No, I haven’t been to see the new Star Wars yet. I am a Jedi, I will see it in all patience when the time comes! Really though the wife doesn’t want to get sardined into an overpacked theater with a thousand cell phones. So I’ll wait until she’s ready.
She better not wait long. I’ve heard almost nothing but good things about it. It has a 95% rating at Rotten Tomatoes (which is one more than The Empire Strikes Back). Not infallible, but pretty impressive… most impressive. I doubt Abrams has beat out Empire for best Star Wars film (although he did have one of the screenwriters from Empire, Lawrence Kasdan) and I think it more that people are starved for even a decent (speculating, haven’t seen it yet) Star Wars installment after Lucas spent 8 years taking a giant dump on some of our childhoods.
I am assuming he stayed away from annoying children’s characters and fart and poodoo jokes and the like. George Lucas got the wrong idea about his films at some point (you can see it in The Return of the Jedi – teddy bears defeat the Imperial forces? really?). While the films were suitable for children to view, they were not by that fact children films. Herbie the Love Bug was a children’s film plain and simple.
Actually, one could contest whether the Star Wars films were ever suitable for children (at least below a certain age). You are talking about a monster (Darth Vader was a mechanical monster, half man, half machine) that ran an Empire of Nazi/totalitarian themes (Stormtroopers) who burnt some poor farm kids aunt and uncle to a crisp. An old wizard that gets cut down. And, let’s not forget a holocaust when a million (billion?) people are murdered by a giant laser. The body count in the original Star Wars was probably the biggest ever. Not onscreen, but still.
The second movie was even darker although the body count went down. We find that the monster who has just cut off the farm boy’s hand is his father. How’s that for an idea in a young kids mind? We have torture and not just torture, but torture for no reason. As Han said when his torture was over, “they didn’t even ask me any questions.”
The word for today kids is Sadism! Say it after me.
I’m not saying a kid couldn’t watch it, but saying it was intended for children from its inception just makes me wonder what kind of sick person you are then. Genocide? That’s a children’s theme for ya.
Lucas continued and intensified this confusion in his slipshod and confused prequels. Where in the same series you have the fart jokes for kids and the lizard poo poo jokes and the kid-friendly (but adult enraging) characters in a movie with the slaughter of who knows how many children. Numerous severed limbs. Pure evil, extermination of an entire class (the Jedi).
The prequels didn’t even have the benefit of being uplifting in any way like the originals. You didn’t walk out of the theater feeling good about these. Not thematically, nor story-wise.
Ah, but you say. The prequels couldn’t have been uplifting because it is the story of the downfall of Darth Vader! And I call out your mistake with a calm, “bullshit”.
First the prequels didn’t have to be about Darth Vader’s, Anakin’s, downfall. What you needed was to end up with the Empire and the Rebellion. Anakin never had to be elevated to top dog – shouldn’t have been elevated to top dog. Matter of fact it didn’t even have to end 20 or 30 years before the events of Star Wars IV. Anyone ever here of “in media res”? The thing about this pie is we already knew what was in it. We know there is an Empire, an Emperor, and Darth Vader, and the Rebellion. The challenge to the story writer (that unfortunately was an aged Lucas) was to not have us stare at what we already knew.
I would have (I swear I did this 10 times on my other blog several years ago) forgotten about Anakin’s story entirely – until the third act. Have him be a minor character in the first two films, you know he’s there, and you know where he ends up. And the fact that he’s kept off the main focus would have added tension, a tease. Build him up, gradually, as a hero, but in the first film he’s Wedge. Kenobi is the big hero in the first film, not some stupid little kid. You never see Anakin as a kid, this isn’t some biopic epic.
Here is something we already knew from Return of the Jedi. It doesn’t take some long process of wooing and courting and manipulating some impulsive brat to fall to the Dark Side. Giving into anger leads to the Dark Side. That is what the Emperor was doing on the unfinished Death Star. People have complained that that scene is unrealistic because he didn’t have the Emperor didn’t have the salesmanship necessary to win Luke over. Well, then you do not know the Star Wars mythos. The Emperor was trying to piss the hell out of Luke, make him strike out in hate, in anger, in rage – at him or at his father.
Well, here’s the whole crux to the failure of the prequels. That was how Anakin became Darth Vader. We didn’t need a giant build-up and watch what was basically a long, boring psychological sketch. The Emperor could have been already establishing the Empire (in any way that was not the way Lucas did it). The Rebellion is already, in some way, existing. Events press Anakin to the wall (in any way that was not the way Lucas did it) in action, through actual events, preferably in battles not in the Emperor’s office and not at that Jedi Council.
It would only take a part of the third movie to get him from hero to villain. That is all it would have taken Luke in Return of the Jedi. If he had not seen that he was becoming as his father, if he had cut Vader down, his journey to the Dark Side, as the Emperor said, would be complete.
And no Chewbacca, no R2-D2, no Threepio. They can wait for movie 7. No Organa senator guy to make a continuance between the series. There were only four characters that needed to be in the prequel that were in or mentioned in the originals: Yoda, Kenobi, Anakin, and Luke and Leia’s mother (and her part should have been minimal).
Oops, I committed chronocide again.