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Star Wars Debate Redux

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I am convinced (but don't know how to prove) that going all digital was what killed the Star Wars series. Directors need technical obstacles but with the technical and financial clout that Lucas has, there are no limits. Thus, instead of seeing only his best ideas on screen we see all of them and we end up with a movie that looks like a Myst screensaver.

I read somewhere (I think it was on the old board) that David Lynch was considered to direct Empire Strikes Back. Is that true? And why did Lucas allow others to direct Empire and Return of the Jedi when everybody seems to agree that he's a control freak? (didn't he play a pivotal role in developing THX so he could be sure that his movies sounded the way he wanted regardless of where they played?)

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AMIDALA: Ani? My, how you've grown.

ANAKIN: So have you. More beautiful, I mean.

Dale

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I am convinced (but don't know how to prove) that going all digital was what killed the Star Wars series. Directors need technical obstacles but with the technical and financial clout that Lucas has, there are no limits. Thus, instead of seeing only his best ideas on screen we see all of them and we end up with a movie that looks like a Myst screensaver.

I think you're right about this, at least in part. In the original movies every special effect needed to serve the story. Now it seems like the special effects are just a way for Lucas and co. to show off when they can do.

I think the same is somewhat true of the Matrix as well. That car chase, the fights with Smith, etc., etc., did not have to be so long and drawn out. If they'd been trimmed a bit, I think they would have been more exciting, and the story would have taken center stage.

--Teresa

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SDG   

M. Dale Prins wrote:

AMIDALA: Ani? My, how you've grown.

ANAKIN: So have you. More beautiful, I mean.

Shame on you for cutting the line short. What Anakin actually says is: "So have you. Grown more beautiful, I mean... well, for a senator. I mean..." To which Amidala replies, "Oh Ani, you'll always be that little boy I knew back on Tatooine."

Of COURSE it's a terrible line. It's MEANT to be.

The real problem here, alas, is not the wooden dialogue, but the wooden ACTING. Christensen is too swoony and insufficiently self-possessed, and Portman is too unconflicted and cool.

I like to contrast Portman's line reading of "Please don't look at me like that. It makes me uncomfortable" with Carrie Fisher's reading of "Stop that. My hands are dirty" in Episode V. Fisher conveys conflict and tension -- she's uncomfortable with Han holding her hand, but she doesn't entirely want him to stop either -- while Portman sounds like she's in a sexual-harrassment training video illustrating the point that No Means No.

Even when Han and Leia shouted at each other ("Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder!"), it was more romantic than Ani and Amidala's exchanges, because strong emotions run close, and anger can yield to romantic passion more easily than polite disinterest can. Job with his anger at God and wild words was closer to Him than were Job's three friends with their pious orthodoxies. Better a tempestuous marriage with passionate fighting and passionate lovemaking than a polite nonmarriage with separate bedrooms and separate vacations (credit Peter Kreeft). But now my free association has gone far afield of Star Wars prequels.

By the way, I still love this movie. biggrin.gif

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AlanW wrote:

: While we were watching, we particularly noticed that Carrie Fisher did

: such a better job than Portman at delivering these sorts of lines

Not sure how much of the credit for that should go to Fisher, though, and how much should go to director Irvin Kershner. Some of the performances in Episode VI, which was directed by the late Richard Marquand, are just plain lazy. And that includes Fisher.

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Anders   

You are all making me quite upset with the constant Lucas bashing. :cry:

I read somewhere (I think it was on the old board) that David Lynch was considered to direct Empire Strikes Back. Is that true?

Actually Lynch was approached to direct Return of the Jedi.

And why did Lucas allow others to direct Empire and Return of the Jedi when everybody seems to agree that he's a control freak?

Well for one thing, people seem pretty free to throw out all kinds of accusations when it comes to Lucas that would probably be taken quite differently if I were to accuse other directors of the same things. But it's "in vogue" to criticise Lucas for his shortcomings, so...

To really answer your question, Lucas stated when filming the original trilogy that he didn't really like directing that much. This was mostly because he had a bad experience on the orginal film (with some experience in film production, I can atest to the fact that people who consistantly act as both producer and director develop migraines very quickly). So for the next two chapters Lucas wrote the story and acted as producer.

Some of the performances in Episode VI, which was directed by the late Richard Marquand, are just plain lazy. And that includes Fisher.

Thank you Peter. While I disagree with you on the new Star Wars films, at least you have the honesty and integrity to admit that Return of the Jedi was really no different rather than have a tainted view of the past. The Star Wars films have never been full of brilliant performances (excepting Sir Alec and Harrison Ford). The biggest problem is that people look at the past with rose-tinted glasses, forever forgiving the past of its mistakes while refusing to see the present for what it really is.

I am convinced that people who gripe about the Star Wars films being all effects are fogetting that when the original films came out the effects were groundbreaking and were the dominant thing that the films were discussed for. The question I ask is should Lucas have not made the new films with digital effects? When he was making the original films should he have ignored developments in effects and not used motion control or any of the other breakthroughs that were around? It's ridiculous to expect him to not use whatever tools are available to him. I remember a humourous article in some magazine (Cinescape, IIRC) that was supposed to be from the 60s and in it they were like "When will Hollywood get back to good old fashioned storytelling instead of fancy effects work?" And it showed a picture of Jason and the Argonauts or something similar. People will always, and have always, griped about the same old things.

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Anders   

And while I'm on this topic: Is The Godfather, Pt III really that bad? Or does it just pale in comparison to the other two films? I think people are unfair on this film as well.

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Guest Russell Lucas   
Guest Russell Lucas

Godfather 3 suffers from a fairly lousy and too-convoluted plot as well. The Vatican intrigue was not compelling.

I think Sofia wouldn't stick out so much if the story was better. The casting snafu that really hurts it for me is Robert Duvall's decision not to reprise his role.

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Guest Russell Lucas   
Guest Russell Lucas

And-- did I read this or just dream it?-- Kershner and Marquand were hired in part because, being British, they weren't members of the DGA, which had a dispute with Lucas over the director (and other) credits coming last.

Or is that baseless fanboy postulating?

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DanBuck   

Perhaps the reason we don't like the new Star Wars films is because we've grown up. And Andres has made the case to me that perhaps the originals sucked as well, but we were too enamored in our naivite to notice.

I can't imagine you're happy about this Anders, but I', [---] this close to dismissing the whole series as mainstream fodder.

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Anders wrote:

: : Some of the performances in Episode VI, which was directed by the

: : late Richard Marquand, are just plain lazy. And that includes Fisher.

:

: Thank you Peter. While I disagree with you on the new Star Wars films,

: at least you have the honesty and integrity to admit that Return of the

: Jedi was really no different rather than have a tainted view of the past.

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that Episode VI was NO different from the prequels, but, whereas it once seemed like an unusually not-quite-up-to-snuff episode of the original trilogy, it now seems like the harbinger of mediocrities to come. I do know that, when the "special editions" of the original trilogy came out in 1997, I saw Episodes IV and V multiple times, but I had absolutely NO urge to see Episode VI more than once. So my view of that film was dimming well before the prequels had even gone into production (and some of the nonsense that Lucas injected into the "special editions" was further evidence that the prequels would probably stink).

: The Star Wars films have never been full of brilliant performances

: (excepting Sir Alec and Harrison Ford).

Even Ford was one of the lazy ones in Episode VI, though.

: The biggest problem is that people look at the past with rose-tinted

: glasses, forever forgiving the past of its mistakes while refusing to see

: the present for what it really is.

That may be SOME people's problem, but it ain't mine, not in this case.

: I am convinced that people who gripe about the Star Wars films being all

: effects are fogetting that when the original films came out the effects

: were groundbreaking and were the dominant thing that the films were

: discussed for.

Well, that and the re-introduction of "myth" into a film culture that had been quite opposed to the traditional myths for at least a decade. With these prequels, the alleged "myth" is turning into mere soap opera, and badly done, technobabblish soap opera at that.

Rusell Lucas wrote:

: And-- did I read this or just dream it?-- Kershner and Marquand were

: hired in part because, being British, they weren't members of the DGA,

: which had a dispute with Lucas over the director (and other) credits

: coming last.

As I recall, based on my long-ago reading of Tom Pollock's Lucas biography Skywalking, the dispute began with Episode V, actually, when Kershner's name didn't appear at the beginning of the film. Lucas had to pay a fine or something, which he regarded as ridiculous because there had NOT been a similar stink over the absence of his name at the front of Episode IV.

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I am convinced that people who gripe about the Star Wars films being all effects are fogetting that when the original films came out the effects were groundbreaking and were the dominant thing that the films were discussed for. The question I ask is should Lucas have not made the new films with digital effects? When he was making the original films should he have ignored developments in effects and not used motion control or any of the other breakthroughs that were around? It's ridiculous to expect him to not use whatever tools are available to him.

Hey, I'm all for fancy state-of-the-art effecs. It's part of the magic of the movies but effects should help tell the story, not be the story. This is why I consider The Matrix to be a perfect action movie - because all of its innovations helped propell the story. During the roof-top fight scene, for example, bullet time helped us get inside the mind of Neo and his growing ability to control the matrix (slowing down time to dodge bullets). Thus it wasn't just a cool effect, it helped tell the story.

Problem I see with Episode I&II is the same one that plagues Matrix Revolutions. When directors are not constrained by technology and/or money, they use too much of both. When directors are strapped for cash, they have to use expensive CGI shots sparingly so they save them for scenes where they'll do the most good. When they have the freedom and power to do whatever they want, they do. I know I mentioned this before, but I'm reminded of the story where Kevin Smith asked the studio for a monkey for a scene where no monkey was needed - he just wanted to see if he had the clout to get a monkey.

Last point (for this post). I'm not bashing Lucas and I didn't know doing so was "in vogue." I give the guy mad props for all the work he's done. I can't imagine elementary school without the Star Wars movies.

Well for one thing, people seem pretty free to throw out all kinds of accusations when it comes to Lucas that would probably be taken quite differently if I were to accuse other directors of the same things. But it's "in vogue" to criticise Lucas for his shortcomings, so...

I'm not singling Lucas out. The Wachowski Bros are guilty of the same things that I accused Lucas of (although I reserve final judgement on them until Revolutions comes out...maybe they're fooling us all). In fact, now that I think of it, Kevin Smith is guilty of the same thing because in the film with the monkey story (I belive it was Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) was his worst film.

Peace, out.

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Anders   

I'm not singling Lucas out. The Wachowski Bros are guilty of the same things that I accused Lucas of

Good, because way too many people love to single out Lucas while they bow down at the Wachowski's feet.

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Anders wrote:

: Good, because way too many people love to single out Lucas while they

: bow down at the Wachowski's feet.

I don't see how ANYbody could bow down at someone's feet just on the strength of one movie. Lucas at least has the first two Star Wars movies PLUS Raiders of the Lost Ark to his credit, and if I were to re-watch American Graffiti, I might add that film to the list, too.

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Anders   
American Graffiti is a great movie. THX 1138 is a bizzare and amazing film that most people haven't seen, and I think they should check out. One of the most inventive and disturbing dystopian futures I've seen in film. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Lucas is doing to do post-Episode III.

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I don't see how ANYbody could bow down at someone's feet just on the strength of one movie.

Well... Bound has a lot of fans... FWIW.

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Anders   

I don't see how ANYbody could bow down at someone's feet just on the strength of one movie.

But people DO! Everyday at work (at Blockbuster if you forget) I have to deal with so-called movie buffs who praise The Matrix as if it were the greatest film ever made. I got into a heated debate at work with a co-worker because I refused to put The Matrix on my Top Ten films of the 90s list. I told him I would put it on my Top Ten of 1999, but still behind The Phantom Menace for that year and he freaked as if I was commiting sacrilige. The same biases I may have (and I acknowledge this) for Star Wars are becoming common place for many fans of The Matrix. And please note I'm not referring to anyone on this board, but people I meet in my everyday life. That's the way it is out there.

And just to further my idea that people just enjoy bashing Star Wars, when Attack of the Clones came out, me and several other people went to see it opening night. We all loved it. They said it was the best Star Wars film since Empire Strikes Back (even given the wooden love story). No more than three days later (THREE DAYS!) they were publicly declaring the film to have sucked! I was so angry because they were just caving in to what the media and the "cool" people wanted them to say. I asked them if it was the Yoda-Dooku saber battle or the arena Jedi battle that sucked more and they looked kinda embarrassed. True story.

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Guest Russell Lucas   
Guest Russell Lucas

I'd be curious to know how many of those original Matrix disciples are still keeping the faith, now that we have seen the second part.

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Anders wrote:

: American Graffiti is a great movie. THX 1138 is a bizzare and amazing

: film that most people haven't seen, and I think they should check out.

I saw both films back in my high-school days but haven't seen them again since. I do have the issue of Short, the DVD magazine, that has the student film that THX 1138 was based on, but I haven't watched it yet.

FWIW, I know one person who says he knew Lucas was philosophically muddled when he saw THX 1138 and realized that Lucas was mixing Huxleyan and Orwellian visions of the future -- a Big Brother police state AND drugs that keep the people pacified.

: I'm really looking forward to seeing what Lucas is doing to do post-Episode III.

Yes, by all means, more Willows, more Howard the Ducks, more Radioland Murderses -- bring them on!! wink.gif

: And just to further my idea that people just enjoy bashing Star Wars,

: when Attack of the Clones came out, me and several other people went

: to see it opening night. We all loved it. They said it was the best Star

: Wars film since Empire Strikes Back (even given the wooden love

: story). No more than three days later (THREE DAYS!) they were publicly

: declaring the film to have sucked! I was so angry because they were just

: caving in to what the media and the "cool" people wanted them to say.

At which point were they caving in, though? It seemed to me that there was a LOT of hype in the media, around the time the film came out, presurring us all to say that Episode II was a definite improvement on Episode I, etc. Perhaps, after a few days had gone by and people had had the chance to distance themselves from the hype and think about the movie a little more, they realized that Episode II really WASN'T all that much of an improvement. I do know people who said right from the get-go that Episode II was worse than Episode I, so it's not like that opinion isn't honestly held by people out there.

: I asked them if it was the Yoda-Dooku saber battle or the arena Jedi

: battle that sucked more and they looked kinda embarrassed.

Why? The Yoda-Dooku saber battle was quite possibly the nadir of the film, and the arena battle, while okay, doesn't keep me particularly warm at nights whenever I put it on.

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Well... Bound has a lot of fans... FWIW.

True. I haven't seen that film since it was brand-new, though, and I'm not sure how many Matrix fans have seen it yet.

Russell Lucas wrote:

: I'd be curious to know how many of those original Matrix disciples are

: still keeping the faith, now that we have seen the second part.

I loved the first film, but I would never have called myself a "disciple" of it -- from the beginning, I had too many qualms with the willingness of the "heroes" to slaughter innocent people.

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I thought about posting this to the Episode III thread, but thought this would be the more appropriate place to post this, given the thread title and all.

Basically, Ain't It Cool News and Empire Online and other sites are reporting that the original Star Wars trilogy may be coming out on DVD in just ten months or so ... but there may be a catch. According to an item re-posted at Slashdot, LOTS of new changes may be made to the original trilogy, most of which will apparently be made in order to guarantee that the prequels will forever contaminate our memories of the original films.

One can only hope that this is a hoax, but with Lucas in charge, well, who knows?

Personally, I think Lucas can make whatever changes he likes, but ONLY if he restores the original versions of the films and makes them available as well, the way his buddy Spielberg did with the E.T. DVD.

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Anders   

I'm not convinced that the post at Slashdot is authentic. While much of it seems within the realm of possibility, that's an awful lot of stuff to add in. Ceritain items make this seem like a fanboy fantasy:

18. The Obi-Wan/Vader duel has been spruced up. It is much more epic and there is much more movement. A modified version of Duel of the Fates is being considered for the scene.

07. Yoda's face is now animated in CG allowing more _expression of emotions yet his movements remain the same.

4. The ewoks are now mostly CG and there are a lot more of them.

07. In the battle of Endor there are thousands of Ewoks and they are more vicious than there midgets-in-suits counterparts. More bite the dust now.

That last bit seems like wishful thinking on some peoples part.

Also, this is an awful lot of work listed. Somehow, if the release date is next fall, all the changes seem unlikely.

I agree with Peter somewhat. While I expect Lucas to make some final changes to the films (or perhaps redo some of the fixes from the SE), I would really like to see the original films preserved on DVD ala E.T..

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Anders wrote:

: I'm not convinced that the post at Slashdot is authentic.

Nor I. But it would be VERY much like Lucas to throw in a bunch of extra stuff that nobody needs just because he feels like filling in a 'gap' or two, e.g. the extra footage in the 'special edition' of The Empire Strikes Back in which we see Darth Vader take his shuttle from Bespin to the Super Star Destroyer. Not only was that one bit of detail completely unnecessary from a storytelling point of view, it also disrupted the flow of the sequence in which the TIE fighters chase the Millennium Falcon away from Cloud City.

FWIW, one thing I was surprised this list DIDN'T include was the footage of Han Solo boarding the Falcon on Tatooine in Return of the Jedi. I believe that was the very first scene they shot for that film, and if they had kept it in the film, it would have been the ONLY scene in the entire film in which we see someone walk up the Falcon's gangplank -- as it is, all we see of the Falcon, apart from miniatures and matte paintings, is the cockpit (and even then, we never see Han Solo or Chewbacca or Princess Leia or Luke Skywalker or ANY of the usual characters sitting in that cockpit; instead, we've got Lando and one of many latex puppets).

: I agree with Peter somewhat. While I expect Lucas to make some final

: changes to the films (or perhaps redo some of the fixes from the SE), I

: would really like to see the original films preserved on DVD ala E.T..

Hmmm. And if these new versions are different from the 'special editions', would you want the option of watching THOSE, too? Thanks to seamless branching, Lucas could very easily allow you to watch any version of the film that you want -- just as there are three versions of Terminator 2 and Disney's Beauty and the Beast on those DVDs, so too there could be three versions of Star Wars on that DVD. But somehow I don't expect Lucas to respect the collective memory like that.

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