Friday, May 20, 2005

Audience/Effects: Lucas may have made the first three for children, but there's no doubt the success of the series in its second phase is due to fans of the original trilogy growing up and becoming, sometimes psychotically, attached to the story. I think Lucas had a responsibility to make the movies enjoyable for both children and the adult fan. He failed miserably on the first two. It's not like it's impossible to do that, you know. Every parent I know raves about how great movies like Toy Story, Shrek, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo are, precisely because they have enough laughs for the parents and keep the kids enthralled. Those are freakin' cartoons! Is it too much to hope for from an auteur like Lucas? Maybe it is (or he's not), but I had the feeling that parents felt similiarly towards Star Wars for at least the first couple flicks. If/when that got lost can be debated.

As for effects, I think they're largely overrated. I still think the effects in Star Wars hold up better than the ones in Episodes I, II, or III. The use of CG animation only expands your choices, it doesn't mean you'll make good ones. The earlier movies didn't rely on entire worlds being created in the background, so they were forced to focus on the characters. There were very few wide shots that weren't of something the average 1977 human could recognize* - Tatooine=Sahara Desert; Hoth=Alaska. No big whoop, I've seen that in pictures before. Now show me what the people are doing, how they're feeling. Since the technology's gotten better, it's become less about characters and more about cool planets and improbable aliens. Wonder why the performances by respected actors are so bad? Treakly dialogue is part of it, but filming every scene in front of a green screen makes it difficult for even good lines to be delivered well. There's no set, no scene, just a wharehouse and a bunch of computers to add everything later. The actors are uninvolved and so, mirabile dictu, is the audience.

Lucas commits many of the same sins in ...Sith, but he manages to remember he's telling a story about people first, planets and politics second. It's far from perfect, but it's good enough to end with.

*Exception: wide shots of Death Stars. Very cool, but not exactly FX wonders.


enobarbus said...

Lucas is a zillionaire; he has no responsibility except to take your money to the bank.

Flyer said...

Responsibility was a stupid word to use. If he wanted to make a good movie, rather than just a financially sound one, though, he needed to do better. He is already a zillionaire, as you pointed out, and doesn't need my $8.50. I hoped that he wanted the respect of his fans, but he didn't act like it.