It’s about sci-fi /fantasy fun; romance and a sense that a universe of adventure awaits. It’s about referencing movies beyond Star Wars, whilst somehow feeling a bit like the first time you saw actual Star Wars..
In no particular order, consider the following:
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS: Though deemed a flop, sequel talk is still there. Why? Because the movie set up a universe in which endless adventures are possible! It’s a Bohemian romp through oceans and planets and tech. There is a boundless innocence, enthusiasm and vision on display, innovating just as ambitiously as George Lucas back in 1977.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL: The sequels could not decide whether to be an epic interconnected saga (ie like the Star Wars lore) or a sequence of self contained adventures (like Indiana Jones). But this original was filled with the novelty, revelation, surprise, fresh promise and pantomime fairy tale fun of A NEW HOPE. Swordplay, ships, a rogue pirate, innocent young romance and a princess in peril via supernatural twist. THAT is the spirit of Star Wars, reborn!
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: A ragtag band of eclectic and eccentric heroes must rescue a planet, against the odds. Our main hero is a man of destiny and a child of two worlds, both callow youth and worldly space pirate rolled into one. The primary villain is still a foreshadowing for something even bigger and darker. There is a cracking soundtrack and a disco, upbeat vibe whilst tackling some deeper themes. Pop art in space. Charming. WE ARE GROOT!
KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE: Young man is lost and seeking to find his place in society. Stumbles on a new world of possibilities and discovers his inner hero, under the watchful eye of a kindly mentor. Takes on a villain whose plan involves worldwide destruction. Heavy on tech and visual innovation via truly immersive action. Builds a universe. Adolescent humour and snobbery are here yet tempered by a genuine sense of innocence and exploration.
BATMAN FOREVER: Yes, that’s right! It has a Star Wars vibe. Chris O’Donnell’s Robin is the young buck in need of redirection by a big brother in Batman (Val Kilmer at his peak star power). It’s action packed from start to finish and smuggles in some fascinating philosophy amidst the visual noise. This is disco Batman but the tech, neon flashes and upbeat tone do not descend into total camp alone. The effects, incidentally, here, were ahead of their time and rather pioneering, harnessing some of the same team as yes, Star Wars!
X MEN: Logan/Wolverine is basically your Han Solo character: a way into the more problematic and surreal aspects of the character community here. You have a sage, wise elder (Professor X) at war with a militant despot in waiting (Magneto). There is a princess in distress (Rogue /Anna Paquin), some complex politics beneath the action, a great ensemble of heroes and villains, some innovative effects on a budget and great universe building. A blast!
There are others and no doubt I will list those another time. DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT SAYING ANY OF THESE MOVIES ARE ANYWHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS THE ORIGINAL STAR WARS! I DO NOT HATE ALL PREQUELS OR SEQUELS, EITHER! May the force be with you!