The day has arrived. Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens kicks off the dominion of Disney over the Star Wars empire. Here on the west coast, operation Box Office Domination officially kicks off at 7pm, when theaters are cleared to roll the first sitting. A long and profitable reign it will likely be. The movie has made more than $100 million already.
Seriously, who throws $100 million at something that isn’t even released yet?
I mean, I barely saw any ads for the movie itself on television… there wasn’t any room for them with all these other companies throwing money at Disney so THEY could do a Star Wars commercial featuring their products. It was a bit difficult to tell exactly what, for example, Dodge cars had to do with Star Wars, though I did like the black and white cars representing Vader and Storm Troopers version they ran at one point.
We’re caught up in the excitement at our house… somewhat. We are fans, though not perhaps huge fans. I own three versions of the original trilogy (VHS, DVD, and BluRay), which represent, if nothing else, three different Han and Greedo encounters.
Part of the warm up for the new movie has been to go back and watch some of the previous ones. We skipped the first two (the Cinema Sins review of Episode I and Episode II were enough for me), opting for what is arguably the best of the prequels, Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Also, probably the most difficult to script, since it had to start where Episode II left off and end with everything lined up nicely for the original Star Wars.
But it was watching that classic, Episode IV, so called, that I started to cringe a bit. The extra additions, the CGI pasted on to the original movie, really hasn’t worn well with me. I was “meh” on it when I first saw it, and it grates a little harder with each time I see it. Even my wife said that she didn’t remember the movie having quite so much bad green screen in it. I could see cleaning up the frames and where you could see the matting, but the extra dirt on the storm troopers or having them ride fat beasts that somehow leave no tracks in the sand, that just seems like a waste.
All the more so since there are some things in the movie that really make it show its age. Why couldn’t George Lucas have gone after that? No, I am not talking about the horrible range of side burns that seemed to be so popular in a galaxy far, far away.
But on you it looks good!
Bad taste transcends time.
I am more on about the computer graphics effects. I can attest that the read out of the death star plans was the state of the art back in 1977, but by the time George Lucas decided to wreck remaster his originals, he could have done a lot better. I am especially surprised he did not opt to change the targeting computer readouts during the attack on the death star. You know, this bit:
All together now, “Stay on target!”
I could see that maybe redoing the horrible old “the death star approacheth!” table display might have been some challenge, what with people being on screen and the angle changing, but the targeting computer readout is literally on screen by itself. Something super up to date and swishy could have been injected into there. Yes, the die hard fan boys would have screamed about that, but given what else George was bent on changing, I think this might have been forgiven. Instead we have CGI road traffic in Mos Eisley trying way too hard to be comedic.
Anyway, that was my heretical thought for this day. And it is all in Disney’s court now.
“Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?’ ” Lucas asks. “Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”
While we’re on the run up to a new Star Wars movie, one that George Lucas had nothing to do with, I figure I might as well abused everybody’s interest in the series.
Back when George Lucas had an email account…
So there is that story and interview featuring George Lucas over at the Washington Post. You should probably go read it if Star Wars holds any sway over your life, and not just the excepts floating around the internet.
Of course, the big one seems to be GL trying to justify why he changed Star Wars in his 1997 edit to have Greedo shoot first. In that he invokes the westerns of his youth. Unfortunately, I watched a lot of those same westerns, and as I recall it, if the other guys goes for his gun you’re cleared to shoot. Waiting for the other guy to shoot first gets you dead. And since Greedo was already waving a blaster in Han Solo’s face, Han always seemed justified in my mind, by the code of the old west or any other reasonable standard. I thought that back in 1977 and I thought it again when watching Star Wars again last week.
More a case of GL overthinking things in my opinion. Ah well. I own three versions of the scene, one on VHS, one on DVD, and one on BluRay. In the end, it was a fleeting moment in the movie that didn’t have a large impact other than to set the tone that Han Solo was working some tough people.
More interesting perhaps was this tidbit:
Partly so he doesn’t have to read the worst about himself and his movies, Lucas says he has assiduously avoided the Internet since 2000 — no Facebook, no Twitter, no e-mail even — but that doesn’t mean he avoids people.
Because, on the internet, we are horrible. But it seems that when he meets people in person, they mostly gush about how big of a deal Star Wars was to them. We’re much better face to face… most of the time. All of which is a bit sad.
Anyway, I found the article interesting, including his somewhat mixed feelings about the new movie. Disney didn’t use the ideas GL provided and declined to bring him around to advise, so this will be truly somebody else’s movie.
What can this portend? I can hear a million sighs of relief as George “The Destroyer” Lucas is out of the picture. The quote:
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” Lucasfilm CEO George Lucas said in a statement. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.”
But is Disney a step in the right direction? Is Star Wars even a Disney-like property? I thought Disney required kids with single dads and dead mothers, not kids with single moms and no dads. And what will we get with a Star Wars Episode VII release in 2015?
The future looks… weird.
Now what is the best follow-on rumor to start right about now while people are stunned… the return of Star Wars Galaxies maybe?
The Star Wars saga, remastered (again) and pressed onto Blu-Ray, is coming out this Friday, September 16th.
Naturally, I have it on pre-order and Amazon.com promises that I will have it on Friday. So you can guess what is part of the plan for this coming weekend.
Yes, I know George Lucas couldn’t resist pissing on our memories yet again. The man who said, “People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians” cannot help but play the barbarian repeatedly himself. Maybe I missed a footnote with an auteur exception somewhere.
But I am a sucker. This is the Blu-Ray version. And who knows how much he’ll change the next time around. Howard the Duck will probably end up as one of the bounty hunters in the next version. (As somebody wryly asked, why doesn’t he mess with that movie? It sure as hell needs more tinkering than Star Wars does.)
Plus look at all the extras it has! The first six discs are the movies, then there are three more discs of additional material.
Disc Seven – NEW! Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III
Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; a flythrough of the Lucasfilm Archives and more
Disc Eight – NEW! Star Wars Archives: EpisodesIV-VI
Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; and more
Disc Nine – The Star Wars Documentaries
NEW! Star Warriors (2007, Color, Apx. 84 Minutes) – Some Star Wars fans want to collect action figures…these fans want to be action figures! A tribute to the 501st Legion, a global organization of Star Wars costume enthusiasts, this insightful documentary shows how the super-fan club promotes interest in the films through charity and volunteer work at fundraisers and high-profile special events around the world.
NEW! A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later (2010, Color, Apx. 25 Minutes) – George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Lawrence Kasdan and John Williams look back on the making of The Empire Strikes Back in this in-depth retrospective from Lucasfilm created to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of the movie. The masters discuss and reminisce about one of the most beloved films of all time.
NEW! Star Wars Spoofs (2011, Color, Apx. 91 Minutes) – The farce is strong with this one! Enjoy a hilarious collection of Star Wars spoofs and parodies that have been created over the years, including outrageous clips from Family Guy, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother and more — and don’t miss “Weird Al” Yankovic’s one-of-a-kind music video tribute to The Phantom Menace!
The Making of Star Wars (1977, Color, Apx. 49 Minutes) – Learn the incredible behind-the-scenes story of how the original Star Wars movie was brought to the big screen in this fascinating documentary hosted by C-3PO and R2-D2. Includes interviews with George Lucas and appearances by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX (1980, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) – Learn the secrets of making movies in a galaxy far, far away. Hosted by Mark Hamill, this revealing documentary offers behind-the-scenes glimpses into the amazing special effects that transformed George Lucas’ vision for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back into reality!
Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi (1983, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) – Go behind the scenes — and into the costumes — as production footage from Return of the Jedi is interspersed with vintage monster movie clips in this in-depth exploration of the painstaking techniques utilized by George Lucas to create the classic creatures and characters seen in the film. Hosted and narrated by Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams.
Anatomy of a Dewback (1997, Color, Apx. 26 Minutes) – See how some of the special effects in Star Wars became even more special two decades later! George Lucas explains and demonstrates how his team transformed the original dewback creatures from immovable rubber puppets (in the original 1977 release) to seemingly living, breathing creatures for the Star Wars 1997 Special Edition update.
Star Wars Tech (2007, Color, Apx. 46 Minutes) – Exploring the technical aspects of Star Wars vehicles, weapons and gadgetry, Star Wars Tech consults leading scientists in the fields of physics, prosthetics, lasers, engineering and astronomy to examine the plausibility of Star Wars technology based on science as we know it today.
Extras! Extras! Extras!
Though I have to wonder, with George Lucas at the helm, what constitutes a deleted scene these days? Han shooting first?
Whatever. It is a coming to our house this weekend.
Which leads me to the first real question (since there was no question about me buying it).
In which order should this new set be viewed? I have a few thoughts on the subject, each with a different driving emotion.
Logic – Pure logic says that episode order is correct. But then you hit that episode IV drop in production values and acting skill. I’m sorry, but there is a reason that Harrison Ford had a huge post-Star Wars movie career while Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher did not. Plus that order pretty much ruins any surprises in the second half of the series, not to mention the distinct possibility of Jar-Jar binks provoking violent reactions.
Nostalgia – Nostalgia says that the release order is really the way see the series. That is the way you would show it to somebody who had never seen the films before. Episodes III pretty much spoils episodes IV and V after all. But I am always somebody who likes to get the hard part out of the way first, so maybe it is better to bite the midichlorian bullet first. Besides which, I hate Ewoks so much, I might throw something at the TV, ending the showing half way through.
Practicality – Practicality says that watching episodes IV and V is enough and then we should start in on the extras, thus avoiding both Jar-Jar and Ewoks. Except that is something of a waste. I bought all six movies. Plus I like episode II and have to salute anybody having the balls to take on making episode III. How do you make a movie even watchable when everybody knows both where it starts and how the whole thing has to end. We all went into episode III with a huge mental checklist of exactly what had to happen. It was an impossible task. Plus I must admit I cheered when Darth Vader took his first rasping breath in his new suit.
Fluff!!! – Given three discs of extras, I could probably spend my time just immersed in that without watching any of the movies.
So I figure it is time for a poll.
Feel free to suggest your own ordering or selection or to take issue with any or all of my above assertions in the comments. Grousing about George Lucas, Darth Maul, Jar-Jar Binks, Ewoks, midichlorians, or any other aspect of the series is also welcome.
You’re among friends and we all have to get through this together.