Thursday, April 30, 2020

Is Star Wars the most overrated movie franchise ever?

The movie poster seen round the world
My sons brought that up to me.  Think on it.  If you are anywhere close to objective, the most you can say is that out of multiple movies stretched over decades, there are only about 2 1/2 to 3 good movies out of the mix.

You have the original, an out of the box cultural phenomenon that fundamentally altered the film industry (for better or worse).  It was a dominant force for three years until after the second movie.  It continued to be a significant presence in popular culture well after that.  The second movie, The Empire Strikes Back, was arguably better than the first.  At least it was better as a film, with deeper characters, more development, a tighter story arc.

Nonetheless, as I tell my boys, it might be hard to believe but the sequel did get push-back.  Many were upset at the dangling ending - the age of the prefabricated movie franchise being far away.  And yes, many rejected the 'Father' claim by Vader.  They saw the first movie enough times to know that's not what happened.  Perhaps because of that, Empire fell short of the original at the box office, as well as with some fan reaction.

As a result of that, and because many of those involved were wanting to go their separate ways (Harrison Ford being the most famous), Lucas had to scrap his much publicized plans of multiple sequels.  What we got in The Return of the Jedi was a condensed amalgamation of several movie ideas Lucas had crammed into one final hurrah.  And it looked it. Reviews were mixed and most fans, having already grown up and moved beyond Star Wars, were 'eh' at best.  There were some great moments, but also some that were decidedly under par.

The prequels barely look like the originals, and enough has been written about the varying levels of celluloid trash heap that they became it's not worth repeating.  Which was the worst is up for debate, though most give the third - The Revenge of the Sith - a nod for being the best of a bad lot.  If nothing else, the last minutes have a few scenes that connect it to the originals.

As far as the Disney reboot?  The first was OK, and tapped into some nostalgia for the originals in a way the prequels dearly missed.  Some argue that it was simply a PC retelling of the original story line.  That is fair as far as it goes.  But the subsequent movies seem to be, with a few exceptions, films that take the worst of everything that came before and repeat it all over and over again.  Much of the problem being it's 21st Century Disney, and everything is beholden to the creativity killing political correctness and identity politics of the modern Left.

So think on that.  Out of how many movies, only two deserve to be considered in any way 'great'.  The third is about two or three hits for every miss.  Later ones are everywhere from mostly bad to entirely bad to atrocious.  How does that rank on the franchise scale?  Perhaps compared to most franchises - whether prefab or simply the result of endless sequels - that might still put it near the top.  Think Death Wish.  But then, perhaps that says volumes about how good film franchises are to begin with.

4 comments:

  1. The Ewok movies were works of art and I will not abide this slander, sir!

    lol just yanking your chain

    There's also something to be said for cultural glue. I'll explain in a different comment as that can be long.

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  2. So in computers, we have "low level" and "high level" languages to run programs. For the layman - the low level ones are as close to the actual 1s and 0s running the computer as you can possibly get. High level languages are several steps removed from that baseline. They really open up what you can do with a computer and they're built upon these other low level languages.

    Why use one over the other? Well the low level lets you see every step of the way of the process and absolutely control everything the machine is doing - but it takes a TON of lines to do anything. High level languages streamline a lot of processes. So for example, to write a command "move [data] from one place to another" takes pages and pages of low level coding, whereas with high level coding, it would be a single, very short sentence. The downside is that if there's any bugs in the program, it's much harder to try and dig down into the details to find out what's happening.

    As I get older, increasingly I realize society & humans operate on a similar level. In this, the actual language of a group is "low level" - the basic words used to convey simple thoughts between people. Culture, however, is "high level" and a society's culture allows it to transmit much more complicated ideas between people.

    For an example, if I say "boy who cried wolf" you get the concept I'm conveying. But it would take many more words to spell out the concept even as the summation "nobody believes repeated liars - even when they tell the truth" is longer and doesn't convey well the full idea.

    I say all that to explain this: For better or worse, American culture has been fragmenting in last few decades. Multiculturalism especially has a corrosive effect on culture. So as culture fractures, we lose the ability to communicate a lot of complex things quickly.

    Enter Star Wars. Whether good or bad, it was more importantly universal piece of culture to society (or at least, the closest thing) so of course it was latched onto. If you can't use Christianity to discuss sin & redemption any more, at least you've got Jedi and Darth Vader.

    Overrated? Eh, more like the only option.

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    Replies
    1. Not a bad thought. Though we were fracturing, I don't think we were there in 77 like today (or even the last 20 years). I tell my boys even then, even as late as the late 80s, there were still plenty of 'cultural trappings' that Americans could recognize.

      My boys thought of the Vader arc this way. I told them someone (John Wright?) said that when Vader says 'Father', SW moves from being a space fairy tale to Greek tragedy. The problem my boys said was that Lucas seemed quite capable of spinning a good fairy tale, but when it moved to Greek tragedy, he was in over his head. The same they say about Rowling. As long as HP was a delightful children's fantasy romp, it was fine. When she tried to push it to epic of out time, she ended up - in the words of my second son - 'making a fictional world too large for her talents to fill'.

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