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Topic: Why Star Wars should have stopped at just one film Locked Post Reply | Post New Topic
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 02 June 2017 at 9:23pm | IP Logged | 1  

Seriously?


I'm not talking about whether or not the idea was executed well. I'm saying that there was specific intent behind the execution of that idea. Frankly, it seems harsh to blame Lucas for executing the idea in the manner that he did simply because it "should" have been something different. 

The battle droids were intended to be ineffectual and clownish from the start. It's not a matter of after-the-fact justification, or spinning a bad choice to make it look clever. He did it the way he wanted to, and people didn't like it. Whether or not they didn't like it because it was poorly executed or that it wasn't what they wanted or expected is beside the point. He included silly and useless droid troops for a specific story reason. 

If he'd rewritten the storyline in the subsequent films to compensate for a negative fan reaction, that would be something entirely different, and I'd be more agreeable on this matter. But, based on the available evidence, the plan clearly was that the battle droids would be clumsy and ineffectual (and also a source of wacky humor), and so would need to be replaced with living soldiers. It's a major plot point of the trilogy. I'm not arguing about the execution of that idea, I'm just saying that he shouldn't be bashed for not making the droids scary and effective, because that's not the story he was telling. Maybe that's what people wanted to see, but that's not what he was doing with the story he was telling.


There are days when I think that the prequels being controversial may actually be the best thing, in the long run. If everything had gone smooth as silk, we wouldn't have nearly as much to talk about and learn from. One tends to learn more about success from experiencing failure, after all. The hype and fan reaction to the prequels is a fascinating thing to me. I'm not necessarily singing their praises, but I do think that fan expectations and preconceptions had a big impact on how they were received. I'm just not willing to jump onto the Internet groupthink bandwagon which automatically dismisses every single creative choice in those movies as awful and embarrassing. That seems too much like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I've seen any number of movies which are far, far worse than the prequels.

This all reminds of an idea for a Podcast I've toyed with, over the years. One records two audio commentaries for a film--one which examines the film in a positive way (examining the things one enjoys and appreciates about the film), and the second in a negative way (pointing out flaws and problems, etc.). I could easily tear apart the prequels, but I could just as easily point out the ideas and moments that I enjoy and find interesting. 

I suppose I just like to turn my thinking cap around and look at these things from different points of view, and without being overly judgmental.

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Brian Hague
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Posted: 02 June 2017 at 10:03pm | IP Logged | 2  

Yes. You're a saint. I feel so, so bad about not giving up my viewpoint so that I too might enjoy and express the beautiful Oneness with George that comes from nothing but the purest, most completely non-partisan objectivity. Damn my groupthinkness. Damn it all to heck. Why, if only I could think independently, I could be more like Greg. Oh, why can't I be more like Greg..? Sigh...

Edited by Brian Hague on 02 June 2017 at 10:03pm
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Jozef Brandt
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Posted: 03 June 2017 at 1:33am | IP Logged | 3  


The dumbest part of the battle droids to me was that there was a droid-control-ship but the droids clearly had individual personalities.  They would have been scarier as faceless mechanical killers that never talked.  There was no reason for them to talk.  It may have been what Lucas wanted, but what he wanted was dumb.  More proof that he needed a "no" man co-producer and not a bunch of yes-men and women.

The first film was a collaboration of geniuses who literally invented the tools, designs, and techniques to make something that was greater than the sum of its parts.  Lucas didn't know what the FX and the monsters and the models were going to look like until they were done. Fast forward to Attack of the Clones and in the BTS feature there's a scene where Lucas walks down the line of 30 different models for Dexter, the cook from the diner.  He also picks the must ludicrous design of the bunch. This was the prequel trilogy in microcosm.  Shocked staffers just shrugging and giving him whatever he wanted.


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Thom Price
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Posted: 03 June 2017 at 6:19am | IP Logged | 4  

The prequels may have some interesting ideas, but that has nothing to do with their quality.  Ed Wood had some interesting ideas too, but his movies were still junk.  I'll take an unambitious movie that works over an ambitious movie that utterly fails.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 03 June 2017 at 8:13am | IP Logged | 5  

Yes. You're a saint. I feel so, so bad about not giving up my viewpoint so that I too might enjoy and express the beautiful Oneness with George that comes from nothing but the purest, most completely non-partisan objectivity. Damn my groupthinkness. Damn it all to heck. Why, if only I could think independently, I could be more like Greg. Oh, why can't I be more like Greg..? Sigh...
+++++++++

Wow. I'm really not in the mood for this unwarranted condescension. I'm just trying to find a sane middleground, instead of the extremes (mostly negative) which surround these films.

Taking a break from this thread for a few days. And, frankly, I expect better from someone whose opinions I tend to have a great deal of admiration and respect for. I have no desire to continue this line of discussion if what I say is going to be taken personally (which is not my intent, and I apologize if that's how,it comes off), or cause unneeded hassle. I don't want to upset anyone, or force anyone to change their opinions. I'm not attacking anyone, or saying that it's my way or the highway. I won't hold it against someone if they absolutely love or hate the films. My reality is somewhere in the middle of that, and I don't feel inclined to to automatically love or hate everything about the films. There are things I like, and things I don't like. I just try to step back and examine the man's work without defaulting to sheer love or sheer hatred over it. 

Apparently, that makes me some sort of mindless, proselytizing Lucas acolyte. 

Ridiculous. 

Good day, sir. 
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John Byrne

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 03 June 2017 at 8:54am | IP Logged | 6  

Yes. You're a saint. I feel so, so bad about not giving up my viewpoint so that I too might enjoy and express the beautiful Oneness with George that comes from nothing but the purest, most completely non-partisan objectivity. Damn my groupthinkness. Damn it all to heck. Why, if only I could think independently, I could be more like Greg. Oh, why can't I be more like Greg..? Sigh...

••

You're dancing very close to all-out personal attack, here. Be warned. That is the quickest route to the exit.

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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 03 June 2017 at 8:14pm | IP Logged | 7  


(Dammit, George Lucas... you see what you make people do???)

Come back to the Light Side, Brian & Greg!

:)


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David Miller
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Posted: 03 June 2017 at 10:35pm | IP Logged | 8  

It's perfectly fair to judge Lucas's intentions with stuff like the battledroids. The commentaries and documentaries are interesting in how they reveal the way Lucas repeatedly committed to story paralogic that made for lesser films.
  • Yeah, the battle-droids were ass-clowns, and that effectively communicated why clones were better-suited for an army, but why did the creation of a clone army require that explanation at all?
  • Yeah, Anakin being taken from his mother at age 8 may have messed him up psychologically more than if he'd been 12, but did Lucas really need to lean down on that button? And would a few years really make such a difference to justify the trade-off with casting an older and presumably more-experienced actor in the role? 
  • Yeah, he convincingly demonstrates why Boba Fett would have an implacable hatred of the Jedi in the OT, but uh, what implacable hatred of the Jedi in the OT?
  • Yeah, marriage is effectively portrayed as inherently selfish and destructive, but what possessed Lucas to drain his poison over a hundred million dollar divorce settlement into his children's movie? 

I think there's a considerable difference between nitpicking puzzling storytelling commitments and the ones from people who take the films to task for not realizing their personal Jedi vs. Mandolorian commando fan fiction.

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David Miller
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Posted: 03 June 2017 at 10:42pm | IP Logged | 9  


 QUOTE:
Fast forward to Attack of the Clones and in the BTS feature there's a scene where Lucas walks down the line of 30 different models for Dexter, the cook from the diner.  He also picks the must ludicrous design of the bunch. This was the prequel trilogy in microcosm.  Shocked staffers just shrugging and giving him whatever he wanted.

I remember the doc on Episode One had a whole thing about Jar Jar. The team told Lucas a costume and partial CGI would cost $750,000, while fully animating the character by CGI would cost $1 million, so they strongly recommended going with the latter (I'm making up the actual numbers). Lucas said $750k is less money, so let's go with that instead. The artists came back later and reported full CGI would actually cost less than the money sink the original plan had turned into, and Lucas replied, "So you're telling me I spent $750k I didn't need to?"

I thought they were going to kill him.
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 1:18am | IP Logged | 10  

Battle Droids. Look cool, but do not understand why they were given such stupid personalities.

Also, don't understand why, when they are powered down at the end of TPM, they then just, fall apart. Were they held together with powered magnets of something?
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David Miller
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 1:20am | IP Logged | 11  

They were held together by story mechanics. 
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John Byrne

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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 5:29am | IP Logged | 12  

Battle droids -- from the mind that gave us Ewoks and Jar Jar Binks.
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 6:22am | IP Logged | 13  

From the time it came out until this day AMERICAN GRAFFITI is a favorite movie of mine. Lucas back then refused to diminish his depiction of teens in any rank kiddie silly way. 

But starting with EMPIRE (yes, that "great" "dark" film) he began to lose that: he began to be too aware of his kid audience and to write down to them. And by the time of JEDI and certainly PHANTOM... I mean... what the flippin' f@ck happened to him?! Was it just the incredible riches of the toy market?


Edited by Michael Penn on 04 June 2017 at 6:24am
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John Byrne

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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 9:56am | IP Logged | 14  

…starting with EMPIRE (yes, that "great" "dark" film)…

••

Makes me sad every time I see or hear someone calling EMPIRE the "best" of the STAR WARS films. For me. everything that made the original film so magical had been stripped away, replaced by flash and dazzle and ads for new toys.

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Robert Shepherd
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 2:47pm | IP Logged | 15  

I'm the least authoritative person on this forum when it comes to Lucas and his plan. But even I could tell that he may have had an outline in the beginning but was making the details up as he went, switching directions and trying to force things to fit.

When Vader admitted to being Luke's father, I thought he was simply lying, trying to mind-f#$% Luke. Later when it was confirmed true, I was like, really? So everything Ben Kenobi had said to Luke so far was a lie?

Something totally unrelated:
There was a "plot leak" at one point claiming Luke's father was really Boba Fett and he had been recruiting and training potential Jedi to combat Vader and the Emperor. I remember at the time being very excited about that plot possibility. 


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Steven Myers
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 5:48pm | IP Logged | 16  

I liked the battle droids. I thought it obvious they weren't supposed to be very effective.

It reminds me of when readers criticized Dave Cockrum for Kitty Pryde's horrible self-made costume, when the idea was that she had made a horrible costume!!
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 05 June 2017 at 8:06am | IP Logged | 17  

Steven, it wasn't about them being ineffective for me. It was bad execution of that idea that got me.

Droids do not have to be stupid to be inept - they could have just had bad tactics programmed in and that would have worked fine. instead we have this mish mash of are they independent or group controlled? Why don't they get Qui Gon saying he wants to go to Coruscant? Why do they fall apartwhen the control ship is blown up?

Why, why, why? There was just no need. Especially when all the advertising led one to believe they were going to be an actual threat - the unfolding and turn, 'the death toll is catastrophic' .
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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 05 June 2017 at 10:27am | IP Logged | 18  

Back to design choices: a few years back I watched an interesting WW2 related program on the History Channel, where they briefly discussed SS uniform design. Apparently the designs were tested in front of the kindergarten age children - a model would simply walk into the room without saying a word, and observe the reaction. That black uniform design we know was the one that finally made the kids run into an adjacent room once they spotted the man.

This type of thing is what I was referring to earlier - I understand that Battle Droids were a temporary proposition, deliberately constructed in a way that allowed Palpatine to switch them all off with a press of a button once they are no longer needed as a part of the conflict he fully fabricated and then "resolved". Nevertheless, I see no reason why Battle Droids should not be very convincing, scary and extremely deadly even if they were playing a limited role from the very start.

Unless, of course, it is all about this planet, right now. Star Wars franchise generates more profits from the sale of toys and related products than the actual films. My guess is that Battle Droids were deliberately designed to target a certain age group for toy sales (the same age group that "approved" those uniforms above), and that we got Jar Jar Binks and Ewoks earlier for that exact same reason. Scary and nightmarish looking battle droids - a logical design for war purposes - would not exactly fly off the Toys R Us shelves.        

By the way research in robotics in recent years keeps moving away from the humanoid design. Trying to emulate a human in robotics is very complex and redundant, and ananthropomorphic designs are constantly proving far more efficient. Non-humanoid droid army (to avoid mechanical Stormtroopers copycat) would've been the way to go. Think about that large Imperial Probe Droid on Hoth, designed by Mcquarrie, as a sample here.            
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John Byrne

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Posted: 05 June 2017 at 11:46am | IP Logged | 19  

...SS uniform design...

•••

Byrne's Law of War: the nation with the best uniforms alway loses.

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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 05 June 2017 at 1:02pm | IP Logged | 20  

Interesting way of looking at it. 

By the way, Jar Jar Binks lives. He was on the news recently - he is about to make a short appearance in one of the new canon novels. Fully down on his luck, he is now a homeless hobo sleeping on a street in a slum somewhere, probably on the verge of mental illness, begging for food and spare credits. This is where the story finds him, and shortly afterwards leaves him. 

The fact that Story Group decided to make that canon does not sit well with me at all. Utter nonsense, that move.     
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David Miller
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Posted: 05 June 2017 at 1:24pm | IP Logged | 21  

That may be Star Wars's most unbelievable plot yet. An incompetent politician who introduced a motion that led to dictatorship would be set for life at his or her pick of think tanks, lobbying firms, or news channels, assuming he ever lost his government job, which seems unlikely in a Star Wars context.
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John Byrne

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Posted: 05 June 2017 at 1:27pm | IP Logged | 22  

Too meta for words!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 08 June 2017 at 9:22pm | IP Logged | 23  

...okay, I'm back. Appreciate your stepping up against any personal attacks, JB.

++++++++
Makes me sad every time I see or hear someone calling EMPIRE the "best" of the STAR WARS films. For me. everything that made the original film so magical had been stripped away, replaced by flash and dazzle and ads for new toys.
+++++++++

This raises the question of what exactly STAR WARS is, for people. A lot of viewers seem to have different takeaways from the film(s). Some people love all the Jedi and mystical stuff. Others love rogues, bounty hunters, and Rebels. Some people love the tech and the battles, others gravitate toward the old-school swashbuckling. Some love the serial-homage cheese-factor, others want the slick-looking space-opera of the sequels.

Something I find quite fascinating is the way people embraced the film(s) in ways which were perhaps unintended by their creator. Lucas was on record from the start that making STAR WARS was an extremely difficult experience, and that the final product was not anywhere near what he wanted, in terms of the effects and whatnot. But, the world was blown away by it, and fell in love with it. Years later, when defending the Special Editions, Lucas claimed that it wasn't his fault that people had "fallen in love with a half-completed movie".

And, when Lucas made the sequels/prequels, and began incorporating original ideas (the non-retcon stuff found in earlier scripts and notes) he'd been unable to use and/or hadn't gotten around to using in the first film (Jedi superpowers, Midichlorians, etc.), a heck of a lot of fans cried foul. I find it interesting that people sort of came away with a very specific version of STAR WARS, one which did not necessarily match the vision and intentions of its creator. Has there ever been anything else quite like this in popular culture? Where fandom turned against a creator with intense vitriol because subsequent installments revealed that his/her vision radically differed from what they'd originally believed it to be?



Edited by Greg Kirkman on 08 June 2017 at 9:40pm
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Steven Myers
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Posted: 08 June 2017 at 9:38pm | IP Logged | 24  

With sequels, many people dislike the continued story. Rocky comes to my mind. Many who loved the original think the sequels tainted it, while other can't wait to see the next installment. Also, when Harry Potter ended I was in an adult HP discussion group, and I was shocked how many were completely upset over the ending. There are also sequels I've never bothered with, such as Jurassic Park.

I think the difference with Star Wars is scope. It was such a big movie, more of a pop culture event that a mere film. It changed the game. Affected lives.

And all the detractors haven't really had any impact on the success of the movies. They continue to be big money-makers and have plenty of fans.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 08 June 2017 at 9:39pm | IP Logged | 25  

I liked the battle droids. I thought it obvious they weren't supposed to be very effective.

It reminds me of when readers criticized Dave Cockrum for Kitty Pryde's horrible self-made costume, when the idea was that she had made a horrible costume!!
++++++++

This perfectly sums up what I was trying to say. Not that the idea itself was good or bad, but rather that there was an idea. People may not LIKE how it was executed, but it was executed that way for a specific story reason, and wasn't just some random and nonsensical decision.

I have no problem with legitimate criticism. But, refusing to accept the intent behind the idea (which has at-the-time evidence to support its existence, via interviews and whatnot) simply because it doesn't fit a narrative in which a past-his-prime, childhood-raping Lucas just threw a bunch of terrible ideas into the movies without any rhyme or reason whatsoever...that's where I have to draw the line. 

Again, there are things I like in the films, and things I don't like, but to write every single creative choice off as "Lucas is a terrible filmmaker who did a bunch of terrible, stupid things for no good reason whatsoever in order to ruin STAR WARS forever" strikes me as harsh and unfair. It's not that black-and-white. There is a story logic to the decisions he made. You may not like them, and they may not make sense upon critical analysis, but they're there. 

I simply object to the notion that Lucas threw stupid battle droids into the movies for no good reason at all, when there's evidence that he did it for a specific story reason. That's all I got. Kirkman out. Back to regular programming.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 08 June 2017 at 9:42pm
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