Tuesday, June 12, 2007

In Defense of "In Defense of the Star Wars Prequels"

A few days ago, I wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post about how under-appreciated the Star Wars prequels are. The responses have ranged from supportive to shocked to downright silly.

I want to respond more in depth to some of the comments I’ve received from people who don’t have an appreciation for the Star Wars Prequels. This lack of appreciation, for some, even extends to Return of the Jedi.

First off, watching a film is a subjective experience. We all take whatever baggage to the theatre with us. There are very few instances where I will flatly say, “This movie was bad and that is a fact, not an opinion.”

The Matrix films fall into this category. Curtis Hanson’s “Lucky You” fell into this category. Most studio comedies fit into this category.

But, there is merit to Star Wars, whether you like the style of acting and writing or not. Yes, the special effects are mind-blowing and the story is on an epic scale. Yes it has deep themes of religion and mythology that resonate in the core of our spirituality. Above all, it’s fun.

How many horrible movies are there that people have made for kids? Kids movies are terrible. And there can be no argument that Star Wars is a series of kids movies that adults like seeing, too. And so, when you watch this film as an adult through the eyes of a child, as I asked everyone to do in my editorial, you’ll see that it’s a cut above the crap we’re passing for children’s entertainment these days.

My argument is that Star Wars, prequels included, is a cut above the stuff we’re normally showing our kids and it offers us a platform to talk to them about issues.

Someone specifically called me out on the fact that I couldn’t let my son learn lessons from a movie where the principal character is evil. I would argue that this is a wonderful lesson to teach my son. Darth Vader is evil, truly and wholly. But should we hate him blindly? Or should we learn why he’s evil and come to know and love thine enemy? The commenter took issue with the idea that I would use evil people to teach my children any lessons, but the bible is filled with evil people to learn lessons from.

I think a lot of people problems with humanizing Anakin stems from the fact that they hate to learn more about things they hate.

It’s the same as the slow disgust that grows in people’s stomachs when they learn about the staggering amount of civilian casualties perpetrated in our name in the War on Iraq. Or when people realize that Baghdad is the size and population of Los Angeles and has approximately the same level of advancement, they get uneasy about the fact that we launched 1000 bombs on that city in the first 24 hours of the war.

People don’t like putting a human face on their enemy and the prequels served to humanize a monster. And monster’s are so much more interesting when you can actually see where they came from and what made them what they are.

So, for me to be dismissed about my opinions because you didn’t like the movie is silly. Just because you don’t like movie doesn’t make it a terrible movie. There are movies I didn’t like but understood that they were good. Take, for instance, “The Good Shepherd”. That movie was good. But it was way too dry for me to enjoy it. That doesn’t make it bad. It means I didn’t like it.


I hope this addresses at least some of the problems people had with my reviews and I would again ask that people just give them a chance and watch them like they were 12 years old again.

Trust me, it works.


L.Austin Bernard said...

Hey because as we all know Kids movies feature plenty of Decapitations, gore, and dismemberment. (lets not get into Incest of Luke and Leia, the genocide of the Sand people, people of Alderon..etc)If thats a kids movie then we set an awful Standard.

also considering Lucas was making an Omage to the movies he saw when he was a kid you really again are having to make some serious intellectual gymnatics to say he was shooting it for kids (( Teenagers.. I could let teens go))

I'd actually be intrested in an email write up on your defense of star wars (and my attack of it) because well...heh I could use the blog traffic

The movies didn't Humanize Anakin due to Poor directing/script writing of several scenes in Episode II and III where Hayden was having some really good actual acting where some really hackneyed and strained acting and lyrics came up.

and I was a ba-bie when I saw the very first star wars, my dad told my mom she needed to see it... so to me more proof that its not a movie for kids

(and since my dad thought the Jeff Goldblum fly was going to be good I hardly take his thoughts on films well)

Modemstring said...

I was not attacking Darth Vader the villain or life lessons derived from his story. I was speaking of the antics of our hero, the good guy and Jedi, of Episode II. Children aren’t imagining a subtle transformation when they run around with their weapons playing Jedi; they aren’t emulating a slow morph to evil which they are taught not to emulate. Anakin is reckless, hotheaded, and arrogant. He defies authority. He wants everyone to treat him like he is better than they are because he thinks he is better than everyone else. He is everything I am betting you tell your children not to be, including a whinny, complaining, lying bastard.

You can tell your children they shouldn’t be like Anakin, but guess what? He is the hero of the story, the point-of-view character, and he is constantly rewarded for being the way he is. If anything, your beloved movies are undermining the so called lessons you are teaching your kids. After watching the movies, your kids want to be Anakin. Didn’t you even named your son Anakin?

I like my heroes to do the right things for the right reasons, even if they start off as scoundrels or farm boys.

Let me get something straight. You are outraged that people are calling the prequels bad movies, but claim the same thing about The Matrix. I agree that the sequels are terrible films, but you discredit yourself as a film enthusiast, let alone a filmmaker, if you are suggesting that any of the prequels even compare to The Matrix.

If you like bad acting and terrible dialog, then watch the prequels 1000 times, but don’t keep making a fool of yourself by trying to convince the rest of us, because we were right there waiting in line at 4 in the morning for tickets, waiting in line again at 6 in the evening to get into the theater, and we had the same lump in our throats when the theme music blared out at us and the star wars logo scrolled up the screen. We put our dreams in George Lucas’s cruel hands and he left us with mediocrity and silliness. Those movies and Lucas deserve all the scorn they receive.

RBW said...

Since when are children interested in politics, intergalactic senates, viceroys, trade embargos, nebulous ideas like the force, and all the other philosophical and political crap that Lucas drags into the prequels in order to justify their value? As an adult, I was bored with most of that garbage, and I pity any child whose parent urges him or her to watch the films. Unless your children are super-intelligent or have an unnatural interest in politics, these movies were not made for them. With marathon scenes of hokey dialogue, useless cameos, choppy editing and wooden acting, the films couldn't stand alone without the originals. If you like them, then that's fine. You're entitled to that opinion. Just like I'm entitled to call you a retard.

Bryan said...

1) I'll write another post outlining why the Matrix is so terrible that I didn't even bother with the second two. The post will be called "Whoa."

2) There are other lessons to be learned from the prequels other than for anakin's example of turning evil.

3) George Lucas made the prequels after too long a span for fans of the original trilogy to objectively appreciate. I wish there was a Han Solo character in the prequels. But there isn't. That doesn't make it a bad movie. It makes a different kind of movie. Movies don't always have to have a farm-boy or scoundrel turned hero to be good.

3) When was the last time you saw a kid not like Star Wars? Interstellar politics or not? The great thing about the movies for me growing up was that I understood a different layer of subtext as I got older. You're right, I didn't care about the politics when I was five, I cared about the ewoks. But now the politics thrill me.

And RBW, I didn't call anyone any names in my article, I would hop you'd have the same respect....

Modemstring said...

If George Lucas didn't make movies his fans could appreciate, then he failed!

Again the movie is bad because of bad acting, directing, writing, and poor storytelling. The movies aren't a great example of political intrigue. They are just a mess.

L.Austin Bernard said...

Seriously Matrix I had potential (much as Phantom Menace had potential) but it did a faster slide into terrible later

L.Austin Bernard said...

Also not the name caller dude you think I am HAHa

Closest thing I think I did that was an insult to you was make a comment about your choice in how you named your kids (seriously dude that aint right...)

Dunc said...

Hey, I was only shocked to find something on SW in The Huffington Post, not that you liked 'em.

And I missed your comment on CJ... whoops. Maybe you had a doppelganger at the con. ;)

I have no problem admitting, as a SW fan, that the prequel trilogy isn't my favorite, but I get the appeal. Hell, two of my favorite films from childhood are Conan the Destroyer and Clash of the Titans, aren't high art, either. To each their own.

But the venom... Come on, dudes. Chill out.

leia_naberrie said...

I am one of those fans who like both the prequels and the originals. If the box office figures are anything to go by, I think the majority of the general population also appreciate the prequels. Thanks for such an educative article.

L.Austin Bernard said...

I think we live in an age where Box office isn't the answer about films. And I think Lucas should have taken the example from the "Best" of his former series. I think if he picked from some of the best of his fans they could have written/produced/directed/come up with a better film

Modemstring said...

Man, this is too easy. Did leia-naberrie actually say the article was educative? Let pretend that is actually a word for a minute. What exactly did you learn from the article?

How someone can delude themselves so far from reality that naming their kid after a villain in a movie franchise and watching a movie 70 times in the theater are positive things?

No one is arguing that the prequels are unlikable. People like Spongebob Squarepant, Salt and Vinegar potato chips, and 80's hair bands. But let’s be honest with ourselves.

The Star Wars movies aren't great. They aren't even good. Watch them all you want. I wouldn't even care, but you are calling yourself a filmmaker. If you believe the prequels are good movies, please switch career paths right now.

Josh said...

Okay, first of all, I'm shocked that so many of you are getting your panties in a bunch over this article. For better or worse, the Star Wars films are MOVIES. You'd think the author just decapitated Bambi in front of your wide, horrified eyes.

I for one agree. I've had a love of Star Wars movies ever since I was a kid, and I was eagerly anticipating the Phantom Menace in high school. Not a great flick, but the popcorn was gone halfway through the movie and my bladder was ready to burst, and still I sat, until the end credits rolled. People, seriously, get a clue. Lucas betrayed your childhoods? All I can say is, you guys must have had some pretty pathetic childhoods if a couple movies that didn't live up to expectations were enough to ruin them.