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Ending the trilogy with a teddy bear luau.
August 12, 2010 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Did 'Star Wars' become a toy story? Producer Gary Kurtz looks back “The toy business began to drive the [Lucasfilm] empire. It’s a shame. They make three times as much on toys as they do on films. It’s natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that’s not the best thing for making quality films.” He added: “The first film and ‘Empire’ were about story and character, but I could see that George’s priorities were changing.” (via)

“We had an outline and George changed everything in it," Kurtz said. “Instead of bittersweet and poignant he wanted a euphoric ending with everybody happy. The original idea was that they would recover [the kidnapped] Han Solo in the early part of the story and that he would then die in the middle part of the film in a raid on an Imperial base. George then decided he didn’t want any of the principals killed. By that time there were really big toy sales and that was a reason.”
The discussed ending of the film that Kurtz favored presented the rebel forces in tatters, Leia grappling with her new duties as queen and Luke walking off alone “like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns,” as Kurtz put it.
posted by octothorpe (131 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
How do the prequels affect the original movie? A New Sith, or Revenge of the Hope
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:24 PM on August 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm torn about that change. A better ending than empire ending teddy bears, to be sure, but with Han Solo dead there is a ton of extended universe excellence we would have missed out on.

Then I think about the state of the extended universe without Solo and it's a rabbit hole so deep that my brain starts to hurt. Can you imagine the change to the Skywalker-Solo family tree? The loss of that poignancy in the death of Chewie in Solo's dealing with it? Weird.
posted by StoicRomance at 3:25 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are we going for a mainpage complaining-about-George-Lucas trifecta? Cause I have some links I could contribute.
posted by saturday_morning at 3:31 PM on August 12, 2010


George Lucas can only wish the later Star Wars movies are anywhere near as good as any of the Toy Story trilogy.
posted by kmz at 3:36 PM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


I try not to watch toy commercials anymore, but I used to love "Star Wars" stuff and found this totally fascinating. Great article.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:40 PM on August 12, 2010


George then decided he didn’t want any of the principals killed. By that time there were really big toy sales and that was a reason

Hang on, I had Boba Fett and Obi Wan and Darth Vader toys when I was a kid despite the fact they died in the movies (OK, one of those sat undigested in a Sarlacc pit for a while according to my nerdier friends). Would the death of a character like Han Solo really affect toy sales?
posted by Kirk Grim at 3:43 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's OK for the bad guys to die, in toy land.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:48 PM on August 12, 2010


Lucas could just churn out a Kurtz-friendly special edition of ROTJ.

That part in the film where Han ambushes Imperial troops and then mugs for the camera? Just put in a CGI laser blast there. I don't think Han does anything else for the rest of the film.

Make a special 'dead Solo' figure too and grow the market.

It's win-win.
posted by mazola at 3:51 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gee, a planet of fuzzy teddy bears wasn't the FIRST FREAKIN' CLUE?
posted by briank at 3:55 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Make a special 'dead Solo' figure too and grow the market.

We made a DIY version of the Han Solo in carbonite by setting a Han Solo figure on fire on our patio stones. He melted into a flat puddle with bits of arm and leg and head sticking out.

Is something wrong with me?
posted by Kirk Grim at 3:55 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The loss of that poignancy in the death of Chewie in Solo's dealing with it? Weird.

I'd find Chewie's dealing with Solo's death more interesting. Between his wailing, and then, later, going all hardcore with his bowcaster and the Millenium Falcon, yeah, that'd be all I'd want.
posted by yeloson at 3:56 PM on August 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm thinking Star Wars merchandise was probably the springboard for all the Saturday morning commercials cartoons of the 80s.. GI Joe, He-Man, etc.
posted by starman at 4:04 PM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'd find Chewie's dealing with Solo's death more interesting.

I KNOW there's a homonecrobestiality joke in here somewhere... *scrapes bottom of barrel*
posted by fleetmouse at 4:07 PM on August 12, 2010


I saw Star Wars the day it opened in New Orleans in 1977. I had heard the DJ's raving about it on the school bus on the way home, and when I got home my parents were in the mood to see a movie but didn't have any ideas. I said, well, I heard there was this science fiction thing opening. Didn't know a thing about it except people were going nuts about it. For the 5:30 PM show there were about 30 people in line at the theatre, which was kind of unusual for that venue. When we came out, the line for the next showing was four blocks long.

That version of Star Wars did not begin with a slide that said Episode IV, in honor of old serials or for any other reason. It just didn't. That is one of many adjustments made later to dovetail it into the later, larger, better, and especially more lucrative narrative.

I also knew, with awful clarity, how badly Lucas had sold us all out to the toy industry the moment I saw the first Ewok. Having also been among the privileged to see the one and only showing of the gobsmackingly awful Christmas Special, I knew Treehouse World was supposed to be Chewbacca's planet. But Wookies don't make such good plush toys, do they Georgie Boy?

I've seen all the other movies, even the prequels, mainly because to see what they do with the special effects. But yeah, it's been a downhill glide of the worst sort since Empire. Lucas took our beloved pulp space opera and made it as real as the senses could imagine, then used our awe to pick our pockets. I've seen all the films, but I've never spent a dime on any of the other products and I never will.
posted by localroger at 4:13 PM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


What you mean Jar Jar Mother F-ing Binks was a marketing after thought. I could have sworn he was core to the entrie story line.
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 4:14 PM on August 12, 2010


I KNOW there's a homonecrobestiality joke in here somewhere...

Indeed, I'm sure there's slash involving a furry bromance on the Kessel run and a new, post-carbonite Solo who sparkles.
posted by yeloson at 4:20 PM on August 12, 2010


Though he has tried to suppress it, the Christmas Special was indeed the model for SW films from ROTJ onward. The blueprint if you will for producing films you might just have to watch to marvel at how utterly awful they are. The same thing kind of happened when Russel T. Davies steered the new Doctor Who into story telling and character mediocrity, though for different reasons.
posted by juiceCake at 4:26 PM on August 12, 2010


the Christmas Special was indeed the model for SW films from ROTJ onward. The blueprint if you will for producing films you might just have to watch to marvel at how utterly awful they are

So, step one is "Give Carrie Fisher a pile of blow as big as her head"?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:39 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Happy life day everyone!

/stoned, vacant look.
posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on August 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Kirk Grim: Naaaah, nothing's wrong with you. We made our own DIY "Luke in Bespin clothes just got his hand lopped off by Darth Vader" figure using my mom's cigarette lighter...

I say we were clever!
posted by kaseijin at 4:47 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


In 1972, filmmakers George Lucas and Gary Kurtz were toiling on “American Graffiti” in their San Rafael office when they began daydreaming about a throwback sci-fi adventure that channeled the old “Flash Gordon” serials as opposed to the bleak “message” movies that had taken over the genre.

And now? Those message movies (other than, you could claim, Wall-E) are absolutely dead as everyone wants to be damnable Star Wars. UGH.
posted by JHarris at 4:50 PM on August 12, 2010


At last Gary Kurtz's breaking silence can help people realize and accept: Star Wars will never love you back.

Though he has tried to suppress it, the Christmas Special was indeed the model for SW films from ROTJ onward.

I see what you mean, and wish it were more literally true. Of course the Christmas Special was terrible, but the prequels would have been vastly improved by Bea Arthur at the head of the Jedi Council. I can see her now, in a flowing beflowered muumuu from some episode of the Golden Girls, belittling a sulky young Anakin with more personality than any of the ciphers in that meeting room ever showed.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:51 PM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Happy life day everyone!

/stoned, vacant look.


I see you're channeling Itchy.

Anyone want to help me write some Itchy / Bea Arthur fanfic?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:01 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Um ... isn't entertainment and merchandising A BUSINESS?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:03 PM on August 12, 2010


with Han Solo dead there is a ton of extended universe excellence we would have missed out on.

Not sure what this "excellence" is that you speak of.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:05 PM on August 12, 2010


I liked the Correlliananan Trilogy
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:06 PM on August 12, 2010


What Star Wars needs right now is a mashup with zombies... right? right? zombie Han? zombie chewie? who's with me? Star Wars Zombies...
posted by Omon Ra at 5:13 PM on August 12, 2010


Count me as another one of those people torn by the ending Kurtz proposes. I was meh on Return, but bringing back Han Solo to kill him off seems like a bad idea too.

I've started watching the Clone Wars TV series recently, and while it's definitely got some really clunky stuff going on (Snips? Sky-guy? and ugh, the occasional appearance of Jar Jar), it seems closer in feel to the old 40s serials than either of the film trilogies. As far as I can tell from the special features, Lucas has some overall guidance for the guys who make it, but he's really not driving the bus. Unsurprisingly, I find the series better for it.
posted by immlass at 5:14 PM on August 12, 2010


going all hardcore with his bowcaster

I'm imagining Chewie in a GBH-style punk band playing a Strat with a bow like Jimmy Page. Yes, I think that movie should definitely be made.
posted by The World Famous at 5:19 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing that really stuns me about commentary like this and the entire massive anti-Lucas movement is how little credit and sympathy Lucas himself gets. Its like we're demanding Lucas perfectly appeal to both our younger selves and our adults selves at the same time and how we obviously know what he should have done, the same way sports fans know exactly what coaches should have done. That kind of thing just drives me crazy. Lucas took his shot at movie-making and it turns out he made a couple spectacular movies and a couple others that weren't so good. In the meantime he produced one of the best video game studios around and greatly improved sound technology in movie theaters.

I'm of the generation and demographic who should be out in the streets cursing his name, but it doesn't at all bother me. Lucas, like every other creative person, is flawed. He'll never do exactly what you want him to do. He had a good run. Its strange we never give creative types any type of leeway. Your favorite band released an album that sounds a bit different than the last? Off with their heads! New movies not as good as the old? Keep up a decades long grudge against someone you never met! Who knew the information revolution would empower this whole hateful "fail" culture? Incredible. I can't even begin to imagine what happens when Christopher Nolan starts delivering sub-par work. I'll need to unplug from the internet for a while when that happens.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:33 PM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


I've never seen Star Wars and I had Star Wars toys. My kids all think it is the most boring film series ever and they all had Star Wars toys. The characters are great as far as I know them (by nerd osmosis), but the films make me fall asleep.
posted by shinybaum at 5:41 PM on August 12, 2010


The guy who did this review was very damning of George Lucas on this fact.

http://www.metafilter.com/90710/This-movie-is-the-worst-thing-ever-made-by-a-human-Except-for-the-bagpipes
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:47 PM on August 12, 2010


ROTJ is the best of the movies. It is, deal with it. Empire Strikes Back drags, it has a ton of great sequences but as a whole is the most likely to put you to sleep when you watch it on Spike hungover on a Saturday afternoon. The Ewoks were there for the kids and for the most part worked at that, while still being vicious and savage and violent. The Han rescuing scenes at the start are awesome and establish Luke as a legit badass, which is very much needed since he ends the last movie getting his ass kicked. The Yoda death scene is poignant, the final space battle is incredible, the second Luke v. Vader duel with the Emperor watching and Vader redeeming himself is the most dramatic sequence in all the movies.

What do we get without the Ewoks? A bunch of Chewies flying around? Why not keep him unique. Oh, didn't you love the pointless Wookie battle scene in the prequels, yeah that rocked, right?

Kill Han Solo and have a bittersweet ending? Why? It's a fucking kids movie not The Godfather.

And who says you can't make good entertainment and still be a toy selling juggernaut. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (movie and cartoon), Ghostbusters (movie and cartoon), Star Wars, Harry Potter, LOTR, Jurassic Park, etc.

I guess we should have had two of the Ghostbusters squashed to death by a huge marshmallow paw, that would have made it more edgy!

There are a ton of things wrong with the prequels, everyone knows what they are, toys are not a good excuse for what went down.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:52 PM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


The thing that really stuns me about commentary like this and the entire massive anti-Lucas movement is how little credit and sympathy Lucas himself gets.

I think, on the contrary, he gets all the credit. For the good and the bad.

The problem with Lucas, I think, is not that he made crappy movies. It's not the equivalent of the band that releases the bad album; its the punk band that suddenly releases Frank Sinatra covers, dressed in suits, backed by the London Philharmonic. It's the cool burger joint you liked which suddenly became a franchise and now all it's food tastes like plastic. It's homogeneous globalized corporate america from the 90s.

I like the early movies and I don't hate Lucas. I can pretty well ignore his latter stuff. But to me at least it's clear he drained some of the mystery and mystique from his early films, and people hated it because those are commodities in short supply.
posted by Omon Ra at 6:05 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


And who says you can't make good entertainment and still be a toy selling juggernaut. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (movie and cartoon), Ghostbusters (movie and cartoon), Star Wars, Harry Potter, LOTR, Jurassic Park, etc.

While I didn't agree with you that ROTJ is the best movie, I did follow and agree with most of your arguments about it. But then I got to the part where you called TNMT and the Ghostbusters cartoon "good entertainment," and you lost me.
posted by The World Famous at 6:09 PM on August 12, 2010


I'm not calling them masterpieces of film or anything, but they are objectively well put together cartoons that are massively loved among the demographic at the time and have no fatal flaws like a piece of entertainment like the Star Wars prequels.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:17 PM on August 12, 2010


I quite liked it, till they changed the voices. It was good beyond reasonable expectations for what it should be.

Also I will totally defend the original turtles comics.
posted by Artw at 6:18 PM on August 12, 2010


It's not the equivalent of the band that releases the bad album; its the punk band that suddenly releases Frank Sinatra covers, dressed in suits, backed by the London Philharmonic.

In other words you are accusing him of being a sell-out. Well, even his good stuff was commercial and pandering, except you were too young to understand those concepts when you were a child. Honestly, those first three movies aren't fine art. Although I appreciate them for being fun sci-fi they're filled with all the cliches in the book. The pirate character, the naive farmboy, the mystic, etc. Lets not hold him up as some avante-garde bohemian who suddenly had a change of heart in 1980. He's been aiming for commercial success from the very beginning of the Star Wars series and very much did not want to make another THX1138.

Be careful what you wish for. If you want Lucas sans dumbing it down for the lowest common denominator then you get THX1138. How often are you watching or quoting that?
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:18 PM on August 12, 2010


What Star Wars needs right now is a mashup with zombies... right? right? zombie Han? zombie chewie? who's with me? Star Wars Zombies...

They're coming to GET you, Leia...
posted by lekvar at 6:19 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]



Be careful what you wish for. If you want Lucas sans dumbing it down for the lowest common denominator then you get THX1138. How often are you watching or quoting that?


How about a middle ground where he still makes Star Wars movies...but they are good.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:23 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you want Lucas sans dumbing it down for the lowest common denominator then you get THX1138.

Based on my extensive discussions with many Star Wars fans, I have concluded that we don't want "Lucas sans dumbing it down." We want Lucas tempered by other contributors who are good and who have a genuine editorial voice. Basically, we want Empire Strikes Back without the boring Dagobah crap.

(And I personally have a short list of writers and directors that I would like to see re-do the prequels from scratch.)
posted by The World Famous at 6:25 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


and I would love to have 1925's Babe Ruth playing for the Yankee's but I'm not going to hate him for growing old and dying the same way I don't hate Lucas for being unable to keep making A material.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:31 PM on August 12, 2010


In other words you are accusing him of being a sell-out.

Yup... I think that's what most of the criticism I've read boils down to. I'm not saying that the first movies were masterpieces, but there's an intangible honesty to them that's lacking in the later ones. Lawrence Kasdan's dialogue esp. helped flesh out and humanize a lot of things in Empire and ROTJ.

The first movies have a kind of DIY hacker feel to them. Even the design philosophy was to show worn down tech, unlike what had generally been donde before (ie Forbidden Planet). By contrast, the later trilogy was all shiny objects and no right angles.
posted by Omon Ra at 6:32 PM on August 12, 2010


I don't hate Lucas for being unable to keep making A material.

Well, first, I don't hate Lucas. He's still awesome. Second, he's not unable to keep making A material. And that's the real bummer. He could still make A material if he just followed the path that made the initial movies good/great. And that path includes extensive editing, making the movies about the characters rather than about the sets and background, and having someone else direct the best film.
posted by The World Famous at 6:34 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's very little more commercial than Hollywood filmmaking. That's something fanboys have been unable to understand for some reason.

The first movies have a kind of DIY hacker feel to them.

If by DIY you mean spending 11 million dollars in 1977 (35 million today) to produce a movie, then yes, they're TOTALLY DIY. If you want DIY go watch Lucas's student films.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:35 PM on August 12, 2010


He could still make A material if he just followed the path that made the initial movies good/great.

How are you certain of that? If anything, history has shown that many creative types peak and are unable to do what they have done in the past. I'm not sure why fans of someone's work 33 years ago expect him to be able to do the same work. Eyes Wide Shut, A.I., etc all prove this. Why should Lucas be the exception?
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:38 PM on August 12, 2010


Its like we're demanding Lucas perfectly appeal to both our younger selves and our adults selves at the same time

My younger self thought Empire was awesome, and Jedi was (mostly) shit. My older self -- who just re-watched the OT after 20 years -- was surprised to feel exactly the same.

All I wanted from Lucas was to use the years in between trilogies to produce something approaching the level of Empire. I would have even been ecstatic over something on the level of A New Hope. Instead, we got 3 whole movies that add up to a single, confused Jedi. It's difficult to argue that, with 16 years and an unlimited budget, Lucas couldn't have delivered a decent story and/or interesting characters.
posted by coolguymichael at 6:41 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If by DIY you mean spending 11 million dollars in 1977 (35 million today) to produce a movie, then yes, they're TOTALLY DIY.

Sure, just like the Apple II.
posted by Omon Ra at 6:46 PM on August 12, 2010


He could still make A material if he just followed the path that made the initial movies good/great.

How are you certain of that?


I think he can, and will someday make another blockbuster that will earn universal praise.

However, if he really can't one thing he certainly can do is let someone else try a reboot or more sequels or prequels, but that isn't going to happen.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:46 PM on August 12, 2010


You know, I never minded the Ewoks. It seemed pretty clear that they were intended to be Wookiees, and at the time I assumed they could find more short actors than tall enough ones, or something.

Jar-Jar, on the other hand, is the steamiest pile of marketing poo on the planet. Fugly, irritating, does stupid shit with his tongue in the background for no good reason, and who the hell liked him other than some of my exes? (Don't ask, I don't get it either and had I but known before dating them...) He is plot fail. Even the Ewoks managed to help defeat the Emperor, and what did Jar-Jar do? Oh yeah, pushed him to power. Also, worst goddamned name in sci-fi history. DIE JAR-JAR DIE.

I still have to be glad that Han lived, dammit. So one good thing about the toy change of heart.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:50 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


In other words you are accusing him of being a sell-out.

It's that, in combination with the missed opportunity.

I mean, c'mon... Lucas has made many metric bungloads of money since Star Wars hit it. He didn't have to sell out to nearly the degree he did. He didn't have to rewrite ROTJ to make it more easily merchandised. He didn't have to create Jar Jar Binks.

It's not that he sold out. It's that sold out so thoroughly and relentlessly. It's that he gave up any notion of balance between making art and making money, and decided that a couple hundred million in his personal account wasn't enough, he needed everything he could possibly milk out of the property. He could have made one or four more Empire Strikes Back level movies and still retired to light cigars with $100 bills, while leaving us without a lingering taste of his ass in our mouths.
posted by fatbird at 6:51 PM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


But really, Dead Han and Queen Leia and lonely and forgotten Chewie is really how you wanted this story to end?

Wasn't this bittersweet and poignant enough for a kids movie?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:00 PM on August 12, 2010


But those cheesy Kenner line of toys wasn't selling out? Or all the bazillion merchandising attempts, shameless marketing, and other associated Star War commercialism in the 1970s? I'm not sure where this supposed selling-out happened. Seems to be it was there from the beginning.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:00 PM on August 12, 2010


But those cheesy Kenner line of toys wasn't selling out? Or all the bazillion merchandising attempts, shameless marketing, and other associated Star War commercialism in the 1970s?

My understanding was that the bargain that allowed the film to be made in the first place left Lucas with no viable revenue stream other than merchandise, and that was sort of the birth of movie toys. I mean, to the extent that any attempt to make movies for a living rather than for free is a sell out, then sure, it was a sell out. But his choice, as I understand it, was to either make money through merchandising and let the studio have the rest or just not make the movie.
posted by The World Famous at 7:03 PM on August 12, 2010


However, if he really can't one thing he certainly can do is let someone else try a reboot or more sequels or prequels, but that isn't going to happen.

Why not? Afterall, he's been extraordinary open with Star Wars. Comics, games, books, cartoons, etc. Lots of writers have taken his universe. He's not exactly this bitter miser who refuses to play ball or allow others in his little world. Heck, some of my most enjoyable Star Wars moments are from the games and comics as much as the original trilogy. I can't think of another creator of such a large franchise who has allowed so many others to touch his work.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:06 PM on August 12, 2010


The World Famous, I'm not at all following you. It seems to me that you just assigned yourself the aribtrary power to declare "SELL OUT" on criteria that you make up as you go along. I imagine this skill also comes in handy when judging indie bands.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:08 PM on August 12, 2010


I guess, ape, that the perception was that the toys in the old trilogy flowed from the movies whereas, in the new trilogy, the movies seemed to flow from the toys. I agree the sell-out thing it's an imperfect argument that depends on personal perception but viscerally that's kinda how it feels. The old ones seem more honest and the characters, even though they are archtypes, seem to be based on human values; whereas the new ones seem populated by corporate sock puppets.
posted by Omon Ra at 7:12 PM on August 12, 2010


Be careful what you wish for. If you want Lucas sans dumbing it down for the lowest common denominator then you get THX1138.

Hey, that's the movie of his that I still kind of like!
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:12 PM on August 12, 2010



Why not? Afterall, he's been extraordinary open with Star Wars. Comics, games, books, cartoons, etc.


All needing significant approval from Lucas before they go forward, with varying crazy canon rules and creative constraints.

I'm talking really handing off for a feature film.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:12 PM on August 12, 2010


> How do the prequels affect the original movie? A New Sith, or Revenge of the Hope

That is far, far more interesting than everything beyond Empire.
posted by darth_tedious at 7:14 PM on August 12, 2010


You can't look at the Jedi Council and not figure out the action figures were designed before the back story, but even THAT doesn't mean the movie has to be bad if you write good back story and give them some reason to exist in the movies.

The toys are a symptom, not the disease.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:17 PM on August 12, 2010


But those cheesy Kenner line of toys wasn't selling out?

Sure they were selling out, but nobody here has said that Star Wars should have been an art film. I don't have any problem with merchandising following success.

Where Lucas crossed the line was altering the movies to facilitate merchandising. The most obvious examples are the Ewoks. That destroyed the primacy of the movies in the value chain. It was no longer "I made awesome movies, now I'm going to merchandise them." It became "I'm going to make merchandisable movies." It became exactly as bad as Saturday morning cartoons created explicitly to open up a line of action figures.
posted by fatbird at 7:18 PM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


^ Sure, he made the change because he never could have sold Wookie action figures.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:19 PM on August 12, 2010


Something tells me that if the work was slightly better then the haters would accept all the "selling out" without any protest, in fact if the 1980s showed us anything its that we fans go apeshit over toys and other merchandising. If he didn't "sell out" with junk toys, we'd be screaming and demanding he did.

Frankly, I don't buy the "sell out" argument. Its poorly defended and just seems to exist to keep up the irrational Lucas hate. Seems to me that he simply no longer had the drive, creativity, or resources he once did and he could never fulfill the childhood fantasy of more movies just like the 1977 film.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:22 PM on August 12, 2010


The World Famous, I'm not at all following you. It seems to me that you just assigned yourself the aribtrary power to declare "SELL OUT" on criteria that you make up as you go along.

Meh. The term "sell out" is dumb enough that I'm comfortable declaring myself the ultimate arbiter of its meaning when I use it.
posted by The World Famous at 7:22 PM on August 12, 2010


In other words the Lucas hate is 100% irrational.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:23 PM on August 12, 2010


It's not hate ape, more like disdain...
posted by Omon Ra at 7:25 PM on August 12, 2010


In other words the Lucas hate is 100% irrational.

Are you talking to me? Because I have no hate for Lucas, and I'm arguing that his initial merchandising efforts, including action figures, did not constitute "selling out" because they were a means to get the movie made, rather than the other way around.

Seems to me that he simply no longer had the drive, creativity, or resources he once did and he could never fulfill the childhood fantasy of more movies just like the 1977 film.

The 1977 film was great in part because it did not match Lucas' vision. He didn't have the resources to make the movie he wanted to make, and other people nudged it in the direction that it needed to go to be as good as it is. This is particularly true with regard to editing. His childhood fantasy wasn't to make more movies just like the 1977 film. It was to make movies just like Episode III (I'll assume that he didn't really want Episodes I and II to turn out the way they did). And that's why he keeps doing special editions of the 1977 film where he fills beautiful shots with CGI crap that clutters up the frame.
posted by The World Famous at 7:30 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm talking really handing off for a feature film.

Sounds like an unfair standard to me. I mean, who on Lucas's level has done this? "Sure, go ahead and go crazy with this franchise. Do anything you want." On any practical standard, he's been very open, unlike many of his peers.

How is the extended universe of our modern day "Star Wars" like Twilight and Harry Potter going? Oh right, it doesn't exist because no one can touch those works. The Potter games are lousy cash-in franchise titles and fans who get ambitious (Harry Potter Lexicon) get sued to hell and back.

Pardon me for thinking Lucas has done right with the games, books, and comics.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:31 PM on August 12, 2010


The 1977 film was great in part because it did not match Lucas' vision.

So exactly what is your problem with him? Even by your own admission he's not very talented. Why do you expect someone who you don't respect creatively to become a better filmmaker after a 20 year hiatus?
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:34 PM on August 12, 2010


So exactly what is your problem with him? Even by your own admission he's not very talented. Why do you expect someone who you don't respect creatively to become a better filmmaker after a 20 year hiatus?

My problem with him? I think he should have delegated out significant tasks on the prequels to better people, like he did with Episodes IV and V. But I'm not sure I'd call that a "problem with him."

When did I say he's not very talented? I think he's incredibly talented. He's just not a great director, screenwriter, or cinematographer. And that's fine. He doesn't have to be any of those things as long as he's willing to delegate.

And when did I say I don't respect him creatively? I have enormous respect for him. He created a fictional universe that I'm obsessed with to this day. The man's a genius. I don't "expect" him to become a better filmmaker after a 20 year hiatus. I hoped that he would have cared enough about his vision to take the reasonable steps necessary to see that the films were made in a way that he could be proud of. But I don't think he did that.
posted by The World Famous at 7:39 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's not hate ape, more like disdain...

Sorry, but I have disdain for a lot of things and I never mention those things. I don't care enough to make an effort, yet I can't visit slashdot, io9, or metafilter without a weekly "OMG LUCAS STOLE MY CHILDHOOD" insane rant. The Lucas hate is really just a manifistation of the larger Comic Book Guy personality. An easy target for hateful nerds to spew their bottled up emotions at. Its really quite an odd thing from the outside. What would happen if these haters met Lucas. Kick him in the nuts while yelling "Thank you for all these unforgettable characters and stories from my childhood?"
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:39 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't "expect" him to become a better filmmaker after a 20 year hiatus. I hoped that he would have cared enough about his vision to take the reasonable steps necessary to see that the films were made in a way that he could be proud of. But I don't think he did that.

Part of being a filmmaker is delegation. If he couldnt get it right 20 years ago, why should he get it right now?
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:41 PM on August 12, 2010


The only issue I see here are people without the ability to manage their expectations properly and holding up someone who produces work that is best mixed to an impossibly high standard.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:45 PM on August 12, 2010


The Lucas hate is really just a manifistation of the larger Comic Book Guy personality.

Please. The observation that Lucas' relentless drive to merchandise hurt the movies is a common one, as is the observation that they're just not very good in comparison to the first two. Repeating those observations makes me Comic Book Guy and 100% irrational?
posted by fatbird at 7:47 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Part of being a filmmaker is delegation. If he couldnt get it right 20 years ago, why should he get it right now?

He got it right with Empire. One would hope that 20 years of hearing that it was the best of the trilogy would trigger some sort of "aha" moment.
posted by The World Famous at 7:47 PM on August 12, 2010


Repeating those observations makes me Comic Book Guy and 100% irrational?

Yes, because you have no proof that merchandising alone damaged the movies. I don't think Lucas had it in him to deliver the goods, but that seems hard to swallow for Comic Book Guys so they focus on the conspiracy of a quick buck, while ignoring that Lucas was a millionaire several times over by the time he decided to "sell out" by continuing to issue toys and other merchandising as he did in 1977.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:50 PM on August 12, 2010


He got it right with Empire. One would hope that 20 years of hearing that it was the best of the trilogy would trigger some sort of "aha" moment.

Well, he also got it right with Lucasarts and his other ventures. I just don't think he's this genius filmmaker who got seduced by the dark side of easy money. If anything, he got somewhat lucky to work with some unusually talented people in the 1970s and suffers from the dreaded sophmore slump many creative types do. Adding 20 years to that slump, of course, produce entirely predictable results. At least to those of us who don't put him on a pedestal.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:53 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


you have no proof that merchandising alone damaged the movies.

I'm curious: What would count as proof to you?
posted by fatbird at 7:54 PM on August 12, 2010


Sorry, but I have disdain for a lot of things and I never mention those things.

I dunno. It feels like you have more at stake w/the hate discussion than anybody else. From what I'm reading, in this thread, nobody is hating the guy, frankly. You're the one that brought out that word. Nobody now cares enough about his later stuff to get to the level of hate. It's just meh, kinda sucks that his later stuff is so stiff.

I personally find it interesting how somebody can create a cultural product as influential as the first trilogy and just trash the whole thing years later to the point where he becomes kind of irrelevant. That's why I keep talking about it, as a social/cultural thing. I also think it's educational to point out how the lack of credible character development kills blockbusters, since that's a current malaise in Hollywood, and the big thing that's wrong with the second installment.
posted by Omon Ra at 7:56 PM on August 12, 2010


I agree with you 100%, damn dirty ape.
posted by The World Famous at 7:57 PM on August 12, 2010


Documented admission by Lucas himself would be a good place to start.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:57 PM on August 12, 2010


Documented admission by Lucas himself would be a good place to start

Really? Unless Lucas himself says that the merchandising hurt the movies, you're going to write off what people have been saying for many years, even when it's confirmed by the guy who made #1 and #2 with Lucas?

Now who's being irrational?
posted by fatbird at 8:03 PM on August 12, 2010


I've read interviews with Lucas criticizing himself and his past decisions before. I don't see why this would be an exception. He's not some mad conspirator hoping that no one ever thinks to notice he likes merchandising or anything. If anything, merchandising is as much his legacy as his films and has spoken about it in the past.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:06 PM on August 12, 2010


I think this is your typical malice vs incompetence situation. You think there's this massive toy conspiracy. I think he's just not that talented. My conclusion seems a hell of a lot more rational than yours.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:08 PM on August 12, 2010


Sounds like an unfair standard to me. I mean, who on Lucas's level has done this? "Sure, go ahead and go crazy with this franchise. Do anything you want." On any practical standard, he's been very open, unlike many of his peers.

Look at franchises like Bond, Batman, and Star Trek for examples of what I'm talking about.


The Potter games are lousy cash-in franchise titles and fans who get ambitious (Harry Potter Lexicon) get sued to hell and back.

Pardon me for thinking Lucas has done right with the games, books, and comics.


Let me introduce you to Tri-Oculus.

Trioculus was a three-eyed mutant warlord of the Galactic Empire who declared himself Emperor a year after the Battle of Endor. As a figurehead of the Central Committee of Grand Moffs, led by his mentor Bertroff Hissa, Trioculus took control of the remnants of the Empire in opposition to Ysanne Isard.

The self-proclaimed son of Palpatine, Trioculus was in actuality a pretender to the throne, usurping the role of Palpatine's alleged son, three-eyed mutant Triclops. Spurred on by a prophecy of the false Kadann, he sought the glove of Darth Vader to establish his legitimacy. Trioculus's pursuit of the Jedi Prince Ken and his infatuation with Leia Organa pitted him against rival Zorba Desilijic Tiure, and led to him being taken captive by the Hutt and frozen in carbonite. Trioculus was eventually betrayed by Kadann, who sought the Imperial throne himself, and in the end was assassinated by a New Republic droid.


The vast majority of the Star Wars EU is content on this level. I love a ton of the games, they do much better than most franchises at making good games, but most of the other content is trash. You really think it is a tragedy we don't have Kevin J. Anderson's Tales from Hogwarts?

For the most part, the EU is a real example of selling out quality to make a buck unlike the example of the later movies, which were honest attempts at quality that failed miserably.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:10 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I want an action figure of Patton Oswalt with a shovel.
posted by homunculus at 8:12 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You think there's this massive toy conspiracy.

I don't think there's a conspiracy. I think it's fairly obvious that Lucas chose merchandisability over story in a lot of cases, and the story suffered for it. Lots of other people find it fairly obvious too. Even Lucas admitted that the merchandising of Phantom Menace was out of hand (I don't have a cite, so I'm not hanging my hat on that, though).

I think he's just not that talented.

He's just not that talented, yet he's the man behind the biggest movie franchise ever? I think my explanation is more rational, thanks.
posted by fatbird at 8:13 PM on August 12, 2010


If by DIY you mean spending 11 million dollars in 1977 (35 million today) to produce a movie, then yes, they're TOTALLY DIY. If you want DIY go watch Lucas's student films.

Actually, $35 million to make a special effects dependent SF movie WITH a wide release pretty much is DIY in today's studio system-- hell, most studios won't let you make that sort of movie anymore, it either has to have a gigantic budget with special effects so AMAZING that people will show up and watch just for that (ala Avatar) or it has to be some sort of "locked room" indie-level budget with a minimal EFX budget (ala Moon oe the first Cube movie).

They toys really do drive the SW movies, but not so cynically as we like to think. Lucas began merchandising like a mofo in the ealy 90's in part to come up with the money to make the prequels, free of studio interference. IIRC, for the prequels, Fox was only on the hook for the marketing & distribution costs (maybe the actor's salaries). Luca bore all other production costs himself. The real shame is that he didn't have the people working on the current Clone Wars TV series helping him out creatively on Episodes 1-3. while I don't watch it regularly, the handful of episodes I've caught do a much better job of fleshing out the characters (Anakin is actually likeable, which gives some dramatic heft to his character arc that was missing in Episodes 2 & 3).
posted by KingEdRa at 8:13 PM on August 12, 2010


The thing that really stuns me about commentary like this and the entire massive anti-Lucas movement is how little credit and sympathy Lucas himself gets. Its like we're demanding Lucas perfectly appeal to both our younger selves and our adults selves at the same time and how we obviously know what he should have done,

For me there are two things going on.

One is that somewhere between Empire and Jedi, a switch got flipped. Star Wars and Empire are both movies that a seven or eight year old boy might really enjoy. There's derring-do, asplosions, cool villains, and so on.

But Jedi, and for the most part the prequels, aren't movies that a seven year old might enjoy. Instead, they're nerfed, cuddlier things that Lucas thinks that seven year olds ought to enjoy. It is probably not an accident that he made Jedi not long after his first kid came along... you can also watch Spielberg nerfing himself after his kids.

The other thing is the going back and changing things. Cleaning up the matte blocks around things, that's good. Adding a few CGI shots in... meh. Deciding that Greedo shot first? And doing it that clumsily? That's just a big fuck-you.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:15 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


For the most part, the EU is a real example of selling out quality to make a buck unlike the example of the later movies, which were honest attempts at quality that failed miserably.

That's a matter of opinion and taste. You can pick the worst of the EU but I'm certain every mefite is famiiar with confirmation bias and Sturgeon's Law. I can point to Rebel Squadron, Jedi Outcast, Timothy Zahn's books, and the Dark Horse comics.

Again, the term "selling out" is meaningless, doubly so when discussing Hollywood blockbusters.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:16 PM on August 12, 2010


He's just not that talented, yet he's the man behind the biggest movie franchise ever?

Talent is a complex thing. By your definition Michael Bay is uber-talented. Afterall, he's delivered several blockbusters. Lucas got lucky to be associated with some good people, good ideas, and like many creative people couldn't keep up the pace. Then he got old and boring. Pretty typical.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:19 PM on August 12, 2010


And doing it that clumsily? That's just a big fuck-you.

Oh, I agree. Not to mention removing the shotguns in ET and replacing them with walkie-talkies. To me, these are minor crimes of old men, and somewhat forgivable. I don't see it as a big deal and certainly not enough to warrant the level of Lucas hate I see on nerd sites.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:21 PM on August 12, 2010


I can point to Rebel Squadron, Jedi Outcast, Timothy Zahn's books, and the Dark Horse comics.

It is not a matter of opinion that the vast majority of the EU is trash, I know there are some diamonds in the rough, but that is all.


Again, the term "selling out" is meaningless


It has a meaning, it means knowingly sacrificing quality or integrity for the sake of profit.


But Jedi, and for the most part the prequels, aren't movies that a seven year old might enjoy. Instead, they're nerfed, cuddlier things that Lucas thinks that seven year olds ought to enjoy.


I'd seriously love someone to actually explain how this applies to Jedi. The Ewoks are cute but vicious (they capture and nearly feast on the flesh of the heroes), and several die extremely violent deaths on screen. That isn't that cuddly when you put it all together, the movie is no more or less dark than the original. It is just as deep than the original in emotions, and there is a similar amount of action.

It brings the story set up in Empire to a logical conclusion. I can understand not liking it, but putting it on the level of the prequels is just silly and I suspect the root of Gary Kurtz complaint is more bitterness at getting kicked out of any more collaboration with Lucas and never doing anything great in his career again while Lucas was still involved in stuff like Indiana Jones movies.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:27 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, yes the EU stuff seems mostly dreck on first glance (I usually don't care enough about the back story of the third Imperial Dignitary on the left to bring myself to invest in such things), but there's obviously enough people out there who do, so I think the fans (or at least the hardcore ones) deserve as much of the blame as Lucas does. If they didn't buy it, he wouldn't be selling it.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:30 PM on August 12, 2010


Hey, trash can sell, otherwise no one would sell out. I haven't just glanced, I've stared deeply into the maw of it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:31 PM on August 12, 2010


It's difficult to argue that, with 16 years and an unlimited budget, Lucas couldn't have delivered a decent story and/or interesting characters.

It's precisely because of the 16 years and the unlimited budget that Lucas didn't deliver a decent story and/or interesting characters. Art thrives on limits. Only one other director in the last generation has ever had the same combination of time, money and directorial freedom without any limits in a practical sense, and look what happened.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:32 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


He made a movie that was nowhere near as fatally flawed as the prequels?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:34 PM on August 12, 2010


It has a meaning, it means knowingly sacrificing quality or integrity for the sake of profit.

Shame Lucas wasn't able to scrap Star Wars to make a sequel to THX1138. I prefer THX1138 to any of the Star Wars stuff nowadays. I'm not sure if I can even watch Star Wars anymore. Its hokey fun eyecandy, but lets not toss around words like integrity and art too casually here.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:36 PM on August 12, 2010



Shame Lucas wasn't able to scrap Star Wars to make a sequel to THX1138.


But he made good Star Wars movies without sacrificing quality or integrity for profit, you don't have to be THX1138.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:39 PM on August 12, 2010


Only one other director in the last generation has ever had the same combination of time, money and directorial freedom without any limits in a practical sense, and look what happened.

I'd also add Eyes Wide Shut and Spielberg's AI and War of the Worlds. Perhaps even Oliver Stone's Alexander or Scott's Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven.

Filmmaking is hard even for the uber-talented.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:48 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


None of those movies are as flawed as the prequels, though AI and Alexander come close. Of course, the prequels DID have the additional disadvantage of being compared not just to the earlier output of the director but to the earlier movies in the same franchise, making the flaws even more obvious.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:51 PM on August 12, 2010


Eyes Wide Shut is pretty interesting, even as a failure, which Is debatable. I kinda like it actually...
posted by Omon Ra at 8:52 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to restate my point that the original franchise was made by hippies :-P
posted by Omon Ra at 8:53 PM on August 12, 2010


Speilberg's War of the Worlds was pretty good, actually (except for the last 5 minutes, which can also be said about AI-- One more cite and its a trend!). I think it takes a lot of heat because it wasn't a giant blockbuster hit in the theaters and has Tom Cruise in it, who, despite the fact that he did a (surprisingly) good job in his role, is an easy canvas to paint with a broad brush due to his personal life. AI & Eyes Wide Shut were both incomplete films handed off to Spielberg after Kubrick's death-- It's a little unfair to hammer either director for turning out such disappointments. Kubrick never had a chance to see his visions through to the end, and Spielberg had the problem of trying to finish bringing those visions to the screen when they weren't HIS visions in the first place).

Star Wars, though, that's Lucas' baby. We only have him and ourselves to blame for everything post-Empire. Tri-Oculus. Holy Shit. When did fanfic become canon? *Shudder*
posted by KingEdRa at 10:20 PM on August 12, 2010


Is Trioculus canon? What happened to Grand Admiral Thrawn? I'm so confused.

Man, now I have to waste a day on Wookie/Wikipedia.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:39 AM on August 13, 2010


Speilberg's War of the Worlds was pretty good, actually

The primary purpose of War of the Worlds is to give a horrifying insight into what Spielberg understands fatherhood to be. It's about dealing with vortexes of need that squall and howl and shriek constantly and never do what you say even when it's for their good and they're just so fucking stupid and there's a pedophile monster lurking behind every tree.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:52 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


>. AI & Eyes Wide Shut were both incomplete films handed off to Spielberg after Kubrick's death

Eyes Wide Shut was made by Kubrick during his lifetime and Kubrick died a few days after a screening of the final cut. Spielberg only really worked on AI.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:55 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


@ROU_Xenophobe: LOL. I'm biting my tongue (due to the terms of my employment contract) but lets just say that your comment is REMARKABLY accurate about his personal understanding of how children behave.

That said, I thought WotW did a great job of bringing a feeling of Lovecraftian "cosmic horror" to the screen with its Martians, or more accurately, the human's reactions to the Martian invasion. Now, I'm shutting down my derail and getting back to the topic.

George Lucas = Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Discuss.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:12 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is Trioculus canon?


I'd also like to say a quick word about how these books fit in with the canon. Because yeah, these books are canon. I'm probably going to say that again a few times throughout, because it's insane. Just keep this in mind when you see something in another book that seems ridiculous. These books take place one year after Return of the Jedi and The Truce at Bakura. So almost every Star Wars book you've read with Luke, Han, and Leia in it? They have the memories of these books in their minds. I don't know how they didn't go insane.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:17 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's about dealing with vortexes of need that squall and howl and shriek constantly and never do what you say even when it's for their good

That's a pretty good description of my last 24 hours with a sick 3 year old.

There's only one bit that really annoys me about The movie though - that when the idiot son decides to go off over the hill to "fight" the Martians (or whatever they are) we then see him again later, and not as a smouldering corpse/ pile of 911 dust.
posted by Artw at 7:36 AM on August 13, 2010


This Trioculus stuff apparently was written up for books designated for ages 9 to 12.

I think when it comes to the expanded universe, is that you generally come across two types of authors/creators. There are those who "get" Star Wars and those who see it as something more whimsical/silly and don't take nearly as much concern over creating something that really fits into the universe setup by the movies. At least the original trilogy took itself seriously (until it began to stray some with the ewoks), but when you start devising up people with three eyes with chips implanted in their fingertips to allow them to "manipulate" force lightning...you're not really caring enough. What's worse, and this is where Lucas originally began to disappoint me (once an extremely hardcore Star Wars fan) was the lack of apparent oversight on the release of materials of the expanded universe.

I also agree with the "kid" effect on Lucas. He became obsessed somewhat with an idea that at some level, Star Wars had to connect with ages 4 to 8. The ewoks began a worrisome trend. They might have escaped the ridicule they received if they had been presented as a little bit less rotund and furry and a little bit more violent. If the ewoks had appeared much more fierce, it'd have gone a long way.

Then we get to Phantom Menace. The first indication that the story is polluted comes with the appearance of Jar Jar Binks. Again, it boils down to presentation. By appearances, Jar Jar was supposed to serve in some of the same capacity as C-3P0 and R2. Somewhat comical associates to the more straight faced characters. However, this failed by making him too goofy, too clumsy, and too much screen time. Had Jar Jar had a more mature identity instead of that of a petulant child, he may not have been received with such disdain. However, the version of Jar Jar that we got was something that little kids might have found more amusing. One of the most abhorrent, even if brief, moments of kid pandering was the fart joke. Really? A fart joke in Star Wars?

The next step was Anakin. The kid who was cast (Jake whatever) did a passable job of acting, but we're faced with two outrageous statements. First, that a ten year old could be so mechanically adept and gifted, and capable of competing against adults in a dangerous racing sport. Second, that the ten year old should be setup as the future romantic foil, developing a crush, on Padme. A lot of this could have been fixed by simply making Anakin be a teenager and making the supposed 4 year age difference with him and Padme more believable. (a 17 year old with a crush on a 21 year old is more believable than a 10 year old with a crush on a 14 year old). (Not to mention - C'mon Naboo - seriously? Entrusting the oversight of your government to a 14 year old?!) Lastly, love or hate Mark Hamill, the placing of a protagonist of about the same age as Luke, would have helped to connect the movie to the first Star Wars.

However, for all of the above, it can be surmised that Anakin was cast as a ten year old kid because it would allow other kids to associate with him and enjoy the movie more. Perhaps this was achieved, but none the less severely hindered the movie. The Star Wars trilogy up to that point had excelled wonderfully without the need to introduce a child actor (this cliche remind you of anything from tv land?)

Thus there then rolled along Attack of the Clones. This time we do have a protagonist that is the same age as Luke Skywalker, but unlike in Empire, we don't already have a connection to this character and actor. While we know "Anakin" from the first movie, there's little to connect the ten year old to the much older Anakin of AOTC. Also like Empire, Lucas sets up a romance, instead of Han and Leia, we have Anakin and Padme. Again like Empire, the movie is intended to end on a darker note - the galaxy preparing for war, but also with our heroes placed in the captivity of the enemy. Unlike in Empire, the enemy doesn't "win" this round. There's no Han carried away frozen in carbonite as a result of a failed rescue. AOTC then lacks some of the more emotional weight of Empire. (Not to mention - in general, the acting just wasn't as good). What is notable for AOTC is that Lucas finally begins to separate the "kid" factor from the movie, but fails perhaps for need to leave the audience with at least a partial happy ending. (The presence of a certain youthful bounty hunter is limited and much more restrained).

Lastly, we have Revenge of the Sith. In Sith, we finally get about as close to the darker side of Empire as we will in the prequel trilogy. Lucas literally cuts out the "kid" presence by having Anakin kill the Younglings (albeit off screen). The last 45 minutes or so is one great tidal wave of Jedi being betrayed and slaughtered, as well Anakin's fully realized descent into the dark side. We're probably a little hindered here from the choices of the first movie, where instead of having an "adult / teen" Anakin who we could have become attached to from the beginning, much of our association with this Anakin is only from the previous movie. It could have been so much stronger had it simply started out with a more fully grown Anakin. In that way, the "kid" friendliness still manages to affect the enjoyability of the third film. None the less, I'd rank ROTS as the 4th best Star Wars film, or rather, the best of the Prequels. Lucas got a lot more right in that film than wrong, especially compared to his two other earlier attempts.

It was this "kid effect" which really has caused a lot of the problems with Star Wars. What Lucas has forgotten at times, as well as some of the many creators of the Expanded Universe, is that Star Wars is exciting and amazing enough on its own to wow little kids (and adults) without needing to specifically pander to that young demographic. A kid doesn't need other kids or furry or funny creatures to enjoy and love Star Wars, because lightsabers, space fighters, and the Force are more than enough to accomplish this feat. I'd say that Kurtz understood this, that the films had the ingredients to appeal to all ages and to be great films. When Lucas lost this understanding, so did Star Wars lose Kurtz.
posted by Atreides at 7:43 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


None the less, I'd rank ROTS as the 4th best Star Wars film, or rather, the best of the Prequels

Except for Hayden Christensen and his DO NOT WANT, I'd say it's better than Jedi. The Jedi really are assholes, there's minimal Jar-Jar, and it's completely free of Ewoks.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:13 AM on August 13, 2010


There's only one bit that really annoys me about The movie though - that when the idiot son decides to go off over the hill to "fight" the Martians (or whatever they are) we then see him again later, and not as a smouldering corpse/ pile of 911 dust.

Like I said, pretty good movie, as long as you turn it off 5 minutes before the credits roll.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:12 AM on August 13, 2010


Metafilter: It's completely free of Ewoks
posted by KingEdRa at 9:24 AM on August 13, 2010


I'd say that Kurtz understood this, that the films had the ingredients to appeal to all ages and to be great films. When Lucas lost this understanding, so did Star Wars lose Kurtz.

Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fucking program. How did that happen? What did he see on that first film? 38 fucking years old. If he didn't join Return of the Jedi, there was no way he'd ever get as rich as Lucas. Kurtz knew what he was giving up.
posted by The World Famous at 9:53 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even the jungle wanted him dead, and that's who he really took his orders from anyway.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The horror . . . the horror. . .
posted by KingEdRa at 10:24 AM on August 13, 2010


It's a shame that they had to destroy all of Alderaan, but it was the only way to make sure that Jar-Jar was dead.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 2:26 PM on August 13, 2010


There's a Robot Chicken where Jar-Jar comes back through the Force and hangs around with Vader. Ani! Meesa sparkly!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:49 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love the original movie like the father I never had, and ESB to a lesser extent.

But Jesus, people, it's been 30 years. I now have the feeling that if we invent time travel the emphasis won't be on preventing Hitler's rise or 9/11, but on making sure that someone else helms Return of the Jedi so that nerds can have a "perfect" trilogy.
posted by Legomancer at 2:52 PM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe he caught midiclorians.
posted by Artw at 2:52 PM on August 13, 2010


Legomancer that's actually the gist of Patton Oswalds SW routine.
posted by Omon Ra at 3:07 PM on August 13, 2010


But then I got to the part where you called TNMT and the of your arguments about it. But then I got to the part where you called TNMT and the Ghostbusters cartoon "good entertainment," and you lost me

Not to derail but I recently went back to the real ghostbusters cartoon. The cadence and toned seemed familar in the dialog. Turned out J. Michael Straczynski was the story editor for the show. He wrote villians in babylon 5 and his run on spiderman the same way.

Maybe if george lucas had usenet to babble on the great plague of merchandising and expanded content never would've happened.

Also, trivia, I hear tell that the later seasons of the first ninja turtles show and muppet babies were written by scientologists.
posted by beardlace at 5:30 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is no defending muppet babies.
posted by Artw at 5:35 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Muppet Babies is awesome.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:01 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only issue I see here are people without the ability to manage their expectations properly and holding up someone who produces work that is best mixed to an impossibly high standard.

Expecting something of quality beyond the incredible sound in these films is hardly a fucking lack of ability to manage expectations properly and expecting, at base, a decent, but not brilliant story with decent characters isn't a fucking impossibly high standard.

The level of adventure story and fun characters we see in both the Clone War animated series would have been nice. We didn't get that.

What we got was awful. Believing it was awful has nothing to do with being a "hater", a term in itself so utterly juvenile I'm surprised it's used in an argument.

I remember watching the Phantom Menace expecting an entertaining yarn. I couldn't believe how dull it was. Darth Maul in particular was a complete joke.

I guess the only issue I see here are people equating other people that think the films are garbage as having the inability to understand that they are saying so while giving Lucas a wide berth, a very wide berth, in what they expect from him and that they come into it holding the film to fairly low standards and the films were so utterly nonsense that they don't even pass that test.
posted by juiceCake at 7:10 AM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not taking it seriously.
posted by juiceCake at 7:18 AM on August 14, 2010


Deleted scene of Luke building his lightsaber in ROTJ to be included in BluRay?
posted by starman at 1:33 PM on August 14, 2010


With a CGI dinosaur over half the frame and Force Ghost Jabba in the background.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:39 PM on August 14, 2010


Star Wars Yoga
posted by homunculus at 4:11 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


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