Welcome back to Digital Debate Wednesdays! Every Wednesday, the staff of The Ace of Geeks will get our keyboards ready for a good, old fashioned nerd argument, and you get to hang out with us! Feel free to email us any ideas you might have for future debates. Until then, here’s this weeks topic.
You are given access to a time machine, and the ear of George Lucas. You are allowed to change one thing about the Prequel Trilogy. How do you make the entire trilogy better?
Kyle Johannessen: Fire George Lucas.
Ben Worley: Remove the racist caricatures.
Nick Bailey Jr.: Can I tell him go get a different director or to use practical effects? Or is that too vague?
Kyle Johannessen: Or, I guess how it would work would be “hey George, this is a great first draft. Lets get some other writers to work on it and polish it up. You know what else would be a good idea? Getting different directors. That way, you can oversee the whole thing and still protect your vision.”
Cameron Mitchell: Remove Anakin as the focus of the story.
Ellie Collins: “You can’t write love stories, darling. Cut that shit immediately.”
Joe Hadsall: This may be too meta, but spread the sense of humor. Everyone got good lines in the original trilogy. Jar-Jar was the only comic relief in the prequels, and look how that worked out.
Ellie Collins: “Don’t listen to the fans. Listen to your colleagues.”
David Losey: Good point, never read the comments.
Kyle Johannessen: Have you seen the making of Phantom Menace? All his colleagues refused to say no to him on anything. He wanted Stephen Speilberg to direct the trilogy, and he told Lucas to do it himself. Im not saying “listen to the fans” but no one was giving him good advice.
Ellie Collins: Listen to his colleagues also means actively seeking advice from more than just who his buddies are.
Kyle Johannessen: But no one was telling him anything. They were just agreeing with everything he said and did. Who did he have to listen to?
Ellie Collins: The point is recognizing that and seeking out the advice.
Melissa Devlin: I agree. One change that will fix everything: remove the muzzle from the crew so they don’t feel like they have to say yes to everything and thus would fight back when Lucas went off the deep end. The movies would have been awesome.
To elaborate, no creator can develop truly good work surrounded by people afraid to tell them what they are doing wrong. What made the first three great, and the remastered and prequels shit, is that the collaboration element was severely weakened in the latter two. I would have to find the article again to back up my explanation, which I could do when I have more time if need be. But I think this might be well known.
David Losey: I’d get Lawrence Kasdan to write them based on existing comic book canon and craft a better origin story around the fall of the republic, focusing on politics and corruption and the manipulation of the Jedi, leaving out prophecy, midiclorians and the focus on Anakin.
Kyle Johannessen: “Hey, George… I bet Disney would buy this for, like, 4 billion dollars. Maybe you should just sell the thing.”
Chris Brecheen: It’s like a Lays chip. No one can eat just one.
But seriously I would turn the story into the focus of two friends whose relationship slowly decayed. Make it a metaphor that people can really relate to about seeing something you can’t deal with in your old friends. Get rid of 99% of the intrigue, politics, and romance, and 100% of the midichlorian/virgin birth/chosen one shit.
Jim Lucky: I use the time machine to get Lucas from 1976 and bring him back to write the films.
Mark Foo: If you mean one change like, a single edit or something? Scrap baby Anakin. Start him as a broody teen.
If I go power crazy with a “one wish” genie situation? “You get to be writer, director OR producer, George. Pick one, and hire other people to fill out the crew.”
Katrina Smith: Obviously, the one thing I would change would be Padme losing the will to live, an act so heinous it turned me purple with rage. I have never gotten over that complete evisceration of an arguably strong female role model. I cant even speak coherently about it without cursing.
David Losey: Agree, there was canon that delt with Luke and Leia’s mother.
Mark Foo: Canon doesn’t really matter. The former queen and senator for Naboo dying of a broken heart minutes after giving birth is absurd and insulting.
Katrina Smith: I mean she just had babies, too, so it makes even less sense. God. The worst in a series of bad decisions.
Mark Foo: Seriously! I can’t believe I’d forgotten this.
Mike Fatum: That’s why I love the “The Emperor secretly murdered Padme with space magic,” theory.
Sam Stafford: Burn it.
David Losey: A bit extreme, no?
Sam Stafford: I don’t think one edit can make it a net positive. While it may be possible to polish a turd with diligent effort, flushing it tends to be the more expedient option.
Jonathan Howe: I would do 1 of 2 things, and they are both pretty small.
1) Kill off or never introduce Jar Jar.
2) DO NOT HIRE HAYDEN CHRISTIANSEN!!
Raven Knighte: How about not doing the prequels at all, and keep all the EU canon.
David Losey: But we had no origin as to how the empire came into being. Some of the books had skirted around the Clone Wars and Luke & Leia’s mother, but we had no sense of how the Republic fell. I personally would have like a movie where we see the government collapse from within and the Jedi dying to protect it, which is ultimately what we see when you get rid of the crappy love story, Hayden Christensen, and Jake Lloyd, and most of Jar Jar Binks. While most of Star Wars fandom hates that annoying Gungan, his being manipulated into proposing the emergency powers act in the republic senate was genius, the work of beautiful political maneuvering and a probably a good bit of Jedi Mind Trick.
Raven Knighte: To do something like what you describe would be a prequel, yes. And infinitely better than what we ended up getting instead. But I was referring to the prequels as they exist. They shouldn’t have been made. I would have rather seen something like “Star Wars: Reign of the Empire” and “Star Wars: Jedi Council” as far as political prequels go.
David Losey: True, but when i watch what we were given i just go collectively blank at certain points, or get up to get more popcorn or something.
Raven Knighte: That’s kind of my point. Without all the other crap that you mentioned, there’s the basis for interesting stuff. But if all that crap is cut from all three movies, we would end up with just less than maybe two hours of stuff that is germane to the politics. So much more went on to bring the Empire into power. It wasn’t simple – a lot of manipulation and corruption and personal power agendas on both sides of the Force went on but weren’t really delved into. “Here’s Ani – oh, he’s broken. Padme will fix him… oh wait…” “Here’s Palpatine – he’ll fix the Trade Federation… oh wait…” “Here’s JarJar, he’ll… well…” yeah. I’d much rather see the movies you described.
David Losey: Agreed, but again this is me telling about them as an adult. I first saw phantom menace when I was fourteen, and thought it was awesome. It’s only as I matured that I saw glaring errors, or I had my own vision and did not like what I see in Episode 2 and 3.
Raven Knighte: Yeah, I think for kids, the prequels were fun because they don’t really get the politics of it. It’s just a really cool space/action flick for them.
Nick Bailey Jr: Anakin’s turn to the dark side was very sloppy as well:
“I want to, but I shouldn’t.”
Simplifying the plot would’ve allowed more time to flesh out the turn to the dark side.
Mike Fatum: I agree with a lot of what was said here – I think George should have let some other people have some creative control, and he should have begged his friends to help him direct and write. But honestly, I think the biggest thing he could have done was just practice. He hadn’t made a film in twenty years or more. Each of the prequels gets better in its technical filmmaking aspects. If he’d made three or four smaller films as practice before he got right back on the horse, he might have made something passably good.