Mike Rips George Lucas a New OneComplications Ensue
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

A very smart new friend of mine turned me on to this utterly awesome review of STAR WARS I: THE PHANTOM MENACE.

This is not a professional review. This is a 70 minute video review of why the movie completely sucks, by some guy from Milwaukee named Mike who totally gets it.
And this isn’t your usual fanboy rant, this is an epic, well-edited well-constructed piece of geek film criticism. In fact, the way I learned about the video was from LOST co-creator and STAR TREK producer Damon Lindelof, who said “Your life is about to change. This is astounding film making. Watch ALL of it.”

For example, Mike has 4 friends talk about who Han Solo is, as a character:

"He's a scoundrel..." "rogue" ... "cocky" ... "womanizer" ... "but with a heart of gold..."

Qui-Gon Jinn:

"He has a beard..." "stoic" ... "has a beard" ... "beard..."

It's pretty awesome.

Here's part one; follow the link above for the other 6 parts.



Well, right off the bat, his first point rings true. Lucas, whether by intent or circumstance, probably found himself effectively surrounded by yes-men.

I always thought that structurally Episodes II & III had a great deal of potential. But in all these films it comes down to execution, and George sure as hell killed them.

It's too bad he didn't hire a real screenwriter and director and just act as producer. The films could have really been something

By Blogger David, at 11:47 PM  

What do you think the chances are of Lucas, himself, seeing this? Probably none, unfortunately. Instead, he'll keep making excuse after excuse.

The points he makes are so right on, they're almost inarguable.

By Blogger Tim W., at 2:38 AM  

I was cracking up when, talking about story conventions, he listed all those directors: "So unless you're the Coen brothers . . ."

I expected him to refer to 1-3 directors. Instead, he lists 20 or so of our most compelling directors, reminding us that, yes those people are special, but the list isn't so impossibly short that Lucas couldn't be in it if he wasn't a hack.

Actually, it's incredible to consider that the same man who made episode I made "American Graffiti." I guess that's what getting old and more money than you can count can do to you.

By Blogger David, at 9:42 AM  

The best part of this series is that Mike actually points out why the prequels weren't good: Lucas's crew were just flat-out scared of him, so no one called him on the film's weaknesses.

By Blogger Morley, at 11:39 AM  

By "why" I mean "what problems with the production resulted in a poor film."

By Blogger Morley, at 11:41 AM  

If you liked this (as I did), you might be interested to know about:

The Sequel!

By Blogger deanareeno, at 2:09 PM  

Among his many other errors, Lucas really screwed up by aiming the prequels at kids (IMHO). The prequels' natural audience was the adults who loved Star Wars as kids. (Whereas for children of the 90's, CGI effects were old hat.)

And presumably the subjects of the prequels--the emergence of Darth Vader and the death of a democracy--should have been darker, adult-oriented material.

By Blogger David, at 12:36 PM  

I loved this...

The fundamental flaws in The Phantom Menace are clearly evident when trying to identify the film's premise.

Give it a go. It's hard as hell, whereas the premise for Star Wars could easily be summed up as:

"A callow youth, with the aid of an old knight and a space pirate, rescue a princess from the clutches of an evil galactic empire."

But TPM? Uh, "It's about a brash about a young Jedi who follows an maverick old Jedi who's mission to negotiate a trade dispute gets..."

No, wait.

"It's about a young boy who follows a brash young Jedi who follows an maverick old Jedi who's trying to escort a child Queen to a congressional hearing."

No, that's not it either.

"It's about a slave boy who sits around waiting for two Jedi to tell him what to do while an ambitious Senator leverages a tax dispute to launch his sinister plot to... uh, do something..."

Fuck it, I give up.

By Blogger daveed, at 2:03 PM  

A few clarifications: George bankrolled the movie so he could do anything he wanted. He didn't need studio approval, he didn't need to get approval from anyone. He wasn't surrounded by yes men. He didn't need them.

The crew wasn't scared of him and had voiced some concerns but at the end of the day it's always up to the director. Which is true of any film. On most films (and certainly these) the director has the final say and makes the final decision. They certainly don't want to hear about story issues from anyone on the crew. Serious story issues on most films are only open to discussion from the studio, producer, writer and possibly the actors. George was all of these (except actor).

In this case George was the writer as well so he was the one to start the process and the last one to deal with the process. He was the original creator of the material so in theory he should know best. He also had children by the time the new episodes started so that influenced some of the decisions you saw.

When he had it edited and in reasonable form he recieved some positive comments from his friends (other directors) At that point even if there were issues raised it would have been difficult to address. This is the same as an animation film would be difficult to change after the animation was done.

By Blogger Scott Squires, at 5:11 PM  

To me, the interesting thing is how much the prequel trilogy is like "Return of the Jedi." Return is the weakest of the three original films. It's not terrible, mind you. But the ponderous and poor dialogue, the cute alien critters and the epic battle scenes are all there.

If Kasdan and Marquand handn't been there for "Return," would the luster have fallen of Lucas then?

If Kirshner, Kasdan and Brackett hadn't been there for Empire -- and fought Lucas tooth and nail all the way -- would that film be held up as the best of the trilogy today (no.)

And if Marsha Lucas hadn't been there to give George an element of humanity, how would "Star Wars" have turned out?

I know it's easy to see history with perfect vision, but I think the truth of the matter has always been that Lucas is a big idea, big spectacle person and a lousy detail, human-drama creator.

Just like James Cameron....

By Blogger Jody, at 8:46 PM  

"George bankrolled the movie so he could do anything he wanted."

That sounds like how one ends up surrounded by yes men.

"He was the original creator of the material so in theory he should know best."

Well, what George could never know was whether the material worked for other people. The fact that he knew that abortion of a script inside and out didn't help me when I was cringing with the opening crawl.

By Blogger David, at 12:48 AM  

fyi: comment above by oscar-nominated Scott Squires who worked on the film

By Blogger frederic, at 1:51 AM  

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