Monday, March 28, 2011

Star Wars Rehabilitation

I should probably be focused on some other stuff right now (like my new campaign starting Friday) but since Star Wars was a very close second and almost got run instead, I have to admit that I'm definitely on a bit of a Star Wars kick right now. I've got all the Star Wars soundtracks ripped to mp3, and I've been listening to them as I commute for the last two weeks. I just recently rewatched the entire 1st and 2nd seasons of the Clone Wars cartoon series (starting off with the feature film, of course) and I just blasted through all the 3rd season episodes that I had saved up, which makes up me up date. Coincidentally, on Friday they'll air the 2-part season finale. I'm reading an Old Republic novel, by the same guy who wrote the Force Unleashed novels, and I've got the Lost Tribe of the Sith novels queued up for my Kindle for PC on my laptop. I'm also starting to jones for watching the original trilogy (decidely non special edition versions) again.
This is all a little unusual for me. I've been a Star Wars fan since I can remember, of course. I was born in early 1972, so I was almost 5½ when the first film came out. It's literally the first movie that I remember seeing in theaters. For years afterwards; at least twenty years, but maybe more like twenty five, or even thirty, I'd say that the original trilogy Star Wars movies, especially The Empire Strikes Back were my favorite movies ever. But something happened, and they slipped a bit in my estimation (curiously, Lucasfilm's other big hit, Raiders of the Lost Ark moved into first place.) What happened was, of course, the prequel trilogy.
See, Lucas used to make these movies more collaboratively. He had help with the screenplays, particularly the dialogue. He had help in the editing room. He understood his own strengths and weaknesses as a filmaker, and had folks in place who could cover for him on the areas where he wasn't as good. He was open to delegation. This was increasingly not true as he went forward. Return of the Jedi was where it started, but it was really on the prequel trilogies that it's drawn to its inevitable finish. Plodding, pretentious and just frankly really boring despite their snappy visuals, workable stories dragged down by bad pacing and worse dialogue, and Lucas' philosophy of "just make it all happen fast enough and people won't notice the flaws" was oddly both attempted and yet failed; the movies don't move very fast. Star Wars as a franchise, at least in my mind, was significantly damaged by the prequel trilogies. They gave us things like Darth Maul, but they also gave us Jar Jar Binks. I found I couldn't watch any of the prequel movies all the way through anymore. They're just too terrible to be endured without a judicious application of the fast-forward button.
But more recently, the franchise has been somewhat rehabilitated by a number of things. The first thing that really rehabilitated the franchise was the Knights of the Old Republic. That was a great video game, and was much better Star Wars than any of the three movies we got. After that, we had the Clone Wars cartoon series, which Lucas oversaw, but which he managed to delegate a lot of the details out. This show has also gradually rehabilitated the franchise; it's a good show. Heck, it even makes some of the characters that were eye-roll-worthy from the prequels likeable. In any case, although I'm not going to be running Star Wars (at least not for the time being...) I'm still excited about Star Wars--moreso than I have been at any time since the prequels starting hitting theaters, actually. And the new MMO by Bioware, Star Wars: The Old Republic may be the first MMO that will really tempt me to jump into the MMO fray.

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