16 March 2010

Do Not Want

George Lucas needs to fucking stop.

Leave Star Wars alone!

Warning! This thing's full of Star Wars spoilers!

I recently read that George Lucas plans to re-release the Star Wars films in 3D format. Now, I realise that this article is far from new but I have no doubt that this project will eventually go ahead. This is the type of guy George Lucas is. This is irritating for a number of reasons.

Now, I'll start by explaining my own Star Wars history in hopes of giving some context to why I'm not happy about this.

Actually, before I do that I'll just give a very quick basic timeline of Star Wars for those not in the know:

The Original Trilogy
The story of Luke Skywalker and his quest along with the Rebel Alliance to destroy the evil Galactic Empire and the scary villain Darth Vader.

1977 
(Title later changed to Episode IV - A New Hope)
1980 
1983 
1997 
These films were re-released theatrically with new scenes, special effects tweaked and a lot of new CGI characters and backgrounds were added.
2004
These films were released for the first time on DVD featuring even more changes including updates of the original CGI changes. 

The Prequel Trilogy
The story of Anakin Skywalker and how he began as a young slave child in the desert eventually growing up to be the scary villain Darth Vader.

1999
2002
2005

So anyway...

I found Star Wars when I was about 9-10 years old. I don't remember ever hearing about it for the first time. Return of the Jedi was originally released theatrically 3 years before I was born. So obviously I'm not even close to being part of the original generation of fans nor do I claim to be. In fact, I feel that my love of the first 3 films only goes to show how great and important those films are as someone like me can plug into the excitement years later.

I am seriously into Chewbacca

Anyway, I remember a point in my life when I was about 9 or 10 when I started thinking "Hmmm, yeah actually. I should give that Star Wars thing a look." I remember knowing my older cousin was into them and one of my old VHS movies had a trailer for the home video release of the original saga on it. I must have seen that trailer a hundred times. Don't remember what film it preceded, funny that.

My brothers and I rented all three films from Xtra-Vision over a period of a few weeks. There wasn't much to surprise us in all honesty, by osmosis or whatever we knew most of the key plot points. But nevertheless we loved them. Now, this would have been around 1995-1996. I can't quite remember the exact time period, but I do know this, I did actually start with the original untouched trilogy. Without any of the controversial changes or dickery that have infamously peppered the movies since. (Yeah, I know there were some small changes, but nothing so serious and vast as was to come). But yes, I find it interesting that we just managed to catch them right at the end of their run. Of course I wasn't aware of this at the time and I'm not trying to say anyone who started with the 1997 re-releases is any less of a fan than I am. I just think it's interesting in retrospect.

I'm a real fan

Now, after viewing (or perhaps before) I saved up my pocket money and purchased an issue of Star Wars magazine from a local shop. I was genuinely fascinated. It had a big C-3PO head on the front and was filled with articles and interviews about the world of Star Wars. You may be thinking "but the movies were nearly 20 years old at this stage. How much could they possibly have to write about." Fair point, but this is just it. This particular issue was filled with information and speculation about the upcoming re-releases. Ooooh! These were exciting times for a new fan of the trilogy!

In 1997 me and my two bestest buds ventured to the cinema and saw the whole trilogy in all of their Special Edition glory. Now, we were 11-12. So, we didn't give a shit about the extra stuff. The changes. As far as we were concerned, more was good. I don't want to claim I hurled my popcorn at the screen and stormed out in disgust the moment Greedo shot first.

That's not fucking Mos Eisley!

After this my brother got his hands on the VHS boxset. We watched the shit out of those. Our preference usually lay on Return of the Jedi (we were idiots. Obviously The Empire Strikes Back is the superior film.) We owned the toys, we knew the music and characters, we played with our lightsabers. It was a beautiful time but an even more exciting horizon drew near...

Ok so, I can't remember the first time I heard about the Star Wars prequels going into production. Due to the nature of these things I may have heard about it before I ever saw a Star Wars film in a cinema but I really don't think it was before I ever saw a Star Wars film full stop. It is possible though. Anyway, hype levels were strong. I was caught up in all the buzz and build up. When I sat in that cinema when The Phantom Menace was (finally) released, I was ready to be fed some Star Wars. And it was great!

Jar Jar is cool!

Ok obviously it wasn't great. It was awful. But I didn't know that at the time. I loved it then. There's no point in pretending otherwise. But really for little 13 year old me it was more an exercise in being able to spot the references rather than actual merit of filmmaking. I didn't know shit. Now, you could argue "Ya but if a kid enjoys it surely that's all that matters?" And you'd have something resembling a point. Problem is though, it's a mess. It doesn't hold up to the longevity, quality or even continuity of the original films. Not only that but it's an insult to the intelligence of the fans.

If you want a properly detailed analysis of the nonsensical insanity of The Phantom Menace I suggest you spend 70 minutes watching this YouTube playlist. He sums it up better than I ever could. Go ahead, watch it... I'll wait:


Three years later, I was beginning to mature. The cracks began exposing themselves. I went to see Attack of the Clones and while I wasn't completely aware of the stream of rubbish being pedalled before me, one giant factor was apparant: Hayden Christensen was beyond a joke. This was the kind of bad acting that wasn't a matter of opinion. He was genuinely cringe-inducing. This was worrying.

Roll forward another 3 years and I'm graduating secondary school. A big ceremony, dinner and night out were enjoyed. We couldn't party too hard though, there was a new Star Wars film coming out the next day! A group of friends and I ventured to the cinema first thing in the morning to gaze at Revenge of the Sith.

This is me right after seeing it.
You can see it in my eyes probably.

At this stage the joke had worn off. None of us expected anything from this film.We knew that Wooden Christenwood was still in it so there was no way it could be genuinely good. But there was a point towards the end where a glimmer of hope arrived. After turning to the Dark Side, Anakin had been badly injured by Obi-Wan. He needed some sort of life support system. A cyborg suit... This was the moment we had been waiting for. The suit was on. The breathing echoed. James Earl Jones was in... and...


FUCK OFF!! There's almost some sort of argument defending this scene. The moment on screen was an accurate depiction of our emotions upon seeing the moment itself. George Lucas had created some sort of new type of meta-art. But obviously that's bollocks.

The epilogue of course is that a couple of years ago I went to see The Clone Wars film and it was a bucket of piss.

Not even worth a paragraph I'm afraid.

Now, that's done with. Let's get to the point shall we?

Firstly, the prequels were terrible. There was no need for them. Simply having them exist damages a lot of the mystery of the original films. But if you really have to make these films, at least make them good. Is that so much to ask?

More importantly, Lucas' changes to the original series. Now, these have been very controversial, a lot has been said and written about them. There's probably even more to say but I'm not here to give a scene by scene rant about what I hate about the new stuff. Fundamentally I have no real problem with them. Now that isn't to say I don't think each and every one of them is awful. But the idea of tweaking and adjusting your film is understandable. Ridley Scott has famously made various adjustments to Blade Runner over the years. Eventually releasing The Final Cut in 2007. Why am I not attacking Scott's new adjustments of his classic film? Well, partially because his changes aren't sickening. But mainly because (and here's my main beef) Scott has made every single version along the way available on DVD. This is a serious difference. If we want to watch the original untouched versions of Star Wars episodes IV, V and VI we're only given a low quality DVD transfer as a bonus disc on the Star Wars 2004 version DVDs. Clearly reluctantly placed there after the fact due to humongous fan insistance. (Those who want the 1997 versions are screwed. There's no DVD version at all!) What it comes down to is selfishness. Lucas has decided his way is the one way and no one should be allowed a different option. Why can't Lucas just give us, as fans, the choice to watch whichever version we want? Given that it is fan loyalty that has allowed him the freedom to make these adjustments over the years.

Because he's Bib Fortuna now.

The news of the 3D re-releases annoys me because it made me realise that this will never stop. The 3D versions will no doubt feature more changes, as well as the inevitable Blu-Ray release. Rather than create innovations with ever changing technology, George Lucas would rather clumsily update his old films forever in order to appear on the brink of technology. And he didn't even direct 2 of the films. George, you stopped being a Star Wars fan a long time ago, please leave us alone.

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