Sunday, April 5, 2009

Star Wars

"I didn't like 'King Kong,' it was too long."
"Well, it was made in the 1930's..."
"No, I'm talking about the Peter Jackson remake. I haven't seen the original."
"What? How can you not have seen that?"
"I haven't seen the original Star Wars trilogy, either."
That almost killed him!

Yeah, I seriously lived for 22 years without watching those movies. As I've read books like The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and L. Frank Baum's Oz series, and seen many fantasy movies, lots of people assumed I'd seen the "grandaddy of them all," George Lucas' juggernaut franchise Star Wars.

Okay, I actually did once see the very end of Return of the Jedi on TV once, but I mean the very end, where Luke sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda, and one time, we tuned into seeing Darth Vader's ship going awry at the end of Star Wars (or A New Hope, or whatever you call it), but I'd never watched the movies all the way through.

It didn't help in 1999 when I went to a movie night event we had in Youth Group, and they popped in a VHS of The Phantom Menace. I didn't have such a good head for catching onto things as I do now, but the movie made no sense to me whatsoever. Even without having seen the earlier movies, I already knew that the little kid would be Darth Vader in the later movies, and that Luke guy would be his son. (I later found out Leia was his sister when I was watching an episode of The O.C..)

So, last year, in July, I decided to finally rent the original trilogy on Netflix, just so I could say I'd seen it. I managed to rent the original, unaltered versions. I can understand extended and director's cuts, but I got confused as to the point of re-doing special effects. No one has bothered to re-do special effects in The Wizard of Oz (though that's a different matter entirely), Mary Poppins, Labyrinth, or The NeverEnding Story, and those movies have held up well.

I'll have to say, I did enjoy the first movie. I wasn't floored by it, but it was a fun adventure movie that told a nice story. I thought the creature effects held up well.

I got the other two movies and saw them in succession. These two lost a lot of the humor that was present in the first one, and started talking about the mysterious presence of "The Force." Having an imaginary world is good and all, but there are points where it feels like the filmmaker is forcing the audience to take it as seriously as he does.

One reason why I love The Chronicles of Narnia and the Oz books is because, even though there may be many details behind so many elements, the authors decided that it didn't need to be revealed for the readers to enjoy the stories. Baum dropped a few hints in his stories, as did Lewis, who also wrote a timeline that included events he didn't include in his books.

In Star Wars, all of this detail is forced on the viewer, and sadly, a lot of fiction has copied this style. For me, my interest was ebbing quickly. I finished the two movies, then sent them back to Netflix, and haven't watched them again since.

I still hear people talk about how great these movies are, and when they ask me about them, they're shocked to hear me say I'm not a fan. They were good movies that broke ground in special effects and cinematic storytelling, but that's all the praise I can really give them.

And seeing as it took nine months for me to finally write this tells you just how compelled I was to get my opinion out...


Anonymous said...

My Dad is a Star Wars nut.
I don't care for them even though i look like Luke Skywalker. :)

I once went with my Dad to the cinema where I sat through the original 3 movies back to back!

They weren't bad movies, just that, almost 10 hours in a cinema almost killed me.
My Dad fell asleep for most of it.:)

Jared said...

Al, you look nothing like Luke Skywalker. You look like yourself. :D

Nathan said...

I've seen (and enjoyed, to a greater or lesser extent) all of the Star Wars movies, but I haven't seen the original or the remake of King Kong. Maybe I should.