Poll

Which is best?

The original trilogy
The prequels (new and shiny!)
They are the same
I don't care. Star Wars is rubbish.
Yes, but does Harry Potter die?

Author Topic: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels  (Read 8563 times)

Najemikon

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Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« on: July 30, 2007, 12:42:53 AM »
Sorry about the length of this. Please direct complaints to SailorRipley and RossRoy, ref. "True or False" thread.

Quote
"My generation seems to have a fixation on nostalgia. They will pound, scream and shout about how George Lucas RUINED the Star Wars franchise. The way I see it, all six Star Wars films are more less in the same balance. People can yell all they want about how 'Jar-Jar sucks' or how the new trilogy is really bad, but I see the same weak material in the 1977-1983 films. The feel is pretty much the same to me, or maybe I just don't see what the big problem is. I think fanboys are just sick with nostalgia, and their memories of the original trilogy are clouding their notion that the new three movies really do belong with the others."
Rather than correctly state this as a falsehood, RossRoy agreed! I know! How ridiculous?

Quote
"They are not comparing the movie themselves, they are trying to achieve the same sense of wonder they got back then. Problem is, they were seeing a movie with kids eyes, today, they are adults, so for most people, they just can't see the movie the same way they did as kids."

He went on to make good points, but it was all so much static after that opening line. It was that line that kicked me up the virtual backside and forced me into this thread. My first Star Wars film was Jedi. Yes, I was nine. But that nine year old has grown up obsessed with all styles of cinema. To put on rose tinted spectacles for this film would be to do myself a disservice. Heck, Police Academy was my favourite comedy back then! Times have changed and me with them.

There are several differences between the trilogies that make the first three towering examples of cinematic genius, and render the prequels as merely fun toy adverts. It has nothing to do with nostalgia. It's too far to say Lucas ruined his own saga. I think over twenty years he forgot what was important. Possibly listened too much to fans, the last people who know what they really want.

Sailor is right that the fundamental approach to narrative and dialogue hasn't altered across the six films. While it is weak, I think it also merely efficient, allowing the back story to tease its way through, while giving a great amount of freedom to the actors and director. Actually, they need the freedom. The characters are pretty much interchangeable.

Consider Star Wars Episode IV: I think back then George Lucas realised his weaknesses. He's come up with this incredible universe, but could he write a plot? Probably not, so simplify everything, everyone and what they say into two-dimensional clichés. Use a typical fairytale as a framework and in the background, that wonderful universe just writes itself and the back story seeps through naturally. Start smack bang in the middle, that'll help. Next, could he direct it? Just. As long as he nicks someone else's methods for plot structure (Kurosawa) and employs at least one brilliant actor and another with a screw-you attitude.

The plot is driven by the smallest characters (the two droids) like The Hidden Fortress. The cast seem to enjoy themselves at least, apart from two, who ironically, give the film it's edge. Alec Guinness lifts the quality ten-fold while Harrison Ford breaks the monotony by playing a pissed off character, while actually being pissed off. He acts as the films conscience. Both Harrison Ford and Han Solo think they are surrounded by crap and are only suffering it for the cash.

The Empire Strikes Back couldn't rely on the same luck. The fairytale thing and using another film as a template had been done, so Lucas the director was stuffed. He wasn't making a sci-fi western now, he was making a Star Wars film. Thankfully he handed the reins on. Alec Guinness was no longer a substantial part, but Irvin Kershner was good enough to pull in some momentum. The plot was dark and powerful, while Harrison Ford, like his character, seemed to be relenting and again, gave the film a conscience. This method continues through the third film. New director holding everything together and everyone just building on the first two. No problem, its in the bag!

Now the prequels. Based on what I said above, bullet points are enough:

- Too much CGI. It's one step away from being a cartoon.
- The originals were about small people in a big story. These offer too much exposition.
- The plot has little structure, no framework. That main story happens in between the good bits that we don't see (The Clone Wars). The episodes are unconnected chapters in Vader's life, not a flowing story.
- Lucas forgot why he handed on the directing duties in the first place and fails to inspire the cast. This new lot probably hero worship him too much to do their own thing. They look lost.
- No Alec Guinness- Liam Neeson could have been good, but got killed off. Ewan McGregor just looks shell shocked.
- No Harrison Ford. Worse, no Han Solo style character to give the film edge and that all important conscience. It's all just politics and noble Jedis.
- Jar Jar does suck. He's a pointless prat-falling joke in place of C3PO who was essential to the original plot structure.
- Jedi are religious characters based on faith. Where did all the "midi-watsits blood count" come from? Not necessary.
- Other plot points betray the films own logic and change things so much that the trilogies don't fit together.
- Padme dying, because she loses the will to live. I mean, what? Pardon? This and Solo not shooting first in the Special Edition show Lucas has lost his way and become a wishy-washy romantic.

The biggest problem though, I think is this: In the intervening years, the Star Wars saga generated hundreds of tie-ins extending the story. Books, comics and even computer games explored "what happens next" in brilliant fashion. The fans collectively looked forward to George Lucas doing his own extension. Instead he chose "what already happened". We already know enough of Vader's history. Playing it out is pointless. Unless of course you want to watch them in order, but that makes me sad because those people won't get the same feeling of mystery. Obi Wan lying to Luke sticks out like a sore thumb as does the "I am your Father" scene. The original trilogy worked so well when you had to have faith that the back story was there and being adhered to, even if you didn't see it.

No, the two trilogies are not the same. The prequels are merely very good, but they cast a shadow across the most original trilogy cinema ever produced.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2007, 12:44:41 AM by Najemikon »

SailorRipley

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2007, 06:25:51 AM »
Boy, I've always known this to be a very special kind of controversial subject! Jon, I thank you for your passionate post and will say that I totally get your points and agree with most of them. Perhaps it's true that I oversimplified my statement, however I still believe all the hatred for the prequels is much ado about nothing.

Star Wars, I loved as a kid. I used to own all the action figures, spaceships and monsters. And of course, I still like the movies, quite a bit. In fact, I own them all. And the same as you, my first Star Wars was Jedi. So, these movies have always been there in the back of my mind, for more than half of my lifetime; however, with age and more film awareness, I can now look back and truly think Star Wars is nothing more than pure, old-fashioned entertainment. Influential, sure. In more ways that one can possibly imagine.

My framework of nostalgia, well, let's say it's just a kind of personal theory. Do I see children now screaming and yelling about how much the new Star Wars trilogy sucks? Not particularly. Some children do not seem to get it and if they do, they love the prequels and the original trilogy equally, and they abandon themselves in this world. There is no prejudice at all. This is what I think is much more important. Come on, these are movies designed for 8 year-olds, and they work wonderfully in that context. My theory of nostalgia comes from the fact that it appears to be a gigantic prejudice from people whose age range goes from 30 to 40 now.

In that same vein, you have to take into account that George Lucas is not the same guy 30 years after the fact. You can say he evolved or regressed intellectually, but in 1977, Star Wars was no more than an avant-garde experiment, it just happened to seduce the popular culture. So if he attacks the same subject in 1999, well the results are going to be very different, and yet they are fundamentally the same.

So, allow me to retort a few of your points.

You say Alec Guinness lifts the quality of the first film. So maybe it's just me, but I look at him and all I can read in his face is "What the hell am I doing in this piece of crap?", just like, say, Neeson or McGregor. He looks lost. He looks like he needed the job.

You say there is too much CGI in the prequels. I say, is there any other way for this kind of film? What was real in the original trilogy, anyway? Everything that appears to be real there seems to be forced by either the shortcomings of technology or budget constraints. Don't you think, if Lucas had access to CGI in 1977-1983, he would use it?

You say Kershner managed to hold everything together in Empire. I say, really? I mean, I'm not trying to be thick or anything, but have you seen any other Kershner-directed film? In my opinion, the guy can't direct to save his life. Look at Never Say Never Again, A Fine Madness, Eyes of Laura Mars or [gasp] Robocop 2. All of them crappy crappy films. If Empire seems to raise to the occasion, I'd say it's because the script was pretty cool, back when Larry Kasdan used to be a great screenwriter. (I'm not even contemplating the Leigh Brackett collaboration, since, as I understand it, she is credited just because Lucas wanted to, and not because any of her material ended up on the screen).

Jar-Jar... Well, what can I say? I don't like that thing either, but my 8 year-old seems to laugh at his dumb jokes. So either we're a couple of cynics, or we just don't are the right age for the Jar-Jar antics.

I agree the midi-watsits make no sense at all. "There was no father. I raised him" also made my eyes roll along with a couple of well-placed groans. But don't you think the same kind of religious allegory exist in the previous Star Wars films?

In all your other points I pretty much agree.

As much as I like Star Wars, I can't pretend the original trilogy are some kind of movie masterpieces. I just can't. I think they're highly enjoyable, but that's about it. So, what I'm just saying in a nutshell about the new trilogy is, imagine you're a kid when watching the prequels and enjoy them for what they are. And the same is my feel with the original trilogy.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2007, 06:28:26 AM by SailorRipley »

Offline DJ Doena

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2007, 08:46:52 AM »
Let me give my POV: I've never seen the original SW in the cinema. I was born in East Germany and saw the movies for the first time around 1990. I was 13 and still a kid. They were simply faszinating and I watched them again and again and again. (BTW my favourites are VI, V, IV - I know most like V most)

I never read a book of the Extended Universe though nor had I any SW toys.

Then in 1997 the Special Editions came back to the cinemas. I was thrilled. SW on a big screen! I watched them and still felt the same sense of wonder.

And then came SW I. Personally I think Jar-Jar destroyed everything. I don't know if I could live with that little "Annie" boy but JJ was way to much. The entire movie full of his slapstick gags, I couldn't stand it. And then this nine-year-old who can do everything and has a high ammount of midiwhatever. I disliked the movie from the start. I considered this boy and Darth Vader still as two different persons.

After this disappointment I never gave II and III a real chance to be honest. I watched them in the cinema (that was simply mandatory) but I never felt much warmth for the characters except maybe for Padmé and Obi-Wan but that because I knew the actors from other good movies (Léon for example). And I really didn't like the story at all.

For example III:

Emperor: You must come to the dark side to save your wife.
Vader: No, I can't.
Emperor: You must.
Vader: OK.

And then he goes and slaughters the Jedi kids for no real reason.

Just plain stupid IMHO.
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Najemikon

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2007, 10:34:40 AM »
And then came SW I. Personally I think Jar-Jar destroyed everything. I don't know if I could live with that little "Annie" boy but JJ was way to much. The entire movie full of his slapstick gags, I couldn't stand it. And then this nine-year-old who can do everything and has a high ammount of midiwhatever. I disliked the movie from the start. I considered this boy and Darth Vader still as two different persons.

I really think Phantom Menace should have started with Annakin as a teen. On one hand a single actor would have been used throughout for consistency, while from a story point of view, all the things he could do would be more feasible. The Jedi could have accepted him as a trainee because they were desperate to get his power under control.  :2cents:

Sailor, I think you agree more than you think!

When I saw Phantom Menace, my first thought was that George Lucas had changed over those years and he was now a different director. It's bound to have an affect. Or was he so different? I'm positive that had he access to that level of CGI in the 1970s he'd have used it, to the films detriment.

I've always been fascinated by the magical, accidental aspect of cinema. Some of the greatest scenes have come about because something went wrong: Orson Welles couldn't be bothered to turn up to work on The Third Man, so they resorted to filming shadows; Harrison Ford was ill when he was supposed to have a sword fight on Raiders, so he just shot him instead; Frank Sinatra was going to play Dirty Harry. And so on.

Another handy accident. I agree that Guinness looked lost, but that man could have read a phone book out and still be hailed. Just as being pissed off helped Ford, feeling lost, "why have I ended up here" thoughts, helped add to the character of Obi Wan. Obi Wan was the greatest of his kind, now he's living like a hermit. Strangely comparable to Alec.

In other words, give Lucas the budget he wants, he'll make the film exactly as he wished and the result won't work!

I know what you mean about Kershner, but let me clarify. He's a director for hire. He knows enough to hold it together. Directors don't always have to be inspired, just dedicated and workman-like. The old studio system was full of them. Lucas is an artist and would be a better director if he was detached from the material. If he could look at it cold, he's see the problems. The results speak for themselves: Kershner directed the most highly regarded episode; Lucas stuffed up the prequels. Lawrence Kasdan did write a cracking script, but the fight between Vader and Luke is brilliantly put together. Every hack gets a good day once in a while! Happy accidents again.

Of course kids are forgiving and can't tell the difference, but that's no excuse. Kids can't really tell the difference between Toy Story 2 and Shrek 3 either. But the latter is a cheap cash-in from what I've heard.

I'm disappointed overall because I do hold the original trilogy in high regard. Despite the best efforts of some people involved, they created a magical experience out of thin air. There isn't another fantasy or sci-fi film so successfully completely immersed in another world or presented with such passionate gusto. That opening crawl is just brilliant. It's an exercise in taking very little and making so much.

The prequels merely tread water.

lyonsden5

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2007, 03:13:18 PM »
Any good movie is all about the characters (to me anyway). While I enjoyed the prequels the characters did nothing for me. For one they were not the same from ep-1 to ep 2 & 3. Of course they couldn't be as it was many years later., but it is harder to develop a relationship with a character when they change so much. Even Natalie Portman's character changed from a fiery bad ass (similar to what her daughter would become) to a whinny, love stricken b!tch. I really enjoyed her in ep 1 but at the end I did not like her character at all (although some of the outfits were nice  :drooling: )

Then you have the original trilogy's cast of characters. Every one of the leads was great. Take Han Solo. He had the quirky smile and don't care attitude but when the chips were down you knew he would be there to help even though it was not in his best interest. Hero material all the way.

Luke, the dream struck farm boy that turn into a galactic hero. Great stuff. Obi-Wan, Darth Vader, Leia, all great characters. Even Chewie was the perfect sidekick.

It is the characters and they way they endear themselves to you that make the original trilogy much better than the new one. You really cared what happened to all of them.

I should add I've read every Star Wars book written that was about the events after the original trilogy, up until the New Jedi Order series. I read the 1st one or two of those, but again they didn't have the same characters so I quickly lost interest. Any fan of the original trilogy who hasn't continued the saga with the books is missing out. I'm not really a reader, but I loved those books.

Najemikon

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2007, 09:06:21 PM »
Any good movie is all about the characters (to me anyway). 

That is so true. Write good characters and a basic story will write itself. The original trilogy still used the man-in-rubber-suit effects method and sometimes, you'd catch really subtle movements, especially from Chewie (think losing the chess match) and Vadar watching the Falcon escape. I think the prequels CGI characters didn't have that same feeling of reality.

You mentioned the books. Have you played any of the computer games? I thought the story arc in the Jedi Knight series was fantastic. Also, I'm not keen on RPGs but Knights of the Old Republic is really epic.

lyonsden5

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2007, 02:39:53 AM »
No. Have not tried the computer games.

Gave up on games a while ago. Except for the occasional flash game I have never really played a game on the computer.

I was 9 when my family got the 1st home video game system, a Magnavox Odyssey. http://www.pong-story.com/odyssey.htm. To play most of the games you had to tape a sheet of plastic onto the TV set so there would be a background  :laugh: I've seen and played every game system that has been invented and owned most of them. When my kids got better than my I hung up the joysticks though. Today's games are way to complicated for an old timer like me.   :bag:

Back on topic, I would probably enjoy it but just can't see myself getting into it.  :-[

Najemikon

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2007, 07:45:48 PM »
I just posted a Spaced clip on the Sixth Sense thread and dropped across this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foBJfWILM8M&mode=related&search=

 ;D


Boomstick98

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2009, 09:48:19 PM »
I totally agree with Rick. That was my main issue with the prequel trilogy, the characters. They were flat and bland and I really didn't care what happened to them. To truly enjoy a trilogy that lasts nearly 7 hours it needs to have engaging characters. Obi wan was the only character that I felt was written and performed well. I think almost everyone will agree that Jar Jar was horrible, but it wasn't just him. I thought the gungans as a whole were a little to silly to be taken seriously. I kind of got the same feeling from them as I did the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi. While I am a big fan of Natalie Portman's work in other films it just didn't feel like she aged enough through out the trilogy in comparison with "annie". It all just seemed kind of weird. One movie hes a little kid and the next hes grown up and padme didn't really change any at all. Then all of the sudden they are all over each other. Just came across a bit creepy.  :hmmmm: Then as I think someone stated earlier even though they attempted to build toward it a little in episode II anakin's turn to the dark side just seemed a little abrupt. He goes from worrying about his wife and child to slaughtering children at the drop of a hat. It almost felt like I had missed an entire movie between episodes II and III. I guess that's the story they are trying to tell now with the Clone Wars cartoon series.

I also have to admit some of the dialogue was really poor. There were some scenes that made me wince due to the poor dialogue. The whole "No, its because I'm so in love with you" scene in Episode III was difficult to watch. While the original trilogy had some corny dialogue as well I feel as a whole the script was much better. Don't get me wrong the prequels had some great action, but that was about it. When the action stopped the characters really weren't there to keep my interest.

I will admit that I am a little jaded by all the CGI effects that we seem to see in every action/adventure movie these days, so I was not going to have a repeat of the wonderment I felt while viewing the original trilogy with the prequel trilogy. I still think after viewing them all together the original trilogy as a whole was a much more thought out and better written trilogy.

Najemikon

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2009, 01:05:35 AM »
Hey, Boomstick, welcome to the forums! :D And thank-you for digging up one of my favourite threads. You continue to prove there is an abyss between the trilogies.

I hadn't considered really how the prequels characters barely gel even taken as stand-alone films... :shrug:

lovemunkey187

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2009, 12:44:16 PM »
I tried to write something well constructed and thought out, but I just couldn't put into words. So I ended up writing this instead.

But I still think that the some of the choices for actors was bad.
Hayden Christian he is woeful.
Natalie Portman, a very good actress whose performance fails due to have really crappy lines.
Ewan Macrgregor, I think he and Colin Farrell are very similar in that they are really talanted but sometimes just don't try hard enough. (I still think that Kenneth Brannagh would've been an interesting choice as Obi Wan)
Liam Neeson, was great, but they made the same mistake with him as they did with Ray Park by killing him off too soon.
Samuel L Jackson. I thank that they did try to give him some of the "Han-ness" but they couldn't give him enough to be what the film needed, consequently it skewed the role.


Who is worse The Ewoks or Jar-Jar?

Offline Achim

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2009, 12:46:46 PM »
Who is worse The Ewoks or Jar-Jar?
You have to ask...? :hmmmm:

Najemikon

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2009, 12:51:03 PM »
I don't even share the opinion that the Ewoks were particularly bad. Definitely the most kiddie-centric stuff of the originals, but Jar-Jar is a disgrace in comparison.

Offline DJ Doena

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2009, 12:58:09 PM »
I liked the Ewoks. It was cute when C-3P0 told the story so far and really sad when that one Ewok died on the battlefield and his friend tried "to wake him up". In these both scenes I developed more feelings for these teddy bears than I ever did for any of the characters in the PT.

Next week I am going to watch the Star Wars OT, Bourne and LOTR Trilogy and then I will go back to work on Thursday...
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Boomstick98

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Re: Star Wars: original trilogy vs. prequels
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2009, 01:17:48 AM »
Hey, Boomstick, welcome to the forums! :D And thank-you for digging up one of my favourite threads. You continue to prove there is an abyss between the trilogies.

I hadn't considered really how the prequels characters barely gel even taken as stand-alone films... :shrug:

Your welcome! :thumbup: I think there will always be a debate on this topic somewhere.  :tomato: