I first started this post about ten days ago after finishing the Star Wars Saga on Blu-ray but didn’t get to finish it and moved on to another entry. However, I’m glad I saved it as a draft as opposed to trashing it because I didn’t get to watch a movie this weekend since I’m running a bit behind. To be honest it’s a bit daunting to talk about a series that’s so highly praised (in most cases) and loved by so many fans Regardless of the hate and criticisms the prequels receive I still tip my hat to all that Lucas created and helped create. That goes without saying, however that doesn’t exclude them from the obvious flaws that stood out as I watched the saga on their newest platform.
I feel this quote from Pixar is extremely suitable for the thought I want to write about today. As I watched the series the thing that kept sticking out the most was how dated the prequels looked compared to the originals. This seems like a bold thing to say seeing as how it’s been nearly thirty five years since the first Star Wars movie came out. However, I stand by the statement one hundred percent and here’s why.
I’ve never shied away from the prequels when it came to Star Wars, but the saving grace for me was the fact that they looked nice. So as the years goes one of their biggest appeal seems to be degrading. As I watched the massive battles in space and on the ground I couldn’t help but feel as though I was just watching a cartoon or video game cut scenes. Especially with the animated scenes that looked like this:
To be honest I couldn’t find any definite answer on whether this was a screenshot (above) from a video game or not, but I think that speaks volumes for the point I’m trying to get across.
It doesn’t help either when you have animated characters holding screen time, like Jar Jar(above) and Dexter(below), as much as they do. Neither of them hold their weight on screen to dismiss the fact that they stick out so much.
Now I’m not trying to say that there’s anything wrong with animated cartoons or live action movies with animated characters, but if your movie’s only leg to stand on is these animated pieces and characters then they really need to be able to withstand the test of time and/or hold their own. The thing that hurts them is how much they stick out in comparison to their human counterparts. It’s not believable for one minute. Now I know what the common retort for this is, “Oh you’re complaining about something not being believable in an obviously fake movie? Get over it.” I’ll agree some suspension of disbelief should be allowed but the characters and the set pieces need to work within the realm the movie creates, otherwise it’s just something I can’t feel for. Going right back to the pixar quote, they need to make me believe it’s real, and not just throw up attempted realistic pieces that don’t blend together This is where the original trilogy makes great use of the philosophy in Pixar’s statement.
The puppetry, the set pieces, the modeled space flights, all of these contribute to why the original movies hold up so well on blu-ray. At least on an aesthetic level. Where the prequel’s age start to reveal itself in HD, the original trilogy continues to hold its own, again with some reasonable suspension of disbelief, extremely well.
See how well Yoda and Luke blend together? You can see and feel Yoda’s presences which I lends to more believability.
Puppet Yoda on the left, CGI Yoda on the right. Which one looks more believable to you?
I hate to sound like a purist here and completely disown the prequels, but when you have the originals that got so much right, it’s hard to speak highly of the newer ones, especially as the years go on. The sad thing is with each new release of the Star Wars series Lucas and Co. continue to find ways to add flashy new additions that honestly do nothing more than diminish the accomplishments achieved by the originals. Take these scenes for example. Feel free to watch the whole video but I linked to the specific spot I want it to start. Keep watching until about 3:50. Notice how the first clip is clean and simple? The believability is easy. As you keep watching do you notice how the revisions and use of CGI diminishes the scene and feels cluttered and fake? I’ll take the ingenuity and puppetry from the first one over massive CGI overload of the revisions and the prequels every time.
Computer aided animation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be the selling factor for your movie. You still need believability, good acting, plot, and a reason to care for the characters you’re devoting two plus hours to watch. It’s crazy how after all these years it would be the original trilogy that holds up over the prequel. I feel as though this opens up other questions to think about. How about movies like Avatar? Transformers? Years from now will we look back and realize that aside from some extremely well done animation the movie doesn’t hold up plot wise? Time will tell, as is the case with Star Wars.
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