( The third game, and some illustrated proof )
( The third game, and some illustrated proof )
I'd wound up feeling stuck between a sense I hadn't been triggered to hostility by The Phantom Menace the way what had seemed so many others had made such a deal of and the nervous fear watching that movie, the previous trilogy, or indeed just about any other movie would at last grind my face in how "obvious" the hostile reaction was, but the trailers for the next new Star Wars movie (one of which my brother had made a big deal of accessing by going online with the Phantom Menace DVD loaded in his computer's disc drive) had somehow managed to begin invigorating me again. After forming tentative theories and going back and forth on whether the "clones" in their white and black armour might even be on the side of the Republic, the opening crawl did jolted me by mentioning Amidala as "former" queen (the first hint other people could also be positive about the extension to the saga were "fanfics" that had speculated ahead with a great sense of Amidala being Queen, even if I hadn't looked beyond them yet to the group of positive people I would discover in the nick of time), but from there things managed to build, and the opening night audience had seemed to enjoy the movie in the end. I did overhear a "George Lucas has redeemed himself" comment from someone that did, after everything, provoke a sort of "I'm not that hostile to what came before" reaction from me, but I can still wonder if, in different circumstances, I might have wound up convinced "the real story started with 'Episode II.'"
I have to mention that as speculation because of the way certain people rallied to find something to be offended at even as I kept realising that while "shipping" doesn't do a lot for me I can get gooey and sentimental about the indisputable romances that don't match sheer imagination for others. By "the nick of time" I've already mentioned, I was stuck the same miserable distance from the then-latest Star Wars movie as from the others. In happening on the positive people who became "prequel appreciators," things managed to work out, although I can wonder yet if a "middle movie" caught between something with the freedom to look "different yet familiar" and the payoff for everything set up can feel somehow "overstuffed" and be a bit easier to just sort of take as part of the whole. At the same time, though, some recent comments noticed about Attack of the Clones being the most like the Flash Gordon serials at one root of everything do have a pleasant resemblance to thoughts I've had before about the movie being free in its variety to "be a Star Wars movie pure and simple."
However, the "Clone Wars era" itself doesn't quite seem to have left my contemplations. In starting to wonder if the Jedi wound up so focused on "Count Dooku leading the enemy" as to neglect the other Sith Lord he'd even named to Obi-Wan, all of a sudden I happened to wonder if the assorted "Dark Side acolytes" in the Clone Wars series were meant to get the Jedi thinking he had become the master. While I had grown to find characters like Asajj Ventress and Savage Oppress interesting, I suppose the discussions of other fans about how there can only be two Sith had intrigued me, influencing the way I thought about the old movies; to start multiplying acolytes for the sake of more action had led to a few unfortunate thoughts of the old Star Wars novels I wasn't reading any more. Having mulled over this new idea for a little while now (until, of course, the day people start tossing an amusing greeting back and forth) does seem to suggest it's not pushing me back towards watching Clone Wars again, but it's at least nice to keep thinking about the subject.
( Something came to mind at once )
( Instead of that... )
I was perhaps following more Star Wars discussions in the late 1990s since I've done since, and I'm ready to suppose a "golden age" wasn't "lost" in sudden and shocking fashion in 1999 (or even 1997) because I'm aware of the complaints about Return of the Jedi from back then. It's at least possible I fell away from possible "groupthink" just out of the inarticulate conviction the then-third Star Wars movie was the conclusion and getting upset about it wouldn't make a difference except to yourself, but in since coming to think I could really shock some by declaring the three new movies a more interesting and compelling unit I always feel that also has to face the possibility all the "blame" then falls on Return of the Jedi itself. That, of course, might not even really touch on the unpleasant feeling that the latest of three "official" continuations from that point (and the one that has the apparent advantage of existing in the same medium as the previous movies) involves the celebrated heroes of the apparently beloved movies having failed off-screen in just about every way for the sake of getting new product with a drab ethos and a barrage of snappy dialogue rolling. Still, that hasn't quite stopped me from thinking "roll on Rogue One" so far.
I can still wrap my head around to supposing Anakin seeming to fire the shot that blows up the droid control ship "by accident" added to the indignation of some. While there just might be a chance now to point elsewhere at "the Force guiding someone," I happened to think that while "the big explosion" catches attention, the crucial moment that had been mentioned before in the movie was Amidala and company managing to capture the Trade Federation viceroy, an echo perhaps of Palpatine managing at least a partial success in becoming Supreme Chancellor. Anakin would then have definitely helped more pilots survive the battle than otherwise and eliminated the possibility the droid army would eventually execute its captives, but once again the rush to indignation might have overcome some. That thought might not help anyone but me, but it did at least add a bit to getting to the halfway point; I'm looking further ahead yet at the possibility of managing to watch the Clone Wars episodes that featured the younger inspiration for a Rogue One character, anyway.
Being invited to mark the shared anniversary of two of the Star Wars movies by coming up with "ten things I like about the prequels" was invigorating, but also challenging. By this point my appreciation of them is pretty far-ranging; the trick was narrowing it down to a few things I could share some hopefully well-chosen words about. With thought, though, I formed a list, and then a list I could and had to pick and choose from. As I did so, I did have to face insisting it isn't a "top ten" list; to say something about the major characters might mean saying a lot, much of which may have been picked up from others. Instead, I hope this is more a personal but wide-ranging summary.( An illustrated summary, too )
For a brief moment just before Christmas, I managed to get over not just all the emphasis on just how much stuff had been put in front of the film cameras for The Force Awakens and the seeming code behind it but also the critical ecstasies that seemed more a matter of recycling old complaints, and articulated the careful reaction that I liked the movie more than I'd been concerned I would. Just a few hours after that, though, with an impression the latest movie hadn't been as "revisionist" as the code had made me worry I seemed to be thinking more about the other side of the saga, the crawling sense deepening the beloved heroes such a big deal had been made of their returning had just been presented as having blown the whole thing, except that we'd never quite know how because of convictions things had been cooler when Darth Vader's origins had been up to the imagination. A few months later, the trailer for Rogue One seemed very much more of the same, save that the mechanical and costume designs wouldn't have slight tweaks to them this time. As for being open-minded enough to go back to The Force Awakens looking for greater depth, hearing the special features on the Blu-Ray were making a big deal of just how much had been put in front of the film cameras in the context of ecstasies that seemed more a matter of recycling old complaints put me right back where I'd started, and in not having bought a disc yet I'm conscious of how I had bought a Blu-Ray player and a HDTV at last, and yet without really waiting for a declared sale, just so I could get to the saga Blu-Rays before it was somehow "too late."
With all of that, though, the latest announcement of "Prequel Appreciation Day" challenged me to come up with "10 favourite things." A bit of thought started bringing ideas to mind (although I can't say they're my top ten, just ten varied things). The only trick will be articulating them in the days remaining.
The "Dunning-Kruger effect" seems summed up as "the unskilled can't recognise their own lack of ability and consider themselves more talented than they are." My own uncertainty, though, is whether saying someone else is demonstrating that effect is somehow to demonstrate it yourself. It might only depend here on both of the times I'm thinking about having to do with opinions on fiction (as much as I have my own opinions). Whether "false modesty" or "holding yourself above someone else" ties into things is another question.
( Partial concealment, anyway )
Right as that was happening, though, I happened to finish reading the last issue of Creative Computing magazine from 1977 (I'd managed to buy a copy in an online auction before a scanned version of that magazine got added to the Internet Archive), and it just so happened the book review column started with the reviewer bringing up Star Wars. He did lead off "with faint praise," saying "The visual effects are stunning and superbly done, the plot won't confuse you," and invoked 1977's own form of "fan cred" by mentioning "I kept expecting the minions of Boskone and a Gray Lensman or two to pop up at any moment," but then started talking about how the movie "falls kinda flat when you think about it afterward." This seemed to have everything to do with the "world-building," including asking "How can the Millenium [sic] Falcon take off from a planetary surface?" Writing for a computer magazine, he devoted particular space to asking why, with C-3P0's technology available (R2-D2 didn't seem to have the same impact on him), all the spaceships depended on manual controls, and wound up hoping "they listen to some competent technical advice for the sequels."
This extended criticism on objections nobody else ever seems to have thought of may not be quite the same as the work Mike Klimo has done in searching out old movie reviews from more obvious sources, but it does get me thinking that perhaps some people weren't as ready to intuitively accept whatever "Star Wars is (but the 'prequels' weren't)" as some other people have convinced themselves these days. I am as conscious as ever of having been conscious in concentrating on particular things and themes to say "I find enjoyment in the saga." I can also wonder what those ideas George Lucas had were, and if they would have taken an effort all over again to take in and fit into a story previously considered complete, just as a different sort of effort to whoop it up at the new product may not be entirely unconscious for some. It is one more thing to think about, anyway.
For several years, I'd held back from watching that movie for fear something inside me would come loose and I'd agree with the boundless condemnation. After being lucky and brave enough to find a nucleus of other fans willing to be positive towards all the Star Wars movies, I started watching it again, and now as I watch it my willingness to suppose some people can disagree with it pretty much evaporates and I just wonder how hard they have to work at their negativity. However, I suppose I was contemplating one thought that had happened to me just a little while ago.
In contemplating how one mainspring of the movies is Palpatine exploiting the desires of others to get what he wants, all of a sudden I was thinking a bit of how Qui-Gon uses Watto's cupidity to get not just the hyperdrive parts his money's not good enough for but also Anakin's freedom. I've become interested in considerations of Qui-Gon "a Jedi who should have lived" even as I resist proclamations that Obi-Wan is "the ideal Jedi"; seeing a similarity between him and the "central bad guy" was, perhaps, a bit unsettling. At the same time, I suspect too much a deal can be made of "moral equivalence." Something that might even be called "subtlety" in suggesting that even "the best" isn't "perfect" doesn't seem that bad, though.
Not every appreciative interpretation of Obi-Wan has to be seen as suspecting everything else in the new movies, of course, so I do keep wondering if I'm "trying to fold in too much complexity." If it ties in with "questioning the authority" he's often seen as in the old movies, there I can both suppose he could be "questioned" from just that one trilogy and wind up asking in a bigger way at what point you stop "questioning authority," or at least acknowledge the answer to your question can be to be convinced by them after all. Perhaps it's more a matter of wanting to indulge in a "tragedy" with no genuine heroes left by the end, something I don't do that often with tragedies at all. There, I suppose, it's a matter of the "happy ending" already existing. It is something I think about, anyway.
Then, though, it really hit me that Kane had said he'd liked the new three better. (The column mentioned him "shrugging"; I can somehow imagine the columnist venting at him beforehand to provoke such a response.) "They don't speak for everyone" is a familiar comment in the environs of the "Prequel Appreciation Society," but it is sort of nice to have a tiny additional bit of evidence that way. Before handing the newspaper over, I also happened to notice that Kane had watched the movies while sidelined with a broken collarbone; I had been wondering if he'd managed to cram the viewings in between playoff games.
( Things were different for me with that movie. )
I'd managed to hear the second teaser had been released while sitting in the airport waiting to fly to England, which is at least a memorable setting. Beyond engaging a Youtube embedded video in a less than perfect presentation for an iPad screen, though, I guess the heavy use of "new Imperials" and continued coyness about just what the sort of story the pointed emphasis on presumably nostalgic visuals might be used in the service added up to something other than the overwrought reactions I heard of second or third-hand. Even when I'd got back from vacation and had access to a bigger screen, the urge to watch the video again still seemed elusive.
On finally watching the teaser for a second time, though, I did seem more charitable towards the whole thing. I've been reminded that having given the new Star Wars movies a chance shouldn't mean preparing to reject some even newer ones out of hand. If the second trailer for JJ Abram's Star Trek was where things started feeling sort of "off" for me, this didn't seem quite so extreme. Against that, however, does remain the thought that with a continuation in comic books and a continuation in novels and comics having both been relegated to "retired" status, it may not be that hard to let a continuation in film remain "another possibility" as I wonder if I'll ever know just was in those ideas that George Lucas had when Lucasfilm was sold but which weren't used in the end.