The Recasting of Star Wars
You've probably heard this before. It's an idea I've had for a long time, and if I do say so, it's a pretty dang good idea. Or set of ideas. Or whatever.
So, the title: it doesn't really refer to finding different people to play the various roles in the Star Wars saga. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea. But this isn't about that. It's about a much bigger overhaul, a reshaping of the Star Wars prequels, so to speak.
I present the following outline for your convenience. And because I've never done one on this blog before.
The Overarching Problems with the Sequels
A. George Lucas' Involvement
i. George Lucas as a Creator
ii. George Lucas as a Writer/Director
iii. George Lucas as a Producer
B. The Bad Guys
i. Darth Maul
ii. Count Dooku
iii. General Grevious
iv. Senator Palpatine
iv. The Clone Wars
Okay, let's dive in.
George Lucas is a genius. I say that now, because in his head he created what has become one of the most expansive, rich and detailed alternate realities ever made. He came up with Star Wars, the franchise that gave us six movies, a few TV specials (some good, some not), billions of dollars worth of merchandise and video games, and novels upon novels. Yes, one can argue that Star Wars is an amalgamation of numerous other creative works- stories, myths, legends- but most things are. I argue that you cannot deny Jorge his place as a great creator in the entertainment world.
Where things go south between Giorgio and me is his involvement in bringing his world to life. I have no problem with his wanting to get involved. If I had created something like Star Wars, I'd want to make sure it was properly realized. Where I get all cringe-like is when Giorgi gets involved in the writing of dialog and the directing of said dialog. It's wooden, awkward, and falls into the trap of "who actually talks like that?" Too frequently, what are clearly meant to be
witticisms and clever quips come out sounding stupid and out of place. If you want specific examples, ask me in the comments and I'll follow up. Maybe some of the bad dialog can be blamed on the acting. Certainly that's the case with Jake Lloyd (pint-sized Anakin). But when skilled actors like Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson look like dunces, there's something wrong.
As a side note, notice that Georgy-Porgy did not direct what is widely regarded as the best episode of the whole saga, The Empire Strikes Back. I'm just sayin'.
Plot-wise, the prequels don't flow the best, but I'm giving Georges the benefit of the doubt. It's not easy reducing a conceptually massive universe into a few paltry films. Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone is an example of when it doesn't work so well. (Chris Columbus tried to put too much in, and it hindered). Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy is an example of when it works beautifully. If he'd wanted to make three three-hour-long (at least) installments, maybe the story would have been better. So I don't hate on this aspect. I do, however, have ideas of how the story might have flowed better.
Darth Maul. The baddest baddie to come along since the Sith Lord Darth Vader himself. I'd argue he's even a bit cooler with the double-bladed lightsaber, awesome ninja moves and killer face tattoos. But that's neither here nor there. What is here nor there is the fact that the guy had two scenes in the whole of Star Wars-dom. He died WAY too soon. Why? Why kill off the most insane-sick-awesome villain of the 90s?
Count Dooku. Played nicely by Christopher Lee, a man who sweats awesomeness in his sleep and while drinking his hot English Breakfast. As a villain, though, I say simply, "Meh." He had his cool elements- lightsaber with a curved handle, his elegant style of fighting, etc. But again, one of the main reasons for his mediocrity is that we never get to know him. He got way more screen time than the aforementioned Darth Bad-A, and it wasn't used very well.
General Grevious. A very interesting concept, and when I say interesting, I mean very cool. An alien/cyborg that learned the art of the lightsaber probably much like Neo learned kung fu? Not bad, Jorgen, not bad. Where he loses out is that we barely get to know him before he's offed (and in a pretty lame way, I might add). Is anyone noticing a pattern here?
Giorgios kills his villains too quickly! None of the three I just mention lasted longer than about half a movie. Darth Maul? We meet him toward the middle of Episode I, and he dies by the end of E-I. Count Dooku? We meet him at the end of E-II, and he's out in the beginning of E-III. Grevious? Introduced at the start of E-III, dead by the middle of E-III. There's no time to get attached to the villain before he dies, and I argue that people enjoy getting attached to villains just as much as they enjoy getting attached to heroes.
Here's what I would do, then, if I could go back and redo the prequels:
- Make Darth Maul the main baddie, the sole apprentice of Darth Sidious pre-Vader.
- Darth Maul doesn't die in E-I, rather escapes and lives to fight another day. He stays Sidious' apprentice and replaces Count Dooku from a plot standpoint.
- Maul becomes one of the main antagonists throughout E-II, besting Obi-Wan again and again, making Obi-Wan angrier and bringing him a little closer to the dark side he's trying to keep Anakin away from.
- Somehow Maul also gets on Anakin's nerves so that by the end of E-II, both Jedi hate Darth Maul with a passion. That makes his death at the beginning of E-III more satisfying.
- Eliminate Count Dooku.
- Introduce Grevious early on in E-II. Rewrite the story to make him figure in more prominantly. Then kill him in E-III, though with a much better death than just getting shot.
That's the basic idea. On another bad guy note, and maybe this goes back to the dialog/directing debate, but Palpatine was laughable from about the middle of E-III on (starting from where the Jedi confront him). Really badly done. What happened in the years after Return of the Jedi?
Okay, time to wrap this up. Other things that I'd change:
- Midi-chlorians- stupid, stupid, stupid. It takes the mystical quality away from the Force, and your ability as a Jedi basically boils down to body chemistry. Also, I always think of chlorophyll. Weird.
- Gungans- pointless. Jar Jar merits his own complaints, but as a whole the Gungans are pointless. As a plot device, as characters, as a species...useless.
- Anakin- find a different kid. Jake Lloyd is terrible. Simply terrible.
- The Clone Wars- how did we not get more of what could have arguably been some of the most epic sci-fighting in movie history? (I just made up a new term: sci-fighting. It's been a productive day). Seriously, this could have made for many more awesome battle scenes and sequences. Seriously.
In conclusion, I love Star Wars. I just bought episodes I and II to complete my collection. Nevermind that I only really enjoy two scenes in E-I: the pod race and the lightsaber duel. Nevermind that I want to cry in pain every time Natalie Portman opens her mouth in the movie (I blame the G-man for that one). Never mind that Darth Vader's infamous "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" can be found in spoofs and parodies all over the internet, not to mention that it's THE low point in James Earl Jones' life.
It could have been better, though. Much better. Maybe once Peter Jackson's done with The Hobbit, he can turn his creative eye toward a galaxy far, far away.