Tuesday, January 24, 2012

George Lucas retires - I guess this means the end of an era?

Last Thursday saw an announcement from the man himself that he won't be making another blockbuster.
"I'm retiring," he said. "I'm moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff."
Lucas said he would only work on a fifth Indiana Jones film before he calls it a day otherwise, Red Tails, an action adventure about a pioneering group of African-American pilots who fought in the Second World War, which he financed himself (and already getting pretty bad reviews), will be his last blockbuster. According to the New York Times Lucas will spend the rest of his life making small, experimental art-house films.
Now I've always tried to be constructive with my criticism of Lucas as there will never be any escaping that I am a massive Star Wars fan. From the original trilogy when I was a kid, through the nineties with the spin-off novels and graphic novels and ending with the prequel trilogy. I've spent enough money on Star Wars merchandise over the last twenty years to probably fund an episode of the CGI Clone Wars series alone. I stopped buying stuff years ago though as I lost interest in one of my first geek loves.

Everyone knows all the grief Lucas has been getting since 1997 for his Star Wars Trilogy Special editions (which to be honest I never had a problem with as it gave me the chance to see the original films on the big screen). But as the years went on he started contradicting the original trilogy with his each new prequel instalment. Then to make things worse in 2004 he decided to have a mess around with them again. The way I saw, it was OK, if he wanted to change a few more things to bring them in line with the prequels then fair enough. It would make sense for him to do that wouldn't it?

But with the Blu-Ray release he decided to change things again. A few are listed below.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

There are computer-generated rocks in front of R2-D2 while he’s hiding in the canyon; however, they’re “magically not there” after he comes out of hiding
Obi-Wan’s fake “Krayt Dragon” roar is once again altered and it sounds “hideous”; keep the mute button at the ready
Greedo shoots first – again – but this time with slightly fewer frames than the previous release
Luke’s lightsaber while training on the Millennium Falcon is back to being “white” and “blue” as it was originally – it is no longer pale green, per the 2004 DVD release

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Flames have been added to the probe droid crater
Most of the blue tint on Hoth is gone
The Wampa arm is “fixed” — whatever that means — but it’s still imperfect
R2-D2’s once black panels are now blue in space
A la the DVD release, Emperor Palpatine – via hologram – is still played by Ian McDiarmid in his Revenge of the Sith makeup

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

The static shot of C3PO and R2-D2 approaching Jabba’s palace has been replaced by a “wide pan with a huge door”; the door is now peppered with laser blast impacts
Han Solo’s “carbonite thaw” is now CGI
A computer-generated “Dug” from the prequels (Sebulba, the evil racer who podraced Anakin in The Phantom Menace, was a dug) is seen walking across the screen after Luke infiltrates Jabba’s palace; the dug looks “really fake, like it was [added at the] last minute”
Wicket the Ewok now has computer-generated, blinking eyes
Darth Vadar says “No” several times as he picks up Emperor Palpatine and tosses him into the Death Star reactor core; the “Nos” seem to be sampled from The Empire Strikes Back and Revenge of the Sith, respectively

As you can see, most of them were once again just correcting special effects faults but a few of the new bits change the tone of the films completely. I don't have a Blu-Ray player so I was never going to buy these anyway but I can understand why some people would be annoyed that he refuses to release the original untainted films in a better looking format than the 2006 limited release they were given.

I'm glad he is retiring now as I think he has pretty much had himself surrounded by "Yes Men" for the last twenty years that were too afraid to tell him some of his ideas where a bit rubbish (for proof of this watch any of the prequel documentaries where you can clearly see this in action). I do wonder though if out of spite George will decide to utterly murder Star Wars? As in no more novels, no more movies, no more video games. Period. Nah of course he won't but I suppose my hopes of a sequel to Willow now have been blown out of the water.

What do you think of the news?

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