September 6, 2011
George Lucas is unstoppable. Despite the fan outcries, he will continue to make changes to the Star Wars saga, possibly until his dying breath when he finally just superimposes his face on everyone. He’s already making little changes, like Ewoks blinking, to the big changes, like Vader repeating the oft-mocked “NOOOOO!” from Revenge of the Sith and changing puppet Yoda with digi-Yoda.
But if Lucas is hell-bent on continually tweaking his greatest work, and the love of millions of people world-wide, let’s make the changes mean something.
1) The Great Gungan Genocide
No fictional creature has inspired more hatred in my heart than Jar Jar Binks. He and his entire species of Muppet rejects took a movie that was already at the bottom of the barrel and slammed it nose-first into the bedrock.
Let’s remove every Gungan in the films. They add nothing. Jar Jar is supposed to be comic relief and comes across as a barely-restrained minstrel show. The entire Gungan race could be removed from The Phantom Menace and replaced with generic Naboo troops and we would gain some traction instead of having Jar Jar slip on the preverbal banana peel every five minutes he’s on-screen.
And don’t tell me Lucas can’t do it. He can create armies of droids and the planet Coruscant in its full glory. He can get rid of the annoying frog-people.
2) Less is More… Sometimes
Nothing says good writing like “show, don’t tell.” In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda doesn’t say he’s some great warrior. He doesn’t boast. He lifts a flipping X-Wing with his MIND!
We don’t need monologues to tell us Naboo is in trouble. We don’t need people to tell us how they feel. That makes me angry! If Lucas had allowed, like in previous works, for a little improvisation on the part of the actors, a lot of the wooden dialogue and performances could have been avoided. These aren’t bad actors. Natalie Portman won an Oscar for playing a schizophrenic ballerina. Ewan McGregor has BAFTA Scotland acting awards and a list of nominations that would be the envy of any actor. Liam Neeson is… well, he’s freakin’ Liam Neeson!
The audience is NOT dumb. We can SEE the action. We can READ faces. If brevity is the soul of wit, the prequels have not a soul but an ethereal vacuum that eats spirits.
3) Harrison Ford Justice
This one is not a change so much as a reversion.
Han shot first. Han is established to be a two-timing scoundrel who really is in it for the money. Han grows to become a general in the Rebel Alliance and ends up with the girl, eventually starting a family that includes three Jedi (not counting his wife, and let’s ignore that one kid, well, had a little of his grandfather in him.)
All of that gets undone if Han doesn’t shoot first.
First of all, it’s a crappy effect. Han looks like Stretch Armstrong. Second of all, for decades, he was the guy who showed he was willing to kill to escape any situation. Greedo may not have shot him there and then. Han just assumed.
Let’s give Han his balls back, please.
4) Daddy was a Dick
The final scene showing Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda as Force ghosts was a defining moment for Darth Vader. He had fully cast aside the teachings of the Sith. He killed his master and saved the son he had, just minutes before, been ready to kill. Anakin Skywalker achieved a measure of redemption and became what he should have become: a servant of the Force.
Now, we have Hayden Christensen douching it up.
Sure, people can justify it by saying that Christensen’s appearance is what Vader looked like before falling to the Dark side, that his physical appearance was nothing more than the ravages of time and battle.
This is the best example of Lucas taking away actors, effects, and, in general, the work of other men and women who made his films what they are. Yes, Lucas owns the rights to the franchise, but it’s outright rude to get rid of the hard work others put into creating his vision.
5) Jabba’s Had Some Work Done
Industrial Light and Magic has some of the most talented visual effects artists on the planet. They have enough hardware and software that I’m convinced they could re-create the Matrix. They helped pioneer the field of digital effects…
So why can’t they make Jabba the Hutt look like Jabba the Hutt?
I mean, look at him in the DVD edition. Even in the screenshots of the new edition, Jabba looks like some generic Hutt, like the animators had a vague idea of what he was supposed to look like. I’ll buy that he gained weight between the films until he was the puss-sack from Return of the Jedi… but come on!
Overall, I have many words on the obsession with re-editing and adding, and changing, and altering tiny things, but that’s for another article. Right now, I’m trying to fight my inner nerd, who really wants to see these films, and my inner writer, that wants to throttle Lucas.
However, there is ONE change that might make the saga cool, or at least so utterly ridiculous I’d watch it. Behold!