More Star Wars pre-hype

1. Just came across this article on the upcoming Star Wars movie, which includes this sentence:

The final lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan is just one of many showstopping action sequences in Revenge of the Sith.

See, that’s part of the problem, right there. They keep stopping the show so much it never starts.

(I am also vaguely reminded of how I once criticized the climactic duel in Episode I for being almost pompously theatrical — choreographed — and not a real fight; the fact that it had virtually nothing to do with the plot didn’t help, either.)

2. This blog posts portions of an offline Entertainment Weekly article in which George Lucas admits he was just wasting our time with at least the first two prequels. The most pertinent paragraphs:

Lucas believes that his biggest gamble was starting the saga with Jake Lloyd’s gee-whiz kid in Menace. Even his marketing team was skeptical. “That’s a little bit why it got overhyped. People [here] were nervous if it was going to break even,” says Lucas of Menace’s notorious promotional push. “I didn’t care. I said, ‘This is the story. I know I’m going to need to use Hamburger Helper to get it to two hours, but that’s what I want to do.'”

By Lucas’ own calculation, 60 percent of the prequel plot he dreamed up decades earlier takes place in Sith. The remaining 40 percent he split evenly between Menace and Clones, meaning each film contained a lot of…filler. Or, in Lucas parlance, “jazz riffs… things that I enjoy… just doodle around a lot.”

Which, surely, is not to say that Episode III isn’t being overhyped too.

Indeed, some would argue that starting the prequels with the gee-whiz kid was a marketing move in and of itself. Note how, according to Box Office Mojo, even after the figures are adjusted for inflation, the first four Star Wars films — including Episode I — are in the all-time Top 20, whereas Episode II, supposedly an improvement on the previous episode, is currently down at #80.

It remains to be seen where Episode III will end up, of course.

3. The Associated Press reports that people in France like Episode III because it appears to be bashing George W. Bush and current American foreign policy. And then Lucas, who once said “there’s probably no better form of government than a good despot,” goes on to prove that, as I pointed out in earlier posts, his political sensibilities are as muddled as his spiritual ones.

His chronology seems a little off, too, inasmuch as he says that he first wrote Star Wars back when “we were going after Iran,” when in fact Iran was in America’s back pocket when he finished the first film in 1977; it was not until 1979, when the pre-production on The Empire Strikes Back was almost finished, that the revolution happened whereby the ayatollahs seized power from the Shah.

Perhaps Lucas is tacitly confirming Gary Kurtz’s claim that he didn’t really settle on certain key parts of the Star Wars back-story until some time between Episodes V and VI?

Oh, and then there’s that moronic quote from Liam Engle, a 23-year-old French-American aspiring filmmaker who compares Bush to Palpatine because the film shows “a politician trying to increase his power to wage a phony war.”

Actually, he’s got that reversed — Palpatine is waging the phony war in order to increase his power. And the analogy falls apart completely unless you are prepared to argue that, just as Palpatine orchestrated the Trade Federation and Count Dooku’s Separatist movement, so too Bush was the secret mastermind behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

4. I just checked and noticed that Jeffrey Overstreet has links to some reviews up already — and my favorite line so far is one that he quotes there, from The New Yorker‘s Anthony Lane:

The general opinion of “Revenge of the Sith” seems to be that it marks a distinct improvement on the last two episodes, “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.” True, but only in the same way that dying from natural causes is preferable to crucifixion.

Yowch! (But Anthony, didn’t you hear Yoda say how good and natural death is?)

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  • Anonymous

    Hey, Liam Engle, that “aspiring filmmaker”, here.

    I just wanted to say that the journalist to whom I spoke probably misquoted me about that phony war bit. It doesn’t make sense to me, either.

    The Palpatine/Darth Sidious character indeed pulls together a phony war, a “phantom menace”, in order to use fear to gain power and destroy civil liberties. So that lady at the AP got my thing wrong. But I still believe Lucas clearly had Bush in mind when he wrote the details of SITH. Of course most of the stuff was already there when he wrote MENACE and CLONES, so he was probably thinking of famous dictators at the time, but it’s clear in SITH when you see quotes like “If you’re not with me, etc.” that Lucas is obviously thinking of Bush. And the stuff Lucas has said in interviews since then is clearly making my point.