Saturday, May 21, 2005

Smell the SWIII that ROTS....

Tomorrow I'll return to posting ongoing serious remarks about majority rule...

But first....

Star_wars_episode_three_poster2People expect that I will comment on the latest Star Wars film: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.

Sigh. Haven't I wasted enough lifespan criticizing anti-civilization drivel? Why is this particular swill so popular?

I believe there was always an inherent market for really creative and bold SF, held back by stodgy studios and the ill repute caused by all those really BAD 1950s monster movies. The true pioneer was Gene Rodenberry, who managed to persuade TV mavens to invest in what must have seemed a totally weird concept. Visionary and unprecedented!

The stage was ready for somebody to do the same in motion pictures... and reap the rewards. The first guy to get this break was a kid named G. Lucas... and he has been making huge, lavish toy commercials based on that bit of luck ever since. It could have been anybody. And knowing who was around then, it could have been worse, I guess. The original Star Wars did rock, in its silly way.

Still one ought to think back now and then. Way back when, Thomas Edison said to the early film industry he helped create: “I believe, as I have always believed, that you control the most powerful instrument in the world for good or evil. Remember that you are servants of the public and never let a desire for money or power prevent you from giving to the public the best work of which you are capable. It is not the quantity of riches that count; it is the quality that produces happiness, where that is possible. I wish you a prosperous, useful, and honourable future.”

How sad.

Now for some laughs. A fan wrote:
starwarsontrial"In your Star Wars article you said - "Next movie will surely have a Chicano low rider caricature help Obi-Wan make his escape with the twins."

"Well, you were pretty close; it was Yoda he helped out, instead. Art imitates jokes!"

Stefan Jones sent this about seeing the new SITH flick: "My manager surprised everyone on the development team with free tickets to _Revenge_. All of my testing was on automatic today, so why not? Wonderful eye candy of course. But . . . God. The dialog and acting and characterization were hideously, egregiously, graceful-as-a-engine block-tumbling-down-a-spiral-staircase AWFUL. Anakin / Darth and "Padme" in particular. The only actor who earned his pay was the guy playing the slimy Chancellor / Emperor. Virtually no humor beyond a few moments of slapstick early on."

"Now, there's something particularly revealing about the ending, in which (no surprise) things get set up for episode 4. It's really portentous and full of gravity . . . an admission, I think, that this tedious pre-trilogy was a heap of stink and the REAL fun and genuine adventure begins with the first, innocently goofy entry. Never see this again, I will."

DarkSideCoverNHrm. With so many bad reports, what to do? Despite my longstanding criticism of the Lucasian zeitgeist, and its lengthy, high-budget toy commercials, I never kept my kids from playing with Lego X-Wings and such When Episodes I & II came around I was very mild mannered. I urged people to go to a half price matinee after waiting 2 weeks... but otherwise enjoy the crap because it's GORGEOUS crap. Lucas subsidizes 10% of the best artists on the planet.

This time tho... I just can't do it. The point that no one seems to raise re Star Wars is that only two out of six have happy endings.

Sure, that CAN be okay. Everyone agrees that the one Lucas did NOT write - The Empire Strikes Back - was by far the best. Its downer ending was magnificent, brave, hopeful elegiacal. But episodes I,II, and III? You know in advance that every decent and brave and heroic act will be futile, futile futile futile futile futile futile futile futile!

Gah! It's like he wants us to not only worship a nazi mass murderer, but also evil green oven mitts... while losing all hope. feh.

If you refer anyone on line to rants about this, here's one recent very colorful review in the New Yorker: Space Case.

(I don't have any love for the New Yorker editors. The guy who wrote the article obviously likes good SF, but those New York postmodernist editorial smofs always lop off all the favorable contrasts in order to give an impression that this garbage represents the whole field.)

And of course, take a look at Star Wars on Trial and my own series about this idiocy: Star Wars: The Dark Side: Mythology and Ingratitude 

Oh, want some subliminal clues? Try STAR WARS backwards? RAW RATS Now try the initials of the new film: SWIII ROTS. Squint a little at RAW RATS SWIII ROTS and just say it out loud! What can this clue mean?

Here is my eerie-romantic-horror tale interpretation. The George Lucas who brought us Indiana Jones and Eps IV & V is still in there! Shouting for help! Like Anekin trapped inside Vader... Ah symbolism....

--------------


Soon, I resume with Majority Rule....

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I feel I should further explain my dismay over Revenge of the Sith.

The hammy (or just plain bad) acting and clumsy dialog didn't hurt the other Star Wars films, because they were obviously juveniles. Kid stuff.

The original 1977 film was great fun not despite, but in part because of the simplistic characters and hokey dialog. "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy!" Wow! Corny as hell, but from the mouth of veteran actor earning some pin money it just rocked. Star Wars was a dumb romp that was just what Lucas wanted: An homage to goofy old serials and pulp SF.

Lucas started to get serious in The Phantom Menace and the clunky dialog started to take a toll. I actually enjoyed Episode I and Episode II as entertainment, although the love scenes in the latter were genuinely awful. (I really loved the segments of Clones where Obi-Wan became a sort of star cop, hitting the streets of Trantor* to track down some baddies. That was really great!)

But in Episode III, Lucas' hits a wall, because he tried to do serious drama. The seduction and fall of young Skywalker . . . folks, it sucked. And not just because the dialog and acting were atrocious. It was rushed.

I was expecting something that took place over several years, with Anakin growing up but not quite overcoming his adolescent grudges.

Think of how cool it would be to get a montage of him becoming a military leader and genuine hero, proving his skills in the Clone War but slowly showing a viscious, uncompromising side . . . one encouraged by the Commmander in Chief.

This would give Obi-Wan time to age and grow wise and powerful in the Light Side, and for Padme to slowly realize that her spouse is a bit nuts. Imagine a pregnant princess finally having enough and fleeing with Obi-Wan's help... THAT would be a more realistic and pleasing trigger for Anakin to finally Turn and throw in his lot with the Sith.

Instead, we get a whiny and unlikeable guy who becomes a turncoat overnight. You know what? I couldn't WAIT for him to become Darth Vader. I wish it happened earlier.

Stefan

* Search your feelings. You know it is true.

Brother Doug said...

Now that Lucas is finished with his series how about writing a screen play for Startide rising. You know its an order of magitude better story. I read in Wired that Douglas Adams rewrote big segments of Hitchikers Guide for the recent movie. What about making the egotisical wax race spout neo-con propaganda, lol! Adams added a religous fanatic to make fun of so why not you.

Also I recently wached american grafiti [by Lucas] for the first time and realised what was good about it was the music and the visuals. If you could meld those things into a startide rising movie you would reach a lot more people with your ideas. Lucas wrote exactly what songs he wanted into the script in grafiti using his personal record collection.

Anonymous said...

The Brin novel I'd like to see movie-ized is Kiln People. Or if not that exact story, another detective tale set in the same background.

Stefan

Anonymous said...

Well, High Art it ain't. The plotting could have been twistier, and the dialogue at least somewhat unstilted, but Lucas did succeed in painting Anakin/Vader with more nuance. It seemed clear to me that Anakin was at first duped into the Dark Side. He was a generally good man, with flaws that were exploited by the Emperor.

Despite his later cross galactic killing sprees and occasional planeticides, I thought the film worked because Vader, while performing despicable acts, was actually painted as a pathetic figure - a puppet of the Emperor. It makes the resolution of his character arc in Return of the Jedi much easier to understand.

While I certainly felt his fall was portrayed too quickly in this film, it also true that what little redemption he has in Episode 6 always seemed too quick to arise.

But the final confrontation on the Death Star rings truer if Luke is allowing Vader an alternate to remaining hopelessly trapped in the Emperor's web of deceit, instead of trying to overcome the inherent evil in a man who chose to embrace evil willingly and completely. If that makes sense. So I'll say 'Sith' is a qualified success, in that it does, for me at least, provide more depth to the story of Vader.

-Mike P

Anonymous said...

Look at the bright side: it IS the final movie. (Knock on wood...)

Now the market niche that George Lucas cornered for nearly 30 years is open.

So why can't someone else make a more mature, well-written space-opera for the grown-up post-Star Wars (post-Star Trek) generation?

There's no shortage of special effects. It's the scripts that are lacking. And please, please, no more sci-fi movies based on TV series. That shtick doesn't work anymore. If I see another TV-to-movie atrocity I'll throw up.

-A.R.Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com

jomama said...

Would someone please make a movie
on the novelette written by Eric
Frank Russell found here:

http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.htm

I might invest some money in it after I read the script.

Grayburst said...

I saw Revenge of the Sith yesterday, and got what I expected. The stifled, disgruntled teenager just became a disencfranchised, angry young man who has no patience for a world that won't cater to his ideology or give him the glory he's due. This story is SO stereotypical, why are we as an audience suppose to feel special sympathy for his drama. After watching this film, Skywalker is not evil, he's just stupid.

There were parts of the film I enjoyed as good actually drama beyond just the eye candy and wonderful sci fantasy sword fights. Christopher Lee's brief acting as Count Dooku was superb as usual. I really wanted that scene to last longer. The expressions on Lee's face actually made me feel the shock of betrayal that Dooku must have felt when he realises he has been set up by Palpatine. Samuel Jacksons' potrayl of Mace Windu and his final confrontation with Palpatine was masterful. What I think the real art in Revenge of the Sith was not just the eye candy, but the fact that masterful actors such as Jackson, Lee, and McGregor can make you actually feel their characters dilemnia DESPITE the overwhelming visuals and stilted dialogue.

The film was a rousing success at capping the Star Wars Franchise, but as high art drama, it was a failure. I felt I got my money's worth, unlike the first film, but it won't be a masterpiece I treasure for years ahead. But within that context there is few science fiction films coming out that are worthy of the term masterpiece.

Anders Brink said...

Hi,

I've all of these opinions before ...

So let me say that the greatest good
Star Wars did is to give kids something to talk about to each other, besides popularity, besides what clothes their like, if their daddy is rich or not.

Of course we all see how it could be better, but sometimes, I wonder if that's the real purpose of popular art. If we made Startide Rising into a movie, will it have the same wide appeal and draw as Star Wars has?

CJ-in-Weld said...

I was going to wait 'til the half-price show, really I was, but my wife bought us tickets, so we went.

I don't want to include too many spoilers, so I'll mince around some. Any notion that Anakin is redeemable dies with this movie. He may be stupid, but he is also purely evil. The final act of betrayal against the Jedi - however narrow and wrongheaded the Jedi were - is an act so arbitrarily vicious that it cannot be explained away as an act of confusion or moral crisis, as could the earlier confrontation with Samuel Jackson and Palpatine.

(Incidentally, the single worst dialogue clunkiness for me - substituting "younglings" for "children" several times - was sufficiently jarring to distract me from the horror of the actual event. Perhaps on purpose? So people won't watch episodes I and II on DVD and quit halfway through saying "kill that creepy bastard now!")

Nevertheless, the time flew. My hindbrain reacted as it was meant to, I guess. Particularly, the last few scenes setting up Episode IV had a sense of insider knowledge and familiarity that made it work. The evolution of the Imperial spaceship design toward what we'll see in Episode IV, seeing Organa's spaceship, and so on made it seem as if the movie were riffing off something real. The imagery hearkening back to when I was 11 makes my forebrain try to retrofit goodness and consistency where there isn't any - similar to Dr. Brin's attempt to make Vader and Luke good-guy conspirators. (It washes even less after Episode III, Dr. Brin - be warned!)

I imagine there will be, um ... younglings who see the movies in order of episode number instead of release date. I would like to hear from one of them how episodes IV, V, and VI play as sequels instead of the main event.

Nicq MacDonald said...

"Oh, want some subliminal clues? Try STAR WARS backwards? RAW RATS Now try the initials of the new film: SWIII ROTS. Squint a little at RAW RATS SWIII ROTS and just say it out loud! What can this clue mean?"

Isn't that getting a little Straussian on your part, Dr. Brin? :)

Well, I'm definitely in the camp that loved Revenge of the Sith. I wrote an analysis of my own here:

http://www.generationsit.org/archives/96

I take Brin's analysis a little further, because as I see it, there is a major moral distinction between the Jedi/Old Republic and the Sith/Empire. The first could be likened to organized religion, especially Christianity, and the conventional political order, where as the latter is totalitarianism.

The Jedi are good guys, and authentic, but they're good guys who are stuck in their ways. Yoda isn't a demon, or a liar- he's an authentic spiritual practitioner who has become so caught up in encrusted dogma and expectations that he's partially lost his way- he's basically Pope John Paul II, and the Jedi Order is the Catholic Church- so caught up in their infallible dogmas that they've forgotten the holy spirit (or in this case, the will of the force). In the process, they've held back cosmic evolution, just as organized religion could be said to be doing the same on Earth.

Now the Sith, on the other hand, present a way out- they've embraced a twisted form of evolutionary ascent, but one that's aimed straight at the grave- just like Communism and Nazism.

Into this dialectic steps Anakin- who will restore balance to the force by obliterating both the conservative Jedi and the reactionary Sith- and thus pave the way for cosmic evolution to continue it's course. The part at the end of Episode III where Yoda tells Obi-Wan about "the path to immortality" especially suggests that something big is about to go down...

Just a thought.

Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that, in many ways, Star Wars is a retelling of Faust. Place Anakin in Faust's role, Palpatine as Mephistopheles, and Padme as Gretchen, and it quickly begins to come together. Even the redemption in the end has begun to make more sense.

Anakin couldn't help what he did- it was predestined. He's a force of nature meant to unstuck a stagnant galaxy and let it continue it's evolution. If killing younglings is part of that, well, it had to happen- and is ultimately for the greater good. (And, BTW, "youngling" isn't just a cheesy name for child, it's the title of a Jedi initiate who has not yet become a padawan)

I'm also probably one of the few people who actually likes Anakin Skywalker as well. Him and I are just far too similiar- whiny, angsty mystics who are constantly being posessed by our dark sides. Just thank the Force that my midichlorian count isn't as high as his.

Tony Fisk said...

For my money's worth, all this taradiddle about light side vs dark side was handled with far greater perception and maturity in Babylon 5.

(Hmmm, a what-if vision: young Anakin backed by Qui-Gon Jinn and Jedi younglings, facing up to both Yoda and Palpatine in mid-saber duel and telling them to 'get the hell out of our galaxy!')

Come to think of it, it's actually quite rare for any series to deal with a successful redemption of any sort. Once you're down, you're down. (It's a great pity, considering the current penchant for zero tolerance). To take LOTR as an example, just consider the effect a small tweak in the plot would have had: What if Gollum, at the moment he regains the ring from Frodo, had deliberately fallen into the crack of Doom? Even this variant (and SW, for that matter) has the penitent being killed off in short order before he has a chance to do anything in the way of atonement (case too hard for this existence! )

But, back to the immediate topic. What to do with a nasty cloaked gent with halitosis and a twenty year record of genocidal mayhem and emperor tossing, when he turns around and meekly says 'sorry, son!'

What do you do if you know the contrition is genuine? (hint: think 'Zero Inventory Management'. forget the past and just consider where the guy is now, and where you want to go with him.)

I guess it goes to show that Jedi aren't perfect, just forgiven!

(A take away vision: an outtake from the final scene of SW VI: ROTJ wherein a spectral Obi Wan, having made his bow, tweaks Anakin by the ear while intoning: 'and now, young man, come along with *me*...!!'

Maybe in the next release?? ;-)

TD said...

I just saw "Revenge" today with my best friend of 30 years. We enjoyed bringing our near-lifelong journey with Mr. Lucas to closure. I guess we were doing it more for nostaligia than anything else. (We even went and saw it in what must be one of the last twin-plexes in a mall.

Anyhow, we finally agreed that you can call George Lucas a lot of things, but that he's an apologetic filmmaker is not one of them. He will see all of his inconsistencies, incoherences, and ambiguities all the way through to the very end. I don't guess he commits any sins here that he didn't commit before, but he sure commits them with gusto.

I see his movies as being like the Commodore 64 computer. It was cool in its day and created a real rallying point for a community of tech/future-oriented young people who didn't grow up in Silicon Valley. He liberated a lot of suburban imaginations in a sci-fi sort of way. Yet, why any kid today would line up to see these new movies strikes me as odd as watching them line up to buy a C-64. Who knows?

Mabus said...

I have to admit, my primary reaction to the movie (beyond unrestrained glee at the special effects) has to do with "The winners write history." Granted that Palpatine as depicted here is clearly villainous, I was struck by his line (as seen in the trailer, so I'm not spoiling anything) that the Sith know about powers some (clearly he means the Jedi) consider unnatural.

He's not talking about kinky stuff. He's not talking about wanton destruction. He's talking about eternal life and raising the dead--which, unless you what you mean by that is making vampires or brain-eating zombies or something, isn't exactly malevolent.

I don't mean to belabor this point, but it's something I was tipped off to by Foundation's Fear (as well as The Vampire Lestat, but you can't have everything). Yeah, we fear death, and we value life, but for some reason we fear the dead coming back too--even though, if possible, we'd all want it for ourselves and those we love. (I don't know that I agree with Dr. Benson's analysis....it seems too abstract.)

So--looking back at that galaxy long long ago and far far away--I have to wonder, was ol' Palpatine really a genocidal nut? Or did the Jedi just portray him that way to hide the fact that they started a war with him because he had something everybody wants, but that they considered "unnatural"?

Right...I know...it's fiction. And, like David here, I'm taking it too seriously. ;-) I don't know what his excuse is--me, I'm just an armchair philosopher. Just don't let me start ranting about the Borg.

Mabus said...

Sorry to post again so quickly, but I was just at Beliefnet (kind of bored this morning). And I encountered something that suggests hope for even the worst of Romantics--Orson Scott Card agrees with David Brin about Star Wars.

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/167/story_16700_1.html

Ryan Somma said...

Of course Mabus, the irony of Palpatine's promises of immortality were their hollowness, and the fact that Yoda reveals at the end it was in fact the Jedi who had discovered this secret. Obi Wan goes to study with his dead master on Tantoine. But I do see and agree with your point. : )

I've been mulling over Windu's betrayal of democratic principles when he attempts to slay Pallpatine. It just didn't grok with me. The only person in the whole series who honestly believed in Democracy was Padme, and she was completely inneffectual. A scene with her challenging the emperor in the senate would have been cool.

Silly Old Bear said...

We saw this opening night, purely for the eye candy. I've long ago given up on the "deeper meaning" behind Star Wars.

A couple comments from a "youngling" (my son). I don't think there are any spoilers:

"Luke went crazy!" (he is always confusing Luke and Anakin)

"They showed some of the other movie" (he thought at the end of this movie they were actually showing scenes from Ep IV)

"When will they do a sequel?" (He's all concerned about sequels now, since Spiderman II, and doesn't quite grasp the timeline behind Star Wars)

Personally, I can't wait till we get the "re-imagined" movies in thirty years or so, kinda like Planet of the Apes and King Kong and well, just about everything else that has been rehashed. May not be better, but it should be different, and that's always fun to see.

NoOne said...

Nicq Macdonald said:

"I'm also probably one of the few people who actually likes Anakin Skywalker as well. Him and I are just far too similiar- whiny, angsty mystics who are constantly being posessed by our dark sides."

Nicq, as you're probably all too aware, what you just said is one of the hardest things for anti-mystics to accept. When we are confronted with almost pure evil like a Hitler or an Anakin, it is extremely difficult to justify that that evil is part of a higher purpose. And we will just get skewered by people who don't get spirituality and in many cases, rightly so. Anakin was responsible for destroying Alderaan and nothing short of time travel can change that.

Like the Dalai Llama said, "When you face a choice between emptiness and karma, choose karma" since choice is already in the field of duality. I think it is far saner to just accept Anakin, Hitler as pure evil and not try and find a hidden Kosmic agenda behind them.

Nate said...

I saw Episode 3 this weekend, and it didn't suck. I don't think I could quite call it good, either. It was far too rushed. Because Episode 3 was really the prequel to the other Star Wars movies. Episodes I and II were just filler, that we didn't need. They could have been combined into one, or maybe one and a half movies.

And what I would have done was to play up the corruption and inefficency in the Seante, and the hidebound Jedi order, to show WHY the Emperor's action seemed a good choice. And taken longer to show Anakin's being duped and led into the dark side. I'd have made Dooku into not just a pawn, but actually believing in the seperatists, and using dark ends to what he thought were good means. Give Darth Maul's tiny part over to Dooku and Grevious. I'd have shown more of the budding Rebellion too, Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, and the others who watched what Palpatine was doing but couldn't get people to listen to them and were finally driven outside the channels of authority. Yes, the center of the movie is Anakin (and R2-D2), but there's many other things going on, most of which didn't get any mention.

Obi-Wan was out on the street in Episode 2, he and Anakin could have seen the way the Jedi were losing trust and respect, and try to tell the Council, who wouldn't listen. And then Obi-Wan would start to lose some too, when he got promoted to the Council.

And I'm pretty sure Palpatine was sending Anakin the visions of death, which would have explained why he didn't think "Hey! There's hospitals, with bacta and droids and other practically magical tech, maybe they can keep her from dying!" Or hadn't they invented the C-Section a long time ago in a galaxy far far away?

But basically, Episode 3 was the real story, that Lucas wanted to tell, and should have been telling from the beginning, the other two movies were filler. And so Episode 3 was rushed, confused, and has a completely tin ear for romance, but is an overall better movie than either other prequel. But it's sad that the most emotion I felt was at the deaths of ideas, when the Jedi were being slaughtered for example, as opposed to things tied to any of the actual characters. Even though they were misguided and hidebound in the end, the Jedi had many admirable qualities, and did work to try and bring about good for the most people they could. And even though Lucas has FUBARed much of the continuity for the other books and things about Star Wars, Luke's Reformed Jedi School of Making It Up As We Go Along avoided many of the flaws of the old Jedi order. Heck, they even let Jedi get married.

Yeah, okay, I'm a geek. But Star Wars was a big part of my life for a long time, and still is, and not all of it sucks as bad as the prequels.

Rob said...

A.R. Yngve said:

"...please, please, no more sci-fi movies based on TV series. That shtick doesn't work anymore. If I see another TV-to-movie atrocity I'll throw up."

I hope you'll at least give Serenity a chance in September. Joss Whedon was getting off to a good start with his TV series Firefly when it was killed; he's a good writer, knows how to tell a story and I expect he will make a good movie.

Dr. Brin said:

"The stage was ready for somebody to do the same in motion pictures... and reap the rewards. The first guy to get this break was a kid named G. Lucas.."

I'm not sure I agree...certainly Lucas made the first mega-blockbuster, but S. Kubrick did OK with 2001 several years previous. I think 2001 probably opened the door a crack for Lucas, who then set off the explosion (followed by Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek:TMP). Just IMHO.

Tony Fisk:

For my money's worth, all this taradiddle about light side vs dark side was handled with far greater perception and maturity in Babylon 5.

Mabus:

I have to admit, my primary reaction to the movie (beyond unrestrained glee at the special effects) has to do with "The winners write history."

These are two very important points. After reading the Brin Essays and comments here, I think perhaps part of Dr. Brin's critique of SW boils down to an overly simplistic view of good vs. evil. Dr. Brin knows that rarely is there a black and white line between the two; that's what seems to grate on him so much with physical appearance in Lord of the Rings ("evil is ugly, good is beautiful"). Straczinsky showed the antithetical view in B5: good and evil depend on which side of the fence you are sitting, when to an outside observer both sides can be seen as having merit. In Star Wars, the Dark Side is presented as purely and unredeemably evil; everything done in the name of the Dark Side is vile and inhuman, and people touched by the dark side suffer physical deformity to illustrate their "taint". This makes it easy to be heroic by opposing it, but in the real world rarely is it so clear a distinction.

In short, (why does "in short always come at the end of lengthy diatribes?) I think the objection is that Star Wars presents an overly shallow philosophical framework, especially in light of its author's claim to deep philosophical understanding.

I haven't seen EP. 3 yet, but my feeling is that maybe our expectations for Lucas are too high. Not everyone can have a 150 IQ, or philosophize on the level of Kant and Kierkegaard. Maybe Lucas is just a guy, a talented (dare I say genius) filmmaker who excels at setting a scene visually, but maybe isn't so good at scriptwriting. I'm reminded of the founders of Image Comics. Led by Todd McFarlane, they created some of the most beautiful and exciting artwork I'd ever seen- but their stories were so clunky, hackneyed, insert your own synonym for amateurish (I felt *I* could have written better, that's how bad they were) that I couldn't bring myself to buy them. They still sold millions of issues, because a lot of people didn't care about the stories- it was the art that drew them. And with Star Wars, people don't care so much about the clunky dialogue or hacked-out plot; they're there to see the universe, laser shoot-em-ups and lightsaber duels. People don't go to Star Wars for the philosophy.

Of course, Dr. Brin thinks the philosophy will work on them as insidious propaganda; but my feeling is that if it does so, it will only be because they already were sympathetic to the message.

Nate said...

Also, I would like to present you all with this, which hits some good insights on why the prequels don't have the same power as the originals, mainly Yoda. Because yes, he's badass, but Yoda doesn't NEED to be badass in the original trilogy, that's part of the point.

http://www.livejournal.com/users/the_red_shoes/550346.html

Oh, how I wish Lucas had hired a director and scriptwriter to help him make the prequels.

dchev said...

If you set aside your disgust with all things star wars, perhaps you could take some interesting things from the prequels:

1. a scheming politican uses war and fear to gain more power

2. a back story of how democracies can turn into dictatorships, how the citizens can be manipulated into willingly giving up their freedom.

3. It's good to think of others (jedi), it's evil to think only of yourself (sith), but there needs to be balance between meeting the needs of others and your own needs. Without balance of these competing needs, even a good environment is conducive to people snapping and doing bad things (anakin)

4. Anakin does have a choice to make, and it's clear that he chose poorly. A good example for us to remind us to think about the ramifications of our choices.

Finally, the book goes into a lot more dialogue between characters, and Padme does stand up to Palpatine. Perhaps this scene will be in the extra features of the collector's DVD.

peace

Anonymous said...

To all who dogged Christensen's acting -- aren't you forgetting that he plays Mark Hamill's dad?

Anonymous said...

Ah, that would explain a lot.

"The ham is strong in this one. HISSSSS-HUUhhhhhh"

Stefan

Rob Perkins said...

Perhaps I'm tossing a stinkbomb into this crowd by saying so, but I'm a-gonna say it anyway:

I enjoyed SWIII ROTS. Immensely. I paid $8.50 for my ticket and brought my father-in-law with me to the show. Then I went back again three days later and saw it with people I knew in a private showing a friend arranged for us and 280 other friends, at a local theatre here which is not part of one of those massive chains.

Now, don't get me wrong. I went twice for the same reasons David Brin says he's gonna go. The art is transcendent, the music is spot-on, and the seven-year-old inside me who saw Star Wars 'way back in '77 danced like a child for 2 1/2 hours.

But I'm glad it's over now. Maybe someone will do "Ender's Game" justice and show us what fallen-superman-savior stories can really be, if put to film.

I said it to my Dad (who just loves Star Wars) after the second showing, "Lucas deals in clunky archetypes."

It was *fun*. Popcorn-movie, three-beers philosophy *fun*. (Okay, maybe nine-beers.) Fun the way Stargate SG-1 is fun.

I'll pick up the DVD, maybe TiVO a few of the planned TV eps, but I'm not gonna spend any more energy than that on it.

And I'll do like my Dad did when I was small. "You like Star Wars, right? Try this:" he said, before handing me a copy of Heinlein. Which led to Clarke, Asimov, and eventually to David Brin.

Don't bite off the hand that fed you, David! ;-p

On the other Newsweek topic, the link DB puts up showcases something kind of disturbing, that the international editions of Time and Newsweek are publishing harder-edged stories than the domestic editions, and that is troubling.

The case of the Newsweek thing suggests, though, that Newsweek editors are "selling it", publishing only those things they think the market wants to read. Overseas, they *want* articles about U.S. abuses of detainees more than people want it here. In other words, Newsweek, rather than being unabashedly partisan (they're that, to be sure, but it's an artifact of unquestioned premises more than malice), they're unabashedly self-interested, giving the lie to a journalistic ideal.

They're not helping.

Anonymous said...

- 'Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.' Isn't this an absolute statement? Does that mean Obi-Wan is a Sith?
Perhaps that hints at Brin's 3 paragraph solution being true.

- Aside about clones: From the time
I first heard the term 'Clone Wars',
I imagined it to have been the bad guys in the war using clones of individuals to further their schemes. That would have been interesting: duplicate Obi-Wans or Padme's manipulating Annakin. Did the evil twin Yoda defeat the good one?
Having a large army made of the clones of an individual is kinda boring.

Sanchuniathon said...

"Your focus determines your reality." --Jedi koan, The Phantom Menace

Those grapes tasting a little sour, aren't they, Brin the Magnificent?

Wish your caustic preachathon was less transparent. Lucas hates his fanbase? By your own rabid tantrums, seems you rather "hate" the man who re-ignited your genre.

You dismiss his (immeasurably potent) visual contributions to Western civilization as an inevitable throwaway effect of "subsidizing" great artists. Apart from being a profoundly thoughtless remark (consider the Medicis), the artists don't agree.

"George is always very directly involved. He is a fantastic designer!" --Doug Chiang, Episode I & II design director ( http://www.starwars.com/episode-i/bts/profile/f19980104/indexp4.html )

Bad, good or indifferent, you WISH you could create universes so indelible as Lucas'.

"Only in your mind, my very young apprentice." --Obi-Wan Kenobi, Episode II