Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Fixing Star Wars

I've spoken before of my frustration with the Star Wars saga. In many ways, George Lucas reminds me of long-time X-Men scribe Chis Cleremont (wiki). Recently, Claremont has had some good ideas that his clumsy plotting and horrible dialogue made nearly unreadable. I often found myself reading issues of Uncanny X-Men just hoping that it would be better because, hey, I liked the premise!

Similarly, Lucas's idea for Star Wars is amazing! From the epic feel, to the detached Jedi and everything in between, the general ideas and concepts are top notch, which is one reason the franchise has lasted as long as it has. But, as most evident is the recent trilogy, Lucas writes dialogue very poorly, and his directing is pretty sub par. So how would I fix it? Well, let's turn on the Way Back machine and take a crack at it:

First of all, the first thing that should have happened is George Lucas should have found himself a writer or co-writer and/or director that had balls. Like, big huge cajones. Big enough to say "Screw you Lucas, that sucks!" Think about it; go back and watch Phantom Menace and imagine if someone like Spielberg, Tarentino, or hell, even Michael Bay had been on the set. You think any of them wouldn't have said "uh, George, maybe a 9-year-old protagonist isn't such a great idea..." Why are Empire Strikes Back nad Return of the Jedi considered the best movies of the saga? Could it have something to do with the fact that Lucas didn't direct or write the screenplays for them? I'm currently reading the novel of Episode II, and even though it's based on the screenplay, it's much better because the author (R.A. Salvatore) has put a greater emphasis on nurturing Anakin and Padme's relationship; you understand what it is in him that she finds so attractive - unlike the movie, where the entire thing feels forced.

Second, there needs to be better lightsaber fights. Episode I had - hands down - the best lightsaber duel this side of Ryan vs. Dorkman. But after that everything went downhill. Attack fo the Clones didn't have much (although I admit seeing Yoda kick ass was cool), and while Revenge of the Sith had fights a-plenty, they all suffered from the same problem, namely, too much facial close-ups, not enough wide-angle shots. All in all, very disapointing, made all the more so by the great beginning in Phantom Menace.

Third, make Anakin older! If everything else had been the same, Episode I would have been much better if Anakin had been, say, 19, instead of 9. In fact, make both Anakin and Padme their ages from Episode II and there are no problems. You can easily begin his fixiation with her - and wanting to protect her - and no one's asking "What the hell is a 14-year-old doing as a freaking Queen?" It has the added bonus of making it less of a continuity problem with Luke becoming a Jedi. As it is, it seems strange that a 9-year old was nearly not allowed to be trained by Yoda, only to have him go ahead and train Luke when he was late teens/early twenties.

A corollary to that, show me Anakin interacting with other Jedi. In Clones we're told (over and over) that he's arrogant, but we never really see him being all that arrogant. He's mostly being whiny constantly. You really are never given a frame of reference regarding what Jedi Padawans are supposed to be like - except for Obi Wan in Episode I. Contrasting Anakin with others of his age would have shown how he was acting different, and what that difference could lead to.

Finally, stop making it harder on yourselves. Lucas had to have known that these movies would be ruthlessly picked apart by fans, yet he opened up so many problem areas when there was no reason to! The relative ages of Anakin and Luke is one example; the (needless) introduction of midichlorians is another, and the self-contradicting "prophecy" sub-plot is a third. And that isn't even bringing up the stupidity that is Jar Jar Binks.

So there you go. That's how I would have made Star Wars better. I haven't looked online for any websites or anything to see if other people have thought of these things or others, but I'm sure they have. These are just the thoughts I have as I read through the Star Wars books.

1 comment:

Tigerhawk Vok said...

I agree with most things that you say here except for the bit about the prophecy being self-contradicting. I mean, I really think it was more just "The Jedi were being shortsighted and arrogant". Yes, Anakin did bring balance to the force ... after so many years of the Light Side ruling, it was *balanced* by a resurgance in the Dark Side. Why do you think it was contradictory?