I know that bashing Lucas and the last decade of Star Wars has been done, and I’ve written about it before, but not for a long time. And on a different site which might exist only on an archive server now.
But I’m thinking about watching all six films again, and I figured since I’d probably write something after I was finished, I might as well write some kind of preface.
It’s fair to say I was raised on Star Wars. My mother was one of those “I saw it 30 times” people when the original came out. We had puzzles of movie stills, the old giant Marvel movie comics (and some of the.. series ones with Jaxxon the space rabbit); I had tons of the action figures and toys. My grandmother sold most of those in a garage sale when I was 8 or 9, and I still can’t let it go. When I was about that age I had confused the the plotline and merged the two death stars in my head, and I recall rewatching all the films at some point and suddenly having a complete understanding of Darth Vader, and Luke and Leia, stuff that I couldn’t have understood in kindergarten.
When the EU novels started coming out, about 1995 or so, I read the Thrawn Trilogy and a few others like a rabid nerd. I started collecting some of the new figures. It was an interesting resurgence- there wasn’t anything said from the Lucas camp yet, but there was definitely a kind of self-driven reinterest in Star Wars. And then, suddenly, they rereleased the original films with enhancements. I remember being alright with everything except tiny Jabba. I don’t think the Greedo scene registered actually. I remember going to Empire and not noticing any significant difference there, and skipping Jedi in the theater.
The high point of this resurgence, for me, was the release of Star Wars legos. If I could’ve wished for anything at all to exist from the time I was age 4, it would’ve been a millenium falcon made of legos. And damned if a few years had passed; I bought the entire first few runs of those, and the last set of those I got was maybe a year or so ago. I even got a few of the Episode I sets just before it was released.. if only I’d stopped there.
Episode I came out my senior year of high school. I remember going to see it for our senior trip and being appalled that it was playing at Georgetown theater, which had these tiny screens and catycornered room layouts and really lousy projectors which the employees couldn’t even operate properly. Lucas had made a point only to release them to theaters of a certain standard, and had somehow missed the mark on that one. But it was free, so…
What’s amazing was how little I cared about the quality of the projector or the claustrophobic theater after the first half hour. I didn’t think for a second I could be disappointed in a Star Wars film, and certainly not as crestfallen as I was. The CGI was over-the-top and cartoonish. There was a fucking child actor involved. Remember all the kids in the originals? Right- there weren’t any, because no one wants to see children in a goddamn sci-fi film. The villain, who was the most visually interesting character, didn’t have one single line of dialogue in the entire movie! It wasn’t even bad for a Star Wars film, it was lousy for any film, period.
The precise moment my nostalgia lost all value was the point at which Jar-Jar stepped in shit and uttered “poo doo”. I recall a number of friends agreeing that was the point when we gave up hoping that Episode I would suddenly be awesome and make up for the first hour or so. That was when I realized that anything revisiting my childhood could never live up to what I remembered. A valuable lesson for the Transformers film, or the G.I.Joe film, or watching old episodes of He-Man on hulu (holy shit, if you need proof that homosexuality is not a choice,the fact that there are any straight men between 29 and 35 is proof enough).
I dunno. A good lesson, but a very unpleasant one. I managed to see Episodes II and III in the theater, mostly just to get the foul taste of the first one out of my mouth. And, if I recall, they were progressively better films- or at least parts of them. But I’ve avoided them since, and I think it’s time to remember why. On the plus side, watching them in order means the worst one is right at the beginning, and the last three are the best. I’ll probably watch them on the ‘original theatrical release’ disc though, just to be safe.