Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Star Wars

So I have this rule which is to never start or enter a conversation about George Lucas films. I always get in trouble in those conversations. I'm about to break the rule by talking about Star Wars and I'm going to put it here for all the world to see. With the release of Force Awakens, Star Wars has been much on my mind recently and I need to get it out of my system. There's no great insights here, no big controversy, no advice to take away and store in your mind banks. This is me just talking about a thing I like.

Some context.

By my late teens, I had seen some of Star Wars but not all of it. What I'd seen I did like but Science Fiction has never been my thing and mostly I liked that it had sword and sorcery. They were good fun but not something I gave a lot of attention to.

That is until I picked up the video game Knights of The Old Republic and, shortly after, it's sequel. Both games had been out a few years at that time. Those games changed everything. The second one, particularly, I rank as a particularly well made, well written and memorable game. After that I stumbled across the Knights of The Old Republic comic series and started reading that. It didn't take long for me to decide, Damn, I should really go and watch all those movies again.

So I did. And I loved them. All of them.

ALL of them.

This is where it always gets awkward. Wait, what? All of them? Even... those ones?

Especially those ones.

Let me make myself crystal clear and give you a ranking of how I feel about Star Wars and the seven films in the main series. From most favourite to least favourite...

1. Force Awakens
2. Empire Strikes Back
3. Phantom Menace
4. Revenge of The Sith
5. New Hope
6. Return of The Jedi
7. Attack of The Clones

Did you feel that? It's like a million Star Wars fans all cried out, wanting to tell me why I'm wrong.

But I'm not wrong because it's all subjective. It's a matter of taste.

But I've always said, there's subjective opinion but there's also an objective measure of quality that we can apply to art. It's not perfect, it's not without some subjectivity, but art criticism can't exist without a widely agreed upon objective measure of how well a piece of art is crafted. So we can look at Star Wars both subjectively as a thing we enjoy or we don't but we can also look at how each film measures up in terms of (largely) objective merit.

But it's generally unwise to do so because, actually, guys, these movies all kinda suck.

Okay, maybe that's putting it harshly but, really, have you watched those them recently? I mean actually sat and watched them? Turned off the nostalgia goggles and suppressed your inner fanboy and really watched them? These are B movies at best.

Here's just a few common major problems in them.

1. Comic relief characters that aren't funny, just annoying.
2. Racist. Just... Wow... So racist.
3. Just the worst dialogue ever.
4. Flimsy plot.
5. Flimsy characters.
6. Pointless and filler scenes. Lots of them.
7. Most of the fight choreography.

Usually I hear these as criticism aimed at the three prequel films and in some ways, like the racism, the prequels are worse. But in many ways the prequels also were an improvement. For starters, the prequel trilogy is a hugely ambitious effort in movie making. The first three had a relatively simple plot with hints at something grander but the prequels are epic in design, both the story being told and how it is told. It was clearly more than Lucas could manage, but damn if he didn't give it his all. The other big one is in characters, and this is easier to highlight. With only a couple of exceptions, the characters in Star Wars 4, 5 and 6 are bland, under developped and offer little in the way of humanity. Possibly the biggest offender is Luke Skywalker himself who, right up until Return of The Jedi, has one defining characteristic and that is he's kind of a whiny prat.

Qui-Gon Jin, on the other hand, is seen in one film and in that film he becomes one of the most well defined characters in the series. And he's just one example. Obi-Wan, now a main character, becomes a more interesting and well rounded character. All the main characters and much of the supporting cast, such as Mace Windu, all have more personality than most of the original trilogy characters. Anakin even gets an arc. It's a poorly written, poorly executed arc, but still an actual visible arc!

With the exception of Empire Strikes Back and now Force Awakens, all the Star Wars films we've seen are some B grade films. It's amazing you can throw that much money at a project and have it come out with so many flaws.

It's important to remember, however, that there can be a difference between what is "good" and what you like or enjoy.

And you know what Star Wars is really good at? You know what it does so well? You know what just about makes up for all that? Star Wars is fun! Star Wars has all the science fiction and fantasy and adventure and excitement you could want. Star Wars is enjoyable!

And in a way, that makes the film a great success because they weren't made to be great cinema, they were made to sell toys be enjoyed! And they succeed at their goal! I, for one, love every mind numbing, poorly written, poorly directed utterly stupid moment of it! And now we have a new one! After ten years, a new Star Wars film has hit our screens and it's not just a good Star Wars film, it's an actual good film! It's not perfect. It has flaws. But it's a well made piece of art! Now we have the best of both worlds! Scream and shout in jubilation with me! Yippee!!



But I can hear you. Some of you are already pointing out all the reasons I'm wrong. I'm not going to argue with you, because, like I said, even when you try to take an objective eye to art, it's not perfect. There's still a big element of subjectivity in it. We can all look at the same piece of acting and rank it differently, based on our expectations and how many errors we're willing to accept before it's considered "bad."

By now, if you've seen Star Wars, you've probably made up your mind about which ones you like and which ones you don't. I'm not going to change your mind. I don't want to. I'm just expressing an opinion.


Because I wanted to. It's my blog and sometimes I like to write something totes pointless and full of incoherent ramblings about things I like.


That's it.


1 comment:

Penny O said...

Hell, I enjoyed the prequels. The dialogue wasn't always fantastic, and I would have preferred for a medical droid to not have diagnosed Padme's demise as caused by "a broken heart" (that CAN happen, but it usually takes a lot longer and is, uh, kind of a combination of depression and systemic shock, iirc), but I enjoyed them, and the original trilogy, and I quite enjoyed The Force Awakens. Which, on the plus side, had no characters that I squinted at and went "is that racial caricature intentional or a REALLY UNFORTUNATE coincidence?" so that's always nice :D

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