I think it’s fair to have reservations about Walt Disney spending quadruple the amount of Ireland’s annual defense budget for the complete rights to every entity in the Star Wars galaxy. I mean, this is the company that once decided an ewok dressed as Slash was a brilliant idea. To me that doesn’t exactly scream “respect for the source material.” Then again, Lucas himself had chickens wandering around those two mid-eighties ewok movies, and that makes about as much sense as Teebo putting on a top hat and playing air guitar to a Guns n’ Roses song. I guess no one really knows what to do with these characters anymore.
People crow about the success Disney’s had with the Marvel brand since swooping it up in 2009, but the truth is Paramount did most of the leg work setting up the long-gestating and now massively popular Avengers—the Mouse just kinda waltzed in later and bought the distribution rights. They haven’t proven themselves there (yet). Also, in the eight years since Disney bought the Muppets they’ve given Henson’s brood dick to do, cramming them into a Wizard of Oz remake and one original theatrical release (2011’s Muppets, an experience that must not have been amazing for human star Jason Segel as he’s already dropped out of the sequel).
Maybe I’m being overprotective of my Luke Skywalkers. It just seems like Walt Disney’s retaining stewardship of several high end brands right now (Marvel, Muppets, Pixar, now Star Wars and Indiana Jones) and I’m concerned about their juggling skills. Of course, who else could afford the Lucasfilm catalog? Wal-Mart? The catch-22 is any film / entertainment company willing to devote all their time and passion to our favorite galactic saga probably doesn’t have pockets that deep. And still, some people are saying Disney underpaid, considering they bought Pixar several years ago for $7 billion. Buzz Lightyear > jawas, obviously.
Of the explosive Episode VII announcement tacked on to the end of this news I’m even more dubious. Lucasfilm has always been resoundingly awful at keeping secrets; if they began seriously considering the start of the next live action trilogy five months ago those of us who keep our ears to the ground probably would have heard rumblings before yesterday. Let’s also note that Disney and Lucas announced their deal—arguably the biggest business news of the past five years—on a day when Wall Street was unexpectedly closed due to disastrous weather. They could have said anything and it wouldn’t have affected stocks one way or the other. Of course, only an idiot would dump their Disney shares as the company suddenly had a stake in the next Star Wars cash cow.
Smells to me like in the final hours before completing the deal Bob Iger said, “Fuck it, we’re gonna announce Episode VII in 2015, maybe for some financial insurance, but mostly for the goddamn ‘wow’ factor,” and Lucas said, “Okay, I guess I’ll start telling people there’s a treatment even though I’ve spent the past zillion years saying I had no interested in Episodes VII–IX.” I could be wrong, certainly. Maybe Lucasfilm really did decide to start hacking out the new trilogy last summer and through divine miracle managed to keep the news in-house. It doesn’t seem likely, though, considering the company’s history amongst rumormongers.
There is a perverse insanity to the fact Disney’s allotted themselves just two years to fully realize the sequel to Return of the Jedi, but I suppose The Phantom Menace proved over-thinking these movies for half a decade can be detrimental. Now we fans get to chew our fingernails off in the interrum waiting to hear plot leaks and who the director is and if Mark Hamill will reprise his role as Tatooine’s favorite son. Just when I thought I was done for good, they pull me back in. Namaste, Disney. Namaste.
Hey Star Wars fans: If 3-D Phantom Menace isn’t enough raw pain and confusion for you, check out the latest dribble of crazy from King George’s hair-ensconced mouth. Lucas just told the Hollywood Reporter the reason he tinkered with the Han Solo/Greedo cantina scene in Star Wars so many years after the fact is because Greedo always fired first—we just couldn’t see it in the original cut of the film because he screwed up the framing. Take it away, Pudding Boy:
The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo…what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo…to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. [The 1977 scene] had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. [In subsequent editions] I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.”
Interesting. Just last month George did some gum-flapping where he claimed the contentious cantina showdown was altered because the initial presentation was a “violation” of his “own naïve style” (and not because he had no clue how to block his shots). And what purist could forget the brazen fashion choice our beloved director made a few years ago when he was prepping Indiana Jones & the Holy Shit Look At All The Zeros On This Check? Guess he was just trollin’ us on that tip. Or maybe he’s trollin’ us now.
Of course, none of this would matter if Lucasfilm would bite the goddamn bullet and release remastered Blu-Rays of the original Star Wars trilogy sans computer diddling. The most intelligent, insightful thing Harry Knowles ever said was that updating these films was akin to correcting your math homework from middle school. Yeah, you know it’s a mess, but your mom doesn’t care. She’s hung on to it anyway because it means something to her, despite all its flaws.
What I’m saying is I don’t care if the ghost of Norman Fell commanded George Lucas to scribble all over his creations—they were all stupid changes and any attempts to justify them now are moot. Give us the real movies back and we’ll stop referring to you with cruel monikers like “Pudding Boy” on the Internet.
Vadergate: Let’s Pretend To Be Outraged By The One Shot In Phantom Menace Where Yoda’s Still Not CGI
Episodes I-III from the controversial and forthcoming Star Wars Blu-Ray set leaked over Labor Day weekend, which proved not to be such a big deal because A) the prequel films aren’t as universally revered as the original Ewan McGregor-free trilogy and B) reviewers/savvy consumers began receiving physical copies of the set this week anyway. Long story short: Unexpected alterations have been made to the prequels as well, including various color shifts and bits of rerecorded dialogue. The most drastic update was actually revealed last month—Lucasfilm has finally replaced the dubious Yoda puppet they initially insisted on using in The Phantom Menace with a CGI Yoda akin to what was seen in Episodes II & III.
Strangely, I think I support this specific tinker. Lightening did not strike twice for Frank Oz and the Yoda puppet in 1999, and I know several people who were confused by the diminutive Jedi Master’s shabby appearance in that first prequel. “Does Yoda age in reverse?” they all asked me after witnessing Jake Lloyd interact with what looked like a green decaying Bette Davis. I had no answers, so I simply shrugged and turned back to the “F-Troop” marathon I busied myself with the week Phantom Menace came out.
Reports are mixed concerning how well the newly minted digital Yoda emotes, but he definitely looks like Yoda now and not some hairy turd that sprung to life from the briny depths of Chaka Khan’s toilet. Yessir, that’s definitely Yoda the Jedi Master in Episode I now…well, except for the one wide shot where he’s still obviously a child in an ill-fitting Halloween costume:
That’s it. I’m flushing my last box of C-3POs cereal down the toilet in protest. WE WERE PROMISED DIGITAL YODA 24/7.
Of course, there might be bigger controversy over the fact the exceedingly detailed HD picture Blu-Ray presents now allows audiences to see with startling clarity the absolute shit makeup job Phantom Menace’s effects crew did on Darth Maul’s horns. The one legitimately cool part of that movie now tainted by what appears to be small lumps of congealed black glue. I guess fans should just be glad they didn’t CGI a pair of Oakleys on him.
Being the strident Star Wars prequel rebuffer/existence denier that I am, I’m not too invested in whatever other monkeying has gone on in Episodes I, II, & III and don’t plan to report any further details unless something utterly cataclysmic turns up (read: accidental Sam Jackson boner shot, Jango Fett breakdance sequence).