Star Wars 3-D
1977 George Lucas
George Lucas Then...and Now
What Happened to George Lucas?
There used to be a time when George Lucas was a creative visionary in Hollywood. Not only did he change the way films are marketed these days with his classic "Star Wars" trilogy, he also revolutionized the science fiction genre. Something very few directors can ever lay claim to. In addition to creating arguably one of the great film series of all time, he also created THX sounds and Lucasfilm LTD. Two highly successful innovations in Hollywood mainstream. Don't get me wrong, I would never call George Lucas out to be anything less than a creative genius, nor should anyone reading this hub expect me to. However, as I always say, I always make it a point to never ignore the painfully obvious.
Like many people, I grew up on the original "Star Wars" trilogy, and I loved it. In fact, it still ranks as one of my all time favorite film series. Hell, I still get chills every time I watch the epic scene where Darth Vader says his infamous line, "Luke, I am your father!" Then Luke retorts, "No! That's impossible!" Oh, the memories. Of course my second favorite scene in the original trilogy comes from when Darth redeems himself at the end to save his only son. Truly one of the best scenes in the trilogy by far if you ask me.
However, what happened to that same creative visionary that was the mastermind behind one of cinema's greatest movie series? Where was the man that collaborated with Stephen Spielberg to give us the "Indiana Jones" series? Whatever happened to that George Lucas? The one that used to create a great emotional story using the special effects to enhance our imaginations, and take us into a world where we could suspend our dis-beliefs in the name of cinematic fun. Seriously what happened to him? Is it just me, or has George Lucas turned into nothing more than a man that only cares about milking his infamous "Star Wars" franchise for all it's worth? Am I the only person who notices this? Or am I just going crazy?
Anyway, I digress. During this hub, we'll be going over my thoughts over the progression of "Star Wars" over the years, while offering my current thoughts on George Lucas' plans to re-re-release his entire "Star Wars" series in 3-D. However, unlike his last attempt when he re-released the original "Star Wars" trilogy in theaters, all the films won't be coming out in the same year like before. No, no, nowhere would the money be in that? No, George Lucas claims that converting a two hour film into 3-D is a 12 month process. Therefore, you can expect in 2012 to see "Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace" in 3-D. Followed by "Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones" in 2013, in 3-D as well. Then followed by the remaining movies coming out in each year following in 3-D, with the final film, "Star Wars: Episode VI- The Return of the Jedi", coming out in 2017. Gee, I never realized so much production process had to go into converting old films into 3-D.
Warning: The following videos contain spoilers.
Use the Force Luke
Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader
Slave Leia Scene
The Original Trilogy
In a galaxy far far away, there was once a creative visionary artist by the name of George Lucas. George was like any young aspiring director in Hollywood, when he was starting off. He was full of ideas, and all he needed was for someone to give him a chance. However, nobody ever could've fathomed how immensely popular his idea for an epic film franchise would become entrenched into our societies' culture. Not only did George Lucas revolutionized the way science fiction films are handled today, he also changed the way films are marketed in this day and age. Before the first "Star Wars" film, summer used to be considered a bad time to release films, as most often bombed. Sure, there was "Jaws", but it wasn't enough to change the landscape of summer films. However, that's when "Star Wars" came along and changed everything. Not only showing Hollywood that summer can be a perfect time to debut blockbusters, it also showed just how far marketing can go for a film franchise.
Indeed, like most people, I too have a deep love for the "Star Wars" franchise. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those fans that collects any "Star Wars" memorabilia, or dresses up like one of their characters, to attend a science fiction convention. No, I just simply love the films. As one actor said once, "Star Wars" is a classic story of good vs. evil. How evil can often seduce anyone of us to the dark side of life, yet we can overcome it if we believe in ourselves.
To be quite honest, I didn't pick up on many of symbolism behind "Star Wars" until I got older. However, once I did recognize the symbolism behind the original story, I grew to appreciate it even more. Take "the force" for instance. When I was a child, I used to think the force was nothing more than the existence of magic within the "Star Wars" universe. When I got older, I came to realize it's a lot more than that. If you stop to analyze the scene closely with Yoda training Luke Skywalker, you soon realize that "the force" is really a metaphor for confidence. If you believe in yourself, then nothing is ever out of reach. Something that speaks volumes to it's audience. Although "Star Wars" takes place in a galaxy far far away, the universal themes and symbolism behind the film is the strength behind the series.
Sure, the special effects are great for the time period, and still holds up well in comparison to many of today's science fiction films. However, it's Lucas' character driven story, and universal themes is what made the original "Star Wars" trilogy as epic as it was. As Lucas alluded to once, the problem with many directors in the science fiction genre is they focus too much time on the setting of the movie. However, the setting isn't the story. The story is the heart of any film, as Lucas eloquently said once.
Pod Race Crash Scenes
Obi Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Yoda vs. Count Dooku
Anakin Skywalker vs. Obi Wan Kenobi
However, when the prequels came out, I'm just going to be brutally honest here. The prequels were just appalling. "Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace" was nothing more than a generically over hyped action film that lacked substance. Jar Jar Binks was probably the most annoying character in cinematic history, and what's the deal with the pod race scene? Don't get me wrong, I understand it played a key part in the story, where if Anakin won the race, then he'd be set free; hence setting up the rest of the trilogy. However, did it really need to be like ten minutes long? Seriously? They could've easily have told this story, and had the same impact if that scene had been reduced by like say five minutes instead. I much rather preferred they devoted that screen time into developing Anakin's character, who seemingly shows up out of nowhere.
Plus, why does the Trade Republic want to kill Queen Amidala? I'm sorry. Maybe, I missed that part in the first prequel, but they never exactly say why they want to kill her. Then there's Darth Maul, the role that made many fans think Ray Park is a big name actor; along with his "X-Men" appearance as Toad. I'm sorry, but I didn't know a guy was deemed a star for doing a few stunts and saying very little if any dialogue as possible. Granted, someone could bring up the silent film era, where stars used their body language to convey their characters quite a bit. However, there's a difference here with Ray Park. In both those films, Ray Park is hardly in them for more than say thirty minutes each, and all he generically does is high profile stunts any other stuntman could do. If that wasn't bad enough, he only has like maybe two or three lines at best in either one of those films...yet fans claim he's a big name star? Oh well, I guess that's another topic to discuss for another time.
Look, I have nothing against Ray Park, as I think he did play each role he's been given quite well. However, I just don't see how some fans can deem him a great actor when he hasn't done anything to prove it. I mean when you're talking about great actors, then you'd think about people like Humphrey Bogart, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Tom Hanks, James Dean, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin and others. Now, those are great actors. Ray Park is not a great actor. He's a great stuntman, and a fairly decent actor at best. However, with the way Star Wars fans constantly say he's a great actor, it just sickens me, as I see it as a huge slap in the face to the other actors mentioned. I apologize if my short rant offended someone, but I just had to get that off my chest. Speaking of emotional rants, is it just me? Or is Anakin Skywalker worse than a damn crying baby? Which brings me to the second prequel, "Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones."
"Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of
the Clones" was too much of a soap opera, with a whiny cry baby
protagonist in Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen), who I just wanted
to slap in the face and tell him to shut up. I'm sorry if that sounds
rude, but he was really that annoying to me. Seriously, I wanted to like this film so bad that I was willing to overlook many of it's obvious flaws like many of it's fans. However, the more I tried to like this second prequel, the more I found myself resenting every minute of it. Not only was every minute of this soap opera cliched ridden as hell, it wasn't even remotely interesting. To make matters worse, the film was poorly edited, as there was a lot of scenes that added nothing to the overall story of the movie itself. Take the infamous Jango Fett vs. Obi Wan scene, for instance. Don't get me wrong, it was a cool fight scene from a movie fan's perspective. However, as an amateur film analyst, I can't help but wonder how the hell is that scene even necessary? Did it add anything emotional or potent to the film, like Obi Wan's death in the original "Star Wars" film? Or does it add anything to the story like Luke's confrontation with Darth Vader in "Empire Strikes Back?" The quick answer to this is no to both questions. The reality is that Lucas seemed to focus too much on the setting of these prequels rather than trying to tell a great story. Something that Lucas even admitted was a common mistake among science fiction directors.
Of course, "Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith" came along, and redeemed some of the follies of the previous prequels. However, most of the film still came off as a bad soap opera, with the same stiff wooden and uninspired acting that plagued the prequel trilogy quite a bit. Sure, the second half of the film was rather interesting, as it finally showed how Anakin became seduced by the dark side of the force. Hell, I'm not going to lie here. The final fight scene between Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi is one of my favorite scenes out of all the "Star Wars" films; including the original trilogy. Unfortunately, the few moments that were good in the prequel trilogy, they couldn't make up for how bad the prequel series was as a whole.
Don't get me wrong, I understand George Lucas had a lot of expectations on him when he made the prequels, and it would've been hard for anyone to handle the pressure. Plus, I know one could easily argue that the reason why the prequels were poorly directed was because Lucas was out of the directing game for awhile. I'll give you that. However, I don't see why Lucas couldn't have hired another director to do the prequels or handle the script. Lucas could've still been there as an Executive Producer, and still be heavily involved in the creative process of the films like he did with "Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi."
Sadly, he didn't do that, as it showed the world that he's become nothing more than a businessman. Granted, I would never condemn Lucas when he re-released his special edition "Star Wars" trilogy in theaters, as he was just trying to build up hype for the Prequels. That's very understandable. Hell, I even cut Lucas a lot of slack for the prequels and many of the marketing stunts that went into it. However, how much leeway should Lucas have with fans?
Anakin's New Padawan Ahsoka Tano
Clone Wars Movie, Marketing and Animated Series
For those that don't know, George Lucas released "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" film a few years after Episode III. "Clone Wars" is essentially an animated CGI film depicting the Clone Wars within the "Star Wars" universe, as the story allegedly takes place between Episode II and III. Kind of bridging the gap between the two films, as Lucas described it. Unfortunately, unlike Lucas' other "Star Wars" films, this one bombed in theaters, but made up for it in the DVD sales. The purpose of the film was to launch George Lucas' planned animated CGI "Clone Wars" TV series on cartoon network. Basically meaning that the film was nothing more than a TV pilot making it's debut in theaters versus the small screen. Gee, how quaint. Did it work? Well the series is already running into it's third season, and it's one of Cartoon Network's hottest shows right now. I guess one could say it did.
Sure, there's plenty of contradictions in the series when compared to the films, as I could easily write a hub about it if I wanted to, but fans don't seem to care. Besides, Lucas can do no wrong in many of his fans' eyes. Therefore, why should we criticize him?
Sure, from a creative standpoint, we can accuse Lucas of becoming nothing more than an egotistical opportunist, who claims he won't make another "Star Wars" film because he's too busy, and wouldn't have enough time to research the novels that took place after Episode VI. However, as my brother once said, the reason why he won't make another "Star Wars" film is really because he's too busy trying to conjure up ways to make more money off the ones he's already done. Sadly, I couldn't agree with him more.
However, from a business standpoint and one who understands the marketing side to films, I can completely understand where Lucas is coming from. Hell, one could call him a freaking genius for how well he's managed to keep his epic "Star Wars" franchise consistently popular for decades. Not even "Star Trek" has had the same level of box office success that "Star Wars" has endured. As even the prequels as bad as they may be, they still grossed a lot of money. Like Michael Bay with his infamous "Transformer" films, George Lucas can do no wrong in the eyes of his fans. Sure, he can write the worst freaking script imaginable and direct arguably one of the most over hyped films in cinematic history in "Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace" , and fans will still defend his honor to the death saying how great all the films were anyway. Say what you want about George Lucas, but the man knows how to market his product.
In fact, that's part of how "Star Wars" revolutionized the film industry. Not only did it revolutionize how many Hollywood producers market a big budget movie, it also showed them how much money could be made through merchandising a film. Something that was still a fairly new concept when George Lucas' famous "Star Wars" film made it's debut.
Star Wars in 3-D and Final Thoughts
As much as I don't want to admit it, I have to say this. As I always say, I've never been one to ignore the painfully obvious. Lucas creatively speaking has lost his way. No longer is he the same creative visionary that introduced us to a world full of wonders. Now, he's nothing more than an opportunist. Sure, I know a lot of die hard "Star Wars" fans will defend his latest move to make his films 3-D. Making such outlandish claims on how artistically the 3-D will enhance the already perfect visionary world Lucas created. Sure, you can make that argument, but does that negate the other argument saying that the real reason he's doing it is because of the money? If you look back to even a mere few years ago, Lucas showed very little if any interest in making his "Star Wars" films in 3-D.
However, doesn't it seem strange he's suddenly showing interest...NOW..after the roaring success of "Avatar" making it's debut in 3-D? Causing most of Hollywood to jump on the proverbial 3-D bandwagon so to speak. I know most "Star Wars" fans will probably say he's doing it because he sees 3-D as an opportunity to retell his stories in such a more thought provoking way, artistically. However, others can argue saying he's only doing it because he saw how much money 3-D films are making these days, and wants to jump in on the opportunity to make money. Or perhaps, it might be a bit of both. To be honest, I have some mixed feelings about this planned re-re-release of the series in 3-D.
From a marketing standpoint, I can understand Lucas' intentions completely, and he'd be a damned fool not to take advantage of the 3-D craze while he has the chance. After all, he's already proven with "Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace" that it doesn't matter what he does. Fans are always going to endorse him anyway. Hell, I'm willing to bet he can re-re-release his films without the 3-D, and only add like two minutes to each movie, and fans would still kiss his proverbial rump over it.
However, from a creative standpoint, why Lucas? Seriously, there used to be a time when you focused on story content, and modeled your work after such prestigious legends like Akira Kurasawa. Now, you've become nothing more than a businessman. One that's so preoccupied with figuring out how to exploit something you've created that you've forgotten what made the original trilogy a masterpiece. It had nothing to do with the special effects or the cinematography; although they did help quite a bit. No, the reason why your "Star Wars" films were so relevant in cinema was because of it's universal themes. The character driven moments, and touching metaphors behind the story itself. Those are the things that made "Star Wars" the success that it is. Sure, the special effects helped, but it was the story behind the effects that made the original trilogy what it was.
Sadly, it seems Lucas has succumbed to the dark side of cinema. No pun intended. Where creativity takes a backseat to marketing. Where originality means nothing, and the only thing that matters is making money. Is that all films are to us these days? Look, I apologize if I offended any George Lucas fans out there, as I would never condemn anyone who supports him. Seriously, I think it's great when fans show their love and support for something they're passionate about. I really do. Unfortunately, I beg to wonder...does Lucas care about his fans? Is he truly just re-re-releasing his films in 3-D because he feels it's a new way to enhance the visual world of "Star Wars" in a new way; while introducing it to a whole new generation of possible new fans. Or does he see this new 3-D craze as nothing more than an opportunity to exploit his fans, and force them to shell out a few extra bucks to see his films...AGAIN. Who can really say, but I do think it's sad. Not for Lucas but for his fans, as they're the ones that are going to be affected most by this move.
Look, I have no problem with Lucas re-re-releasing these films again in 3-D, as he's certainly earned the right to do whatever he wants with them. Hell, as I always say, part of being a visionary in Hollywood is doing whatever it is that you want to do; even if it conflicts with the status norms of how things are usually done. Indeed, George has done just that, and I could never fault a man that's made such a huge impact on the film industry. However, I sometimes wonder where does the once great visionary with him end..and the egotistical opportunist begin? Or perhaps they've always been one and the same, and I just never realized it until now. In fact, thinking of George Lucas now reminds me a lot of the famous scene in "Superman II", where Clark loses his powers to be with Lois Lane; only to end up getting beat up in a bar. In the scene, the characters are quoted, after Clark is laying on the floor with a bloody nose:
Lois: I just want the man I fell in love with.
Clark: I know that Lois. I just wish he was here right now.
Right now, I wish I could tell George Lucas, "where's the man that created one of the best science fiction trilogies of all time? Where's the man that I used to admire creatively?" Want to know what he'll probably say? "I know that, Steven. I just wish he was here right now", as Lucas would say. Like many of you, I know I'll probably end up seeing the 3-D films anyway. I know that sounds hypocritical, but I'm not going to lie about that. Although I can't say I'm surprised with Lucas' decision to re-re-release this film franchise in 3-D. However, I can't say I'm not a bit disappointed in him as well...