A Great Age For Space Opera Movies

space-opera-movies

So, Rogue One is coming out on December 16th and I am stoked!

The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens has heralded a new age for space opera in the movies unlike anything I’ve seen in thirty years (yes, I’m old). And even before the Star Wars primer, Marvel decided to get in on the action with Guardians of The Galaxy. Think about it, Marvel owns the rights to so many superhero franchises yet chose to make a film about space jockeys before Dr. Strange or any of a dozen other  caped characters (and yes, we are all still WAITING for that Miss Marvel movie). So why revive a less popular space franchise first? My answer is, they wanted to get on the ground floor of a booming trend.

When Star Wars first came out in 1977, it inspired dozens of imitators. Hollywood saw the money and quickly shifted from a western and detective thriller factory to a rocket ship launching pad. The first notable attempts were frankly well, crap– like Starcrash and The Cat From Outer Space. However, as Hollywood improved its space craft, we got good stuff like Battlestar Galactica, Alien, and Battle Beyond the Stars.

Naturally, Star Trek jumped onto the gravy train, and that’s FINE by me. After the abortive Star Trek: The Emotional Picture, we got Wrath of Kahn, Search For Spock, and, who can forget, Star Trek Saves The Whales. I grew up in this time, and it’s pretty damn obvious I have yet to recover. Stories of spaceships that go “woosh” and laser guns that go “pew” are still my go to entertainment.

So, sure, I’m waiting with bated breath for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I am also happy to hear they are planning to make a young Han Solo movie. I think it’s great that they are playing with alternative possibilities and taking risks with the franchise. Star Trek is also doing some good stuff with its re-boot, and I really liked Star Trek: Beyond. But here’s the thing…where is the new space opera stuff?

The last time we got an original space opera franchise of any worth on the screen was Firefly. Granted, Firefly and its movie Serenity were AWESOME, but it’s been over ten years and I want more. When Star Wars made bank back in ’77, we got a slew of other space opera films with original content. Now we have…what? Folks, Guardians of The Galaxy is based on a thirty-year-old comic book; it’s as if risk aversion trumps creativity in Hollywood every time these days (and I can’t stand it when things are “trumped”).

I know that today there are some damn good writers crafting top-notch space opera (Yeah, besides me…but also me…uh, me too? Yes, not just me). I want these guys and gals to get their chance now while the iron is hot. And this is important, not just for our entertainment but for the growth of the genre of space opera.

Think about it, forty years from now, what are they going to bring back if they did nothing new in the early 2000s?

 

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So, I Just Saw Star Wars VII…

Nope, there will be no spoilers here so you may feel free to read on.

Star Wars Awakens

Was it good? Yes, but I’m not here to write another review as there are plenty of them out there already. Was it as good as the first time I saw Star Wars back in 1977? Of course not! There is simply no way to recapture youth. When I first saw that movie, I was a very different person living in a very different world, and you simply cannot relive the past.

Oh, but we do try.

As I look at the big budget movies of the past several years I’m noticing a distinct pattern; Guardians of the Galaxy, and other Marvel movies that had their genesis in comic books now thirty to fifty years old, Star Trek, with a new version of the original cast of characters who graced our TV screens back in the late 1960s, add to that The Lone Ranger, Jurassic World, the Robocop reboot and the latest Terminator movie and I’m sure you get the idea. Do I blame Hollywood? Hell no! Hollywood only makes what people will buy, and right now nostalgia is selling like hot cakes.

Now a part of me is happy to see a new coat of paint on a favorite old automobile. Part of me is actualy happy to shell out a few bucks to relive my past. But another part of me is downright frustrated. I know for a fact that there are some kick-ass new stories being told (Yes, mine– but not just mine) that are not getting any room to breathe because of all the dinosaurs that still roaming the Earth. If you have not read the comic book Saga, go out there and buy a copy. If you have never heard of D. Wallace Peach, Sheron Wood McCartha or April Aashime, you are missing out on some good novels.

Today’s world is not out of fresh ideas or new talent. We just need to push past the nostalgia to find it.