This post began as a comment to a post by Buckethead on the Ministry of Minor Perfidy, but it grew beyond my original intent and I decided to post it myself.
Buckethead pointed out the MSNBC.com article Can ‘Star Wars: Episode III’ be saved? and wrote
I’ll think you’ll find that hope is fading. Not that we had a lot of hope going into it. The first two movies as well could have been done by chimps.
I don’t disagree, but I’d like to explain my own position a bit.
I consider myself a pretty solid Star Wars fan. I was in second grade when the original came out, and I was a changed person by experiencing it. Although I’m solidly in the camp of those severely disappointed by the prequels, and I’m happily critical of the direction the franchise has taken, I usually try to temper my disdain.
The main reason? My kids love the new movies.
I think those of us who witnessed the classic movies first-hand unfairly expect the new movies to blow us away as adults the same way we were blown away as kids by the first movies. Although I wish this would be the case, to dismiss the new movies because they don’t have the impact on us that the originals did when we were all younger and the genre was undeveloped isn’t really fair.
I think that the new movies really ARE up to the standards of the earlier films in many ways. We just don’t have the personal attachment to the new ones. Star Trek fans generally love the classic episodes from the original series despite bad acting, writing, and special effects. There was a lot of good there, as well, of course, but it’s much easier to be bold when you’re breaking new ground. And your mistakes are more likely to be forgiven when you’re blazing a new trail.
The new Star Wars movies aren’t really breaking new ground. Despite the advanced effects, it’s really just more of the same in most ways, and we aren’t going to be sucked in like we were when we were ten years old. Real-looking spaceships and alien creatures aren’t anything new to the sophisticated tastes of today’s computer-savvy and media-saturated viewers.
Obviously, the writing is flat and the acting is subpar in the new films, and that’s not really forgivable. The cast of the new films should be stronger than the cast in the originals, but the actors seem lost. The point in the MSNBC article about Christopher Lee throwing himself into his roles in hack films is a good one. I personally suspect that the extensive use of computer-generated characters and sets has taken a lot away from the ability of the actors to portray their roles in a believable manner, but regardless of the reasons, the actors just aren’t delivering. The lines they are directed to speak don’t make their jobs any easier, either.
But look at Mark Hammill, the Ewok storyline, and the Jabba the Hutt puppet in the original movies. I just don’t see a lot of difference between the new movies and the old when comparing them objectively and logically. The problem is that those of us who waited so long for the new movies aren’t objective or logical about the old ones. We are very subjective and emotional in our judgment.
If the new movies had been made in the late 70s, we all would have been blown away by them. And today we’d be yawning over and complaining about giant walking tanks and a black-masked, one dimensional villain. To be honest, I think the true low spot in the Star Wars saga is The Return of the Jedi, and I’ve thought so for many years. Two-headed race announcers, Jar Jar Binks, and godawful professions of love while being wheeled out for public execution haven’t changed my mind about the disappointment of ROTJ one bit.
I’m not happy with these new films. Not at all. But my kids are.
And when they’re older, they’ll be disappointed by the films that are coming out and long for the good old days of Attack of the Clones. Maybe.