I figured I would start my new geek based blog off with my advice to J.J.Abrams and everyone else involved in creating the new Star Wars trilogy.
Now if they really want to do it right, one of the most important things will be to repair the damage done by the prequels. Lucas really screwed the Star Wars universe over with a lot of junk that took away from all the was great about the original trilogy.
Episode 7 should start off giving the fans what they really want more than anything else. Open the movie on the ambassadorial ship from Naboo being attacked and destroyed. It needs to be made clear that the ambassador on the hip is none other than Jar-Jar Binks and we get to clearly see him caught in the explosion as the ship goes down. Make sure there is no doubt at all that the great mistake that was Jar-Jar has been corrected and there is no possibility of that character making any appearances in any future Star Wars storylines. Regretfully we cannot erase Jar-Jar, but at least we can get closure and put a true end to the character. If they do this scene right and make it good, they could just replay it over and over again for an hour and half and it would tell a for more rewarding story than what we got out of the prequels. And the fans would line up to watch it.
A big easy to do fix would be to make it very, very clear that prophecies are dangerous and that the Jedi should never put much faith into them. The whole 'Bring balance to the Force' prophecy was a piss poor plot line. In general I find prophecies to be a sign of weak writing. They are ALWAYS self-fulfilling and rarely if every do they add anything of value to the story. Give Luke a simple throw away line as part of a conversation with one of his students about how his research has led him to believe that the faith the Jedi put into that prophecy played a huge roll in their downfall, so he refuses to allow the new Jedi Order to make the same mistakes. I could go into detail on how it seems the Jedi knew better, since Qui-Gon even warns about how you need to be focused on the present in Episode 1, before he goes and throws his own wisdom out the window in dealing with Anakin. And in Empire we get Yoda telling Luke that a Jedi should not dwell on visions, since 'always in motion is the future', which I guess we can say is Yoda having learned from his great mistake in the prequels.
One thing that was missing from the prequels and is going to be needed for the new trilogy is a new Han Solo character. They need to create a cool, interesting non-Jedi hero. I really do hope that Ford returns to play and possibly finish the role of Han Solo, but they should not rely on Solo's return to give a powerful non-Jedi character for the full trilogy. So many of the various story lines have overly focused on the Jedi, yet time and time again the more interesting characters have been the non-Jedis. Sure Mara Jade was one of the best expanded universe character and she ended up as a Jedi, but she was so much more than a Jedi and had a great storyline outside of being involved with the Jedi. We also got the Rouge Squadron stories, which were very much Jedi light and were really exciting stories with so many great non-Jedi characters. What to avoid is the mistake that was a weak attempt to replace Han, Dash Rendar from Shadows of the Empire. The less said about that poorly conceived media-crossover event the better. Rendar was a poor man's Solo. Rendar was a simplified, boring basic smuggler with the generic traits of Solo, lacking any real depth. Abrams needs to find the right actor and let that actor do what Ford did and create the character. Don't force it or push the script as being the end all of it. So much of what made Han Solo so great was Ford being allowed to alter the dialogue to fit the character he knew was Hand Solo.
So now we get to my last piece of advice I have for J.J. and his team, for now at least. One thing Lucas has never been good with is dialogue. The big scenes in the prequels were greatly ruined by really, really bad dialogue. The light-saber fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin would have been so much more intense if it had not ended with some of the WORST dialogue I have ever seen in any movie. "From my point of view, the Jedi are evil" is just about as bad as it gets. The problem was with the prequels is that no one really challenged Lucas. As I mentioned already, Ford created Solo through his own unscripted dialogue and it worked. Lucas obviously was not as much a control freak with the original trilogy as he was with the prequels and it shows. They need to let the actors be relaxed and have some real control over their characters. Abrams needs to give the actors the flexibility that Ford had. It has been proven to work. There were just so many times when good dialogue would have made the scene noticeably better in the prequels.
So there is my advice for J.J.Abrams and the team that is going to bring us the new Star Wars Trilogy. I may add to this in future posts, as I still have more to say on the topic.