Article

WHY STAR WARS FANS SHOULD, ER, GET A LIFE
 

 

ScifiMoviePage.com webmaster James O’Ehley bitches about the Star Wars movies. For the last time, he promises . . .

My eight-year-old daughter has never seen any of the Star Wars movies and only knows the Clone Wars animated show on Cartoon Network. She doesn’t have a clue who Luke Skywalker is except that he might be related to Anakin Skywalker, nor Princess Leia, Han Solo or any of the other characters featured in the original trilogy.

She is now old enough to rectify this sad state of affairs, so I bought all six movies on the Region 5 DVDs newly released in Russia and Eastern Europe (don’t ask) and we watched them spread out over two weekends.

I saw the first Star Wars movie - I can’t bring myself to call it A New Hope as Lucas wants us to - back as a ten-year-old boy back in 1977 (I know: I gave my age away there). The movie had a huge impact upon me and many others of my generation, probably because there weren’t anything else like it around back then . . . at all! After all, the era of the special effects summer blockbuster was only beginning with Star Wars and Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind the same year.

Today’s kids are jaded by annual special effects blockbusters shown on 3D screens in over-sized air-conditioned IMAX theaters. Nothing can explain to them the sheer excitement of a ten-year old boy watching that huge Imperial Star Destroyer crawl across the screen, lasers a-blazing to John Williams’ thunderous score back in 1977. (Most movie soundtracks in the 1970s sounded like porn movie music. Seriously.)

I became obsessed and so were many others of my generation. For me – and many others - it meant a life-long fixation with all things sci-fi.

However by the time Return of the Jedi rolled round the truth was that I have fallen out of love with Star Wars as soon as that first damned cuddly teddy bear appeared onscreen. I had grown up, but the Star Wars movies haven’t. I was too old for Star Wars, but the truth is that I and many others from my generation hadn’t realized it. It was the beginning of a decade-plus long whine . . .

When George Lucas re-released the so-called “special edition” Star Wars versions with altered scenes (Greedo fires first and misses at point blank range! and so on) fans of my vintage went into paralytic overdrive – or is that hyperdrive? “Lucas raped my childhood!” was the common refrain. Things went from bad to worse with the release of the “new” trilogy. (I put “new” in quotation marks because Phantom Menace is already 12 years old and Revenge of the Sith turns six this year – oh, where did the time go?)

"If George Lucas wants to digitally insert Richard Nixon's talking anus on Dark Vader's head, then let him!"

These movies had none of the magic of the original movies and were dull soulless special effects epics. But how could they have the same impact as the original movies? We had grown older and the SFX blockbuster had become everyday.

So when Lucas announced that he will be converting all the Star Wars movies to 3D fan reaction was largely negative. The news that the six movies will finally make it to Blu-Ray in September of this year were largely greeted by indignant fans going, “But will he be releasing the non-special edition versions of the movies as they were originally screened in cinemas back the late 1970s and 1980s?”

Nope, he won’t, seems to be the answer.

Lucas has a new vision for Star Wars. One which destroys one of the biggest surprises in movie history – namely the revelation that Darth Vader is actually Luke Skywalker’s daddy in Empire Strikes Back – if you watch the movies in the order Lucas wants you to instead of viewing Episodes 1, 2 and 3 as a largely superfluous back-story to the original movies.

Throughout the long years we have whined endlessly about how crap the new movies were and how Lucas shouldn’t screw with the original flicks. But none of this really matters: my eight-year-old daughter thinks the Ewoks are “adorable” and that Jar-Jar Binks is funny. (She actually wound up liking the live action movies more than the Clone Wars TV series.)

These are after all movies for kids. It is unseemly when one thinks about it for grown-up men to invest so much time and effort into what is essentially a movie series for children . . .

So this is the last Star Wars rant I’ve allowed myself. When the new Blu-Rays come out in September you won’t hear a single word from me. (I’ll leave it to the other reviewers on this page to bitch and moan instead . . .)

Yes, the Empire Strikes Back is still the best movie of them all. It was a happy accident thanks to author Leigh Brackett’s involvement and Harrison Ford fumbling his “I love you” line until they settled on “I know.” John Williams’ score is also pitch perfect: a mixture of Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky at just the right moments in the movie.

Yes, it was the best Star Wars movie because it was “dark” but insisting on Lucas making the rest of the Star Wars movies also dark was selfish and cruel.

Just because we grew up doesn’t mean that the Star Wars movies should grow up as well, which is why Phantom Menace is more of a Star Wars movie than Attack of the Clones (dull) and Revenge of the Sith (misjudged). Ask your six-year-old: he or she will tell you.

Lucas was wrong to cave in on fan demands and make these two movies darker. Phantom Menace despite its flaws (that damned kid still can’t act!) is closer to spirit to Star Wars and Return of the Jedi than either Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith are NOT close in spirit to Empire Strikes Back because Empire was great and they sucked. No human interest. Where’s Harrison Ford when you need him?

In the end we watched all of the movies, except for Revenge of the Sith, which we think is a bit too dark for my daughter. Something to do with Anakin Skywalker killing small children just isn’t age appropriate if you ask me - desensitized teenagers may balk, but I’m trying to be a responsible parent here.

Thanks to the Clone Wars TV series the franchise now belongs to a much younger generation.

Older fans should stop whining about it on the Internet and let Lucas do his thing. If he wants to digitally insert Richard Nixon’s talking anus on Dark Vader’s head, then let him! It doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things. (Actually that’d be kinda interesting come to think of it.)

Hollywood is the opium of the internet masses and adults are supposed to have more grown-up things to be concerned about: mortgage payments, school fees, etc. etc. Read a book instead. Take the dog for a walk. Listen to some music. Remind yourself that this is after all just movies for kids . . .

Remember: you’ll always have those first three minutes of Star Wars as a small boy and they can only take them away from you if you let them . . .
 

PS: Rewatching the “new” trilogy I couldn’t help but marvel at how dated the special effects that wowed us in Phantom Menace looks today. Watching the action finales of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith feels like watching someone playing a computer game. Makes one long for the solidity of good old-fashioned model work. Is Lucas going to update these effects as well now as he did with the original series?


 



 

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).