From a simple trailer comes a STAR WARS Rant from Hell

I really dig going to the movies. I love the whole experience: finding the best seats, picking up the munchies at the counter, seeing action on a huge screen, and trailers. I so dig trailers! I actually collect QuickTime movie trailers, and I'm damn proud of that collection. I think, over the years, I'm getting pretty good at figuring out what to expect with a film based on a trailer. Yeah, I'll still get stung now and then, but some have remained true to what the film delivers. And just for the record, I think the best trailer ever made to date goes to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which is not only promising an incredible time, but shows that the director "got the joke."

And then there are trailers like the one I just saw for Episode III. Two words: train wreck.

Let me start from the beginning...

I was all set to get into Sin City, and the trailers began. I cringed when I heard the familiar John Williams' riff and the LucasFilm logo appeared, but I said to myself "Relax, Tee, it's just a trailer..." Now, this could give you the impression that my mind is already made up on Episode III, but I found myself on the fence this weekend about whether or not I wanted to see it on finding out that Wayne Pygram (the actor behind Scorpius in my show, Farscape) is playing a young Governor Tarkin. Now, I admit: George Lucas chose well because Pygram does have that Peter Cushing vibe about him. By the looks of the credits, though, Pygram's appearance is similar to another Farscape actor (David Franklin) when he showed up in The Matrix: Reloaded as a Maitre'd. Basically, if you blink, you miss Pygram. But now, especially after seeing what Lucas did for Katie, I was beginning to reconsider my boycott...

Then I saw this trailer.

This preview begins with Palpatine chatting it up with Annie...er, Anakin...and this was when I felt my blood boil. Actor Ian McDiarmid was delievering his line ? one ? word ? at ? a ? time. It was Constantine all over again, the only difference being that Keanu actually put some emotion behind his dialogue. (Yes, Evo...it was that painful.) I was particularly angry because I've seen Mr. McDiarmid on stage before in a really wicked production of Volpone. (Theatre 101 ? Volpone was written by Ben Johnson, one of Shakespeare's contemporaries. Very edgy. Very funny.) McDiarmid was in the title role, and he was nothing short of stellar, but here (and throughout the trailer) his delivery of lines was so slow I could feel myself ageing.

Then we get to the random battle sequences peppered throughout. Sure, they looked pretty, but it reminded me a little too much of the battle sequences from the earlier-mentioned Matrix sequels. Instead of "Let's orchestrate something really, really beautiful..." it was "Let's try to cram in as much as we can fit on a 70mm screen..." This is what I caught, and it also seemed that I was getting more and more outer space sequences and less "Okay, here's what the movie is about." I can only assume this was because Lucas wanted to keep Hayden "The Human Brake" Christensen's appearances in the trailer as brief as possible.

Smart move because the moments he did appear, Christensen was still as flat as the Kansas prairie and just as whiney as a California vineyard. It was hard not to chuckle as I thought about the fan film Episode III: A Lost Hope where the actor spoofing Christensen was actually better that Christensen himself. But throughout the trailer, Anakin pouts, broods, and tries to look menacing.

Finally, there's the crowning moment that made me go "Come again?" Maybe I am sensetive to this as I'm currently undergoing edits for my next book, but Obi-Wan, in that crucial scene above the volcanic pits that fans have been talking about since the 70's, screams out to Anakin "You were the chosen!"

I'd like to ask the writer, George Lucas, one question: who chose him, and for what?

Did Qui-Gon choose Anakin? Well, yeah, but his cheese was standing alone when the Jedi Council said "No, we don't really like the boy. We think he could grow up to be a punk." Even Obi-Wan was a little apprehensive about the child (but then again, that could have been Ewan McGregor subconsciously thinking "You're the best actor they found after a worldwide search?!"), but he chose to continue Anakin's training after Qui-Gon takes a sabre to the gut. In the second debac?er, film?the Jedi Council concluded that Anakin did grow up to be a punk, and Mace in so many words told Obi-Wan "The kid's a punk." So Obi-Wan tried to pull him in, and Anakin resented him for it. Finally, in this trailer, Anakin is denied the status of Jedi Master and Mace tells him in so many words. "We aren't making you a Master because we all think you're a punk."

But Anakin's the chosen? Chosen for what? To resent the Jedi Council and stick it to them in the end? If so, then yes?he was chosen.

Now if this shoddy bit of writing doesn't grab you, consider this: After unanimously saying "No, we're not making you a Jedi Master" the Council turns around and says "We think you would be a really good spy...so how about you take a closer look at Senator Palpatine. We think he's up to something."

Let me see if I fully understand this scenario: The Jedi Order which is made up a shitload of species?all with GREAT biochemistry (Thanks a lot for THAT ONE, George...)?needs a spy to keep tabs on someone they believe is "up to something" and so they pick the brattiest, whiniest, and most potentially dangerous snot-nosed twit that they just turned down for Master status to be that spy. Allright, I'll give the Jedi Order a pass for not figuring out with their collected control over The Force that Senator Palpatine was a Dark Side Master...but you mean to tell me, George, that the Council was so thick they didn't Anakin could be potentially (wait for it...) vulnerable?!?

Then, as said so eloquently in the Hitchhiker's trailer, we get the montage of eye-popping special effects that is "meant to blow out any remaining synapses," ending with the shot of what we are led to believe is Christensen in the Vader outfit...

...and the tagline "The Saga Concludes." Funny, I thought these were the prequels.

Does this really wrap things up? I would disagree as I'm left with more questions, especially if I were to watch Episodes I-III and then go back and watch the original (or even the special) trilogy. How did The Force go from "micro-organisms in a select few" to "an energy field created by ALL LIVING THINGS"? Did Obi-Wan thing Luke was too dense to handle metachorites? Chewbacca makes a cameo in this flick. Wouldn't he recognize Obi-Wan, Vader, or anyone else in the later films? (And don't tell me "Well, there was Chewie's look in the Cantina!" Please...that was Chewie being cautious. I refuse to believe, especially with the shoddy writing showcased in this trailer, that Lucas had that much forethought!) Obi-Wan genuinely refers to Anakin as a good friend. Could someone show me that friendship? And with all the action happening on Tattooine between these prequels, wouldn't that be the first planet Vader would check out if he's looking for his kids?!? Anakin even met Owen and Beru Lars...and you're telling me with all the power Vader had, he didn't figure out "Hey, Tattooine...I bet you my left respirator that's where Padame hid my son. That bitch!" And these are just a few questions I'm asking now...after seeing a five minute trailer.

What makes me all the madder and keeps me typing in the wee-small hours of the morning like a complete and utter rube is the fact that Lucas is opening his yap, saying "This is the film the fans have wanted since the beginning..." and "This is going to be Titanic set in outer space..."

You know what, George? Being a fan of the 1977 original theatrical release, I can tell you exactly what I've wanted since the beginning: a good story! I wanted prequels that remained true to the original three that made you who you are and assured you a place among Science Fiction greats like Clarke, Bradbury, Pal, and others. I didn't want you to "legitimize the science" behind your Science Fiction. (And to those nay-sayers who say "Star Wars isn't Science Fiction...it's a western in outer space." I say, "It's got spaceships, aliens, and laser pistols. Guess what?it's Science Fiction, Sparky!") I dodn't want my Space Opera to suddenly be given "Carl Sagan Approved" merit. I, as a fan, wanted the grand epic story about characters I gave a damn about, not metachlorites, Jar-Jar Binks, or clones from Boba Fett's dad. George Lucas has gone out of his way to try and make Star Wars into something closer to "Hard SF" when the original was nothing like that. It was a good, old-fashioned story, decorated with swashbucklers, shootouts, and starships. And we all bought it. Why? Because it was a good story.

That's what we wanted, George. That's what we wanted.

So, all this being said, take another look at the trailers for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and consider the snippets of writing featured. You might be asking the same questions I've been asking (and still have no answers) since Episode I.

Comments

  1. H.C. always looks like a big boy who wants to stamp his foot. Never disliked W. Chrusher that much. ;o)

    The only reason I am holding back on buying the DVD for the real first three episodes? They put HC into it at the end :o((

  2. Another rant for another time...

    Between thast change, and Han going from shooting first (original) to shooting after Greedo (S.E) to shooting simultaneously with Greedo (recent DVD release), I'm going to try and transfer my original VHS to DVD. That's a treasure now!

  3. Nice rant Tee.

    When we saw Episodes I & II we feared the worst.
    I only hope that when your rant is analyzed a weakness can be found... ;-| however, we have scant reason for optimism at this point.

    You certainly spoke for me, and for many others probably too.

    PS... why is it, some 30 years later, I still haven't seen a T-16 in action? Or a womp rat? sheesh. 🙂

  4. Being And Nothingness says:

    As a filmmaker I will tell you what Star Wars was and always will be: (wait for it) S - H - I - T! It was written for twelve year olds and saidly since most people never grow past the age or 15 it is still considered interesting. It was a bad mix of Kurkosawa and Erol Flynn it was and always will be the death of intelligent Sci-fi! It replaced quality sci-fi like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alphaville and Solaris with bigger explosions and silly fortune cookie wisdom!

    Lucas is the worst writer-director in the history of film yet he's a great editor! I think editing and creating technology for film production are his talents not filmmaking!

  5. Now here, I would debate you on the merit of Star Wars, as in the first one.

    I don't mean to take anything away from the "brainy SF" such as 2001, Akira, or Solaris. That kind of intense brain candy/get-you-thinking/mind-challenging theatre is important...

    ...so is escapism. And while 2001 is an important film, it ain't escapism. In fact, it always gives me an ice cream headache.

    Planet of the Apes, a cautionary tale of nuclear war. Soylent Green, a warning of overpopulation and ecology. Logan's Run, a somewhat spooky look at faith. Then there's 2001 and Dark Star which are the "Toke it up, man, and go with it." SF experiences. Between the sixties and early 70's, this kind of SF was rampant, not to mention "heavy."

    Maybe Star Wars did go into "Fortune Cookie" wisdom and sure, it was part Errol Flynn, part Kurosawa, part classic cliffhanger...what's wrong with that?

    There's nothing wrong with demanding the most from your SF, but there's also nothing wrong with having a little fun now and then. That's what 1977's Star Wars was all about: a good old-fashioned action-adventure. Nothing wrong with that at all! 🙂

    I think we need that kind of escapism, be it in mainstream film or in SF-for-film. If every movie was Citizen Kane, To Kill a Mockingbird, or Schindler's List, I wouldn't go to the movies. Sure, these movies are important...but sometimes I just want to be entertained, and that is why we get films like Bringing Up Baby, Goldfinger, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Let just go for a ride and enjoy!

    But, you try to change the tone of my escapism (ala The Matrix sequels or Lucas' SW prequels...) and then I've got issues.

  6. Goodness, it's so trendy to trash HC and GL. In the case of Star Wars the so called "true Science fiction" bookworms have been doing that since it came out in '77, so I'm not surprised to see it continuing to this day. Those who cannot, shall always attempt to tear down those that can. No biggie.

    Now, anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a huge fan of the prequels. Never have been, but at the same time I think I'm the only person on this god forsaken rock who sees past the obvious bitches of most about Jar-Jar, Anakin, and his boy, Luke. I understand why these characters are portrayed the way they are.

    Yes, Hayden is like a big boy stomping his foot. No shit, perfessor. Anakin was a fraggin slave who was whisked away from a shitty dirtball, brought to the "jewel of the universe", and told he was THE CHOSEN *ONE* (Clean out the ears, Tee. 😉 ) from the moment he shows up at age 10. Needless to say, this sort of fawning over is going to turn the kid into a goddamned spoiled brat, and from that to an arogant jock who does it his way, or whines about it not being fair when it isn't handed to him on a silver platter. He's a spoiled brat, and Hayden plays this part perfectly.

    Luke is the same way. Why? Well, let's see...You're 19 years old when the only life you know pretty much sucks, and then your family is murdered, your home burned down, and you're whisked away to fight the Effin' Empire...ALL BY YOURSELF (for all intent). How would YOU have reacted at that age? I'd wager that each and every one of us would have whined just as much as Luke, if not MORE.

    Jar-Jar Binks is a dumbass, sure, but he's needed to explain how Palpatine rises to power in the first place. He's the "innocent dupe" who's trying to do the right thing, so he suggests Palpy be granted the power needed to fight the war. None of us would have bought this if he'd been anything less than a complete dumbass, so his character is again, perfect.

    I find it refreshing that Ian is now playing Palpatine again. I say 'again' because Palpy was never one to talk fast, as we'd seen in "Jedi" all those years ago, so it's nice to see Ian getting back into this character and delivering the lines *perfectly* as the Emperor has always delivered them.

    Slowly, with much emphisis on..a great...many....things.

    This isn't Volpone, Tee, and right now, neither is Ian. He's playing the role of Emperor Palpatine this time around...Again.

    You're not seeing past the actor, and you're comparing this character to another the actor played. Different guys with different nuances to them, Tee. To be fair, I myself am guilty of this in the case of Samuel L. Jackson playing Mace Windu. I just can't get past the fact that it's Sam jackson. That's who I see on the screen. Sam L.J....Not Mace. It's a toughy.

    Don't get me wrong. There are many, many faults I find with the prequels (some of which you'll hear eventually on "a different point of view") but your rant, and the chiming in of others made me feel the need to defend my hobby, and the films I dig to watch from time to time.

    Oh yeah...relax..It's only a movie. 😉

  7. *LOL* Okay...next time I'm at Coppercon, I say we pose for a picture of me getting pistol whipped by the Dune Sea Garrison! *ROTF*

    Very nice argument. And yeah, I know Ian isn't doing Volpone but I felt the same way with the performance of Liam Nisson. A fine actor, and he was aweful in Eppy I. The actor in me instantly looks at who was at the director's helm. That's how I'm feeling on ol' George.

    But you make some valid points here. I won't deny that...although halfway through the post I could have sworn I heard your voice through a stromtrooper's speaker. ;^)

    Something tells me I'd better be careful when I come back to Phoenix for a visit... ;^)

  8. see the Phantom Menace abridged script for more accurate interpretations. Unfortunately, the subtlety of Palpatine's manipulations to gain power seemed to have gotten not so subtle in the second one, and I'm hoping won't be ham-handed in the third (my current mantra: Matt Stover did the novelization, so it has to be better).

    and I really need to break out my original pre-special edition Star Wars laserdiscs and watch the pre-tweaked original trilogy all in one sitting again.

    and yes, I will see Ep III, and hope that by the end I won't be disappointed, or pissed off.

  9. Christ you people are geeks.

  10. We don't serve their kind in here.

  11. Evo, you say that like it's a bad thing....

    You Effing dork.

  12. I fixed the URL for the Phantom Menace abridged script... sorry about that.

    The "reimagining" of Samuel L. Jackson reciting his few Mace Windu lines in the Jules persona is highly entertaining.

  13. Clearly you people didn't see the same trailer *I* saw. Because otherwise, you'd be laughing. 🙂

    Star Wars Episode III With L33T Captions
    http://nuar.lunarpages.com/video/SW_mirrors.htm

  14. Ken,

    If I could watch Episode III with these subtitles, I'd be there on opening night.

    Palpatine: "You is gonna be my personal bitch now."

    Holy shit, that's good!

  15. That is some funny shit there.
    But despite all the bad, this movie is going to be visually stunning. (As all of Lucas's stuff)
    The boy can't tell a story to save his life, but damn can he make shit look good.
    That space battle scene is incredible. I guess we'll all just have to make up our own story to go along with the nice eye-candy.

  16. Lucas calling Return of the Sith "titanic in space" means:
    1: George Lucas thinks the new Star Wars is like the movie "Titanic"
    2: George Lucas thinks the new Star Wars should be compared to the ship that is commonly used as a metaphor of unparalleled disaster.
    3. He feels that episode three is like rearranging the deck chairs on the already sinking boat.

  17. john horne says:

    RANDOM BATTLE SEQUENCES - yeah i guess it would have been a lot better if one the final battles of the fabled galaxy engulfing clone wars contained three star fighters armed with a slingshot and a super soaker each! that would have been much more effective.

    MCDIARMIDS DELIVERY - so the emporer was a speedy gabbler in the OT? No, he was slow, deliberate and precise, much as in the scene to which you are referring.

    CHOSEN ONE - have the watched the other debac - err movies you fuc - err man of wise words. T'is all explained and, as so many others have stated, is possibly overstated and reinforced at any available point. You seem to have missed this, maybe because you were too busy stroking yourself and thinking of your large trailer collection.

    WHO CHOSE ANAKIN - stop being pedantic. you know bery well and now you're showing off to the class.

    ANAKIN SPYING ON PALPATINE - i can see what you mean. If i was going to arrange for someone to spy on a leading figure of authority i'd probably choose a random stranger over someone that has known the guy all his life. Clearly Palpatine wouldn't think anything of some strange jedi he'd never met loitering around his office, apartment, bathroom etc.. and of course this random jedi would have been much less vulnerable than anakin because, well he obviously just would wouldn't he?????!!!!!!!

    CHEWBACCA - come now, would you recognise me if we passed on the street tomorrow, next week or in 10-20 years time. no, because we've never met, much the same as Vader, Obi and the droids have never met Chewbacca. Just because two characters share a movie does not mean that they share screen time.

    THE SAGA CONCLUDES - whichever way you look at it, come May 9th the saga will conclude in some way, as there's currently a two hour ten min chunk missing.

    FRIENDSHIP - we've seen hints and we'll see more. well, you wont because your 'boycotting the movie' like some sulking teenager, but lots of us will.

    TATOOINE AND VADER LOOKING FOR HIS KIDS - who says he's looking until the only kid there has left? he knows nothing of them and thinks nothing because he choked their mother to death. i'm sore if you choked your pregnant wife to death you wouldnt spend 20 years trying to find the children.

    TYPING INTO THE WEE HOURS - you obviously dont deal well with lack od sleep because your coming up with 5 when multiplying 2 by 2.

    TO SUMMARISE - take a break from thinking about star wars and it's lack of anything to keep you interested. you seem much more suited to labelling, categorising and possibly masturbating over your vast 'trailer collection' WTF?????

    sorry for coming across as some weird ass fanboy here and i genuinly do not mean to insult (well maybe just a touch). I am a long time fan of the star wars saga and am very much looking forward to this movie, but running down an entire movie on the back of a trailer and your own incorrect assumption seems, well, stupid. god what are you expecting. how would you have dome it (no smart ass comments please, lets see some non-sarcastic semi-intelligible writing here.

  18. john horne says:

    i wish i had spell checked or could edit.

  19. So, John. Please, don't hold back...what do you really think? ;^)

    (Sorry, couldn't help the smart-ass comment. I was stroking myself while going through my trailer collection so it clouded my semi-intelligible writing skills that I'm now showing off for the class. I think I'm ready to reply...especially since I did get some sleep last night...)

    I'm not going to say "You're wrong, you weird-ass fanboy." In fact, I sincerely hope that you come back to this blog the day after Eppy 3 opens and tell me that I was a complete fuckhead (Yeah, go ahead, say it! Give in to the Dark Side of the Blog!) in my conclusion of a two-and-a-half hour film from a four-minute trailer.

    I am also a "weird-ass fanboy" (and damn proud of it) of Star Wars...and I want to be proven wrong. I really, really, do.

    And it might happen. I've been wrong before.

  20. john horne says:

    well yeah that was a bit of a rant, but i truly think the story to this movie ties up the loose ends and answers all the questions quite nicely.

    The prequels were always going to suffer (as far as public opinion is concerned) as they concern themselves with the stuffier elements of the star wars story (the jedi frowning and meditating, as they do, and political manipulation), but the parts i have highlighted are not (IMO) a cause for concern.

    the things that concern me are the introduction of new characters, such as grievous, so late into the story. It just doesnt seem necessary, but the general tone and feel of the trailer seems perfect. I also think Mr McDiarmid will do an excellent job, as he *always* does. We will see moments of clunky 'you can write but can't speak it' dialogue but i think you should have a bit of faith in the storyline and not boycott the movie on assumption.

    anyway i loved the trailer and to me it served as a good appetiser for the movie, so i'll be looking forward to it enough for the both of us.

  21. Nothing wrong with a good rant, John. Nothing wrong at all! ;^)

  22. James Morison says:

    Yeah I watched Revenge of the Sith. In short, I thought it was a mediocre film and am disappointed that George Lucas couldn't get over his big ego and pass the work onto better directors and script writers as he did in the past- ie in Empire Strike Back.

    So why- lets see poor script, poor directing, poor casting- all the actors were so wooden, too many zany references to the 1977 trilogy.

    Some stuff that stuck out like a sore thumb- Anakin's ridiculous conversion to the Dark Side. So he gets a few bad dreams, Palpatine whisper a few words, then he turns to the dark side and then goes off and massacres a whole roomful of small kids? Then he merrily jaunts off to see Padme and says nothing is wrong? He seemed to show more feelings of guilt killing the roomful of Seperatist leaders.

    And then duh. when Palpatine tells him to go to the Mustapha system - it should have clicked in Anakin's thick head that Palpatine and Darth Sideous were one and the same and responsible for all the mayhem and destruction.

    So when Padme dies in the end- why doesn't Anakin lose it and kills Palapatine??? The only reason why Anakin didn't kill him at the start was because of his promise to save Padme. Now its bloody obvious that Palpatine was lying all the long.

    I watched Star War when it came out in 1977 and later Empire Strikes Back- and I thought Lucas was a genius. Now I realize, esp after his stupid comments at Cannes, that he's a stupid lucky hack who has been coasting on the success of his previous films.

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