There are aliens at the theater.
No, not just the foreign kind, the green-scaled kind too. While all you in the big cities began seeing the Star Wars fanatics form a movie line weeks ago, the local news reported that ours started today. And the only thing more over the top than the costumes is the attitudes.
Most of the public is guarded, but optimistic. But the fans—the hard core fans—have predetermined that this will be the greatest movie in the last several years. These are the same fans that thought Episode II was pretty good and Episode I wasn’t that bad. Why are they not willing to admit the third time is rarely the charm?
Hardcore fans’ relationship with their object of worship is similar to politicians’ relationship with their pet legislation. They trump it whenever they can. They are most likely to dress up for it. They have a hard time admitting when it’s crap. When they do admit it is crap, they always insist it’s because of relatively small problems.
Thus Star Wars fans blame Jar Jar Binks for the poor quality of Episodes I and II just as lawmakers blame legal wording for the failure of their laws. But the problem is always more fundamental. Laws rarely do what they are supposed to do and often make a matter worse. Politicians rarely have the capacity to recognize when a law goes too far (which is most of them). Laws are a hammer and everything looks like a nail.
George Lucas is a poor director and a poor writer. He’s obsessed with special effects and thanks to CGIs, he stuffs them into everything he touches. He spends more time on getting the lightsabers to look right than he does smoothing out dialogue or keeping the plot moving. And because thirty years ago these options weren’t available, Lucas had to focus on the parts that make a good movie good. Ego inflated after decades of constant praise, he has become his own biggest fan, incapable of acknowledging the fundamental mistakes he makes.
Special effects, like laws, have their place, but are devastating in the wrong hands. Those who put them on pedestals are doomed to witness them become untoward. Those who are unwilling to recognize that problem are doomed to repeat it. If special effects are the legislation of the movie world, than its characters are surely humanity and its plot, their everyday activity. That’s what we should focus on: not making it look good with rules and explosions, but by freeing up those core elements that make a movie worth watching, and a society worth living.