We got our first glimpse into the world of Star Wars: Episode VII yesterday. Director J.J. Abrams appeared in a video from the set in Abu Dhabi announcing a new initiative, Star Wars: Force for Change. Besides learning about making a charitable donation to enter to win a part in the upcoming film, we also saw a new alien. That’s exciting, but the icing on the cake is the creature is a puppet that looks like it could be right out of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Practical effects! Thank goodness!
The danger of too much CGI is something the filmmakers are aware of. Kathleen Kennedy spoke at Star Wars Celebration Europe last summer, and in response to the constant question of how much CGI they would be using in Episode VII, she said, “We’re looking at what the early Star Wars films did; they used real locations with special effects. So we’re going to find some very cool locations, we’re going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox.”
She continued, “Using model makers, using real droids, taking advantage of the artwork that you can touch and feel — we want to do that in combination with CG effects.” The key phrase there is obviously “in combination with.” I’m okay with a mix of the two, as long as it’s balanced or leaning more towards practical.
I suspect Episode VII’s tone, palette, and effects will be more in line with the original trilogy than the prequels and not just because of the timeline. The prequels showcased a different time in the galaxy; it wasn’t the same place before the Empire took control and it needed to have another look than the original trilogy. However, the use of too many computer effects for creatures and backgrounds didn’t do the trick. A lack of practical effects is one reason the prequels didn’t work as well as the original trilogy.
But now? It feels like we’re getting back to the roots of Star Wars. This alien on the set of Tatooine (not confirmed but it’s a reasonable guess for the location) is tangible and well-crafted, and the design is interesting. Maybe he’s a vendor selling wares or a consumer taking his vulture-chickens home. Whatever the case, seeing him gives me hope that we’ll be amazed by the creatures in this film.
Remember the feeling you got the first time you saw all the wacky patrons at the cantina in Mos Eisley? The scene didn’t just paint a picture of scum and villainy, it showed us a tiny swath of the galaxy. If all those aliens were in one bar on a nowhere planet, what would a street in a big city be like? I want to feel that wonder again and not have it diluted by fake creatures.
Head to the comments and let us know your thoughts on the alien.
HT: Geek Tyrant