Does THE CLONE WARS suck as bad as the Prequels? Massawyrm says 'ROGER, ROGER!' Now extended with added snark!
Published at: Aug. 15, 2008, 9:15 a.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
When I originally sat down to write this piece, I thought about adding in a rebuttal to one of the longest running arguments for Post-trilogy criticism there is. I mean I knew it was going to rear its ugly head. These guys are programmed - positively hard wired with the shit. And there’s nothing they hate more than a perceived slight to the piece of art that makes everything in their dreary little lives make sense. Hell, just a few weeks ago I was discussing on a podcast about how this was the best cinematic summer since ’82, and then we talked about other great summers. I mentioned ’99. Matrix, Iron Giant, Blair Witch, Sixth Sense, Spy Who Shagged Me. I got a lot of e-mail about 1982 and people’s other favorite years. But mixed in with all the great movie talk was this one sorry, sad, pathetic e-mail that read: “Fuck you. Phantom Menace came out in ’99 and it was only the highest grossing movie of the year asshole.”
We hadn’t even mentioned Phantom Menace. And in not mentioning it, I got beaned in the head by a lonely troll swinging his lightsaber around in defense of something not even under attack. So of course you can imagine the response I got when, you know, I actually had something negative to say about a Star Wars property (for a few hours.) And then the argument showed up. Again. And again. And again. And it boils my blood. So for those folks (and those who have to suffer listening to or reading those folks) I offer the Ridley Scott style four-hour cut of my original review. Complete with an extended ending, CG Harry and No Ewok celebration song.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…life was good and a movie named Star Wars rocked our god damned faces off. But those days are gone, in their place an endless stream of merchandising not meant for the average consumer, but the hyper specialized fan who still to this day must own everything and anything properly branded with the Star Wars logo. The inmates run the asylum now as Lucas long ago stopped listening to his soul as an artist - his heart as a storyteller – and has since begun listening to the slavering fanboys who cry themselves to sleep at night with their Darth Vader backpacks clutched close to their chests lest they separate it from their beating hearts. He’s long since stopped working with the geniuses of old, replacing them with young, idealistic artists who revere him as some sort of living Man-God and long to carry on his legacy rather than forging their own. He’s forgotten that the most important duty you have to your fanbase is not to give them what they want – but instead to give them what they REALLY want.
Do the fanboys REALLY want a bunch of scenes of characters whose destinies we already know fly through a series of dogfights so their pretty ships can go PEWPEWPEW against lifeless moronic droids so incompetent you question the tenacity of anyone that would put them into service let alone fight a war with an army of them? Do the fanboys REALLY want to spend the next 20 years of their lives arguing that the movies they love don’t, in fact, suck the hair off of a nutless monkey? Do the fanboys REALLY want an animated television series not written for 30-year-old men, but easily amused 8 year olds on Saturday morning between bites of soggy Corn Puffs? Because that’s what they’re fucking getting with The Clone Wars.
This. Is. Shit-ty.
Everything that was wrong with the prequels is wrong again here. There’s not much reason to dredge out all those complaints again. The Prequels aren’t actually Star Wars movies. They’re Fanfic. Bad fanfic that tries to include every element you love about Star Wars without actually using those elements the way they were intended. And while some might argue that it can’t be fanfic if the original creator is involved, I would counter that the creator in question died a long time ago. In a galaxy far, far away. As an artist Lucas is entirely bankrupt, no longer able to conjure a single, tangible, original idea. And unlike other artists in his situation, he isn’t able to properly recycle the ones he had to begin with either.
No, Star Wars is an ailing, dying beached whale of a property, too large to ignore but left too long in the sun to save. And the stench is unimaginable. So leave it to television writers to sit down and come up with a classic solution to lagging ratings. Their genius booster shot in the arm of suckdom? A plucky tween girl sidekick who keeps getting herself into trouble while being delightfully precocious and calling Anakin…Darth fucking Vader himself…Skyguy. Again. And again. And again. Every time this 14-year-old little monster opens her mouth to say something “witty” my jaw went slack and my eyes rolled into the back of my skull. She’s unbearable, absolutely excruciating to watch, and yet she finds herself in almost every scene of the film. She’s around so much I half expected her to pop up in scenes with the emperor or the Hutts, just stumbling into frame while saying something “cute” like “Oops, wrong door,” or “This isn’t the shuttle bay.”
Seriously, the only way she could be any more annoying is if she added the word MEESA to the beginning of every sentence and BOMBAD to the end of it. You beginning to feel me? I get that they might be working towards a Luke Skywalker type transformation, but that doesn’t replace the fact that A) her very presence makes me want to punch the person nearest me in the face repeatedly and B) she will not, ever, play a part in the mythology of the original films…or the fanfic prequel films…at all, unless Lucas goes back in to tinker with them AGAIN. So odds are she will meet a bitter untimely end sometime later in the series, like randomly slamming into an asteroid like the Han Solo clone from Shadows of the Empire. If and when that happens, I MIGHT tune in. If I don’t just youtube the scene. Again. And again. And again.
Then there’s the unending problem of putting characters in peril that we already know the fates of. Look, George. Having Anakin and Count Dooku have a dual ISN’T EXCITING. We already know what happens to Dooku. He died on screen YEARS AGO. We know he doesn’t die at the hands of Skywalker. Nor does Skywalker get so much as a scratch from him. We know this already. So why devote so much time to it, unless you’re completely out of ide…
The party’s over guys. The only one’s left here are the folks who haven’t realized it yet. I’m sure the Star wars fan forums are going to be aflutter with the revelations that Dooku once fought Anakin or that Anakin actually once went back to Tatooine, or that Jabba has an Uncle that - unlike other Hutt’s - sounds like a bad New Orleans piano player. But for the rest of us? This is just another episode in a long line of attempts to charge you for something you loved as a kid. I mean honestly, how much shit would we be giving Coppola if he had greenlit The Further Adventures of the Corleone’s? Because that’s what this is.
Will I be watching the series? After an hour and a half of being bored to tears? Not on your life. That path leads only to fear and anger, and we all know that once you start down that path, there is no turning back. If you WANT this to be good rather than KNOWING it will be good, odds are you’re gonna be in the same boat as myself. This is no better than the Prequels. Scrub that hope out of your heart now.
Okay, now there’s something I’ve been wanting to address for quite some time now. THE ARGUMENT. I don’t even need to tell you what it is. You’ve all heard it. It is ridiculous, wrong and makes the little vein in my forehead throb every time I hear a pinched nasally voice begin to belt it out. “Now, what you don’t understand is…’
No, no, no. Let me stop you there, skippy. I do understand. At least, I understand what you’ve been Jedi mind fucked to believe. What YOU don’t understand is this: there are two types of movies meant for kids. Children’s Films and Kids Movies. Kids Movies are films that are meant ENTIRELY for children. That is they either do not take the entertainment of adults into account or completely fail to entertain them when they try. You can spot these a mile away. They contain goofy characters falling down, making biological/caka/doodoo/peepee/fart jokes, are accentuated with tons of sound effects up to and including slide whistles, and are a veritable rainbow of colors and shapes. Their very intent is to grab a hold of the miniscule attention spans of young children and keep them focused on the screen for 90 minutes straight. They are cheap, easy to make and entirely disposable.
A Children’s Film on the other hand strives to entertain not just those same children, but their families that accompanied them as well. They are elegantly told stories that hit all the same kinds of notes that the story of a Kids Movie would, but often have deeper meanings that mean something completely different to adults. They are films that grow up with you and that you can carry to adulthood and love just the same, if not more, than you did when you were a child. Films like The Iron Giant, The Dark Crystal, The Harry Potter films, virtually everything by Pixar and of course my favorite movie this year (not the best, but the one I’ve watched the most and will no doubt continue to watch again and again) Kung Fu Panda.
Riddle me this, Padewan. How is it that I can love a film like Kung Fu Panda, spend all summer preaching to, begging and prodding my friends to go out and see it, trying desperately to convince them that it is a CHILDREN’S FILM and not a KID’S MOVIE, but all of a sudden I lose the ability to know what is intended for kids and what isn’t? Oh that’s right. Because this is a movie in which a 14 year old girl goes on an adventure with a whiny pain in the ass to rescue a baby Hutt that vomits, burps and makes boomboom while we are assaulted by pretty colors and slide whistles. Okay, maybe not slide whistles. But you get the point. This is a KID’S MOVIE. Not a children’s film.
But lets step back for a moment. Tell me something. In what universe do you live that the charred, smoldering remains of a character’s aunt and uncle constitute the makings of a kids movie? Since when does dismemberment, villains getting cut in half or even decapitations fit into what we find permissible in children’s fare? What makes more sense, that George Lucas SET OUT to make kids films from the beginning, and only learned more with time to soften them up and add shit like Ewoks and baby Hutts? Or that he made a science fiction franchise that was wildly popular with kids and when faced with criticism he simply argued that it was for kids to begin with and that the adults just didn’t get it?
Then he waved his hand, muttering the phrase “You just don’t understand, these were always meant for kids,” and the fevered jedi zombie throng all chanted slowly in unison “You just don’t understand…these were always meant for kids…”
Horseshit. You can try to RetCon history all you want, but the movies are there. They stand testament. And the new films are nothing like the old. But let’s face it, my review was never intended for the Star Wars fanbase. It’s why I came out swinging at the prequels like I did. To chase them off and let them call me a moron before seeking out a positive review that talks about the genius of George and makes them feel a giddy and squishy about a film they’ve already convinced themselves they will love. Regardless of quality. This review is written by a guy who wants nothing more than for Star Wars to rock again when it clearly doesn’t. And it’s not because I’ve grown up – I think I’ve proved that time and time again. It’s that Lucas either isn’t the man he was 30 years ago, or like we keep hearing time and time again, long ago bought into the hype of the hyper-extreme fanboys and stopped listening to the other artists who balanced him out. The teams that made magic happen.
I want another Star Wars movie, animated or otherwise, that makes me feel the way I do when I watch Harry Potter or The Iron Giant or Kung Fu Panda or Wall-E. But I haven’t seen a new one of those in 25 years. And the kicker is, I’m not alone. Somebody call me when Lucas figures out how to make one of THOSE again.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.