Saturday, May 26, 2007

So, yeah, Star Wars....

Cultural icon of my generation... changed cinema forever... blah, blah, blah.

You know what the whole Star Wars thing boils down to? One magic blockbuster summer movie, and five toy commercials. Oh, sure, Empire Strikes Back was more critically acclaimed than the original; darker, moodier, better script... But it ended as a cliffhanger, and cliffhangers have to be resolved, and it got resolved with the horrible formulaic commercial for stuffed Ewok toys and little plastic speeder bikes that is Return Of The Jedi. The third movie just put on display the weaknesses of George Lucas as a science fiction writer. Here was no Tolkein, painstakingly crafting languages with consistent rules of grammar and syntax; here was a guy naming races and spaceships after breaded seafood dishes.

Why didn't they just let it end with the first one? The good guys had won, the bad guys had lost, Luke had got the girl, Han got his cash, Chewbacca got a medal, and we were all screaming ourselves hoarse in the theater. Pinko film critic Eleanor Ringel in my hometown was pissed because a movie that just plain regular folks liked for no other reason than it was fun had completely overturned the Hollywood apple cart. What better way to let it end? Instead, Lucas had to pretend that he had the rest of the stuff all written down already, and there was more to come. Sure, George. Say what you want about having the whole shebang planned ahead of time, but we all saw that kiss in the first flick.

Anyway, thirty years later, I sure remember Star Wars. It's everything that came after it that I wish I could forget.

18 comments:

angus lincoln said...

Lucas is a master capitalist...pure and simple. Talent doesn't play into much as it doesn't with so many of today's popular icons. It has always amazed me just what some people are willing to do in the name of cashing in.

Anonymous said...

I think in one of the pre-ROTJ books Luke was planning more than kissing Leia.

Tracy said...

Kinda' like The Matrix. The original was great. As for the rest, well, the original was great.

Jeffro said...

Carrie Fisher in a metal bikini was not a bad thing.

Erik said...

Some of the first script versions of the first Star Wars movie can be found online.
It has the same basic story, but so much of the details is different that it's clear Lucas didn't have anything else written down.

For instance, in the version I read, the Obi-wan character is the father of the characters that would be Han Solo and Luke, and the story ends with a wink at the next adventure to come, which is nothing like "empire strikes back".

That version sounds like a pretty standard formula sci-fi movie, or even more like a sci-fi tv-show, a set of characters going from one adventure to next.

Andrew said...

You still gotta love the scene where Han grabs Leia's b**bie...

Anonymous said...

I was a Jaws fan myself. That time period boiled down to two different "large" movie fans - Star Wars or Jaws.

Robert Shaw as Quinn is the best...

Lost in Jacksonville

Joseph said...

I was 12 when the original "Star Wars" came out...thought it was great...but after the fourth one, I quit watching them. They just became special effects movies.

aepilot_jim said...

Harsh... Very harsh... But true, sadly true.

Huck Phinn said...

Breaded seafood? How about generic decapodiform cephalopods?
Broaden your horizons, Tam, and maybe, lighten up. Lucas produced fantasy, not science fiction.

Anonymous said...

"Lucas produced fantasy, not science fiction." Yeah, I guess the death star, intelligent servant robots, and that whole hyperdrive concept was more fantasy then scifi. . .

Strings said...

Heh... I grew up on Star Wars. Was young enough when ROTJ came out that the ewoks didn't bother me THAT much (and old enough that Carrie Fisher in that slave outfit had me drooling). Saw the rereleases, and didn't hate 'em TOO much.

Then came EpI. Until that point, all of fandom had heard that Lucas did NOT want anyone doing anything with the "prequil era", as he had it all figured out. Instead of a glimpse of the greatness of the Old Republic and the Jedi, we get... well... a children's movie. And a bad one, at that...

Unless the next movie Lucas does is Star Wars EpIa: the Appology, I doubt I'll see anything else Georgieboy comes out with...

Huck Phinn said...

anonymous,

The Lucas Star Wars product so lacks science that it fails to rise to the level of Sci-Fi. It is, tho', good fun. Just check your critical thinking capacity at the door and enjoy.

Carl said...

With the first movie he'd pretty much ripped off the plot line and most of the characters from Kurowawa's The Hidden Fortress. After that he was on his own, and you'll note it started tanking immediately. When you've ripped off Kurosawa to great acclaim but the rest of your stuff is shallow and annoying marketing, what's that say about YOU George?

Standard Mischief said...

Chewbacca didn't get a metal, at least not in the original release.

(Oh and Han shot first;)

Tam said...

"(Oh and Han shot first;)"

Check my current blog footer. ;)

bedlamite said...

I'm still waiting for Spaceballs 2, The search for more money

Sigivald said...

Well, the first movie didn't really resolve much.

I mean, sure, Death Star destroyed.

But the Rebels had lost a planet, had their other base discovered, and the whole Empire was still there.

And Darth Vader wasn't dead.

Tell me that's not an open invitation to a sequel, c'mon.

Carl: You know, I've watched The Hidden Fortress a few times (own the DVD, as I don't with Star Wars), and it's just not that close of a ripoff. (Even if Lucas admits inspiration, which I think he does.)

Yeah, I mean, C3 and R2 are sorta like the bungling, self-serving serfs. And there's a headstrong princess and a manly "general" type (but is he Han or Luke?).

The rest of it, not so much.