Okay, I went wildly off topic before in another thread, naughty me, but I think itís a subject that deserves debating in an adult manner. Why is there such a mixed reception to the Star Wars prequels? Me, I hate the new movies and Iím about to give a concise opinion as to why I feel these movies are, well, horrible. Iím not looking to sway you if you like them, Iím not looking to be convinced to like them, I just ask that, if you are going to post here, post a valid point praising them or criticizing them. So on with the post.
ACTING AND DIRECTION
Absolutely horrible, nay itís disgusting. The cast in the prequels are, for the most part, very talented who have appeared in some great movies outside of this franchise and all of whom have turned in an excellent performance; although Portman I find sometimes has only one character in her repertoire but she can play it well. I have a hard time criticizing the actors for this problem. Sure there are problems with some of the delivery and inability to convey any kind of base human emotion but when I watch the new movies I always get the impression that the cast are struggling. Why? Because of the man behind the camera!! There was a time when George Lucas would tell you that he couldnít direct; actually heíd tell you he hated it. Thatís why he brought in directing talent for ESB and ROTJ which imho are better films than ANH. (Yes there are EWOKS but the end fight and reveal is superb) His decision to direct was a colossal mistake. Now, this will sound like a blatant attack and it isnít, well it is in a way, but basically the man has about as much charisma as gravel. Sorry but he does, anyone who has heard his commentary on the new DVDís cannot say that his monotonous ramblings werenít boring. Take an impression of the man and then try and get an impression of another director, say Tarantino or Peter Jackson. They sound like inspirational people, people whom I would imagine actors love to work with because all actors, I donít care who, need direction. Itís not secret that Ewan McGregor criticized George in an interview shortly after TPM came out, (he got slapped no doubt), for his directing skills. Bear in mind these people are acting on blue soundstages, thereís nothing else there to draw inspiration from except the director. Donít get me wrong, George has his moments as a writer, but he should have brought in either the same people to direct his or invited other people who are more enthusiastic about the franchise and could have really nailed it.
Harrison Ford once said to George Lucas ĎYou can write this shit but you canít say ití. Never has a truer word been said. Some of the lines in the prequels are really nasty, I mean, horrid. Sure there are bad lines in the original trilogy but thereís nothing that actually makes me curl my toes up tight and squint my eyes like some of the dialogue from the prequels. Hereís an example.
ANAKIN: I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything's soft... and smooth...
Pass me a bucket, I need to be sick. How about this gem:
PADM…: All right... I was twelve. His name was Palo. We
were both in the Legislative Youth Program. He was a few
years older then I... very cute... dark curly hair...
BloarghhÖ What was he thinking? Whatever he was smoking, I want a half ounce now. But itís not just dialogue that suffers itís actual concept and story that suffers from the same dross too. Donít believe me. Here ya go
QUI-GON : Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that reside within all living cells and communicates with the Force.
Midi-Chlorians? What theÖ.eh? How does?.....ErÖrightÖwhat happened to the mystical energy field that surrounds us and binds the universe together? I mean, why was it necessary to remove the mysticism from the franchise and replace it with possibly the lamest concept ever conceived? Is George a scientologist? That can be the only explanation. Good job he isnít a Jehovahís Witness else weíd have had
ďQUI-GON : Midi-Chlorians are organisms that live inside you. Just hope you never have an accident though because we wonít give you a transfusion should you need one. Weíll let you dieÖ.
Sorry but the writing stinks. Like the old movies, he should have had some expert writers doing re-writes or edits.
Now, donít get me wrong, I love CGI, adore it if itís good and the CG in the prequels is brilliant for the most part. The problem is thereís too much of it. So much so infact, that the CG has become detrimental to the performance of his cast, (see above), and detrimental to the feel of the film. They are, for lack of a better word, soulless. Imagine if you will the opening of ROTJ. Remember the shuttle coming into the hangar bay? Remember how vast that stage was and it looked amazing? It was like you were there, like there really was a death star and that really was a spaceship landing. Now, take the hangar in TPM and the energy room thingy behind itÖit looks great, but it doesnít feel real, itís clearly CG and that diminishes the illusion somehow. Itís the same in the Jedi council; theyíve gone out of the way to show too much going on through those windows. Donít get me wrong, itís a stunning effect; itís just thereís so much of it that it undoes the illusion. Also, and I donít know if its because Iím getting old or what but, why does the Yoda puppet in ESB convey and stir more emotion that the CG Yoda of clones? (TPM puppet was shocking, off with his head)
Well thatís my feelings but thatís just me. If you like the movie, then explain what it is you like? If you want to argue the point with me then make a valid comment or rebuttal. Letís see if we can get an answer as to why some love it and some loath it.
I have to say, although I watch them. I am disappointed. The main reason I think that is that the new films have no soul. What I mean is, when you look at the OT, you can tell that they have been Ďcreatedí by the film industry. Not by a microprocessor. The OT allowed the creation of everything that was envisioned by its creator. EP4 had space hangers, death star interiors, space craft all created. EP5 had the same created, and EP6 even had the actors in the middle of an actual forrest. But take a look at EP1 and 2. the actors have no reference to work from. They are continually Ďactingí against blue screen and bits of card board on lengths of wood Ė to denote creatures. Even the gungan swamps are blue screen created. How can the actors possible give feeling in there acting when they have nothing to act from. Harrison and mark generally looked cold in EP5 because they were. They were in a snow blizzard. Even an excellent actor like sam Jackson gives a weak performance in EP1 because the director is better at getting the best out of CGI then humans. Its ironic, but the best actors in EP1 and 2 are the cgi created ones. Thatís because the excellence of the animators actually have a reference to use to get the best performance from the theyíre characters. They have the real actors emotions to use as reference. The actors have nothing. Hence, a soul less performance, and a soul less movie
OK I am basically lazy, so I'm going to copy my other reply and add to it.
I think maybe the reason you are having such a hard time with these is because you are viewing them with a critics eye. But to each his own. I will tell you what it is exactly that endears me to the prequels. Or as Ush would say I'm going to wax nostalgic. Back in 77 when A New Hope came out it was simply put awesome. When you saw that star destroyer come roaring across the screen and blocking everything else out for ME I was instantly transported into the story. And believe it or not the OT has it's share of bad acting and bad dialog and cheesiness. But that's the way GL intended it to be. The entire sage is patterned after his Sat afternoon movie experiences with Flash Gordon etc. This movie isn't supposed to win Oscars. It is supposed to entertain you. Hell my kids saw the OT growing up and they love the PT as well. Probably for the same reason that I do. It's an adventure. I want to know the back-story. I want to know where Vader came from. Who cares if the dialog blows or the acting is less than Oscar worthy? FOR ME this movie still takes me back. Still draws me in. And thats a good thing because here I am 27 freaking years later waiting on the edge of my seat to see then end of the saga. Those are my reasons. I can understand your reasons, but please try and understand the reasons of someone who's been caught up in the magic of this story not the technical details. smile No one can disprove you from your opinion because it IS your opinion.
I realise that the dialog between Anakin and Padme is silly, but these are supposed to be young adults. Very few people of that age can wax poetic about feelings of love. And I can honestly say when I was that young I'd have killed to have a guy talk to me that way personally. I do agree that the use of CGI has gotten out of hand. But it doesn't make me hate the movies. I hated Jar Jar but loved TPM because Maul was just so damn good as a villain in my opinion. See it all comes back to being entertained. And I was. I cant sit through a movie and pick it to pieces. Thats not my job, and I don't want it to be. DO you know that until like 2 months ago I had no idea that ET was in TPM? And I was OK not knowing about it.
On a side note I'm curious to know what you thought of the SE's?
I was entertained... but not overwhelmed, impressed or swept off my feet. The films are okay, but no way as good as ANH and ESB. The storylines are dodgy, I have a feeling george is trying to tell too much in a short time span and a lot looks quite fakey. There are more cringe moments than in the OT, about major plot points the audience is kept unwisely in the dark and some crucial story elements are terrible (such as the love story between Anakin and Padme in AOTC). Lucas always hammered on the fact that special effects only served to support the story, not the other way around. The PT so far gives me the feeling the effects are more important. So yes, it is SW, it is entertaining but it's not way as good as the OT. And I find that a shame. With the OT George felt extremely constricted by the technological or budgettary restrictions (same on THX 1138), now I've come to the point that it was BECAUSE of these restrictions taht George made such excellent films then. Now, when there are no mentionable restrictions, with a sure profit awaiting him, he's not able to make better films than the OT.
Queeq, you've hit the nail on the head. I've always wondered myself how Lucas could do such a great job when he was struggling but fall short when he has so much talent and technology at his disposal and yes, it is a real shame. Perhaps i expected too much, i don't think i did though because there are other movies out there that have met and exceeded my expectations.
As for cheesy moments, i admit the OT has its fair share but, for me, theres a big difference. See, the OT was pulp sci-fi/space opera; it never aspired to be more than what it was and in that sense George created a series that payed homage to the old Flash Gordon shorts as he intended. The Prequels on the other hand take themselves far too seriously and coupled with the cheesey dialogue it becomes painful to watch. I swear, i honestly get a migraine from scrunching my face up during the lake scene in EP2. I honestly belive that had George given the directors chair to someone else we'd have had movies 100 times better than what we have now. ESB is my favourite SW movie; can you imagine a Kershner directed EP3?? That would be sweet.
To answer JP's question, i like the SE's although i'm not keen on some of the 'enhancements'. For the most part though, i enjoy them, they are after all the original movies i grew up watching. It just saddens me that we'll never get the original cut and i find it a tad disrespectful that George has cut names from the credits. My only concern is that come 2006 we'll see more 'enhancements', ie. more CGI and prequel tie ins. As i said before i love CG, think its an amazing tool, but the new trilogy suffers for it and i would really hate to see the classics fall victim to technology aswell. Imagination is key to a movie, you fill in the blanks yourself. Nowadays, we don't need to which is possibly why you hear things like 'they don't make make 'em like they used to' more and more.
Yep and it was a surprising answer. I hated the SE's. I had never even seen the SE's until they came out on DVD last month. All I have is the original OT on tape. I was shocked and thats when I was sickened. All I could think was, where is my Star Wars? The ONLY improvement Ive been able to see in the DVD's is that the color is beautiful.
imagine something in your head. a place perhaps. imagine its depth, its scope, its sheer beauty. imagine how such a place is populated. now take a minute amount of money and try and create what you see in your head. your end result is something painfully far from your vision, but for the most part it serves a purpose. shame really. such wonder is created in you head and no one will ever see it because you simply don't have the resources and tools to create it. you don't have the ability to bring to people in reality, what you see in your minds eye.
now imagine you suddenly are provided with all that you could require to finish that vision perfectly. would you leave alone you half hearted effort ? or would you go and fix it ?
the SE's should be looked upon as a more complete vision to that what was never possible at the time of creation. you cannot say that Tattooine in the SE is not effective in creating a bustling space port filled with towns people, visitors, space ports and craft. Or that the Hoth Wampa in SE ESB doesn't provide you with a more insightful look into the ferrocity of such a beast, compared to a hand coming across the screen and a close up of a 'rrraarrrr'.
However, i don't agree with change for change sake and introducing scenes that provide no continuity or reason. jabba in ANH and greedo etc etc.
I honestly wouldn't want to watch the OT anymore as they were. uncomplete light sabre effects, 'use your imagination' sets and crappy explosions.
Like i said, some enhancements are for the better but some are just there for the sake of including them. The musical piece in ROTJ being a prime candidate for the cutting room floor should i ever be given madate to edit these films. Not that i ever would, but u get my point.
Where the SE shines is in the removal of matte lines from the sequences using models. I am happy to see the space battle in ANH get a revamp but that it. I dont want to see anymore.
as for the EP1 and EP2. i still stick with what i said before. CGI is a tool to enhance effects and areas of a movie which generally can't be completed in reality. as Supervisor of special effects at ILM John Knoll said in the EP2 documentary "from puppets to pixels" - there are things that you can't do in reality and which you use CGI, and then there are those things that you can do, and there for dont use CGI for".
well, is GL saying that the massive life scale models and sets he created on minimal budget in the OT cannot be created in real life now. in the documentary on the dvd in EP1 you can see him in a meeting with ILM trying to shave money off the sfx shots with jar jar scenes. however, to much relience on those 'easier to shoot scenes' has left his movies with a feeling of imcompleteness. i would much rather see maul obi and qui gon fight in a massive real set with real light bouncing rather than them fighting on blue screen with missmatched artificial light sourcing to 'place' them in the scene.
for me, the over reliance on such sfx has really spoilt it for me. as well as the acting, directing, scripting................................
I have no real objections to CGI or to the SE's myself. It's actually only ANH that needed some major touch upsto make it stick in the series. Otherwise this great film would have strangely stuck out like a sore thumb. ESB and ROTJ could have been left untouched to me.
As for CGI, they ARE a great tool to create what's not possible in real life. Many many films have profited from it's possibilities and will do so in the future. However, I think in many cases it's not up to scratch to go for reality and yet many filmmakers rely on it, sometimes for too many things. I think the PT suffers from that. I find it odd that someone like Spielberg (George's close friend) uses it much more precise and somewhat restricted. His cinematographical design of a movie goes before everything and CGI technology will have to adapt to his standards. With SW there is a world that needs to be designed, developed and created WITHIN the digital atmosphere. Maybe it's just very hard to do that without any reference anymore. Just shoot the lot in a bluescreen studio, a few exteriors and some plates and start cutting and pasting stuff in the digital environment. If something doesn't turn out right, they reshoot to make it fit.
As a documentary filmmaker myself that way on non-linear filmmaking has its charms. There are always things you wished you'd done differently in editing. But the other side of the story is, that limitations challenge me to find solutions during the shoot, in situ. I rarely have a change to shoot some additional footage. The restrictions make one creative and also help you figure out how to prepare things for next time, to do them better or different. It helps me evolve. And then when I look at SW now... with all that non-lineair filmmaking in EVERY stage... why, oh why don't these films turn out well.
My major annoyance with ILM was when the Hulk came out. I wondered: why on earth is an esteemed company like ILM not able to make the Hulk look near as good as the Gollum made a couple of enthusiast New Zealand hicks at Weta... I applaude the people at Weta, who came,(irony oh irony) to ILM to see how it's done. "The Circle is now complete, when I left you I was but the learner, now I am the master."
See, I think that the originals' success was based on the characters, and on the adherence to Joseph' Campbell's hero with a thousand faces.
1. The characters were just more vibrant
2. Lucas tried very hard to continue to adhere to campbell's principles for the prequels, almost too much so, to the point that people immediately connoted anakin with Jesus or King Arthur. This blatant attempt at reproducing his former glory wasn't him losing his knack so much as him trying too much to use the premise that helped his original succeed. More definitely isn't more in this case.
Queeq, Spielberg is a great example of a director. While he and Lucas may be friends Lucas isn't fit to call himself a director in the same calibre as Spielberg.
Look at their careers; Spielberg has 35 movies for cinema under his belt as opposed to Lucas' 7, which incidentally INCLUDES ep3. With such a pitiful repertoire, it's clear why the prequels aren't up to scratch but attitude also plays an important role.
To quote Spielberg :- "I always like to think of the audience when I am directing. Because I am the audience"
To quote Lucas :- "Right or wrong this is my movie, this is my decision, and this is my creative vision, and if people don't like it, they don't have to see it."
Technically correct but if thats how George feels, why bother to make a movie in the first place? If he's making it for himself, why should we be expected to love these films just because they have Star Wars in the title? It's enough to make you wonder if these films are lacking simply because the man couldn't care less; he knows they'll make money.
Credit where credit is due, Lucas has some great ideas and his writing resume is impressive. But really, the man should just stick to thinking the ideas up and leave the movie magic to people who really care for their chosen art-form.
Tpaquin, George didn't really have a knack to loose. From the OT only ANH was directed by Lucas. Sure he wrote the 3 movies but he also relied heavily upon other writing staff to change a good deal of his dialogue and turn his rough draft into a useable script. In that sense, it was always suicide for him to exclusively write and direct the prequels but i guess over the years the Ego has inflated somewhat; so much so that he is totally impervious to criticism.
As for the Jesus connotation you are dead on. IMO The immaculate conception of Annakin was a bad writing decision. Annakins origins could have been written in a more original manner while still leaving the mystical enigma intact.
No, I'm talking directorial roles. He only wrote Indiana Jones, ESB and ROTJ. The directors chair went to other people notably Spielberg for Indy, his oid teacher Irvin Kershner for ESB and Richard Marquand for ROTJ. He has been attatched as producer to a number of films though but thats a different kettle of fish. Infact, now i've double checked, my figure of 7 movies as director is wrong. It's only 6
STAR WARS - ANH
STAR WARS - TPM
STAR WARS - AOTC
STAR WARS - ROTS
Mind, he must have garnered a whole load of experience directing a Paula Abdul video, it really shows in his new stuff