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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Star Wars...Which One Will Show Up


About two weeks ago, a bomb was dropped in the entertainment world. Disney announced that it was purchasing Lucasfilm, which includes Star Wars and Indiana Jones, for $4 Billion dollars. That is billion with a B. But that wasn't all. Disney proceeded to announce that production would begin on a new Star Wars trilogy, amply titling the new film Episode 7. Since then, the Internet has been a buzz on who would write the script, would any of the original actors return to their iconic roles, and in what capacity would George Lucas serve?

Slowly or quickly depending on whom you speak with, new information has begun to leak out. I won't get into all of the details here, but if you are interested in a good read, Paste Magazine and have great articles on this subject matter, which you can read here and here. It's been awhile since I have watched any of the Star Wars films, so I decided to pop one into the old DVD play and get reacquainted with an old friend. 

Unfortunately I watched Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. It's not that Revenge of the Sith is a bad movie, it isn't. In fact it is the best out of the prequel trilogy. Watching it just reminded me of how much of a missed opportunity the prequels were. 

Now this isn't going to be a blog post bad mouthing the prequels. There are plenty of those out there. What I mean with missed opportunity is the over use of CGI graphics. One of the absolute best things about the original trilogy was the sets and the models. For many months skill craftsman and carpenters built Jabba the Hut's fortress, Yoda's home on Dagobah, or the Death Star. This created a realism that had never before been seen in SciFi. And ultimately it added, in my opinion, to the overall success of the series. The viewer was truly transported to a galaxy far, far away. 

(Looks so awesome and realistic.)

In the prequels, the filmmakers completely abandoned this in favor of creating everything through CGI. While they were able to create some never before seen worlds, the SFX did not age well. As I watched Episode III, a major distraction for me was all of the actors seemed to pop out from the background. That is because everything was shot against a green screen. As CGI graphics advance, the flaws of its predecessors become much more noticeable. The perfect examples are the prequels. 

(Is this even real?)

Now if you are able to watch the original trilogy, without the CGI alterations, you will see SFX that have aged gracefully. Are they perfect? Absolutely not. Yet when you see the Millennium Falcon, not once do you doubt whether it is real or not. That is because it is real. Someone actually built it. It physically exists. When I watch the prequels everything looks cartoony, and I don't believe that the ships, creatures, or worlds are real. In fact it becomes very distracting to the story telling process. 

What my great hope is, with this new trilogy is that the film makers return to classic style of movie making, and use some of the special effects techniques that made the original trilogy so special. Real sets, the use of models, and for God sakes a puppet Yoda!!


Matt Maldre said...

i'm in Orlando now (for a work conference) and it just o happens that the Star Wars exhibit is being shown at the Science Center of Orlando! I went and spent five hours in the show seeing things like the 4-foot diameter Millennium Falcon, X-wing figher, Luke's hovercraft, Yoda, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2, and much much more.

I took 819 photos. There wasn't 819 items, but this is the largest show ever of stuff from BOTH the prequels and regular movies. I took lots of detailed shots of everything. I think my favorite shots will be the details of the Millennium Falcon, and all the shoes of the various characters. (I would put my camera on the base of the glass case and photograph a detail of their shoes. Kinda quirky, but I bet it will be a unique collection of shots.)

Peter Kreten said...

That is awesome. Will you be posting the pictures online Matt? How big are the models?

elmhurst erik said...

I generally agree with the direction of this post. Seeing Obi Wan stare into space when conversing with Jar Jar is a far worse experience than Obi Wan conversing with a real, live Chewie. (Did Obi Wan and Chewbacca ever have a conversation in Epi 4?)

However, watching Yoda in Epi 5 is laughable. He's clearly a Muppet. I love the Muppets, but they shouldn't be making cameo appears in the Star Wars series unless it's Pigs in Space. And I'm all for Disney making a trilogy of Pigs in Space.

Matt Maldre said...

Did Obi-Wan (aka Ben) talk to Chewie in episode IV? Why yes, he did. From the Star Wars Script (Revised Fourth Draft):

Ben is standing next to Chewbacca, an eight-foot-tall savage-looking creature resembling a huge grey bushbaby monkey with fierce baboon-like fangs. His large blue eyes dominate a fur-covered face and soften his otherwise awesome appearance. Over his matted, furry body he wears two chrome bandoliers, and little else. He is a two-hundred-year-old Wookiee and a sight to behold.

Ben speaks to the Wookiee, pointing to Luke several times during his conversation and the huge creature suddenly lets out a horrifying laugh. Luke is more than a little bit disconcerted and pretends not to hear the conversation between Ben and the giant Wookiee.

... a few moments later ...

BEN TO LUKE: This is Chewbacca. He's first-mate on a ship that might suit our needs.

... a few moments later ...

HAN SOLO TO BEN: I'm captain of the Millennium Falcon. Chewie here tells me you're looking for passage to the Alderaan system.

BEN TO HAN SOLO: Yes, indeed. If it's a fast ship.

Matt Maldre said...

Peter, yes I will be posting some of the photos online. It would be funny to post all 819 photos somewhere. But I do plan on making 11x17 prints at work to hang in the 435 gallery (aka my workspace).

Matt Maldre said...

Here's a cool photo of Wookiees chillin

Peter Kreten said...

-Erik, I will have to re-watch Episode 5. I don't remember Yoda looking that bad. And I second your motion for a trilogy of Pigs in Space.

-Matt, that is awesome that you pulled up the script. I look the Wookies picture.