Like the majority of film fans born in the Seventies (and earlier) my youth was massively influenced by the original Star Wars Trilogy. At the age of 7 Empire Strikes Back was already my favourite film. More for the visuals than the character development and quality directing (that came later). I had the old fashioned equivalent of spoilers for Return of The Jedi in the form of the official Pannini sticker album and poster magazines. And don’t get me started on the all the original figures I owned and sold for 50p each at a boot sale some years later. When the prequels came along it got me so excited that I went to New York just so I could see Episode 1 six weeks earlier than the UK release date. But I guess the least said about that the better.
Star Wars has felt like part of my DNA since my first conscious thoughts, it feels as if I was born with the knowledge of that universe and its influence on me has been overwhelming but I can’t help but think that time has run out for my love of the franchise, yes the early films have their moments but as years go by I find myself with more of an empty feeling when revisiting the movies. I think it’s time to face the fact that apart from Empire Strikes Back the franchise just isn’t that good.
For a franchise to have true longevity and remain successful it requires a level of reinvention. Look at Dr.Who, Star Trek, James Bond. All have undergone transformations and changes in direction but still remained true to their core concept. If we were still following the adventures of the original Enterprise crew or a pensioner Sean Connery as 007 (oh wait they did that with Never say Never again) would we be flocking to the cinema? It’s this lack of reinvention, this lack of a contemporary edge that I feel the Star Wars franchise has. It looks stale and dated, especially the prequels. Compare them to other sci-fi/fantasy from around the same time: Matrix Trilogy, Minority Report, LOTR Trilogy and the prequels look like they were made decades earlier. It’s not just the effects, the plots, acting, scripting – its all just so poor and yet we forgive it because its Star Wars. John Carter, released earlier this year was universally panned and as a result it has become one of the biggest flops of all time yet it is ten…no a hundred times better than almost all the Star Wars movies in effects and storyline. Imagine if Phantom Menace was being released now as the first film in a new franchise without the originals preceding it. Think it would make a billion and be one of the biggest films of all time?
Film effects are becoming so advanced now that they are seamlessly integrated into movies. Filmmakers can now have us fully engrossed in the storyline and characters without the distraction of the surrounding effects, The effects now help us immerse in the films world and allow us to dispel belief. Avengers, Star Trek and Avatar being to me the best examples of this in recent years. It would be easy to blame the lack of technology on the failing of Star Wars but the Originals hold up better than the Prequels which look shocking. Yet when I recently revisited the Originals when I purchased the blu-ray editions I found the experience an unfulfilling one. A feeling I don’t get when watching the Back to the Future Trilogy or Indiana Jones (not the 4th one though). I cant imagine the next generation of audience in 10 or 20 years getting excited about a 40-50 year old sci-fi movie with wooden effects and a plot with more homes in than my socks. I think its time the franchise rebooted or retired especially if the best use for it now is helping to advertise mobile phone contracts.
I appreciate that this blog/rant is going to be seen as blasphemy to some but all comments, opinions, abuse etc welcome as always and follow me on Twitter @dmayerl