Director: J. J. Abrams
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, & Michael Arndt
Cinematographer: Dan Mindel
by Jon Cvack
Be sure to check out Part 1 of this three part series...
I’m really not sure what led to my declining interest; whether it was because the Star Wars phase at the point had been going on for nearly eight years and I was growing out of it, or that the first two movies were so disappointing that it accelerated the process. The easy answer is that it was a little of both. I think it had to do with becoming obsessed with a world that had felt so true and real, and being struck with something in the new episodes that felt distant and disconnected. It all just looked fake, serving as an early harbinger of how I'd respond to most CGI-infused films (and Eps. I-III, in particular). Looking up a picture of Darth Maul, he sums up the issue perfectly - it’s not stupid, it’s definitely different, it’s just not even close to the original SW villain's greatness. I often wonder if these films would have done better if completely removed from the Stars Wars canon, as the expectations were just too high.
I knew I didn’t love the new films and yet I remember telling myself and others that I did. It felt like betrayal to say otherwise. And yet I remember buying three Darth Maul figures - a new record, on account of finding one that had a very obvious painting error around his mouth, and I figured it’d be worth more money as a rare defect. Some of the figures had a memory chip that would say lines if you bought the lightsaber that played them. Even this made me upset as the lightsaber was about the size of a mini-baseball bat and made the figures seem so much like toys. I bought Darth Maul’s land speeder and another that I didn’t open. I had the large cups from Taco Bell where you could put a different character’s head from The Phantom Menace on each of the tops. I still have them on the shelf of my old bedroom in my parent’s house. They’re probably worthless.
In the end I had hundreds of figures and vehicles, not opening some, having gone to comic book shows in order to find older ones (often much too expensive). By the time Revenge of the Sith came about and that stupid lightsaber scene on the lava rocks took place I was nearly finished. I remember thinking Lucas’ inclusion of the elements from the original trilogy during those final moments was cool. It just didn’t fit the overall aesthetic, which went from very colorful, busy and loud designs to the muted feel from the 1970s. It left something fun for the fanboys, which would become nearly the entire focus for Abram's in The Force Awakens.
In the end, they just weren’t good films and the trilogy became ruined. At the time I thought it was just that I was growing up from such a nerdy activity; a sophomore in high school at that point. I later became interested in Warhammer and comic books and Dungeons and Dragons. I just never became as obsessed. I wanted that next great immersion and never found it, until I discovered film a few years later.
Some people say you can’t compare the two trilogies. I completely disagree. They were created from the same single mind, who exercised far more control and was far more aware of the mythology the second time he went around. Think if Lucas had made I-III first and IV-VI twenty-five years later - would the later ones then have sucked? I think yes as the new films would have likely followed the same trajectory of massive VFX injection, which would have ruined them.
Stay tuned for Part 3...
BELOW: Having got into Star Wars months before these films were announced, watching this trailer was one of the most exciting moments of my entire youth
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