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David Brin on "Attack of the Clones" 538

Posted by michael
from the when-yodas-attack dept.
dpt writes "Science fiction author and scientist David Brin caused quite a stir at the time with his article on The Phantom Menace, and now here are his thoughts on Episode II. Not being as harsh, it hasn't received much attention, but it's an interesting read anyway."
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David Brin on "Attack of the Clones"

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  • by tjensor (571163) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @12:33PM (#4282097) Journal
    ... with the new star wars films is nostalgia. We look back on the original three films with rose-tinted glasses, when really the dialogue sucked, the plots were generic, and acting not up to scratch.
    The only new crime of the new trilogy is the over-reliance on CGI.
    PS this isnt a troll I actually love Star Wars :-)
    • by MoneyT (548795) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:07PM (#4282379) Journal
      But the thing about the original films was that they had a believeable flow. There was an empire and giant evil machine with drones to do their bidding. There were the remnants of the Jedi, calmly biding their time until the events allowed Luke to be brought into his own and hopefuly push forward and bring them back from near extinction. There were the Rebels, a small on the run group constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the empire. Hit and run attacks, going for weak points instead of all out brute force. And then there was the rest of the world. They didn't like the control they were under, but they didn't have a lot of say, so they just lived on. The worlds had believeability, the machines had believeability. The big energy guns had big cables, the ships and switches and dials and buttons, not just lights on a pannel. The problem with the new star wars movies is things aren't believeable, there are no motives, just actions.
    • But it was acceptable in those films, because it didn't really strain credulity. In this new batch, Lucus has underminded the previous films with shit like "midicholorians" and "vigirn births", and the acting is even worse. The stilted dialougue between Anakin and Queen Whatsherface is so bad its like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard! Make it stop!

      And whats with the political intrigue so simple a child can follow it? Was that his intention? Perhaps he hopes it will sell more toys, if kids want to reenact the Senate debate.

      And the racial stereotyping? Is it some sort of one-upsmanship with Star Trek? I don't know which is more offensive, the Shylock Ferangi or the "ah so" Trade Federation. Oh, oh! Meesa Jamaican retard!

      I still enjoy the old films. I even liked the Timothy Zahn sequels. That's why I hate these movies, it's like George Lucas wanted to take a big chunky dump on everything he's done before.
    • why does the plot still suck? why does the movie rely on CGI that looks only slightly better than the original film's? why does the acting really suck?

      I hated all the SW movies, especially AotC. It was boring, the movie didn't hold my attention, and I was certainly unimpressed by the CGI after seeing other movies (LotR).

      I am not trolling either. I really think that the movie (for all the money that gets sunk into it) should be a lot better than it is.
    • by NanoGator (522640) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:15PM (#4282449) Homepage Journal
      "The only new crime of the new trilogy is the over-reliance on CGI. "

      Not true. The original trilogy had character. Without a Han Solo'ish character, Jedi are quite boring.

      Plot is nowhere near as important as the characters. Don't belive me? Ask people why they like Monsters Inc. 0 people will say "Because I think it's cool how Sully provided power to the Monster world without scaring children!"
      • "Because I think it's cool how Sully provided power to the Monster world without scaring children!"

        AUUUGH!!! You ruined it!!! I'm watching that movie tonight you know!

        Thanks a lot.

        Slashdot is like spoiler central for me - this is the third time this has happened to me here in the last six months.

        (I'm not really mad *at you*, it's an old movie, but that doesn't mean I can't be annoyed, right? ;)
        • You'll feel better knowing that the original poster got that wrong. Nothing's been spoiled.
        • "(I'm not really mad *at you*, it's an old movie, but that doesn't mean I can't be annoyed, right? ;) "

          Ya still can't be annoyed. I didn't give away anything. heh. As I attempted to point out in my post, that wasn't the point of the movie. (B'sides, I flubbed it a bit. So you really don't know, do ya?)
    • by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:22PM (#4282500)
      Then why does the younger generation, many of whom have just recently seen the originals as well as the new movies, still agree that the new ones suck? My younger sister saw all the SW films, old and new, within the last couple years -- and was in agreement that the originals were far better movies.


      The suckage of AotC goes way beyond "not living up to the nostalgia." If the originals had been this bad, they would have been consigned to the trash heap, and these new ones would have never been made.


      And no, I have no intentions of wasting my five dollars and three hours on the third movie. I'll find a decent book to read and do something enjoyable with my time.

    • We look back on the original three films with rose-tinted glasses, when really the dialogue sucked, the plots were generic, and acting not up to scratch.

      True, but recognize that "Star Wars" was superior to almost any other science fiction/space opera out at that time. The special effects alone deserved accolades, and some of them still do. The concept of the Force was something the non-book-reading public had yet to encounter in sci-fi.

      Up until then, sci-fi in tv and movies was almost all about robots, aliens, spaceships, invasions, monsters and laboratory experiments gone awry. All the general public had to know about sci-fi was the original "Star Trek", "Battlestar Galactica", "Space 1999", "Buck Rogers". Nothing too cerebral there.

      The Force was a good concept to add to an otherwise pretty, but ordinary movie like "Star Wars", and "The Empire Strikes Back" made it even better with some clever plot twists and delightful character development that was ten times deeper than what "Star Wars" had bothered with. "Return of the Jedi" tied it all up with by far the best F/X of the trilogy and lots of great action.

      We expected too much from the new trilogy, is the problem -- the basic story is good, but the acting just isn't there and the digital special effects have overwhelmed the characters completely. Plus there's been a decade and a half with some really good science fiction since then. "The Matrix" alone, which opened mere weeks before "The Phantom Menace," showed everyone that sci-fi didn't have to be about spaceships and aliens in order to kick butt.
      • "Battlestar Galactica" came out in 1978 and "Buck Rogers" in 1977--both were capitalizing on Star Wars to some degree. ("Rogers" was probably in the planning stages before Star Wars' release but they clearly knew of the movie, and "Galactica" never made much effort to hide its influences. And, while I'm honestly not much of a "Star Trek" fan, when the original series was good it was good on a level that George Lucas never came close to. The Empire Strikes Back made an effort, but mostly thanks to screenwriter Leigh Brackett (who's almost certainly responsible for the clever plot twists and delightful character development).

        I really didn't expect too much from the new trilogy because I lost a lot of respect for Lucas the more I watched his career and the more I learned about the development of Star Wars itself. (The Phantom Menace is much closer to his original draft for Star Wars, before people convinced him that he needed to have a mythic story and turned him on to Joseph Campbell.) I had, however, expected that Lucas might have been wise enough now to recognize his limitations and to bring other screenwriters on from the start. Instead. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case.

  • Hes right but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by trevinofunk (576660) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @12:36PM (#4282131)
    Its a smidge late isnt it??

    I mean, shouldnt a critique of the movie be out, say, within a month or two of the movie being released??

    • Hey, at least it isn't TWO FULL YEARS [slashdot.org] late.
    • Its a smidge late isnt it??

      I mean, shouldnt a critique of the movie be out, say, within a month or two of the movie being released??


      You're right - the millions of words that have been written on films (and don't forget TV!) should be thrown out immediately. Someone better tell my former film history professors to ditch their current projects, too. Sure they'll be crushed, but once I explain that those movies aren't shiny & new, I'm sure they'll move on to new careers.

      While we're at it, let's ignore all cultural products that are more than a few weeks old - reflection (and especially re-consideration) is always bad, bad bad! And the concept that the passage of time can enable objectivity and new perspectives - that's all hogwash!

      (Boy, this would have made my art history courses at school so much easier!)
    • Re:Hes right but.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by babbage (61057) <cdevers.cis@usouthal@edu> on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:49PM (#4282731) Homepage Journal
      Nah -- initial review tends to come out immediately, but it seldom amounts to more than "what was the movie about and would you want to pay to see it now". More thoughtful literary criticism tends to come later, and really that's what this review is an early example of (note how a lot of it seems like just crib notes in no particular order -- I can see Brin turning this stuff into a book later if he wanted to).

      Literary criticism can actually get more interesting as time goes on. What if anything does "Blade Runner" have to say now that we have cloning? Does "Seven Samurai" or "Magnificent Seven" inform the debate on terrorism today? How does a character like Charles Foster Kane illustrate what we now see in people like Rupert Murdoch or, for that matter, Bill Clinton?

      Every generation gets to reintrepret stories, whether those stories are Star Wars movies, Shakespeare's plays, or the epics of the Greeks & Romans. The first generation gets a first crack at such review, but really it takes time for the first wave of interesting stuff to fall out, and the revisionism that later generations can bring can be even more interesting, even if it makes purists wince. Compared to that slower, more thoughtful criticism, the puff pieces you get to see right when the movie/book/etc comes out are for the most part pretty boring & useless.

  • by brooks_talley (86840) <brooks@fSTRAWrnk.com minus berry> on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @12:37PM (#4282138) Journal

    From Time magazine, as quoted in the Brin piece:

    [Anakin] can't let go of things. It makes you greedy. And when you're greedy, you are on the path to the dark side...

    Cheers
    -b

    • The one bitch against Lucas that I believe is completely incorrect is the idea that he's "sold out", "greedy", and "just doing it for the money".

      He's, basically, an artist (maybe not a good one, but an artist nonetheless). He likes to make movies and he likes to control every aspect of his movies (he was originally into editing, but switched to directing because he wanted more control).

      He's made a whole lot of money, but what does he do with it? Does he have huge mansions or fleets of yachts? No. His lifestyle is quite simple for how much money he has. Lucas uses his money to build the coolest special effects shop, sound studio, and movie sound system companies. He uses it to further his movie work. In the A&E Biography about Lucas, a friend recalled how Lucas was still living like a starving idependent film maker, even after Star Wars. His friends had to remind him that he could afford better.

      His movies may not be great, but I don't think for one minute that he's making them because he's greedy.

      • by brooks_talley (86840) <brooks@fSTRAWrnk.com minus berry> on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:18PM (#4282472) Journal

        So you think it's just coincidence, or lack of foresight or something, that LucasFilm is notorious for releasing not one, not two, not three, but *four or more* versions of each film to the home video market? The initial ones being downright crippled, then gradually getting better?

        How about the fact that they had to scale back the number of merchandising tie-ins for AotC because there was so much press about how TPM was basically a 2 hour vehicle for cross-promotions of toys, ties, and KFC [homestead.com]

        His lifestyle, which you point out, actually argues my point: when people are greedy, they often *don't* have mansions, yachts, harems, etc, because it isn't about enjoying wealth, but rather accumulating it.

        George Lucas definitely had some potential, but speaking in present tense, he's about as much of an "artist" as Brittney Spears -- he may be in complete technical control of movies, but he is absolutely a slave to public opinion when it comes to what to make, because he's greedy and the primary interest is in maximizing revenue, not producing quality movies. Sometimes it works in our favor (everyone hates Jar-Jar, we get less Jar-Jar), sometimes it works against us (must include a cheesy romance to capture the female demographic). That's par for the course in Hollywood, I know, but my point is that he's no exception... and that, with customer-abusive attitudes in video release and merchandising, he is actually one of the worst.

        Cheers
        -b

        • I don't know if it's LucasFilm being notorious for multiple versions as much as the fans are notorious for wanting it. Ignore the "Special Editions" for a second... Star Wars does have both letterbox and pan-and-scan releases. So do many movies. Lord of the Rings is doing the same thing with their DVD release. Star Wars is no different than other mega-blockbusters in that regard. The "Special Editions" are a different issue. The reason there are four versions of each original Star Wars movie is because there are two each of the originial and special edition. The question is, were the special editions released because Lucas is greedy? I don't think so. People flocked to see them. Lucas wanted to revision his work with new technology. Maybe not a good idea, may you and I don't like it, but it's his work.

          Star Wars always had merchandising tie-ins. As kids, people loved the Star Wars toy at KFC. Then they got older and saw it was just cheap merchandising. Back in the early 80s their parents knew all that stuff was merchandising. Try to find a "Star Wars fan" that's over 40 years old. The movies are, and always were, mindless entertainment with a lot of stuff for the kids. Today's 20-30 year olds are just upset the movie is still mindless entertainment for kids instead of something aimed at them.

          I may believe your argument about Lucas being greedy more if he was simply accumlating wealth. He's not. He rolls it back into the movies (via THX, ILM, etc). I think he's a guy who loves to make movies. He's not very good at directing or storytelling, but he's got the resources to keep at it.

          ...

  • Evil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mmarlett (520340) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @12:49PM (#4282230)
    From the article:
    "[Sith] are cold and calculating, almost robotic -- in the standard Hollywood motif of offering audiences snidely-superior villains to hate. In fact it's almost silly the way they calmly keep telling Luke to give in to his anger, reminding him of what he's been warned about. But they don't seem to give into anger themselves."

    A girlfriend of mine had a cat that would sit and watch you all day long, not moving, not reacting to anything. If you got close enough, it would try to claw your eyes out. If you escaped and could still use your eyes, you would see the cat sitting there looking at you calm and cool. That cat was evil.

    Giving into anger is more about making a person evil than it is about displaying emotion. Any master is calm, cool and collected. Luke was a student, not a master. They wanted him to be an evil student, and the quick path to that is anger.

    Overall, I don't think that article was any more accurate or insightful than the movie it chose to criticize. It, too, was somewhat obvious and full of factual errors. (Lucas did not direct all five movies, for example.) I'm glad he found it entertaining, though.

  • Twinge of Jealousy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theRhinoceros (201323) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @12:51PM (#4282237)
    The biggest irony is this -- I could scribble a 3 paragraph outline that would save Lucas. It would explain every awful inconsistency/paradox in his universe.

    To me, something about Brin's vehemence moves him from "critique for criticism's sake" into "personal beef with Lucas"-land. Or more likely he envies Lucas' success compared to what he considers more legitimate and well-written sci-fi (his own work?).
    • I totally agree. He makes a few good points, but then he brings up Hitler / the Holocaust not just once, but *twice*. Not exactly the sign of an evenhanded critic who just has some stylistic/technical issues with a movie plot.

      Cheers
      -b
      • Even Lucas himself has admitted that Hitler/the Holocaust was some of the source of inspiration for the ideas in Star Wars. Godwin's Law is irrelevant, for bringing up the Nazi's is ontopic. Godwin's Law only works becuase of offtopic references to the Nazism/Hitler.
      • I think that's because he feels that Lucas' attitudes lend themselves a little to easily to a fascist conclusion -- it's telling that one of those Holocaust quotes is from Orwell, the archetypal fighter against fascism.

    • Absolutely true. If you look at the prequels critically, as films and not as special-effects demonstrations, you see glaring holes in logic, motivation, purpose, etc. Brin ties all the problems up in three paragraphs. Absolutely astounding.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sorry, not anonymous, just lazy. This is David Brin, inviting you all to drop by http://www.davidbrin.com/

      Also there's a Hard Science fiction discussion group - one of the oldest & best on the internet - that you could check out at http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l

      And of course I would prefer the world pay me as much as Lucas & give me his resources. Like any american egotist I think I'd do a better job. So? I recognize the irony and acknowledge it with a smile.

      The point you miss, with your leap to diss my character, is that I have laid out for you all the elements that could make GL's universe actually make sense. It's right there and I'm not the only one who could weave the elements together. Elements that would make Anekin's struggle and fall less of a silly farce and more of a truly intense and surprising(!) twist.

      I'll bet some of you can figure it out.

      No, it ain't jealousy. It's the deep resentment of a movie goer and sci fi fan with high standards. EMPIRE STRIKES BACK promised us a fantastically wonderful story, enjoyable by the adult in all of us, as well as the kid.

      We haven't been given that. I have as much a right as anybody to complain.

      With cordial regards,

      David Brin
      www.davidbrin.com

      PS come on by and talk about some real science fiction

  • What AotC Needed... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by secondsun (195377) <secondsun@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @12:52PM (#4282247) Journal
    I think what would have really put Episode 2 over the top would have been if Count Dookoo was fighting the Dark Side. If he had seen the Sith's rise and the Jedi's incompetence, he should have moved to build an army and defeat the Sith before it took over the Senate, or at least gather enought power to form a decent resistence. Then everything mostly could have worked in the plot. Why kill Obi-wan? Because obi-wan knew where they were. Why fight the Jedi? The Jedi were being used as pawns of the Sith and had to be stopped before they caused too much damage.

    Of course this is just one CS majors ramblings, but I would have liked to see that.
    • by Geckoman (44653)
      I wholeheartedly agree! Right up until Dooku met Palpatine at the end, I was hoping he really was fighting against the Sith.

      In fact, I was really hoping/expecting that he'd be killed at the end, and his dying words would be, "You've just destroyed the only force in the galaxy that could have stopped the Sith...."

      I love the idea of Palpatine manipulating his enemies into destroying eachother so that he could seize control. Kind of nihilistic, I know, but it lays a far richer foundation for Episode 3.

  • The Case for (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @12:52PM (#4282249) Journal
    the Empire [weeklystandard.com]


    In all of the time we spend observing the Rebel Alliance, we never hear of their governing strategy or their plans for a post-Imperial universe. All we see are plots and fighting. Their victory over the Empire doesn't liberate the galaxy--it turns the galaxy into Somalia writ large: dominated by local warlords who are answerable to no one.

    Which makes the rebels--Lucas's heroes--an unimpressive crew of anarchic royals who wreck the galaxy so that Princess Leia can have her tiara back.

    • Which makes the rebels--Lucas's heroes--an unimpressive crew of anarchic royals who wreck the galaxy so that Princess Leia can have her tiara back.
      Why would anarchists want to give someone their tiara back?
    • Okay, this article is even more innane than the currently discussed one. While there are occaisonal good points, and some blatant pandering to the Weekly Standard's core audience, I can't get past this line:

      Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator--but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet. It's a dictatorship people can do business with.

      Benign? Pinochet? Head... hurts... too... much...

      I would guess that there a more than a few people, slashdotters among them, that would argue that Mr. Pinochet's time in power in Chile was more torture, murder, corruption, and deception than benign.
    • Okay, I'm tired of seeing this thing linked to, so I will post my rather extensive rebuttal. Even if the author was joking, which I don't think he was.

      I'm not going to deal with his ignorance of the Expanded Universe, I don't like his reasons but I'll let it be. I'll refute him with the movies.

      The notion that the Emperor was a benign dictator like Pinochet--I don't know where to start. I'm sure Chile would be most impressed to learn that Pinochet was "benign." Thousands killed for political reasons is not "benign."

      Now, he has a point that Alderaan was probably armed. Most planets are. That's not illegal. Destruction of those weapons would have been a legitimate military exercise. Now, I ask you this: is it legitimate to slaughter civilians to destroy those targets? Especially if you're doing it to blackmail a resistance leader? Who happens to be a member of your own governing body? That would be akin to Bush nuking New York because Hillary Clinton would blow him. I mean, really. Who's the author trying to kid?

      He speaks of the system of regional governors, owing their fealty to the Emperor, and what a nice system was and how the Emperor's death would shatter it all. First of all, it's not much of a system if it takes one man (in a galaxy of quadrillions or more) to hold it all together. That they would squabble speaks poorly of Palpatine's judgement.

      Yes it's true that the Empire is a meritocracy. Do what we say or we kill you. Do it right while doing what we say or we kill you. Never does he question the ethics of such a policy.

      How are Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru traitors? They bought two droids secondhand from junk dealers. The droids weren't stolen, so all you can get them on is harboring fugitives. Except, those droids were abandoning ship. Hell, C-3PO didn't even know what R2-D2 had. If you want to get technical, R2-D2 should be gotten for possessing stolen goods, 3P0 for aiding a felon...There were no grounds for executing them, especially since without the droids there was no proof. I didn't see the Jawas give Owen a receipt.

      As for his bashing of the Jedi, I will suggest to him "hubris," and ask him if the Jedi ever killed innocent people at random. Moreover, the Jedi are elevated by biology, and the cultivation of resultant abilites. A meritocracy, of sorts. Isn't that what he thought was so great about the Empire?

      As for the Republic putting down the rebellion...they were simply a regime fighting a violent group committed to their overthrow...like the Empire.

      His article is amusing, but I see people taking it seriously, thus I must point out these inconsistencies and logical fallacies. The Empire benign? Please...

      ~Chazzf
  • Lucas' peers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GuyMannDude (574364) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @12:53PM (#4282258) Journal

    Yes! Lucas needed to whittle the Jedi down in a tragic and colorful way. But couldn't he have shown them suffering calamity despite behaving cleverly and well? Doesn't he have peers to workshop this stuff against?

    Good question but I suspect that Lucas honestly believes that he has no peers. It's unfortunate because the scripts that came out of his colaboration with Kasdan were pretty good, IMHO. Yes, I know Lucas co-wrote AOTC with someone from Indiana Jones Chronicles but I argue that this guy was just a yes-man for Lucas. Lucas really needs to team up with a good, known writer to come up with an interesting story for Episode 3. Maybe he'll come to his senses and realize that he needs some help in the script department for his final Star Wars film. We can only hope.

    GMD

    • word to that.

      I'm not bent on having all things PC, but the moment I saw TPM all I could think was: "how could something this blatantly racist (both the jar-jar rasta's and the asian traders) get past anyone?!"

      I think all the secrecy surrounding Star Wars products is their down fall. No one whose purse strings aren't attached to the man can say "Yo, this BITES!"
  • by sphealey (2855) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @12:58PM (#4282293)
    Beauty is only skin deep - ugly goes to the bone.

    The problems and holes in TPM could have been fixed with some quick editing and a couple of reshot scenes. It wouldn't have approached the first Star Wars, but then again very little does.

    AotC was so utterly, unredeemably bad that it is unfixable. Sheesh - once glance between Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher in ESB carried more romantic tension than 30 minutes of moping between what's his name and Natalie. "Let's go to the mall Anni". As my 8 y.o. said "Yuck". How perceptive is the mind of a child.

    sPh

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:58PM (#4282812)
      Anakin acted like a 19 year old who was in lust and confusing it with love. That is because he was portraing a 19 year old who was having a great deal of trouble getting his hormones under control. BTW, I am the parent of a 19 year old. I've seen some awfull sappy scenes, and heard some terroribly corny dialoge, comparable to the worst in AotC, not from a movie, but from my sons room.
      • by (trb001) (224998) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @02:37PM (#4283095) Homepage
        You make an interesting point, were that I hadn't posted already and could mod you up.

        I think part of the real irony of people bashing the romance between Anakin and Padme is that they are holding these characters up to a higher level than what the characters should be at in real life. Anakin is late teens, Padme is early/mid 20's. They play the romance exactly as it would be in real life. You have Anakin who has never loved before all of a sudden getting this rush of feelings (remember your first HS crush? compare...). Add Padme, a 20-something who doesn't take this kid seriously and attempts to brush off his advances. Mind you that she has never loved before either since her life has been spent in the political spotlight. Two first loves in the later part of their life? Come on, you can't tell me that half the 20-something computer geek virgins wouldn't have a romance dialogue similar or WORSE than what AOTC had.

        --trb
  • by DaytonCIM (100144) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:03PM (#4282331) Homepage Journal
    Next movie will surely have a Chicano low rider caricature help Obi-Wan
    make his escape with the twins.


    Anyone know if Cheech and Chong are free?
  • by mustangdavis (583344) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:05PM (#4282349) Homepage Journal
    His crazy plot for Ep III sounds interesting ...
    It would definately make Lucas look like a genius, but like the good doctor, I don't believe that Lucas would be smart enough (or would let his ego deflate enough) to use this terrific plot that has been presented infront of him.
    Consider the possibilities: Yoda and the Emperor working together the whole time .... Darth & Obi-Wan setting this whole thing up to bring balance to the force ... how crazy would this be! Lucas would forever be known as a movie genius!
    This would also answer the question of how the Emperor became so powerful with the force ... we still don't know where he learned the ways of the Dark Side ... maybe it was Yoda that taught him ... That would REALLY mess things up!
    Think about it ...Yoda trained Dooku, who has obviously played a part in Anakin's turning to the dark side by showing him how powerful it is. Yoda trained Qui-Gon ... who trained Obi-Wan, who trains Vader. And if Yoda trained Sidious!!! WOW! At that point, maybe the universe should have been focused on pointing a death star at the little green bastard! ... or maybe Yoda was so smart that he knew this would rid the Universe of the Jedi and prevent the Jedi from taking over (for the long haul) ....
    That story line definately has possibilities!
    • His crazy plot for Ep III sounds interesting ...I don't believe that Lucas would be smart enough (or would let his ego deflate enough) to use this terrific plot that has been presented infront of him.

      One of Brin's Salon articles from 1999 contains this quote: "How come we never see Yoda take on an enemy with a light saber? Come on master, fire it up and battle a Sith Lord! That's a battle I'd pay to see!" Maybe Lucas does pay attention.

      He certainly dropped that stupid midichlorian crap quickly enough.

  • I thought this article was an interesting read, and he made some really good points. The fact that I neither love or hate star wars makes this it a little easier to look at this objectively.

    The one thing that I couldn't agree with was when he said getting angry can turn you evil is a down right lie. He then brings up an obligatory Hitler reference. A better example would be if, say a military group attacked you, and you decided to completely annihliate everyone who is from their country. You fighting the group is not evil, but you going overboard and killing everyone is! Of course you would have had no reason to fight them at all, but you were mad at what they did to you.
    Hope that makes sense!
    • Yes and it wasn't getting angry that was the problem - doesn't anyone actually watch these movies? The emporer wanted luke to try to kill him, an unarmed old man. Then he tried to get luke to kill his own father. Murderous rage and post-murder guilt is the path to the dark side, just like in real life.
  • the fix-all? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jdjensen (607014) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:06PM (#4282371)
    I read David Brin's article and noticed that he keeps mentioning how the whole series can be "redeemed" should Lucas decide to do "something special" to the plot. Of course, Brin never enlightens us to his fix-all plot twist.

    Well, I think I might be on to what he's talking about. How cool would it be if Anakin's drop into the Dark Side was manipulated and guided by Yoda (and maybe some other elite Jedi) with the expectation that he'd eventually bring balance to the force in VI: ROTJ? Yoda ( or perhaps a council even higher than the ovenmit?) allows certain attrocities to go unchecked because he has a higher prophecy to fulfill. When I think about the possibilities, this could really put a brilliant and completely new spin upon the Star Wars universe. If done correctly, it really could be the next Empire Strikes Back in terms of having a plot that is more than predictable pubescent garbage (don't get me wrong, I love Star Wars).

    But at any rate, those are my thoughts, and I'll admit that I don't read the forums and gossip websites at all. Does anyone else have any ideas as to what this "something special" which David Brin is referring to might be?
    • Re:the fix-all? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:39PM (#4282636) Journal
      Here [davidbrin.com]

      All evidence points to Yoda as co-villain with the emperor all along -- one lightside of the force lying-pompous-schmuck and one darkside heavybreathing-sadist-schmuck. QuiGon was dimly aware of this problem, which is why he tried bypassing Yoda -- twice! -- and yearned for balance. So did Obiwan. And their student? How esthetic it would be for QuiGon and Obiwan to turn out to have been right and Yoda wrong!

      How about this? Annakin self-hypnotized an inner core of himself to hide behid a mask while pretending to be the emperor's lackey, getting ready for a day of reckoning with BOTH of those sanctimonious bastards, Yoda and Palpatine! It works!

      Here's part of the SALON article that never got included:

      Oh, wait. I get it. Annakin was actually a secret agent spy all along! Here's the secret facts:

      Vader's the one who sent the secret plans to Leia's ship! He arranged for the droids to get away, and coincidentally land just a few miles from his hidden son! (It explains why Obiwan "hid" Luke on the one planet Darth (I mean Anniken) was most familiar with in the whole universe. The same PART of that planet. It only makes sense if the two were really in cahoots!)

      Remember how, a little later, Vader talks Tarkin into "letting them go so we can trace them"? Likewise, he's the only close-up witness to Obiwan disappearing, when he supposedly "killed" his master in that sword fight! (Maybe he actually helped Obiwan pull a vanishing act.) Note that the "fight" with Obiwan distracted the guards & helped let Luke get away!

      But there's more! Remember how Vader "chased" Luke in that Tie fighter... which had the chief effect of turning off all the antiaircraft guns and giving the boy a clear shot to blow up the first Death Star! (From which event, Vader is conveniently the only Imperial survivor.)

      Recall how in The Empire Strikes Back Vader offered to make Luke co-ruler? (Presumably it would thus be a nicer dynasty than the emperor's). Then in Jedi recall how Vader brought Luke aboard the second Death Star? Could it be because he knew the kid would irritate the emperor and get him upset enough to finally let Darth get a crack at him from behind?

      I knew there had to be some reason why Vader didn't seem to detect his own daughter -- all filled with that magic force shit -- when he grabbed her arm and looked into her eyes in Episode... um... IV is it? Then he drug-interrogated her, without detecting any Force? Can there be any explanation except that he already knew?

      Pah! He let them both get away deliberately! And whenever they needed guidance, there were the droids... his own special droids, assigned to help and guide his children to their destiny.

    • Re:the fix-all? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Aexia (517457)
      Does anyone else have any ideas as to what this "something special" which David Brin is referring to might be?

      Anyone who read the *entire* article might.

      In fact, a scenario is possible, if Vader and Obi-Wan conspire together against BOTH Emperor and Yoda. Go on, follow all the movies with this possibility in mind.

      Why else would Obi-Wan 'hide' Vader's son in Vader's home town? Their final 'deathfight' distracts the guards to let Luke/Han/Leia get away. How else do you explain that Vader grabs/interrogates Leia, yet never detects her force? Watch carefully... Vader's 'chase' of Luke in the first film clears all the other Imperial fighters off his son's back and halts the antiaircraft guns, giving the kid a clear shot! And guess who's the only Imperial survivor?

      It goes on and on! (Including the coincidence of whose droids carry the message.)
  • [i]True, it helped that my expectations were low. Still, I found myself quite enjoying the first half of the film!

    While I agreed with his overall response I completely disagree with most of his points. I didn't like the first half, except maybe the first scene where Obi-Wan jumps out the window. It was the second half that was enjoyable. While the plot held itself together better in the first half of this the dialog was painful.

    I've found that I really dislike this guy, and the way he presents thing. But I often agree with his opinions. At least on movies.
  • Dissent is Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaytonCIM (100144) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:11PM (#4282404) Homepage Journal
    There are many who will take offense at Brin's comments. But as a fan of Sci Fi it is Brin's duty to question Lucas and call him on his mistakes.
    If more people step up and speak the truth about how much of a "let down" both of the "new" Star Wars films have been, maybe George will spend a little more time writing the third and less time worrying about the CGI.
  • Terrorists (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BESTouff (531293)
    Do you realize that in nowadays' political atmosphere, the Rebels would be seen as terrorists and the evil Empire would look more like ... well.
  • Bitter much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dirtside (91468) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:43PM (#4282672) Journal
    Brin makes some interesting points in these anti-Lucas screeds of his, but the strongest feeling I get from them is one of bitter resentment. I think Brin has a particular idea of what constitutes "real" SF, and Lucas's success with his paltry "pseudo-SF" is grating. That, I can understand, but it does Brin no good to come up with spurious logic and silly accusations to try and denigrate Lucas... to what purpose, I can't tell.

    For example, Brin is fond of pointing out how unhealthy it is to repress your emotions -- something he claims the Jedi faith is based on. The problem is that the Jedi have no problems with the existence of negative emotions -- merely with acting on them. Controlling yourself to the point where you don't even have any negative emotions is nigh-impossible; but recognizing when you are having those emotions, and waiting until you are calm before you act, is where the wisdom lies.

    Brin also makes the odd assumption that just because Lucas shows a character doing something in a movie, means that Lucas thinks that real people should act that way in real life. His quote from Orwell is almost apropos, except that a movie is different enough from a gas chamber that the comparison is silly. I'm not saying Brin has to like Lucas's beliefs or philosophy, but to claim that there's some crime being perpetrated against humanity because of the entirely fictional things that happen in a movie, is just dumb. Criticizing a movie for bad writing, bad direction, and bad acting is certainly fine, but why does Brin see such a threat against real adult morality from these films?
  • I've read most of his books. Not because I find his books especially well written, but because I'm a Sci-Fi junkie. His characters tend to feel like cardboard propups. Not that I'm defending Lucas' crap either.

    Why oh why can't Hollywood make decent Sci-Fi movies? Most of the sci-fi movies that get made are absolute torture to watch. I suspect it has to do with the fact that most decent movies today are made with relative shoestring budgets. Crap lie Star Wars and Star Trek and even Minority Report.

    Another may be that the Directors involved in the production are too powerful and have too much control over everything. Does anyone believe Lucas was told the Romance scene was completely horrid? I can't beleive the actors managed to spout that tripe without barfing or laughing in Lucas' face.
  • Brin is right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @01:54PM (#4282790) Homepage
    He really is right. Lucas is a great producer and a good director, but he also does his own scriptwriting, at which he is at best mediocre. He has his own studio, so he doesn't have anybody above him to tell him when he sucks. As Brin says, "Doesn't he have peers to workshop this stuff against?". No, he doesn't; he only has subordinates.

    What Lucas is good at is production-value overload. In Episode I, there's a new major set every 90 seconds. That's really what keeps people from being bothered by the bad dialogue and inept action.

    Yes, it makes money, but so does Pokemon.

  • I really find this quote interesting...

    In a recent Time Magazine article, George Lucas explains the depressingly foreordained saga of Anakin Skywalker's slide into evil-demigodhood by saying: "He turns into Vader because he gets attached to things. He can't let go of his mother; he can't let go of his girlfriend. He can't let go of things. It makes you greedy. And when you're greedy, you are on the path to the dark side, because you fear you're going to lose things, that you're not going to have the power you need."

    So in essence, Lucas has modelled the Vader character after himself. The series has so much potential, everyone can see that. But Lucas is content to drag it down to the lowest level, simply because he is greedy.

    I also really like the author's suggestion for Episode Three, which is a major plot twist. I have thought about it, and I think it could work very well. I'd have to review the previous movies to see if it works all the way through the trilogy, but I think it would. He proposes that Obi Wan and Darth Vader are actually teaming up against Yoda and the Emperor.

    I think it would be a cool twist to reveal that the Empire is really the good guys, and the Rebels are the bad guys. There was a whole article on this somewhere, and I thought it was a pretty unique and intriguing analysis of the saga.

  • "Doesn't he have peers to workshop this stuff against?" Ouch! That hurt all the way over here, and it wasn't even _pointed at me_! George - all work and no peer review makes a director - weird.
  • Campbell was a deluded idiot taken in by Fraudian BS which he applied more or less at random to those stories which could be made to fit while ignoring those that didn't. Who cares if Star Wars fits his shitty formula story telling? If I want formula story telling I can get it on TV any time I want.

    This is not to say that Star Wars has been a goldmine of originality, of course.

    TWW

  • Good Point: Y O D A (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @02:08PM (#4282893) Journal
    There has to be more to Yoda than meets the eye. First he (apparentlly) has no clue as to what is going on around him in the most recent films. Second -- Their is a questionable amount of mystery as to why he went into hiding during the last 3 star wars movies. I think Brin has a good theory that Lucas could use to tie up the MANY loose ends in this story. I just can't help but think that Yoda's mysterious actions and apparent ignorance is the biggest outstanding mystery of all.
  • by sharkey (16670) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @04:18PM (#4284030)
    "Look back over the series, and you notice a lot missing from his universe: memorable talk and wit..."

    Just a few:
    • What an incredible smell you've discovered!
    • Will somebody get this big, walking carpet out of my way?
    • Laugh it up, fuzzball!
    • You Rebel scum!
    • Angle the deflector shields.
    These beg the question, "Where do they come up with this stuff?"

    • "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid."
      "Curse my metal body, I wasn't fast enough!"
      "Look at the size of that thing!"
      "Sorry about the mess..."
      "You came in that thing? You're braver than I thought."
      "Aren't you a little short for a storm trooper?"
      "You've got something jammed in here real good."
      "Put that thing away before you get us all killed!"
      "Luke, at that speed do you think you'll be able to pull out in time?"
      "Get in there you big furry oaf, I don't care *what* you smell!"

      Top Ten Sexually Tilted Lines in "The Empire Strikes Back"

      "And I thought they smelled bad...on the outside!"
      "Possible he came in through the south entrance."
      "I must've hit it pretty close to the mark to get her all riled up like that, huh kid?"
      "Hurry up, golden-rod..."
      "That's okay, I'd like to keep it on manual control for a while."
      "But now we must eat. Come, good food, come..."
      "Control, control! You must learn control!"
      "There's an awful lot of moisture in here."
      "Size matters not. Judge me by my size, do you?"
      "I thought that hairy beast would be the end of me!"

      Top Ten Sexually Tilted Lines in "Return of the Jedi"

      "Rise, my friend."
      "Open the back door!"
      "Hey, point that thing somewhere else!"
      "It's just a dead animal..."
      "Not bad for a little fur ball."
      "How can they be jamming us if they don't know we're coming?"
      "Come here, I won't hurt you. You want something to eat?"
      "Keep on that one, I'll take these two"
      "I want you to take her. I mean it, take her!"
      "I don't think the Empire had wookies in mind when they designed her, Chewie."

If Machiavelli were a hacker, he'd have worked for the CSSG. -- Phil Lapsley

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