I don’t like the stance of Lucas apologists. To me, they are making excuses that are based on the fact that they want to like it, not actual reasoning. Although sometimes I appear to be someone who just claims to hate modern Lucas, I don’t like that stance either. It’s just babyish arm folding, and provides no real reasoning to like or dislike any of the decisions made on these franchises. I don’t hate modern Lucas, he still influences a great deal of the industry (and related industries) that we love so much, but let me try to explain my feeling on how currently.
You ever seen someone go from no money, to wildly successful? -Like a lottery winner. Yeah, watch a special on lottery winners. You will find that the vast majority of them buy 7 bedroom houses for two people to live in, 15 cars, or a Vette of every year, imported rare wood funiture that they don’t sit on, etc. The point is, those people are in a position that alters who they are. They no longer have to weigh purchases on their merit, or based them on their strongest desires, they do whatever they want with their money just because they can. In doing it this way, they tend to make a ton of decisions and purchases that just don’t make sense to anyone else, and suck to the casual or frequent observer.
Now, Lucas is a genius and visionary… he gets this credit industry wide and from his fan base almost constantly (barring of course the credit role in his latest few efforts). He deserves it, because he earned it, by being exactly what he is getting credit for. Then because of this, he experienced enormous success. You could even say in the area of cinematic success (and earnings) he hit the Hollywood lottery. Guess what he did with it? Well, he didn’t have to try to make an artistic vision, and he didn’t have to make the most of his choices any longer. He was free to do whatever he wanted because in the end the choice frequency and rate of success didn’t influence his general success any longer. Even more so than the example before, his winnings continue to pay. So, the filters of making the most of his choices fall away, and you get the tinkering and messing about with the properties, and films that seem to come from a very different point of motivation than most of Hollywood.
I think success will do this to MANY people in all industries, it’s more apparent in Hollywood because we all pay attention to it. Success spawn people that have the freedom to make choices in filmmaking that they would not have the freedom and confidence to make without the degree of success, and more importantly, without the second guessing, judgment calls and fears associated with making the wrong decision. So back to Lucas here, he’d already made a couple of films before becoming the biggest Sci-Fi movie making icon on the planet. And, did they suck? Sure THX 1138 isn’t a great movie, but it’s still full of great ideas and gutsy filmmaking; the kind of gambles one takes for the sake of the film, not because there is no such thing as failure. Once huge success had hit, comfort in that success has likely lead to the continuos string that many view as bad decision making. It should have been apparent to us all with Ewok spinoffs and Star Wars X-mas specials. This degree of goof-up from Lucas is not new, it just has a much bigger budget, and is part of a much larger rolling snowball.
If you want to measure if he is a genius or not, strip the dialogue and look at what happens in his filmmaking; the incredible ideas, the larger than life worlds, the new technical marvels, the impact on the whole industry. He hasn’t stopped being any of those things, but unfortunately, he may not be the strongest write, or character directory. I think he knew this once, and I think he knew when to take it slow, when to back off, when to listen to others and when he was sure he was right. Now, due to success, the latter probably occurs far more often than the former. Understandably so, but it won’t make me like any of the mistakes anymore, it will just temper my expectations for anything he is involved in… ever.
That’s how I really feel about it, and that’s what I mean if I happen to say “Fuck Lucas” or “Lucas sucks”. I mean the results of his actions, because that’s how the man is defined to me, working from home in North TX without a thing in the world putting me in touch with who he really is, or how he spends his day influencing the world. I just don’t want him to direct anything for at least a while, don’t write dialogue ever again, and be a hands off producer forever. I think from his successful position, he would make the most positive impact from this position, but then nobody pays me to influence Hollywood.