Tag Archives: George Lucas

Thoughts On Star Wars Day

For some of us, May 4th is just May 4th. But for Star Wars fans, May 4th is a momentous day.

Today is Star Wars Day, or as fans refer to today, May The Fourth Be With You.

What makes Star Wars special for me is that underneath the special effects and other-worldly story is the fight against tyranny and oppression. It is a story that is as old as humanity itself and a fight that still continues to this day.

Though George Lucas may have mucked up the narrative with the prequels, the basic narrative still holds up decades later for a reason. The story of farm boy, a princess and a pirate coming together to fight for freedom is still as emotionally and politically relevant as it was in 1977.

Though the narrative is a basic one, Lucas (at least in the 70’s), knew how to expand on the expand on this basic premise. He knew that Princess Leia (the late and still very missed Carrie Fisher) had to be more than the standard damsel in distress. There had to be something more to Han Solo (Harrison Ford) that just a space pirate who is looking for the next job. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) had to have a future other than running his Uncle and Aunt’s farm.

To my fellow Star Wars fans around the world, May The 4th Be With You!

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Filed under Feminism, Movies, Star Wars, Thoughts On....

Happy Birthday Star Wars

40 years ago today, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, hit theaters.

It was more than the average movie. It is more than just a science fiction movie set in outer space. Star Wars is revolutionary because it changed the way movies are made. Star Wars is part fairy tale, part social commentary and all around awesome. Before May 25th, 1977, no one knew who Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader were. 40 years later these characters, the world they inhabited and the actors behind the characters have become iconic in their own right.

I could go on forever on why I love Star Wars, but I think the trailer of A New Hope says it all.

Thank you, George Lucas for creating this world and introducing us to these characters. You have made multiple generations of fans happy and I hope you will continue to do so for many years.

Happy Birthday Star Wars, here is to another 40 years.

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May The Fourth Be With You

Back in 1977, a new film hit theaters. It was called Star Wars. From the outset, it didn’t look like much. Just another science fiction film set in outer space with a Buck Rogers-ish premise. Some audience members and critics might have said at the time that it would quickly leave the theaters and only been seen in the wee hours of the morning when the television stations had nothing else to fill the airwaves with.

The thing about Star Wars, is that it is so much more than the average science fiction film. This film is a statement piece. Using Buck Rogers as the basic narrative, writer/director George Lucas turned the genre on its head and created characters that go far beyond the standard 2D characters that are sometimes associated with science fiction. Intertwining history, politics and fully developed human characters, Lucas not only changed the movie industry, but he created characters, catchphrases and worlds that are seared in our collective cultural consciousness.

My first memory of Star Wars is a take on the film as only Muppet Babies can do it.

My complete initiation to the fandom came later, when I was a teenager and the original trilogy was re-released for the 20th anniversary. I was hooked and since then, I have been a very happy fan.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of A New Hope’s release. While there is much to celebrate, there is also loss. Loosing Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker last year was tough, but we remember them and we thank them for the joy and the memories.

May the fourth be with you.

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Star Wars VIII

If there is one thing I can say about George Lucas and the marketing team behind Star Wars, they know how to get fan boys and girls drooling.

Am I the only one counting the days until Episode 8 hits theaters?

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February 15, 2016 · 9:05 pm

Ranking The Star Wars Movies

With the release of Episode 7 of Star Wars this weekend, I think it’s time I ranked all of the movies in the series so far. From worst to best, below is my definitive ranking of the Star Wars movies.

7. Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Everything that is wrong with this movie can be summed up in three words: Jar-Jar Binks.  George Lucas nearly turned what was a respected and beloved film series into just another overblown, special effects driven, weak on plot and character science fiction film. Even with the likes of respected actors Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor could not save this film from being just plain awful.

6.  Episode II: Attack Of The Clones (2002)

In attempting to placate fans and make up for the awfulness that is The Phantom Menace, George Lucas moved the story forward. Replacing Jake Lloyd as a young Anakin with Hayden Christensen as a teenage Anakin did nothing for this film. It continued to be just another overblown, special effects driven, weak on plot and character science fiction film.   Thank you, George Lucas for nearly killing what was good and pure and true in Star Wars.

5. Revenge Of The Sith (2005)

In the final prequel of the Star Wars Series, George Lucas makes the second attempt to placate fans, again making up for the awfulness that is Episode I and II, while  tying up the story lines that will lead to the Episodes 4, 5 and 6. While this film was the best of the prequels, it still does not hold up to the first three films.

4. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) 

This movie is an icon by itself. Without it, the movies today would not be what they are. In a sense, the story is a copy of the science fiction novels and books of the past, but it is so much more. It is entertaining, it is fun and it takes the audience out of their world and into a new one for a couple of hours. In short, it is perfect.

3. The Force Awakens (2015) 

Finally, Star Wars fans have a worthy successor to the first three films. Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams took out what did not work in the prequels and returned Star Wars to what it was. Practical effects, a nice mix of older cast members and newbies and a plot that feels true to the Star Wars universe makes for a dam good film.

2. Return Of The Jedi (1983)

The final film of the first three in the series begins with the rescue of Han from Jabba’s lair. It ends with a satisfying conclusion.  The empire is defeated, Darth Vader has returned to the light side and our heroes have won. All of the strings are tied together perfectly. But that did not keep fans from wanting more.

1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Empire is the best of all of the films for a reason. Expanding the universe and the plot lines, the characters feel less 2-D and more 3-D. Breaking from their 1940’s science fiction molds, each character is given the chance to grow and change in new ways. And of course, there is one of the most famous revelations in film history:

Here’s hoping to episodes 8 & 9 are just as good as 4-7 and not a repeat of 1-3.

 

 

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How Star Wars Conquered The Universe Book Review

Star Wars is a world wide cultural phenomenon. No matter where you go around the world, most people know something of this franchise.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise, was written by Chris Taylor and published last year. It is part biography, part filmography and a real treat for Star Wars fans. The book starts by tracing  the origins of Star Wars by delving into the childhood of the franchise creator, George Lucas. Partially based on the Flash Gordon serials, Lucas also draws elements from the popular western and adventures series that were part of American pop culture during the 1940’s and 1950’s.  The book follows Lucas through his adolescence, toward film school and the film franchise that would make him one of the most recognized and respected men in Hollywood.

As a Star Wars fan, I very much appreciated the interviews and the work that the author put into this book.  I feel like that when we get to know an artist as a human being, we can appreciate their art even more because we understand the cumulative experiences that led them to create that art.

I recommend it.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace

In 1999, it had been sixteen years since Return Of The Jedi premiered. Fans all over the world were clamoring to see where George Lucas would be taking his characters after a nearly 20 year absence from the big screen.

Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace was the first prequel that would eventually connect the story lines started in 1977.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a hotheaded, eager, young Jedi who is eager to spread his wings. But his wiser, older master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) knows that his pupil is not as ready as he thinks he is. The evil Trade Federation is slowly taking over the galaxy. Traveling to Naboo with their new friend Jar Jar Binks (voiced by Ahmed Best), they try to warn Queen Amidala, who has already escaped  (Natalie Portman), but her planet has already been taken over.

Eventually finding their way to Tatooine, they meet a a boy named Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). Qui-Gon Jinn cannot put his finger 0n it, but there is something special about this boy. Now they must get to Coruscant, solve the trade dispute and return the Queen to her throne. But there is something hiding in the shadows, something far more serious and dangerous than any of them realize.

Is it me, or did George Lucas nearly screw up cinema perfection? Episodes 4, 5 and 6 are examples of what fantasy/scifi movies and their sequels should be. George Lucas became just another filmmaker who relies on 3D to keep the audience interested. Which is a shame because he is one of the most respected filmmakers alive. He has some of the best actors in Hollywood in this movie (Portman, Neeson and McGregor) and they are nearly wasted.

Any good filmmaker worth their salt knows that it is not special effects that keep the story moving forward and keeping the audiences interested. It is a good script with interesting characters and a story line that is one step ahead of the audience. Let’s not forget the stupidest character created (Jar Jar Binks) and the use of racial stereotypes that I would have hoped would not be part of Lucas’s writing.

Were the critics wrong? No.

In Fanboys (which I highly recommend), as the characters are waiting to go into the movie theater all decked out in their costumes, one of them asks (please pardon the paraphrasing).

“What if it sucks?”.

While George Lucas partially redeemed himself with episodes 2 and 3, episode 1 will is not a part of the series that I relish.

I do not recommend this movie.

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Fanboys: A Satire For All

In 2009, the perfect fan satire movie was introduced: Fanboys.

In 1998, months before the premiere of Star Wars, Episode I, a group of friends go on a road trip. Their mission is to sneak into George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch and steal the rough cut of the movie.

This movie is hilarious. It’s not only a satire of the Star Wars Fandom, but of the science fiction fandom as a whole. The characters are what an outsider might see as a science fiction fan: a nerdy guy or girl who lives with their parents, whose sole focus in life is their fandom. As a Star Wars fan, I knew who these characters were without cringing, I was able to laugh at them. I understood their obsession. I was able to quote the movies along with them. And I loved the cameos, especially the ones from Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams.

Unlike other fan satire (Austenland, I’m looking at you), Fanboys is one of funniest movies in the past five years. Underneath the stereotypes of the scifi fan, there is heart to these characters and a solid friendship that keeps the story going.

This is a must see.

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A Open Letter to George Lucas And JJ Abrams On The Making Of Episode VII

Dear JJ Abrams and George Lucas

So I hear you’ve been working you’ve been working on Star Wars Episode VII.

As both a fan and a writer, I would like speak in an open and honest manner.

Episodes IV, V and VI, as individual films and as a series are brilliant and perfect and awe inspiring. The influence of  mythology, history, literature and early science fiction is potent. There is a reason why it has become a worldwide phenomenon and has several generations of fans.

Episodes I, II and III fall very far from the tree.

I am hoping that this new film brings a smile and a giddiness to this fan and to every other fan around the around, not a groan and a shameful feeling.

In other words, DON’T MUCK IT UP.

The problem with the last three movies can be summed up in three words : Jar Jar Binks. Granted, his character did grow from simple, childish comic relief type character to admirable character who is responsible and mature. But some, myself included, questioned why this character was created, other than to take advantage of the special effects.

What Lucas forgot with Episodes I, II and III is that the cornerstone of every movie, regardless of how big or small the special effects are, is that the story is key. It is the skeleton that holds the movie together. Without the bones that is the script, the movie falls apart. The special effects of the movie is like the makeup the actor puts on before they go to set, it should enhance the story, it should not be the driving force behind it. Granted, Lucas had the technology with those movies that he didn’t have with Episodes IV, V, VI, but that is not a reason to over use the technology.

In conclusion, I would add that I am simply a humble fan offering suggestions on a movie franchise that still holds a place in my heart.

Sincerely

A Star Wars Fan

 

 

 

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