Friday, March 11, 2005

First Thoughts

Star Wars Prequels - (n) 1. Three of the greatest movie trailers ever.


The IMs I've been getting from people have been coming more fast and furious as of late.

"Did you see the Peruvian trailer?"
"Dude, did you catch the OC?"
"Are you going to be waiting in line?"

Yes, Star Wars fever has has taken off once again, and I wasn't at the bus stop to catch a ride. My level of caring is down considerably this time. Burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me... burn me three times? What kind of sick masochist do you take me for?

Nobody can ever tell me that my dislike for George Lucas's latest installments of Star Wars proves that I am not a true Star Wars fan. Many people with the attitude that I have held for the past 6 years believe in the contrary, that we are such fans of the original product that it's hard for us to accept Episodes I, II, and the upcoming III since they are undeniably weak when held up to their cinematic predeccesors. I like Jedi and lightsabers, but simply placing one on a movie screen and telling me it's Star Wars doesn't give me goosebumps. If that were true, I would download every amateur-made fanfilm on the internet and sit at home all day fondling myself.

Yes, before you question, I was one of those fools who waited outside their local theater for days, breathlessly waiting to be completely burned by soulless fireworks show that was The Phantom Menace. And in the true spirit of "Fool me once," I managed to scrape the bottom of the barrel for a shred of optimism and camp out for a single night for Episode II. I walked away from the theater clutching at straws that it had been an improvement since Jar-Fest '99, but after a single night's sleep I knew I had seen much less than what I had hoped for.

Episode III is the great white hope of the prequels. The last great hurrah. Anakin's last step. Even if previous installments hadn't delivered any powerful hits, they still offered up the setup to the knockout blow. This was the logic that my generation has tried to grasp onto. The rumor mill, however, is proving less than accomodating.

Sources from and close to the Ranch, sources that I trust, describe George Lucas as going around with the latest edit of Episode III, searching for help on how to save it. The same George Lucas that proclaimed he would make his movies any way he pleased, the fans would just have to *deal*, rather than admit his return to science fiction was less than a smashing success.

If this is true, and if what my ears are hearing, Episode III is a disaster. People's reported responses to Oh Flanneled One have been more hands off than anything, usually only offering moral support and the reasoning that it's his film and that ne needs to find it in the edit, as they traditionally have with all 6 films. Reports that even the original Star Wars was a mess until the editors completely reworked it has been verified and written about in several books and behind the scenes articles.

But George... Proud George Lucas... shopping it around and asking advice? It only serves as confirmation that any hope we had of a good Star Wars flick during this era was a pipe dream.

One has to assume, of course, that if the film is so far gone as to get a second or third opinion, that no amount of second guessing is going to save it. We all knew that Lucas left to his own devices and surrounded by yes-men would result in a mediocre offering. But it's gone on for too long without someone putting on the breaks because, hey, why stop when it's making money? It's really sad, because look at the situation:

A guy that hasn't directed a film since 1976 and hasn't fully written a screenplay since 1981 decides he wants to personally write and direct 3 films for a budget of 350 million dollars. And due to the fact that it's his money, the answer is "Of course, sir, whatever you say."

And then the first one falls flat. And the second one continues on. And then the third. The Emperor's New Clothes comes to mind. George Lucas parading himself down the street, everyone quiet until a little boy finally shouts "Hey! These films suck!" But nobody in the ranch ever did, and now we're stuck with the prequels we're given.

George, Anakin has turned into a horrible character. You set him up in the original trilogy as a guy that had good in him, someone that needed redemption. But nowhere in the new movies do I ever see that great guy. I see a whiny brat, a self-assured ego trip. The self proclaimed greatest Jedi ever. Oh, and he plans on being immortal. Because, hey, he's just that good.

And I hear crap all the time as George's strengths as a "visual director", but seems as this is a code word for "Can't direct actors". Only George Lucas could take the talents of Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Hayden Christensen and make them all look like community theater rejects. As Harrison Ford once said, "You can write this shit, George, but you can't say it." This is probably the closest anyone has ever come to telling George the truth. It seems as though he has done everything in his power since to keep those honest voices as far away from him as possible.

I have a lot of respect for George Lucas as a pioneer and someone willing to go to ridiculous lengths to make the movie he wants to make and keep the studios and others out of the mix. However, trying to respect him as a filmmaker is like trying to respect the Backstreet Boys as musicians. Sure, you made a lot of money. It proves nothing.

It's sad that I'll go into watching Episode III with such a negative expectation. On the flipside, maybe i'll be able to enjoy it because I won't be expecting Citizen Kane. But inside my inner fanboy cries a little bit with each doomsday rumor and disgusted leak.

It wasn't supposed to be like this, George. You always said these movies weren't made for the fans. Well, then, who *were* they made for? Cause obviously, *you* don't like them that much.

-Chris

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