Why I Hate George Lucas (and you should too)

Over at the Kulture Klub, we all had to endure a recent nerd-filled chatterfest about pointless Star Wars trivia. (Seriously, look at those geeks in the comments section. Sure glad I’m not them). That may have been a fun thread, but trust me, folks — this one is sure to be much more cathartic. Indeed, consider it long overdue therapy at no charge.

As you all know, Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is opening exactly one month from today, and I think it’s time we all release our collective, pent-up angst at George Lucas for how he’s ruined the Star Wars experience; might as well get it out now, so that when you head for the theatre, you’ll have already processed your rage and you’ll have lower expectations, ensuring a consequently less-torturous cinematic experience overall.

(Some might say that this thread would be more appropriate elsewhere, but since Boy George Evans and the other powers-that-be over there didn’t see fit to invite me to participate in their little cinematic & musical love-in, I see no reason to respect their monopoly on all ‘Nacle discussions of geeky films.)

For those wondering what possible “Mormon” connection there is to any of this, I would kindly point out that: (1) George Lucas is Mormon; (2) the “Force” is the Priesthood; and (3) Yoda is President Kimball. Enough said. Or if not, perhaps those of a more philosophical bent can discuss whether and to what extent George’s apparent church inactivity relates in some way to why his movies suck so hard.

Just to give you a little context on my relationship with Star Wars: When Episode I came out, I went to see a 6:00 pm showing the day after it was released. Less than two minutes into the film, something went wrong in the projector room, and although the picture kept rolling, the sound was lost and replaced by tunes from a local radio station. Since Liam Neeson’s and Ewan McGregor’s lightsaber choreography didn’t seem to mesh too well with that country twang blaring in the background, the audience went into an understandable uproar. This culminated in a lynch mob of movie-goers streaming out of the theatre and angrily confronting the poor manager, who said he couldn’t rewind the tape, so we would have to just keep watching as he restored the sound. This was met, naturally, with palpable threats of violence, which prompted the manager to invite us to come back to a later showing (which most of us did). And who exactly was it leading the lynch mob, you ask? … … … Do you really need to ask?

Anyway, I think it’s time we all air our many grievances with George. I’ll start. I’ll also try to include some of the less-frequently-observed problems with the Star Wars films. I make no claim to be exhaustive here — that’s your job.

I.  The Amidala-ville Horror

As best I can tell, Princess (or is she a Senator?) Amidala was directed so that her character would give off a regal, stoic air of understated dignity. It’s as if George is saying “Look at this young, hot chick. She could be so vivacious and immature, but instead she is wise and dignified beyond her years. Ooooooh! Isn’t that oh-so-sexy and/or mysterious!” Alas, the answer is an unqualified “no.” Instead, what Lucas manages to achieve is a character that comes off so deadpan, amateur and lifeless that she seems to be under heavy sedation, or at least played by an actress who doesn’t know her elbow from her @%#^#! In every scene in Episode I where Amidala opened her mouth, I literally wanted to crawl under my chair and weep. There was absolutely nothing digestible about her performance at all.

People tell me she’s actually a decent actress, and for all I know, maybe she is. I was at Harvard with Natalie Portman, and I saw her every now and then. Honestly, it was all I could do to keep myself from sneaking up behind her with a defibrillator and shocking that girl out of her monotone stupor. But, of course, I’m really not that kind of person.  In any event, I blame not Amidala, but George.

II. George Thinks You’re an Idiot

Did George really need to remind us of how Episode II relates to Episode IV? Admittedly, lots of movies assume the audience is stupid, and so decide to explain things to them with the subtlety of a gunshot to the head. (Think Zoolander literally spelling out who David Bowie is, or Jay and Silent Bob writing Mark Hammil’s name on the screen). But the ubiquitous cultural presence of Star Wars makes this even more irritating coming from Lucas.

Put differently…Gee, I sure am glad that George reminds the audience not once, but twice at the end of Episode II, what the “Death Star” is! Thank goodness, since all three people on Earth who hadn’t seen Episode IV before might not have known what was being talked about! Of course, perhaps George just figured we were in danger of forgetting about that big explosion at the end of Episode IV? Yeah, that’s about as likely as me forgetting that Frodo and Sam are gay (i.e., it’s not going to happen).

III. Lines that Make you go “Bleccccccch!”

In his review of Episode I, Roger Ebert complained that “there isn’t a single line of memorable dialogue in the entire film.” Roger was wrong. I remember at least one line quite vividly. Remember the pod-racing scene? At one point, just as a pod-racer crashes, one of the race “MCs” actually blurts out this little gem: “I don’t care what Universe you’re from … that’s GOTTA hurt!” Good grief, George, was that supposed to be funny? You’ve conjured up this amazing universe of diverse creatures, technologies and special effects, and you figure what this movie really needs is some slapstick dialogue? Somebody hand me a blaster, cause George needs to be taken out behind the Mos Eisley cantina and shot.

Only marginally less grimace-inducing was the scene in Episode II when young Anakin jumps out of the speeder, leaving young Obi-Wan to actually turn to the audience and proclaim: “I hate it when he does that!” Um… George, what is this, Alfie? Malcolm in the Middle? I honestly cannot imagine what made Lucas think having a main character make cute comments to the theatre-goers was a good idea in a Star Wars film.

Then there’s the fact that all of Yoda’s words of wisdom in the last two films have been about as profound as that belch emanating from the Mighty Sarlaac in the Pit of Karkoon. At least in Episode V we got “Do or do not. There is no try,” and other assorted nuggets. Now Yoda just spews out forgettable pablum, and I think we’re entitled to expect more from someone who’s supposedly been collecting useful one-liners for at least 900 years. (An aside: If Yoda is 900 years old in Episodes IV & V, shouldn’t he be like 870 in Episodes I & II? So why does he seem more like a youthful 500? Very disconcerting, I must say.) One more dismal example of Lucas’ sheer inability to write.

IV.  The Linguistic Trainwreck

One of the few problems I have with the Star Wars films generally (i.e., that applies to all the films across the board) is the rather thoughtless way that Lucas handles the execution of alien dialogue. No, I’m not complaining about the way Chewbacca grunts incomprehensibly, yet everyone seems to understand him; I actually think that’s kind of cute. (Besides, I grew up arguing with my mother about whether cats and dogs really do have their own complex languages — just like in cartoons — that humans just can’t understand). I also don’t expect to be able to identify the complex grammatical features of Jawa-speak.

However, I do expect at least a tiny bit of effort to make the alien dialogue and accents seem authentic or believable. So, for example, why is that when the various alien races are jabbering onscreen, I find myself engaged in the politically incorrect game of “Name that Ethnicity,” rather than immersed in the action? As best as I can remember, those Neimoidian trade viceroys in Episode I were played by Chinese mobsters, who occasionally spoke with a slight French accent. Jar-Jar’s Caribbean-pidgin is a bit more exotic, but not exotic enough to prevent me from wondering whether he’s going to break into a rendition of Bobbie McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” at any moment. The fact that I’m even remembering this stuff is a really bad sign.

On a different note, remember the scene at Jabba’s Palace when Princess Leia shows up, disguised as a bounty hunter with Chewbacca in tow, to collect the ransom? Remember the conversation that ensues? I admit I’m no intergalactic linguist, but I simply will not believe that there is any language in the Universe in which the phrase “Yo-to. Yo-to,” when properly translated, means “I’m holding a thermal detonator.” Puh-leeez. There are other examples of this kind of thing. But why even analyze all this, really? The bottom line is that Lucas probably told the actors “Just mumble something here, guys, and we’re cool.” The man was not even trying. This is simply inexcusable. The dedicated and observant fan is left to console himself with useful linguistic trivia gleaned from paying close attention to certain scenes. Thus, one can at least recall the Jabba–Han Solo interchange in Episode III and note that the phrase “Bantha fodder,” translated into Huttese, is pronounced “Bantha poodoo.” That’s a useful piece of knowledge to drop at cocktail parties, to be sure, or perhaps at the next Bloggernacle get-together.

V. Conclusion

Suffice it to say there is much more to say, but I don’t want to focus on the incredibly obvious. Thus, I will refrain from complaining any further about Jar-Jar Binks, except to say that of the countless complaints lodged against him, I pretty much agree with ALL of them (x100). I swear if Jar-Jar annoys me one more time in Episode III, I may have to sever relations with all my Jamaican friends.I really loved the Star Wars films as a kid. Really I did. 95% of my daydreaming (which is to say, 90% of my total awake time) revolved around them, along with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

It is thus inevitable that, on or about May 19, 2005, I will become really excited to see Episode III, regardless of how much I know it’s going to blow. I will enter the theatre, my heart will race as the opening sequence begins, and I will remain transfixed most of the time. I will wince at the lousy dialogue, and I will periodically want to hide under my chair — most probably when Amidala says something retarded in her monotone schtick. Then I’ll go home pissed, and the endless bitching will begin. And to be honest, I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Why do you hate George Lucas?

Comments

  1. danithew says:

    I think this third movie has the potential to be ok because the material is more serious and dark in its nature. And it appears there will be some kind of lava or fire planet …

    Another benefit is that Lucas has led us to this point where we hate so many of the “good” characters. If we really are lucky, we can cheer on Anakin as he kills all of them. But I hope he kills Jar-Jar Binks quickly … I couldn’t bear to listen to him being tortured.

  2. I agree. George Lucas made exactly one good movie: American Graffiti.

  3. Matt Jacobsen says:

    I recently saw Natalie Portman in both Garden State and The Professional and can confidently say that she is a real actress in those movies.

    I was a fan of the first trilogy as a kid and have been disappointed with the latest incarnation. I’ve learned to take your approach of not setting my expectations too high. Just sit back and enjoy the movies for what they are — fun stories fit for a 10-year-old imagination.

    The first trilogy had its fair share of slapstick, bad acting, and stupid dialogue. What we’re missing is the Han-Leia interaction — looking back that made a tremendous difference in those movies.

  4. I think that the following expresses many complaints better than I ever could:

    http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/1999/06/15/brin_main/index.html

    Of course that won’t stop me from going to see Ep3 in the vain hope that it will be more entertaining than the last two.

  5. Jonathan Green says:

    What I hate: Jedi Knights.

    I first saw Episode IV when I was seven, one of the first movies I ever saw in a theater. Ep V in fourth grade, Ep VI in sixth. I grew up and spent my adult years thinking that Jedi Knights were masters of the universe.

    Ep I was decent, I thought, but Ep II was indescribably awful. The only time I started to get excited was when a whole truckload of light-sabre-wielding Jedi Knights show up to set things aright…and they get wasted by a bunch of robtots and have to get saved by storm troopers. As I was watching my childhood dreams dissolve before my eyes, the severed head of C-3PO is delivering bad laugh lines.

    That, and Ewoks, too.

  6. 1. You can’t say “I have a bad feeling about this” when you’re tied up and you see monsters coming to attack & kill you. (It has to be a moment when nothing is wrong at the time but there is a sense of foreboding.)

    2. Anakin and Amidala. The sappiness of their so-called falling in love is too too much. I can’t stand those scenes in the meadow. And this line: “I’ve been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life.” >gag

  7. D. Fletcher says:

    I have to agree with all of this. The only Star Wars film worth anything is Star Wars itself (I refuse to call it A New Hope — sounds like a village in Pennsylvania). Star Wars was technologically ahead of its time (I mean, film technology) and brought excitement and wonder back to the movies, along with bad writing, acting and incoherence. Star Wars is the only one of the films that had a beginning, middle and end — all the others depend upon former (and later) movies to make any sense at all. Star Wars has a great, retro music score, which has been thoroughly decimated through the various sequels. But giving it mythic stature is really beyond the pale. There is no coherent mythology here. Notably, in Episode 1, the mother of Darth Vader notes that she conceived without sex. Huh? She’s the Madonna? These movies are terrible excuses for entertainment — I’d rather watch Seinfeld or The Band Wagon, eight days a week.

  8. D, you make a very good point about the original Star Wars being ahead of its time. George Lucas showed what a true moron he was when he released a digitally enhanced version of Star Wars, thereby destroying much of what made the film decent in the first place.

    Nevertheless, some people at the time considered Annie Hall to be a bad choice for best picture that year, and were disappointed that it beat Star Wars. I think its fair to say that in retrospect Annie Hall was the obvious choice. Time has, at any rate, been much kinder to Woody Allen than George Lucas.

  9. Aaron Brown says:

    A few scattered points:

    1. I don’t agree that the dialogue is ever as bad in Episodes IV, V & VI as it was in I and II, though it may be that I can’t judge the earlier films fairly, since they were such a huge part of my childhood imagination. (Look at how Yoda is written then vs. now, to really see the difference, IMO).

    2. Agreed that the Han-Leia interaction is one of the best elements of the earlier films.

    3. The whole Hayden Christensen-brooding teenage angst bit got old after about 10 minutes.

    4. With Arturo, I also really hated the new digital effects added to IV, V & VI, but with the exception of Jurassic Park, I hate computer-generated effects in virtually ALL movies, so I’m not sure this counts for much.

    5. I’ve never had the problem with VI (compared to IV and V) that others seem to have.

    6. There are so many bad scenes with young Anakin; the melodramatic scene with Amidala on Tatooine right after Anakin kills the sand-people is one of the all-time worst.

    7. That little kid who played Anakin in Episode I can’t act to save his life, and I don’t care who says I’m being too hard on a poor pre-teen. That’s life.

    Aaron B

  10. Steve,

    I beg of you, give Aaron a way to post on Kulturblog. He’s breaking my heart.

    Aaron B,

    You didn’t have to audition.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    Brian, Aaron was invited to KB back in the early days, and has yet to accept the invite. He likes to pretend like he’s all hurt, etc. for not being a part of the A/V club, but we all know the truth.

  12. Lucas went to h*** starting with Return of the Jedi. He hired someone with little or no film experience, added in the Ewoks and took what was the strongest story of the trilogy (now the. . .what’s the word for six?) and made it the weakest of the series until he started the prequels.

    Then he redoes them with the whole Solo shoots last (which was in the new DVDs changed to Solo shoots at the same time). This sucks. What would Jack Bauer do? Probably grab Gweedo and start breaking fingers demanding where Jaba is. I mean this is supposed to be a pirate in the tough town of Mos Eisley?

    Then instead of setting things up by starting the prequels with Anakin as a teenager, he does this whole kid things which was silly and embarrassing. Not just because Jar-Jar actually made the Ewoks seems enjoyable and tough. Because he tried to have climax with way too much stuff going on with a plot that made no sense and that involved taxes and trade unions. He mixed really sophisticated and mature with childish fantasy. It didn’t work. The he has a villain with no foreshadowing of how touch he is. He just shows up at the end. Pointless.

    I could go on about the second one. It had a few good scenes. But yeah, the Jedis bugged me. Actually the whole droid army always seemed weak. But riddle me this batman. If Jedi could take out those droids so easily and if the Jedi from the first film was among the toughest, then why did he and Obi-wan get their butts in trouble from a few droids on that ship and have to flee to the planet?

    Oh it all bugs me so much.

    But I’ll probably see it. But the films aren’t good by any stretch of the imagination.

    Fortunately Batman is coming out this summer.

  13. I agree with heather, the love stuff is the WORST part of it all. Ick. Ick. Ick. Just about everything about it is awkward.

  14. So many here have testified that they KNOW the next film will suck but are going to see it anyway? Riddle me this, who is lamer: George Lucas or the people who continue to see his terrible films. I have no doubt that if George Lucas put a camera on a steaming pile of crap for three hours and called it Episode VII it would still gross over $100 million.

  15. D. Fletcher says:

    Sorry to chime in, but even though I’m not crazy about most of the Star Wars films, I think it’s pretty mean to say we HATE George Lucas. He’s just a filmmaker who wants a good product, like everybody else. I might disagree with him about what makes a good product, but he has certainly done a lot of good for the industry (Industrial Light and Magic, for instance, provided spectacular effects for movies long before the advent of CGI). I also don’t hate the Star Wars movies, but I hate the fact that they became the standard-bearer for exciting family pictures, and this isn’t the fault of Lucas at all but his foolish audience.

  16. D., I agree with you. I don’t hate Lucas, though I am a bit upset of what Lucas has done with his franchise. But Lucas has pioneered digital effects, digital projection and many other developments.

    I just don’t like how he took the Priesthood and associated it with mitichlorians.

  17. D.,

    Even worse than no ILM is this: No George Lucas, no Pixar!

  18. “I just don’t like how he took the Priesthood and associated it with mitichlorians.”

    Not only that, Princess Leia has it.

  19. The thing is, the first three at least appeared to have some thought put into them.

    The prequels don’t seem to be thought through at all.

    Example (one of my pet-peeve parts of the prequels):

    A big ten-ton piece of machinery is about to fall on 150-pound Annakin and squash him flat. Yoda is engaged in a lightsaber fight with the eveil dude, with a chance to win it.

    Yoda uses the force to stop the ten-ton piece of machinery, rather than scoot the 150-pound Jedi out of the way. Evil dude escapes.

    Yeah, those Jedi, they’re very smart. Very wise, that Yoda.

  20. Frank McIntyre says:

    1. Lisa and Heather, I absolutely agree that those scenes are awful, I mean really awful. But Anakin’s love scenes with Amidala are crucial to understanding his character. Let’s face it, if you had to go through that tortuous relationship, wouldn’t you yearn to become a Dark Lord?

    2. I am still hoping that, before confronting the Emperor, Mace Windu wanders over to Jar-Jar Binks’ apartments and lops his head off. This could easily redeem the series.

    3. I have a five year old boy and we have been re-watching the first trilogy, which he loved to watch until he got hit with incredibles fever. There are silly things and plenty of poor acting, but it was still way better. “I’m nice men.” makes up for dozens of lame lines in the first trilogy.

  21. I was gravely disapointed with the the first and hardly remember second.A bad sign that it was so utterly fogettable. But what I have to say is this…

    Ewan is well, dreamy, only way to put it. A quality I admire and I just might be willing to put up with all kinds of SW whoredomes to gawk at his dreaminess.

    I know, nobody wanted to hear it, but it had to be said.

  22. Anon, I haven’s seen Episode II, and I have no plans of seeing Episode III.

    D. Fletcher, I do not think that it’s a little strong to hate Lucas. When I think of how much of the GDP was frittered away because of lost productivity relating to the premieres of his worse-than-awful movies, it makes my blood boil. I have Lucas more than Nephi hated sin.

    Ok, I’m only kidding. I only hate Lucas in the proverbial sense that people hate celebrities who aren’t actually real to them as people; i.e., I throw around strong words about him in conversation, but my feelings are more reflective of indifference. Nevertheless, would you seek deny me the pleasure of a bit of hyperbole at the expense of someone who can cry about it all the way to the bank?

  23. First of all, (sigh) Frodo and Sam are not gay. I realize men are uncomfortable with loving friendships but they were not so uptight about being considered “gay” years ago.

    OK, on to Lucas, who should not write his own films. He has so much money, he should pay a screenwriter. Remember Ep V, the best Star Wars movie ever? Coming off several personal crises, Lucas released some of the reigns (including the writing) and the result was wonderful.

    Ep I sucked like Ep VI, Ep II sucked like it’s own suckiness. Ep III? Who knows. I’ll be there to check it out, of course.

    I would like to say that my hubby was a total Star Wars FREAK until Ep I, at which point I handed him the LOTR trilogy books and said “read some REAL fantasy.” Those books, followed by Jackson’s excellent movies, have left poor hubby filled but bereft–he feels Lucas dropped the ball somewhere, bigtime. I told him it all began with the script, and then the BAD BAD casting.

  24. Aaron, check out the movie Beautiful Girls. Natalie Portman is the highlight of a (IMHO) dang good movie.

    I don’t know where to begin complaining about Episode II. Nothing about it worked for me. The storyline was a hopeless mess. Anakin’s descent was contrived and predictable. The romantic scenes were excruciating. Not even the title made sense, as the clones never attacked, but only helped defend a handful of Jedis. And the plot was either full of holes or I’m just too dumb to understand it.

  25. D. Fletcher says:

    If Frodo and Sam aren’t gay, then those movies are totally ruined for me.

  26. Did anyone notice that the picture of Benedict XVI on the Drudge Report looked exactly like the Emperor?

  27. Nate Oman says:

    What Aaron said. Every word of it.

    Aaron, I wouldn’t sell-out and start blogging on their snooting culture blog. The hurt resentment definitely increases the quality of your blogging. Over there you would simply be another one of Steve’s movie kibbitzing minions.

  28. D. Fletcher says:

    Now I know what Nate really thinks of me.

    :)

  29. Nate, I’d invite you if you knew anything about kultur…

  30. Aaron,
    …or you could move over to T&S and be one of Kaimi’s (barely-Mormon-related) law kibitzing minions. (yes, I did have to look up the word “kibitzing” and yes, Nate spelled it wrong)

  31. Anon (#14) you should ask who is lamer. You should ask, “who is the greater fool? The fool or the fool who follows him?”

  32. “kibbitz” is a variant spelling of “kibitz.” That’s how I would spell it too.

  33. William Morris says:

    Those who can — snoot. Those who can’t….

  34. And why, WHY???? did they nickname him “Annie?” If they had even used “Kinny” that would have sounded vaguely like a masculine name? WHY???

  35. Aaron Brown says:

    Good question, Janey, but I for one will be nothing but pleased if Anakin breaks into his own rendition of “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow” or “It’s a Hard Knock LIfe” at some point in Episode III. Unlikely, you say? Given the atrocities already committed by George, I wouldn’t put anything past him.

    Aaron B

  36. Aaron Brown says:

    Thanks for your support, Nate. This whole post was designed solely to get you to come over here and periodically acknowledge the existence of your bastard child, BCC.

    Rusty — Nate misspells most words, so his butchering of “kibitzing” is really not at all noteworthy. :)

    Aaron B

  37. I really do apologize for doing this, but my project here at work was just so boring.

    Introducing Annie, the redheaded orphan Jedi.

    The Force’ll come back
    Darth Vader
    Bet your bottom credit
    That A New Hope
    will have Force!

    Just thinkin’ about
    that sequel
    Clears away the Dark Side,
    And the prequels
    ‘Til there’s none!

    When I’m stuck in a show
    That’s lame,
    And painful,
    I just stick out my mask
    And brood,
    And wheeze,
    Oh!

    Luke has redeemed
    this series
    So ya gotta hang on ’til
    there’s Star Wars
    Come what may!
    A New Hope! The sequel!
    I love ya, oh Star Wars!
    You’re only
    A click
    A way!

  38. Seth Rogers says:

    Episodes I and II didn’t have to be outstanding (I wouldn’t even argue that the originals were like that), but they did have to be likeable.

    Episodes IV, V, and VI were likeable. They had charm and were entertaining. They were all well-put together pieces of entertainment. That’s why they succeeded.

    Episodes I and II were miserable failures in all these respects. Even Independence Day was better than these disgraces (and that’s saying something).

    Oh yeah, and not only was Jar Jar Binks completely un-funny, he was also the most racist stereotype we’ve had in a film since actors used to put on black-face in the 1930s. The African-American community was rightly outraged.

    By the way, check out the first season of the comic strip “The Boondocks” for a dead-on treatment of Jar Jar (and this movie).

    These movies didn’t have to be as beloved as the first three. But they should have at least aspired to be “good movies.”

    My recommendations to make these movies at least watchable:

    Episode I

    1. Remove all of Jar Jar except for maybe the part where he guides them to the Gungan city. Then they LEAVE Jar Jar there! Maybe he can show up for ten seconds to guide them to the Gungan refugees later in the film.

    2. Remove C-Threepio entirely. Darth Vader built C-Threepio?! Give me a freaking break!

    3. Remove half of young Anakin’s screen time. This should leave a few introductory lines and Anakin’s pod-racing scene and THAT’S IT. None of this “watch me accidentally save the world in my starfighter!” kind of garbage.

    Now we’ve removed the worst offenders. We need something to replace it with.

    1. Show more of Darth Maul and his master. Explore their relationship a bit.

    2. More air-time with Qui-gon and Obi-wan. Explore the master-apprentice relationship here. This should juxtapose nicely with the Maul-Sidius scenes.

    3. Get a hint of romantic tension between Padme and Obi-wan going. Nothing overt, just a hint will do for now.

    Episode II

    1. C-Threepio is gone, as mentioned earlier.

    2. Obi-wan and Amidala are struggling with their feelings for each other, but both are too honorable to let it go anywhere. Anakin, of course, resents this.

    3. Anakin’s dialogue with Padme will have to be completely reworked in just about every romance scene. This stuff just isn’t salvageable. He’s got to play the quiet “bad-boy” type instead of the spoiled brat who can’t have his way. Honestly, how on earth did she fall in love with this guy?

    4. More of Christopher Lee.

  39. Seth Rogers says:

    About the only things I liked about Episodes I and II were:

    1. John Williams

    2. The lightsaber duel with Darth Maul.

    (ninja-Yoda was a bit much, even if it was kinda cool).

  40. Aaron Brown says:

    Great stuff, Janey. I’ll be closing my eyes, ducking my head, and singing your song during a few scenes in Episode III, I’m sure of it.

    Seth — Lucas is unlikely to heed your requests, but rest assured that in about 20 years, he’ll issue some re-releases with brand-new computer effects that will make the movies much worse than they already are (if that’s possible).

    Aaron B

  41. Seth Rogers says:

    Forgive me Aaron.

    Simply the bitter rantings of one of the faithful. I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed at the theater since Star Trek V.

    No wait … there was Neverending Story Part II. I guess I have to admit that the Phantom Menace wasn’t quite THAT bad.

  42. This comment is for all of you poor saps who once loved Star Wars (yes, you Aaron Brown) and now are haters. Everyone else who has never gotten much out of any of the movies; feel free to hate Jar-Jar all you want.

    But as for you other betrayers—I feel bad for you. No one seems to understand that Star Wars is like Neverland–once you grow up it’s almost impossible to go back. Sure you may look back fondly at Episodes IV-VI but only because you were a kid when you saw them. But now it is so popular and trendy to sit around and complain that the new movies stink, George Lucas is an idiot, blah, blah, blah.

    Well of course, this reveals much more about the whiners than it does the movies. Allow me to let all you nay-sayers in on a little secret—all the movies suffer from the same flaws. They all have bad dialogue, silly aliens, crappy actors (with rare exceptions), and strange plot points. But it’s an inconsistent position to say the old 3 movies were good and the new ones stink. Star Wars hasn’t changed—you have. In a movie era of the “what is real?” Matrix genres with their wink-wink plot lines populated with the jaded, sarcastic anti-heroes, is it any wonder you have lost your sense of wonder? It is sad that your souls are dark with the pollution of the age of irony.

    And so you curse George Lucas for his innocent, swashbuckling fantasy adventures that themselves are throw-backs to a more innocent age of Saturday serials. But the reality is that you are merely cursing the loss of your own innocence, your own inability to see Star Wars for what it STILL is—a timeless, magical, captivating adventure that draws out the adventurous innocence of good vs. evil.

    My sons remind why I love all the Star Wars movies, warts and all—because in their minds every stick becomes a light saber and every playtime can be filled with noble, heroic deeds which conquer and even redeem the forces of darkness. So, as for this true-believer, I will be there opening night with my boys and I will share in their youthful excitement and wonder at the birth of the best villain in cinema history. And on that night, the galaxy that for you ranting cynics will remain far, far away will be still be close to my heart and the heart of all those who have not lost what it is that Star Wars did for them when they were young.

  43. Jonathan Green says:

    No, Derek, I know how to tell the difference between a) having more discriminating tastes in cinema as an adult and b) suckful beyond all that which doth suck. “Attack of the Clones” was not just bad, but so bad that it made the other episodes worse.

    Watching AotC on DVD is better, though, because you can set the language to French and pretend that all the dialogue is witty and sophisticated.

  44. Actually, all Star Wars movies are better in French…”Luc, je suis ton pere.”

    “Noooooooooon”

  45. Aaron Brown says:

    Very eloquently put, Derek, but quite frankly, I think you need to put down the bong, and give up the weed. I don’t know what you’re smoking, but I do know you’re dead wrong. Period. There’s just no way you can argue that all the episodes are similar in quality and expect to be taken seriously. Episodes IV, V & VI do not have Jar-Jar. The Ewoks don’t even come close. It’s one thing to say those episodes weren’t written by Shakespeare, but altogether different to pretend that their scripts compared to Lucas’ more recent, amateur crap. Lucas lost whatever he once had, and there’s just no way around it.

    Incidently, I don’t agree with those that say Episode II was worse than Episode I. They both inspire me to vomit, but Episode II definitely moreso than Episode I. Phantom Menace had absolutely no dramatic tension, and at least Amidala was a teeny-weeny bit less annoying in Attack of the Clones.

    Aaron B

  46. Jonathan,

    My point is, if you used to love the original movies, your “discriminating tastes” are just an excuse for blaming Lucas for the warts that have been there along, but what your jaded, cancored soul now sees as “suckful.” I am merely advocating that you can shrug at the strange cureloms and cumoms of the Star Wars saga without resorting to watching it in French (although I’m sure the painful, forced romantic dialogue in Episode II would be more palatable in French. BTW-if it’s such a bad movie, why did you get the DVD?) Allowing yourself to be swept along in a thrilling fantasy space-adventure like you did when you were 10 requires some extra effort as an adult (and perhaps a youthful fan to help you remember)—but I have found that the rewards are worth it.

    Yes, I will suffer the slings and arrows of the high-minded, trendy, Star Wars-bashing “critics” for my choice, but I’ll still get goosebumps from the 20th Century Fox fanfare and opening scroll of Episode III, while the deadened hearts of the critics will feel nothing. So stop blaming Lucas for making the movies he’s always made and just go along for the ride.

    And if you are looking for witty and sophisticated dialogue, all you jaded once-upon-a-time fans are merely “stuck-up…half-witted…scruffy-looking…Nerf-herder(s)!”

  47. Derek, do I know you? Your arguments sound familiar.

  48. Derek, both the first trilogy and the second trilogy are like neverland. Unfortunately the new trilogy is Michael Jackson’s neverland – not a good place to be.

  49. Derek, if you love George Lucas so much, why don’t you just marry him.

  50. Aaron B,

    Put down my bong? I’d just as soon kiss a wookie! But I promise to cut back on my intake if you admit that you are a bit naïve. If Episodes IV-VI were released today after I-III, they would be slammed for exactly the same reasons you mentioned in your post and many others. You can imagine the criticisms:
    Episode IV—Leia’s faux-English accent? Gut wrenchingly bad. Campy dialogue? Plenty of lines that make you go bleccchhh!
    Episode V—You call that a plot twist? Puleaz! At least the “Sixth Sense” gave me a thrill. And Yoda? Didn’t the Muppet Show go off the air in the 80s?
    Episode VI—Another Death Star? George Lucas definitely thinks you’re an idiot! Cuddly teddy bear planet? I’ll take jive-talking Gungans anyday.
    And on and on the critics would go. So please don’t pretend Episodes IV-VI don’t suffer from exactly the same complaints you throw at I-III.

    You can’t have it both ways. Sure, looking back through the haze of fond remembrance and appreciating the smily-face campiness of the late 70s you can love the original 3 movies. But honestly seen through today’s cynical post-modern movie world-view, they would be ridiculed and dismissed just as easily you dismiss the newest 3 movies.

    And finally, since this is a Church blog, I’ll use a Church anology. Just as apostate Mormons who were once believers continue to fight against the truth and just can’t seem to leave it alone, apostate Star Wars fans just can’t leave it alone either. They keep going to the movies, keep buying the DVDs, and keep spouting their petty criticisms but all they can do in the end is kick against the pricks.

    And all of you will owe me an apology after you see Episode III and are converted again. Unless it sucks. And then, well…I’ll always have the Star Wars Holiday Special.

  51. Brian G—Perhaps you sense something, a presence you’ve not felt since…we saw Episode I together at Magic Johnson theater? Yes, I’m still keeping the faith, even in Japan (where Episode III won’t open until a week or two later—damn!).

  52. Ah, Derek, young padawan, how can I forget sitting down with you and the two duffle bags full of candy and snacks you snuck into the Magic Johnson theater for the most anticipated film of all time, only to watch the first ten minutes of it with no sound, and then to have the sound restored, only to wish it would break again.

    I remember walking out of the theater, my mind incapable of computing that I had seen a bad Star Wars movie. True, I convinced myself it was good, for a time, but as everyone knows, denial is the first step of the grieving process.

    And, young padawan, you must also remember when we saw Episode II in Santa Monica and you too had your moment of doubt and pain. You can’t tell me you liked Episode II. I saw the shock and dismay on your face. You nearly lost your Lucas testimony right there.

    But I commend you for maintaining your childlike innocence and faith.

    In fact, this is you, Derek: “I know this new trilogy is true. (whisper, whisper) I love my ewoks. (whisper, whisper) Jar Jar Binks is a prophet. (whisper, whisper) Name of George Lucas, Amen.”

    Seriously, though, we miss you. Move back to L.A. Say hello to the wife and kids.

  53. Brian G—
    Like all good things, you cannot receive a witness until after the trial of your faith. Yes, Episode II severely tested my faith in Lucas (how could it not—there’s more chemistry in bird droppings than there was between Anakin and Padme). But now I am back on the strait and narrow, and George could throw some chimps wielding bamboo poles with light-saber sound effects up there and I would stand in line to see it. And I’m bummed I won’t be in LA to see Episode III with you. You’ll have to smuggle the sandwiches and pudding in without me.

  54. Jonathan Green says:

    Derek: You’re assuming that Episode II haters have lost the capacity for wonder and the willingness to be swept away by their imaginations. It’s not the case. For example, I enjoyed “Agent Cody Banks”–not by any means great cinema, but the best of the juvenile secret agent genre so far, I think, and better than any of the “Spy Kids” movies–at least as much as my kids did. That didn’t prevent me from recognizing “Agent Cody Banks II” as perhaps the worst film of all time, a film compared to which “Attack of the Clones” is a work of great art. And my kids lost interest and wandered away from it while the DVD was still playing. Imagination and wonder cannot make up for utter and complete awfulness.

  55. Derek, you’re wrong about Episode IV on several accounts. First of all, it wasn’t just children that enjoyed the movie. It got quite a lot of critical acclaim and was nominated for 10 academy awards (including best picture, best supporting actor, best director, and best original screenplay). It was esteemed enough that for many years Annie Hall was referred to as the film that bested Star Wars.

    Some movies hold up well over time, others don’t. Episode IV has not, for many of the reasons you identify (Annie Hall, on the other hand, still shines 3 decades later). Star Wars is an OK movie with amazing special effects for its time (hence the reason it was so bone-headed to release it with new effects), a reasonably good plot (after all, it’s roughly a remake of John Ford’s The Searchers), and at least two good actors (Harrison Ford and Alec Guinness). Basically, I’d say it’s like American Graffiti 2 (remember that Lucas Gem?) but with a slightly better plot and stellar special effects. But trying to talk about its greatness in terms of the imagination of a kid is anachronistic and incorrect.

  56. The Searchers?? AT, no way. It’s lifted from Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortree, but not The Searchers, where the plot has very, very little in common.

    But again: why don’t our High Priests get lightsabers??

  57. Steve –

    I take it you’re not a High Priest…

  58. Aaron Brown says:

    Sorry, Derek. I’d say we’re just going to have to agree to disagree, except that disagreement with a perma-blogger is not permitted around here, so repent, you fiend of the eternal pit! And put down both bongs, please.

    Aaron B

  59. I can no longer sit and watch this discussion in silence while the absolute far and away worst line of all of Star Wars still goes unquoted:

    Padme: “We used to come here for school retreat. We would swim to that island every day. I love the water. We used to lie out on the sand and let the sun dry us and try to guess the names of the birds singing.”

    Anakin: “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Everything here is soft and smooth.”

  60. Aaron Brown says:

    Sorry, Derek. I’d say we’re just going to have to agree to disagree, except that disagreement with a perma-blogger is not permitted around here, so repent, you fiend of the eternal pit! And put down both bongs, please.

    Aaron B

  61. You bunch of blasphemers! At least I didn’t try to hide my geekness behind an air of religious inquiry…. :o) Mock away at my lack of coolness Aaron Brown, the only difference between you and me is self-awareness. :O) (Two annoying emoticons because clearly I’m kidding…please don’t ban me Steve…)

  62. danithew says:

    Ryan, typing those lines out for others to read is irresponsible, brutal and dangerous. I’m just grateful I had a bite stick nearby.

    How did you still manage to be listening to specific dialogue by that point of the movie?

  63. Ryan, reading your quote those lines was surreal. Are those really lines from Episode II? My wife and I had almost exactly that same conversation at Utah Lake one beautiful spring afternoon when we were attending BYU in the early 90s!

  64. You are all joking, right? It’s going to make me feel really old to have to give everyone the ‘get a life’ lecture. There is only one thing you need to know about the Star Wars movies — they are all only intended to be just souped-up versions of the old Saturday serials. The standards for judging the Star Wars movies are Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, not Annie Hall or even LotR (written over decades by a brilliant Oxford don). Let it go and enjoy.

    Jim Lucas
    (just waiting for George to do his geneaology so we can find our common paternal ancestor back in the hills of Kentucky)

  65. Jim, don’t come between the snark and its prey.

  66. Finally Lucas has spoken! Even if it was Jim and not George. Well said JWL.

    Jonathan (#54)-you liked Agent Cody Banks? And you think my views on cinema are out of whack?

    Aaron Brown (#58)-Agree to disagree? Never! My final retort to your snide threat is: permablogger, shmermablogger. Bring it. But thanks for the great post nonetheless.

  67. Shannon Keeley says:

    All this talk about Star Wars, and no mention of that other great film, “STAR WARDS,” written and directed by Brian Gibson for the USC ward film festival of 1998. Now that’s a cinematic masterpiece. Derek should gave been nominated for an Oscar for his role as the guy who almost got strangled by Darth Vader (first counselor in the bishopric) because he didn’t want to give a talk in sacrament meeting. Derek’s wife Kristine and I headed up the costume department, sewing the Yoda ears late into the night and turning a diaper pail into R2D2.
    I cannot recall a single moment of Episode I at the Magic Johnson theater. But I DO remember that Derek brought an entire liter of soda (with cups for pouring) as well as pudding snacks (with spoons), large bags of chips (and salsa), and pre-popped popcorn.

  68. It’s a lot easier to smuggle non-pre-popped popcorn into the theatre — much less volume.

    Of course, it’s a bit crunchy, so the sound you make when eating it tends to give you away.

  69. D. Fletcher says:

    Even though JWL is my personal hero, he’s got this wrong…

    “they are all only intended to be just souped-up versions of the old Saturday serials”

    The exact thing that’s wrong with Star Wars, ALL of them, is their level of self-importance. They are trying to have mythic stature — Lucas has stated so himself. If they were merely souped-up serial pictures, they would be far more enjoyable, more on the level of his other franchise, the Indiana Jones movies.

    If the Star Wars movies were simply adventure movies set in a science-fiction past, they’d be a LOT more enjoyable than what they are now.

  70. I don’t know if anyone is serious about this or not, but George Lucas is not LDS. He is not on famous mormon’s website or LDSfilms.org. The fact is when he penned Star Wars ANH, he was having marriage dificulties and challenging his thoughts on christianity. Much of the religious structure was taken from chinese philosophy. He also studied numerous forms of mythologies to generate a truely contemporary mythos.

    The formula was that of a western, they nearly rode off into the sunset at the end. Most of what made the movie successful was the surprises and endings. Killing off primary characters early and exposing secrets that most of us today would wretch at with memories of soap operas. He was ahead of his time.

    The prequels have sucked because he reconciled his doubts about christianity and chose to reflect that in the religious overtones of the story. There are no secrets because everyone knows what happens. As for being ahead of his time, it doesn’t seem that Lucas has improved on any of the technology that any other studio has at their disposal.

  71. Dster (#69) –

    The mythologizing is all part of the fun! What’s more fun than mythology? Although even I have to admit that having Anakin be immaculately conceived was over the top.

    Jim Lucas

  72. Charles – I can see a lot of New Age religion overtones in the original Star Wars series. The Force is very New Agey (note to Mormon men – the Force is NOT like the priesthood, it’s too pagan. It’s a “life force generated by all living things” not the power of a Supreme Being.) But you’re seeing Christianity in the prequel series? I’m scratching my head about that one. Can you elaborate?

  73. Janey,

    There are many elements and many may be seen through whatever paradigm a person holds. All one has to do is google Star Wars and Christianity and one will find many articles by scholars and novices alike equating the two. These two are just a couple.

    http://www.tenth.org/wowdir/wow1999-06-13.html

    http://www.odyssey.on.ca/~paul.buis/frpius/ref06.html

    Most elements are from Episode one. Anakin is a child, who will lead them, the virign birth, the council at the Jedi Temple, and a few others.

    The Saga as a whole is similar to the war in heaven. Anakin is equated to both Christ and Satan. He is the chosen one spoken of in prophecy, but also is the one that will fall away into darkenss. In fact in Episode two he tells Amidalla that his goal is to create a world where there is no suffering. All people will be saved and no one will suffer. Similar to Satan’s plan laid out in the begining.

    Its just very interesting how this happens and there is a real clear diversion from the original serries from the 70′s to the new episodes that can only be explained by a reconcilliation with christianity in Lucas’s life.

  74. GEORGE LUCAS DOES NOT SUCK AND I WILL NEVER HATE HIM!
    HE IS A GENUS IF HE COULD MAKE A SERIES OF MOVIES THAT MADE BILIIONS!!!? IF THERE IS ANYBODY I SHOULD DESPISE IS THE LOTHSOM BUNGHOLE THAT PUT THIS CRAP UP IN THE FIRST PLACE!

  75. SO BITE ME BUNGHOLE!

  76. Aaron Brown says:

    Punk — Judging by your prose, I would say that, yes, even YOU would probably have written a better script than Lucas. Such a shame he didn’t hire you. I would gladly have paid George an extra billion to have all the characters in Episodes I and II say “Bite me, Bunghole” in every scene, rather than delivering the stupid lines George gave them.

    Aaron B

  77. Ah

  78. but i still loved the movie non the less and god tell me that was not a pun

Trackbacks

  1. Way Off Bass says:

    The Descent of Darth Petulance!

    In heavy anticipation of next month’s installment of what has so far been a series that looks pretty but causes cramps once the actors start talking, I think this is a great time to link two earlier Star Wars posts . . .

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