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Saga Did the prequels (or, at least, ROTS) introduce too many new ships/vehicles at once?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by The2ndQuest , Mar 6, 2012.

  1. The2ndQuest

    The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Jan 27, 2000
    People still get an emotional connection with vehicles- be they a particular type of car or military fighter craft. They can represent or reflect something based on their actions/uses. The type of thing that makes you look at it in wonder (or just drool ;)) when you see it in person or in a particular context.

    I mean, if you were to go to a con or museum show and they had either a life size prop/replica or model/maquette for a particular ship/vehicle from SW, people are going to have a radically different emotional reaction from that experience seeing an AT-AT or TF Battleship than they would seeing an AT-AP or V-Wing.

    And, sure, as kids we get different attachments, but while kids will enjoy playing with anything (half the cantina creatures are probably known just because of their Kenner figures, ya know?), which toy would they rather have? An A-Wing (something they've seen do something really cool like take down a SSD)? or a V-Wing (a similar looking craft that had 2 seconds of distant screen time)?

    One has a connection or association, the other might look neat but has no such context.

    If the whole point behind the variety of the ROTS craft selection was to show these various worlds using their own ships in an age that wasn't uniform as far as military hardware production goes, how is it suddenly overkill to involve the one that the story/plot has actually developed/involved previous (versus the randomly glimpsed one-shots introduced?).

    Consistency? Same reason all the movies open with a pan up/down from the scroll and end with the rebel fanfare, even for the prequels which have no rebels?

    Well, on a practical level, I think he wanted to salvage as much of the original CW montage opening to ROTS as possible after he dropped it- probably the same reason behind some (though probably not all) of the species/planet switch-ups.

    On another level, I'm sure there was also a "this is the last SW movie I'm making, let's just throw in the kitchen sink" facet to it as well.

    Well, we'll definitely have to disagree there ;). Being overwhelmed by a chaotic battle or action can be detrimental to the viewing experience (like the robot designs and transformations in the Transformers movies), though it can sometimes achieve a specific effect.

    However, I don't think ROTS's battle was that chaotic- it's main problem wasn't clarity of action, but rather was that, since it chose to focus on just Anakin and Obi-Wan, we have no sense of what the rest of the battle means or what is happening within it (unlike ROTJ where we get a sense of whats going on via Ackbar, Lando, Wedge & Piett's POV) so since that renders it meaningless, it's just a flashy background with no emotional involvement or tension.

    It's actually almost the exact same problem that the Legacy of the Force: Invincible had (the author chose
  2. MandalorianDuchess

    MandalorianDuchess Jedi Youngling star 3

    Feb 16, 2010
    Well, "people" sometimes vary, and while I would agree that many of them might "get an emotional connection" to a vehicle, I don't think all people go to a SW movie necessarily wanting to get an emotional connection to one of their vehicles. In the context of the OT, sure it kinda happened, because the genre was just getting a shot of new life, because so much of it was so memorable given that there had been nothing like it for a long time. But in the context of ROTS, there are already enough demands being made emotionally on the viewer, imho, for most of them (especially younger children) to put that much attention to the ships, other than perhaps the Jedi starfighter and the Tantive IV.

    And, sure, as kids we get different attachments, but while kids will enjoy playing with anything (half the cantina creatures are probably known just because of their Kenner figures, ya know?), which toy would they rather have? An A-Wing (something they've seen do something really cool like take down a SSD)? or a V-Wing (a similar looking craft that had 2 seconds of distant screen time)?[/quote]

    Well, yeah, the reactions might be different, and I would put it to you that as far as ROTS is concerned, the only ship that should realistically conjure up a lot of emotions, if any, would be the Tantive IV. Everything else is pretty secondary to what is going on in the movie, there's a lot of things to cover and, in any event, if people watching ROTS for the first time are paying more attention to the ships than to the story, then obviously something would be very wrong.

    Besides, most children are going to be more familiar with the Clone-era ships from the animated series than from the movies. To them, it might be a very different perspective.

    The beginning and ending of each movie really are consistent, that is true. But that in itself is no reason to expect everything else to be in a neat, predictable pattern. ROTS is also, I believe, the longest of all the movies. Is that something that Lucas should have avoided, because people should have been expecting something that was a bit closer to 2 hours? No, each movie does have a few elements that make it unique, and different from the others.

    Yes, and for purposes of what's important to the story, you can very easily know the ships of the good guys and the bad guys. Everything else is relatively unimportant to what's going on in the movie. In ROTJ, you didn't have to know exactly what each ship was, it was enough (from the POV of the casual viewer) that you knew which ones were the good guys and which ones were the bad guys.

    I'm going to reiterate this: for a casual viewer, it probably won't matter which ship is which, you know which side everybody is on, and when Order 66 is given you realize the Jedi have been betrayed. Other than that, it's just about following the descent of Anakin to the dark side. Again, this is for the casual viewer. For e
  3. The2ndQuest

    The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Jan 27, 2000
    Let me clarify that I'm not suggesting this take precedent over the characters and main story- I'm just analyzing one facet of the saga's appeal. And while reactions will vary depending on how much of a fleet junkie one is, identifying with craft will happen on some level regardless. To what degree will likely depend on how they are presented in the film.

    And this isn't just an OT thing- you don't have to be a a movie from the genre's resurgence of the late 70's/early 80's for such an association to occur.

    Oh, I quite agree that TCW is performing that level of familiarization to many of the AOTC (and some of the ROTS) craft that the movies lack (and I have absolutely nothing against fleshing out things treated as background in this way- it's one the reasons I love the EU so much, as it enriches the film's context), but I'm just looking at the films by themselves (since they were created without TCW in mind) for the purposes of this analysis (because, otherwise, everything is pretty much fleshed out and identified with eventually in the EU/TV show).

    True, it doesn't have to be- but when one breaks such a pattern, then it's certainly valid to consider if that experiment was successful or if it distracted from the film/made it feel out of place.

    It's more about making what's there do more than just variety. However, would it have made a better film? Hard to say- it might not have any effect, or it could enhance the film's lingering impact in the minds of the audience since their associations and experiences with the elements in the film wouldn't be so scattershot and, instead, more focused and allowed to build (and, thus, endure longer/have greater impact).

    And, on a practical level for Lucas, it would also make people want merchandise based on those elements more than they would otherwise ;).
  4. Jedi_Ford_Prefect

    Jedi_Ford_Prefect Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 9, 2003
    I do think that the design of the Prequels, especially when it comes to ships/vehicles, was kinda watered down after a while by too many new designs-- or rather, too many new designers. For the OT, the team was fairly small and consistent-- mainly Ralph McQuarrie, Joe Johnston and a few others on all 3 films. For the PT, you had Doug Chiang doing tremendous, beautiful work for TPM and AOTC, but then dropping out for ROTS, which is at times the most generic looking of all the SW movies, for me. It's a real shame Chiang didn't stay on for all three films, as I believe his work was at the very least in the same ball park as McQuarrie's vision, and at times even an equal to it. TPM especially strikes me as perhaps the most beautifully designed and shot sci-fi film since "Blade Runner", so it's too bad the Prequel trilogy couldn't have ended as visionary as how it began.
  5. The2ndQuest

    The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Jan 27, 2000
    I don't know if that had as big an impact- all three main designers (Chiang, Church and whomever did ROTS, whose name eludes me) were apparently the "finalists" chosen by McQuarrie when they were making TPM (though Ralph ultimately chose Doug). So the work was certainly a worthy followup to McQuarrie's work (though never quite reaching the same level).

    Some originality was lost because ROTS, by nature, had to transition from AOTC to OT designs- but I think we got some great designs out of it (the ARC-170 is sometimes awkward but mostly pretty awesome, the VNSD is a great go-between the Acclamator and VSD/ISD, and I really dig the Trifighter, not to mention my admittedly-biased opinion of the UT-AT ;)), though others were a bit wonky (I really dislike the Eta-2 interceptor...the cockpit looks oversized compared to the rest of the ship so it looks more like a Kenner/Hasbro toy version of a movie vehicle instead of an actual movie vehicle- but scale up the ship to something larger along the lines of the Scimitar and it looks great).

    And I actually thought ROTS had the best look of the prequels (though I agree that TPM has a gorgeous look to it; AOTC falls short in this regard).
  6. MandalorianDuchess

    MandalorianDuchess Jedi Youngling star 3

    Feb 16, 2010
    Well, it might be *one* element of the saga's appeal, but to me it isn't centered around having a fixed number of new vehicles in each movie. In any case, it might seem more appropriate (to me) that the movie just have the required number of ships and vehicles in the context of serving the story. Ultimately, it's not a saga about ships and vehicles, of course. That they happen to have some kind of meaning for us depends largely on the fact we associate them closely with certain characters and/or sides of the conflicts.

    Well, agreed, and going by that logic, I am of the opinion that the ships matter considerably less in ROTS in large part because everything is kind of turned around right in this episode: this is where the clones go from being part of the good guys to being Palpatine's henchmen, and the remnants of the old Republic will eventually evolve into the core of the Rebel Alliance.

    The exception to that, as said before, would have to be the Tantive IV because it plays a critical role in tying the two trilogies together, it's there at the ending of the PT and at the beginning of the OT. That would be the one ship that, if anything, people should remember when they are watching the saga for the first time, if they go from episode 1 to 6.

    The sheer number of other ships in the background, imho, are used to try to create some idea of the enormity and complexity of the Clone Wars. Surely, in any such a huge confrontation of roughly evenly matched opponents, there would have to be a very great demand for new and constantly updated fighters, and possibly the need to go to many contractors just to keep up with all that was needed.

    That is why having a great number of ships and vehicles makes sense to me, storywise: it was such a LARGE conflict that both sides were constantly seeking the largest number of ships, and the most cutting-edge fighters, so either they had to turn to an equally large number of contractors/builders or they were themselves constantly updating and coming up with new designs in order to try to gain an edge over the other side.

    So, storywise, it makes all the sense in the world (to me).

    For the reasons listed above, I think it makes a lot of sense storywise and adds to the feeling of a conflict of almost overwhelming scale, where it is no longer possible to keep track of every new element that is being added by both sides - and perhaps once the Republic crumbles, everything would become equally confusing because suddenly you could no longer be so certain as to who are the good guys and who are the good guys.

    Thus, the cockpits of the Jedi fighters become the apparent inspiration for the TIE fighters, while the ARC-170 seem to be the predecessors of the X-wings, etc. e
  7. MandalorianDuchess

    MandalorianDuchess Jedi Youngling star 3

    Feb 16, 2010
    I didn't really think so at all. The look of the prequels seems to be fairly consistent, to me, both in relation to their taking place decades before the events of the OT, and also taking into account the slow progression that takes place between the time Anakin is picked up by the Jedi and the time he becomes Palpatine's apprentice.

    This is, after all, a time of tremendous turmoil for the galaxy - and it seems to me like it shows on-screen.

    There is also the matter of the necessity to slowly start evolving towards the designs of the OT, as 2ndQuest mentioned, as well as the fact that for story reasons it made a lot of sense to borrow two of the most fondly remembered ships from the OT - the Tantive IV and Slave I.

    The transition from the end of the PT to the start of the OT would not work so well, imho, if the design decisions taken in ROTS had not been taken. It was a matter of necessity for the overall coherence of the saga, I think.

    Also I don't think any of the changes you mention had that much to do with the designers involved, because ultimately no matter who the individual designer was, he/she had to run things past Lucas and get his OK. I'm sure many of the concepts that Lucas rejected would have been very visually pleasing, as well, but from the storyteller's point of view, perhaps they would not have served as well as intended from a story point of view.

    I don't want to sound like a PT apologist, either, I think I would have enjoyed all 3 movies just as much with some things being slightly different - but ultimately it had to be all about the main story, about Anakin's fall and Palpatine's rise to power, as well as examining the downfall of the Jedi Order.

    A few ships or vehicles more or less probably wouldn't make a *huge* impact on the larger story, at least from the point of view of most viewers (mostly children and young teens, and/or their parents).
  8. The2ndQuest

    The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Jan 27, 2000
    I think the ships are a little more important than you seem to suggest here- even ignoring the titular "Star Wars" aspect, they are the first things we see in every film which set the initial mood of the film. It was the Tantive IV being chased by the seemingly-endless Devastator that blew the minds of everyone and made them cheer from the get go back in '77.

    They're also the center of more than half of the saga's climaxes (albeit often as personifications of character actions)- the trench run/DS1 destruction, the Falcon escaping from the Executor, the Falcon destroying the DS2, Anakin's N-1 destroying the DCS, etc.

    Now, you kinda suggest towards the end there, but I think that's really close to what I've been suggesting all along: the vehicles' personalities are built up by the actions of characters/sides of the conflict performed with them. Having a craft only have one such experience (or none at all, as is the case with many of the ROTS supporting designs) gives the audience less of an association with it than they would with a craft that is given multiple experiences.

    Oh, it certainly can make sense within the story. But sometimes the visual language of film has to trump what makes sense from a pure storyline perspective. Just because it can be justified doesn't mean it's the most effective choice.

    You want the audience to make those emotional connections/experiences from the film (be they with ships or characters), because those are the parts that stick with them beyond the viewing experience and are what endures over time. SOmetimes what makes sense storywise won't achieve that.

    The entire analysis of any film is a rational examination of emotional components. That's how you figure out what works and what doesn't, what connects with audiences and what isn't conveyed.

    In this case, it's an examination of a more specific element, but one that can be totally rational in nature.

    We know people develop emotional connections to ship/vehicle designs, both real (cars, planes, etc) and fictional (the Enterprises, the Galactica, the Falcon, the Delorean, the Batmobile, etc). We know this is not a small segment of the audience. We know any element of a film (be they character, vehicle or location) has a finite amount of time to be developed. We know that, by sheer mathematics, the more elements you have, the less time each of those elements has to be developed with (again, doesn't matter if we talk about ships in SW, or characters in an ensemble cast)

    It might be difficult to try and quantify an individual's emotional reaction, but we can certainly quantify the conditions that might invoke an emotional response- it's pretty much what the film industry is based around ;).

    But it seems pretty rational to suggest that, if you can, say, have too many villains in a comic book movie, you can just as easily have too many ships in a sci-fi film. :)
  9. MandalorianDuchess

    MandalorianDuchess Jedi Youngling star 3

    Feb 16, 2010
    But I am not trying to suggest *exactly* how important the ships are, per se; I simply recognize that to a large extent, it may be a highly personal reaction, one that will vary from one person to another.

    Now, I do not speak of the vehicles having "personalities" of their own, like the title characters in "Cars" - I say simply that they *could* be associated with a specific character or side in the conflict. That's pretty far from saying, imho, that the audience has an inherent need to have everything in the movie becoming associated with a ship or vehicle. Again, I see them as serving a purpose in the story, so that the story can be told in the way the storyteller felt appropriate. And in the case of ROTS, the storyteller used them in the way he thought would be most appropriate, I believe, and I don't think it would have made for a vastly different experience had there been a few less of them.

    Yes, but in the context of ROTS, what made sense storywise enhances the visual language of the film, at least from my point of view. At this point in the saga, it seems to me the audience should be concentrated on the plight of Anakin Skywalker, rather than on which fighter he's using - and in the downfall of the Republic and the Jedi Order. I don't think that you needed to have any particular ships (or any specific number of them) in order to tell this story effectively.