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Star Wars Was No Star Wars
We're starting to see reviews of the latest Star Wars installment.
Ken Layne describes how viewing it at a tender age affected his world view.
One blogger is collecting reviews, with the comment that:
"...this movie is going to be the coming out party for blogs as chroniclers of culture. If September 11 and the subsequent War on Terrorism gave the blogger-as-political-pundit credibility, Episode II will do the same for blogger-as- cultural-commentator. Thanks to bloggers, Star Wars Episode II will have more reviews written about it than any movie that has come before it.
Jane Galt saw it, and semi-panned it, with paens to the original. She finishes her review with "...it was no Star Wars."
I'm betting that the favorable reviews are going to skew toward the younger demographic. And those who don't like it that much, but think that the original was the greatest thing since sliced beer, are going to be in their thirties. And those elderly among us just don't get it.
Jane, Ken, et al, consider that your age when first seeing the movies has something to do with your perception of them. (Well, actually, basically, Ken admitted that).
I've noticed that most of the the real Star Wars-o-philes are in your age bracket--they were kids of varying ages when the first movie came out. Those of us who were older are much less impressed by the series, including the original (probably because we saw it at a time that we were less impressionable). As I said over at The Dodd's site, "2001: A Space Odyssey" was the template, the touchstone, of superb SF for my generation.
At the risk of being heretical, when I saw Star Wars, I was disappointed, perhaps because I was looking for good SF, and instead found simply a space opera, with numerous holes in the story line, and an insufficient level of reality, consistency, and adherence to the laws of physics, even within the context of the premise.
If you were five or fifteen today, you might be as impressed with Lucas' latest, as you were at the time with his first.
Yes, yes, I know, you went back and saw it again as an adult, and still thought it was great. But you'd already been imprinted.
And to the degree that my analysis is correct, it's an example of why a clone of a person would not be a copy.Posted by Rand Simberg at May 20, 2002 02:20 PM
I think you've hit the nail on the head. I was a kid when I first saw Star Wars and I loved it, as an adult seeing it again I was somewhat less impressed but it's still an important mile marker in my memories. A lot of those older than I just don't seem to get it and most of them point to 2001 instead. I don't get 2001, I don't think it was bad but I don't think it was anything special either. Then again, it isn't a mile marker in my life, I was only barely out of diapers when it was released. A generational component is the only reasonable explanation I can come up with.
MyriaPosted by Myria at May 20, 2002 07:32 PM
I first saw Star Wars (the original movie) as an adult but liked it immensely. I have resisted seeing the later ones. The reason was that I considered the original complete in itself. It was a fairy tale, complete with a handsome, disguised prince, a beautiful princess, and an evil ogre. So Lucas should have left it at that. Did the Brothers Grimm come out with sequels?Posted by Michael Lonie at May 20, 2002 09:54 PM
Myria, what's special about 2001 was that it was the first SF movie to both deal with mature SF themes, and to use state-of-the-art special effects. It was done by an SF writer (Arthur Clarke) for whom we had great respect, and it was clear that it was going to be done *right*.
No sounds of explosions in vacuum, no spaceships that moved when they thrusted, and stopped when they didn't. It was as accurate a projection of the technology of two decades hence that could be done at the time. It was a cinematic breakthrough to a generation raised on cheesy science fiction movies by producers who didn't seem to give a damn.
And that's why Star Wars was so disappointing. We'd heard that Lucas had invested so much in making the effects accurate, and we were hoping for something that could upstage 2001. Instead, we got space fighters zigging and zagging, with loud explosions, the captain of a spaceship who didn't know that parsecs were a unit of distance rather than time, and a fairy tale set in a galaxy far, far away...Posted by Rand Simberg at May 20, 2002 10:19 PM
I'm not one of those Star Wars fans who think that the series was the be-all, end-all of the universe. I thought it was a pretty good story with some pretty good visuals. I thought it was a little tired by Return of the Jedi, and very tired in the new movies.
But I thought that Attack of the Clones wasn't as good as the original, even if you didn't like the original that much. The visuals were better, but the pacing sucked. Even if you didn't like Star Wars too much, it didn't have three-minute expository sequences. And the plotting was logical, at least. Phantom's plotting was awful -- and since Lucas has to wrap the whole thing up in 3, that left him simultaneously trying to exposit away plot holes, and cram in nine different subplots to one film.
I like a movie that does what it's supposed to. Star Wars was absolutely space opera -- but I thought it was good space opera. Of course, if you don't like space opera, you won't enjoy Star Wars, but I grew up on Barsoom and quite enjoy it when it's done well. The new movies aren't even space opera. They're like the dreadful pulp novels that ripped off Burroughses original yarns and turned what were entertaining conventions into cringing cliches.Posted by Jane Galt at May 21, 2002 06:37 AM
I was always troubled by Solo's qualifying the MF to be a fast ship by reference to parsecs. About ten years ago a clever friend of mine [and 10 years younger] said he always had this take on it... once one "makes the jump to hyper-space, warp speed or whatever, time becomes trivial. He thought Han was bragging that the computer on the MF was smart enough to plot such a short and direct course for the Castle Run without crashing anything.
Oh, well. Regards.Posted by Dan Dickinson at May 21, 2002 07:14 AM
Some of my friends and I have for years discussed an idea for a parody called Star Warners: Star Wars as portrayed by the Looney Toons cast. One of the first gags proposed was Duck Solo boasting, "Fast? Why, I ran the marathon in 24 kilometers!"
I was going on 13 when the flick first opened in Los Angeles accompanied by Craig Miller's flash crowds. I was already a serious SF reader more excited by the works of Larry Niven than those of Edgar R. burroughs, so I was fully prepared to see a Western with ray guns. I was not disappointed and can still enjoy it today. The same cannot be said for the ongoing attempt to leave no portion of the characters lives untold or unsold.Posted by Eric Pobirs at May 22, 2002 05:00 PM
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