Top 10 Points Where ‘Star Wars’ Fans Lost Faith
It really is the old school fans who keep the Star Wars torch alight. Not that some younger viewers aren’t getting into it, but they’re growing up at the worst point in the franchise history. The prequels are becoming the first point of entry for many and it’s hard to imagine many people becoming die-hard fans after a 20 minute scene of political double speak.
For those who grew up begging their parents to stay up past bed time to finish watching Empire Strikes Back on TV or let them buy a Boba Fett action figure (that their brother takes to school although you SPECIFICALLY told him not to and then it got stolen but who’d still be pissed off about that?) the fandom is more ingrained. We remember the good times, the unexpected surprises like discovering Darth Vader is Luke’s father and learning that the great warrior Yoda isn’t what we expected.
But we’ve been tested. Oh, have we been tested. This are the ten moments where old school fans were most likely to jump ship. Counting down in reverse chronological order…
10. The Blu-Rays
I’d given up on any new Star Wars product before this point, but the old ones were still bundles of fun. With only the special editions out on DVDs, the Blu-Rays were a chance to get us a top quality release of the classic films. Given the storage capacity of modern media it was well within reason that both versions of the film could be included. It would’ve even made all the fans happy, and if you’re not making your fans happy why are you in the business? Money?
Sadly George Lucas stuck to his bone-headed notion that the movies were “works in progress”, implying that he’d done them wrong in the first place (well, he did – but the studio stepped in and re-edited it to the film we know now). Not only did they only supply the Special Editions but they added more deleted scenes. Fans meanwhile fawned over the new material. Sometimes there’s a reason this stuff got trashed.
9. The Clone Wars
More than anything else this movie demonstrates that Lucas wasn’t in this game for the audience, or the storytelling, but the chance to make money of as many people as possible. Rather than the usual family audience this animated movie was aimed at pandering to the younger end of the audience. Characters like an uber-camp son of Jabba the Hutt – originally a grotesque, slave driving gangster – felt dated and pandering. With it’s cut-rate animation and ridiculous levels of marketing it’s clear why it was made: the ‘Merchandising’ section of the Wiki page is the longest part of the entry. It’s hard for a fan to feel like this was anything put an attempt to get into our wallets.
If there’s one thing that really killed the prequel movies it’s the script. There are many other problems with the films but when you’ve got a broken foundation you’re building is going to fail. Lucas chose to use the backstory of Darth Vader as the central narrative arc for the prequels, the beginning and end point to the story. One of the greatest icons in modern pop culture would become a central character, and everything would boil down to one important moment: the transformation. In order to convey the weight of this moment Darth Vader looks at what he has become and his response?
It’s the second laziest piece of writing in the whole series.
7. The Laziest Piece of Writing in the Whole Series
And then Padme just’ gave up’. Really? That’s the best you can come up with? Not only is this a lazy way to remove her from the story at the 11th hour (doesn’t the entire third act of Revenge of the Sith feel like it was rushed out the night before because Lucas had gotten bored with the whole thing?) but there are two entirely valid deaths already set up. I get that Lucas is trying to add some poetic meaning to the scene, but ‘giving up’ is really, really dumb.
How about this? Instead of the Emperor lying to Darth Vader and saying he killed Padme, Anakin actually DOES kill Padme.
He was choking her already, then she dies of the wounds during childbirth. Darth Vader has a 100% legitimate reason to be angry rather than being tricked into it like a big idiot. Don’t want to do that? She dies in childbirth. It’s a traumatic experience for the body, especially twins. Now Darth Vader has conflicted feelings about his children. Give him some pathos.
Stupid fucking script.
6. Yoda: Lightsabering Pro
I hate this damned scene from Attack of the Clones, and I hate that people cheered when it first happened. I saw it on opening night and everyone cheered. I couldn’t believe it. It was awful. Sure everyone loves the little muppet, but…this was ridiculous!
Let’s wind back the nostalgia clock. When seeing Empire Strikes Back for the first time we know nothing about Yoda. All we know is that he’s a great Jedi. Luke Skywalker takes this to mean he’s a great, powerful warrior. An unstoppable physical specimen. We, as the audience, go along with this expectation. When it is revealed that Yoda is a small, frail and weak looking goblin creature we are dubious. But then we see, as Luke does, that strength isn’t always the physical but can come from the within, and it is through his mind and will that Yoda draws his strength.
When you depict Yoda as a super fast, super powered, back flipping lightsaber master you can kick Christopher Lee’s arse YOU ARE COMPLETELY UNDOING THE ORIGINAL MESSAGE YOU COMPLETE TITS. What’s it going to be like for new audiences watching the movies in chronological order? You ruined Yoda.
When we were all growing up, we’d all stare at the screen and amid the action, romance, humour and imagination, one thing would consume our thoughts…what causes the Force? When you really get down to it, how does it work?!
No, hang on…nobody was asking that question. So why did Lucas feel the need to answer it?
The Phantom Menace introduced many things to the canon, one of them being this strange, unwanted and highly misguided ‘explanation’ for what causes the ‘Force’, the mystical power some have to remain in tune with the universe and bend it to their will. It’s not actually a gift or a belief, it’s microscopic organisms who live in your blood stream and give you special powers. The more you have, the more powerful you are. So…if you get a blood transfusion from a Jedi do you become a Jedi? Does a Jedi lose powers if they start bleeding out? Because different aliens can be Jedi, does the type of blood matter? Can midichlorians be synthesised or replicated? If they’re a separate organism, why are they passed on genetically? If Anakin was ‘conceived’ by the midichlorian’s why aren’t they detected in his mother? Why do the ‘Jedi’ and ‘Sith’ get different sets of powers? Are the midichlorians themselves good and evil? And why can there only be two Sith at a time if it’s at the whim of some microscopic organisms?
THIS DOESN’T MAKE ANY DAMN SENSE.
4. Anakin Skywalker
If you’re creating a set of movies prior to the existing Star Wars story, then Anakin Skywalker is a logical central figure. He’s got a mysterious backstory potentially filled with drama, action, betrayal and romance. Poorly handled it would take the menace out of the iconic villain. Handled well it would build on an already fascinating mythology.
It was handled poorly. First and foremost they miscast him twice. The behind the scenes of The Phantom Menace reveals that poor Jake Lloyd scored the role based on his passing resemblance to Mark Hamill, and his ability to ad-lib after he forgot his lines in the audition. Seriously, that was it. If George Lucas had spent more time working with the boy and writing him good dialogue he may have had a shot, but instead the years of taunting over garbage like ‘are you an angel?’ and ‘now this is podracing!’ has turned him into a very bitter young man.
Hayden Christensen was older and more experienced, but still saddled with the shitty writing and absent directing. His performance ranged from wooden to cringeworthy. Scenes like ‘I don’t like sand’ with haunt him for the rest of his career.
That said, even a great actor couldn’t deliver this material. Darth Vader somehow went from fallen hero to angsty teen never getting over his awkward phase. He’s sad because people disapprove of his insanely hot girlfriend, he’s grumpy because his mentor wants to help him temper his incredible power until he could control it. He doesn’t like sand. At the end of the day he becomes a great villain not because he was tempted, or because he thought it was for the greater good, or because he was making a sacrifice…it was because he’s a gullible little prick.
3. Jar-Jar Binks
Uuuurrrrrggggghhhhhh. Yes, he’s for ‘the kids’, and it’s a ‘kids movie’. With long dragging political scenes, people being sliced in half and trying to cheat people in gambling. Not much else to say, we know why he’s awful. He was the first gripe the long term fans had with the prequels.
2. The Special Editions
Ok, this got a pass at time because they seemed more misguided than stupid. We’d still believe that if there wasn’t an established pattern of stupidity to follow. During the pioneering days of digital conversion Lucasfilm cut a path by digitally restoring and rereleasing the original films in cinemas. Brilliant! They also promised a couple of new scenes. Sounds great!
Except…they weren’t. The added scenes were, for the most part, cut for a reason. Then there’s the new material added with CGI, including the ridiculous moment with Han Solo jerkily walked over Jabba’s tail, the Muppet-esqe musical number in Jedi and the infamous ‘Han Shooting First’ alteration. Few scenes went untouched, with robots, aliens and spaceships thrown into the background and (bizarrely) the foreground. Actively blocking the main actors and interactions with pointless filler? Are these people actually film-makers?
This was a warning sign of things to come, made worse by this becoming the standard release version from then on. They were silly, but not garbage like the prequels. Are batshit insanity like…
1. The Holiday Special
Why everyone thinks of George Lucas as the brains behind the franchise I’ll never know. Star Wars only worked because of re-edits, rewrites and tight control by the studio, and the following sequels were out of his hands after submitting a first draft script. He never had full control or final cut…except in the Holiday Special. Unreleased beyond the original airdate and seen only on VHS copies it is a very, very weird mishmash of music videos, cooking shows, alien porn and Carrie Fisher singing a ‘Life Day’ song to the tune of the Star Wars theme.
Amazingly there was a story behind it all. Han is trying to get Chewie home to his family in time for ‘Life Day’, a stand in for Christmas. Most of the action takes place in the Wookie home where his wife, son (Lumpy) and grandfather (Itchy) growl and roar at each other. WITHOUT subtitles. The entire story is them screaming incomprehensible gibberish at each other. They pass the time watching drawn out instructional videos for random appliances, musical sitcoms and a weird animated sequence that debuted Boba Fett of all people. Most of these feature Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman for some reason. How Harrison Ford, James Earl Jones, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher got dragged into this is unknown.
And this shit is considered canon. It’s only because so few people saw it that it didn’t turn more fans away, but now that it’s available online people have seen it for what it is: a herald of the future. This is exactly what was going to happen when Lucas on let of the chain. LOOK AT IT.