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Star Wars Prequels Movies

An Animated, Open Letter To J.J. Abrams About Star Wars 376 376

juliangamble writes "Designer Prescott Harvey has written and animated an open letter to J.J. Abrams about the plans for the next Star Wars movie. He says, 'Like so many people, I've spent most of my recent years wondering why the original Star Wars trilogy was so awesome, and the new movies were so terrible. What are the factors that make Star Wars Star Wars? I took an empirical approach, determining what elements were in the original movies that differed from the prequels. My first major epiphany was that, in the originals, the characters are always outside somewhere very remote. The environment and the wildlife are as much a threat as the empire. All three movies had this bushwacky, exploratory feel. Contrast that with the prequels, where the characters are often in cities, or in the galactic senate. In order for Star Wars to feel like a true adventure, the setting has to be the frontier, and this became my first rule.'"
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An Animated, Open Letter To J.J. Abrams About Star Wars

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  • by Marc_Hawke (130338) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:00AM (#44983231)

    Rule 1: On the frontier.
    Rule 2: Old (well, at least broken) Not 'squeaky clean.'
    Rule 3: The force is mysterious?
    Rule 4: It's not cute.

    All of those perfectly describe Firefly, (except the Force thing, and that's not really applicable.)

    In fact, Malcolm Reynolds is a pretty accurate analogue for Han Solo, as Serenity is to the Millennium Falcon.

    Who knew we liked Firefly for the same reasons we originally liked Star Wars?

  • by hpsandwich (1750300) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:05AM (#44983261)

    He already turned Star Trek into a battle-oriented space opera. If anything that shows he has a decent handle of what Star Wars is. More than he has on Star Trek at least.

    He was never into Star Trek. At one point in an interview he stated that he never 'got' Star Trek, which is why the new Star Trek movies don't feel like Star Trek at all. There was always more of an audience (unfortunately) for space action rather than the hardcore sci-fi and intense Socratic dialogue that Star Trek is famous for. On the other-hand, he has stated multiple times that he was always a Star Wars fan, so theirs something to be said for that. Being a fan himself, he would probably be better equipped to make a movie about it.

  • Re:Transcript please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:07AM (#44983273) Homepage Journal

    1. The setting must be gritty. Star Wars needs to happen in the "frontier," and city settings and government intrigue are an anathema. (Apparently no one's ever set foot on the Death Star or Cloud City.)

    2. Technology must be old. Shiny things are right out. (Again, apparently neither the Death Star nor Cloud City exist.)

    3. The Force must remain mysterious. Ooh, mystery.

    4. Cute things are bad. Gungans are right out. As is Anakin Skywalker. (Ewoks are okay though?)

    ...Basically, it's a load of nostalgia and action-flick obsession, and the letter's authors will be perfectly fine if the new Star Wars movies are indistinguishable from JJ Abrams's cookie-cutter take on Star Trek. Importantly, the authors completely failed to touch on any of the prequel trilogy's technical flaws—y'know, the incoherent plot, the stilted dialogue, the terrible directing, the miserable editing, the textbook cinematography. For anyone actually interested in understanding what's wrong with the prequel films, watch the Plinkett reviews [redlettermedia.com] of the three movies; there's some remarkable footage buried in there of the exact moment when George Lucas realized he had produced a heap of garbage called Episode I.

  • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:12AM (#44983297) Homepage Journal
    You mean this [slate.com] decent writing? Please, tell me more.
  • by Scoth (879800) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:29AM (#44983357)

    My wife and I just last week did a marathon watching of all six. She hasn't historically been a Sci Fi fan, and she thinks she saw ANH as a child but didn't really remember it. Overall, she enjoyed all six fine. She recognized some of the stilted handling of the romance and such, but in general she liked it fine. She had no preconceived notions or expectations going in.

    She'll admit the original trilogy are better movies, but she liked them all fine. As a lifelong Star Trek/Star Wars fan myself, it's interesting seeing her perspective on it all since for her, they're just more movies. She doesn't have a lifetime of expectations or fandom or anything.

  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:44AM (#44983419) Homepage

    ST:2009 was the best film [wikipedia.org] by Academy Awards, inflation-adjusted box office, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and IMDB. Abrams blew it with ST:ID. While ST:2009 had great special effects, Abrams was so overly focused on special effects with his Trek-unprecedented $190m ST:ID budget that he forgot about the plot.

    Lucas suffered a similar problem. Oh, Lucas didn't forget about the plot in the prequel trilogy -- in fact it was richer in the prequels. Lucas was so focused on special effects in the prequels that he left all the character development on the cutting room floor. The prequels would have been much better with the cut scenes that are available on the DVDs. Couldn't let the special effects budget go to waste on the cutting room floor, you know.

    Resource constraints increase creativity. Thus, I sadly have little hope for Abrams Wars.

  • by Zimluura (2543412) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:44AM (#44983423)

    I was hoping someone would mention that...but your link didn't work for me.
    try this 7 parter on youtube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI [youtube.com]

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:47AM (#44983435)
    The missile thing was indeed a plot hole, but all the rest is unfair critic, sorry.

    Yes it is possible to heavily automate a ship whose sole purpose is to fight by Star Trek cannon. It is usually not done because most Federation ships are multi-role exploration ships.

    And it is trivial to go from Earth to Jupiter in a couple hours by the same cannon as long as you have a warp capable ship.

    Last but not least, the best way to make something secret is to make it in a hiding place few people know about, and you do that by heavily automating the dock too, which makes it a nice target for a genius engineer that is informed where it is.

    All in all it was a very good movie with great actors and just a few plot roles (less than the average Star Trek movie for sure, and much less than the average Sci-fi movie)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:50AM (#44983441)

    Agreed. I saw the original Star Wars in theaters. I saw of the original trilogy in theaters, and then the special edition re-releases in theaters when I was in college. I still enjoyed the movies then just as I had before, then again, I had an absolutely cool Rocky Horror Picture Show type crowd in the audience. The movie could have been Manos: The Hands of Fate, and everyone would have been just as awesome.

    Looking back, Star Wars really wasn't good except for the special effects. He is right about the frontier aspect, but more importantly, Star Wars was a combination of swashbuckling Errol Flynnn and Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns wrapped up in a WW2 war movie. There was a universality to the stories in the original trilogy. The conspiracy aspect of the new trilogy is very black helicopters and tin foil hat in nature, and seems to naturally fit in our era today. Whereas the original trilogy was largely a light heroic high fantasy adventure, the new trilogy was a dark tale about corrupt governments, secret alliances, and a shakespearean tragic hero. Darkness isn't bad; it is the standard now, but the dark serious aspect of the new trilogy is greatly hampered by the cuteness that appeared in Return of the Jedi and was turned up to 10. All the jokes C3P0 made during the first film was unbearable to me, more so than Jar Jar Binks.

    But looking again at the original trilogy; the acting was largely cookie-cutter. The dialogue was intentionally comic bookish in order to make the film fit within its heritage. That's fine. There were a lot of sci-fi fantasy movies you could have watched then, and the acting was pretty much on par. The original trilogy's greatness comes in the nostalgia. I actually know adults who have never seen the originals, and upon watching them, thought "Meh, that was fun." And that's it. Star Wars was fun. And it was made more fun by the fact that we were kids when we saw it.

  • by CyprusBlue113 (1294000) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:51AM (#44983445)

    Perhaps most remarkably, Into Darkness is not even the first weird amalgam of The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country in the Star Trek film catalogue; that honour belongs to Nemesis [redlettermedia.com].

    Nemesis ranks up there with the last Matrix movie though. It was horrible.

    Wrath of Khan is probably the most memorable moment of the entire franchise's universe. My point was, Star Trek wasn't turned into war operas by anything recent. It's been that way ever since it had a 2 hour format.

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @02:18AM (#44983717)
    With this I agree, but it was not a plot hole specific from the second movie, it was a very bad idea carried from the first.

    And being fair it is not worse than Picard being able to come with the Enterprise from the Romulan Neutral Zone to Earth to combat the Borgs in a few hours, or, God preserve me, the Enterprise going from the border to the center of the Galaxy in a few days in the 5th movie (the one that never existed), or Scott recursively inventing Transparent Aluminium in the 4th movie.
  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @02:30AM (#44983779)

    So much this.

    I've long thought that Lucas is actually a really creative guy with a lot of good ideas. The only problem is that, just like the rest of us, not all of his ideas are good ones, and his success has led to him being given free reign to explore his ideas, regardless of whether they're good or bad. It's been my observation that pretty much everyone who is considered a visionary is full of really bad ideas too, and for as good as their good ideas are, their bad ideas are just as bad. If you read through the various rumors and stories circulating around Steve Jobs, you discover the same thing, but he had a group of people around him who were able to talk him down from various dumb ideas he had over the years (though not all of them).

    I once saw an interview with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg about the writing process for Raiders of the Lost Ark, and in just reading through it, you really get the sense that Lucas is the "let's think of crazy stuff" guy and Spielberg was much more in the role of editing Lucas' ideas and figure out how to make all of those "ooh shiny!" things that Lucas gets distracted with actually become a part of a cohesive whole. The original trilogy had similar constraints on it as well that kept Lucas in check. He didn't have free reign on A New Hope since he wasn't wildly successful yet, and he had Kershner on Empire Strikes Back. For Return of the Jedi, he didn't really have a strong person in that role, and the film suffered for it, though not nearly as much as the prequels that came decades later when he tried to recapture the glory days.

    And then you look at the latest Indiana Jones. As I understand it, Spielberg basically left it up to Lucas to do almost all of the writing, and then directed the thing, rather than having a major hand in putting it together from the get-go like he did with the earlier ones. Which isn't to say that he was uninvolved with writing, simply that he wasn't as involved, and it showed.

  • by drkim (1559875) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @07:23AM (#44984533)

    Star Wars, when you see it when you're young, looks cool. A later analysis of the text shows that the writing is crap.

    Well, the first one (IV: A New Hope) is strongest because he based it on a film from a master film maker: Akira Kurosawa. He loved the old movie serials, but he never intended it to be more than a one-off. (The 3rd draft title was: "The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller." It was originally released just titled "Star Wars." It didn't get the 'serialized' title until its re-release in "81, after the release of "Empire Strikes Back" in "80.)

    Unfortunately, after the success of the first one (IV) he proceeded to make more - but he didn't have any more high quality story to steal from.

    Of course - the film he based "Star Wars" on was Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress;" stealing everything from the two wacky robots/Japanese peasants telling the story, to the wipe transitions.

    "Star Wars" was so close to "Hidden Fortress" that Lucas actually considered buying the rights to the film.

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @08:43AM (#44984871) Homepage Journal

    I only saw the second star trek movie and I noticed him bring in 15 minute warp trip back to earth from Klingon home planet, a space mobile phone capable of calling said earth-klingon distance, a rehashed plot but still manages to fuck even that up, a borderline joke call to spock, a fucking earth-klingon teleportation device(rendering all warp and spaceship technology obsolete)... making total tally for earth space forces something like 4 ships(which I suppose makes sense if everyone with any sensibility was using teleportation).

    the other stuff in the movie that took you out of the star trek spirit were so fucked up that one barely remembers the opening scene with underwater enterprise and their grand plan to freeze a fucking volcano. at least breaking the prime directive was done straight at the beginning so that was out of the way and the rest of the plot didn't need to involve any aliens(except klingon, who appear just to provide a far away place of warriors, a company of who get shot in the eye by a single super human so not much of warriors and since it's fucking 15 minutes of a trip away from earth it doesn't matter that much. oh well at least we had some battle IN WARP SPACE).

    fuck jj. really. fuck him in the ass with a chainsaw. and I'm not even a trek fan but fuck if you do a joke scifi why don't you add jokes and then why the fuck pay for star trek license... where the fuck did all the money go?

  • by dinfinity (2300094) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:00PM (#44985839)

    All the jokes C3P0 made during the first film was unbearable to me, more so than Jar Jar Binks.

    I understand why you posted as AC.

    As for the rest of your comment: I can only advise you to watch the hilarious and spot-on review of The Phantom Menace by 'Harry Plinkett':
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI [youtube.com]

    It's a more rewarding watch than any of episodes 1 to 3 and will leave you with a greater understanding of movies in general.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @07:15PM (#44988075) Journal

    Well the problem is that the second movie _didn't_ take advantage of that since it's a mere rewrite of The Wrath of Kahn, where the rewritten parts is about adding the superhuman powers that is common in the modern mutant/superheroe movies.

    I respectfully disagree. The first movie not only set up the alternate timeline, but it set up the push for a militarized Federation, which was, I think, explored fairly well in the second film. I submit that this was the real plot, and the Kahn elements were more like collateral damage.

    Not to seem too much of a Trek geek (I was such in TOS days, lost it in the Berman days, and regained it in the Bad Robot days) but I see the second film as having a lot of elements from Carey's TOS novel "Dreadnought". A giant battleship built in secret, a civil war within the federation, a strong female lead trying to make things right, and an starfleet admiral as the bad guy. It worked for me.

    But it doesn't have to work for you -- that's why they make different kinds of movies, because there are different tastes. You'll always have the Berman-era series and films. I'm looking forward to the next film. And I'm guardedly (very guardedly) looking forward to the next SW film.

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