Star Wars 3-D: Blame Yourself, Not George Lucas

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When I first heard that Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was going to be released to theaters in 3-D, I followed a rich tradition that has gone on since 1997.

  1. I screamed into my pillow so as not to wake up the rest of the house/dorm/apartment building.
  2. I dug out my VCR and watched Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi in a row, two or three times if needed.
  3. I gave the finger to televisions, movies screens, friends, anything that mentioned the new Star Wars movie or revision.

Many fans may go through the same tradition, whether it be for a re-release or even a remake that takes away from their childhood movies. Unfortunately, it has been happening more and more to the point that Hollywood is probably in the process of remaking Avatar already.

When it comes to re-released movies, the main defense is that a re-release is the director’s chance to release the movie how he/she intended: hence the lovely phrase, “director’s cut”, which usually has fans rushing to get a copy. Star Wars is different. Besides the fact that George Lucas never used the term “director’s cut” since he didn’t direct all of the films, the releases kept changing. First their were minor changes, like adding in sound bites. Then it became a bit more questionable, like Greedo shooting first. Then we’re adding in a CGI Jabba that looks more like Danny DeVito than a giant slug-monster fives times the size of a normal humanoid. Finally, Lucas was taking a piss on a cell or two, adding it into the footage, and re-releasing the whole 6-part saga as a result.

No, I am not a fan of the re-released versions of Star Wars as a result.

In respect to full disclosure, I admit that I did not see the original Star Wars in the theaters. Unfortunately I wasn’t even born yet. No, I did not see the original theatrical version of the film where the sound was different and “A New Hope” scrolled up the screen. Some hardcore Star Wars fanatics may call me a hypocrite because of this. Well, so be it. I give you the finger along with George Lucas.

It wasn’t until this 3-D release, however, that I began to fully understand the method behind all of these Star Wars releases. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense that the blame for the re-re-re-re-re-release of the Star Wars series didn’t really fall on the shoulders of George Lucas. It fell on ours, the public.

I had this epiphany when I learned about how the critics panned Lucas’ latest production, Red Tails. Here was a film that had action, historical and social relevance, and it was kicked right in the nuts and pushed out the door. Then, all of a sudden, Star Wars is ready to be launched in 3-D. Coincidence?

I dug further, because that’s what dorks like me do when they’re angry: over-analyze, over-research, and come up with a conclusion that no-one but other dorks care about. What I found was that George Lucas had been using Star Wars as a cash cow. No surprise there, but what was surprising is that he genuinely tried to steer away from Star Wars, and Indiana Jones as well. Unfortunately, fan didn’t warm up to many of his other films.

Star Wars and Indiana Jones became George Lucas’ go-to films any time he ran into criticism. I created this shitty graph to visualize it:

(Approval Rating provided by Rotten Tomatoes)

  • (1971) THX1138: 89% approval rating
  • (1973) American Graffiti: 97% approval rating
  • (1977) Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope: 94% approval rating
  • (1980) Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back: 97% approval rating
  • (1981) Raiders of the Lost Ark: 94% approval rating
  • (1983) Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi: 79% approval rating
  • (1984) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: 85% approval rating
  • (1986) Howard the Duck: 16% approval rating
  • (1988) Willow: 46% approval rating
  • (1989) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: 89% approval rating
  • (1994) Radioland Murders: 19% approval rating
  • (1997) Star Wars Trilogy Re-Release: VHS
  • (1999) Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: 58% approval rating
  • (2002) Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones: 67% approval rating
  • (2004) Star Wars Trilogy: DVD Revision
  • (2005) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: 80% approval rating
  • (2005) Star Wars Prequel Trilogy Release: DVD
  • (2008) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: 77% approval rating
  • (2008) Star Wars: The Clone Wars(animated): 19% approval rating
  • (2011) Star Wars: Complete Saga Revision: Blu-Ray
  • (2012) Red Tails: 36% approval rating
  • (2012) Star Wars Episode I: 3-D Release

As you can see by the pretty colors, whenever an approval rating dipped below 85%, either a new sequel or revision of Star Wars or Indiana Jones came out. A revision would even come out to save a failing Star Wars prequel, or animated remake. Maybe if people gave Radioland Murders a chance, Lucas wouldn’t have messed with the original VHS release. If people weren’t so quick to hate Jar-Jar Binks, maybe the DVD versions wouldn’t have had ridiculous CGI additions. Maybe if we allowed Indiana Jones to meet aliens, we wouldn’t have had more changes in the Blu-Ray version. And maybe, just maybe, if we went to see a movie about African American fighter pilots, Lucas would have let Phantom Menace slide through the cracks for the 3-D rendition. Or, at least, kept it like the last revision. Now, we’ll never know.

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Patrick is the man behind the man behind the site behind the man…. When he isn’t writing for The Inept Owl, saving penguins from Hulk Hogan, and other activities that could be either truths or lies, he’s editing everything else.

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