We have already covered how gigantic a nerd I am so part of this should come as no surprise to the four (I think I got a new reader, you guys! There are four of you now… so technically, it would be an “orgy” rather than a “Threesome” if you all decided you wanted to have a slap… think it over, I might video tape it…) of you who read my posts. Time for a victory dance for the new reader! Hit it, Jean-Luc!
Let me start this off by saying that George Lucas made the correct move in attempting to make Star Wars more accessible to younger viewers with Episode 1. It was also the wrong move. Star Wars will always hold a certain type of naive and innocent “purity,” if you will, for most fans. Hell, the opening scene of “A New Hope” was something that wasn’t really ever seen before stylistically. Star Wars changed the entire scope of where film making was headed as well as firmly cement a new sect of science fiction (Science Fantasy) into the genre. Star Wars is still a HUGE part of science fiction and fandom today. It is one of the most iconic single stories in the genre and it was made possible by the brilliant vision and creative influence of George Lucas. When you think about it, he told one story and from that story sprung forth an entire UNIVERSE of stories and time lines. So why do I say the existing prequels are paradoxically both the correct move and the wrong move?
Where the franchise is concerned, he brought an entire new generation into a new part of the story. The young children out there were able to enjoy the story and even absorb its message easier with some floppy eared idiot providing the comic relief. Lucas recognized that the story and the franchise will live on in the younger generation and decided to make the prequel trilogy something they could watch (that was also technologically “up to date” with what companies like Pixar were doing at the time). That was an EXCELLENT move (and helped sell even more toys… let’s face it, Lucas’ true genius was the foresight to retain a majority of the merchandising rights… took a lot of faith and confidence but the man is now filthy rich and getting richer by the day).
Here is where it failed: the story itself. Lucas has been very adamant that he wanted to tell the “Tragedy of Darth Vader” and that was it. That’s the reason most sequel trilogy rumors have been quelled. The story is a tragedy. It is about a man whose quest to do good by others was tainted by his craving for power by his love turned selfishness and said man’s fall into the bowels of evil. That is just the first half. The second half is basically the “sinner’s redemption from Hell” but rather than said “sinner” (for those who might be lost, this is Vader) living happily ever after with his children, he loses his life with the lessons he learned from his fall and eventual salvation being passed on to his children. That is the man’s legacy. It is also not a happy story. The concept is VERY cerebral and requires a bit higher level of reasoning to be developed in order to understand the full impact. That is exactly why it was the wrong choice to approach the “Fall of Anakin/Rise of Vader” in a more subdued and child friendly manner. It worked for the “Fall of Vader/Redemption of Anakin” half because it was just such a spectacle and the story was about a “rise” of a good character. There is absolutely NO WAY the fall of a character (in the manner in which Anakin’s fall was meant to be) can be told in a child friendly way. Hell, there was such a huge deal about “Revenge of the Sith” being rated PG-13 (mainly for violence) and yet the whole story from that movie wound up falling flat. The prequel trilogy is supposed to be a violent, virulent, and vicious plunge through all that we find evil and repulsive about human nature, not some saunter through the woods with an idiot with big ears and then a futuristic floaty-car-type-thing race that makes most people motion sick.
BUT (and this is a Beyoncé sized BUTT)… he made the right move for the time he made the movies. Hindsight is always 20/20 and there is no way to know (OK, I will cede the point that had Lucas gone to Cartoon Network in the late 90s and said “Hey, I want to develop a Star Wars animated TV show that is kid friendly,” that CN would have jumped at that opportunity like Courtney Love jumps at white powder…) that he could have gotten a TV series off the ground that is “kid friendly” and even keep it renewed for the time it would take him to finish the Prequel trilogy. HOWEVER… it was still the wrong move for the sake of the story he was telling.
Look at the soon to be Dark Knight trilogy. Clearly, not the Batman stories most adults read about when it was only a comic book. Obviously, Adam West’s Batman would never have had to deal with a villain who actually sliced people’s faces open and George Clooney’s Batman would never have lost Rachel. Those were geared toward and marketed for family viewing. Dark Knight trilogy? Not so much. It is still vastly more successful than any of the previous movie attempts despite being incredibly dark and depressing. The Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker should have been this way. Dive into the characters’ psyches. SHOW the audience the atrocities and collateral damage that result from his fall. Make me BELIEVE that Padmé died because she could not handle her lover’s fall into evil (or better yet, have him directly kill her). Leave the story about the Clone War for the kids as that is better geared for “Black/White” delineation between good and evil. Show me the moral ambiguity of our Hero/Villain obviously takes a huge amount of thought and inner battle for the main character. I want to sit there and feel his pain. I want to put in the DVD and FEEL what Anakin felt when he switched on his lightsaber in defense of an awful man. I want my heart to break when he switches on his blade to slay a room full of children. I want to see him emotionally RIPPED APART and I want to feel that rending with him. I want that story in my head and fucking my mind. I also want to feel the magnitude of the universe falling into the grasp of Evil (as a force of nature. Palpatine is less of a character and more a force of nature acting upon the story).
I also would like grittier light saber battles. It is a handy trick to avoid having to use blood by giving the lightsabers a cauterizing effect on flesh. Certainly, it saves on the ratings but I never once believed the battles were fantastic and brutal. They felt choreographed. While the final battle in “Revenge of the Sith” was awesome, did anyone really feel like it was anything but choreographed? I want more visible use of “force powers.” This is where the video games and comics really get it right. I would rather see a “Force Repulse” disintegrate a wielder’s surroundings. Show a character ripping a star ship out of the sky. Pull in close on the lightsaber fights. Show me some cuts and nicks. Hell, throw a haymaker or a knee to the gut. If you want to make a character a badass, make him a badass. Also, I can only suspend my disbelief so far. That length of suspension does not extend to believing that THAT MANY people can just “Say No to Sex.” Sorry. Lose the whole “good guys can’t get laid” BS… ESPECIALLY if you cast hot people and put them in various states of undress.
(I’ll admit it. I wrote this whole thing just to be able to show that video.)
Invest in bringing out the fantastic nature of the story. This is a STORY. If you want to make a movie that is nothing but visual effects and Green Screen, make Transformers. A franchise this big that attracts as wide an audience needs to not forget one age group for the sake of bringing in another. There is nothing wrong saying, “This story is for a more mature audience. Deal with it.” It worked out just fine for Batman and as long as the finished product is high quality, the naysayers will shut up, especially when they realize that people do not age in reverse and the story is timeless.
That is enough of a rant from me for now.
See ya, space cowboy.