Sure, George, sure.
Don’t get me wrong. Star Wars is by far the greatest movie/fiction franchise ever created. I am still a Star Wars fan at the end of the day, even if I’m not the nut I used to be. It is absolutely expert blend of science fiction and fantasy, of wonder and excitement, of characters and plot. The mind-boggling simplicity of the original 1977 Star Wars still blows me away (and constantly tells me that I think way too damn much about these things.) It has completely transformed the way we look at the world. Even forty years later, we’re still using its phrases such as “The Force is strong with this one” and making new stormtrooper costumes and reading comic books and making Yoda Soda and on and on ad infinitum. George Lucas created something that redefined not just a generation, but an entire culture. He made a classic–nay, a legend–on par with Camelot, Atlantis, Sherlock Holmes, and Gulliver Travels. He created an entirely new genre for his work.
That still doesn’t excuse the fact that the prequels kinda…sucked.
The two big things for me is the dialogue and some of the acting. The majority of the writing is sound, and while fans can be a little depressed that the Clone Wars weren’t more grand and impressive (basically, they last for two years, kill some Jedi, and that’s about it, and they’re even about clones, they just use ’em) the stories themselves are not bad. The problem is that some of the dialogue is just unbelievably atrocious. Most of that comes from the romantic scenes involving Anakin and Padme (who, by the way, was dating someone 10-15 years younger than her) which, let’s face it, had none of the power of the Leia & Han scenes. And the acting in general was just poor. I don’t know who Lucas hired to be chief of casting, but he should shoot that guy with a Zarnok Butt Blaster and give him a short stint in the spice mines of Kessel. Natalie Portman was decent, and Ewan MacGregor and Liam Neeson were very good, but Hayden Christensen? Maybe he was directed to act that way–in which case, blame comes back around to Lucas–but I didn’t find his acting very good at all. Even the scenes in which he was being a whiner seemed shallow, artificial, and wooden.
That’s definitely not to say that they were the worse movies ever. Far from it. (I think either Manos: The Hands of Fate or Human Centipede have that title.) But they definitely didn’t capture the magic of the original trilogy either, and while I also agree that many times, lightning doesn’t strike twice, I think you could have pulled it off. At least you could have had better actors.
Also, I do think that many of the prequel critics went too far. Episode I: The Phantom Menace, was actually pretty good, even if the funniest character was CGI. Episode II and Episode III were the difficult ones for me, again because of the lousy dialogue and poor acting. Some of the critics I’ve read think these movies belonged in the junk heap in the middle of Mos Eisley. Their rage and animosity reached Coruscanti proportions (have you ever seen the bottom of one of those towers? Didn’t think so) in how George Lucas ruined Star Wars. None of this was really necessary nor warranted. George Lucas is Star Wars, if you haven’t noticed, and that’s just the way its going to be. Deal with it.
But seriously, George, none of that makes up for the fact that the prequels still kinda sucked. And then you made The Clone Wars. And that’s terrible. I don’t care if its being aimed at children, it’s terrible. Thank goodness your staff made it its own canon-level below the movies. I mean, Anakin having his own whiny Padawan? The Mandalorians–you know, Boba Fett’s people*–are all a bunch of pacifists? Why? Yes, yes, it is totally your work–but why?
Oh, and then there was the whole thing where you, like, took the old movies and made them nicer, and we were all like “yay! CGI!” and then you were like “Let’s make Han shoot second” and we were all like “Buh?” and then he replaces the older Anakin Skywalker ghost in Return of the Jedi with Hayden Christensen and we all went “Dude, lame,” and now he’s coming out with all six again in 3-D! and we’re just like “Laugh it up, fuzzball.” Enough is enough, you need to know when to stop tinkering.
I remember an interview George gave several years ago where he claimed that the prequels were supposed to be “the backstory.” Well, Orson Scott Card, writing in The Writer’s Digest Guide to Science Fiction & Fantasy said you don’t write the flippin` backstory, because that’s just background stuff and its not the story! In that case George, you should have never written the prequels. I don’t think that’s actually true, I think George was trying to cover himself in that interview, but if it was…that’s just a bad excuse.
Please, George, for all of our sakes, you could have just retired and that would have been it. You could have just said “I’m tired of making commercial films, I want to make art films now,” and that would be fine. Instead, you say the reason you’re retiring is because the fans complained. Waah, waah, waah. Let me call the waaaaaaaaaahmbulance. See this violin I’m playing (of course you can’t, it’s too small.) Come on, George. Sure, they complained, and maybe it was way over the top, but you opened the freaking blast doors for them.
And besides, you made out at least $4.4 billion on the prequels and merchandising, so don’t tell me that they hate your guts. They paid for it.
Retire if you wish, Mr. Lucas. You have certainly earned the right to do so. You have transformed our society and our culture and given us something to enjoy and cherish for generations. You deserve a salute from all of us, and you also deserve for the majority your critics to shut the hell up for once. You deserve all that and more.
But to say you’re retiring because some fanboys complained about your work–that’s about as bad as being Hayden Christensen in a Jedi robe being schooled by Old Ben. And that’s just lame.
Read the entire interview from the New York Times. It is quite interesting.
*Granted, that wasn’t determined in the movies, that was largely determined by the fandom and later brought into canon, with Mandalorian culture being mostly created by a writer named Karen Traviss. Now there’s a piece of work who deserves some scorn.
EDIT: Actually, if you ever thought the prequels were bad, there’s this new thing out called Star Wars Uncut. Yeaaaaahhhhhh……