PT The Blockbuster Double Standard

Discussion in 'Prequel Trilogy' started by Jedi_Ford_Prefect, Jul 5, 2011.

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  1. Adali-Kiri Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2000
    star 4
    Great point, MissPadme.

    In my country, one of the biggest newspapers gave TPM a rave review, going 5/6 for it. It was the last time any Star Wars film got a very good review here. It was a kind of innocent time, before the media backlash had become apparent to all and the only way to go about it was to dismiss Lucas and SW as a meaningless money-machine.

    On the topic of double standards: A powerful media critic in one of the big papers here wrote an article in 2002, bashing Lucas and SW in general, and AOTC in particular. The angle was that SW films were just excuses for action figures and that Lucasfilm was a kind of money-making central that thrived on feeding people rubbish in order for their bank accounts to swell.

    I wrote him an email, not as a SW fan but because I honestly found a huge flaw in his angle. If you want to write about this particular topic, which is certainly valid, why go for Lucasfilm? In 2002, three other huge franchises were ongoing: The Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter, and The Matrix. All of these were the property of one company: Warner Bros, an affiliate of Time Warner. I mean, Lucasfilm are pathetic peanuts compared to this...

    But I guess it's easy to single out Lucasfilm because it's got the man's name in the logo.
  2. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    Good points, both of you. Adali, the aspect of the corporate ownership of all three franchises is something I never thought of, and very salient. I had always thought it amusing that The Matrix, this great anarchist cyberpunk fable was a Time Warner production, and it's especially funny to watch the films on DVD and see the corporate ownership change hands subtly (remember the "AOL Time Warner" period?).

    MissPadme, what's interesting to me is that both Potter and Twilight are originally book series, and by and large the filmmakers haven't diverted tremendously from the source material (or so I've been told by the hyperventilating fans of the franchises). Fans, and more importantly critics know what to expect going into the films, and they get it. Same thing with the LOTR films, really. Adaptations have an easier time winning over critics, not to mention appropriating an already existing fanbase while building a new one from people who've never read the books.

    Oddly, I've always thought that the PT suffered because fanboys treated it more like an adaptation, and less like a set of original films. Yeah, you could argue that any se/prequel has that going against it, the franchise thing, but with the PT it was magnified. Largely, it's because of the tidbits Lucas gave out in interviews during the 80's, spilling the beans about young Obi-Wan and Anakin dueling on the volcano planet, which became the centerpiece of everyone's imaginations, blotting out everything else. There was no chance of capturing everything that people had in mind from that slim description. The PT at that point became an epic poem based on a haiku.
  3. Adali-Kiri Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2000
    star 4
    That's right! I forget these things quickly, and I suspect that others do as well. And I know that people often claim that LOTR was a New Line Cinema production, but that's a branch of Warner Bros. Sad as it may seem, I witnessed a discussion on a bus about 10 years ago --- One guy was talking to the other about that new LOTR movie. They were getting into critical thinking, asking how much money this was making for someone, somewhere. "So who is it?", said the first guy. The second guy answered "Lucasfilm, of course!"

    I never thought of it that way, but it's a really important point. The Star Wars prequels were never designed to emulate a series of books. It was an original set of films. Love them or loathe them. This is something that Lucas and SW is not likely to be robbed of: The biggest film franchise (in both quality and quantity) that is not based on a novel, or a comic book, or a theme park ride, or an already existing franchise. Just pure original cinema.

    I'd like to see anyone try.
  4. Darth_Gamek Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2009
    star 6
    And if it was like an adaptation, I'm sure there will be people whining and complaining about how GL just recycled old ideas and how they should've been a set of original films.

    Haters gonna hate. :p
  5. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    Here's another problem-- in the intervening years between ROTJ and TPM, the SW fanbase was placated with nothing but novels and comic-books based on the film's universe. The literature especially encouraged fans to look at SW less as a series of films and more as a franchise that they were actively invisioning in their head, which helped to magnify the problem of the hype and expectations, the "adaptation" effect.
  6. Adali-Kiri Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2000
    star 4
    I agree. But what do you think about this is in terms of double standards?
  7. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    Nothing, really. I'm just throwing it out there. Granted, there's also plenty of other SF book series based on television or film franchises (Star Trek comes to mind), but nobody takes those seriously, as far as I know.
  8. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    Alright, as I think I conceded, all the LOTR stuff was wearing me out, but it's been a few days, so I just want to add another to the pile:

    Why it is that some have gotten in a snit over connections to the Force supposedly being influenced by heredity, and the alleged exclusivity and elitism of the PT Jedi (who actually, y'know, fall and fail), but they seem completely fine with stuff in LOTR like Frodo being "meant" to have the One Ring (in Peter Jackson's version, he's essentially still a teenager/adolescent), and Eomer loudly declaring, "Find the King's son!" in a mass of injured/dead bodies, where no-one else's body or life seems to matter? Add to that the now-classic contempt in the pithy rejoinder, "The Force did it!" versus all the hints of "destiny" and "greater powers" at work in LOTR which seem to incur no disdain whatsoever. Although I may be entering this query/objection late in the game, it actually seems, to me, like one of the biggest of all double standards, since these aspects are pretty fundamental in both stories (or so it would appear to me). Yet LOTR gets a free pass and SW doesn't? I dunno. Maybe it's got something to do with the Sci-Fi overtones in SW? As in: Sci-Fi is about the "human potential"; while the genre of Fantasy tends to include the idea of providence and "cosmic plans". But then, if that's the case, why do people resent the introduction of "midi-chlorians" into the philosophy of the Force by specifically claiming they're too Science-Fiction-y? Why should they be so egregious? Well, I guess we're back to my earlier questions.
  9. Adali-Kiri Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2000
    star 4
    Cryogenic: Very good points. I rewatched the LOTR trilogy on BD recently, and I agree with every point you make.
  10. Alexrd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2009
    star 5
    Better yet: Why do people ignore the RotJ line: "The Force runs strong in my family."? As if the midi-chlorians had introduced the concept of the ability to use the Force being hereditary...
  11. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    I didn't have a problem with the midichlorians, but I did have a huge problem with Anakin being conceived by them.

    As far as the exclusivity and elitism of the prequel-era Jedi: I'm just guessing here, but I think people got upset about that because Ben Kenobi did not describe them that way at all in ANH, his description of them was so...ideal. And why wouldn't it be? It's based on nostalgia.

    I happened to think that exclusivity and elitism became a great lesson on why people shouldn't be exclusive, elitist, dogmatic and complacent, but that's me.
  12. Adali-Kiri Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2000
    star 4
    I found that to be a neat piece of religious-ish mysticism. But it's really only speculation, spurred on by Palpatine's claims in Revenge Of The Sith. It's still very much an unresolved issue. In any case, I like the fact that Anakin doesn't have a father. It ties in nicely with the monomythical archetype. Luke's parentage is a mystery. Frodo's parentage is a mystery. Harry Potter's parentage is a mystery.
  13. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    Because prequel hate is fashionable, while the truth... isn't.

    Uh... what?

    Frodo's parents were Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck. ( Luke's parentage isn't really a "mystery" either, we just don't know at the outset that his father became Vader. )
  14. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    Thanks! What great discernment you have! Seriously, though, all my posts are less about the films themselves, and more about the simplistic frameworks people use. In other words, by the same "logic" that people slam the prequels, they tend to switch it off when it comes to evaluating and enjoying other popular films, particularly those of the last ten or twelve years (i.e., the period spanning the release of TPM, AOTC and ROTS) -- when, if they kept it switched on, they'd find an equal number of problems, if not a great many more. I don't want to listen to people talking about "plot logic" or "realism" in the PT if they're willing to roundly accept The Joker's elaborate schemes in TDK or the physics of flipping an eighteen-wheeler in transit in the middle of a busy street with a cable that comes out of a motorbike. Just to give a couple of examples.
  15. PTisgreat Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Guys, I wouldn't get too bent out of shape at the 'double standard' because I have noticed that sequels always face harsh criticism from the a section of diehards along withs the casual fans too.

    I remember the Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions got crucified by critics and many fans (friends of mine hated it with a passion), simply because it wasn't the Matrix (meaning it wasn't like the original).

    I think SW suffered the same fate (from casual fans along with older fans), so at this point I kinda take the hatred at sequels with a grain of salt.

    I personaly enjoy all 6 movies, but as I said since I signed up here, my opinion is no better then someone elses. I enjoy debating the specifics of the movies, but when someone starts telling me that a certain movie is better then another movie, at that point do you think either person is going to convince the other????

    I always remember when Forrest Gump came out and most of my friends loved that movie, and I just didn't get it, and still don't today. I am definitely in the minority because the movies seems to still be beloved, but I just don't get the love for it. Am I wrong for not loving it, the same way I am in the minority for loving The Cable Guy when everyone I know hated the movie?

    Just an opinion, and we all have one :)
  16. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    No, they don't. Of the recent tent-pole entertainments, J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" has come in for some harsh criticism, but even then, the praise outweighs it -- praise that is sometimes in the form of, "Now *this* is everything the prequels should have been!" -- and I defy you to show me example after example for "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" or the "Lord of the Rings" movies ... or, for that matter, the OT, itself. Some big movies can seemingly do no wrong.

    Let me indulge you, here. Just a bit. A mere flash-in-the-pan, is this, but you might see where I'm coming from, partially. Here is a website devoted to -- as the name suggests -- cinematography/photography. It is a site with hardcores and enthusiasts, naturally, but it isn't a site with typical movie-franchise "diehards", per se. I want you to note the disparity in reactions and attitudes between "Revenge of the Sith" and "Batman Begins"; which, of course, came out weeks apart...

    "Revenge of the Sith":
    http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=6788

    "Batman Begins":
    http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=7253

    Pay particular attention to something one of the contributors in both threads says:

    On Sith and the PT:

    On Begins:

    Calls the prequels "flat out visionless", and mentions Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" as one of the things Lucas is supposedly knocking off, as if it's a bad thing, but gushes over tributes and resemblances -- or, er, rip-offs -- in Nolan's picture, climaxing with another mention of "Blade Runner", this time, as if it's the most positive and inspiring thing in the world.

    So, it's not okay when Lucas does it, in an epic work of cinema that, by its nature, is almost infinitely syncretic, but it's absolutely fine -- even wonderful -- when Nolan or his DP pull off atmospherics and shots straight from the same movie? You know what... I'd have thought it'd be more damaging in Batman's case, since Gotham is a singular place with a singular personality, while Coruscant is just one of many, many planets and locales in Star Wars. Also, I would say that Lucas' quotations work well as social commentary (the corrupting influence of big business and class warfare), yet the "Blade Runner" references could be said to be out-of-place in Nolan's fable, in my opinion, because Nolan doesn't attack big business, and his protagonist owns the biggest company in the whole damn story (if Tyrell became Batman...).

    But no, let's only attack the PT. Let's not simply ignore these same things in other films, let's celebrate them as beautiful weaves in a bigger tapestry! I think it must all start with an underlying assumption: Lucas is a soulless technocrat and sell-out, so let's bash anything he does as derivative and worthless, but these other people are making real, authentic, living works of art, baby! Well,
  17. PTisgreat Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2011
    You make good points, as if we go through every movies series, not everyone is put through the meat grinder, but I guess I was generalizing.

    I guess when I speak I talk more about my friends reactions, because I really don't care what a critic has to say. I mean what makes a movie critic different then you and me? Other then we have to probably buy the popcorn...:p

    I know that many of my friends weren't big fans of Return of the King as they thought it was too long and much redundant. I am not a huge LOTR fan, as their good movies but I don't own them. But most of my friends love Fellowship and really like Two Towers, but put Return of the King last.

    I think the Chris Nolan Batman movies get alot less criticism simply because of the George Clooney Batman movie from 1997 and how bad that was. Again, I am not a huge fan of the newer Batman movie, but I can tell you their much better then the Clooney Batman movies (I think its called Batman & Robin?). So the bar was low, and as long as Nolan put out something good, it would get rated better simply because it wasn't like those last few Batman movies from the 90's.

    I could be wrong but thats my take. :)
  18. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    The only people I see criticizing the new ST are really old-school Trekkies and TNG'ers who don't like all the revisionism. Everybody else chomped at the bit, really. And I agree, Abrams' stuff is just annoying in that film. Sad for the guy who directed possibly the best live-action television pilot since Twin Peaks.

    The thing that bothers me about people comparing the work of Abrams, Jackson or Nolan to the PT and syaing "this is how it should've been"-- these guys are all drawing deep from the well of Lucas. You might as well say that Lucas should've just done them solely in the style of the OT (people do say that, I suppose) instead of something new. Pity, really.

    The fact that he's reaching back to ReBoot (a show I love) as a reference point, instead of American Graffiti, is almost enough on its own to undercut his argument. The Fifth Element thing is a good observation, but really Lucas and Besson were just drawing on the same influence of Jean "Moebius" Giraud there-- you might as well fault using the Moebius-inspired design for the Probe Droid in ESB. And Blade Runner is an obvious, knowing reference with the landscape of flaming oil-refinery towers during the Coruscant chase, so it's just as valid as Lucas' cribbing from The Searchers or Kurosawa. As for NYPD Blues-- he does know they're not the first people to use a crash-zoom, right? Guess he missed the boat on the war-footage element.

    Nolan, post-Memento, strikes me as an incredibly derivative filmmaker. BB is full of empty, no-risk homages to Blade Runner. TDK is such a naked imitation of Michael Mann's style on Heat, one wonder why he doesn't sue Nolan the same way he did William Friedkin after thinking To Live and Die in LA was a rip-off of Miami Vice.

    BTW, your comparison between Nolan's Bruce Wayne and Tyrell is actually quite interesting. Even if it isn't conscious, it's very telling of him as a director. All his movies are more or less unconsciously conservative, pampered "white telephone" films.
  19. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    That is nonsense. It's so unconscious, it's not even there. ( Unless there was a white Bat-phone. ) Where is the overlap between Insomnia and the white telephone genre? This is just the same old story: Batman has a lot of money, so Nolan is an elitist. But Batman has always had a lot of money; it's the traditional background of the character. Nolan didn't dream it up. It is absurd that the only way for Nolan to have escaped spurious charges of elitism would have been to make Batman poor, going against over sixty years of comic-book tradition.
  20. Chiodo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 25, 2004
    star 1
    That lawsuit's an urban legend, never happened.
  21. Adali-Kiri Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2000
    star 4
    Yeah, I know that. The point is this: His parents are dead, gone, not there for the story. He lives with his uncle (like Luke and like Harry). This is a monomyth archetype. Frodo's parentage in LOTR is also given extra mystery by the fact that the Hobbits of the Shire question whether he is of their kind or elven-kind, and even the films play this up in the way Frodo is portrayed, physically. Bottom line: There is something about these characters that sets them apart.
  22. Adali-Kiri Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2000
    star 4
    I agree with you. It seems a little too easy these days to knock Nolan because he's getting big. And because he's dealing with this particular character. When it comes to double standards, we all need to stay alert. Personally, I find The Dark Knight as elegantly subversive as Revenge Of The Sith.
  23. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    Nicely put, Adali. For the record, I didn't mean to call Nolan a "competent hack". That descriptor might be fitting for J.J. Abrams, however. There's something about Nolan's movies that makes them rather compelling -- at least, as blockbuster films. For me, though, despite slightly avant-garde tendencies, Nolan's movies tend to be a little too cut-and-dry: a little too obvious, too safe, too blockbuster-y. The blaring work of Hans Zimmer, particularly in "The Dark Knight" and "Inception", comes to mind. As do the "peak intensity" moments, where the film goes from quiet to loud, like when Bruce falls down the well at the start of Begins, or the dead body slamming against the window of the Mayor's office in TDK. And Nolan's treatment of action sequences, while perhaps eking something back in parts of TDK (I do quite like the sleek batpod chase sequence), do tend -- for my money, anyway -- to be staged and cut rather poorly. I mean, hell, even conceptually, the idea of Batman driving over rooftops in a tank-like vehicle, as in Begins, is waaaaaay over-the-top (and not in a good way; in my opinion) -- and note how the character is still behaving like that in TDK (he programs the tumbler to smash through a concrete wall during the drugs bust; and all that other carnage with the tumbler and the batpod... yikes!).

    Someone on YouTube also did a mash-up of a scene each from Begins and TDK: "improbable aerial rescue", you might call it, where, in Begins, Bruce slides down a mountain edge and saves Ducard from falling off a sheer edge, after they're both expelled by a massive explosion, and in TDK, Bruce, as Batman, willfully flings himself out of a high-storey window after The Joker drops Rachel, managing to catch up to her, as he did with Ducard, and then saving both himself and herself when, this time, they *do* drop, a heck of a long way, only to be saved by some fudged combination of Batman's not-really-deployed "memory cape" and the hood of a cab. In other words, a loved one's life is imperiled and Bruce comes to the rescue, defying the laws of physics to do it. Just one rather-silly motif that Nolan seems to favour (at least, in his Bat flicks). I've noticed others, myself, such as exploding/collapsing buildings: in Begins and one of its trailers; on the TDK poster, in one of its trailers -- the teaser also has the Batman logo breaking up in a dramatic CG animation -- and in the movie itself; in Inception, on its poster, in its trailers, and in the movie itself (in several settings); and now, it looks like, in "The Dark Knight Rises", on its poster and in its teaser trailer. Oh, no! The world is falling! DRAMA! THIS IS DRAMA, PEOPLE! Another one is the "shouting" scene: in Begins' trailer, it's when Batman screams, "Rachel!"; in TDK's trailer, it's when Batman screams, "Where is he?!"; in Inception's trailer, it's when Leo screams, "This was not a part of the plan!" Again... DRAMA! THIS IS DRAMA, PEOPLE! In fact, I'm amazed at all the parallels between the main theatrical trailer for TDK and the one for "Inception". Clue: Cobb is The Joker.

    Depending on your perspective, that's all either the product of film-making genius or formulaic in the extreme. Again, I guess it's largely -- if not exclusively -- subjective. Again, however, Lucas has been bashed for "lacking imagination" and simply "recycling" his own ideas (which, according to the prevailing dogma, weren't even his own ideas to begin with), while these aspects either aren't discussed in Nolan's case, at all, or are occasionally flagged up and imme
  24. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    That's because Mrs. Kirk doesn't immediately "die of a broken heart", which seems to be the chief complaint about the Padme scene.
  25. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    We're talking about a film series where two of the characters in the same scene vanish when they die. Neither of their deaths -- to the best of my knowledge -- elicited a single eye-roll or letter of complaint, then or now.

    But with Padme, and the prequels, themselves, suddenly, it's a different ball game. Now, Star Wars is "completely unbelievable" and "ridiculous", for some reason, and Lucas has lost "all credibility" as an artist and storyteller.

    I'd say you've just inadvertently hit on a MAJOR inter-trilogy double standard. So, thank you. The fault seems to be less with the films, and more -- much, much more -- with willfully-blind fans.
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