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Star Wars Prequels Media Movies

When Did Star Wars Jump the Shark? 640

Posted by Zonk
from the meesa-think-it-was-jar-jar dept.
stm2 writes "As a long time fan of the stories, I watched as Star Wars transformed from one of the better sci-fi stories told to 'Whedon is my master now.' An article at the TechRepublic blog explores the weakness of the sequel trilogy and states that the Midi-chlorians are the culprit. Was it the Midi-chlorians, Jar Jar Binks, the actors? When did Star Wars jump the shark?. A bonus question: Did George Lucas redeem himself in Episode III?"
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When Did Star Wars Jump the Shark?

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  • In Jedi (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maciarc (1094767) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:26PM (#21455845)
    Ewoks. 'nuff said.
    • Re:In Jedi (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:32PM (#21455891)
      The Wookie christmas special didnt help either.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by empaler (130732)
        Link [starwarsho...pecial.com] for the uninitiated...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sgant (178166)
        to be fair though, that wasn't really Lucas' work...and he opposed it big time.

        He screwed up all by himself, no need to credit him with this abomination.
      • Re:In Jedi (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tenchiken (22661) on Friday November 23, 2007 @09:37PM (#21459179)
        Everyone is focusing on the commercialism, but that's not what has been the death of American storytelling. (Let's face it, Star Wars could have been the American epic). Simply put it's Lucas himself. He had a brilliant idea (space fighters like just plain old air fighters, plus a dash of hidden fortress) and a ton of time to rewrite it into something that didn't suck (and friends who were honest enough to tell him it did).

        What's happened since then is that we have learned that no, George Lucas still sucks as a writer if he doesn't have 123 drafts, and the best editors in Hollywood (both film and written word). We also learned that he has no respect for the views of the fans (can you imagine what would have happened in PJ treated LoTR the way Lucas has treated the Star Wars community?). That's not to say that the fans are all knowing and powerful (I mean you Trek fans in particular) but the Mythology took root while Lucas was busy with Young Indiana.

        Nevermind that the prequels took what sucked in the original draft of star wars, and brought it back to life, with predictable results.

        If Lucas cares about telling a story, instead of making money or engaging in ego masturbation, he would bring in a real show runniner in the form of a JMS, or Eick, or Moore to run the story.
    • Re:In Jedi (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Psmylie (169236) * on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:43PM (#21456019) Homepage
      While it may not have jumped the shark quite yet, the Ewoks definitely put it on the ramp. That was the very first time that I was aware (as a kid) of Star Wars being movies designed to sell merchandise.

      Jar Jar I can almost forgive, because the concept of putting in a fully computer-rendered photo realistic character IS pretty neat. They just really blew it with this particular one. But, Anakin being barely out of diapers when they found him pretty much blew it for me. And he was still too old to start training?!

      Anakin building Threepio and Artoo showing up for no reason (other droids could have been used, why these two?), the painful, "do anything for a cheap laugh" antics of Jar Jar, horrible dialogue... and, of course, the midi-chlorians.. Bah, Episode 1 was so disappointing. Even for what was, supposedly, a movie intended for kids only, it was disappointing.

      On the other hand, I cheered up a friend of mine after the movie by suggesting that, just maybe, midi-chlorians weren't the cause of Force-sensitivity, but the result of it. Like, they grow better in those who are Force-sensitive, but have no impact on the Jedi's ability to use the Force.

      I like that, but I know it's not what Lucas intended. I'm just glad he didn't explore something like genetic engineering or "juicing" with midi-chlorian injections to make some sort of Super-sith.

      • Re:In Jedi (Score:5, Funny)

        by empaler (130732) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:59PM (#21456185) Journal

        I like that, but I know it's not what Lucas intended. I'm just glad he didn't explore something like genetic engineering or "juicing" with midi-chlorian injections to make some sort of Super-sith.

        Shutupshutupshutup! He might read /.!

        Well, no, but still, someone might tell him...
      • Sorry to disagree. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slash ... Hl.com minus cat> on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:05PM (#21456257) Homepage Journal
        I was 10 when I watched The Return of the Jedi, and I liked the ewoks. Specially funny was the part when Luke used the Force because C3PO refused to impersonate a deity.

        I also loved how the Ewoks managed to defeat the imperial forces with lo tech. That was a big plus for me, and in the end, Luke defeated the dark side and rescued dad.

        And what's wrong with selling toys? I loved the Jedi action figures and the little two legged transports.

        In my opinion, the movie was perfect. Now let me tell you, it was Ep 1 that jumped the shark. Midichlorians, no father, and let's not forget the new adventures of R2D2 and C3PO!

        Ep2 was less awful, but Ep3 really screwed it. Even I could have come up with a better plot! I was hoping to see Anakin's corruption and how he began desiring power and destroying cities all along. Big disappointment.
        • by Psmylie (169236) * on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:18PM (#21456365) Homepage
          If I had been 10 when I first saw it, I might have liked the Ewoks a lot more. As it was, I was old enough to find them both amusing and annoying. So, yeah, a person's point of view has a lot to do with how something is received :)

          There is nothing wrong with trying to sell toys, in and of itself. But when something is done solely for the purpose of making people buy things, it kinda takes a lot of the soul out of it. It's like watching a very long and expensive commercial instead of a movie. So, it's not so much wrong as it is limiting.

          Oh, and thanks for reminding me of the whole "Jesus" thing that Anakin had going on, too. I forgot all about that!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sumdumass (711423)
          Well, JarJar is what is wrong with selling toys. He would have probably been a lot less obnoxious and a little less racists if they weren't attempting to make him a dumb lovable merchandising tool that was appealing to all races of kids.

          The Ewoks, showed signs of this too. It is the buyme syndrome of characters. They pulled a lot of unneeded stuff to get your kids asking for them. They were the Teddy Bears for the kids who weren't interested in the speeders, ships and action figures.

          Episode one was the one
          • by Dun Malg (230075) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @12:45AM (#21460215) Homepage

            The Ewoks, showed signs of this too. It is the buyme syndrome of characters. They pulled a lot of unneeded stuff to get your kids asking for them. They were the Teddy Bears for the kids who weren't interested in the speeders, ships and action figures.
            I find the Ewoks are perfectly cromulent, so long as you can manage to ignore the cutesy music themes used with them and the few small bits of physical humor/goofiness. If you think of them as vicious little dog/bear monsters, they get a little creepier. Imagine being swarmed by two dozen furry little spear poking, sharp fanged, feral mini-bears.

            Episode one was the one that bit the bullet for me too. You could weed all the annoying filler out of the three prequels and probably have one good movie. It is almost as if they made one good movie and stretched it into 3 to get an extra 2 movie tickets sold. The matrix did the same thing and it ended up sucking too.
            Eh... Matrix seemed to me more like one good, solid movie, and two slapped together fanfic sequels. The sequels were so badly written that it's strangely believable that the Wachowski brothers(siblings?) stole the original script from someone else, like that crazy lady claimed.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by pyat (303115)
              Looked to me like they stole a lot from Grant Morrison's Invisibles comic strip:
              http://www.poormojo.org/pmjadaily/archives/002657.html [poormojo.org]
              In his own words:

              It was just too bad they deviated so far from the Invisibles philosophical template in the second and third movies because they blundered helplessly into boring Catholic theology, proving that they hadn't HAD the 'contact' experience that drove The Invisibles, and they wrecked both 'Reloaded' and 'Revolutions' on the rocks of absolute incomprehension. They sh

        • by ozbird (127571)
          In no way were the Ewoks and Jar-Jar Binks comparable.

          Ewoks were cute, and some of them died which was sad - the kiddies learnt something.
          Jar-Jar was not cute, and did not die - you bastard, George! Make it look like an accident if you must, but the annoying f*cker should never have made it to Ep. II.

          Apart from that, it was clear from the beginning that the films were solely an opportunity for George to milk more money from the franchise; even Jar-Jar's timely death wouldn't have saved them.
        • by vertinox (846076) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:02AM (#21462145)
          I also loved how the Ewoks managed to defeat the imperial forces with lo tech.

          Quick question... Why do Stormtroopers wear armor if it cannot help the occupant survive:

          A.) Blaster fire
          B.) Spears
          C.) Blunt Objects such as rocks

          This has always puzzled me.
      • by EngrBohn (5364) on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:05PM (#21456259)
        When 800 years old you have reached, a grumpy old muppet you will be. Deter others from training you will attempt. Rely on the old standbys you will.
      • Re:In Jedi (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NormalVisual (565491) on Friday November 23, 2007 @05:41PM (#21457121)
        The thing that disappointed me the most with Ep1 wasn't the ridiculousness of Jar Jar, nor the grating performance of Jake Lloyd, nor any of the other stuff that generally sucked. It was that they introduced a truly intriguing character in the person of Darth Maul, cast a gifted athletic actor for him that brought incredible life and action to the lightsaber duels (*by far* the best saber fights in all six of the movies), and then only have him onscreen for ten minutes and kill him like a chump at the end.

        This degree of "fail" in Ep1 did however set us up properly for the journey to the city of Whine that was the teenage Anakin. Maybe if Obi-Wan had back-handed the little bitch now and again and put him in his place ("You're a Jedi, goddammit - act like one! [smack!]"), the Republic could have avoided 40 years of oppression.
      • Re:In Jedi (Score:4, Informative)

        by Tawnos (1030370) on Friday November 23, 2007 @07:19PM (#21458083)
        I was always under the impression that the midichlorians were just used to tell who had the powers, because people with high force ability attracted them. At least, that was the impression I came away from Episode 1 with. Of course, then I had to go look up the script and find out just how bad it really was:

                              ANAKIN
          Master, sir... I've been wondering...
          what are midi-chlorians?

                          QUI-GON
          Midi-chlorians are a microcopic
          lifeform that reside within all living
          cells and communicates with the Force.

                          ANAKIN
          They live inside of me?

                          QUI-GON
          In your cells. We are symbionts with
          the midi-chlorians.

                          ANAKIN
          Symbionts?

                          QUI-GON
          Life forms living together for mutual
          advantage. Without the midi-chlorians,
          life could not exist, and we would
          have no knowledge of the Force. They
          continually speak to you, telling
          you the will of the Force.

                          ANAKIN
          They do??

                          QUI-GON
          When you learn to quiet your mind,
          you will hear them speaking to you.

        Oh well, so much for something being an indicator instead of a cause. Yeah, midichlorians were definitely the jump the shark moment.
      • Re:In Jedi (Score:5, Insightful)

        by uncoveror (570620) <webmaster@un c o v e ror.com> on Friday November 23, 2007 @09:03PM (#21458949) Homepage
        When did you get too old to view things with child-like wonder instead of picking them apart and judging them? That is when Star Wars jumped the shark. People who loved the originals as children and hated the prequels as adults might want to consider how much nostalgia clouds their opinions. While Phantom Menace tried too hard to be kid friendly, Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith were not bad.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by OriginalArlen (726444)

          When did you get too old to view things with child-like wonder instead of picking them apart and judging them?

          mate mate Well, mebbe it's just me (or the way I was brought up) but I was taken to see A New Hope (then just called "star wars" by us) in December 1977, aged 8, in Leicester Square in London. (It was a birthday treat for a friend from school, his Mum took us.) This was an amazing experience for me (the first time I'm been in a fast food joint... I had no clue what any of these weird "burger" things were!) And it was the first film I'd seen at the cinema (apart from Bambi, and 'Fantasia'... my parents wer

        • How Wude! (Score:3, Interesting)

          by robogun (466062)
          After the fifth time Jar Jar said "How Wude!" it became apparent Lucas had completely given up on any semblance of craftsmanship. Not only was a lot of dialog recycled, but even R2D2's beeps and whistles simplified, he might have had a vocabulary of 3 or 4 responses (compare R2D2's "speech" in ep 4 vs. ep 5).

          Other things were extremely annoying, such as using an off-the shelf SR-71 Blackbird plastic testors model as the Nubian - even the same suggests the original - NO IMAGINATION AT ALL. Don't blame me jus
    • People, just relax (Score:5, Interesting)

      by El Lobo (994537) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:52PM (#21456101)
      I have always been a big fan of StarWars. I liked the filmd from the first time I saw them back in 1977 (yes, I'm that old). I liked the original trilogy and I enjoyed very much the new one.

      My secret? I just relax and enjoy the ride. I know that this is not MY story, not MY movie but the vision of GL (good or bad). Even today I enjoy reading fairy tales to my son. And inmensly enjoy Pinoccio, Sleeping beaty , etc, and I'm not trying to search the explanation of why the she woke up with the princes kiss... Accpt it: it just happened so.

      With the new trilogy I had NO EXPECTATIONS whatsoever. Yes, the episode 1 was sometimes silly whith tehe kid, but I like it. Midiclorians? The force? No diference to me. The could introduce the "infinite Delphian gravity cloack" and I would have accepted it. Jar jar? Silly but OK, as a silly sidekick can be.. The effects where great in my opinion and adeded a lot to the atmosphere.

      People bitch as well with any new chapter of a sequel: Harry potter, StarTreck, Lost, you name it. Me? I enjoy the ride . And like them all? I'm I stupid? maybe, but hey, I have double fun.

      • by RedBear (207369) <redbearNO@SPAMredbearnet.com> on Friday November 23, 2007 @06:29PM (#21457577) Homepage
        I don't know about everyone else, but my complaint has always been with how it was written and acted, not how the story line played out. The acting in Episode I was the most god-awful, wooden and just plain wrong thing I've ever seen. I think many of the problems stemmed from their extensive use of digital effects and even completely digital characters. The actors reactions were always off, sometimes by a little and sometimes by a lot.

        But it really comes right down to the fact that apparently George Lucas is an idiot and always has been. If you watch the old documentary about the making of the original Star Wars movie, narrated by Mark Hamill, you will hear at one point Hamill saying that GL wanted to cast an actor with a used-car-salesman slick-talking "Brooklyn accent" as the voice of C-3PO, instead of the smooth English accent of Anthony Daniels. Just think about how awful that movie would have been if such a recognizable modern-day accent were thrust into every other scene, breaking down the veneer of believeability that helps the audience buy in to the fact that this was supposed to be "long ago, in a galaxy far away". So even back then the guy was a total moron. Fortunately decisions like that got shot down somehow, and he ended up making some pretty good movies, instead of Space Balls.

        Fast forward to the new movies, nobody seems to have the nerve to tell GL he's an idiot, so we get movies with characters saying completely idiot non-fitting dialog like the modern-day-talking announcer at the pod race who says, "Ooooh, that had to hurt!" and the robot captain who looks confused and says, "Does not compute!" Way to create the feeling of a totally non-modern-Earth-like environment there, GL. We get actors interacting with an almost entirely digital world so their reactions are all wrong. What do you expect when you have people running around in an empty room with green fabric on every surface? We get people waving lightsabers around with no sense of weight or momentum or the effort required to cut through various different materials and body parts. It ended up looking like they were all swinging toothbrushes around.

        We also got characters like Obi-Wan's Jedi master acting like a complete jerkwad toward characters like Jar Jar for no particular reason, completely going against the calm, self-assured presence created by Alec Guinness and other Jedi masters from the original trilogy. There are many more instances where a character's actions or words simply didn't fit what that character should have been doing or saying at that moment. Again, this is not about the actual events that make up the storyline, because that was totally up to the writer. But there are concrete rules about how any specific character in any specific situation will react, and for those of us who have a sense of how this works, when a character is acting "wrongly", it is quite obvious. I was so disgusted with how often something like this happened in Episode I that I almost walked out of the theater, which I have never actually done nor even had the urge to do before or after watching that film. It was simply THAT horribly bad.

        I'm so glad you enjoyed it, as many others have. But it was quite awful, and Episode II and III weren't much better. It really had nothing to do with me expecting a certain progression of the storyline. The story was OK, and I would have been happy with any other storyline that fit with the original trilogy, as long as it was produced with the same acting and effects quality as the originals. Going completely digital with the effects was a huge mistake, IMO. Combine that with GL's total lack of understanding about the fragility of the audience's suspension of disbelief, and you end up with a disaster.

        • by RedBear (207369) <redbearNO@SPAMredbearnet.com> on Friday November 23, 2007 @06:45PM (#21457711) Homepage
          Sorry to reply to my own post, but I forgot to stomp on the "midichlorians". That has to be the single most unbelievably idiotic thing thing that was put into the new movies. You can't use the Force unless you've got some little bacteria-like thingies in your blood? You can measure someone's ability with the Force just like you measure someone's blood glucose levels? Fuck you, GL. Thanks for ruining the entire idea of the Force and the dreams of every young Star Wars fan of becoming a Jedi through dedication and hard work. The moment that concept came up in the movie I just wanted to go find GL and start kicking him square in the balls until I couldn't lift my leg anymore. And this was before I started watching Family Guy.

          The idea of midichlorians ruined the entire Star Wars saga for many of us. The only redemption that could ever be possible is remaking the prequels and cutting out any mention of it. Fortunately I've been able to repress the bad memories, like I obviously did just now in my parent post. Now excuse me while I go wash my brain out with soap.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Opportunist (166417)
            Nah, what could've cured those midicrapians would've been a Sith who, rejected by the Jedi council for a lack of those critters, went and tried on his own until he became a dark master.

            Though that would've certainly created another problem: The audience would've stood on the side of the bad guy.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Torvaun (1040898)
          To be fair, lightsabers should be swung as if the only weight is in the handle. Lightsabers don't have a heavy blade, it's questionable whether the blade has any mass whatsoever. It was more difficult for me to figure out why Qui-Gon was taking so damn long with the door at the beginning of Ep. 1, I finally decided he was trying to keep it from hardening behind the blade.

          Everything else is spot on, though.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Oh, no, assume that there's a limited power output. Chopping through a human body is a whole level of power output different than chopping through a thick wall of reinforced metal.

            What's interesting is the way that reaching the limits of power output doesn't deflect or block the blade. My working description is that it's it's a magnetically bound plasma. The material exposed to it vaporizes and the blade can pass through the gas, but try to pass through metal and you get fascinating magnetic interactions wi
        • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Friday November 23, 2007 @11:35PM (#21459827)
          to second that, GL didn't use the talents of the awesome actors he hired. If you watch the out takes, GL seems to pride himself on surprise script lines on the set... which is the most awful thing a director can do to actors and it shows in the performances. Even in episode 1 (perhaps by Ep 6 actually) , the actors were stiff, disconnected from each other. There was no ensemble performance, no benefit of characterization by "happy accidents" by having the group of actors bang out the lines until the word work on their own... Jar Jar was hated because the character's timing was off, he simply didn't fit the style or performance of the other actors and fans picked up on that as distracting.

          That's why Pixar's films are SO good in contrast... they spend a great deal of time letting the actors play out the roles and it feels like theater performance, the actors are right there in the room, before the animation ever starts. GL seemed to pride himself on using technology to do what HE wanted and not capture the life his story had... and THAT is the art of story telling he seems to want to do so much. Stories aren't perfect, they grow on their own and GL ignored his own work, the work is own company did, the work of official licensees, and the expectations of the fans... a master story teller plays to his crowd... GL completely missed the boat. The movies were technically awesome, but the story fell flat.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189)
      Star Wars jumped the shark halfway through jedi when it turned from a gritty juvenile science fiction/fantasy story into a children's book.

      Jar Jar Binks was one of the two decent things about the entire set of three movies (Palpatine being the other). He was the only source of minor character conflict (the only one to get a rise out of a jedi), he was abrasive, he stirred emotions in the audience. The rest of the movies felt flat, emotionless with a lot of special effects. And I put it almost all on the
    • by reporter (666905) on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:15PM (#21456341) Homepage
      The first 3 movies (i.e., "Star Wars IV", "Star Wars V", and "Star Wars VI") were really a medieval tale dressed in high technology. The tale had a princess (i.e., Princess Leia) , a knight (i.e., Han Solo), an apprentice (i.e., Luke Skywalker), the swords (i.e., the light sabers), etc. More importantly, we saw the battle between good and evil.

      In most medieval tales, people have free will to choose between good and evil. Darth Vader chose evil. Han Solo also made the wrong choices, but at the end of Star Wars IV, he made the right choice to not abandon the rebels. Han Solo saved the day by protecting Luke Skywalker as his space ship ultimately delivered a blow against the Death Star -- the ultimate symbol of evil. Of course, in "Star Wars VI", even Darth Vader chose good and became reborn as a good spirit.

      In the first 3 movies, people who chose good and who committed their lives to the ideals of the Jedi could acquire the powers of the Jedi. Of course, one must be open-minded and must be sensitive to the true nature of the universe. This message is a wholesome one for all the bratty kids who adored these movies and who eventually grew up to shape our society (via, for example, the many discussions on Slashdot) for the better.

      Now, fast forward to the 21st century. George Lucas changed the message of the original "Star Wars". In the new "Star Wars", the powers of the Jedi belong only to the people who inherit specialized midi-chlorians in their genes. If you do not have the special genetic material, then you are a loser like the rest of the humanoids.

      In the new "Star Wars", the Jedis are the highest, most privileged class in a caste system (like the one in India). People are born into their fate. Regardless of the amount of effort in abiding by the Jedi ideals, a person can never be a Jedi. Being a good person means nothing.

      George Lucas transformed the Western theme of free will (to choose good and become a Jedi) to the Indian theme of a caste system. That is a terrible message to send to today's children. Though both the old "Star Wars" and the new "Star Wars" have characters (e.g., ewoks and Jar Jar Binks) specifically appealing to children, the underlying message of the old "Star Wars" is a much better inspiration for children.

      Yet, we should not whine about Lucas' tragic blunder. We should create another new "Star Wars" by re-writing the stories and re-developing them into an alternative prequel, which sticks closely to the original theme in "Star Wars IV: A New Hope".

      Fixing a tragic blunder is the plan for a new movie [reuters.com] about "Star Trek". This new movie is also a prequel and attempts to return to the original spirit of "Star Trek".

      • by shmlco (594907)
        I'm sure you worked hard on that analysis, but I'm not sure I'm buying it. In the first series there were plenty of comments like "the force runs strong in our family", with the implication that it was in fact an inherited trait. Further, in E1 much of made of the fact of the NUMBER of midichlorians present in Anakin's blood.

        That indicates to me that everyone has them to one extent or the other . You just needed a lot of them to be a Jedi, and some people are more predisposed to this than others, just like
      • In a story with a princess and a destined one? The original three movies just didn't lay it on as thick as the pre-quels but they are BOTH the same story. Luke Skywalker is DESTINED to be a jedi, because his father is one. Han Solo could NEVER become one. This whole upper-cast system has ALWAYS been there, both in the form of born-to-be jedi's and royalty.

        Lets be honest here, it is a fairy tale, and in fairy tales the world revolves around nobility because telling a story of how a real peasant becoming a g

        • by TempeTerra (83076) on Friday November 23, 2007 @07:01PM (#21457893)
          The original three movies use strong archetypal characters, a la Joseph Campbell [wikipedia.org], in fact Lucas gave him credit for the style of the characters. The farmer, the princess, the scoundrel and the evil lord. The prequels throw that all away for some reason and the stories are weaker for it.

          Also, in episode 4 Obi Wan tells Han that he could learn to use the force. Han refuses because that's just not what his archetype does. He is only destined to not be a jedi because his character cannot make that choice.

          Oh, and one more thing. I've just been reading the Grimm Brothers fairy tales, and they're full of stories about peasants becoming rulers of the land.
      • Western? WESTERN? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Friday November 23, 2007 @07:44PM (#21458337)

        The original Star Wars leaned very heavily on Eastern narrative traditions (drawing particularly on Hidden Fortress [imdb.com] by Akira Kurosawa.

        The Eastern narrative commonly relies on two classes of hero: one who is pure of heart and destined for great things and one who initially joins the quest out of self-interest, but finds himself affected by the actions and idealism of his companions. The first type cannot succeed without the strength of the second, and the second cannot succeed without the first showing them the path to enlightenment.

        This archetype can be traced back at least as far as Journey to the West [wikipedia.org] (circa 1590, the source for the TV series Monkey [wikipedia.org]) in which the pure hearted monk Tripitaka (Xuánzàng) is aided by three characters, all of whom have fallen out of favour with the gods and seek redemption.

        Luke is pure archetype number 1. Han Solo was archetype 2, an unreconstructed rogue even to the point of casually shooting Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina. When he flew back at the Death Star scene, he redeemed himself. Even so, in ESB he was still not fully converted, planning to head off just before the imperial attack started. His buddy Lando Calrisian stepped in to bolster the "soul in need of redemption" role, and by the end of the film, both Lando and Han were fully redeemed. Who did that leave for ROTJ? Yup, the big one: Darth Vader, whose hatred, bitterness and resentment was purged by love.

        Now, when Lucas redid the original trilogy, he took away that first defining moment in Han's character, that cold-blooded, unflinching murder that showed us just how much of heartless, self-driven piece of scum he was. This was when Lucas started moving back into modern Western narrative. In the West, bad guys don't get reformed -- they get "what's coming to them!"

        By the time he finally wrote the first three episodes, any aspirations to Eastern narrative was gone and he we had good people who were good, evil people who were evil and one good guy who was stupid and let the bad guys win. No-one was redeemed, and we made do with western "punishment": Maul, Dooku and Grievous were all cut to pieces before death.

        Oh, if only the story had stayed eastern....

        HAL.

        • Probably universal (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DrYak (748999)

          The Eastern narrative commonly relies on two classes of hero: one who is pure of heart and destined for great things and one who initially joins the quest out of self-interest, but finds himself affected by the actions and idealism of his companions. The first type cannot succeed without the strength of the second, and the second cannot succeed without the first showing them the path to enlightenment.

          and you can find this kind of narrative structure pretty much everywhere you look.
          Even in Wolfgang Amadeus

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yup, the big one: Darth Vader, whose hatred, bitterness and resentment was purged by love.
          I honestly kinda like the way Revenge of the Sith changed the Vader story. Now, he's basically uninterested in larger ideologies, all the way through. He wasn't really corrupted by the Sith, and he wasn't really redeemed by Luke. His loyalties were consistently to his friends, and especially his family.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dirtside (91468)

          Now, when Lucas redid the original trilogy, he took away that first defining moment in Han's character, that cold-blooded, unflinching murder that showed us just how much of heartless, self-driven piece of scum he was.

          I have to disagree with your assertion that this scene originally showed that Han was a "heartless, self-driven piece of scum." Han shooting Greedo was pure self-defense (granted, self-defense with panache). Greedo HAD A GUN POINTED AT HIM and WAS ABOUT TO SHOOT HIM. But Greedo was overconf

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by edunbar93 (141167)
          casually shooting Greedo

          Casually? More like keeping cool while someone pointed a gun at him and told him he was going to die. Self-defence is often defined as "do unto others what they would do unto you, but do it first". He knew that if he made any fast moves, he would die. So he shot Greedo. Slowly.

          As for being scum, well, smugglers aren't exactly pure of heart, now are they? Even if Greedo pulled the trigger first, the intent was always there.

          Not that I defend Greedo shooting first. That was just pure la
  • by themushroom (197365) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:27PM (#21455851) Homepage
    First post!

    The trillogy ending where it did in 1983 was just fine. Coming back to it two decades later was jumping the shark.
  • by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:27PM (#21455857) Homepage Journal

    Did George Lucas redeem himself in Episode III?
    "NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo!!!"
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:28PM (#21455861) Journal
    Jar-Jar and Midi-chorlians were just a symptom of the underlying disease. He only directed one of the first three movies (IV, V, & VI), and in that one, there were people who felt like they could challenge him when the dialogue was crap...Harrison Ford was famous for it, and I doubt very seriously that Alec Guiness would have spouted some of the tripe that came later. Other directors on the other movies made the whole thing more palatable.

    Fast forward to the second set (I,II,III) and you see that not only does he feel that he is capable of directing all three movies now (ha!) but no one dares to dispute his character or dialogue choices and unnecesarry plot wankings...Things thrown in just as an excuse for visual effects masturbation. If there had been anyone who felt like they could stand up to him, I can't imagine some of the horrible bad calls (like the dialog of the whole of episode II) would have gone through.

    Episode III was by far the best of the new set, but I wouldn't call it great by any stretch. The movie fricking starts with them landing half a fricking starship on a landing strip, rather than, you know, in a giant self-made crater. I know it's sci-fi, but come on. I'd have bought one of them levitating them to the ground using the Force (which doesn't make a ton of sense), but not a fricking crash landing.

    In short, the whole mess had potential, but the dialog was terrible, and the actors looked uncomfortable, and there was waaaaaaaay too much "Hey this would look cool!" without a thought to what it meant for the plot.
    • The movie fricking starts with them landing half a fricking starship on a landing strip, rather than, you know, in a giant self-made crater. I know it's sci-fi, but come on. I'd have bought one of them levitating them to the ground using the Force (which doesn't make a ton of sense), but not a fricking crash landing.

      these ships fly around in space, at faster than light travel -- AFTER they've already been shot full of holes. And the "fighters" bank, for crying out loud!

      A "starship" being able to have an effective emergency landing is every bit as plausible as the starship in the first place.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
        No. Not "A starship"...HALF a starship, the half without the engines, iirc, which is somehow capable of navigating without the engines, staying in the air without wings, and not hitting the ground at terminal velocity.

        I don't buy it. I'm sorry, but they introduce nothing plausible that would justify that, and yea, sure, it's fiction, but even fiction has to be internally consistent.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          iirc

          You do. HBO (or Showtime) have the movie on heavy rotation at the moment, and if it's at the beginning, I'll stop for a few minutes. Every time I see that sequence, I cringe. He basically glides an unpowered, multi-billion ton brick of metal from orbit to planetside. It's unreal.
        • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot@castles ... .us minus author> on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:08PM (#21456275) Homepage Journal

          I don't buy it. I'm sorry, but they introduce nothing plausible that would justify that, and yea, sure, it's fiction, but even fiction has to be internally consistent.
          That's just it -- it is. Star Wars is a science-fantasy where you can pop across the galaxy in a week. where "repulsors" are so cheap and reliable that no one uses wheels anymore, where the speed of light means nothing, tiny space fighters work just as well in atmosphere (and never need heat shielding), and anything that looks vaugely like a spaceship can land, fly, and do pretty much whatever it wants.

          And in this universe, of all things to complain about, you're bitching that a military vessel can't have enough layers of redundancy to limp home after being half destroyed?

          The very first time you heard an X-wing "swoosh" should have told you all you need to know about Star Wars: physics takes a back seat to moviemaking, and the crash landing you're complaining about is entirely consistant with that.
    • by Rary (566291) on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:41PM (#21456625)

      You nailed it in your subject line, or at least part of it. The problem with the prequels is the lack of Han Solo.

      You see, Star Wars was supposed to be, in Lucas's mind, about the Jedi. However, the Jedi are really boring, pretentious, one-dimensional characters. By luck (at least, for us, the viewers), he started the story in a time when the Jedi were all but eliminated. Therefore, instead of actually being about the Jedi, the original trilogy was about a rebellion, with a bit of Jedi coolness (ie. light saber duels) thrown in for fun. The star of the show: Han Solo. A cool, bad-ass scoundrel of a good guy.

      Fast forward to the prequels, and it's all Jedi. Where's Han Solo, or at least a cool character like him? There isn't one. There's just stiff pretentious Jedi spouting tripe masquerading as wisdom. Sure, there's lots of light sabers, which is cool. But that's not enough to make a good movie.

      Think about it: the Empire came into existence because the Jedi screwed up and let it happen, and it came crumbling down because Lando Calrissian blew up the second Death Star after Han Solo destroyed the shield generator, while the only remaining Jedi was too busy dealing with personal issues to actually help.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:30PM (#21455883)
    In my humble opinion, it was going back and taking the myths and legends which awed us (who the Jedi and Sith had been, how the Empire changed the galaxy) and acting them all out, while giving the prequels few myths and legends of their own to compensate. It made the series feel too much like some self-contained construct, a fantasy world dreamed up in its entirety, with no mysteries that the audience's imaginations could explore. The huge number of links into the "classic" trilogy also destroyed the sense of scale by making it seem like everybody in the series new everybody else. I know about small world networks, but that's not how an epic should feel. So you wound up with something that had all the enormity and mystery of a plastic diorama.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721)
      For a long time I had a hard time putting my hand on what was wrong at the core of the prequel trilogy. There was obvious stuff like midichlorians and Jar Jar Binks, there was also the ponderous political bits.

      To me the attempt at political commentary and Jar Jar Binks are tolerable, if annoying aspects of the prequels, but the midichlorians are the real symptom of the disease. Lucas knew enough about myths to invoke some rather powerful ones in the original trilogy, so clearly he's not all that incompete
  • Star Wars explores no scientific principles in a fictional context. Rather, it's space opera - dramatic story with whizzing space ships, bleeping robots, and fuzzy aliens set to a dramatic musical score.
  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:33PM (#21455909)
    and realized the original trilogy was never that great after all.
  • Midichlorians (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) * <capsplendid&gmail,com> on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:34PM (#21455911) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, midichlorians were a pretty big issue for me. I was more than happy to forgive Lucas' usual faults and excesses, but that one was stupid.

    It's been mentioned before, but you also have to remember that he's a shit storyteller. I like to call him the anti-Stephen King: He comes up with some great plots, but when it comes to writing a coherent narrative or three-dimensional characters, he's always been hopeless, and the original trilogy bears that out to a great extent. Most of us were kids at the time and mostly missed all that, we were too busy gawping at the lightsabers and other cool stuff.

    As for Episode 3 being some kind of redemption, sorry no. Granted, all the work he put into 1 and 2 reach some neat and satisfying conclusions, but he still managed to deliver a highly-flawed and (as usual) stodgy movie.

    Plus, it would have helped if we saw more of Darth Vader than than pathetic and brief scene we get of him in the end. I'm not one for ragging on artists when they don't deliver exactly what the fanboys want, but the "birth" of Darth Vader scene was very weak sauce.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Plus, it would have helped if we saw more of Darth Vader than than pathetic and brief scene we get of him in the end. I'm not one for ragging on artists when they don't deliver exactly what the fanboys want, but the "birth" of Darth Vader scene was very weak sauce."

      We shouldn't have seen Vader at all. We're not supposed to know he's Annakin until ESB. George forgot he was writing prequels, here. The last trilogy would have fared better if he had used those prequels to give us a different understanding o
  • Not Midi-chlorians (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niceone (992278) * on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:34PM (#21455915) Journal
    He says it was Midi-chlorians because "Jedi, you see, aren't made, they're born. They're of the blood, nobility, maybe even a master race". So no point fantasising about training yourself to be one - as the author did during the first trilogy.

    But I think if you had been paying attention in the first trilogy you might also have come to the conclusion that Jedi are born not made - or was is coincidence that two of the most powerful Jedi just happened to be FATHER and SON!?
    • by geekoid (135745)
      I disagree. They tried to make it 'science like' which made it harder to suspend disbelief.
      "The force is strong with this one" was enough.

      People knew that a family may be stronger in the force, and that was all the audience needed.

      It also flies in the face of the, 'mystic quality' of the force set up in 4,5,6. So people who enjoyed those movies felt disappointed.

      I just watched EP1 with my 10 year old son, and he enjoyed. Three things would have improved it for me:
      1) drop the midi-chlorians
      2) Tighter editing
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think that Terry Goodkind sums it up nicely in his Sword of Truth series. In that series, there are two types of wizards; those with the Calling, i.e., they want to be, and those with the Gift, i.e., they're naturally talented at it.

      in the OT, or at least Epi 4, it was quite clear that any old idiot could use the Force; Kenobi offers to teach some to Solo. That having been said, some people, through luck, or heridity, or whatever, have a particular aptitude or talent for Force usage.

      In TPM, all they

    • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday November 23, 2007 @06:08PM (#21457385)
      Luke wasn't a jedi until he completed his training and faced vader. Anikin wasn't a jedi until he completed his training and apprenticeship. Leghia (sic?) also had the force, but she wasn't a jedi.

      Clearly, the force isn't something that everybody has. And being a jedi isn't just a matter of having the force.

      It's being a professional baseball player: it takes natural ability, training, and steroids.
  • Even the standards body tasked with determining this very point can't decide whether it's Jar Jar or Midi-chlorians [pttbt.ca], so I don't expect this'll get answered any time soon.
  • by HeavensFire (1161917) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:37PM (#21455945)
    people are fickle. it really isn't the plot, characters, acting, writing or special effects that people fall in love with -- its how it made them feel at the time. and when a sequal fails to reproduce those feelings, it automatically becomes "not as good as the original," regardless of the technical aspects. this is something you can see the world over in many different areas of interest. (computer games for example.) i don't believe the first trilogy is any better or worse then the prequel -- just different.
  • Slow News Day (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Ye gods, I know it's a slow news day. But this....

    on the front page.....

    It's a slashdot of a blog about Star Wars, 8 years after the most recent offensive started, 2 years after it ended.

    It's not even a long blog, and it has it's own comment section. Why does this deserve a slashdotting?

    Maybe if you ran a banner add over it for the stars wars kitch on ThinkGeek, it might have been excusably evil. But no, you boned that one as well.

    And I read it, then I commented...... somebody get me the eye bleach and
  • Ewoks (Score:5, Funny)

    by kabdib (81955) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:41PM (#21455989) Homepage
    Easy. Ewoks.

    _Return of the Jedi_ ended about five minutes early. After the Rebels blow up the Big Round Thing II, there are a bunch of perfectly good Star Destroyers left in orbit. While the credits are rolling, they fire up their blasters and start toasting Ewoks.

    I would pay to see that.

    Everything in the SW universe was crap after the first Ewok appeared on screen. That was the moment I realized George Lucas had sold out whatever integrity he had as a story-teller, and that from then on his real customers were the ones collecting cheap tie-in garbage at MacDonald's, Burger King and Toys-R-Us. (The appearance of Jar-Jar merely epoxied shut any hope that Lucas had of redeeming himself. I went to the remaining films only because they were "group morale events" that my employers paid for; I would not have spent my own money going -- and frankly, these events did not do much for anyone's morale, that I could see).

  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:42PM (#21456003) Homepage

    Lucas almost redeemed himself. Until the entire dumb Anakin kills Padme sequence -- which by itself was probably survivable -- followed by Vader howling in girlish pain over a murder he knew he was going to commit. Also, it is hard to figure, especially after watching Ep 3, just how stoopid Vader had to be to not blame the Emperor and seek revenge for what was obvious: the Emperor pushed Anakin into killing Padme in order to bring him over to the Dark Side.

    Lucas took a painfully simple view of human nature. Anakin would have had to have been dumber than a bag of hammers to not get the hustle that was played on him.

    Until you actually see the Emperor toying with Vader in Ep 3, it remains believable that Vader would be willing to be the Emperor's lieutenant. When you see how obvious and clumsy the Emperor's actions were, it just makes Anakin/Vader look even more gullible and childish and simple than he already was portrayed in Ep 1 and Ep 2.

  • Star Wars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king-manic (409855) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:43PM (#21456015)
    star wars is fairly cool in other peoples hands (Original trilogy, KOTOR, KOTOR 2, Republic comanda etc..) but when Lucas has direct and unchecked control of it he ruins it because basically he isn't a fan of his own work. That and he gets really bad ideas along with pretty good ideas. When othe rpeople have their hand in it it editorilizes his ideas and the shit gets dropped.

    Before:

    Lucas: "hey harrison, I want you to shoot after guido shoots at you."

    Harrison: "You know what george, fuck you. Han is supposed to be a bad ass with a good side not a boy scout with a furry for a friend."

    Now:

    Lucas: "I want you to put in a CG rhasta with teeth grindingly bad dialogue"

    ILM grunt: "Yes mr. pays my bills and whose opinion my career hinges on"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spyrochaete (707033)
      I'd go as far as to say that the KOTOR series is the best branch of the entire Star Wars tree. It's an awesome universe and KOTOR not only gives you the opportunity to explore it for a good long while, but it is teeming with life and personality and conflict with numerous ways to resolve the problems of many worlds. Star Wars is lucky that KOTOR uses its canon.
  • Episode 3 was the worst of the bunch! I honestly fail to see how anybody could see Lucas redeeming himself with Episode 3. I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head with all the eye-rolling I was doing through it. Seriously, do people actually think it's good?
  • The first three where joint efforts: His wife helped with the editing, two other guys directed the ESB and ROTJ, and Lucas had Larry Kasden to help punch up the scripts.

    The last three had none of that. Lucas believed the "Star Wars, c'est moi!", and we ended up with JarJar, midichlorians, and "I have the high ground".

    Once Lucas actually started believing that he alone was responsible for the success of Star Wars, it was over.
  • Fuggin chlamydians (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mark_in_Brazil (537925) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:47PM (#21456065)
    I prefer that name. In addition to making fun of one of the stupidest aspects of the prequel trilogy, it also raises an interesting question: could the whole Darth Vader situation (and with it, the Galactic Empire) have been avoided with a simple dose of penicillin?
    In the original trilogy, the Force was magic. There was no need to explain "how it works;" Obi-wan's explanation in ANH of what it is and what it does was sufficient. Nobody has to ask how Merlin's magic or Gandalf's magic works. It's magic, fercryinoutloud! Similarly, there's no need to explain how the Force works. It's the Force fercryinoutloud!
    As much as I was looking forward to Episode I, I was totally disappointed by it pretty much from the beginning, and the moment at which I knew it was totally blown and wasn't going to get better was when Qui-gon started blabbing about the chlamydians or whatever. Stupid technobabble worthy of the absolute worst episodes of ST:TNG (gawd... I now wonder: how do tetrions affect chlamydians?), and worse, it reduced what had been magic to a mere blood condition.
    Also, as TFA notes, being a great Jedi suddenly stopped being decided by training in the Force and became a mere accident of birth, which is much less appealing to me, as it is to the author of TFA.
    Episode III was the least awful of the prequel trilogy, but the world would be better off if the three had never been made. The original trilogy is still great, though. Star Wars (ANH) is still one of my all-time favorite films. I was 8 when it came out, and that was 30 years ago, so you know I'm rapidly approaching 40, but I still feel a childlike sense of wonder when I watch that movie. Even the awful prequel trilogy can't ruin that for me. I just pretend the prequels don't exist. Besides, that way, Darth Vader's revelation to Luke in TESB, and what Luke figures out on Dagobah in ROTJ are actually surprises.
    I plan to show my kids the original trilogy. If they end up somehow seeing the crap prequels afterward, that's their problem, but I won't be responsible for it. I'll show them something awesome and let them decide, knowing how Dad doesn't like the prequels, whether they want to watch them or not.
  • by Zelos (1050172) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:49PM (#21456075)
    Eps 1-3 are dull because they tell the backstory. We already know how it ends, we already know pretty much what happens. So there's no tension and no surprise. They stretch out what made an interesting few paragraphs in the original trilogy to 3 films.
    • by Bombula (670389) on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:36PM (#21456585)
      dull because they tell the backstory

      This comment is particularly ill-conceived, even for Slashdot Star Wars posts. The prequels are dull, but not because they are backstory. If someone asks you, "what's Christianity all about?" you can answer them in a handful of paragraphs, but that doesn't make the entire 'backstory' of the Bible "dull" because "there's no tension and no surprise." Literature is rich with wonderful exposition of 'backstory'. Even individual stories can be enthralling when they explore 'backstory', which is why the technique of jumping around chronologically in fiction is so widespread.

      The Star Wars prequels were awful for precisely the same reason that 99% of Hollywood films are awful: terrible writing and terrible directing.

  • JTS Moment (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stavr0 (35032) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:51PM (#21456099) Homepage Journal
    riiight ...
    ANAKIN
    I want to go.

    about ...
    QUI-GON
    Then, pack your things. We haven't much time.

    ANAKIN
    Yipee!!

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:56PM (#21456145) Homepage Journal
    with it.

    Many good movies will often have a concept, or a message, or something for you to think about after the credits roll. However, good movies also let you draw your own conclusions from the film and aren't usually incredibly overt in presenting it. This is what the first starwars trilogy did. You had the concepts of good vs. evil, predestination vs. free will etc, but you weren't constantly beat over the head with those themes. The prequels are more like the Matrix sequels in that the messages are repeated over and over again till you just don't care. Also, hiding behind intentionally confusing and/or terse dialog doesn't make you "profound" it makes you annoying....
  • Hayden Christensen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mikkelm (1000451) on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:13PM (#21456323)
    Hayden Christensen. Seriously. I cannot watch the last two movies. It's too sappy for me, and that actor is just infuriating.
    • ...or indeed any of the actors. It's Lucas. The actors can only do what the director wants. I posted about this after Episode 1 was released. Hayden Christensen has been fairly criticized for a terrible performance, but unfairly characterized as a terrible actor. He's anything but. In fact, he's actually quite talented, as anyone who saw his performances in "Life as a House" [imdb.com] and "Shattered Glass" [imdb.com] can attest. All the featured actors have proven in other films that they can act, but their performances in the

  • by rev_sanchez (691443) on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:15PM (#21456345)
    There were a lot of problems with the original trilogy but I think the biggest two were the Ewoks and having 2 Death Stars (they couldn't make 3 movies without recycling that plot). The other stuff was mostly just sloppy planning or bad writing like Luke and Leia's kiss. There was plenty of that in the last 3 movies (I'd say it was worse) but there were major additional problems.

    1. We knew the ending just not exactly how they got there. That works fine if there is some mystery to it or it just seems like an odd outcome you have to work your way to (JJ Abrams did MI:3 and several episodes of Alias like this). It doesn't work that well for Star Wars because the original trilogy is pretty much a spoiler for the last three. The new trilogy hit the requirements of setting the stage for the original trilogy. I think they did it poorly because they tried too hard to bring in old characters and thing like that to tie the movies together without a good reason.

    2. The good guys aren't the underdogs like they were in the original trilogy and one of the main protagonists pretty much becomes a strait up villain. Do we root for the guy who's going to become a villain and hunt down and kill the Jedi including kids? Do we root for the second tier character who dies in the first movie of the original trilogy? The answer is we tolerate them and their poor characters until they do cool fights or Jedi tricks.

    This stuff made it a lot harder to put up with Jar Jar, annoying kid Anakin, whiny teen Anakin, teen Anakin hooking up with Padme, Midicloriens, the title "Attack of the Clones", a trade dispute war no one gave a damn about, and villains that weren't very intimidating. It was never going to be easy to make a prequel trilogy but they could have done a lot better.
  • Minority of 1 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pokerdad (1124121) on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:16PM (#21456351)

    I know I'll be in the minority with this view (possibly a minority of 1) but here goes.

    The Internet killed Star Wars.

    Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, when people didn't like a film they told their friends not to go see it, then let it go. If you look at the box office records for TPM, you'll see it continued strong in theatres throughout the summer, and hung in all the way to October. This is not the box office of a film that had great hype but no substance; it is the box office of a film that impressed more than a few people.

    Of course, the internet says otherwise. For three years the only thing more hated on the internet than George Lucas was Jar Jar. I'll be honest, I have no comprehension of how people can invest the kind of time I saw wasted complaining about TPM.

    Worst of all, I think that the numerous online complaints got to Lucas. I think that AotC was dubious and RotS was pure crap largely because Lucas was trying to meet the demands of a group that probably couldn't be satisfied.

    I think that TPM is much more like the original trilogy than some people want to give it credit for; most likely because OT was from their childhood, and so it got rose coloured. (movie goers from my mother's generation certainly didn't have as high an opinion about OT as my gen did; perhaps that says something)

    (If anyone is dying to respond to this post with arguments about why TPM sucks, my lack of response is because I wasted three hours a day for three years on multiple forums fighting this fight, and at this point I don't care any more. You think that GL ruined SW for you, well people like you ruined it for me.)

  • by dbolger (161340) on Friday November 23, 2007 @04:17PM (#21456359) Homepage
    Return of the Jedi was released five months after I was born. My parents bought me a few Star Wars toys that I must have kept for years because I distinctly remember playing with them as a kid. I also had an original Return of the Jedi blanket and movie tie-in books, so I consider myself to be at the extreme edge of the group who can claim Star Wars as part of their childhood.

    I'm sure some of you who are older than me by a few years will say that the Ewoks ruined the Star Wars franchise, but for me, they have always been an intrinsic part of it. Yes, they were largely a comedic species, but in RoTJ, their nievity - their childish, silly actions and noises served as a contrast to the evil of the Empire. One of the most touching moments in the original trilogy was a scene where one Ewok is killed by an imperial laser blast, and another leans down beside him, prodding him, clearly not realising his friend is dead, and possibly even unfamiliar with the concept of non-natural death itself.

    The Ewoks are often compared to Jar Jar, but I think this is very unfair. Yes, they made the audience laugh, and yes they probably made Lucas lots more money from merchandising, but they served a purpose in terms of the film's plot, and without the contrast that they created, the Empire's actions would have had a greatly reduced impact on audiences.

    None of this can be said of Jar Jar Binks. His "zany antics" serve no purpose but outright slapstick humour, and even this is not done very well. He alone does not create a contrast with the Trade Federation, nor does his innocence underscore the central themes of the film(s). He exists purely because the writers needed a "funny character", and were too lazy to create something better.

    As I have said, I am (by the skin of my teeth) a member of the "Star Wars generation", but because I was not old enough to be obsessively interested in movies, I do not think that the modern trilogy "ruined my childhood" by any means. However, there is a noticable drop in quality between the two sets of films, and for me, the most blatant example of this is the presence of Jar Jar Binks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AbRASiON (589899) *
      I have to agree, I only hated the ewoks AFTER people told me to, if that even makes sense.
      I never found them painfully intrusive before.
      Sure they did play a bit too big of a part in ROTJ when you think about it but compared to Jar Jar - good lord.
      At least the writing / editing / etc was good in ROTJ unlike the prequels.

      Also, I don't think anyone DOESN'T remember that sad scene where the ewok pokes his dead buddy's body.
  • The Scream (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dogwelder99 (896835) on Friday November 23, 2007 @05:02PM (#21456831)
    Shark jumpage started with the 1997 re-release of Empire, when Lucas changed the scene of Luke jumping off the Cloud City platform by adding that hollering scream all the way down. Suddenly Luke wasn't a Jedi nobly accepting his own death rather than turning to the dark side. He was just a blithering idiot falling off a cliff, in strangely accurate foreshadowing of the whole Star Wars franchise for the next decade.

    Revenge of the Sith didn't redeem the mess... it was just good enough to remind you of how good the prequels could have been, if someone had taken George's crayons away and hired a screenwriter. ILM should release a Special Edition using CGI to replace the entire trilogy.
  • The "used future" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yaddoshi (997885) on Friday November 23, 2007 @05:14PM (#21456931)
    In my opinion, the biggest contributing factor to the failure of Episodes I, II and even III is the lack of one very important technique that was invented during the making of the original Star Wars. This technique helped make the original films believable, which also in turn made them immersive.

    During the documentary of the making of Star Wars (on the 4th disc of the box set DVD release), one of the film crew members described a problem where C3P0s costume was initially a highly reflective chrome surface and was causing the cameras to be visible during their test shoot. To offset this problem they rubbed dirt and grease into the costume, dulling it enough so that it would no longer be reflective. They then used this technique with other droids, vehicles and anything else in the film. They called it the "used future" - and it was all the more believable because these objects, vehicles, droids and other things really did appear as though they had always been there.

    As we all know, not only was there an overzealous amount of CG in Star Wars Episodes I, II and III, but the real sets and costumes were kept pristine and perfect throughout the films. Hair cuts, makeup, billboards, decorations, vehicles, aliens, etc, all looked perfect 100% of the time. Too perfect.

    Just as human brains are capable of instantly detecting the subtle differences in something that is not really alive (which is a common problem when watching CG special effects in film), it also can detect when something is "too perfect".

    This alone was enough to ruin any immersive qualities the new Star Wars films might have had, and this problem was compounded by the poor dialogue, stupid gags, dragging plot-lines, inconsistencies and the idiotic notion that everything needed to be explained in detail.

    Also, the new films had a practically unlimited budget, and therefore there was less need to innovate or improvise, almost eliminating the possibility of creating "happy accidents" that were part of the magic of the original movies (some of which were later removed by George's "improvements" in the re-releases).

    My favorite Star Wars film is the original Empire Strikes Back, which was not directed by George Lucas, and also happens to be his least favorite of the series. The original film is a perfect balance of action, romance and drama, and should have been left entirely alone. But I suppose until I am as successful as George Lucas in the entertainment industry my two cents are pretty meaningless.
  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Friday November 23, 2007 @05:17PM (#21456949) Homepage
    I would say the combination of the bad puns in 1-3 referencing 4-6 as well as the need to tie up everything in a pretty package where EVERYONE was put into their place at the end, Vader has his suit, Kenobi off to Tattooine (Lars being Anikans half-brother), Leia, etc etc. Episode III ended with every thing ready and everyone was in their place waiting for 17 whole years or so for Luke to grow up. Heck they even had the death star plans put in there, I guess they got stupid for those 17 years and just sat around grew old and built the Death Star.

    The plot could have just:

    Let Anikin be good at the force without being some weird plot thing and then would better explain why in 4-6 he was not quite powerful and stiff.

    Beat up Anikin real good and put him out of commission for a while and just gave him a couple more artificial limbs and a lot of destructive anger (so he could earn the rest of his suit)

    Let "Uncle" Lars be his brother, or just as well another fallen Jedi in hiding that unlike Kenobi totally disavowed the order.

    Leaving some things open to speculation and opportunity for fans or authors to fill in the blanks would have been a whole lot more entertaining and interesting in my book.
  • by jgoemat (565882) on Friday November 23, 2007 @06:06PM (#21457365)

    I know it's been said before by many, but Greedo shooting first doesn't make sense. The reason though isn't just that "Han is a bad boy who would shoot first if his life is in danger", but that the scene is totally unbelievable that way. You have a trained bounty hunter sitting about three feet away from Han with a gun pointed right at him. If he had intended to kill Han, why not just shoot him to start with? How does he miss him over his shoulder? Even if you had never seen the original Star Wars, you would have to ask yourself "What just happened?" Then you have Jabba the Hut, who can't even move in Return of the Jedi so he has his platform move in and out from the wall, meeting Han personally in a busy spaceport. He doesn't take Han in though, instead he lets Han step on him. You also have all the digital creations added to make the space port look busy, like the guy on the motorbike that swerves to avoid the dinosaur thing, causing the digital guy to fall off and hang on by the reigns. Lucas said he always intended Mos Eisley to be a bustling space port, but why? Tatooine was chosen to hide Luke specifically because it was a backwater planet with little interstellar travel. Having all of this digital crap on the screen distracts from the story. It's like he forgot anything he learned in film school about drawing attention to things that are important to tell the story.

    The three "prequels" are all about special effects. Now Tatooine is a busy planet with thousands turning out for a spectacular race all the time. Anakin's boss is a ridiculous digital flying creature that could never fly in real life because 1) he's fat, 2) his wings are too flimsy and 3) he has no chest muscles to flap those wings. The story is about some "trade federation" blockading a planet for no other reason it seems than they like to take orders from a shadowy figure over holographic communications. I don't even remember the plots from the other two really, they are just forgettable.

  • by guidryp (702488) on Friday November 23, 2007 @07:15PM (#21458043)
    I saw "A new hope" when I was 12 years old. It was the perfect matching of audience maturity to film making. The wonder/comedy/romance balance was just right for a 12 years old.

    When I saw "The empire strikes back", I had grown slightly more adult and so had the series, it was again almost a perfect match.

    Then "Return on the Jedi" and I was now a more cynical young adult. The series had not kept pace. Silly antics and cutsey toy ewoks sullied what could have been a brilliant trilogy capper if the original writing/directing team were kept in place, and someone kept George from going backwards.I thought this was bad, but little did I know...

    So a combo of me growing up and George aiming younger and lower. The sharked jumped at ROTJ.

    The special edition tweaks were lame. Not just Han turning from calculating badass to a typical good two shoes hero, but all the lame overdone insertions of random creatures all over the landscape. Bleh. But this is more of footnote you can ignore.

    The new trilogy: Seriously this was garbage by almost any standard. It sold because of mega marketing dollars and because we are suckers for nostalgia. Though I waited for the 1 and 2 to hit video or TV broadcast,because even the previews were painful to watch. I saw 3 in the theater and it was meh.

    So ROTJ jumped the shark, but it got mind boggling worse from there.

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Friday November 23, 2007 @07:22PM (#21458119)
    Fun movie, but just a movie.

    Interestingly, the myth of Star Wars is stronger than the films. --My memories of Luke's training with Yoda is much more robust than what was actually on the screen. The Jedi and what they mean hold a place in my mind and heart which isn't going anywhere, and which fits into a larger perspective of life as I see it, and I am thankful to have those ideas contained in the myth of Star Wars.

    It's like the stories of the Greek Gods; there are many different tellings from many different story tellers, some good, some less so, but they were just facets of a greater thing. An idea which is 3D to a story's 2D, and which must be approached many times from many different angles to be fully understood, and which cannot be diminished by a bad telling; only the story might be foggy. The idea itself is perfect, and we know this, or we wouldn't argue about how such and such a scene could have been done better. We KNOW there is a perfect idea within it all, and it is what we are all seeking to understand. --And of course I'm not talking about the Greek myths here. They don't do much for us today. I'm talking about the myth that Star Wars looks in upon and which still holds enormous power today even though Lucas coughed and lost his place a few times while telling it as we all sat around the fire.

    There are so many great ideas from Star Wars which can be used to measure and reinforce other stories. A couple of my favorites. . .

    "Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, and Hate leads to Suffering. . . I see much Fear in you."

    "You focus determines your reality" "I don't understand." "You will, Anakin. With time and training, you will."

    Other films, even great stories like Lord of the Rings, don't cut to the quick of the experience of this world in quite the same way the Star Wars myth does. --Star Wars shows how politics works in our world, it shows how Spirit moves in our world, and it offers a means to navigate through these interesting times with grace and power. And that's why people constantly re-tell the same myths over and over. They inform our lives.

    Yeah, I'd be happier if Teen-Anakin hadn't been such a weenie. But that was just a movie. The ideas are what count.


    -FL

  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @04:20AM (#21461161) Homepage
    ... when the kids who grew up with the second trilogy are in their early twenties, and realize they don't have to listen to the old generation any more. For them, the second trilogy will seem great through the eyes of their childhood, while the first trilogy will just seem camp.

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