REVIEW: The People Vs. George Lucas

"An entertaining look at the many sides of a cult phenomenon."

Once upon a time, in a basement far, far away, George Lucas had a vision.  This vision would lead to one of the most memorable trilogies of all time (STAR WARS EPISODES IV-VI), followed by one of the arguably worst trilogies of all time (STAR WARS EPISODES I-III).  Two generations of fans dispute these claims and all the ridiculousness that comes with them.

I was born in 1977, the year STAR WARS was released.  Clearly I didn't come into my own film-wise until much later, but one of my first and fondest memories when it comes to movies is the watching (and countless re-watching) of RETURN OF THE JEDI.  What kid growing up in that era didn't want to be Luke Skywalker swinging around a lightsaber (easily one of the coolest weapons ever thought up) and kicking all sorts of ass with the force while saving half naked chicks from creepy worm monsters.  This point was never nailed home better than in JUST MARRIED, when Brittany Murphy asks Ashton Kutcher what he dreamed about as a kid (enter the STAR WARS music with two kids engaged in a lightsaber battle).  Sadly though, us kids grew up and things started to change.

I was never a huge STAR WARS fan, I dig the movies sure, but when I say "huge STAR WARS fan", I recall a roommate of mine telling me that a guy he worked with could name everything there was in those films.  I wasn't impressed until he put it a different way.  "Say it's a scene on the Death Star, in the Cloud City, or somewhere with a lot of people, robots and stuff," he said, "well, all that stuff, all those robots and all those people have names...and he knows them."  That, ladies and gentlemen, is a hardcore STAR WARS fan.  Some of these fans scoffed at the notion of Lucas playing around the with cuts of the film, but it was a cool move initially.  The first time he did it was to polish and add effects that just weren't possible to create when he originally shot the film.  This I can understand.  It's not his fault that technology wasn't advanced enough back in 1977 to accommodate his grandiose idea, so to me, this change was valid and acceptable. 

Little did I know that polishing and adding effects wasn't the cause of fan ire, changing the scene shared by crafty smuggler Han Solo and the not so bright mercenary Greedo, created a "who shot first" debacle that would end in all out war throughout the fan universe.  Apparently (though Lucas denies it), the original cut featured Han shooting Greedo before the bounty hunter had a chance to do anything, creating a badass persona that fans ran with.  The re-cut features Greedo shooting at Han first, missing him completely despite being barely two feet away, only to have Han return fire and kill him in self defence.  The fans didn't like this one bit, and to add insult to injury, Lucas decided not to add the original cuts to the DVD or BLU-RAY collections, making them impossible to watch if you didn't own them previously.  This is one of many debates tossed around the campfire here.   

When Lucas started out, he was a lean, mean hungry machine.  Success (as it often does in Hollywood) changed all that.  The second trilogy felt lazy and clearly lacked the character driven intensity and charisma the original trilogy had in spades.  The second trilogy also dummied things down to a childlike level in hopes of capturing the imagination of a new generation of children.  Fans weren't nearly as insulted by this as they were about the changes Lucas blatantly made when it came to the core of the story, such as the force not being "all around us" and spiritual as Obi Wan describes in the original films.  Instead, it's now described by way of Midichlorians (cells in our bloodstream).  Again, the fans were not amused.

THE PEOPLE VS. GEORGE LUCAS is fuel injected with nerd rage to be sure, but it also brings to light a great many things about STAR WARS and Lucas, you probably don't know.  If you're a fan of the films even remotely, this is an entertaining watch at the very least.  It also features my boss (Mr. Joblo himself, Berge Garabedian) from Joblo.com as well as a comic strip that yours truly, wrote and designed for the site.  The Requiem For Nachos comic strips (which are found not only on Joblo.com, but also at Funny or Die.com), were written to make fun of a certain movie themed situation in the news or by way of re-creating a famous movie situations with a funny twist.  Lucas has been pushing for a STAR WARS TV series that will take place between Episode III and IV, the hilarity of it all stemming from the idea that it's all from the point of view of the rebellion minus the Jedi, the force, lightsabers, any of the characters we know and love...pretty much everything that made STAR WARS cool in the first place.  Naturally I poked fun at this notion by implying that this was all about the money and director Alexandre O. Philippe loved the idea.  He emailed me and added my comic strip to the film, along with my name (John Hamilton) in the credits.  Not too shabby.  Here's a look, I sincerely hope it puts a smile on your face.

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