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January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)" 
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
canadianbs101 wrote:
James Berardinelli wrote:
What (some) people don't seem to realize is that Lucas isn't trying to prevent the fans from having access to the theatrical versions. He's simply not putting his time and money into upgrading them to HD; that effort has been reserved for the Special Editions.

It's interesting to note that film preservationist Robert A. Harris (who restored The Godfather and Lawrence of Arabia, among others), sent a letter to Lucasfilm saying that he had access to the original elements of the theatrical OT. He also offered to do the restoration work for an HD release for a significantly reduced fee. The letter went unanswered. Not wanting to spend the time and money on this project is a pretty shitty excuse when avenues like this have been presented to Lucas.


This actually makes no sense whatsoever, since the OT films were painfully restored and transferred to digital in the early 1990s. Lucas had a team of expert reconstructionists working on the films for about two years. (It should be noted that JEDI only needed a little work; EMPIRE needed more; and STAR WARS was "almost lost" - that took the lion's share of the effort.) The laserdisc/VHS release in 1995 was the restored version. Lucas' intention at the time was to restore the film, release it for home video, then do a limited theatrical re-release in 1997 for the 20th anniversary. It was only AFTER the restoration that he got the idea of tweaking it. Now that he had access to the entire film on digital, making updates/changes was not a big deal. (It would have been difficult and expensive on film.)

Since 1994, STAR WARS has existed in pristine condition as a digital print. There has not been, nor will there ever be, a need to restore the movie. It's in perfect condition. Work would be needed to create a HD Blu-Ray master, but it's not a lot of work and it has nothing to do with making changes to the master print.

Sounds like someone got their wires crossed.


Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:56 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
Ken wrote:
Ragnarok73 wrote:
Now here's the part I'd like you to read carefully: I did nothing but the latter when I stated that I won't believe Lucas is truly retired until he's dead. If you think that's going too far, then we'll just have to agree to disagree here.

That's not quite in the original wording, but... fair enough.

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I think you and I have provided enough drama for everyone else's enjoyment in the interim.


Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:43 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
James Berardinelli wrote:
the OT films were painfully restored and transferred to digital in the early 1990s. Lucas had a team of expert reconstructionists working on the films for about two years...The laserdisc/VHS release in 1995 was the restored version. Lucas' intention at the time was to restore the film, release it for home video, then do a limited theatrical re-release in 1997 for the 20th anniversary. It was only AFTER the restoration that he got the idea of tweaking it. Now that he had access to the entire film on digital, making updates/changes was not a big deal. (It would have been difficult and expensive on film.)

Since 1994, STAR WARS has existed in pristine condition as a digital print. There has not been, nor will there ever be, a need to restore the movie. It's in perfect condition. Work would be needed to create a HD Blu-Ray master, but it's not a lot of work and it has nothing to do with making changes to the master print.

Sounds like someone got their wires crossed.

There's no way that a 1994 scan would hold up to today's high definition standards.

Also, Lucas has been claiming for years now that the original materials no longer exist because he cleaned them up, and then cut them up to create the special editions. I call bull on this, I'm sure he was prints locked up in his vault.


Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:58 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
It occurred to me today that I've never watched the post-1997 special editions. I bought the 2006 DVDs, and I've only watched the original version discs.

I can see revisiting the special editions as a sort of project, but I can't see watching them for my own enjoyment when I have the originals on hand. Maybe somebody has devised a special edition drinking game of some sort.

Ragnarok73 wrote:
Friends, but no kisses.

I think you and I have provided enough drama for everyone else's enjoyment in the interim.

Yeah, it's a fine line between passionate battle and... well, you know.


Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:20 am
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
Ken wrote:
It occurred to me today that I've never watched the post-1997 special editions. I bought the 2006 DVDs, and I've only watched the original version discs.


You and me are in the same boat. When I feel like watching Star Wars, I only watch the original cuts.

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Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:31 am
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
canadianbs101 wrote:
James Berardinelli wrote:
the OT films were painfully restored and transferred to digital in the early 1990s. Lucas had a team of expert reconstructionists working on the films for about two years...The laserdisc/VHS release in 1995 was the restored version. Lucas' intention at the time was to restore the film, release it for home video, then do a limited theatrical re-release in 1997 for the 20th anniversary. It was only AFTER the restoration that he got the idea of tweaking it. Now that he had access to the entire film on digital, making updates/changes was not a big deal. (It would have been difficult and expensive on film.)

Since 1994, STAR WARS has existed in pristine condition as a digital print. There has not been, nor will there ever be, a need to restore the movie. It's in perfect condition. Work would be needed to create a HD Blu-Ray master, but it's not a lot of work and it has nothing to do with making changes to the master print.

Sounds like someone got their wires crossed.

There's no way that a 1994 scan would hold up to today's high definition standards.

Also, Lucas has been claiming for years now that the original materials no longer exist because he cleaned them up, and then cut them up to create the special editions. I call bull on this, I'm sure he was prints locked up in his vault.


It all depends what technology he had access to back in 1994. Especially in non consumer industries, such as broadcasting, the tech is always a good few years ahead of what is 'the latest' for home use.

Having said this, you're right; nothing he could have done then would stand up to either today's standards or the original film cut.

Could be a decent explanation for why the 'original' cuts haven't made it to BRD. If a flimsy digitalisation is all that is currently accessible, it stands to reason since short of up-scaling, you cannot improve the quality of an image (practically the first rule of digital editing club; start bigger).

Someone would have to get the original celluloid in order to achieve anywhere near the resolution for a decent looking HD movie however I understand the originals are rather shagged?


Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:50 am
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
This going in circles about the phantom original cuts is ridiculous and not the panacea which will heal the relationship between Lucas and his customers.There is a business and accounting principle called goodwill which is an intangible value of a business beyond it's assets resulting from the reputation that a firm has with it's clients.There has been a evaporation of goodwill from putting out bad product(ep1-3) and defacing your good products(ep4-6).Don't forget the CEO shooting his mouth off alienating people.When you have people questioning your talent,judgement and in some cases mental health maybe your past of the point of no return and have lost those customers forever that releasing those movies will not recover.

In a way Lucas has made a cynical business decision by saying I don't care about this group of customers that made me rich and my corporation hugely successful in the 70's and 80's as there is always going to be a new group of undiscriminating 9 years old I can tap that don't care or know anything better.As long as I can keep getting theatrical and DVD releases every few years I can grab new youngster much like cigarette companies that hopefully have clients for life.The rest of you can buzz off.Which is the only way I can explain why a completely unnecessary 3D release of all 6 films is coming.Now if I see Lucas name on something I will pass on it as he has contempt for his audience though I doubt he cares much like his artistic twin Micheal Bay with Transformers(I know it sucked but you still showed up).Peter Jackson faces the same blizzard of arrows from LOTR fanatics but you don't hear him go off on fans.My guess his Hobbit will blow Lucas' prequels out of the water as I feel Jackson is more talented than Lucas,cares more passionately about his project with the care and attention to detail he applies and more importantly he wants the audience to have the best movie possible.Jackson is what I hoped Lucas and his franchise would have become.


Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:54 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
oakenshield32 wrote:
This going in circles about the phantom original cuts is ridiculous and not the panacea which will heal the relationship between Lucas and his customers.There is a business and accounting principle called goodwill which is an intangible value of a business beyond it's assets resulting from the reputation that a firm has with it's clients.There has been a evaporation of goodwill from putting out bad product(ep1-3) and defacing your good products(ep4-6).Don't forget the CEO shooting his mouth off alienating people.When you have people questioning your talent,judgement and in some cases mental health maybe your past of the point of no return and have lost those customers forever that releasing those movies will not recover.

In a way Lucas has made a cynical business decision by saying I don't care about this group of customers that made me rich and my corporation hugely successful in the 70's and 80's as there is always going to be a new group of undiscriminating 9 years old I can tap that don't care or know anything better.As long as I can keep getting theatrical and DVD releases every few years I can grab new youngster much like cigarette companies that hopefully have clients for life.The rest of you can buzz off.Which is the only way I can explain why a completely unnecessary 3D release of all 6 films is coming.Now if I see Lucas name on something I will pass on it as he has contempt for his audience though I doubt he cares much like his artistic twin Micheal Bay with Transformers(I know it sucked but you still showed up).Peter Jackson faces the same blizzard of arrows from LOTR fanatics but you don't hear him go off on fans.My guess his Hobbit will blow Lucas' prequels out of the water as I feel Jackson is more talented than Lucas,cares more passionately about his project with the care and attention to detail he applies and more importantly he wants the audience to have the best movie possible.Jackson is what I hoped Lucas and his franchise would have become.

I agree with this, and this is why I've talked about connecting the artist to his/her creation. Lucas' actions haven't done anything to show that he really cares about his older fans, instead showing that he's trying to indoctrinate future generations of the idea that he is a talented director/writer who created the Star Wars universe all by himself. It shows a certain level of narcissism that in my view isn't justified.


Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:27 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
The films are his to revise as he wishes. Ditto if he doesn't want to make more money by releasing BluRays of the original incarnations.

I was a huge fan of Lucas and saw IV the requisite half-dozen times in its release year including a 70mm print projected on a 150 ft. screen. That being said Natalie Portman proved she could act from jump. Under Lucas she proved to be as wooden as an oak stump. This was not the fault of the actress. I would love to see a 7, 8 & 9 utilizing the OT cast in their later years as he proposed so long ago, but from a Lucas production and story with someone else's screenplay and direction. Sorry George.


Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:52 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
Dragonbeard wrote:
Someone would have to get the original celluloid in order to achieve anywhere near the resolution for a decent looking HD movie however I understand the originals are rather shagged?

If we believe Lucas, then yes, the official materials pertaining to the originals are "shagged." However 35mm prints do still exist illegally in the hands of private collectors (and may or may not be in good condition), and there's at least one preservationist that has offered to restore them, but Lucas ignored his offer.


Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:07 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
ccarollo wrote:
I think it's crappy that the original trilogy isn't available. I don't think he's got a responsibility to make it available to us, but it speaks to his disrespect for film history that he doesn't feel like it's worth doing. The changes are arguably minor (though I, like many, would argue that the Greedo change is pretty significant), but they're jarring. It's not the quantity, or even necessarily the quality (though the CG is looking pretty amateurish at this point)...it's that it just doesn't fit, and it's obvious that it doesn't fit, and it pulls me out of the films every time.

They're not nearly as jarring if you watch the entire saga in numerical order (which you're pretty much supposed to do on all subsequent viewings of the 6 movies after the first viewings at this point). Just sayin'. :ugeek:


Sexual Chocolate, since you touched on some of the actual storytelling alterations in the OT, I'll offer my perspective on them, as well as a couple others:
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
On the CGI enhancements to the original trilogy:

I don't think it takes away much, but I can't say it adds much either. Star Wars gave us the same great feeling back in the 1970s without all the CGI, so I'm leaning toward it not being really necessary.

While you may be technically right, you can't deny, for example, that actually seeing the X- and Y-Wings take off from Yavin IV to head into battle is far more effective- and triumphant-looking from both a visual and storytelling standpoint than merely seeing a few white flashes take off in the distance. Lucas has always said that some of his visions for the OT ended up being compromised, especially in ANH... so if you finally had the tools do amend them, why wouldn't you do it? Yes, like Ridley Scott with "Blade Runner," he should probably also make the original theatrical cuts of the Episodes IV-VI available to all the movie purists/fundamentalists out there, but there's not much any of us can do to change his mind at this point. :|

Quote:
On Greedo shooting first:

This is a real screw-up, because by altering this scene Lucas completely neuters Han's character arc. In Mos Eisley, he's a cocky wiseass who's only out for himself. Of course he'd just go and shoot Greedo. By the end of the film, he's become the traditional hero, flying in and saving the day. Greedo shooting first diminishes Han's character development.

As of the '04 DVD cut, they now both more or less shoot at the same time, like some up-close Old West shootout; Han just happened to be quicker and more accurate on the draw. I'm torn on this one because both camps have valid arguments. On the one hand, Han shooting first does in fact perfectly cover everything you said. But with Greedo shooting first (albeit just slightly before Han), it does show that, while Han is still definitely a rogue, he at least still has some sort of moral code about him (i.e. only shooting someone in self-defense), which makes his eventual transformation into the traditional hero a little more credible. Yes, as one pointed out, Han does whip out his blaster and start shooting at Vader the moment he sees him in that Cloud City dining room in TESB, but that's kind of apples and pears, IMO. After all, it's the #2 baddie in the galaxy vs. some stupid, insignificant small-time thug. If you were in the same room as Goebbels, wouldn't you try to do the same regardless of how moral a person you thought you were?

Quote:
On Han's encounter with Jabba in ANH:

The scene doesn't tell us anything we don't learn elsewhere in the film. In fact, it slows down the film. Lucas was right to leave it out the first time around.

I'd hardly say it slows the movie down, since it only lasts about 2 minutes (if that). :P My biggest issue with the scene is that some of its dialogue is verbatim from the previous scene with Greedo (i.e. the stuff about Han dropping his cargo at the first sight of an Imperial cruiser, and Han saying that even he gets boarded sometimes), and that because Harrison Ford walks around the stand-in actor for Jabba at one point, the only option Lucas had was to make Han very awkwardly step over Jabba's tail. However, I do think it successfully helps establish even more than the Greedo scene that Han really IS in the shit with Jabba (and will be in it even deeper if he doesn't come back and pay Jabba once he's delivered Luke & Co. to their destination)... which makes his coming back to help Luke destroy the first Death Star at the end and ultimately join the Rebel Alliance all the more ballsy. Again, I'm on the fence with this one, and if that tail-step wasn't there I'd probably be on its side.

Actually seeing the wampa in the cave with Luke in TESB:

As Lucas acknowledged in an interview regarding the '97 alterations shown before each installment of the VHS releases of these, it's definitely more artistic to not see the creature. But when in the few glimpses of said creature looks an awful lot like a polar bear statue on wheels, there's a problem. :| Plus, I think it ratchets up the tension of the scene in that Luke can see that the beast is right there as opposed to possibly being on his way back from an unsuccessful hunt or something. However, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I still take Lucas to task for also not altering the wampa's appearance in the scene in which it mauls both Luke and his tauntaun - as well as the scene in the cave where it lunges at him right before Luke cuts its arm off - to look identical to the new and improved one. :?

The new number by the expanded Max Rebo Band:

I actually preferred the funkier number the band originally performed in the original theatrical cut, but I like Lucas' idea of having a more elaborate musical set piece right in the middle of a SW movie -- just the whole weirdness of it, I guess. :lol: This again is Lucas de-compromising his original vision, particularly since Joh Yowza was definitely always meant to be there but they just couldn't make a more convincingly lifelike puppet for him back in the day. If they'd simply re-arranged the original song for the entire expanded band, I'd like it a lot more... not to mention if they'd go back and make Sy Snoodles look a little less cartoonish in CG form. :|

Quote:
Vader shouting "Nooooo!":

Film is a visual medium first. The shot composition in the end scenes of Jedi told us all we needed to know about the conflict going on in Vader's mind. Just get rid of the dialogue.

I agree with you 100% on this one. It's by far the most unnecessary of all the OT alterations. I realize Lucas was trying to tie that moment back to when he learned that he'd 'killed' Padme in ROTS (a moment, which, BTW, I feel would've been more effective if the Noooo! there had been given a somewhat angrier inflection), but its addition takes away any of the moment's subtlety. Of course, it's really not that audible over all the other sound effects and music going on in that scene, so I don't think it's as huge a deal as many have made it out to be, even if I still do disagree with the decision.

The new music and celebration montage at the end of ROTJ:
Even back when the SE's came out, most critics cited this as the one genuine improvement in the OT over the original theatrical versions. And I definitely agree. The original piece (a choir singing in Ewokese [!]) was OK but ultimately kind of silly, and really didn't tie in the fact that the entire galaxy (and not just the Rebels) was now free from Palpatine's tyrannical rule. This ending gave the entire saga a bit more closure.

Anakin appearing as his pre-Sith self after 'becoming one with The Force':
Initially, I didn't like it, but I've come to accept it, as well as Lucas' reasoning behind it given the Jedi mythology he himself created.

Quote:
Why the prequels failed:

Lucas made the mistake of trying to tell a big story (the rise of the Empire) against a backdrop of a few small stories (Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan). It should have been the other way around. Star Wars succeeds because it is ultimately about a boy becoming a man in the shadow of an oppressive regime. We grow to care about the characters because of their hardships. Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan go through...not much at the end of the day.

Imagine a different set of Star Wars prequels where Qui-Gon, Mace Wiindu, and Jar-Jar don't exist, Yoda is a minor player, and Anakin and Obi-Wan are the Riggs and Murtaugh of the galaxy, kicking ass in the name of the Jedi. And then in Episode III, Anakin turns to the dark side. I think that would have been better than all of that political crap and a hackneyed love story.

Like many of the prequel detractors, it seems to me you're more hung up on what you personally wanted to see and didn't rather than what you actually saw. :? It seems to me the fundamental dispute about the PT in these threads is its quality (or lack thereof, in cases of those like you). Like James, I don't really have much of a problem with them. I'm sorry if the political machinations and the 'hackneyed love story' (which, given the context of the entire PT story, I feel may have actually been deliberate) ruined the "Lethal Weapon in Space" vision you had for these 3 movies (which was nothing what Episodes IV-VI were like, BTW). :?


Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:45 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
The action of Greedo attempting to take Solo by force back to Jabba is in itself 'shooting first'. The edited scene pointlessly removes all doubt regarding Solo's 'morals', rather than just leaving things be.


Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:38 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
My biggest problems with the prequels is with how the Jedi are portrayed. They're supposed to be the great guardians of truth, justice, and freedom, but in the prequels they seem essentially insensitive to people's suffering, and appear to be more concerned with guarding their own priviliges than anything else. Plus, they make some really stupid decisions.


Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:06 am
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
dps wrote:
My biggest problems with the prequels is with how the Jedi are portrayed. They're supposed to be the great guardians of truth, justice, and freedom, but in the prequels they seem essentially insensitive to people's suffering, and appear to be more concerned with guarding their own priviliges than anything else. Plus, they make some really stupid decisions.

Well, that was kind of the point; many of the Jedi had become complacent... and those who weren't, like Yoda and Mace, were clinging to tradition a little too heavily. That was their downfall... well, that and the Sith being able to recognize this after years of biding their time and striking while the iron was hot.


Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:41 am
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
H.I. McDonough wrote:

Like many of the prequel detractors, it seems to me you're more hung up on what you personally wanted to see and didn't rather than what you actually saw. :? It seems to me the fundamental dispute about the PT in these threads is its quality (or lack thereof, in cases of those like you). Like James, I don't really have much of a problem with them. I'm sorry if the political machinations and the 'hackneyed love story' (which, given the context of the entire PT story, I feel may have actually been deliberate) ruined the "Lethal Weapon in Space" vision you had for these 3 movies (which was nothing what Episodes IV-VI were like, BTW). :?


It's true that I see the prequels as a missed opportunity, but if I were rewriting them, I'm not sure how I'd approach it. I just tossed out the Riggs and Murtaugh example as just that...an example.

But I think my first point is absolutely correct, in that Lucas erred by telling a big story against a backdrop of a few smaller stories when it should have been the other way around. Note how the most successful films about "big" events work: they usually tell a personal story set against the backdrop of a very significant event. Star Wars should have been no different.

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Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:20 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
Quote:
"If you're an executive," recalled Steven Spielberg, "suddenly you realise that if you're going to go into business with George Lucas, you are no longer in the 20th Century Fox business, you are in the George Lucas business, and George is going to call every shot."


It goes back to what I pointed out poreviously in another Lucas thread. Lucas has gotten to where he's less Lucas the filmmaker and more Lucas the businessman.

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Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:54 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
H.I. McDonough wrote:
Like many of the prequel detractors, it seems to me you're more hung up on what you personally wanted to see and didn't rather than what you actually saw.


Nail, head, hit.


Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:11 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
H.I. McDonough wrote:
dps wrote:
My biggest problems with the prequels is with how the Jedi are portrayed. They're supposed to be the great guardians of truth, justice, and freedom, but in the prequels they seem essentially insensitive to people's suffering, and appear to be more concerned with guarding their own priviliges than anything else. Plus, they make some really stupid decisions.

Well, that was kind of the point; many of the Jedi had become complacent... and those who weren't, like Yoda and Mace, were clinging to tradition a little too heavily. That was their downfall... well, that and the Sith being able to recognize this after years of biding their time and striking while the iron was hot.


The problem is, in watching the prequels, I get the distinct feeling that it wasn't supposed to be the point. The vibe I get is that Lucas thinks that the Jedi are doing the right thing and the smart thing, but are simply outmaneouvred. So either Lucas is sending a message which I can't agree with, or he's sending a message so poorly that it's being misinterpreted.


Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:41 pm
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Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
H.I. McDonough wrote:
Like many of the prequel detractors, it seems to me you're more hung up on what you personally wanted to see and didn't rather than what you actually saw.

You're right. I went in expecting to see a *good film* and didn't. I guess I was expecting too much?


Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:44 pm
Post Re: January 22, 2012: "By George! Defending Lucas (Part 1)"
Ragnarok73 wrote:
H.I. McDonough wrote:
Like many of the prequel detractors, it seems to me you're more hung up on what you personally wanted to see and didn't rather than what you actually saw.

You're right. I went in expecting to see a *good film* and didn't. I guess I was expecting too much?


I can't speak for you but no, people didn't want a good film; they wanted something that NOBODY could deliver. Peter Jackson doing LOTR? He had less of a challenge on his hands.


Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:30 pm
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