Friday, June 02, 2006
Upon Reflection: Why I No Longer Care For Star Wars
I was there at midnight, amongst the faithful, when George Lucas's long awaited first installment in his prequel trilogy made its bombastic appearance in theaters. I waited in line for a few hours that day for tickets, I cheered when the opening credits began to scroll upwards, familiar yellow on black.
I didn't hate Jarjar. Honestly. I understood his necessity, or at least his perceived necessity. He was there, background for me. The real treat of Episode I was getting to finally see Jedis in full glory. Fully trained, experienced, and scary. Unstoppable. I dug Jake Lloyd as Anakin, and I was disappointed that Lloyd wasn't old enough to play Anakin in Episode II. Really. I apologized a lot for Lucas then. A lot. It was often just me or my friend Ross in the room talking about how good it was. We just had to wait and see how it all fit together. You'd see.
Then Episode II came out and I began to feel vindicated. See? Jarjar is necessary because he explains how Naboo votes for giving the War powers to President Palpatine. See? We can see the responsibility of training Anakin beginning to weigh on Obi-Wan. See? Yoda goes apey and begins to fly all over the place fighting Dooku. See? Again, I played the apologist.
And then I stayed up late to see Episode III. I was at a midnight showing, although I had worked all day, and I would be due in the next day as usual. I came. I shelled out the cash. I spent the time. I dragged my poor, aged mother to the midnight screening.
To say I was disappointed is a bit inaccurate. I was irritated, more specifically. I had apologized, and argued, and disagreed, and discussed this with friend for the last several years. For years I had supported Lucas, and what we got was Episode III.
Was there enough action? Oh yes, plenty. No need to let that pesky storytelling get in the way of our action. No sir. What about Jedi? Plenty of that, right? Okay, sure. When they weren't getting shot in the back because the Force apparently stopped working, or when they weren't acting like a bunch of hypocrites, sure. How about lightsabers, you like lightsabers, right? Who cares about lightsabers? Yeah they're cool, but they don't make a story.
All of this has been examined by people far more interested in tearing the film apart than I am. I don't care. That's what Episode III did to me. It made a die-hard, lightsaber toy waving fan put down the toys forever. I have no desire to see the prequel trilogy again any time soon, nor do I have any desire to see the original trilogy. I don't care. I've got better stuff to do. Episode III was so bad it totally ruined the entire Star Wars experience for me. I can't look at any of it without that third film and the sheer senselessness of it corrupting my enjoyment of even the Empire Strikes Back. The bastard took Bespin from me. And that hurts.
Now he's selling the original trilogy unaltered. And I have trouble really generating any entusiasm for it. I will probably get it to make my DVD collection complete, but I won't watch it often. I have no desire to do so.
Basically one word sums up my feelings as the end credits rolled:
Powered by Qumana
I couldn't agree more. My son has never seen the Matrix, for example, but on our evening runs, I tried to explain why the first movie held such entertainment value, and such promise for the sequels. How I and other admirers all looked forward to them.
And how utterly disappointed we were, when we came out.
Some people can't put it into words; they just can't pin down the source of the feeling of 'bleagh!'. But I could. And it was pretty much along the lines of what turned you off to the Star Wars franchise.
Oh, I could wax eloquent for pages on what the hell went wrong, and how it could have been avoided. In a nutshell, the Brothers were like folks who painted pictures of dragons, but had never heard of an alligator and didn't believe they existed. In other words, they created a movie which made sense on a level just below the one in the movie - thus explaining its popularity and feeling of 'rightness'. Yet the next two movies were abundant, wasteful witnesses to the sad fact that the Brothers themselves did not see that underlying level at all.
Anyway, I feel for you. The only difference between us is, I still enjoy the Matrix. In a better world, maybe someone will make a sequel that actually lives up to the promise of the original movie. Meanwhile, I have my copy on DVD.