There are many factors that led to the fourth place finish that “Episode I” endured*.
- It is a re-release. (So were the Special Editions).
- There is a bit of moviegoer lethargy with regard to 3D (and yet “Journey to the Center of the Earth 2 3D” debuted in front of our earnest-while space opera)
- It came out on Valentines Day weekend against a heavily promoted romance. (Yes, but Channing Tatum and Rachael McAdams are not what you would call “box office certainties”..even with “Dear John” and “The Notebook” in their filmographies.)
- “Safe House”, which was heavily marketed towards males, hurt. ( “Safe House” is R rated, and while they may share some demos, Star Wars used to trump all)
- and “Episode I” is often derided as the worst film of the saga. (this is true).
A note: “Star Wars: Special Edition” was in its 3rd week of release in 1997 for Valentines weekend, which included the Big Night as release day. It came in first place against “Fools Rush In”, a romantic comedy released that weekend.
Granted the Special Editions represented the first time in 14 years a Star Wars film could be seen theatrically. But it was week three. So don’t tell me this is all on re-release aspect, there has to be something else to it and it comes down to:
Lucas stuck his foot in his mouth one too many times. As I wrote on Friday, I was tempted to suffer see Episode I again on the big screen, if only to be with my people. There is nothing like the communal atmosphere of a geek property on release day: the palpable excitement, the scent of BO mixed with desperation and for me, the feeling of superiority.
Reading Lucas bait
his base me again because he can’t take criticism…there was no way I would cave…But still, I popped in the Episode I DVD for a scene and any lingering desire to plunk 14.50 for re-heated mediocrity with a side of bad-ass lightsaber duel went the way of Dash Rendar.
The past few months have been a time of acceptance and healing. Sure the prequels were not what I wanted or expected, but why get so fired up about it? My kids are getting older I want to be excited to share the films that dominated my youth without a hint of bitterness, hoping they would figure out what is obvious in terms of quality.
As “The Phantom Menace 3D” neared its theatrical release I went back and forth over whether to support it. My kids were out, several attempts to watch it at home have ended in dispersal before we even get to Boss Nass. My wife picked up on this shift and offered that I should go…she must have seen the potential catharsis: seeing “Phantom Menace” on the big screen with basement level expectations.
Then came the media deluge:
I could do with out the delusional apologists who are trying to ret-con what the Phantom Menace really is. It is impossible to separate the film from the buildup and hype. It is completely fair to attach the expectations to the film. After all it was Lucas who waited 16 years between films. It was Lucas who sanctioned every advertising tie-in and event to the film. He took what would have already been fever pitched hype and spun it out of control like Vader’s Tie Fighter at the end of “Star Wars”.
Fall ’98 to May ’99 the days were filled with unhealthy levels of expectations on what the new chapters would bring. Nothing could have lived up to the hype he built through both his inaction and then blitz. But Lucas certainly could have done a better job fulfilling expectations.
If the numerous retcon attempts by fanboys were not enough: Lucas has been going around baiting fans and fulfilling the prophecy from “Cracked”, “You will never love a woman as much as this man hates his fans.”
In an interview with “The Hollywood Reporter” Lucas is quoted as saying:
The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.
The video in the BadassDigest link proves what we all remember about the original exchange and confirms what we have known for a while about the saga’s creator: George Lucas is full of Bantha Poodoo.
My first attempt at engaging my kids with the cinematic ‘Star Wars’ was early. I started the film, sat down with them and they were hooked…for about 10 minutes and then went off doing what 5 and 3 year olds do…move to something else, before moving to something else…and then some.
Flash forward six months, partially inspired by Drew McWeeny’s excellent ‘Nerd 2.0′ series at Hitfix.com but mostly by my kids own growing interest in my broken love of ‘Star Wars’ (Anna asks to read “The Star Wars Vault” book on an every other day basis…I think they are ready to experience. I think I am ready to take a chance again.
I am tired of hating Star Wars. I am tired of being mad at it. It makes me even more sad when my kids ask me about it…they know I love it or at least that I once did. The toys are all around, as are the DVDs (my hold on being a geek Luddite) and there are moments where I talk about the OT and some morsel of my pre-1999 Star Wars fan comes spewing out.
There is still love in me for the series…I can feel it.
And if my experience is like Drew’s, well then I expect I will be sitting in the theater this winter with both of them ready to experience “The Phantom Menace” theatrically for the first time since it broke my geek heart. (Or did it bore it to death?)
Regardless my kids and I will be embarking on a similar, yet very different journey. They have no “Clone Wars” background…no real idea of Anakin as a hero. So unlike Toshi and Allen my kids come in with the knowledge of my love, some basics like lightsabers are incredibly cool…but that is it. Their Star Wars literacy is far below that of the McWeeny progeny.
So like all parental paths it will be an incredibly personal and unique journey with some familiar steps along the way. Thank you Drew for your part in setting me on this path, it is long overdue.
Which leads me to a dilemma that I never thought would exist: what film should I start with? I always unequivocally stated that I would start with “Star Wars”, that my kids should see the films in the order that I did. But the kids don’t live in a world where that is the beginning of the tale. No amount of gerrymandering of the saga will bring that reality back. Drew started with “Star Wars”, followed by Empire, then TPM, AOTC, ROTS, then Jedi. I like the idea that the redemption ends the saga. If I remain stubborn on showing the films based on release date rather than let the narrative flow that will be lost.
Here’s hoping that my screening of “Return of the Jedi” is as redemptive for me as it story was for Anakin.* The fact that I am starting their “Star Wars” journey with “Episode I: The Phantom Menace” proves I am on the path to Star Wars redemption already.
* I still call bullshit on Hayden getting to be the ghost of Anakin….I know, I have to let it go.
No I have not lost my mind and allowed fear and ignorance to trump logic… after all “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to (wait for it) suffering”.
Yes I just referenced Yoda from “The Phantom Menace” remixed with some Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother”. What can I say? I am looking at everything that I thought that I knew and am reconsidering it all. And you know I mean everything when I am willing to drop a “Phantom Menace” quote.
Teabagging, as it will be defined within the context of this article relates to:
A term heavily used in the first-person shooter multiplayer online game “Battlefield 2.” Teabagging is referred as, upon a successful kill of another player, crouching over the head of the victim’s dead body as they lay on their back (dead); and doing so repeatedly in a “teabagging” motion. This act is to shame and humiliate the victim player, and usually incites anger and violence. This act is not unlike dances performed by football players after a touchdown. – From Urban Dictionary, entry 7.
For years I had been strictly anti-teabagging. There was no wiggle room, it was simply wrong. I would be furious when some sexually frustrated anonymous gamer would dip his virtual crotch onto my virtual lifeless head while I waited to respawn. “Great you are into necrophilia. Congratulations!” I would rage as he or she would continue to lunge.
It would really piss me off. How dare they desecrate my avatar! How immature. How juvenile! How…benign.
It hit me one day:
I was playing a video game online simulating a future war against fictional aliens. Sure someone was planting their codpiece on pixels that are supposed to represent me. What the hell was I getting so upset about? I am not even really represented. I am a GamerTag.
That was the day that I crouched on my first corpse. It was liberating.
It may be a coincidence but since I first had my teabagging revelation I have gone from a .95 Kill/Death ratio on Halo:Reach to .99 Kill/Death ratio. I also take quite a bit of joy in knowing that I am frustrating the crap out of some people by engaging in a debatable practice. Get over it people, it is just a game.
On second thought: don’t get over it and rush at me with fury in your hearts as many of you have the past few weeks. I will be happy to drop a nade at your feet and clear a triple kill. Teabagging is strategic if done correctly.
I am terse dipper. I just want to get my point across: “yes I want to humiliate and enrage you, but I have other newbs to pWn. Thank you very much.” There is a fine line with teabagging. I try to be as tasteful as possible. And as you will see at the end lingering will cost you more often than not.
To those who ask, “how can you do that online? Would you do that in real life?”
Um no, but then again I would not shoot at, stab or throw a grenade at someone just because they were wearing a different color in real life either. Look I get it, it is not me at my finest. But I am owning this. Or should I say, Nien Numb is owning this.
When I log onto “Halo:Reach”, I am a teabagger. If you are on the other team you can count on my codpiece coming to a screen near you, if only for a dip. I know that sounds absurd, it is. But I find that most things involving the word tea and bag but no actual boiling water are.
An example of how not to teabag, starring me in red.
There was a time when anything “Star Wars” = good * , a time when the Ewoks were the only problem I had with the series.** How trite that all seems now.
It has been almost twelve years since TPM released. Just as the scab was almost a scar, fading into simply a reminder of distant pain, Evil Beard tears it back open. I was just getting to a place where I thought I could enjoy the franchise again.
This year I will be introducing my kids to it, Original Trilogy, of course. Up until this year I was tentative, knowing that even if I only intended to show them the Original Trilogy that the prequels could leak out and ruin everything.
The damn prequels…
The first thing I thought when I heard the news that next year the Evil Beard will be releasing “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” in 3D ( from here on TPM) was, ” And I thought there was no way that he could make this film worse.” Well played Evil Beard (EB), you won another round and lost some more of your artistic soul.
Like any disturbing experience as soon as I thought of TPM I was pummeled with memories of the trauma. There is so much awfulness, so much boring in the film that I had sensory overload from the visual emotional scars that flooded my head – and that was just in 2D.
I always hated the whole comparing what Lucas made with the prequels to a violent attack on women. It is inappropriate, inappropriately hyperbolic and just shows how far many film geeks are from reality. Really, what Evil Beard (EB) did was shit on your childhood and then fed it to you. See you can still be hyperbolic, not trivialize an awful crime, and still be inappropriate.
What is there in 3D that can enhance this cinematic turd?
- Captain Tarpals chew out Jar Jar in 3D? Oh thrilling!
- Oh, If you thought Boss Nass was silly before just wait until his drool comes shooting out at you when he shakes his chubby digitized face! Super Bombad EB!
- How crazy would it be to see Ki-Adi-Mundi’s giant forehead in 3D? AWESOME!
- And I know that the trade dispute stuff was a little dry, but c’mon you know you want some crazy Asian stereotypes played out before you in living 3D!!!!
Of course there are bound to be some cool moments in 3D, the “Duel of the Fates” comes to mind*** – up until Qui-Gon dies due to a butt end of a duel lightsaber. What a pathetic way to buy it for a Jedi Master. And please EB, can we avoid the 3D visual of the lightsaber popping through his abdomen? Thanks.
Still, even with this news, if I can keep the prequels at bay for just a while longer, and I should be able to - I know my kids can learn to love Star Wars like their father did before them. Just as Anakin was redeemed by his children, my own can redeem Star Wars for me. Ah, a New Hope, isn’t that what was always great about Star Wars?
* minus Ewoks made for TV films and Droids cartoons.
** and many of them were taken care of by the Empire in the middle of the crosscutting in “Return of the Jedi”.
*** John Williams score for that sequence is a high percentage of its brilliance. His work throughout the prequels is the definitive high point of the artistically challenged three pack of films.