Wow, I've been out of it for a while. I would explain why, but it involves (in part) entirely too much time playing a certain Xbox game this week, so let's just leave it at that so I won't feel too sheepish.
So last night Amelia and I were watching Vh1 into the wee hours of the morning because they had this special on called "When Star Wars Ruled the World." It was really entertaining and interesting; they had interviews with all the key cast members of the original trilogy as well as superfans, producers, directors, etc. (minus George Lucas, who seems to be so full of himself that few people can manage to be in the same room with him) and a look at how the phenomenon exploded. This wasn't stellar documentary filmmaking by any means, but it was interesting to see how all the different actors have managed to deal with forever being associated with those films. Carrie Fisher just seemed annoyed and frustrated by it all, Harrison Ford saw it as just another hugely successful film series he was in (though he did have the best line of the show, criticizing Return of the Jedi as being "not a very satisfying ending, with the teddy bear's picnic and all"), and Mark Hamill has really embraced the films, in part because no one else really sees him as anything except Luke Skywalker. He seems like a cool kid, and I like that.
So that made me a lot more excited to go see Episode III today (assuming we can get tickets, that is) and get back in that world. Then right before going to bed I read an article on the new film in Entertainment Weekly where George Lucas admitted that he didn't have much of a storyline for the prequel trilogy, only a "character sketch" that he had done before the original trilogy--a lot of which was just political wrangling, which doesn't make for a very interesting movie (see Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones for example). Then he said that 60% of the real story he wanted to tell in the prequels is in Revenge of the Sith. Which begs the question, so what was in those first two movies? Obviously, a lot of filler.
Lucas is a strange guy; he seems to both love and hate his status as the maker of Star Wars, which I think I can understand--I mean, how would you handle being the guy that created a cultural phenomenon and caused millions of teenage boys to forever be geeks? That's a lot of pressure. At the same time, he seems relatively unconcerned that no one seemed to like those first two movies. Yes there was a lot to live up to, and inevitably the prequels probably would be criticized, but I think he lost sight of what made the first films so enjoyable--like interesting characters, for example--and instead wanted to just look for ways to play with technology and show big space battles on screen. Yes, the original films were made with models and puppets and sometimes looked cheesy, but wasn't that part of the magic? He made a whole new world with whatever he could; he didn't just CGI everything and say "That's how you know it's good." I don't know. I'm excited for the film, and maybe I should do what Zimm is doing and resee the first two before I go, but I don't know that he's convinced me yet that the first two are worth rewatching. Maybe if it's really good I'll rewatch them all together, but until then, I'll just take this new movie for what it is: the first summer blockbuster I'm looking forward to seeing. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.