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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » Critical thinking , George Lucas style

   
Author Topic: Critical thinking , George Lucas style
tripper
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Been a while since I've posted...you know, life and the like...

I've been thinking a lot about how I analyze writing. What do I like, what don't I like, and why? I'm usually pretty easy to please, so when I hear "critics" trash something I like, I don't really understand.

Case in point: Star Wars Episodes I-III. I enjoyed the movies, but they are generally trashed by those who get paid more than I do to talk about what they think. Is there something I'm missing?

So I pose this question to you all, to help me figure out how to analyze my own writing: what is wrong with Star Wars? Is it a writing issue, an acting issue, a little of both? Stay on target...


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Meredith
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Well, some things come to mind.

Mind you, it's been a while since I watched any of the movies. But here goes.

It's really difficult, in any medium, to execute a story in which the audience already knows that the protagonist is going to become the antagonist in the last half of the series. We knew all along that Anakin was going to fail and become Darth Vader. It's hard to let yourself identify with that character and it robs the story of some of its suspense when we already know the outcome. Some of it just may have to do with seeing the last half first, taking the story out of order.

The wiz-bang special effects that made episodes IV-VI so exciting when they first came out (yes, I'm old enough to remember that) are old hat, now. The droids and the pod race and all of the rest of it were no longer so new and unusual.

For me, at least, the stories didn't hold together. I got Anakin's impatience and his anger, but I just never believed that that alone would have made him slaughter the Jedi children, attack Obi-Wan and Padma, etc. If that doesn't work, the whole plot blows up--which is what it did for me.

And the story didn't tie in properly with the later episodes, which we all knew by heart by then. For example, Leia is supposed to remember their mother, while Luke doesn't. Yet Padma dies right after they're born.


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axeminister
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I want to just say Jar Jar Binks and leave it at that... But I'll resist.

If you want a good series to study and vs. your own stuff, look at Spider Man. Those were amazing. If I could teach a writing class, I would use those three scripts ONLY as my course book.

If you can put these six movies next to each other, you may have some of your own answers.

Check out: http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/lessons/2000-08-02-1.shtml
Ignoring (if you choose) the first section where they discuss novel length, skip down to the info on try-fail cycles and dual desires.

I don't remember the movies specifically, so I can't speak to how powerfully Lucas captured Anakin's desire to remain good, but I don't recall any real conflicting emotions in him. It seemed more like he was simply biding his time until he became Vader. Look at the struggle Luke goes through. You can really feel it when he'd cowering in the dark and Vader is verbally tormenting him. Then, Luke goes nuts and still manages to stay on the side of good because that's the decision he's made. But you don't know that when he's fighting. You think he's lost. But he comes back, and we cheer him for it.

I didn't feel the equal but opposite emotion in Ani during the first movies. Which I assume to be part of the plan. i.e. showing what would have happened if Luke had turned.

The visuals were amazing.
http://www.themovieblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/lucas-green-screen.jpg

The acting was referred to as wooden. There were times, yes, but overall it wasn't horrific. However, it wasn't great. Lucas made acting into a mechanic, instead of an emotion and it showed.

Yoda was CG. Now, there are younger folks who may argue w/me and say puppet Yoda was less realistic because it's a puppet for heaven's sake. That's a matter of choice. But I could believe an alien looked and behaved as puppet Yoda did. How do I know there aren't real Yoda people out there?

CG Yoda had zero believability because I knew he wasn't there. There was nothing there. Actors were acting against nothing. Their eyes didn't focus on the Yoda. (JarJar was really there in the form of an actor, and they still didn't always get the eyes thing right. That drove me nuts! So long immersion.)

If I sat here long enough, I'd come up with a dozen more things, but those are the biggies.

Oh...

And who in their right freekin mind would ever, EVER believe a woman would DIE and leave her two kids behind because she had a broken heart? I mean, perhaps if they were married for many years. Many many years. But they have this brief history, and then a fling, and a marriage, and we have to assume some time spent off camera, fine fine, but no way. No way is it even remotely believable that she would so selfishly abandon her kids in this manner.

Lucas seemed to think this was a viable explanation as to her death. This is not heroic. This is cowardly. We don't like when our characters/heroes die cowardly. Or even pointlessly. (I'm looking at YOU Joss Whedon) So, why put this in there? It would have been better if the slugs got her a movie earlier. At least it could have some backlash. Make us hate who did it, make us want revenge, send Ani off the deep end and he turns as a result...

But no. There was none of that interplay. There was simply "Here, take my kids, I don't care, I give up."

So, yeah. I have a problem with that.

To briefly address what Meredith wrote about expectations and knowing what happens...
Consider the movie Titanic.
I remember joking ahead of time that I knew the ship would sink, so what was the point in watching it?
Then we meet Jack and Rose. We care about THEM and NEED to know if they will get together - but much more than that, will they survive? It's riveting.

Qui-Gon Jinn. He's our Jack. He's the best character in all three movies because he's an unknown and we care about him and he does what's right so passionately that he dies as a result of it. He's a hero and he dies tragically. We care.

Sadly, he dies early on in the trilogy which leaves us very little to care about after that. Meredith's right. After Qui-Gon, the movies are simply an execution of style and style doesn't carry movies. Characters do.

Axe


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jcavonpark
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Meredith actually brought up a lot of points that I'm always thinking when I see the films. The plothole about the twins memories of their mother are pretty rediculous.

Lucas made a lot of mistakes when he made this new trilogy. In fact, he made a lot of mistakes on the old trilogy too!

Here's a few facts to consider.

Episode IV. When Lucas made this, he had a rough idea of where the story would go (which was nothing like the final draft, mind you), he wrote the first movie to be a standalone film. In fact, it is the only film in the entire series that can ultimately stand alone. It's pretty straight forward, the force is mentioned but never overplayed, and Darth Vader is just a bad guy, and the Emperor is barely mentioned. Also, Luke and Leia kiss. Lucas had no idea where it would all end up in the end and I think that this becomes fairly obvious by watching this movie.

Episode V. This wasn't written by Lucas. It wasn't even directed by Lucas. This film was actually co-written by Lucas and some other guy who decided to take it in a new direction. That direction being a darker story where Han gets screwed and in the end the future is completely uncertain. There's a reason why 90% of fans regard this as the best in the series. Because Lucas didn't do it!

Episode VI. This is where the money came in (an issue that would inevitably cause more problems in the second trilogy). Lucas' sponsors wanted toys, and to make toys, they needed characters that stand out. Enter the Ewoks. The guy who helped lucas on the second film wanted to keep things dark, even going so far as to kill off Han Solo and (in the end) have Luke ride off into the sunset like the old west flicks of yesteryear, but Lucas wanted something for kids that would sell toys. As a result, we get Episode VI, arguably the worst in the trilogy. Many fans agree the Ewoks ruined the film.

The new trilogy. This is a whole new bag of crap worth scrutinizing, and I could go on forever, but I'll try to keep it brief.

Episode 1. Anakin Skywalker is portrayed by a very silly child actor. It's not his fault though, because hey, kids can act if the director knows what he's doing. That aside, there were other problems. For starters, you've got Jar Jar Binks, a character thrown in simply because Lucas wanted to cater his films to kids. It's the same reason you've got talking droids who sound like idiots (Roger roger!). To make matters worse, audiences were expected a story that would give more insight into the backstory of the characters from the first film. All they got was a story that didn't appear to have any real ties (except for R2D2, C3P-O, Anakin, Yoda, and ObiWan) to the original trilogy. I think people wanted to see more of a direct prequel instead of something so far gone.

Episode 2. This one was the worst out of them all, in my opinion. It focused on all the wrong issues. No one cared about Anakin's character at this point. Hadenson's acting was downright pathetic, and all he did was whine about his problems (like any teenager, really), and about how he was crushing over a woman who was probably twice his age (but never seems to age at all). Then we're treated/punished to seeing the entire affair play out at an unusually slow pace. This is supposed to be Star Wars, not some poorly written romance novel. Nobody cared, and the reviews reflected that. Still, Lucas seemed to be listening, at least a little bit. Jar Jar was mostly gone from the picture, and the talking idiot droids were few and far between.

Episode 3. This was by far the best movie in the new trilogy (some say it's the best out of them all, but I wouldn't go that far). It brought back the feel of Star Wars, and the reason why people wanted a prequel trilogy to begin with. We wanted to watch Darth Vader become Darth Vader. This is where it happened. Only a few moments were done poorly (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! comes to mind...), but compared to the last two episodes it was an acceptable loss. This iteration got high marks from most people, despite its flaws, but that could have just been their relief that it wasn't yet another piece of crap like the last two.


Now, granted, there were some fun moments in every film. Every single fight was amazing, and every film had them. Of course, it didn't make any real sense as to why the original trilogy had master Jedi/Sith who apparently couldn't fight this well, but people let it go because these new fights were just so damn good. There were also some fantastic actors like Ewan McGreggor (or whatever his name is) and Liam Neelson who completely took their characters over. And no one can forget seeing the death star being created. That was just fantastic.

But the problems are many, and people remember.

Which leaves me with my final slogan of the day:

Jar Jar Binks. Never Forget.


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MAP
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I agree with what everyone else has said.

The movies were visually amazing, the fight scenes were awesome, but the story lacked the heart that the original ones did.

Han, Leia, amd Luke were great characters and truly cared about each other to the point where they would really sacrifice anything to save each other. I think this is why the stories were so great. We loved the characters and wanted to see them win.

While I think episodes I-III had some great characters, the two main characters were flat and inconsistent. Aniken (sp?) was kind of all over the place (cocky one minute, whiny the next, then suddenly angry). I could never get a feel for him and he lacked depth. Padame was pretty strong in the first two, but then turned weak and blubbery in the last one. It was like she was a different person.

I never really felt like they cared about each other, or that Anakin or Padame really cared about anyone else either. They didn't have that bond that Luke, Leia, and Han had.

I never got attached to the two main characters. I never cared if they suceeded or failed or if they got together. So the movie fell flat for me.

Of course attachment to characters is very important to me as a reader. Not everyone feels that way. But I feel that the lesson to learn from Lucas is to focus more on believable, likeable characters than amazing visuals and cool fight scenes.


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tripper
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I hadn't really thought about the whole Qui-Gonn and Obi-Wan idea. They are truly characters we care about, and I admit I was sad to see Qui-Gonn die in the first; as has been stated, he was the most like the first trilogy in that he believed so much he died for the cause.

It seems that we're revolving around the idea of character strength, which is something I've been suspecting in myself recently--that I'm drawn to stories with characters I care about. I'm re-reading Wheel of Time now and have found myself invested once again, even through the 14 page descriptions of leaves, because the characters are people I want to experience things with. Some great food for thought, thanks.


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Matt.Simpson01
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There is one problem with discussing the movies. That is the fact that there is only so much one can do within the time span that you have in a movie. You have to leave so much out when it comes to a movie.

Now, if you were to make a movie out of every book that involved the characters that were involved, then you might have something to talk about. I've read or listened to a lot of the books in the star wars universe, and the characters have been fleshed out so much more over all those story arcs, that they are actually much more believable.

Just going on what is done in the movies is like writing a biography of somebody who you spent a day with at a seminar. It's just not gonna be very informative about the person as a whole.

more later on the characters and other stuff.


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jcavonpark
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Matt, they seem more fleshed out and interesting in the books because the writers are showing you their internal process and most of the time you can make anything sound plausible. The thing with movies is that you're watching that character's actions, not their thoughts, and that's a big difference.

In a film, characters can't make choices that are unrelatable, not like they can in the books. Films like Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile had characters that did things because they made sense, not just for the direction of the story but also because that's what most people would do within those particlar walls of circumstances. That's why the new star wars films didn't work.

At least, that's what I think


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Robert Nowall
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I liked 'em well enough, but maybe not as well as the original set of three. Part of my reaction was that some twenty-five or so years had passed since I was dazzled by the first three---and I'm less easily dazzled than I was when the first three came out. Time and age, time and age.

On Episode Five, also-known-as The Empire Strikes Back, one of the writers is Leigh Brackett, well-known adventure-SF writer as well as well-known screenwriter. This was the only time both her fields combined. Just how much much of Brackett's work survived into the final version, I can't say (she died before the movie came out), but I'm hoping some of what happened was on account of her influence.


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redux
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I think the problem with the prequels is that they were all about the visuals with very little substance. Also, characterization and storyline were quite lacking.

If you haven't seen it already, check out Red Letter Media's review of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. CAVEAT: The video reviews contain profanity. It's a bit of a long review, but he does a very good job of explaining exactly why that movie went wrong. He also has reviews for Episodes II and III.


[This message has been edited by redux (edited May 17, 2011).]


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LDWriter2
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Hmm, I agree with tripper. I liked all of the Star War movies. That race in what is now episode one was amazing even if it wasn't a fight. I liked that fact that they showed their last fight that Darth Vader mentioned. It explained what happened to him, except for his face.

And I believe Anakin turned for a lot of reasons. He never had a strong inner core to start off with. I don't think he ever was a Jedi at heart. That is why he was bold, whiny and cocky. Then there was what happened to his mother and what Yoda said about Jedis(?) not having a family. I knew that was a mistake when he said it. I mean to insist Anakin live by it. The influence the Emperor, before he declared himself emperor, had over him. All of that and more. I thought it was an interesting study on how someone turns evil.

That is not to say the movies were perfect, there were the inconsistencies mentioned and certain scenes didn't do much for the story to say the least but over all, as I said, I liked them.


Padame was strong when she had to be when she was Queen, but later she could be herself even when she mophed into Leia in the second one.


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Robert Nowall
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Of course, I wonder...would we all have loved Episodes One, Two, and Three if they, and not Episodes Four, Five, and Six, had come first? Would we have not liked Four, Five, and Six if they were last?
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jcavonpark
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Robert, I think the film series would have been better served by giving the audience direct sequels rather than prequels. We could have had the prequels in a TV show or something (like the clone wars tv show, for example, which is already fairly popular). Then we could have seen the aftermath of the story with Han, Luke, and Leia and so on. It could have been really good, especially with Ford and friends back in action. They could have even done a prequel movie, but kept it to a single film, rather than a trilogy.

Just kicking around ideas, of course. There's no telling what really would have happened. But I think it would have been nice to have seen (in a visual medium) the rest of the story play out. The empire's gone...so now what? There are books, but with so many out there, I'd rather just be lazy and watch it on a screen. *hides*


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Robert Nowall
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The talk around the time of The Empire Strikes Back was that Lucas was planning three sets of three films, with the first three released being the middle set---hence their eventual re-designation as Episodes Four / Five / Six.

So by that, there were originally three more episodes planned after Return of the Jedi...but, really, I don't think Lucas will ever do them, or authorize someone to do them.


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jcavonpark
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That's what I heard too, Robert. Although if you watch the original Episode IV, it is simply called Star Wars (no episode or anything), which I find interesting.
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tripper
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If you watch the crawl in the original, it does say "Episode IV" right at the beginning, though, along with "A New Hope". I also heard the rumors at the time (are we dating ourselves now?!?!?) that the original trilogy was the middle three.

I definitely think that I see the original trilogy through the sheen of their place in history, story-telling wise. I think that's why I have a hard time with critics trashing Eps I-III; since the original trilogy was SO groundbreaking, will anything really ever compare? Is it possible to grade the "new" ones on a stand alone basis, as stories?

I completely agree with the comment about it being hard to judge movies. However, it seems valuable to me in a conversation about storytelling and what works/doesn't work. Movies, after all, are just a different medium for sharing stories. The criteria are maybe different for objective analysis, but at the end of the day, its all about the telling.

[This message has been edited by tripper (edited May 18, 2011).]


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redux
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I decided to chime in again ...

To know what is wrong with the Star Wars Prequels one only need to simply try and give a plot summary. You will find yourself rambling a lot more than when you try to do it for the Original Trilogy.

i.e.

Episode 4: A New Hope
An orphan along with his wise mentor and a mercenary rescue a princess and defeat the evil empire's super weapon.

Episode 1: Phantom Menace
Two Jedi Knights become involved in a trade dispute, help an elected Queen escape only to have their ship breakdown. While hunting down a part for their ship they free a midichlorian-ridden slave. After consulting with the Jedi Council they return to liberate the Queen's planet from a trade blockade and fight a Sith Jedi.

See what I mean?


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Meredith
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quote:
To know what is wrong with the Star Wars Prequels one only need to simply try and give a plot summary. You will find yourself rambling a lot more than when you try to do it for the Original Trilogy.

i.e.

Episode 4: A New Hope
An orphan along with his wise mentor and a mercenary rescue a princess and defeat the evil empire's super weapon.

Episode 1: Phantom Menace
Two Jedi Knights become involved in a trade dispute, help an elected Queen escape only to have their ship breakdown. While hunting down a part for their ship they free a midichlorian-ridden slave. After consulting with the Jedi Council they return to liberate the Queen's planet from a trade blockade and fight a Sith Jedi.

See what I mean?


So, in other words, the original trilogy (episodes IV - VI) was more high-concept than the prequels?

Works for me.


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Robert Nowall
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Any prints of Star Wars that say "Episode Four: A New Hope" are in latter-day alterations, introducing elements not present in the original release prints---it wasn't Episode Four until Lucas grew so successful that he could re-edit his own work. Adding enhanced effects, a scene with Jabba the Hut that was cut, and the crawl. (He did this with American Graffiti, too.)
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jcavonpark
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quote:
Any prints of Star Wars that say "Episode Four: A New Hope" are in latter-day alterations, introducing elements not present in the original release prints---it wasn't Episode Four until Lucas grew so successful that he could re-edit his own work. Adding enhanced effects, a scene with Jabba the Hut that was cut, and the crawl. (He did this with American Graffiti, too.)

This.

Robert pretty much got the details of what I was saying.


quote:
So, in other words, the original trilogy (episodes IV - VI) was more high-concept than the prequels?

Works for me.


Yeah, less political and more adventure. The originals weren't trying to explain the science behind the magic like the new ones do (hence the midecloriens...). Did we really need to know that there were microscopic creatures living in people's bodies telling them the future?

No. No we did not.

The original trilogy, by all rasonable accounts, was a fantasy story cleverly disguised as a science fiction story. The characters are using magic. That's what the Force is, just a clever name for magic, and it is never really explained, sort of like God. That's part of what makes it a mystery, and also interesting. When they explained it in episode 1, they took away those decades of speculation and mystery. Huge mistake, and it shows, but what can you do.

[This message has been edited by jcavonpark (edited May 18, 2011).]


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Matt.Simpson01
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From what i was reading online back when the new movies were being planned/made, there was going to be a 7-9 set of movies. On the star wars website there was even a timeline that you clicked to get to the individual movie sites that included episodes 1-9. supposedly the third set of films was going to be based on the thrawn trilogy by timothy zahn.

i don't remember what happened as to why lucas cancelled the plans for the third trilogy, but that's what i remember.


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Grayson Morris
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I was ten when the first film came out in 1977, and I lived, breathed and ate Star Wars trivia and paraphernalia for over a year. Even then, it was known that this film was number four in a series of nine that Lucas planned to make. He intended to make films four, five, and six first; then films one, two, and three; then films seven, eight, and nine.

Much later, he stated he would no longer be making the final three films.


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Robert Nowall
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I also think Lucas knew that, if the first movie bombed, it would be unlikely to have a big budget sequel, if any sequel at all. Among other things, he developed a lower-budget sequel with Alan Dean Foster, that eventually became Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye. But the great success of the first movie led to the high-budget sequels (and prequels) we know.

(Would you believe I had to look up the spelling of "sequel?" Couldn't decide if it had two "e"s or an "e" and an "a"...)


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LDWriter2
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Speaking of Star Wars; I heard today Lucas is seriously thinking of doing a Live action TV show. He wants to wait 'till the special Effects can be done cheaper. No idea how long he thinks that will take-or if he thinks it would never be so it was an excuse- or what time period-Star Wars time that is- the show would take place in.


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J
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The problem with the first three (besides the casting) is that Lucas almost went out of his way to avoid good character development, meaningful dialog, or quality plot progression.

Characters are flat and shallow? Dialog stinks? Plots are inconsistent and uninteresting? No worries--just add more CGI, and no one will notice . . . .

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MartinV
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quote:
Characters are flat and shallow? Dialog stinks? Plots are inconsistent and uninteresting?
That's all I need to hear to turn my back on it and never look back. Same with LOTR.
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Robert Nowall
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I've been around long enough to know that I can't trust reviews or comments outright---I've been through too many situations where I've loved something that a reviewer hated, or hated something reviewers recommended. And I wouldn't expect anybody else to take my ravings as any more than a guide, not Holy Writ.

So, MartinV, don't take J's comments as Gospel---or mine, either. Assess things and, as you obviously have, make your own decision.

But be aware that, if you miss some of these things, take it from us, as is said, "you've missed plenty, buster." I've missed enough in my own life but I think I can bear up under some of it. And maybe I'll get to some of it later...

*****

Going over this thread after its revival reminds me that I think Yoda came off best in the prequels---at least he stole every scene he was in.

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MartinV
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I only criticize books/movies that I've tried reading/watching and they didn't work for me. And if I do criticize, I say "the book/movie didn't work for me", not "this book/movie is *%&!*" because someone else might like it.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Uh, hmm.

I have to take exception to the "Same with LOTR" up there.

Whether you like LOTR or not, that's fine. I would just like to ask that you not lump it with George Lucas' work. They may both be unappealing to you, but they really are not in the same class at all.

LOTR has a huge depth to it, a depth that STAR WARS etc will never begin to aspire to.

Thank you.

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J
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quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
Uh, hmm.

I have to take exception to the "Same with LOTR" up there.

Whether you like LOTR or not, that's fine. I would just like to ask that you not lump it with George Lucas' work. They may both be unappealing to you, but they really are not in the same class at all.

LOTR has a huge depth to it, a depth that STAR WARS etc will never begin to aspire to.

Thank you.

Agreed. To get a sense of the hugeness of the depth of LoTR, don't just read Tolkien--read about him. Particularly J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey.
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Robert Nowall
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Reminds me of the sentence in every rejection I've gotten from Fantasy & Science Fiction for the past several years, including the one I just got today.

quote:
"This story couldn't grab my interest, I'm afraid."
This tells me nothing.

[edited to correct my fancy typographical work I should use the new preview feature.]

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LDWriter2
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Robert, I disagree. It tells me what I missed... at least for that editor. Out of habit I was going to say for JJA but he hasn't been there for a couple of years. [Smile]

But the note isn't specific but it does say something. The writing isn't strong enough and/or the story is the problem. I try to work on both but since they have stated that for every type of story I send I figure its the writing. Well, a few times one editor or another has stated the story couldn't keep their interest. and JJA once said he liked the opening but I lost him in the middle of the story.

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Robert Nowall
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It's too vague for me. It defines nothing, it suggests no solution to the problem, it leads me to think they gave it little to no attention---and "JJA once said he liked the opening but I lost him in the middle of the story" is more than I've ever gotten from them.

"Couldn't grab my interest" also suggests to me that the problem might be on their end...

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MattLeo
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From a writing perspective, there was little wrong with the Episode I - III movies that wasn't also wrong with the original trilogy (IV - VI).

The problem with Ep I - III is that Lucas had so much money and power he could do anything he wanted. Freed from creative restraint, his creative limitations come to the fore. His biggest fault is one that should be familiar to any speculative fiction author: indulging in world-building so ponderous that it kills the pacing of the story.

When he made Ep IV, he was spending directorial clout he'd earned from making American Graffiti. He didn't have much confidence that the rest of the epic story he'd imagined would ever be filmed. So he stuffed the film with as much as he could. He also didn't have a lot of money, so he couldn't afford to let the audience's attention linger on any one detail long enough to examine it critically. So there's lots of throw-away shots that demand attention (like the cantina band) but by the time you realize what you're looking at, the story has moved on. That pacing carries you past any costume zippers that might be visible, but it also carries you past many of Lucas's weaknesses as a writer, notably his hopeless tin ear for dialog.

In Ep I - III, the images that the camera had to race over in Ep IV are executed with top-drawer skill. None of the aliens are just actors wearing cheesy plastic masks. The digitally rendered landscapes are gorgeously detailed and lit the way a cinematographer can only dream of in live-action shots. But the movies feel plodding because Lucas can't resist lingering on these wonderful things. That's the exact opposite of Ep IV, where you never quite have as much time to look at something as you'd like (and were better off that way).

There is a writing lesson in this, I think. You don't have to depict everything in microscopic detail, you can take a more impressionistic approach and count on the audience's imagination to fill in the details. Some writers do have a detail fetish and can use it effectively, but maybe not all can. Akira Kurosawa or Fred Zimmerman (High Noon) can build dramatic tension with deliberate pacing and gorgeous camera work, but Lucas doesn't have that gift.

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philocinemas
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I was nine when Star Wars first came out, and like Grayson, I also lived, breathed, and ate everything Star Wars. I saw it three times, and even now, I still have most of my original toys and posters.

I believe there are several problems that have tainted most people's views of the first three films:

1 - Expectations - What long-time fans wanted and what they got were two different things. Not everyone wanted the same thing either. Many wanted what they got in The Matrix (innovation and surprises) and many wanted what they got in The Fellowship of the Ring (Oscar worthiness and the feeling that someone reached into their minds and pulled out exactly what they wanted).
2 - Inconsistencies - Many have already been sited, but there are many more, especially surrounding the droids and the history between Obi-Wan and Anakin. Star Wars had such a strong mythology, that it angered most fans when Lucas ignored much of the foundation he had laid in the original films (which really didn't have any significant inconsistencies). I also liked Star Trek back then, and I like it even more now, but the recent changes were acceptable by most because the explanation was reasonable, except for why there was a canyon in Iowa. [Big Grin]
3 - Acting (live and CGI) - Let me start by acknowledging that Mark Hamill's acting was never the greatest. However, there were significant problems with both actors portraying Anakin in the prequels. He should never have been a small child (this contradicts the original film) and his internal conflict was poorly developed. I didn't have a problem with Yoda, but Jar Jar turned Episode I into a farce.
4 - Money - Lucas directed the orinal Star Wars for one dollar in exchange for ownership of all marketing rights. This was likely both the best and worst thing to ever happen to the franchise. Lucas eventually became a billionaire largely due to his toy empire. He stopped directing, because he didn't need to, and took on the role of producer. Supposedly, the Ewoks were originally supposed to be a planet of Wookies, but Lucas claims they couldn't afford the extra costs. However, I imagine a planet of Teddy Bears had some appeal to his greed.
5 - Ego - Lucas hadn't directed a movie in twenty years and was determined to do so in response to criticism of turning over directoral duties in Empire & ROTJ. As mentioned above, Lucas failed to get the best out of those in the cast that were outstanding actors.
6 - Children - Episode I was a children's movie that ended with the devil being cut in half. None of the others, even Planet of the Teddy Bears, otherwise known as ROTJ, were made specifically for children. It is tolerable to put a Teddy Bear in a movie about revolution, reconciliation, and redemption, but it is something entirely different to violently kill the devil at the end of a children's movie.
7 - Story - This is a summation of everything I have already. The story of Anakin's fall was disappointing, inconsistent with mythology, poorly acted, negatively influenced by greed, poorly directed, and an adult theme made for children, as opposed to a child-like theme made for adults - something that appeals to all of us, young and old.

In the real story's end, Lucas became Vader and won - I bought the damn things on Blue Ray despite it all. [Mad]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Blame the canyon in Iowa on an earthquake.
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LDWriter2
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I know there why it was there. Especially with a fence around it.


Hint, it wasn't natural and I consider it the second thing borrowed from the show Enterprise. The first was the phase cannons that Enterprise was armed with. They showed them for only a second but I swear they were the same.

And I didn't like the changes even if they were explained.


And I didn't see how Anakin's fall was inconsistent with the mythology unless you include the books. They never did explain very much beyond that Obe failed. I won't comment on the acting but I thought the whole set up for his fall was well done.

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philocinemas
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Give me a few days and I will give you specifics. The biggest Obi-Wan/Anakin inconsistencies come from the scene where Luke first finds "Ben" in the desert. Pardon me but I am quoting from memory:

"Your father was already a great pilot when I first met him."
"This is you father's light saber. He wanted you to have this when you were old enough."

-These two sentences would imply Anakin was at least a teenager when Obi-Wan met him. One could argue that what happens with the Noobian fighter at the end of Episode I could qualify but that would be a stretch. Furthermore, the "old enough" comment along with a comment by Spirit Obi-Wan in Empire, "I was not much younger when you trained me," suggests Jedis start training around early teens and that Yoda was Obi-Wan's master. Forgive me if I quoted those incorrectly - I don't have access to quotes at this moment.

I realize there are inconsistencies in what Obi-Wan says about Vader, but that can be explained by his desire to hide the fact that Vader was Luke's father. There are other inconsistencies as well, but I can't recall them at this time. The fact that no one seems to remember C3PO or R2D2 is a big problem.

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Crystal Stevens
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But Anikan was a great pilot when Obiwan met him. He was the only human who could do pod racing and won that final race as seen in "The Phantom Menace". Seems to me that would make him a great pilot. Or am I wrong?

Also, Luke would have gotten the light saber without any training from another Jedi if Ben had just given it to him when Luke was a small child. Waiting until Luke was old enough to have the light saber seemed to me like a safety factor. <<shrug>>

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LDWriter2
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I don't see the problem with Anakin being a pilot. He was a pilot all along. It might be pushing it a bit to say he was a fully trained pilot but he got around "flying" machines.

And Yoda was Obi's mentor did I miss something in the new episodes that said otherwise? There was what his name, Sorry I can't recall his name at the moment, at the beginning but at the same time Yoda did train Obi too. And he could have taken over after the other mentor's death, years went by between the new episodes. Their relationship was at least friends if not teacher- student.

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Robert Nowall
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I think a lot of the problem with "Star Wars" is that all this plot and character work was fitted on the story in retrospect, over a lengthy period of time, rather than being something that was developed at the beginning.

I mean, I suspect there was a certain amount of development---there usually is in movies even if it doesn't appear on the screen---but, I suspect, some of it changed, and changed drastically. Problems developed in the "getting out" of the first movie that, really, couldn't be addressed.

After all, in the first movie, there's nothing in it [that I can recall---been awhile since I looked at any of it] that suggests that Darth Vader would become the main character of the six movies, nothing that suggests he was related to Luke Skywalker, no hint of an epic love affair that would produce Luke and Princess Leia, nothing to suggest he would redeem himself. Not even a suggestion that he recognized C3PO, who he had a hand in building. Darth Vader even seemed to be on somebody's leash throughout the first movie. No hint of Yoda [who first appeared in Movie Number Two], or the guy who was Obi-Wan's mentor [name escapes me], or the underlying SF-y reason for the Force and its good and bad sides. The political situation was minimized, just Rebels and Stormtroopers and the fight between them.

There's bound to be some inconsistencies...and, all in all, George Lucas did a fair (though not perfect) job of trying to stitch things together. (I wish he wouldn't keep mucking with things after release, that's all...)

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MAP
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I agree with all the inconsistencies Philocinemas brought up. They bugged me. The thing is that all those things were minor details and could have easily been fixed.

Anakin could have been a little older. C3PO and R2D2 didn't have to be in the movie. The overall plot would not have been affected IMO.

But the thing that bugged me the most was in ROTJ when Luke asks Leia about her real mother, and Leia had memories of her. So I was so annoyed when they had Padame die.

But that was also do to how much I hate the dying of a broken heart thing. It is not romantic at all especially when Padame is leaving her babies with an evil father who just killed a room full of Jedi children.

Sorry, I know this was said more eloquently up thread, but I had to rant.

[ November 16, 2011, 12:27 PM: Message edited by: MAP ]

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philocinemas
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I'm sorry, but winning one's first pod race at five on a planet where pod-racing is like horse racing does not make one a great pilot any more than composing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" when one is five makes one a great composer. Yes, Mozart became a great composer, but he wasn't great when he was five. Obviously, some of those pod racers weren't among the best and brightest. Now, I might be pushing the envelope in thinking this through, but to call anyone great at just about anything as technical as being a pilot at five years old would be a much greater stretch. Tiger Woods was an amazing golfer at five, but he wasn't ready for the pros.

Lucas decided to make a kid's movie, and made changes to fit what he wanted.

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philocinemas
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Also, when Anakin blew up the Trade Federation's blockade HQ, it was completely by accident. Either way, Obi-Wan is describing someone who was at or near adulthood in the original movie, not a five year old. Regardless, the whole Anakin-Padme relationship was ridiculous. It was like a kid dating his babysitter ten years later - sure, it happens, but it is both atypical and creepy. Episode II is the first kid-friendly movie involving pedophilia.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Qui-Gon Jinn
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