. . . rather than just giving poop jokes to Jar Jar.
February 25, 2012 8:57 AM   Subscribe


 
Or as one wag on Twitter put it "how Phantom Menace could be a different bad movie".

I wouldn't be that harsh, I think he's on to a few things there, on the other hand some of it is a bit generic-movie-studio-exec-has-read-syd-field.

It's a thing i've been harping on about a lot lately, because it's my daughters latest obsession, but it's really worth checking out the Clone Wars series to see how the Prequel universecan be used to tell engaging and interesting stories, and even it's dullest characters made kind of interesting. What he's proposing does sound a lot more like what they are doing than what Lucas did.
posted by Artw at 9:08 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll take Plinkett over this whiny guy any day.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:08 AM on February 25, 2012 [21 favorites]


Perhaps George was never the film-maker he was made out to be. Perhaps there was a power behind the throne, so to speak. Perhaps his fall from film-making grace was just part of him joining the old boy club of Hollywood.
posted by The River Ivel at 9:14 AM on February 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


Blimey, slow down pal
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:15 AM on February 25, 2012


Heh. That was some decent turd polishing.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this single video by itself was infinitely better than the actual movie.
posted by odinsdream at 9:19 AM on February 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


I wouldn't be that harsh, I think he's on to a few things there, on the other hand some of it is a bit generic-movie-studio-exec-has-read-syd-field.

What I like best about this is that he suggests a love triangle to parallel the triangle in the first film. Obi-wan's attraction to Padme could be used as a motivator just as Luke's attraction to Leia was--but as Obi-wan grows into his identity as a Jedi, he learns to give up on these passions. Padme, meanwhile, like her daughter, falls for the unpredictable rouge--but in this case it destroys her life (this also builds a stronger argument that the ascetic lifestyle of the Jedi is actually something worth fighting for). That's compelling storytelling, and the groundwork really is there in the raw source material.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:20 AM on February 25, 2012 [27 favorites]


They should have had George Lucas hand his three prequel scripts to an author of historical fiction (or plain old history). That author could then treat these prequels as the history of Darth Vader, and then s/he would edit them together into one or two well-paced, well-told movies.

Also, good video, but it was missing a weirdly out of place subplot about the critic abducting and killing people.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:20 AM on February 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Rogue, rather.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:21 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a good companion to Plinkett. Where Plinkett took the series apart and showed exactly why it was so terrible, this guy tries to reassemble the pieces into an actual story and does a pretty good job.
posted by euphorb at 9:22 AM on February 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


This guy is really onto something. Going forward, I'm just going to pretend that the movie I saw was the one he described.
posted by hermitosis at 9:23 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, how do we convince Lucas that he needs to improve Episode I the same way "improved" the original trilogy? You know, instead of just repacking it as this.
posted by asnider at 9:24 AM on February 25, 2012


Were good. Statements contrary to fact take the conditional.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:26 AM on February 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


the critic abducting and killing people

I think you mean: abducting, torturing, and killing women.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:26 AM on February 25, 2012


Needs more 3D.
posted by George Lucas at 9:30 AM on February 25, 2012 [20 favorites]


Rogue, rather.

though "unpredictable rouge" is a great name for something ...
posted by philip-random at 9:32 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I still think it doesn't get over the problem that prequels are inherently duff as you know ultimately how it will all end up.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:33 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, how do we convince Lucas that he needs to improve Episode I the same way "improved" the original trilogy?

You don't. You learn from his successes and mistakes and make something of your own.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:34 AM on February 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


People love ragging on Episode One, but no one here can say it had a bad story.


Then again, it had no story at all, just a series of events.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 9:35 AM on February 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


> I still think it doesn't get over the problem that prequels are inherently duff as you know ultimately how it will all end up.

I agree, mostly. But still, the investment that we should have in Anakin and the certain knowledge that he's going to fall makes the third episode interesting. It's like a meditation on fate.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:35 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes. This guy joins Joss Whedon in my canon of people whose brain should be in charge of George Lucas's shambling corpse (by which I mean the prequel trilogy).
posted by eritain at 9:37 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's always porn.
posted by Fizz at 9:44 AM on February 25, 2012


Also, good video, but it was missing a weirdly out of place subplot about the critic abducting and killing people.

So I guess the droid sex and pedophilia references at the end weren't enough for you?
posted by Locobot at 9:45 AM on February 25, 2012


I was reading a blog post this morning (via @boostventilator's twitter feed) describing a suggested viewing order of the Star Wars saga. The author recommends that Episode I be skipped entirely. (tl;dr: IV,V, II, III, VI)
posted by Flashman at 9:50 AM on February 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


What if my cat spoke six languages and knew Kung Fu? And was a secret agent fighting the subterranean alien invasion? Instead of just shitting in my bed when I'm away for more than eight hours at a time? Because that would be awesome.
posted by jscalzi at 9:50 AM on February 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think the bedshitting indicates your cat is probably an advance scout/saboteur for the invasion. Be prepared.
posted by COBRA! at 9:54 AM on February 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Given how fluid these movies seem to be, I guess one can hope that George takes this advice and puts it into the next revision of Episode One.
posted by koeselitz at 9:56 AM on February 25, 2012


I agree, mostly. But still, the investment that we should have in Anakin and the certain knowledge that he's going to fall makes the third episode interesting. It's like a meditation on fate.

Well if they had had a brilliant writer they might have pulled something interesting out of the bad... just remembered Use Of Weapons is a brilliant book where you 'know' what is going to happen. Unfortunately Lucas is not Iain M Banks.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:57 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I always thought Lucas got C3PO & R2D2's origins completely backwards. The protocol droid was the property of the Queen, and Anakin in the junkyard re-builds an R2 unit (to help him fix things) which somehow seems to be imbued with the force.
posted by fings at 10:02 AM on February 25, 2012 [41 favorites]


Some nice ideas, but the offhand comment about the lack of "playfulness" among the characters is right on. I just re-watched Episode 1 and it's really noticeable that, if a character is not comic relief, they are painfully earnest. There needed to be a bit of Han Solo mixed in to temper that.
posted by brundlefly at 10:04 AM on February 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, this single video by itself was infinitely better than the actual movie.

Which is odd, since they're both essentially a long conversation in front of a green screen with CGI fights going on in the background.
posted by codacorolla at 10:04 AM on February 25, 2012 [29 favorites]


Wouldn't it be more of a challenge to imagine how Episode I could be worse?
posted by designbot at 10:06 AM on February 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


No, that's easy: more Jar-Jar. And make all of the remaining bit characters also Horrible Racial Stereotypes like the Space Inscrutable Asians. Like maybe everyone on Coruscant should speak with a thick German accent, wear a pickelhaube, and goose-step. And everyone from Alderaan is a horrible mincing fey straight from the end of Blazing Saddles.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:16 AM on February 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


No, that's easy: more Jar-Jar giving detailed, technical testimony about the Trade Federation deliberations to the Senate.
posted by gompa at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


*golf clap*
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:29 AM on February 25, 2012


Home Alone, but with Anakin setting up prank traps for Darth Maul.
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on February 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


I always thought Lucas got C3PO & R2D2's origins completely backwards.

Totally. There were audible groans in the theatre when we saw Anakin buidling C-3PO; why would his slave mother need an assistant fluent in "over six million forms of communication"? Why not build one of those fightin' droids to free him and his mother!?
posted by TropicalWalrus at 10:33 AM on February 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Man, that really *would* have been an amazing movie.
posted by absalom at 11:02 AM on February 25, 2012


The Phantom Menace: the movie so bad, it took 13 years to fix it.
posted by Asimo at 11:07 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


What if we all stopped treating a bad movie like it was the firebombing of Dresden.
posted by Legomancer at 11:14 AM on February 25, 2012 [20 favorites]


I still stand by my belief that the whole series would have been great if when Luke takes off the mask, James Earl Jones is under it. It would have made Darth lying about him being his father, possibly, and then the prequels would have been us trying to figure out what happened. Mace Windu became Darth? yeah, it's not perfect, but the movies would have taken on a whole new level.
posted by usagizero at 11:21 AM on February 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Totally. There were audible groans in the theatre when we saw Anakin buidling C-3PO; why would his slave mother need an assistant fluent in "over six million forms of communication"? Why not build one of those fightin' droids to free him and his mother!?

If Episodes I-III had been even half as good as they should have been, would C-3PO and R2 have shown up at all, other than maybe in a few seconds of cameo? Of course not. Other than the fact that the movie spends a substantial amount of time on Tatooine, this is the best encapsulation of just how much Lucas's model of his once-expansive, wonderfully open-ended universe had shrunk and turned in on itself by the time the prequels were made.

There's nothing surprising about this in hindsight, but it should stand as a powerful warning to everyone who wants to make big pop culture mythology.
posted by brennen at 11:21 AM on February 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


What if we all stopped treating a bad movie like it was the firebombing of Dresden.

This is the Internet. Jeez.
posted by brennen at 11:25 AM on February 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


The TRUTH here is that the real George Lucas was kidnapped 30 years ago and replaced by an impostor.

It was all documented here: George Lucas Strikes back.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:37 AM on February 25, 2012


From what I understand, reading prior Star Wars threads here and this article on Marcia Lucas from The Secret History of Star Wars, weren't episodes V and VI about the money, specifically to fund the build of Lucasfilms and Skywalker ranch?

That is, aside from the original film, weren't they all always more about the money than about anything else?
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:44 AM on February 25, 2012


What if we all stopped treating a bad movie like it was the firebombing of Dresden.

Because for many, it's akin to the firebombing of their childhood, a sentiment I don't share because I was 18 when the first Star Wars movie came out. I liked it, but found it kind of ... juvenile.
posted by philip-random at 11:47 AM on February 25, 2012


I can't follow a lot of his details, but he is absolutely right about Darth Maul. The coolest and most compelling character in the prequels gets minimal screen time then is disposed of perfunctorily. Obi-wan and Maul hunting each other through those three pictures would have given them some tension. (and what is that "this does indeed happen outside the films" refer to?)

I was kind of stunned to the glowing NY Times original review of Episode I the other day.
posted by stargell at 12:21 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't have a problem with Tatooine being reused for the sequels. Definitely gives a good explanation for why Luke has family on the planet and gives a reason why Obi Wan picks it as a hideout.

Tatooine would be a good place to show the corruption of the Republic: Anakin & Mother are slaves. The Jedi show up and try to recruit Anakin. They have no problem paying off the owner, who's only interested in money. But the mother doesn't want to let him go. There should be a scene with Obi Wan emotionlessly pulling the child from the clutching arms of the screaming, crying mother and then walking away without looking back. This will be the viewer's first clue that the Jedi aren't necessarily good guys, even if they're somewhat better than the other side.

And the entire Jedi institution should be shown cracks and all. We all know from our world what happens when an ascetic philosophy / religion ends up in a position of wealth and power. We know organizations that insist on celibacy often run into trouble, especially when they have money / power and the ability to sweep things under the rug. I think of stories of Buddhist monks: some were true believers in the dharma and saintly, some would sneak out after dark and head for the brothels, some would molest and rape the young boys in their care, some would decry attachments by day and demand favors, money, and respect when few were watching.

So there should be signs of corruption shown, lives of innocents damaged or destroyed, statements made to handwave away the problems saying things like "it's all for the greater good." or "only a few bad eggs", etc. etc. This will make Anakin's final break with the Jedi more understandable and poignant. He's been attached to Obi Wan, who will be portrayed as a reformer but unwilling to take steps to really change the system, and he sees the hypocrisy from the top to the bottom. Anakin, as an angry young man disgusted by the gulf between the idea and the reality, will be easily swayed into becoming a pawn and traitor by being told he can be a revolutionary.

Jedi get massacred left and right and the audience can think: "What a tragic shame. But, in a way, those assholes had it coming."

And showing the rot of the Jedi puts Obi Wan and Yoda's statements, in the original trilogy, in an interesting light. Shows them to be, at least in part, deluded old men who half-remember a golden age that never was.
posted by honestcoyote at 12:26 PM on February 25, 2012 [41 favorites]


stargell: "(and what is that "this does indeed happen outside the films" refer to?)"

I read some reference to it a few days ago so I looked it up. He survived the fall and "acquired a six-legged cybernetic apparatus to replace his lost lower body". Apparently this was in the Clone Wars TV show.
posted by brundlefly at 12:31 PM on February 25, 2012


Why would George Lucas want to put any of that into a children's movie meant to sell merchandise?

(I know, I know)
posted by Sebmojo at 12:32 PM on February 25, 2012


Sebmojo: "Why would George Lucas want to put any of that into a children's movie meant to sell merchandise?"

By the same token, why would George Lucas center a children's movie around the taxation of trade routes? Or have scene after scene of people sitting in conference rooms or walking around slowly while discussing things?
posted by brundlefly at 12:39 PM on February 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Wahh waaaah waah. I like Episode I just the way it is.
posted by muckster at 12:39 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Frankly, the fact that a lot of kids like the prequels is baffling to me.)
posted by brundlefly at 12:40 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the same token, why would George Lucas center a children's movie around the taxation of trade routes? Or have scene after scene of people sitting in conference rooms or walking around slowly while discussing things?

Oh god, yes. Zing.

The nearest parallel is cheap B&W sci-fi serials where men in tatty prop-store uniforms enunciate VERY CLEARLY in front of a cardboard painting of Ancient Rome with a flying saucer glued to it.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:45 PM on February 25, 2012


But -- a sci-fi serial is exactly what Star Wars is?
posted by muckster at 12:49 PM on February 25, 2012


I was reading a blog post this morning (via @boostventilator's twitter feed) describing a suggested viewing order of the Star Wars saga. The author recommends that Episode I be skipped entirely. (tl;dr: IV,V, II, III, VI)

The "problem" that he suggests with viewing the films in release order is only a problem if you're not watching the original versions of Episodes IV-VI.
posted by asnider at 1:07 PM on February 25, 2012


Being in the theater for one of the first showings of the original Star Wars, we were almost assaulted by the understanding that we were seeing something completely new -- something which did, in fact, change the way space movies would look forever. It was a profound thing when the only space-based screen SF was 2001, Silent Running, Star Trek TOS, and actual crap like Lost in Space. Here was space opera filmed the way it looked when you read it in Amazing Stories, really for the first time ever. If you cut your teeth on later space movies you cannot imagine what it was like to see that in 1977.

That's what Lucas has been firebombing, and he's been doing it ever since he replaced Chewbacca's people with Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. He does it every time he returns to "Ep IV" and makes an "improvement." He's made it almost impossible to see the movie I saw in the theatre in 1977; all we can have now is the dance-floor remix. He's so vain he won't even release the unsullied original for the sake of history, and left to his own devices on creative control many of his decisions are awful.

I think it was Plinkett who pointed out that if Lucas had been killed before making Empire he'd be remembered as a brilliant visionary whose life and filmography were tragically cut short. Instead, we remember him as a hack who got lucky and then ran his one good idea so far into the ground it emerged in China. (With inscrutable Chinese aliens, no less.) And as I have said before, if there is a Hell for Lucas it will be a world where every film he ever made is lost except The Star Wars Christmas Special.
posted by localroger at 1:15 PM on February 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


The optimum viewing order for the Star Wars movies is as follows:

1) Star Wars (a/k/a, 'Episode IV', a/k/a 'A New Hope')


That is all.
posted by Legomancer at 1:19 PM on February 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'd watch them in release order -- IV, V, VI, I, II, III. That way, you're watching the best one last.
posted by muckster at 1:22 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Empire's good, too. Then stop there ... on the cliffhanger, because it only gets worse. Far, far worse.
posted by philip-random at 1:23 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd watch them in release order -- IV, V, VI, I, II, III. That way, you're watching the best one last.

That's a bold statement.
posted by codacorolla at 1:29 PM on February 25, 2012


I don't have a problem with the prequels opening up with something as mundane as a trade tax dispute. Many a downfall of people, organizations, and empires starts from something boring and inconsequential. Just one little shove and the whole rotten edifice comes crashing down.

As for viewing order, definitely watch the first 3. The ewoks are terribly annoying but there's some rather good moments too and it's a more satisfying ending than what Lost or BG received. No need to get stuck on a cliffhanger.
posted by honestcoyote at 1:37 PM on February 25, 2012


If Episodes I-III had been even half as good as they should have been, would C-3PO and R2 have shown up at all, other than maybe in a few seconds of cameo? Of course not.

From early on, there existed the idea that the star wars trilogy was really about the droids, sort of a Rosencrantz and Gildenstern who are side players in a more important story but somehow always a constant presence. The execution left a lot to be desired, but the concept was a good one-- after all, who is best able to participate in a saga that spans generations other than a couple of ageless robots?
posted by deanc at 1:38 PM on February 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Can't we just reboot the series? It seems to work for other franchises, shy not this one. Let David Lynch have a crack at one of 'em.
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:39 PM on February 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


That's a bold dumb statement unsupportable by either evidence or logic.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:39 PM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wahh waaaah waah. I like Episode I just the way it is.
posted by muckster at 12:39 PM on February 25 [+] [!]


But -- a sci-fi serial is exactly what Star Wars is?
posted by muckster at 12:49 PM on February 25 [+] [!]



I'd watch them in release order -- IV, V, VI, I, II, III. That way, you're watching the best one last.
posted by muckster at 1:22 PM on February 25 [+] [!]


Nice try, George.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:40 PM on February 25, 2012 [21 favorites]


a saga that spans generations

Yes, "father + son" technically counts as "generations" plural, but let's not oversell it.
posted by Legomancer at 1:41 PM on February 25, 2012


Yes, "father + son" technically counts as "generations" plural, but let's not oversell it.

Well, back in the day we were all hoping there would be episodes VII, VIII, and IX.
posted by deanc at 1:53 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let David Lynch have a crack at one of 'em.

Three hours of Laura Dern (cast as Leia) running through hallways and opening doors on the Death Star?

Actually, I would love to get a peek into the alternate universe where Lynch ended up directing the original trilogy.
posted by Avelwood at 2:14 PM on February 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dune isn't hint enough how that would have turned out? "A great sadness" -- David Lynch.
posted by muckster at 2:22 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was really excellent deconstruction.
posted by smoke at 2:24 PM on February 25, 2012


The whole "survival of Darth Maul" thing is reminding me oddly of Silverman in Morrison's Zoids comic. He's always chopping people in half and replacing their lower halves with mechanical spiders, that Morriosn scamp.
posted by Artw at 2:34 PM on February 25, 2012


The author recommends that Episode I be skipped entirely. (tl;dr: IV,V, II, III, VI)

OK, I see the logic of that. I'd like to be so bold as to present an alternate viewing order, if I might. This is based on careful rewatching of all the films with my boys, and has lead me to the conclusion that this is the best possible order for viewing:


IV, V, VI.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:54 PM on February 25, 2012 [6 favorites]




Oh the possibilities.


Linda Hunt as Yoda
Nic Cage as Emperor Palpatine
Naomi Watts as Leiah
Willem Dafoe as Obi Wan
Harrison Ford is the only Han Solo
and Lynch would have surely found a wolf-boy in Romania to play Chewie
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:57 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whoops, just watched four hours of Plinkett.

Man, do I ever want pizza rolls.
posted by modernserf at 3:09 PM on February 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


....Walter Mathau as Obi-Wan
...Christopher Walken as Han Solo
...Richard Dreyfuss at C-3PO...
posted by entropicamericana at 3:16 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


...Orlando Bloom as Lando Calrissian...
posted by cupcake1337 at 3:19 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


No no no: Harry Dean Stanton as Yoda.
posted by muckster at 3:21 PM on February 25, 2012


As I was around 5 when IV came out I saw IV - VI many, many times. I had light saber fights with my friends, dressed as Darth Vader every year for Halloween, and dreamt of flying a tie fighter to school.

I was as stoked as anyone to see I when it came out but my friends' reviews were so negative I didn't bother. I never heard enough good things about II or III to bother with those either. As for the original trilogy I can still close my eyes and see the good parts just as I did when I was a child, without noticing plot holes or bad acting or anything else that would certainly make seeing them again a letdown.

The past is past. Lucas can only crap on your childhood if you let him. Let it go.
posted by Blue Meanie at 3:32 PM on February 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


ReeMonster: I'll take Plinkett over this whiny guy any day.

Has there ever been an explanation for the critic's "character"? It's like a meta-commentary on why having total creative control is bad.
posted by Decimask at 4:03 PM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


That piece on Marcia Lucas is well written. The ending? "today her whereabouts are unknown".

That is like a divide fault.
posted by bukvich at 4:42 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I often think about all the multiverse theories that have become popular as of late, but exclusively in context of all the awesome entertainment we will never have. If the universe is infinite, and we have infinitely many universes--somewhere out there already exists the best, most efficiently awesome Star Wars movies possible. They would be so perfect as to be physically dangerous to our poor minds, used as they are to flawed works.

If I ever have the resources and technology to do so, I promise I will personally strip mine all the alternate universes of their precious entertainment and turn Earth Prime into a vision of media paradise.

Vote for Danny The Boy 2012
posted by danny the boy at 5:19 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


What if we all stopped treating a bad movie like it was the firebombing of Dresden.

Dresden shot first.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:40 PM on February 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Some time back I reported that my neighbor who claims to be a time traveler says that in the distant age he's from, Star Wars is a lost work only known by secondary sources, that the only version of any of the films to survive millions of years from now is Star Wars Uncut.

Naturally I showed him the original movies. His response was a cryptic question about whether Jar Jar was first written of by Aeschylus.
posted by JHarris at 5:42 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting, I guess. First problem, though, is why exactly does this guy think he's actually any good at producing movies? I mean, studio execs aren't really known for being artistic geniuses, that's why they're execs and not directors. So it's weird that he's framing as him being a studio exec.

Also he's doing the "youtube voice" thing, where he over enunciates everything, but not the way TV reporters do but rather this weird way where it makes him seem like he's just so ecited about everything he's saying.
If I ever have the resources and technology to do so, I promise I will personally strip mine all the alternate universes of their precious entertainment and turn Earth Prime into a vision of media paradise.
What makes you think that this is earth prime? Maybe this is the beta version where Episode I sucked and on real earth it was the best movie ever made re-igniting starwars mania rather then dampening it and causing everlasting world peace after every other religion is extinguished and replaced with worship of George Lucas.
posted by delmoi at 6:27 PM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


i feel guilty about this, but the only one i liked as a kid (and really as an adult) was the one with the ewoks.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:31 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


What if we all stopped treating a bad movie like it was the firebombing of Dresden.

I look forward to your video, "What if the Firebombing of Dresden was Good?"
posted by straight at 6:36 PM on February 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think the thing nobody's saying is that we really, truly wanted Episode I to be good -- really, genuinely, unambiguously excellent. There was so much excitement all the way through the trailers and previews and everything.

That it wasn't good, that it was in fact the sort of mess so obviously awful that it made the case for studio interference, is an open wound.
posted by effugas at 6:46 PM on February 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Actually it occurs to me that the Lucas Hell where his only remaining extant work is the Christmas Special has a certain legitimacy, because it's the only work he doesn't go back and fuck with at regular intervals.

OK maybe THX1138 too.

Our primacy obsessed descendants might very well chuck everything else over the railing as being inauthentic. *sniffle* *LOL* *one can only hope*
posted by localroger at 7:22 PM on February 25, 2012


i feel guilty about this, but the only one i liked as a kid (and really as an adult) was the one with the ewoks.

I never really got the Ewok hate. Lucas had short, silly critters in the previous two films as well (Jawas, Ugnaughts), and I always thought that the Ewoks in particular were a great trope reversal - the friendly, kind cuddly native critters being taken advantage of by the evil Imperial colonial troops turn out to be violent little monsters with a taste for human flesh who hand the galaxy's military elite their asses on the battlefield.

On a related note, I think that if Lucas had set Episode III exclusively on/during the battle for the Wookie planet, that would have provided both parallelism with Episode VI and made up for the abysmal first two prequel films through sheer awesomeness. Anakin and Obi-Wan would have faced Palpatine as Vader and Luke did, but this time Luke would fall, and Obi-Wan would fail to make the sacrifice that Vader did to save his student, leading to the shadowy, deceptive guilt that he shows in Episodes IV-V. Palpatine fires off Order 666, solidifying his power with the decisive victory over the Separatists (with whom the Jedi would then be implicated retroactively) on Kashyyyk, just as failure to subdue another doughty native species years later would lead to his defeat and demise.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:52 PM on February 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


as Obi-wan grows into his identity as a Jedi, he learns to give up on these passions. Padme, meanwhile, like her daughter, falls for the unpredictable rouge--but in this case it destroys her life (this also builds a stronger argument that the ascetic lifestyle of the Jedi is actually something worth fighting for).

I agree, as the prequel trilogy really shows the Jedi to be a bunch of amoral autocratic jerks.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:36 PM on February 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


And owners of a massive slave army.
posted by Artw at 8:42 PM on February 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


it's not return of the jedi. it's return of the despondent ex-husband.
posted by liza at 9:36 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree, as the prequel trilogy really shows the Jedi to be a bunch of amoral autocratic jerks.

I think that was kinda the point. It justifies the rest of the galaxy's apparent distrust of the Jedi, and humanizes the Jedi organization. Despite their posturing themselves as do-no-wrong benevolent ass-kickers, they are fallible, often have questionable motives and tactics, and at this point in their history may simply be "the lesser of two evils," leaving the door wide open for dissent and overthrow.

I'm hesitant to draw direct comparisons to, say, the Crusades or pre-WWII Germany, but overall the idea of the Jedi as "not so hunky-dory after all" both provides motivation for Anakin, as well as giving them a grounding in our own human history.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:48 PM on February 25, 2012


Although I do agree with his points about character development and limiting the battles (and removing Jar Jar), all this video really proved to me that I need to do is what I am doing now - Looking for my copy of Jedi Academy so I can install it, play it, and prove once again (despite the arguments of an ex-girlfriend) that using a saberstaff does NOT mean you die like a little bitch...

(And that anything but the "original" three are complete crap. Yes, complete since there were no relatives in it.)
posted by Samizdata at 11:07 PM on February 25, 2012


I once had a roommate who was a huge fan of the series. All of the series. He could find no fault with anything. Even the ridiculousness of "Hey mom, I know we are slaves and all to a horrific racial stereotype but here is a droid with Rosetta Stone loaded into it" not only made sense but was logical and made the story richer.

It was more infuriating than when I lived with the climate change denier.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:08 AM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


This video makes me feel angry at George Lucas. I don't like sand. This means I did not like the movie when it has bad things in it. But good things might make the movie better. The you tube video says that.
Now I am going to click and press on preview. And after I have used the preview feature I will post this comment on Metafilter, a general-interest community weblog. One of many on the internet, the electronic space we communicate in powered by electrons that flow through the air and through wires between computers.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:10 AM on February 26, 2012


Also he's doing the "youtube voice" thing, where he over enunciates everything, but not the way TV reporters do but rather this weird way where it makes him seem like he's just so ecited about everything he's saying.

I blame ZeFrank for this. It had a certain charm when he did it, but then he has some charisma and talent. The vast majority of this style's users don't.
posted by Scoo at 4:54 AM on February 26, 2012


It was more infuriating than when I lived with the climate change denier.

This roommate thing, I don't think you're doing it right.
posted by localroger at 5:18 AM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


The recharacterization of Tatooine, from a bleak Western wasteland inspired by George Lucas's childhood in California's Great Central Valley, to a pod-racing wonderland filled with farting cartoon creatures, never sat well with me. I know this process began with Jedi, but how can the place be the furthest spot from the galaxy's bright center when all this zippety stuff is going on? I know Luke talked about shooting womp rats and racing with Biggs, but you never got the sense all this wacky carnival activity was going on around the corner.
posted by steinsaltz at 6:54 AM on February 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


The recharacterization of Tatooine, from a bleak Western wasteland inspired by George Lucas's childhood in California's Great Central Valley, to a pod-racing wonderland filled with farting cartoon creatures, never sat well with me.

I feel like they were trying to make it more vibrant, like an exotic North African city.
posted by modernserf at 7:27 AM on February 26, 2012


Yeah, I agree with that. Like Tangiers. But it was so seedy in the first one, like old Las Vegas, and now ... I don't know, are we really supposed to think that when Luke was looking at the twin suns through his binoculars that just a couple miles away the two-headed alien was doing NASCAR-style sportscasting?
posted by steinsaltz at 7:56 AM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reading the first bit of that NYT review reminded me that I remember liking the giant undersea creatures when I first watched the movie. But it was weird that they did it again ten minutes later.

Thinking back, I really wasn't super hating Phantom Menace until Baby Anakin showed up. Then it was over. Casting him so young was a crime against movies, a crime against storytelling, a crime against logic, a crime against everything dammit.

By Lucas' own script, the boy is supposed to be a teenager. He tinkers with cars, he's brooding and rebelling, he falls in love at first sight, he's too old to begin his training.

An epic and tragic romance is supposed to be born in the scene where he meets the princess. I've said it before:

"That baby boy doesn't fall in love with the princess -- he asks her for help with his pull ups."
posted by Trochanter at 9:15 AM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry, just a bit more. Anakin is supposed to be at the same stage in his life that Luke was in the first movie. That's the echo.
posted by Trochanter at 9:18 AM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


But it was so seedy in the first one, like old Las Vegas,

That was unintentional -- EVERYTHING looked like that in the'70s.
posted by hermitosis at 9:22 AM on February 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


how can the place be the furthest spot from the galaxy's bright center when all this zippety stuff is going on? I know Luke talked about shooting womp rats and racing with Biggs, but you never got the sense all this wacky carnival activity was going on around the corner.

I think the era of the prequels was supposed to be one in which the galaxy was much wealthier or more prosperous, things were "cleaner" and sleeker. Think 1920s Berlin vs. 1970s East Berlin or late-Roman Carthage vs. post-Vandals-invasion Carthage. One day you've still got some nice Roman chariotracing in the big stadiums. Twenty to forty years later, your city is a bunch of farmers trying to scrape by along with a few seedy trade ports and taverns.

Granted, Lucas's cartoonish sensibility got in the way, but I think that's what he was going for.
posted by deanc at 12:25 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like this guy's ideas: Darth Maul was the coolest thing about Ep. 1 and they just dropped him. I was excited that the follow up movie was called "Attack Of The Clones", as I had high hopes that one of those clones would be Darth Maul, but no, we get an amazingly stupid origin story for Stormtroopers and a stunt-casted 80 year old man to replace the apprentice they killed for no reason at the end of the last movie.

I actually find Episode 2 to be the worst of the prequels, as Phantom Menace edges it out by having Darth Maul in it.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:38 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh anyway, one thing that annoyed me about this video was that I thought the question "what if the Ep 1 was good" was actually going to be about what would be different if it had been good. Why does anyone care what one random idiot thinks would have made the movie better? The Red Letter media critiques did a really good job talking about what was wrong with them and how they could be improved. So in terms of a "here's what I'd do" this is kind of redundant. But the RLM critiques didn't just say "here's what they should have done, it would be so much better if they did what I say!" they actually explained various possibilities.

What this guy is saying, you know, maybe it would have been better. But the thing is, it's really all about the details. You can take a silly plot and make a good movie. The last batman movie, for example, could have had the exact same basic plot and been terrible.
I think the era of the prequels was supposed to be one in which the galaxy was much wealthier or more prosperous, things were "cleaner" and sleeker. Think 1920s Berlin vs. 1970s East Berlin or late-Roman Carthage vs. post-Vandals-invasion Carthage. One day you've still got some nice Roman chariotracing in the big stadiums. Twenty to forty years later, your city is a bunch of farmers trying to scrape by along with a few seedy trade ports and taverns.
I just think it didn't make any sense. How could an entire galaxy go from shiny shit and awesome wealth to austere utilitarian design that quickly? The millennium falcon, for example was supposed to be a really old ship. Older then Luke and Lea. Sure if you look at photos of the 1920s you see opulent wealth, while if you look at photos from the 1940s you see utilitarian military hardware. But there was still opulent wealth in the 40s and military hardware in the 20s.

Lucas, I think, screwed this up. The ship designs shouldn't have changed as much as they did.

He's just a bad director.
The recharacterization of Tatooine, from a bleak Western wasteland inspired by George Lucas's childhood in California's Great Central Valley, to a pod-racing wonderland filled with farting cartoon creatures, never sat well with me. I know this process began with Jedi, but how can the place be the furthest spot from the galaxy's bright center when all this zippety stuff is going on? I know Luke talked about shooting womp rats and racing with Biggs, but you never got the sense all this wacky carnival activity was going on around the corner.
I disagree. I mean, it's an entire planet Even If there were only a few million people there would still be some central hubs of activity. The pod racing stands only held a few thousand people. The great valley in CA is only a few tens of miles from SF or LA.

In fact, how likely is it that the entire planet is even all sand? There's got to be ice caps and stuff like that as well. Even Mars has 'em.
posted by delmoi at 2:37 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just think it didn't make any sense. How could an entire galaxy go from shiny shit and awesome wealth to austere utilitarian design that quickly?

Yeah, none of it makes sense beyond the original trilogy where they don't try to explain the hell out of everything (the original original, not the Ewok "let's everyone across the galaxy dance-dance-revolution").

I mean, 10,000 years where you have light speed capability but there's no technological or social advancement and this deadlocked Zoastrian dichotomy between 'light' and 'dark' philosophy which is utterly stagnant - and those are the "good times"?

It's beyond bad storytelling.

Lucas: "The Force" is this mystical thing. We can move rocks and shit and read minds with it.
Cool, thanks George. And these guys fight with it and stuff and

Lucas: You see it binds all living things.
Right, ok. Moving on ... the two guys fighting with laserswords are awesome and

Lucas: There are these microscopic creatures that generate the force.
...uh, ok, whatever. So these guys fight and adventure and there are funky alien...

Lucas: Also, section 'B' of paragraph 3412 of the Old Republic Code is repealed when line 104 "Emperor pro-tem" is replaced with "Emperor" and the...
etc.

The ship designs shouldn't have changed as much as they did.
Unless you're selling toys.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:26 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lucas: Also, section 'B' of paragraph 3412 of the Old Republic Code is repealed when line 104 "Emperor pro-tem" is replaced with "Emperor" and the...

I think I begin to see the real problem. Lucas became his own personal #1 Trekkie.
posted by localroger at 4:28 PM on February 26, 2012


I blame Joseph Campbell.
posted by Trochanter at 4:37 PM on February 26, 2012


Ha, I am JUST NOW WATCHING THIS, and everything he says is what I had in the back of my head in editor-mode but couldn't verbalize. Like, yo could make a good movie out of this mess, you should need a few more drafts. Just the re-staging of the start with the "secret" missions being uncovered by the on-routine-mission Jedi leading to the reveal of a larger conspiracy to take down Naboo/corrupt dealings within and infesting the Republic - makes so much intuitive story sense I was almost gobsmacked. Yes, OF COURSE that's how you do it.
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I blame Bruce Campbell. I blame him for lots of things though.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:27 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


delmoi: "In fact, how likely is it that the entire planet is even all sand? There's got to be ice caps and stuff like that as well. Even Mars has 'em."

Nonsense. The Star Wars universe is filled with nothing but single-biome planets [warning: TV Tropes].
posted by brundlefly at 10:06 AM on February 27, 2012


How could an entire galaxy go from shiny shit and awesome wealth to austere utilitarian design that quickly?

Well, it's a little unfair to compare "the entire galaxy" between all 6 movies, since Tatooine is the only planet to appear in both trilogies.

But there are a number of differences with "what was going on in the galaxy at the time" which could explain the degradation of vehicle design from flashy, shiny streamlined ships to kludged-together buckets-of-bolts.

The two main entities in the original trilogy (the Empire and the Rebel Alliance) are non-existent in the prequels. (the Empire comes into being toward the end of Revenge of the Sith)

Most of the people we're dealing with in the prequels are either members of a well-funded royalty, the Trade Federation, or the Republic (whose population is presumably being heavily taxed at the time) By the time we get to the Original Trilogy, we're dealing with dirt-poor folks, a ragtag bunch of rebels, and an Empire whose infrastructure has been completely gutted, and which spends most of its waking moments trying to thwart its own overthrow. In short: there's not much money to be had, and equipment manufacturers responded with much more practical & economic designs. Older ships like the Tantive IV and the Millenium Falcon are pressed into service long after they should have been retired. Perhaps there were still those in the galaxy who could have afforded a ship like Amidala's Nubian Royal starship, but since we weren't dealiing with *true* royalty anymore, we never saw any. (Maybe Leia left hers parked on Alderaan?)

The thriving city of Mos Espa, as seen in Episode I certainly seems like a far cry from Mos Eisley, what with its marketplace and pod racing. It also had a few other things going for it: no Empire presence, slave labor, and warlord control. Once the Empire showed up, slavery was (apparently) done away with, the Hutts went from being warlords to mere gangsters, and the population began to either die off or leave to join the Empire. The technology Luke is surrounded by is, by all accounts, broken down and outdated. 20 years of neglect seems like plenty of time to reduce an area's remaining pieces of equipment (landspeeders, droids, etc.) to so much junk.

And lest we think that this wasn't enough time, keep in mind how starships evolved, even within the Original Trilogy. TIE Interceptors, A and B-wing figters, Super-Star Destroyers, TIE Bombers, etc. were all introduced along the way, demonstrating that whoever was making these ships was extremely capable to change/improve/introduce/or discontinue ship designs very quickly, depending on consumer demand.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:15 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


And lest we think that this wasn't enough time, keep in mind how starships evolved, even within the Original Trilogy. TIE Interceptors, A and B-wing figters, Super-Star Destroyers, TIE Bombers, etc. were all introduced along the way, demonstrating that whoever was making these ships was extremely capable to change/improve/introduce/or discontinue ship designs very quickly, depending on consumer demand.

Kenner?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:39 AM on February 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


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