat up look. In the Disney Star Wars movies most of the gear looks new and fresh. It’s just not very Star Wars. Most Non Imperial Star Wars gear looks like it’s in serious need of maintenance.
Just among major characters in the Solo movie; Beckett’s personal weapon was a forgettable collection of tubes! Bad Guy Vision/ Dryden Vos terrorizes people with a pair of ginsu brass knuckle lightsabers that are a snooze! I wont insult you by posting a picture.
Conversely, very watchable Rogue 1 features mostly Lucas and Lucas-like ships, enemies and weapons and made for a Star Wars movie we could feel the ‘danger’ in.
There’s also a new level of Gun Awareness in our society that shouldn’t make it into the movies creative process (at least so far as marketability of toys). In most states relaistic looking reproductions of weapons are simply illegal. The result is that ‘realistic’ (aka Menacing looking) weapons have to be orange when they’re made into toys/collectibles. Seems the art prop department played to that.
Think of it this way- when the original movie opens in 1977 every single weapon was awesome and had a great sound to it. Han’s blaster, storm trooper rifles, the Death Star’s main weapon. All wins. This starts to go away slowly in the prequels, but the guns still reflect the characters. Not so much anymore.
Han Solo’s weapon alone is a triumph of Hero Weaponry. Inspired by a real gun, heavy and dangerous looking, had a great sound for ‘cocking’ it as well as a super cool ‘report’ when it fired. It did damage that seemed appropriate. It’s a win. The storm trooper rifles are no less brilliant.
And George Lucas was a MASTER of Foley art who could always squeeze just a little more juice out of the right sounds and weapon combo. In return of the Jedi we finally hear a second type of weapon fired from the Falcon. You never get a great look but it seems that there’s forward firing cannons as well as the Quad laser Turrets. It has a unique bass-y sound.
Lucas vs Disney = No Contest
There’s a visible creative drop off between Lucas conceived and, for lack of a better term, Abrams conceived weapons, where Lucas wins hand over fist. It’s not even close.
Cube-ish, rectangular and uninteresting weapons that unimportant characters sport are a new and growing problem. The Creature/ Weapon asssembly line at Dinsey evokes under-thought 1970’s Marvel Star Wars comics weapons or even something like the mid 80’s GI Joe animated cartoon. Everything looks like it’s made of LEGOS. The Force Awakens was a call away from arms, for lack of a better term, as it signaled a huge slip concept designs. Except for Rogue 1 all the weapons we’ve seen from Disney are just awful.
Refocusing on the SOLO Movie; every weapon but the main characters, which were leftover from Lucas, is bland and boring. Only ships like the Falcon and TIE fighters are actually good or have decently menacing weapons. Even so, the Non Lucas guns on the Falcon, which we understand were before a lot of “special modification”, were still just lame. Its not like the visibly less cool gun couldnt have sounded a little less wimpy. The earlier tie fighters were ‘copyright payment reducing-ly different,’ with toned down weapons as well and are not quite as familiar or menacing . They seem like they will be easy to deal with and they are.
Characters weapons were once much more important in The Galaxy Far, Far Away. The spoke to a character and added to it.
The desire to have the weapons reflect the character and also where they fit in to society was a meme in the original movie. For instance, well toCharacters weapons were once much more important in The Galaxy Far, Far Away. The spoke to a character and added to it. do princess Leia has an appropriately elegant blaster, as does her mother Amidala in the prequels.
As for Leia’s weapon, it’s also well thought out and she stays with in later movies. It seems more precise and have a smaller impact mark on the stormtroopers she hits. Luke’s original musket was another example of the weapon fitting the character. It’s slim and elegant. It looks like a rich person would own it more than say what Han is running around with. It’s one of the character’s signature possessions.
When Luke gets his own pistol he ends up with what Han uses rather than the usual Rebel blaster, showing he was not your typical Rebel. It could be viewed as showing the characters self image, even if its just that he noticed it was pretty effective.
Rogue 1- Always the Exception
On the opposite end of the scale, the fluke good movie, Rogue 1, features mostly Lucas conceived ships and weapons. Let’s face it, it helped. The reveal of Princess Leia at the end is a rare moment of respectful treatment of an original character, but thats a whole post of its own.
The Rogue 1 characters weapons and what original gear, weapons and ships they had were close to the weapons we see in the original series. Its clear that this production team looked at the same sources Lucas looked at- the weapons and equipment of World War II, for inspiration when designing anything new.
It’s got a far more authentic “Star Wars” feel. We don’t have the Falcon, but he have the basic Imperial Shuttle, which has always been cool ( but was re-interpreted somewhat poorly as the First Order shuttle). Also in Rogue 1 we have a big battle featuring almost purely Lucas conceived ships at the end of the movie. Plenty of X-Wings, TIE fighters and other familiar and signature vessel’s were part of the fight. It felt very ‘Star Wars’.
A bunch of Darth Vader scenes where he does everything we love climaxes with his vicious attack on a group of rebel soldiers. It’s one of everyone’s favorite scenes from the movie and has been cosplayed at subsequent Comic-Cons. All the weapons in this sequence are Lucas conceived and it’s the best part of the best Disney movie by Light Years. Think about that.
This will be it’s own post soon. Just a thought for now-
Im thinking theres probably a connection to the language in the Disney – Lucas Intellectual Property Agreement that is part of pushing weapons and ships into a Non-Lucas area.