PT JJ Abrams opinion of the prequels?

Discussion in 'Prequel Trilogy' started by Luukeskywalker, Jan 26, 2013.

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  1. ezekiel22x Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
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    Unstinting praise from New Wave SF and literary icon Michael Moorcock in his Starship Stormtroopers essay:

    "This sort of implicit paternalism is seen in high relief in the currently popular Star Wars series which also presents a somewhat disturbing anti-rationalism in its quasi-religious 'Force' which unites the Jedi Knights (are we back to Wellsian 'samurai' again?) and upon whose power they can draw, like some holy brotherhood, some band of Knights Templar. Star Wars is a pure example of the genre (in that it is a compendium of other people's ideas) in its implicit structure -- quasi-children, fighting for a paternalistic authority, win through in the end and stand bashfully before the princess while medals are placed around their necks.

    Star Wars carries the paternalistic messages of almost all generic adventure fiction (may the Force never arrive on your doorstep at three o'clock in the morning) and has all the right characters. it raises 'instinct' above reason (a fundamental to Nazi doctrine) and promotes a kind of sentimental romanticism attractive to the young and idealistic while protective of existing institutions. It is the essence of a genre that it continues to promote certain implicit ideas even if the author is unconscious of them. In this case the audience also seems frequently unconscious of them."
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  2. Samuel Vimes Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 4
    That study has major flaws and one of them is, Sample Size. The OT reviews are less than 20 per film while the PT reviews are over 200 per film. With a small sample size, 2-3 negative reviews will have a much greater impact than with a large sample size.
    Another flaw is, how many of ALL the OT reviews are included here? They looked around and found 14 for ANH. Is that the total number of reviews that existed back in the day? I very much doubt it.
    So how large was the total number? Say 30? Are the reviews they found an accurate sampling of those reviews?
    We don't know. If you took TPM and removed half of the reviews you can get a much higher result or much lower depending on which reviews are included.
    Also, the reviews they found were from newspapers by established critics of the time. Rotten Tomatoes has a similar feature that they call "Top Critics" These are reviews mostly from newspapers and established critics.
    And if one looks at "Top Critics" rating of the PT films they drop quite considerably. TPM and AotC down to about 40% and RotS down to about 60%.

    Without knowing how many reviews existed back then, this study says very little.
    It says that not all critics loved the OT films but that was hardly news. It also said that the ESB and RotJ were liked less than the original, again hardly news.
    Both OT and PT got good, bad and inbetween reviews like most films.

    Bye for now.
    Old Stoneface
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  3. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    Is there a consensus amongst the public that Star Wars is in fact a fallen franchise? The last film in the cycle was well-received by critics and the subsequent Clone Wars series has proven enormously popular with children.

    What we're left with is a creative enterprise that may be running on fewer cylinders than the Harry Potter or possibly the Tolkien adaptations, but far from irrelevance. More tellingly, the '05-12 interim has been immeasurably more vibrant than the fallow '83-91 period, wherein SW was dead as a doornail.
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  4. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    The rationale is probably "If the OT were (regarded by many people as) among the best films ever made, despite clunky dialogue- then clunky dialogue is not, in itself, a barrier to a film being "among the best films".
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  5. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    My impression, having read countless '77-'05 reviews, is thus...

    -Star Wars received almost unanimous acclaim.

    -The Empire Strikes Back and Revenge of the Sith received generally positive notices, although few that were enthusiastic.

    -Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones received tepid reviews, offering neither praise nor outright vitriol.
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  6. Gallandro Chosen One

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    Agreed, but by and large the RT piece had it about right... about 80% of critics heralded ANH, with the odd ball negative review. TESB was very divisive among critics, and even in the Phoenix split the local reviews with one paper hating it, the other loving it and a third paper giving it a completely lukewarm review. With ROTJ, the consensus seemed to be too rushed.

    Yancy
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  7. Samuel Vimes Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 4
    I was around when the OT was first released and I read all the reviews I could find.
    ANH was overall liked very well, average 4/5 stars. Very few truly negative reviews.
    ESB was more divided, there were more 5/5 star reviews but also more 3/5 and 2/5 reviews. And the cliffhanger ending did not go down well with some people. I myself hated it. I was an impatient 11 year old at the time.
    RotJ got on average 3/5, few truly great reviews and more 2/5 stars reviews.

    With the PT the trend was TPM and AotC got about the same overall score but RotS getting a higher score.

    Bye for now.
    Old Stoneface
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  8. Gallandro Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 4
    I would disagree with your assessment regarding TPM and AOTC. TPM was well reviewed upon its release, the "perception" that critics hated it was fostered by the fanboy community in the months that followed. Again RT critics review at the time of the release during the initial initial run were largely positive and the film rated Fresh with a score of 68%. It wasn't until much later on that the film was savaged and its RT score dropped. AOTC was was received far more poorly than TPM, and its reviews were more comparable to ROTJ's reception in 1983.

    But I think it's pretty clear the myth that "everyone" loved the OT and "everyone" hated the PT is just that... myth.

    Yancy
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  9. Count Yubnub Force Ghost

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    Oct 1, 2012
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    The movie still has a majority of positive reviews.
  10. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    star 8
    Fair enough. But then clunky dialogue wasn't the only problem with the prequels. There was also poor characterization, poor plotting, an offensively antiseptic environment, a lack of emotional heft . . .

    I admit that it's not really fair to go back to the old "this movie is more popular than that one." Like was said, popular/critical opinion is as often wrong as it is right; heck, I'm somewhat infamous around here for absolutely loathing The Wizard of Oz, one of the most beloved films in history. It does come down to subjectivity at the end of the day.

    I'm glad for your sakes that you enjoyed the prequels. I . . . well, I'll skip the real lambasting. I'll just say I didn't enjoy any of them, except portions of ROTS. But I've found that the only thing that changes a person's opinion about art is for said person to experience the work again. Maybe I'll watch TPM again and love it, or you'll watch it again and hate it. But we won't argue our way to any opinion changes.
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  11. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    Given that I've read pretty much every movie novelization before I watched the movie, that might explain why the problems don't really stand out to me.
  12. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    All aspects that were criticized of the OT back in the day, too.
  13. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    And an emphasis on pyrotechnics (which isn't that bad to me -- man, afterall, stole fire from the gods, according to the Prometheus myth; so you could say there's a defiant, Promethean quality to the PT).

    I daresay you have ably summed up a lot of the disillusionment surrounding the PT in some sections of the fanbase. Ain't no thing if J.J. Abrams is going to put these things right in the new trilogy for those people.

    I think everyone is a firebrand or a pariah when it comes to one classic movie or another. Shock, there are some people who HATE Star Wars! In fact, it would probably do staunch OT fans good to go to IMDb and filter to the negative user reviews of the original film. Most are pretty blunt and do a good job of scorching the film so that it ends up sounding exactly like the way people talk about the prequels or a "Transformers" movie.

    Some degree of status-quo bucking is wholly good and natural, IMO. You could argue that artists are the people they are because they DON'T share every sentiment within the populace, but actually have very strong tastes and opinions about certain things that may even scandalize the hoi polloi. Sometimes, they even make what they make, in part, to correct or adjust for extreme love or fawning of another work which they themselves may hold in low regard.

    I just thought I'd share those thoughts for at least two main purposes:

    1) To defend you. You did start out with a bait, but I don't think there was any malice in it; you were probably just feeling frisky or something. We all have those moments.

    2) To better explain my position on J.J. Abrams. If Abrams dislikes the PT, that's not inherently wrong/a bad thing. I, myself, have voiced concern about the manner/nature of the comments of his that were earlier entered into the thread; but him not necessarily loving the prequels is not, in and of itself, a big deal. It may well allow him to inject the sequel trilogy with a fresh vibe and perspective. That is invariably a component in the thinking behind snagging J.J. in the first place.

    I see the prequels as predominantly visual -- with fantastic sound and music production. I also see them as avowedly mythical; they seem more entrenched in mythology and more nakedly ephemeral/twisted/ironic/subversive/mysterious than the OT. << Yes, all of those things.

    To this end, I also think they play more as cinematic montage, with digressions within digressions, strangeness within strangeness. AOTC, in my view, ramps this montage-driven film-making up a whole gear, almost to the point of breaking the mechanism ("The shifter broke"). In some quarters, it is clearly the most reviled of the PT; and with its rapidly-shifting tones, and its dim regard for eloquent, spoken language, it's no surprise. But in this sense, it's also a purer return to the primal form of cinema that so interests Lucas: cinema as moving image. I think it's Mary Pickford who said, "It would have been more logical if silent pictures had grown out of the talkie instead of the other way around." George Lucas, with his own conception of his work, would seem to agree: "I'm a strong believer of cinema as cinema -- not as a literary medium and not as a musical medium and not as a theatrical medium -- but cinema as the moving image."

    That's one way to work your way to a deeper understanding and respect of the PT, based on some of my own experiences. Every time they just about seem "normal" or "comprehensible", they suddenly crinkle a certain way, and some new mood or idea is felt. It's a beautiful whole, but when you break it down, there's some odd stitching. Suddenly, you go from, say, a relatively photo-realistic setting like the Theed hangar, to a storybook-ish green field and a battle involving sci-fi bubbles and shields, fought between CG robots and CG amphibians, then it's on to something else. Or take ROTS: from constant scenes of panic and doubt of varying kinds between Anakin and Padme, to a single scene where both seem hypnotically happy, almost like they're drugged (the "No, it's because I'm so in love with you" scene). You don't find such extreme or sudden shifts of tone and that same level of estrangement in the OT; not in my opinion, anyway. It's different: unusual and compelling. Lucas has said he likes to make films that have this peculiar emphasis on "points of view": showing the same thing from different angles. You can easily extrapolate and find surprising revelations quite quickly: e.g., Obi-Wan is literally duelling a "dark" version of himself (cloned, disguised as "alien") when he fights Maul; and the shock of this sudden intimation brings about the end of Qui-Gon's life.

    In British terms, there is a lot of "daft" stuff in the PT. Stuff that, on first glance, may not make a lot of sense, and may even seem perfunctory after that, but then it starts to fall in place: this is a total artwork, quite different to what you'd normally encounter in big-budget cinema. Lucas seemed to want to do a bit of everything and paint with some very broad and interesting strokes. The insane sweep of the films, and the surprising interconnections (e.g., Padme is an unconscious female/"mother" clone in AOTC), are what really get me going; there are so many themes and memes to devour. That there's soon to be a paperback version of the "Frames" book coming out -- a compilation of imagery from all six movies, totalling 1,416 distinct, hand-picked (by Lucas) frames, literally taken from a frame-by-frame examination of the six existing films belonging to "The Tragedy of Darth Vader", over a two-year period -- tells me that Lucas is eager to have more devoted fans (rather than the moneyed ones the limited-run filthily-expensive hardbook edition was aimed at) sit down, pause, let him guide them through the saga, one discrete moment at a time, and seriously strive to get a better understanding of what he was up to; and what their own love of the saga might mean.

    It still doesn't change the fundamentals, though. You don't have to like the PT. It's a personal thing. And while you jumped on an earlier remark and effectively deemed the PT "nonsense" (claiming there was nothing of interest), Sofia Coppola -- my all-time favourite film-maker alongside George Lucas -- once said the following: "I think you can be substantial and still be interested in frivolity." So I can either have a perception of the PT being good and not be offended by your remark because I don't necessarily see it as a put-down, even if that was your intent. Art can and does resonate beyond the conventional and the knowable. That's what makes it so fascinating and uplifting.
    Last edited by Cryogenic, Jan 30, 2013
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  14. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Anybody who criticized the OT for an antiseptic environment was a fool. That's just objectively not true. The others are more subjective, but there's no way that Tatooine or Dagobah, at the very least, are antiseptic.
  15. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    star 6
    The Death Star, Cloud City, the Rebel flagship.
  16. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    It depends what is meant by "antiseptic". To some, those places might be egregiously "movie-like": too clean, uncluttered, controlled, fake. The dialectic fans tend to get locked into is that those are the raw, earthy places, in contrast to the "antiseptic" of the Death Star, or Cloud City, or some of the locales of the PT. But some people think all of Star Wars is cookie cutter, simplistic, damaging, and wrong. There is nothing "objective" about what you've argued in return: they're personal value judgements only, whether shared by no-one or ten billion others.
  17. ezekiel22x Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 5
    Antiseptic isn't the right word, but I can see why something like Dagobah can be jarringly fake if one views it from a perspective of going from the open vistas and alien creatures of Tatooine to a foggy studio set adorned with some snakes and lizards.
  18. Samuel Vimes Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 4
    First I didn't say that TPM was hated by the critics. The avaliable data dispells that claim. SOME critics didn't like it but others did.
    What I meant was that overall TPM and AotC got a somewhat simillar average score. Also at Metacritic TPM and AotC are rated fairly evenly, a Metacritic score of 51 vs 53. Most of these reviews are from when they were released. And for myself, based on the reviews I read I didn't notice a big difference between TPM and AotC. Some good, some bad, some inbetween. And many user reviews from when AotC was released hailed AotC as "Much better than TPM." and this was from people that liked TPM.
    However with RotS there was a significant difference with the critical concensus. RotS even started to use comments from critics in the TV-spots, something I didn't see with TPM or AotC but I might just have missed them.

    Bye for now.
    Blackboard Monitor
  19. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    Well, I'll tell you, I remember someone quipping on here, not too long ago, that TESB has more dry ice than... whatever programme or movie it was. I'll fashion a new analogy: TESB has more dry ice than you'd need to sink the Titanic. I remember chuckling at the time, because it's something I've noticed. The film tends to make things more dramatic and moody by throwing dry ice into practically every other scene. Hell, there's even dry ice on the Falcon for some reason, like when Leia first boards and freaks out when Chewie is blasted by some in that tight compartment (a nice allusion to Han's later freezing: my symbolism/foreshadowing-oriented brain easily finds connections). "Antiseptic" is kinda the right word if they're meaning to slam the films for being too pat and lacking real grime and complication (e.g., Luke does okay for himself on Dagobah, despite their being potentially-venomous snakes and lizards everywhere and microbial life that might kill him fast). Ya know, some people watch Star Wars and it's just like, "Give me a break! Show me someone sweating! (yes, there is some visible on occasion), or, "Does anyone ever bleed in this damn galaxy?" (again, I know there's bleeding and allusions to blood). Compared to a Tarantino film, for instance, every Star Wars movie is flippin' "Sesame Street". And now that LFL and the Star Wars brand have been sold to Disney, those sorts of views might become more common.
  20. Count Yubnub Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 2012
    star 4
    It's not a sample size, it's a population size. The reviews constitute a population, not a sample.


    As many as they could find.


    Surely you realize this is irrelevant.


    It says that the OT movies received relatively poorer reviews than the PT movies did at the time they were released.
  21. SlashMan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2012
    star 3
    On the contrary to earlier comments, it is important to know what J.J. Abrams thinks of the Prequel Trilogy. It will be his job to continue the Star Wars Saga, not just cater to a small group of nostalgia junkies.

    But I doubt that's the case. While I'm sure he does have a soft spot for the OT, I'm sure he'll make the right call and move the series forward in a completely new direction, while incorporating aspects set forth by both trilogies. Honestly, the last thing I want to see is a rehash of the OT.
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  22. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    Well, some places are supposed to look antiseptic, for good reason - Kamino, for example ( or if you're into deleted scenes, the Temple analysis room ). The Temple in general isn't likely to look like a cantina. However, the droid factory is certainly not an environment that one could call antiseptic. Nor are places like Mustafar, Mygeeto, the arena, or Tatooine with its sandstorms, hovels and junk shops.
    Last edited by Arawn_Fenn, Jan 30, 2013
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  23. _Catherine_ Chosen One

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    star 4
    I think he meant antiseptic in that it is completely inorganic and artificial. In which case the droid factory is probably the most antiseptic location in the entire saga.
  24. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    star 7
    There was a lot of location shooting in the PT.
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  25. PiettsHat Force Ghost

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    star 4
    Isn't that kind of the point, though? I mean, it's a factory -- by its very nature, it's not going to be organic. It's producing machinery. It'd be like complaining that the interior of Cloud City is inorganic. It's a mining facility, so that's par for the course, I would expect.

    But the droid factory is by no means clean or "sterile," though, if you will. Kamino, yes, but considering that they're growing clones on a massive scale, it had better be.
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