Friday, September 16, 2011

Someone Stop George Lucas Before It's Too Late

Karen: Today yet another brand new, completely revised version of the Star Wars saga is hitting the shelves, and once again, Mr. Lucas has felt the need to change things. Now, people have been discussing these changes for weeks, but we haven't talked about it here at BAB. So let's lay it out there -what do you think about even more changes being made to these films?

Karen: I'll get things rolling by discussing a few of them. First off, we're getting a completely CGI Yoda in The Phantom Menace. Now this doesn't bother me, as 1) I think CGI Yoda looks better and 2) I will never watch that movie ever again. Honestly, I despise that film.

Karen: However, I do take great offense with his tinkering with Ben Kenobi's Krayt dragon impression in Star Wars (it's always going to be Star Wars to me, not A New Hope). He just sounds utterly ridiculous, and almost pornographic. Seriously, check it out if you haven't yet:

Karen: But the change that has drawn the most criticism is the "Nooo!" added to Vader's scene in Return of the Jedi, when he saves Luke. Horrible, and completely unnecessary. Plus, it sounds just like the "Nooo!" in Revenge of the Sith, which provoked laughter in the theater. Why George, why?

Karen: So far though, it doesn't sound as if there's anything as egregious as the "Greedo Shoots First" scene which was added a few versions back. That change affected the perception of Han Solo's character, but most of the new changes seem to be mainly in the area of special effects. But one does have to wonder why Lucas can't stop altering his films. It wouldn't bother me so much if he offered us the original, theatrical versions in a high quality format, but he seems determined to force all of the fans to buy his latest vision of his films. Ironic, since he once railed against the very things he is doing. Check out this link from Topless Robot. There are some great quotes there, including this one:

American works of art belong to the American public; they are part of our cultural history. People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians" -George Lucas

Karen: So - what do you think of this new set of changes? Outraged? Indifferent?


Anonymous said...

I was a big fan of the original three movies when they were released. However, I barely made it through an hour of the first new movie. That's a matter of personal taste, I know, because lots of others enjoyed them. If he wants to make additional movies, fine. My beef is that he altered the original movies (again, if he wants to do that, it's his baby....he can do what he wants), but then made it impossible to get the original versions of the first three movies. There are still lots of folks who prefer the originals, but we're out of luck. I don't particularly care for the change he made and I know others who feel the same way.


joe ackerman said...

see, the problem is: as long as there are idiots out there willing to shell out for this tripe, Lucas is going to keep rinsing it. the man long ago proved himself to a one-note hack, and all this does it just confirm it, in spades. enough with the refits/reimaginings/jiggery-pokery! thanks, George, mate, with every passing day you kill off a little bit more of the love that I had for your "baby", and, for the record, the original Star Wars ( you're right, Karen: it's Star Wars, NOT A New Hope ), is one of my favourite films of all time.

dbutler16 said...

I just think that poor George has lost his mind. I really don't mind some of the changes. The things where he's cleaning up special effects, or adding the Wampa to Empire, which he wanted the first time around but couldn't get the special effects quite right, are improvements, but these other things where he's changing the way a scene or character are interpreted are just wrong. Yes, I do wish he'd offer the original, non-anamorphic original versions in addition to these "special editions". That would make this easier to swallow. I'm not even sure I'll but the Blu-Ray.

david_b said...

Good Topic for a Friday..

I discussed this quite a bit over at Mego Museum a few weeks ago, I shared Karen and Joe's opinion about 'New Hope': It'll never really be anything other than 'Star Wars' to me. Period.

The only movies I enjoyed were the first two; by the time 'Jedi' came out, the lack of a meaty story (coupled with bad haircuts), allowed most viewers to sarcastically start pointing out 'new Kenner toys' instead of actually engaging in the story.

I actually find watching Family Guy's 'Its a Trap' a much more enjoyable take on that installment.

Not really a big fan since 'Empire', the only collectables I would consider collecting are the vintage glossies from before 1982, before the franchise really took over and homogenized everything.

As for original versions, I still have the DVDs from a few years ago that had both the 'first new changes' and the originals. I cannot stand the deleted Jabba scene added back into 'New Hope'.. I know it was originally filmed and cut from the original, but it adds nothing but padding and actually slows down the dramatic pace. It was better to have kept Jabba an off-screen presence as added tension than have him shown.., it left more to the imagination.

As for the whole 'who-shot-first' in the Cantina, you change the entire character of Han Solo. When the scene changes to Greedo shooting first, you fundamentally changed the character of Han from an anti-hero to a misunderstood hero. Thus his turn at the ending from mercenary to friend was gone.

Remember, Han is a guy we knew and liked, and in that one minor edit, George basically ripped out his soul and gave him a different one.

That is far more intagral than adding eyes to Ewoks or changing the color of a light sabre..:

"You're messin' with heroes."

david_b said...

Sorry, misspelled 'integral' above, but you understand my point..

Alas, children, there is ONE hope the world can sleep easier at night with..:

For all the ‘SW Holiday Special’-lovers in the world, the object of their special love will remain ‘unbesmerched’ and un-violated by the Imperialistic George Lucas creative juices.

Andy said...

I'm honestly starting to wonder if Lucas can't stop tinkering with Star Wars (and is hostile to people that call him on it) because he has some degree of obsessive-compulsive disorder. I'm not being flippant, either, because I know people that have it.

Inkstained Wretch said...

The tweaking of the original trilogy doesn't bother me that much. It is Lucas's baby and therefore if anybody has a right to do it,he does.

The commentary Topless Robot points to refers to people other than the creator altering the artistic vision of the film, which is a different kettle of fish. At least Lucas can honestly say, "This is what I would have done at the time" when makes a change to the original trilogy.

Nevertheless I don't think the tweaks are helping either the films or his own artistic legacy. I think on some level Lucas realizes he is never going to do something as good as the original trilogy again and so has put his energies into "perfecting" it. (Andy, I do believe you are onto something.)

I cannot overstate how much the prequel trilogy undermined my appreciation for Lucas's talent. Forget stuff like Jar Jar Binks. The basic plot and story-telling were so bad and at times nonsensical -- Darth Vader created C-3PO? Every single stormtrooper shares Boba Fett's DNA? -- that it not only undermined my enjoyment of the films but it made me re-evaluate the original trilogy in a more negative light. Maybe the sucess of that had less to do with Lucas and more to do with his co-writers, directors and cast.

Inkstained Wretch said...

Having said all of the above, I will admit to actually kind of like the Phantom Menance.

Yes, it has several flaws, most of which have been picked apart at great length elsewhere.

Personally, I found the bit about the Force actually being some kind of genetic abnormality to be the worst. It's a throway bit that adds nothing to the plot but does manage to undermine the mystery and mysticism that surrounded the concept of the Force in the original trilogy.

Still, I thought Liam Neesom gave a really great, understated performance in that film. He was exactly how I pictured a Jedi would have been in the "old republic." That couldn't have been an easy job to pull off either, considering he must have spent most of his time acting opposite blue screens with Lucas giving him direction.

The film also had some great action sequences and the most straight-ahead, comprehensible plot of any of the prequels, one that wasn't busy trying excessively hard to tie itself into the original trilogy. This one kind of stood on its own and could be enjoyed as a separate film.

I figure I am probably in the minority here.

Chuck Wells said...

When it comes to his incessant tweaking of his landmark film series, Lucas pretty much tipped his hand back when he continued to utilize Jar Jar Binks after the character was universally panned & reviled upon the release of SW:TPM. Don't question his judgement or you'll get more of the same!

You are also spot on in stating that Lucas intends to force fans to purchase multiple versions of his movies, rather than simply give them what they keep screaming for, which is a blu-ray version of the original theatrical releases (the original trilogy).

He hasn't lost his mind. He just thinks that shit like this is funny. Listen to him in interviews. Read about him, and you'll discover that for all his fantastic technical innovations, Lucas vehemently regrets not being known for more serious filmmaking.

Some of the changes he has made, have improved select aspects (CGI Yoda for instance), but for my money, he should digitally remove ten year old Anakin and replace him with Hayden Christensen (crummy acting notwithstanding). Doing that would prevent Padme from seeming like a pedophile in Attack of the Clones and negate one of the dumbest casting choices from The Phantom Menace. Oh, and not killing off Qui-Gon Jinn or Darth Maul the first time at bat. That decision blew major chunks too!

Brett said...

IMO, all this tinkering is akin to someone getting too much plastic surgery. I don't think CGI Yoda is necessarily bad, but the new Krayt Dragon sound and adding another "No!" from Darth Vader is ghastly. Since I own all the movies on DVD, including the ORIGINAL original trilogy, the only reason I can see for owning this Blu-Ray set are the extras, but with so much other stuff out there that I could buy, that's not reason enough. I refuse to buy any Star Wars Blu-Rays until they release a new transfer of the ORIGINAL original trilogy, which might not happen.

david_b said...

Regarding 'Jedi'.., it's a shame they couldn't CGI in a better script.

'Course they could always add Jar-Jar to the SW Holiday Special I mentioned before, next to Bea Arthur.

Now THAT would be worthy of buying all new Blu-Rays.

ChrisPV said...

In all honesty, the more I think about it, the more I think the original Star Wars happened by accident. He had to focus on the script because he didn't have the money to hit his FX targets. A lot like Spielberg and Jaws.

I credit most of the success of Empire to Irvin Kershner. There's actually a bit of urban legend about Lucas seeing Empire, hating it, and locking himself in the editing suite for a weekend to "fix" it. I'd give just about anything to see that cut, if it actually exists.

And of course, Gary Kurtz did a great job of keeping things focused. Without him (or worse, with a suck-up like Rick McCallum) as a producer, there's no one to tell Lucas when to put down the scissors and leave the damn movie alone. Lucas just doesn't have the artistic discipline to work without a good producer keeping a handle on the production as a whole, not just the movie. On his own, he feels compelled to keep throwing crap at the screen like a hyperactive nine year old.

As for the changes themselves, I'm past caring. I gave up on Star Wars in pretty much all its forms after suffering through a half decade of the New Jedi Order books. Pure. Dreck.

Karen said...

Many, many thoughtful and funny comments today, and I would agree with most. I do think that it is telling that Lucas has not really had success outside of Star Wars -Sure, there's Indiana Jones, but Spielberg gets a lot of the credit there I think.

I would agree that he needs a strong collaborator, like Kurtz. I just want someone to say, "That's not a great idea" to him.

Strangely enough though, I've come to enjoy the Clone Wars cartoon much more than the prequels. At least there they've established an Anakin with some virtues, so that when he eventually goes over to the dark side, it will carry some weight.

All in all though, the shift of focus from it being Luke's story to trying to turn the whole thing into Vader's story has left me cold. The prequels demystified Vader and now (looked at in his entirety) he just looks like a simpering tool.


Rip Jagger said...

I loved the original trilogy of course. And I find I like the newer trilogy too. It's not got quite the heart of the first movie, but then neither do either of the sequels in that original trilogy.

I've owned those first three on VHS forever and I want to keep those versions for as you say, Lucas seems to not want that vintage stuff to survive him. It's a shame.

I don't mind that he does the changes. As long as the originals remain available. Then we'll have something akin to a variorum edition of the movies and that's just fine by me.

I felt the same way about colorizaiton way back when, it's not a problem as long as the original version is still out there. And as it turned out, colorization caused some films to get new cleaner renditions.

Rip Off

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