Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Questionable Star Wars vol. 12

Everybody has an off day, but that can’t explain these moments.

Question: "What was the series’ worst out-of-character moment?"

Andrew's Answer: Pretty much every single character in the prequels is out of character. Anakin=Vader? My butt. Samuel L.=a Jedi? Uh, no. The rest are just as bad. But I am going to say that the most out of character moment is when Obi-Wan Kenobi suddenly tells Luke in Empire that truth is only true from a certain perspective. . . WTF? Where does this come from? Vader must have hurt him more than we realized at the end of Star Wars.

Scott's Answer: This is actually a tough one but the one answer that occurs to me is Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. It's not even that he's "out of character" - he just seems out of it some of the time. This is most likely due to the fact that he has no subplot or arc of his own and Harrison Ford wanted to kill off the character... but Lucas vetoed that idea.

49 comments:

shawn said...

Going to agree with Andrew. When Kenobi breaks out the "sorry about being full of bull stuff Luke, but Lucas couldn't think of a better way to resolve the love triangle."

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I remember thinking at the time, "wow, that's a bizarre thing for him to say." I didn't realize that was a huge glaring neon sign that Lucas didn't really have a clue what he was doing. :(

K said...

R2D2 - little meek but feisty druid who was captured by Jawas with ridiculous ease in ep4, suddenly has rocket jets and flys off in ep2 and takes out an entire squad of armored trooper druids in ep3. WTF?

As I recall, the actual protagonists of the Star Warz epic were supposed to be the two druids, but that works best if they pretty much stay the same over the entire story rather like the ancient mariner.

ScottDS said...

shawn and Andrew -

In retrospect, I wonder if the "certain point of view" dialogue was Lucas covering his tracks. In other words, when he wrote the first film, he did NOT in fact have a master plan worked out and later he realized he had written himself into a corner.

ScottDS said...

K -

I didn't mind R2-D2's various accoutrements but his little action scene at the beginning of Episode III was a little too "cutesy." :-)

Jason said...

Actually, Obi-Wan said that in ROTJ, not Empire. :)

I also remember reading someone remarking about Obi-Wan "sitting his non-corporal butt" down during his chat with Luke and remarking that Force ghosts must get tired. I got a laugh out of that one.

Switching to the prequels, probably the Obi-Wan line that stands out the most for me is when he tells Anakin "only a Sith deals in absolutes." Hey, since Obi-Wan just made an absolute statement, he must be a Sith, right?

ScottDS said...

Jason -

Yeah, saying "[blank] only deals in absolutes" is itself an absolute.

And that is pretty funny, re: Obi-Wan. That comment actually reminded me of the common complaint about (humanoid) ghosts in movies: they can move through solid walls and even other people, but they can stand on solid ground? :-)

BIG MO said...

While I still think Anakin and Padme is a better love story than Twilight, her "Anakin, you're breaking my heart!" on Mustafar at the end of Sith didn't match the feisty girl from the previous episodes.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Recently, I've been reading a book called 'The Secret History of Star Wars.' It's kind of an unofficial biography of Lucas and the series. The author reportedly used old interviews, recollections, and other sources- not just official stuff from Lucasfilm- for the source material.

According to the book, your guess is right. ALL the Star Wars movies were made up one at a time. In the original screenplay- all the way from the treatment (which was for all intents and purposes a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 'The Hidden Fortress'), to the shooting script (draft 4, version 2)- Darth Vader and Father Skywalker were separate characters. The idea of combining the two only came while Lucas was brainstorming ideas for 'Star Wars II'- which, of course, became 'Empire.'

The book, in my opinion, is a little too generous to Lucas on some points. But it does admit that this inadvertently makes Obi-Wan a somewhat sinister character, since he's now lying to Luke in the first movie. But to make a long story short (too late), yes, Lucas had written himself into a corner and needed a way out. This is why Obi-Wan is SO out of character on Dagobah in ROTJ.

-Rustbelt

Anonymous said...

BIG MO,

Your point is addressed in the book I mentioned. The problem, reportedly, was that Lucas had never bothered with the 'Mother Skywalker' character when writing his background stuff/outline back in the '70's. She basically had no role.

Apparently, Lucas screwed up in a big way. TPM only included about 10-20% of the outline material and had to be heavily padded. AOTC was pretty much the same way. Lucas was left with (estimates vary) between 60 and 80% of the outline for ROTS. His solution was to trim the story down to its bones so that he could cram in all the important plot points dealing with Anakin. This left numerous threads from AOTC on the cutting room floor and several characters (Padme, Bail Organa, etc.) with severely reduced roles.

All that time to plan, and George didn't plan enough. To quote Mr. Plinkett, "Eureka! I don't get it!"

-Rustbelt

tryanmax said...

Yoda's Ep. II lightsaber battle with Dooku. I get that everyone and their aunt wanted to see that little green rodent go to town, but I just cannot accept that a near cripple can bust out the acrobatics as needed on account of the Force. Maybe if he had stayed on the ground instead of bouncing around like Sonic the Hedgehog, maybe use the "Force Push" to slap Dooku around more, I could suspend my disbelief.

Jason said...

Rustbelt: Yeah I read that book, too. Great stuff. If you think about it, Obi-Wan's duel with Vader in Star Wars doesn't hint at all that they were once close friends or that Vader is the father of the farmboy Obi-Wan just took under his wing. Even Obi-Wan's "You can't win, Darth" hints that "Darth" was Vader's legitimate first name and not a title he would take later in life.

Anonymous said...

Jason,

I agree. Obi-Wan calling him 'Darth' is definitely a giveaway that it was supposed to be a first name. Talk about character development. He came a long way from being spineless Imperial bureaucrat General Darth Vader (who takes orders from Prince Valorum of the Sith) in the original draft.

I give Lucas credit for taking such a risk in 'Empire,' one that delivered a classic movie scene. Unfortunately, it contradicts tons of material in the original film and hints at Lucas' bad habits that would gradually dumb down the series.

-Rustbelt

ScottDS said...

BIG MO -

I think Padme's line might've played better had the love story been better written in the first place.

Besides, it's an example of the worst kind of screenwriting: no subtext, all text!

ScottDS said...

Rustbelt -

I've heard of that book and I've read some of the guy's essays on his website. (The piece about Lucas' ex-wife and how she's been pretty much written out of Star Wars history is fascinating.)

I'm leery when it comes to "Unauthorized!" publications but I might have to get this one.

BIG MO said...

Now that I think about it, the worst out of character moment was Lucas' attempts to muck up Han Solo's character by changing the original SW by having Greedo fire first and then switching to make them fire at the same time. He claimed he didn't want Han to come off as a cold-blooded killer, which was silly because Greedo said he was going to kill him!

I am a "Han shot first" groupie. Have you ever seen the hilarious LEGO spoofs of Star Wars? The second one, "The Empire Strikes Out," has Solo quick-drawing on some Stormtroopers. Threepio cries out: "Han shot first!" Solo replies: "Well, of course I shot first! It was me or them!"

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

The Yoda/Dooku battle is such a crowd-pleasing moment (in a film with otherwise cringe-worthy ones) that I can forgive the physics.

Hey, it's the Force - it can do anything the filmmakers need it to do. :-)

ScottDS said...

BIG MO -

[sigh] Yup. That.

Even Lucas himself owns a "Han Shot First!" t-shirt - you can see him wearing it in various stills from the set of Crystal Skull.

I don't know if this is his way of saying, "Yeah, I know it's a mistake" or if he's just rubbing it in!

AndrewPrice said...

K, I had the same thought about R2D2. He was resourceful and helpful, but he had no ability to fly or to engage in combat.

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, Nice catch! It as Jedi. And great point about him sitting down. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, I may check that out. It's certainly very believable that Lucas was making this stuff up as he went and that he ended up writing himself into a corner. Anyone who has written anything of any length realized how easy that is to do, even when you have a perfect sounding outline. Writing a good story arc takes a lot of awareness and I don't see Lucas having that -- and he certainly doesn't have enough skill to do that on the fly.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, Han shot first, and I think people need to write that on Lucas's grave when he's dead.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That was a horrible scene to me. It really epitomized just how badly the series had fallen apart.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Every time I see it, I think of the song Kung Fu Fighting running in the background.

Anonymous said...

'Kung Fu Fighting,' Andrew? That might actually improve the scene! Maybe Lucas would finally get the whole 'tone' thing down.

Every time I see that scene, I can't help but think that all it needs to become 'Miss Piggy's Martial Arts Hour' are the phrases, 'Hai-yah!' and 'Ker-meee!'

-No. No! It's not true. It's impossible!

-Yes, you know it to be true: Yoda had to become computer-animated in order to fully connect with his Muppet roots.

-NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Rustbelt

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, That's what I think of every time. As Yoda slowly walks toward him I can actually hear "Whooa ho ho ho!"

That would be hilarious if Yoda said, "Hai-yah!" LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The Force is not a toy.

Anonymous said...

Hi, folks. Long time lurker Jim here.
To further muddy the Obi-wan/Luke/Darth waters, watch Alec Guinness' face in Ep IV when Luke asks him what happened to his father. He drops his eyes and looks down and away, as if he knows he's telling Luke a whopper.
So while Lucas may not have had it all figured out back then, it appears there was something untoward going on.

Cheers,
Jim

AndrewPrice said...

Jim, Welcome! :)

I'll have to look for that. I never noticed that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Andrew. I enjoy hanging out here.

Cheers,
Jim

AndrewPrice said...

You're welcome! Glad to have you visit. The more the merrier.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Scott, it isn't the same Han Solo in ROTJ, they turned him into a nice guy, we want our rouge!

I also agree with K and tryanmax about characters with extra powers in the prequels. Both R2D2 and Yoda's actions took me out of the
movie as they didn't match the same characters from the originals.

I'd also include Jar Jar Binks, in TPM he was the most annoying character in cinema history, in the next two movies he was just annoying. That is a big change in character.

Scott.

Jason said...

I was thinking about the whole arc of the Emperor tempting Luke to join the dark side. If I understand the movie right, if Luke just gives in to anger he will become trapped by the dark side of the Force and join the Emperor.

I may not understand the Force mythology that well, but that seemed weird to me. Even after he snaps and beats Vader to an inch of his life, that was just in reaction to Vader gloating that he might turn Leia to evil. I wouldn’t call that evil; I’d just say Luke wanted to protect his sister. (he just got really PO’ ed doing it) But Luke has never been shown to have a desire to actually join the Emperor. Would the dark side just take over his mind if he gave in to anger?

I think that whole arc just felt a little odd to me.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I agree with all of that. Going along with the Han issue, I also didn't like the way they handled Lando in ROTJ. He was supposed to be a swindler/rogue as well, but they just made him into a generic pilot. But at the same time, they promoted him to basically fleet commander? Huh?

I agree too about the characters who had more powers in the past than the future, that really shows that Lucas just didn't care about consistency.

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, I always took it as being like developing a bad habit. I didn't think that one bad deed would necessarily make you the dark side, but it more a matter of the more bad you do the more tempted you are to do bad. That's how I saw it because I don't think they were presented right to believe that you had to be angelic to be a good Jedi.

Jason said...

Given that Lando was a roguish guy as well, you'd think they could at least had him involved in securing the Death Star plans, maybe through bribing some Imperial officials. Instead we get the Bothans doing it off-screen.

AndrewPrice said...

I get the sense that they gave Lando half of Han's role and never really paid any attention to what his character was -- or Han's for that matter.

ScottDS said...

Jason -

Show some respect. Many of those Bothans died to bring them that information. :-)

(As an aside, I always wanted to have a character named Manny Bothans, just to make the joke that "Manny Bothans died." Terrible, I know!)

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

J.W. Rinzler's epic coffee table book on the making of Jedi will be out later this year - his books on the first two films are excellent and I have no reason to think the new one will be any different.

It'll be interesting to read about the development of the story, not to mention get some insight into what director Richard Marquand's intentions were. It's a shame he passed away (in 1987 at age 49 of a heart attack) - he's the one Star Wars director who would no doubt have some interesting stories to tell.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That would be pretty funny in a very nerd sort of way.

Dave Olson said...

Big Mo: Forget Anakin and Padme, OJ and Nicole is a better love story than "Twilight".

K: R2D2 didn't use his thrusters to get away from the Jawas because (A) he didn't have enough time to deploy them, and/or (B) this was intended to be a "Used Future", so they probably didn't work 20-odd years later. Kinda like the dashboard clock of a 1975 Plymouth Grand Fury. Some things just aren't worth fixing.

So what was the most out of character moment of the whole series? Probably the unnamed Imperial officer who told the gunner to hold his fire, because there were no life forms aboard the escape pod that must have short-circuited. Now putting aside the engineering abilities of a Galactic Empire with hyperdrives and Death Stars (and hyperdrives ON Death Stars), this isn't Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 where the hatch "just blew". Wouldn't the escape pod system be foolproof? Shouldn't he have been suspicious? Had Darth Vader declared it "Green Week" and he was trying to conserve Imperial energy? His single split-second decision allowed the droids to reach the surface. This led to the eventual destruction of the Empire instead of just letting the damned thing get blown to smithereens like he was taught in the Academy.

Yeah, I know. But I don't HAVE a life, so what the hell.

AndrewPrice said...

Dave, That never bothered me because I assumed that junk was falling off the ship left and right after being blasted by the star destroyer. I assumed he was under orders only to blow up people trying to escape. Still, you would think that the sensors would have picked up droids. Talk about a design flaw!

Low. . . cost. . . bidder.

As an aside, the thought of their romance as "Droidlight" is both horrifying and yet feels pretty darn accurate.

ScottDS said...

Dave -

Andrew actually wrote about that unnamed officer a while back.

Talk about a universe-altering decision!

Dave Olson said...

Yeah, when I plagiarize I try to plagiarize from the best. :D

AndrewPrice said...

Dave and Scott, LOL! Nice! :)

K said...

If I were Lucas, I'd defend myself by pointing out that Star Warz was an homage to the old movie serials which were highly unbelievable with contradictory plot elements all over the place. If you don't believe me, check out the "Commando Cody" shorts which are available on dvd. Not only hilarious, but you get to see Clayton Moore, TV's Lone Ranger as a bad guy before he put on his mask.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I've seen some of those when I watched MST3k. You're right, they make no sense. But I don't think Lucas really was aiming for that here. He may say he was, but he wasn't. I get the feeling he really took Star Wars seriously... until he remade it.

ScottDS said...

K and Andrew -

It might've started as an homage to serials but I imagine it all started getting to Lucas' head at one point. Maybe it was the Joseph Campbell influence, I don't know. Maybe Lucas saw how audiences were reacting to the films. (It no doubt changed some peoples' lives - people who took it as something it wasn't...?)

Gene Roddenberry seemed to go through a similar transition in the 70s, when he started believing the hype and was seen by college kids as this "visionary" when his original intention was simply "Wagon Train to the stars." Why do you think the early years of TNG turned out the way they did?

It's an interesting question - does the audience reaction alter the creator's perception of his own work?

K said...

Scott: That would be "yes". Especially true in an omnipresent media society.

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