*I'm going to try making this a weekly thing. I'll try to keep the topics varied, so don't expect a Star Wars related rant every week, maybe just once a month or so (joking). Also, the poll wasn't working earlier this week, but it is functional now, so vote on that if you haven't already.
Am I the only one sick and tired of the George Lucas bashing these days? I read, watch, and listen to a lot of movie news/reviews and people seem to rip on Lucas out of nowhere. He may deserve to be poked fun at here and there, but people need to come up with a better way to bash something rather than say something like, “At least George Lucas didn’t direct it.”
I’ll start by acknowledging Lucas’ faults. Was Jar Jar Binks annoying? You bet. Was some of the CG necessary? No, absolutely not. Was the monkey/rope swinging scene from the latest Indiana Jones stupid? Yeah, pretty much. And was that extended music sequence at Jabba’s Palace in the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi ridiculously goofy and unfunny? Oh yeah. Lucas has made mistakes (as every director/writer/producer has) and he may say the wrong thing at times, like the quote to Scorsese (on the set of Gangs of New York) that big sets are a thing of the past because a computer can do everything now. I’m not even sure he said that, by the way, but it’s certainly reported enough on websites and it sounds like something he would say anyway, so I’ll go with it.
Lucas certainly loves his CG. I can think of a few scenes in the prequel trilogy that could have benefited from some practical effects (he didn’t really need CG to create floating fruit in the dinner scene from Attack of the Clones), but I can tell you that those movies could not have been made at all without CG. Of course, some might argue that we would all be better off if he wouldn’t have made the prequels or “fixed” the original trilogy. But before I get into that, let’s just realize that without Lucas’ involvement Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) wouldn’t have been able to create such realistic and amazing CG for countless films today.
Now let’s get down to the meat of the Lucas hate: the prequels. I, obviously, love the prequel trilogy (PT) and I consider Episode III to be the second best Star Wars film (behind Empire). I accept that people don’t care for the new movies, but I don’t necessarily understand it. There might be too much CG in them, but did people really want him to break out the ping pong tables and start gluing legos to them? Remember, Lucas was using the most advanced special effects available when he made the original trilogy (OT). It stands to reason that he would use the best special effects available for the new films. And some of it just doesn’t work and looks cartoonish, but when you have so much more going on, like amazing lightsaber battles, full on Jedi war, complex space fights, etc., then you tend to look past that one minor character that looks completely out of place next to a human actor.
I realize that the problems with the PT don’t end with the use of CG. People have trashed the movies for their acting (mainly directed at Hayden Christensen’s whiny performance in Episode II) and the plots. The whole galactic politics aspect of the trilogy left some people bored and/or scratching their head. While I admit that I didn’t go into Episode I expecting a subplot about trade routes and political power moves, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film. But the plot details are all an opinion issue. Point being, I’m not out to convince people that the prequels are as good as the beloved OT. I’m trying to convince people that Lucas isn’t completely to blame here.
Has anyone stopped and considered that maybe the prequels weren’t as magical to you as the originals were because you’ve aged? When you get older you become disillusioned and you also start to look back at the past with fonder memories than you used to. Was everything really better years ago? Or was it that Lucas had created something special back then that no one was expecting? I think it’s a combination of those two problems. The anticipation was so high for Episode I that there was no way everyone would be pleased by it. This isn’t Lucas’ fault. Sure, he could’ve made these movies just like the originals, but how boring is that?
I want to move onto another classic series that some people have claimed Lucas has “ruined” lately. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; I agree that the title is kind of stupid, but this movie was thoroughly enjoyable, despite its flaws. What angers me about this film is that everyone who hates it makes statements along the lines of “Spielberg tried to make a good movie, but Lucas forced in all this alien crap and stupid CG stuff and ruined it.” So Spielberg was making this perfect Indiana Jones movie while Lucas was whispering in his ear the whole time, saying “More aliens and CG, Steve! Let’s get stupid with this one!” No one thinks that maybe some of the beloved scenes from the older Indiana Jones movies came from Lucas. How about giving credit to both Spielberg and Lucas for the good and the bad? I guess it’s easier to like Spielberg and blame it all on Lucas. He’s been the whipping boy for a decade now and I think it’s time for a break.
This has become longer than I anticipated, so I’ll finish up with this: Maybe George Lucas has indeed ruined a classic series for you, be it Star Wars or Indiana Jones, but please remember that those series’ wouldn’t have even existed without Lucas. And, you have to admit, having a something ruined is better than never having it at all. You hated Episode I? Imagine if Episodes IV, V, and VI never existed. You can thank George Lucas for those films and the great memories that come with them.
**For those of you who share my viewpoint and/or my love of Star Wars, I recommend you check the Forcecast podcast from www.theforce.net (also available on iTunes). The lengthy weekly show contains all the information you could hope for from the Star Wars world, along with some very funny segments (my personal favorite is the always hilarious “Billy Dee Williams Quote of the Week”). The best part of the show, though, is the fact that the differences between the OT and the PT come up often and the hosts (Jason and Jimmy) are willing to admit that there are parts they don’t care for from each trilogy. They even poke fun at Lucas himself at times (Jason does a great Lucas impression). These are not blind fan boys. Lately, they’ve acknowledged the rivalry between Star Wars and Star Trek and this has led to some great discussions. I say discussions rather than rants because the hosts are actually Star Trek fans, so it’s more about the comparison of the two series’ rather than a childish “Star Wars is the best!” argument. Though Star Wars is favored over Trek, of course, and rightfully so.