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

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the ease-off-the-lens-flare dept.

Star Wars Prequels 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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376 comments

Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (0, Flamebait)

sproketboy (608031) | about 7 months ago | (#44983125)

Please ruin it like you did Star Trek. Oh sorry, that's a given.

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983201)

Yeah, I hated how he brought in decent writing, exciting setpieces, and competent directing. What an asshole. What I really wanted was two hours about an autistic robot learning to cry.

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 7 months ago | (#44983271)

I've only seen the first of the 'new' Star Trek movies, but the only thing I noticed him bring in was explosions.

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (3, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 months ago | (#44983323)

He brought an alternative timeline in the New Star Trek (two spok's and all that) which means it doesn't have to stick to the original or be loyal to mythology around it.

I have only seen the original too. But I saw where it was setting up the ability run off in any direction it wanted to. From what other people have told me, the other movie has taken advantage of that. Imagine a prequil that can ignore the future that has already happened. But it gets pretty stupid in the process. A better critique can be found here with a lot of spoiler information and a jackass who doesn't like the movie at all it seems.

http://io9.com/star-trek-into-darkness-the-spoiler-faq-508927844 [io9.com]

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (2)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 7 months ago | (#44983527)

I detected a certain spaciousness to the whole galaxy. It was totally cosmic. I found myself becoming one with my navel. Then the hairball came.

Designer Prescott Harvey... (0)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 7 months ago | (#44983275)

...does not speak for me. The only time I've spent with the star wars movies, all six of them, was thoroughly entertaining. More? Bring it on. Also judging by the rousing success of the movies and later DVDs and Blurays, Designer Prescott Harvey doesn't speak for much of anyone else, either. Perhaps he should go back to... designing.

Re:Designer Prescott Harvey... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983347)

Star Wars, when you see it when you're young, looks cool. A later analysis of the text shows that the writing is crap. People that were young when they saw the first films are not anymore, they see the second set of films after having developed a sense of taste, and realize that the writing was crap -- but just the new ones, the original ones that they loved for so many years must be perfect after all!

Re:Designer Prescott Harvey... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 7 months ago | (#44983359)

Are you fucking kidding me? The first one had it's plot holes but it was okay and some stuff only struck you after you walked out of the theater.

The second one was pathetic for anyone with half a brain during viewing. The beginning started well enough until the attack/secret mission, then it was all swiss cheese. Just for example: the head admiral is building a ship 3x the size of anything they have with next to no crew needed, and Scotty can fly to the shipyard from earth in a couple hours, and get in a construction patrol with no big problem.... but it's super secret? And this same admiral secretly puts Khan's men in missiles as some type of ransome rather than holding onto them himself?

And a million WTFs!

It was eyecandy, it was your typical (for the last 10-15 years) epic movie in the vein of Iron Man, etc with Star Trek simply as the setting. Pretty, glitzy, and uninspiring. It sucked to think about.

It made Avatar seem like a written masterpiece, because in reality man going native was a much older theme than Dances with Wolves and it held up under it's own weight.

Was the big problem with Star Wars that it didn't have enough action or glitz and glamor? I don't think so.

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (4, Interesting)

fredprado (2569351) | about 7 months ago | (#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)

Re: Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983559)

What cannon is this? Warp cannon?

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983443)

Take that back! Nothing can make Avatar seems like a written masterpiece. NOTHING!

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 7 months ago | (#44983463)

the head admiral is building a ship 3x the size of anything they have with next to no crew needed, and Scotty can fly to the shipyard from earth in a couple hours, and get in a construction patrol with no big problem.... but it's super secret?

Even in the future we have security through obscurity!

BTW Khan put his own men in the missiles, he was trying to smuggle them.

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983471)

With all the way till Avatar. NO, nothing can make that movie seem good.

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983279)

The JJ Abrams version of Star Trek turned by wife and I into converts. We HATED the original series.

JJ Abrams successfully :-
- added characters with personality.
- added a coherent story line that didn't involve "adaptation of the molecular transducer with a modulated pulsewidth" (ie. FUCKING meaningless horse-shit)
- took the focus from gadgets to a thing called a story line.

Seriously, the original Star Trek sucked so FUCKING hard, I thought it was a hurricane.

I'm inspired to think that Abrams may be able to make the original Star Wars very good.

Oh, and a pox on anyone that tries to make awful shit like the original Star Trek again. It was woeful.

Re:Please ruin it like you did Star Trek (-1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 7 months ago | (#44983381)

People here hated his remake of star trek before it came out. Fanboys like you just hate change whatsoever. Admit it: the only changes you want are that episodes 1-3 are rejected as no longer cannon, YOU are Luke Skywalker and Leia is not your sister, and she's in the bikini the whole time and you two hook up at the end of the movie.

It's a given that he's going to ruin it in that Star Wars is going to be different and you define that as ruin.

It's really too bad that you're so closed minded. People like you are going to go see the new movies just to justify hating it. You'll find reasons. If they are actually good movies, you will have ruined star wars for yourself, and it will be a self fulfilling prophecy. You likely won't even realize that "ruin" doesn't make sense. Even if Abrahms said that all the previous movies were a drug induced dream Jar-Jar Binks was having, and that was canon, and the new movies were just hours of Binks pleasuring himself with his tongue... that doesn't change the original movies. Even Lucas' changing Han shooting second doesn't mean anything other than some newer copies of the movies had stupid changes. "Canon" or not, it's still just fiction, and your enjoyment of the original series shouldn't be affected by the new movies.

Transcript please (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#44983133)

I couldn't find a transcript of the video. The video on YouTube didn't even have a (non-automatic) closed caption track. Where should I read what's going on?

Re:Transcript please (4, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 7 months ago | (#44983273)

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.

Re:Transcript please (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983409)

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.)

Maybe they weren't gritty, but they were alien, unfamiliar, threatening places where anything could happen. The audience didn't know what was in a Death Star or a Cloud City (or space port or ice planet or desert igloo farm or jungle planet or whatever) or what could happen next, and they and the protagonists were uncomfortable.Galactic Senates and the city where Natalie Portman lived were just sci-fi updates of things I see every day. Yawn.

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

The idea doesn't have to be true 100% of the time, with no exceptions, to be valid. I thought the steam-punkish original trio was much more visceral. Luke's land-speeder thing looked like beaters from my teenage years that weren't sure to make it to the gas station, except it floated too.

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

I agree with the author here too. Unless Lucas can exceed my imagination, which he rarely did in the prequals, then leave it to my imagination. Leaving things to the imagination works in many areas, not just fiction and film.

the prequel trilogy's technical flawsâ"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 of the three movies

Here I agree with you completely. I enjoy his reviews far more than the prequals!

Re:Transcript please (4, Insightful)

MisterSquid (231834) | about 7 months ago | (#44983539)

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.)

Both the Death Star and the Cloud City seem, to my mind, are outside the usual milieu for Star Wars action and development. The Death Star was hyper-polished and space-age minimalist, unlike the maximally baroque surfaces of the Millennium Falcon or the claptrap hulls of the rebel alliance X-Wings. In a sense, the Death Star was the home of the Other, the mirror world of the Empire that (arguably) was one part of a two-chambered narrative setting that was "A New Hope".

The Cloud City seemed even more a "respite" from the action of the Star Wars narrative. It was a political and environmental paradise and the Star Wars narrative resumed the moment Calrissian revealed he had purchased the safety and sovereignty of his city by selling Jabba Solo.

tl;dr: The Death Star and the Cloud City in some ways are exceptions that prove the rule that Star Wars "happens" on the frontier.

Wilderness? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 months ago | (#44983135)

But it's Star Wars, not Weed Wars.

Re: Wilderness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983149)

Give me some weed and I may think new is better than old. Give me a valve in place of a transistor any day

Re:Wilderness? (1)

3dr (169908) | about 7 months ago | (#44983299)

You'll need some weed to get through "Star Wars 7: Jar Jar's Big Adventure" and "Star Wars 8: R2D2 Makes A Friend (A Musical)". And we all thought the ewoks were bad!

Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces (4, Informative)

capaslash (941889) | about 7 months ago | (#44983139)

If you wanna know why the original trilogy worked, read about Joseph Campbell's book "The Hero with a Thousand Faces." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces [wikipedia.org] "George Lucas' deliberate use of Campbell's theory of the monomyth in the making of the Star Wars movies is well documented. On the DVD release of the famous colloquy between Campbell and Bill Moyers, filmed at Lucas' Skywalker Ranch and broadcast in 1988 on PBS as The Power of Myth, Campbell and Moyers discussed Lucas's use of The Hero with a Thousand Faces in making his films.[11] Lucas himself discussed how Campbell's work affected his approach to storytelling and film-making." "I [Lucas] came to the conclusion after American Graffiti that what's valuable for me is to set standards, not to show people the world the way it is...around the period of this realization...it came to me that there really was no modern use of mythology...The Western was possibly the last generically American fairy tale, telling us about our values. And once the Western disappeared, nothing has ever taken its place. In literature we were going off into science fiction...so that's when I started doing more strenuous research on fairy tales, folklore, and mythology, and I started reading Joe's books. Before that I hadn't read any of Joe's books...It was very eerie because in reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces I began to realize that my first draft of Star Wars was following classic motifs...so I modified my next draft [of Star Wars] according to what I'd been learning about classical motifs and made it a little bit more consistent...I went on to read 'The Masks of God' and many other books." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell [wikipedia.org]

Re:Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983221)

That's funny, because I thought the prequels were very mythology like. The addressed issues of pride, heroic falls due to personal flaws, prophecy past and present (from both view of foresight and aftersight), clashes of new and old ways. They asked and addressed the issues of our place in the world, quest for immortality. They discussed political changes in the world, and the symbolism was everywhere. In fact, the prequels did a better job than the originals in seeking mythology like status, imo. I think the acting was just SO bad, that it ruined otherwise great stories. The original acting was bad too, but just less bad.

Re:Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983235)

Absolutely. Joseph Campbell died, and, sad to say, with him, along with the loss of his collaboration on Star Wars, it seems, went the secrets of the Jedi Knights, the wisdom of Yoda and the primeval darkness of hubris.
Mike McCune

Abrams should watch this at least once daily: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983141)

http://www.slashfilm.com/watch-this-70-minute-video-review-of-star-wars-the-phantom-menace/

Re:Abrams should watch this at least once daily: (4, Interesting)

Zimluura (2543412) | about 7 months ago | (#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]

Re:Abrams should watch this at least once daily: (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 7 months ago | (#44983461)

God, I've been looking for this for ages. Saw it years a go, and never forgot "and for some reason, they follow this cartoon rabbit into the swamp". Best review ever.

Rule #4 (5, Insightful)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about 7 months ago | (#44983143)

Contrast that with the prequels, where the characters are often in cities [...]

Which brings me to rule #4. Have characters.

Re:Rule #4 (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 7 months ago | (#44983395)

More importantly: have likeable characters. I'm really hard pressed to find a character in the prequel that the audience can actually latch on to in order to get a focus on the movie. The protagonist is either too young to be the centre of attention, making the entire movie feel directionless, or he's an unlikeable jerk who makes many obvious and way too telegraphed mistakes for no good reason other than "DARK SIDE OF THE FORCE".

Re:Rule #4 (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about 7 months ago | (#44983553)

Not likeable, just interesting. Alex from "Clockwork Orange" sure as hell wasn't likeable, but you still wanted to see what happens to him next.

Re:Rule #4 (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 7 months ago | (#44983551)

Which brings me to rule #4. Have characters.

I only have one rule: Don't have rules. All they do is trip you up and force you into formulaic and predictable interactions. Like for example, half-naked physicists; Because you can't be a dignified woman in NuTrek.

Pretty much, that scene signed JJ Abraham's creative death to me; All he's doing is taking a 'Fast and Furious' approach to beloved science fiction characters; Which is to say, lots of explosions, lots of smack talk, lots of testosterone... and very little in the way of intelligent, subtle, or unconventional plot or character interaction. He's the white trash of the scifi world...

I mean, what ever happened to I, Robot, or A Space Odyssey. Ender's Game (before we found out the author was a flaming anti-gay bigot; It's still a good book)? I mean, so much of science fiction has been about exploring the heights to which humanity could rise, to put our current struggles in perspective; Even Battlestar Galactica (the reimage) is a recent example of how scifi can be a stand-in proxy for current events.

When you look back on those kinds of in-depth stories, with dynamic characters being challenged about what would be moral or ethical behavior, with the JJ Abrahams approach, it's pretty clear he contributes next to nothing to the franchises he has visited so far. He's the "auto-tune'd pop star" version of the scifi director. And yet, people say "but he attracts new people to scifi!"

I suppose... in the same way Justin Bieber attracts teenagers to music. -_- Go ahead now, modbomb me for eating your sacred cow, but deep down, you know it's true: There's nothing original about his work.

It's the scripts, stupid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983163)

The prequels had horrible horrible horrible horrible scripts, if he can't see that then they should just fire him now and save themselves the wasted money.

Re:It's the scripts, stupid! (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 7 months ago | (#44983241)

Agree that it's more than just the setting. I'm probably spoiled because I saw the originals at least a decade before the prequels, is the feeling the same for anyone who saw the prequels first? I know it's still considered cool to hate the prequels, but I don't think they were that bad. I mean they were bad, and the franchise deserved to be treated better, but they were at least as good as most of the crap hollywood dishes out these days.

Part of the thrill of the first movies for me is it combined superpowers and space, which were two things the average 5-10yo boy is going to be fascinated with, or at least it was in the 80's when I first saw it. Fortunately the storyline is good too, but even when i'm watching it as an adult then enjoyment is partially biased by the memories of watching it as a kid. Anyway my point there is that anyone who watched it as a kid in the late 70's / early 80's is probably going to be a little biased by the dazzle of the time they first watched it, and maybe isn't in a neutral position to be commenting on the prequels...

Re:It's the scripts, stupid! (4, Interesting)

Scoth (879800) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:It's the scripts, stupid! (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 7 months ago | (#44983449)

She doesn't have a lifetime of expectations or fandom or anything.

Sure, except for you and your fandom sitting right there next to her the whole time.

Just wait 'till the bill comes due on that one...

Setting problems are a distant second (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983165)

...to character problems. Give me characters to care about and their surroundings are far less important.

Not to bash because our enjoyment is so personal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983167)

...but the first movies WEREN'T so great. They were a mishmash of stories, some pretty stock characters, the worldbuilding ability of the time, a good dose of novelty, and in the thirty something years since they came out the extra tacked-on backstories and tales tacked on to the side by further cartoons, comics, books and fanfiction add to the world.

It's a little like following the main story on dresdencodak. If you were to read the entire collection of comics you'd get a really basic world with a few pretty pictures. Read Aaron Diaz's other media related to it and you get a fuller picture of what's happening. It's only in that context that anything in the story makes sense and comes together as anything more than a stream of geek and science in-jokes. That doesn't make it bad, but it needs experience of the time it was written and the complete work of the person to come together fully.

The original Star Wars trilogy wasn't great by any objective measure I can think of, it was just a good product of its time with people involved in its production willing to share the characters and stories and build on the world. Few of us come to the prequels from the same side; instead we saw them new, raw, and stand-alone - so they come up empty.

Re:Not to bash because our enjoyment is so persona (4, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 7 months ago | (#44983295)

The original Star Wars trilogy wasn't great by any objective measure I can think of, it was just a good product of its time with people involved in its production willing to share the characters and stories and build on the world.

What objective measures of art, or even film specifically, can you think of? If you say, "Amalgamation of movie critic and audience reviews" then I'll say "No, by those measures, the first Star Wars trilogy, and "The Empire Strikes Back" in particular, were great. Check out Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, or whatever if you like. They compare favorably with Casablanca, what do you want, Citizen Kane*?"

But I don't think that's what you meant. I believe that you just hoped we'd accept what you'd said, "The original Star Wars trilogy wasn't great by any objective measure," without thinking WTF an "objective measure" might mean in this case.

*Despite the fact that Citizen Kane is often called something like "best movie ever" and similar, it's actually entertaining -- you should watch it sometime.

Re:Not to bash because our enjoyment is so persona (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 7 months ago | (#44983377)

There are plenty of objective measures by which a film can be judged, as can any story. Innovation is a key aspect in which films are judged, although in contrast to this we also have adherence to a form. Star Wars is almost a genre-defining space opera, doing for cinema what series like Flash Gordon failed to accomplish years earlier. The science fiction of the 80s and 90s owes a huge amount to its commercial success, and its release prompted the production and sequels of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, amongst other franchises. Star Wars showed that science fiction could have popular appeal without being a B-movie, a process that 2001: A Space Odyssey and Forbidden Planet were only partially successful in instigating due to their relatively cerebral tone.

...and as a fan of Dresden Codak, I somewhat have to disagree with the AC on the points about the plot; the vast majority of epic literary works have multiple threads in the same fashion, often with significant diversions from the main plot. This is a key element of pacing, and can be found in everything from Tolstoy to Tarantino. Diaz has a particular fondness for expressionism and symbolism that make such realist diversions incompatible with his storytelling style, but the recent prevalence of this in literature is a largely postmodern revival of a rather old idea. Such a creative choice can barely be called a subjective criterion, much less an objective one.

...and on that note, DC isn't very rigorous about world-building, either. In neither series is it all that important; Star Wars is a drama about emotions, and Dark Science and Hob (Dresden Codak's largest comics, for those following along at home) both focus on metaphysical and personal questions; the world's beauty is merely a backdrop for characters, played in a different regard.

Re:Not to bash because our enjoyment is so persona (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983379)

Charles Foster Kane dies alone, dramatically, gasps 'Rosebud'. ... no one was there. How did anyone know it was his last word?

Um, the camera was rolling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983523)

RE: Charles Foster Kane dies alone, dramatically, gasps 'Rosebud'. ... no one was there. How did anyone know it was his last word?

Um, the camera was rolling?

How do you think they got the shot?

Jeez, some people ...

Re:Not to bash because our enjoyment is so persona (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983529)

There are indeed objective measures of art. I'm not an actor, I'm a musician, but I know standup comics, dancers, and some stage actors. All of our disciplines have objective standards by which we compare ourselves and are compared with others in our art. It typically comes down to technical achievements, but also there are objective measures for evaluating subjective things like emotional response and originality. Yes, it gets silly. As a musician, it's often a case of being told musician X plays more complex melodies than Y, or musician X is doing Y, which no one else is doing. There is art that sucks. There is bad technique. There is failed attempts at translating artistic vision to a final product. There is also a complete failure to sell the product.

I think there are several objective measures by which Star Wars would be an astounding success. Star wars isn't just art, it is an entertainment product. Star Wars is probably the most successful independent film ever made. New technologies were developed to push the creativity in the film, technologies which enhanced the industry as they were utilized by other filmmakers. Thus, Star Wars had technical achievements. Sure, Star Wars isn't Citizen Kane. It also isn't Le Violon Rouge or The Three Colours trilogy. And thank god. Not every movie needs to be that.

These were the top grossing American film releases in 1977.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1977_in_film

Re:Not to bash because our enjoyment is so persona (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983573)

These were the top grossing American film releases in 1977.

So your message to JJ Abrams would be... make a ton of cash?

Good one, I'm sure he never thought of doing that.

Re:Not to bash because our enjoyment is so persona (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 7 months ago | (#44983563)

"What objective measures of art, or even film specifically, can you think of?"

Aesthetics, if we replaced realistic imagery with black and white stickmen and stick buildings/environment, would it still be the same movie?

Have someone who can say no to JJ Abrams (5, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 7 months ago | (#44983171)

The key seems to be that nobody would say no to Lucas. Yesa sir Jar jar be a good character that peoples will loves. So has JJ Abrams reached that point where he is surrounded by Yes men? Or is there someone who will say, "That sucks." Not necessarily someone who can order him around but simply someone who isn't a simpering fool and has good taste.

I recently read about LucasArts and all the bizarre choices that were made there. Basically they jumped from whim to whim. Hopefully those people are left by the doorstep by Disney. I suspect that they will weasel their way into the "creative" process and ruin everything anyway.

Re:Have someone who can say no to JJ Abrams (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 7 months ago | (#44983369)

I'd say that same issue exists everywhere. For a lot of people who had an initial smash hit, reproducing that success is hard because your entourage no longer does the necessary job of pushing back. This happens not just with directors, but also music, books, etc. Just look at how many popular authors have had difficulty reproducing their first great success, even if you ignore the bar they've set for themselves. I'd also point out the numerous singers who get a success and then consider themselves to be always correct even though that one success probably required a lot of work behind the scenes.

Basically, any environment needs discussion and diverging viewpoints.

Re: Have someone who can say no to JJ Abrams (1)

JWW (79176) | about 7 months ago | (#44983501)

Yes. Yes. Yes. THIS.

For the prequels there was absolutely no one, not one single person that could or would say no to Lucas. I myself believe that with minor changes all of the prequel movies could have been great instead of jus merely ok.

This of course is ironic because what the prequels really need is some serious "special edition" treatment but Lucas is only willing to special editionize the original trilogy (again because one could tell him no).

A friend was the press agent for Star Wars (1)

Scareduck (177470) | about 7 months ago | (#44983181)

... and he liked this. Enough said.

Re:A friend was the press agent for Star Wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983513)

I played Nyan Cat for my dog.
... and he liked it. Enough said.

Here's a better four (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983189)

1. Write a good story first. Don't start with the setting and the creatures you want to bring in and design the story around it.
2. Get people who can actually act, and help them actually act.
3. Don't ever listen to George Lucas about anything.
4. Don't ever listen to obsessive Star Wars fans about anything.

He's made two Star Wars movies already (2)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 7 months ago | (#44983193)

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.

Re:He's made two Star Wars movies already (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | about 7 months ago | (#44983227)

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.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Re:He's made two Star Wars movies already (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 7 months ago | (#44983425)

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].

Re:He's made two Star Wars movies already (3, Interesting)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:He's made two Star Wars movies already (4, Interesting)

hpsandwich (1750300) | about 7 months ago | (#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:He's made two Star Wars movies already (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 7 months ago | (#44983465)

For what it's worth, the Star Trek films were never that clued into the style of the shows themselves anyway, with the exception of The Motion Picture. They were cash cows; a chance to give the audience high-quality action scenes with characters who they knew were already established as morally upright and sophisticated. The difference in style is not entirely a bad thing—early drafts of The Wrath of Khan ended like this:

As Enterprise approached the planet, its engines were badly damaged, and Spock sacrificed his life to get them back online in time for Kirk to fight the Reliant off. Later, Khan and Kirk would fight a psychic battle in a variety of exotic locations, using quarterstaffs, whips, and swords. Khan, who had acquired impressive mental powers during his isolation, eventually won, but Kirk survived because he understood that the weapons were only illusory. The film ended with a pitched space battle in orbit around the planet, in which Kirk defeated his enemy with his superior tactics. (source [memory-alpha.org])

But, then again, the people making the original Star Trek films weren't always in touch of the tone of what they were working with. The dune buggy scene in Nemesis was Patrick Stewart's idea. (Although, for what it's worth, the Nemesis director had never seen a single episode of TNG, either, and thought Geordi was supposed to be an alien.)

JJ, WHATEVER YOU DO... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983211)

Don't let Lucas get involved. I mean when he did Episodes 1-3, he completely ruined the entire back story. If you can, please redo the entire episodes 1-3. Thanks.

Original Versus The Prequels (1, Redundant)

NormHome (99305) | about 7 months ago | (#44983229)

I always felt that the original trilogy was a better story (and better written), underdog heroes fighting a massively superior enemy and the story of the rebirth of the Jedi and their fight against the sith. I felt that the prequels on the other hand were poorly written and they didn't mesh properly with the original three movies, there were severe continuity issues. Some of the characters were utterly ridiculous, such as the much reviled (and deservedly so) Jar Jar Binks and we all knew that our heroes and the Republic were going to lose and the Empire was going to be born. Who wants to watch a series of movies where the hero is going to go over to the dark side and the bad guys win, everyone knew essentially what was going to happen and where the story would end.

Re:Original Versus The Prequels (1)

Macrat (638047) | about 7 months ago | (#44983537)

Who wants to watch a series of movies where the hero is going to go over to the dark side and....

Doctor Horrible was a good example.

Star Wars is Firefly? (3, Interesting)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | about 7 months ago | (#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?

Re:Star Wars is Firefly? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 7 months ago | (#44983259)

It wasn't so much of the "wild western" aspect as it was all the characters we loved were renegades!

Re:Star Wars is Firefly? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983351)

They were also Not Stupid(tm). They had dreams, and ideals, but they didn't expect heroic rescues or justice to prevail. They actually reacted like intelligent, aware people shoved into those situations.

And brother, what geek did not love that the real hot looker was the engineer! Woof!

Re:Star Wars is Firefly? (1)

Dan East (318230) | about 7 months ago | (#44983337)

Considering Firefly came a quarter of a century after Star Wars, your question should be "Firefly is Star Wars?"

Re:Star Wars is Firefly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983565)

Harry Potter. Seriously. I've been a Star Wars fan since '77. I lost interest during the prequels as I started to crave deeper story lines and a return to high fantasy. The Lord of the Rings probably should have become my new favorite, but something happened midway through the Harry Potter films. The drama and the intensity kicked up. By the final film, I have seen this band of renegades running for theirs lives and hiding out in the modern equivalent of the frontier, trying to survive and gain some ground against an evil tyrant. I hadn't read the books, but there were deaths in the film as well as sudden moments of bravery that moved me extraordinarily. I realized after the final HP film that the emotions I had during that film were never there with me for Star Wars. This was despite being in the theaters, playing the original Star Wars arcade game, owning the toys, playing the West End Books RPG, and so on. I loved Serenity (I came to Firefly late), but HP is the new Star Wars in my book. Look at not just how big the fandom is, but how affected the fandom is. People aspire to live up to the standards of these wizards the way we did Jedis :)

Re:Star Wars is Firefly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983403)

So, you're saying they'll simply cancel Star Wars if we like it?

Now I'm not sure if I should hate the new movies but watch them anyway to stay in the loop, or claim to love them even though I actually despise them...

Re:Star Wars is Firefly? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 7 months ago | (#44983481)

If it helps any, perhaps now is an opportune time to point out that River had psychic abilities. Fairly mysterious ones, at that.

NO !! NO !! NO !! NO !! THAT IS A TRAP !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983237)

My way is right !! And that way ?? They ALL SUCKED !! It is a kid thing !! As a kid you liked it so today you believe you still do !! You DO NOT !! If you are not a kid still !! I can never and HAVE NEVER sat through any of them from beginning to end !! Why ?? Because as movies they ALL SUCKED !!

Cut out the CGI (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 7 months ago | (#44983263)

My first rule of Star Wars Done Right is: cut out the CGI. It's crap. It never works. There isn't one movie I can think of, in fact, where CGI actually works to complement the actors doing their thing, ever.

There's something about actual models and props that makes the interaction with humans so much more lifelike and realistic than _any_ greenscreen "let's pretend we're talking/holding/prodding something imaginary" type of activity. And don't get me started with painting over scenes with computer generated, always so slightly wrong, enhancements.

The original Star Wars trilogy, before stuff was retconned in, had no CGI.

Re:Cut out the CGI (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 7 months ago | (#44983301)

The original Star Wars trilogy, before stuff was retconned in, had no CGI.

(I mean, none of the immersive stuff that's supposed to integrate seamlessly with scenes, not talking about the primitive graphics displayed on targeting computers)

Re:Cut out the CGI (2)

Dan East (318230) | about 7 months ago | (#44983349)

Yeah. The CGI in LOTR totally sucked. I kept thinking how much better Gollum would have looked as an actual puppet. Actually I didn't think that at all.

Or because it was SUPER DUPPER GRAPHICS Dr00l (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 7 months ago | (#44983265)

In the original you did not see Luke jump 4 stories in the air like the jedi episode 1. Infact the jump in episode 5 from just 6 feet in the air impressed Darth Vader when he tried to freeze him.

  Now every Jedi can magically do 4 somersaults many stories in the air on command, survive re-entry and falling back to Earth at 200 mph and being totally unhurt in a 1 trillion ton ship, mysteriously jump in the air from flying taxis at 100 mph and catching a grip and using the force to land in another convertible totally unhurt some 900 feet below. When you see this shit your brain desensitizes the content so it is no big deal as it knows it is fake at this point.

You sensed real fear with the light-saber of losing a limb in the originals. They were slow and precise fencing with careful concentration aided by the force. The new ones they just wank them around everywhere fast like nothing and it ruins it and takes away any concept of a real fight.

The original script of Star Wars included Batman (Abrams style) like effects and Luke as a 50 year old general with lots of action all over. The studios felt it was too unrealistic and lacked a story line. Totally opposite of every annoying action movie today!

My advice would be to Instead focus on things like big ships without advanced graphics and cinematics that can't be done with every kid with Blender or a pirated copy of Maya. Make new aliens and concepts with a great story lines. I like how the Millennium Falcon had grinding noises when it opened and closed which gave the appearance of it being bandaided over with Hans Solo using parts from anywhere he could. No metallic SGI ships with no models that are flawless. I like the sounds that were not all computerized but make from TV sets and other improvised devices that made them look realistic in a non computer way.

The Matrix 1 was fucking awesome for its time but now it is annoying as we seen everything. I like J Abrams but he is too fucked on bass and things getting blown up. Star Wars Episode 5 was my favorite as Lucas was not involved in the writing or directing as much. It really showed when Darth Vader came out as his father to Luke!

I have a feeling this will be a disaster of epic proportions but I could be wrong hopefully.

I think this states the problem perfectly [youtube.com].

tooo complicated (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 7 months ago | (#44983269)

Why was the first Die Hard movie incredible, the second passable, the third tolerable, and the rest awful. It was originality, the desire of Bruce Willis, who had been told he could never be a leading man, but proved himself on Moonlighting, to work hard, and the lack of expectations. With each sequel the stars get greedy, the studio get greedy, and the investors get greedy. It no longer becomes about making a movie but about making everyone rich.

Star wars is no better or worse than any other story, except that it had the potential to be told over a number of movies.

Movies are also pressured to maximize the use of technology to tell a story. This can work, but with episodes i,ii,and iii I think the advanced technology worked against the story, and in any future movies will be a fx tour de force, rather than story telling.

Short version (4, Insightful)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 7 months ago | (#44983283)

Dear JJ Abrams,

We heard you're making the next Star Wars movie. Please don't fuck it up like George Lucas did with the first two prequels.

Thanks,

Star Wars fans everywhere

Remake Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983385)

I have a theory, backed by evidence about the next Star Wars movie. All my friends say it can't happen this way, but none can explain why not.

Its JJ Abrams, so I bet there is a significant chance it will be a "reboot" and he will do the orginal episode 4 plot.
Its Disney, so big budget + Disney = Johnny Depp as main character.

So who wants to see Johnny Depp as Han Solo in a remake of Episode 4?

Now tell me all your theories on how it could possibly be worse.

Re:Short version (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983429)

The first two prequels.

I see what you did there. I'm also glad that Lucas realized how badly he messed up and stopped after two failed prequels.
(I really hope you're not trying to say Revenge of the Sith was good. Its IMDB rating is higher than the first two prequels, but it still sucked. Personally I rate #4 and #5 as all time favorites, #1 and #6 as tolerable enough to watch again, and #2 and #3 as not worth watching again, ever, unless I'm being compensated for the torture)

How do you ask... (1)

loony (37622) | about 7 months ago | (#44983339)

a clueless whore (sorry, I don't usually call people names but I simply have no better word for someone who does anything for money) not to be himself? To him and the studios is all about making money. JJ Abrams has no clue how to design a story line, have plausible characters, or stay true to the spirit of the series. He tramples over everything that was there before him, ignores the fans that are begging him to stop and comes up with the most idiotic ways to justify cramming in more special effects. But what he does appeals to the casual viewer and therefore translates to profits...

Peter.

It's that simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983373)

Sci-fi is supposed to present ideas previously unimagined.
Prequels are unsatisfactory because one knows what happens.

it is not the setting (1)

Archfeld (6757) | about 7 months ago | (#44983383)

It is the guy in charge...Lucas had help directing AND producing the first round of movies. By the time the prequels came out Lucas had grown to believe his own hype, that he was the 2nd coming of Christ in the form of a director and producer, which we all quickly found out was not true...

Somebody else already figured this formula out... (1)

macraig (621737) | about 7 months ago | (#44983389)

... many years ago and did something about it. The result was called Firefly and Serenity. Harvey described Firefly! There might be something wrong with the theory, though, because look how that turned out: one series that didn't even make it to Season Two and a single movie, no "franchise" in sight.

I'm not at all convinced that Prescott Harvey is a cinematic genius. If Joss Whedon can't make it work, the formula ain't ready to leave the drawing board.

Another key difference... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983397)

Age. Everyone seems to forget the influence of age on how we perceive things. Most fans of the original films were kids when they first saw those movies. Kids don't analyse plot holes or care about clichés*. Kids don't get hung up on bad costumes or silly characters (if Ewoks had first appeared in the new trilogy, there would have been even more endless Lucas bashing). Those films are still viewed through the nostalgic eyes of children and that is a large part of why the new films received so much criticism from this vocal group.

Some of that criticism is fair, but nothing can live up to the inner child's expectations when filtered through the eyes of the outer grown up.

Of all the things that J.J. Abrams may be able to do, taking this guy back to the early 80's for the new films is not one of them. Sorry, kid.

* It's the latter half of 2013 and you still don't have proper character encoding... can't someone take a break from writing sensationalist headlines that mischaracterize the story and do some coding for once? I know you miss SgtBurrito, but you are allowed to update the legacy code.

Abrams Lucased himself (4, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 7 months ago | (#44983419)

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.

No more midichlorians! (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 7 months ago | (#44983451)

First rule is get rid of the midichlorians and get an alternate explanation for the Force. That's something that could actually be explored in the first movie.

Han Solo finds a strange artifact that turns out to be a communication device which puts him in contact with an enigmatic race of time travellers. These time travellers lead Han Solo and a group of adventurers to a distant planet from far in the future. But during the time jump the Millennium Falcon is severely damaged and starts to plummet towards the planet below. But as they fall Luke Skywalker senses an extraordinary Force presence, and the Millennium Falcon is no longer falling but is being pulled, pulled by a mysterious large figure standing on the beach of an island...

Can we do something else now? (1)

Animats (122034) | about 7 months ago | (#44983457)

Enough of Star [Trek|Wars|Gate]! Been there, done that. We need to move on.

"Harry Potter" did it right. They did the series of novels, in sequence, and then stopped. There's no "Hogwarts, the Next Generation".

Re:Can we do something else now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44983499)

kuhvkk jgkv g kvk kiccg ucyfccugbkj yyftgouyvkuychfjxd tfxt ugccgy j

Re:Can we do something else now? (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 7 months ago | (#44983521)

"Harry Potter" did it right. They did the series of novels, in sequence, and then stopped. There's no "Hogwarts, the Next Generation".

Yet. . .

A better idea (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 7 months ago | (#44983511)

Okay, bear with me.

While thinking about good and bad sci-fi inspired by the success of "Star Wars," I thought about "The Black Hole," an example of the latter. And since I was already using my internet-box-thing, I checked the wikipedia entry. And I came across this gem:

In November 2009, it was reported that Disney has plans to remake the movie. Director Joseph Kosinski (who directed Disney's 2010 blockbuster Tron: Legacy) and producer Sean Bailey are attached to the production,[5][13] and Jon Spaihts, who wrote the original script for the Alien prequel Prometheus, was confirmed as writer for the project on April 5, 2013

Light bulb.

Give this project to Abrams instead -- he can't make it much worse -- and we let Star Wars rest in peace without further damage to the series. Everyone's happy.

70 Minute Review of Phantom Menace (1)

gimmeataco (2769727) | about 7 months ago | (#44983545)

If you've never watched the 70 minute review of Phantom Menace, you should. Just Google it. It hits the nail on the head about why the originals are so much "better" than the prequels.

st vs sw (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 7 months ago | (#44983567)

Star Trek (tos) was canceled because it was too "cerebral" , Star Wars was cool in the first movie, wavered in the second movie, then flipped over and sank in order to sell toys for kids - mainly fuzzy little toy bears singing some weird disco chant.

The following three flicks were made in order to sell jar jar and farts.

While people can point and laugh at William Shatner's acting, I'd like the same Star Wars loving nerd defend the flatulence, or even the loose lipped jar jar as being movie excellence,

In the sixties, Star Trek was aimed to be "Wagon Train" to the stars, While Star wars was aimed at selling little plastic toys to children.

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