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Eric: On the revision of past success, or how to ride the pony a little longer

(From PvP, Casey and Andy, and Penny Arcade, respectively. You can click on the thumbnails and see the full sized strips in their natural, unLucased habitats.)

Okay, this is about the Star Wars DVD collection "controversy." Which isn't. You know. Controversial. I mean, if he'd called these things "Director's Cuts" everyone would be fine with it. Except, you know, the totally insane people. But that's not the point here. Because I couldn't care less. I'm not going to buy the DVD sets, because I don't buy DVD sets of that nature. I buy Complete Television Seasons On DVD™, because I love archives. Everything else, I let the Tivo slurp up when they become available on my extended tier Dish Network thing. I have a DVD burner built into it, so if I really want to keep them, I can. The only "Special Edition" movie exceptions have been the Lord of the Rings movies, which a friend has given me for Christmas the last couple of years, and which I really love. But I wouldn't have bought them for myself. Because Hell, Fellowship was on Encore already.

But you don't care about that. You want to know about the webcomics I'm referencing.

This is a big deal in the geek community, and so we've had a lot of Webcomics reference it. There've been a lot more references than just these three. The community's in upheaval, so people are making note of it. It's what they do. And these three strips between them surround the whole issue, to my mind.

Scott Kurtz has the sanest take -- the take that most needs to be said, in my opinion. Yes, he's putting it in Brent's mouth. Brent is his designated "guy who can say crap we all wish we could say but most of us never dare" character. Still. It's a clear bucket of cold water being thrown on people, and I'm glad to see it. Yes, it's a remix. Yes, the changes weaken the movies they're allegedly celebrating. Yes, Jesus, Han shot first and Hayden Christensen's damn face is in Jedi. Who the Hell cares? If you like the movies, you're still going to like the movies on DVD. If you can't for the life of you let this crap go, then you're going to buy the movies and enjoy being outraged, because clearly that's the kind of thing you like to do. There's nothing wrong with that, either. Also, Kurtz gets bonus points for shading the light on Cole's Vader helmet so it looks like one of /usr/bin/w00t's asshats. Subtle, but there it is. Tell me I'm wrong. (And for the record, I really wish Chaobell wasn't on break, because her take on this 'controversy' would rock.)

Penny Arcade takes the opposite tack. Their strip tells the opposite side, as well as anything I've seen does. Lucas is doing this for cash, and he's clearly lost any vision he once had for the movies. And, more to the point, they include a phrase I think should be locked into the lexicon of all fans everywhere.

That phrase? "Accidential Masterpiece."

George Lucas just isn't a top flight director. He's no worse -- and no better -- than Leonard Nimoy was, to be honest. If there had been no Star Wars, he'd still be known for American Graffiti, which was good but doesn't exactly make top ten lists. (AFI listed it as #77. They listed Star Wars as #15.) As a Producer, his only truly great work has been attached to other people -- Steven Spielberg had a lot more to do with the success of Indiana Jones as a franchise than George Lucas did. (Spielberg is a top flight director, of course.) Lucas happened to hit 00 on the roulette wheel with Star Wars. It was great. Truly great. Utterly wonderful. A triumph of casting, of timing, of story. No wonder he keeps trying to go back to that well -- nothing he's ever done has ever come close to it. The Prequel Trilogy -- which I actually enjoy, I would add -- are good popcorn entertainment, but they're nothing compared to Lord of the Rings. Same with Return of the Jedi. Empire Strikes Back is actually my favorite of the movies, but it's not as good as Star Wars was, and besides, he didn't direct it.

Lucas has to remind himself that he's great, so he keeps going back to the movie that was great. It's pathetic, but there it is.

Finally, we have Casey and Andy, which is by far the best satire of the 3. In fact, it's fall down hilarious. It hits all the high points of the controversy, and makes its point perfectly.

And more to the point, it highlights how utterly useless Lucas's efforts to 'improve' the movies are. No matter what he does to tinker with them, the simple fact is with flat effects and a true bastard owning the Millennium Falcon, Lucas accidentally created a pop culture phenomenon that literally exceeded Star Trek. Nothing he does now can possibly recapture that lightning in a bottle. It can't actually hurt the original movie (and the day he dies his estate will sell the original versions of the trilogy on whatever they're using for DVD that week, and will reap another ton of cash). It's just silliness.

I don't suppose there's any chance that these strips will cover the Cat Stevens denial of entry tomorrow, is there?

Posted by Eric Burns-White at September 23, 2004 8:59 AM


Comment from: lochinola posted at September 23, 2004 9:22 AM

It's not so much that he changed the Han/Greedo scene that torques me off. It's that he did it so ineptly. There have got to be better technologies than scratching a little red line into the film and playing an extra laser sound available... Something that will make this change fit in with the production values of the rest of the movie.

Look at the added scene of the Jawa's trawler rolling over a sand dune, or of Luke's speeder entering the city. These things were done in a consistent fashion, if a little high tech; a person who didn't know anything had changed wouldn't look twice at these establishing shots.

This shot just looks wrong. The arm raising to fire the shot looks fake, the shot itself looks... wrong. A very thin blaster bolt, perhaps. And there's nothing that happens to make Greedo miss. Han does *nothing* to deflect the shot. It's implausible on top of ugly.

It's not that it's bad, it's that it takes one out of the movie.

Hmm. This is a rant. Do I post it, or ditch it? Enh. Post it, but know that I posted it considering ditching the whole thing.

Comment from: GiantPanda posted at September 23, 2004 10:53 AM

I belive this comic is the definitive word on the "Greedo shoots first" issue.

As for the controversy, I actually have some fond memories from seeing the revised films at a theatre with some good friends, but they dont have quite that magic quality the originals have (I always think to myself "how the hell did they make it look soo good" about the specialeffects of the originals).

He could've avoided all of this controversy if he only had released the originals on dvd as well, but as someone said on a bbs, it would be quite embarrasing if the originals outsold the new ones.

I just wish people would quit using that stupid "Look at them as a work in progress" excuse.

Comment from: Shaenon posted at September 23, 2004 2:42 PM

That is the best PvP strip I have ever read. PvP isn't one of my regular reads, but now Websnark fills the useful function of singling out the best strips for my perusal. Thank you, Websnark!

Dude, I'm so sick of listening to nerds whine about Star Wars. The fans took an entertaining series of fun, goofy action movies and, over the course of twenty years, perverted them into this creepy personal religion. Now it's like the Pope just declared that from now on Jesus is a middle-aged Asian lady named "Carla."It's the End Times. The skies rain blood and fire devours the Earth.

No, I don't like Greedo shooting first. You know how I cope? By not buying the frickin' DVDs. I've got all the movies on video anyway. I bought the fourth season of "Mr. Show," which also came out on Tuesday, instead. And it was AWESOME.

I also deeply appreciate George Lucas' arrogant-bastard attitude to the "controversy." It's indescribably refreshing to hear a director say bluntly that it's his movie, he gets to decide how to present it, and the fans don't have some special claim to his work just for liking it. I'm saying this as someone who edits manga for a living. I've been on the receiving end of nerd rage, and you guys do NOT look pretty.

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