Commentary: What If ‘Star Wars: Episode I’ Was Good?

Posted on February 24, 2012

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I generally tend to avoid most things Star Wars nowadays. After the disappointments that were the Prequel Trilogy films and the extended overuse of the franchise as symbol on both sides of the geek-cool line that has become a crutch in current pop culture — the one thing I will damn my generation for most in regard to entertainment – outside of the remake fetish, that is – is the incessant need to reference Star Wars at. Every. Turn. — I get thoroughly turned off at the mere mention of the property.

Sure, I still explore the films on my own at points and enjoy them for what they are. Still get that sense of thrill and wonder with the Original Trilogy films. I was even signed up to be a Beta tester for the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO game (though, wasn’t able to do the testing either of the two weekends I was drafted, unfortunately). Occasionally, I’ll still participate in a discussion about the franchise should a topic arise that I feel like delving into. (Last was over the announcement from Lucas a few weeks ago that he’d always intended Greedo to shoot first; your original script says otherwise, George.) Generally, though, once I hear those two words, my brain either numbs itself into a stupor or launches into a blinding rage over the direction the whole thing took and I retreat.

Every once in a while something refreshing comes into the discussion that touches me in my deep core fandom and excites me about the whole affair again. At least to a point where I can think on it without debilitating negativity. Such a sorbet lies in the video below: one fan from Belatedmedia describes what he would’ve done within the existing framework of Episode I – The Phantom Menace to make the story compelling, relevant to the previous films in a substantial way, and a competent opening act for a trilogy that sets up personalities and circumstances that one could actually care about.

Like any fan – and as a screenwriter – I’ve spent time over the years thinking what I would’ve done differently with the prequel films to make them, frankly, good. With those thoughts in my head, I don’t necessarily agree with all of the changes the gentleman suggests in the video. The one thing that stands out about it, though, is that he approaches the story with a basic understanding of structure and drama that brings into stark contrast the lack of skill George Lucas had in crafting the narrative of those last three films.

His three main suggestions, to sum up in but three key words: simplicity, heart, and fun.

Take a look and let me know what you think:

Thanks to Jennifer over at Slacker Heroes for bringing this to my attention.

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Posted in: Movies