All bombad

I started watching the Star Wars blu-ray anthology tonight. I have every intention of enjoying the whole thing, all six movies; even the dumb parts. Spoiler: They’re all dumb parts. Especially the part where a knighted actor uses magical space powers to fight a robo-samurai with his laser sword.

Come on, guys, the original Star Wars flicks were high-concept camp. We only fell in love with them because they displayed such earnest conviction behind their nonsense. The prequel trilogy really was a fitting successor to the old movies, except that the earnest conviction motivating them was the belief that money is awesome and that it would be really awesome to put as much of it as possible into George Lucas’ bank account. A parable for our modern age, really.

If I have a complaint about the changes Lucas inflicted on this version of the films — which admittedly I haven’t gotten to yet, being only about midway through Episode I — it’s that LucasFilm focused so much effort on trivial nonsense rather than touching up more glaring things. Like the fact that Episode I‘s computer-generated visuals look really obvious and terrible in high definition. Any scene with Jar-Jar Binks now looks as blatantly composited as any matte shot from the old films, and I love the bits where dudes walk across digital sets without casting shadows on the ground.

But that, too, has its charm: Now all six movies look equally hokey. Time and technology are the great equalizers.

27 thoughts on “All bombad

  1. They’re certainly no more hokey than old-school Final Fantasy. The original trilogy and FFVI hold a similar special place in my heart.

  2. I fully endorse this entire message. Star Wars was good old fashioned, stupid-fun. People who took that shit too seriously (a large segment of the enduring fandom) were missing the point.

  3. Too much cynicism! Someone who loves Dragon Quest for its “heart” surely still has enough non-jaded layers of his soul left to see the original three not just as earnest behind “hokeyness” but as trailblazing and swashbuckling fun with actual character development and layered emotions and good, sharp lines of the best old Hollywood traditions. The old films are as “hokey” as a Bogart film—only by tiresome, jaded modern standards that have no place for snappy dialogue and non-grizzled adventure.

  4. A fitting successor? If you put aside the acting, the characters, the scripts, the pacing, and the effects, I might agree with that!

    • I just found my burned DVD’s with the Laserdisc versions of the original trilogy on them. Maybe I should give them a play.

  5. I watched all six this summer, in order, and I came to some new conclusions, as someone who doesn’t really keep up with general fandom’s opinion. Episode I is a lot more fun that I gave it credit for, but that’s probably due to a lack of Hayden Christensen (not a terrible actor, and not just working with a terrible script, but terribly miscast).

    Episode II was a real head-scratcher, though – such as, why is Count Dooku a bad guy? Wasn’t he rebelling against what would become the empire? Wasn’t he the only one, at the time, who recognized the corruption?

    Also, Yoda and the Jedi Council made a pretty big mistake with that whole ‘chosen one’ business. I guess I just forgot, because of all the bad acting and dialogue, how poorly and illogically plotted the prequels were.

    But yeah, like I said, I don’t keep up with Star Wars fandom sentiment. So you’ve probably heard all this before. Ignore it. In general, the prequels are dull to me, and the original trilogy seems wildly uneven.

  6. I love me the prequels, but mostly because they’re so fun to laugh *at*. Some of the final film’s more memorable moments have become well entrenched memes among my friends. “I believe the Jedi are evil!” “You were supposed to be the chosen one!” and, “I will even learn to stop people from dying!” have become classic quotes used to insult or deride somebody/something, especially when a massive misunderstanding or hubris is involved.

  7. I watched “A New Hope” with my wife and kids last night (though I insisted the movie was really named “Star Wars”) and to them, it’s a live-action Lego game. “Look, a Mouse Droid!” “Will Chewbacca rip the arms off any of the stormtroopers?” The busy new CGI Mos Eisley excited them because it’s recognizable to them at the hub world. Six-year-old son got a bit bored but we reassured him it would get less talky soon but I don’t think it held his attention until the trench run.

    The first 20 minutes are really R2-driven and I get the Wall-E comparisons now. It’s a shame R2 doesn’t get to be the lead any more after this, though.

    My youngest daughter laughed out loud when the Death Star exploded.

  8. I don’t know, man. Sure, the original three Star Wars films aren’t exactly high cinema, but they’re solid, fun adventure films. The prequels on the other hand are full of bad acting, overly complicated plotting, and way more intentional cheese. I really don’t think it’s nostalgia coloring my opinion that the original three are substantially better.

    • Intentional cheese? I would say the prequels are unintentionally cheesy. The original trilogy… well, I dunno if it’s intentional, but they didn’t mind being super cheesy.

      • Also, anyone who excoriates the prequels for bad acting but gives the original movies a pass needs to recalibrate a bit. Luke Skywalker inherited from his father both the Force and the inability to act his way out of a paper bag.

        The old movies are silly escapism I loved as a kid. The new movies are silly escapism I would have loved had I been a kid at the time. I’m perfectly happy to watch them all and not take any of them especially seriously… and find satisfaction in the way the ones I love more come second so I can end on a high note.

      • Well, like I said, the tone is totally different – Hayden Christenson and Mark Hamill are both bad actors, but the prequels took themselves way too seriously, while the originals are – well, the best I could come up with is that they ‘don’t mind’ being cheesy (and boy, they are). Blasphemy to SW geeks, maybe, but (original) Yoda always has and still does make me cringe when he speaks.

      • Yeah, I still don’t buy it. Mark Hamill may not give an Oscar worthy performance in every scene but Hayden Christensen was literally painful to watch most of the time he was on screen. And those two aside, the overall quality of the acting is still significantly higher in the originals than the prequels, most likely because the dialog actually sounds natural.

        As far as the intentional cheese factor, I’m talking about stuff like the Gungans, the horrible diner scene in the second movie, and so forth. I agree that the feel in the prequels is overly serious compared to the originals, I just meant that there was a lot more lowbrow humor that seemed directly aimed at children.

        It’s not that there aren’t things to enjoy in the prequels: they had some really good fight scenes, Ewan McGregor as young Obi-Wan was pretty inspired casting, and some of the visuals were quite impressive. But the lack of non-Lucas oversight is definitely visible in the overall quality of the prequels.

  9. I watched all 6 for the FIRST time earlier this year, before I knew of the Blu ray shenanigans.

    Without a blemish of nostalgia, I think I and II are bad, but I enjoyed III and the original trilogy fully. Distinctly better films than the abysmal I and II.

  10. You know, ridiculous serial killer sub plot aside, I’d way rather watch the Red letter media reviews of episodes I-III than the actual movies.

    There is hokey I enjoy, and hokey I don’t, and a pretty clear division between the two series. I hope your plans of enjoying them all do come to fruition, though!

    • Parish’s point (and one I can agree with) is that in general, “hokey you enjoy” was probably digested earlier in life than the hokey you don’t.

  11. Please. Prequel apologists I can handle, but not the “the originals were pretty cheesy too you know!” crowd. Strawmen (lol Jawas) aside, it’s pretty hard not to see that there are mammoth differences between, especially, the first two films and the new ones in terms of writing, directing, characterization, plotting (in terms of actually making sense), acting (yes, Hamill actually does some fine work, especially in TESB) and atmosphere. Of course, few said it better than that wheelchairbound psychopath Mr. Plinkett, so I’ll simply recommend you google his reviews (if you haven’t yet) and leave it at that.

    • Oh sure there are vast differences in quality, but the original trilogy still doesn’t make it to ‘good’. I came to Star Wars as an adult, and it didn’t impress. The series is very much a product of its time.

  12. I’m so glad someone shares my views about the prequels. As much as people love to trash them, the dialogue and movies themselves are fairly on par with the original trilogy in terms of camp. That’s not to say that they are as good or impactful as the originals (although Revenge of the Sith is actually my second favorite Star Wars movie.) My biggest complaint about changing old scenes is the terrible musical number in Jabba’s palace.

    If you can stomach Episodes 1 and 2, you should check out the Clone Wars television series. The initial movie is terrible and the first season is a little juvenile, but the show really finds it’s footing in the second season and actually becomes pretty good.

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