Silly? Here’s Your Goddamn Silly.

May 10th, 2007  |  Published in etc  |  4 Comments – George Lucas Calls ‘Spider-Man 3’ Silly:

Lucas told me he has seen all the summer movies since his company, Industrial Light and Magic, does most of the special effects. The only one they didn’t work on was “Spider-Man 3.” What did he think of it?

“It’s silly. It’s a silly movie,” he said. “There just isn’t much there. Once you take it all apart, there’s not much story, is there?”

Well, it’s not “Star Wars.”

“People thought ‘Star Wars’ was silly, too,” he added, with a wink. “But it wasn’t.”

Lucas, by the way, says he is readying “Clone Wars,” an animated series for TV that’s derived from “Star Wars.” Many “Star Wars” characters appear in “Clone Wars,” but voiced by other actors.

And here’s a little news: Lucas tells me he will make two more live-action films based in the “Star Wars” era.

“But they won’t have members of the Skywalker family as characters,” he said. “They will be other people of that milieu.”

The two extra films will also be made for TV and probably be an hour long each. But, like “Clone Wars,” Lucas doesn’t know where on TV they will land.

Hello, HBO and Showtime. It may be time to pony up.

Dear George,

  1. Spider-Man 3, which I saw last night, was more engaging than anything you’ve made in the last 25 years. Twenty. Five. Years. A number thrown out with due consideration, and full awareness that Spider-Man 3 is a flawed movie with deep structural problems that broke its flow as a simple diversion.

  2. We call “live-action films” that are “made for TV and probably […] an hour long each” “TV specials,” though I’m sure people will persist in hoping they’re actually backdoor pilots. Those people were born some time after 1981, and I can only blame myself and others in my subgeneration for letting those tragic children play with our action figures when they were toddlers. We marked them in a way that we couldn’t even be marked as eight-year-olds.

  3. After your last three violations of one of my most sacred childhood memories, I would like to ask you to quit backdoor piloting your former fans. Seriously. When my grandmother died, I had read enough stories like “The Monkey’s Paw” to know that as much as I loved her, I did not want her shambling, revivified corpse hanging around my living room, trying to make cookies and fit me with sweaters. There were flaws in my grieving process, but I knew she needed to stay in her urn.

You caught me sort of hanging around your creation’s figurative graveside, maybe hoping that this time the thing clawing its way up out of the dirt to shamble around dropping “Anime Luke Skywalker Muscle Figure” promotional items (hat-tip, Sven) like Romero extras drop body parts would be the cherished companion from my childhood.

I even came back for seconds … thirds! I paid good money, enabling you to make a snuff-film out of a world that shaped the reader and movie enthusiast I would become. I didn’t even complain when you enlisted Ms. Natalie Portman, an actress I should feel free to have a perfectly creepy and pre-midlife-crisis crush on, to make your snuff films. Now I don’t have Star Wars anymore, and when Natalie appears on Sesame Street to sing about the virtues of change to a frightened and unsure Big Bird, any momentary rush of irrational adoration is quashed by memories of Queen Amidala. You didn’t ruin that awesome SNL video, but you came close.

Queen Amidala. Any sign I need that you’re aware of the atrocity you created

is present in poor Queen Amidala. She’s literally the mother and helpmate of episodes IV, V and VI, and you murdered her on her delivery bed … an only mildly coded comment on the contempt with which you held the entire exercise.

Go away, George. And take your made-for-tv movies with you.


  1. Rob says:

    May 10th, 2007 at 4:05 pm (#)

    I know you’re defending Spider-Man 3, but to say it has structure problems is just accepting that there is such a thing as structure. There really isn’t. It’s a concept created by writers and analysts to simplify their work. The problem is that it’s been repeated so many times that we now accept it as a standard, even though it isn’t. Spider-Man 3 doesn’t suffer from structure problems, it breaks the rules which is why we think it does.

    Also, that quote is from FOX News. Guess which company George is going to get to release his new films? You’re playing right into a marketing trap. His quote really doesn’t seem to hold much merit, such as Kevin Smith’s quotes for just about anything don’t hold much seriousness either.

  2. mph says:

    May 10th, 2007 at 7:20 pm (#)

    I know you’re defending Spider-Man 3, but to say it has structure problems is just accepting that there is such a thing as structure. There really isn’t. It’s a concept created by writers and analysts to simplify their work.

    I know what you’re saying, and to the extent formalists are sort of boring people who never seem to enjoy fun stuff because they’re too upset about their precious conventions, that’s a fine point. Maybe narrative structure is just in the writer’s head, but we all come to expect a certain rhythm when we experience a story.

    Some narratives move smoothly. Some, like Spider-Man 3, move sort of spikily. When a narrative yanks its audience out of its flow with transitions that don’t hold them in the narrative context, sometimes they’re deliberate transgressions designed to draw attention to themselves and the inherent artifice of the medium in which they’re playing out; sometimes they’re just a case of bad editing or tone-deafness on the part of the writers or editors.

    Take Aunt May, for instance. I love Aunt May to pieces, but that character has a really jarring effect on the turns the narrative takes. She pops up, Peter turns on some sort of emotional dime, and the next scene leaves me feeling like perhaps a reel was missed or five minutes of film got cut out because the projectionist spilled his soda all over them the night before. I’m not uncomfortable with jarring transitions a lot of the time. I deal fine with jump cuts and weird hops in the story when they quietly serve the director’s purpose.

    I guess we could argue that slovenly mood transitions are some sly nod to the fundamental emotional retardation of comic books, but I don’t buy that. Raimi has attended to the nuances pretty well over all, and he’s enlisted some good actors who do a fine job bringing us into their characters’ emotional space.

    I mostly think he was hoping for 3 hours and was told “under two and a half, please” by Sony. Or that, perhaps, by structuring the story to include so many disparate elements and threads, he wasn’t able to smooth those transitions out because there wasn’t time.

    They might be an abstraction, but musical scales are also real. When people play off key, we say “that’s off key.” Sometimes being off key is novel and interesting and a lot of people come around to agreeing that it works. You can’t play blues harmonica very well, for instance, without playing a harmonica that’s in the wrong key for the scale your band’s playing in. But sometimes dissonance and being off-key, as much as those concepts are the byproducts of abstractions created by musicians and critics to simplify their work, don’t work and the music that results isn’t enjoyable.

    If you like dissonance, or narratives that are not served by the director’s execution, that’s fine. If you want to argue that Spider-Man 3’s structural transgressions were a willing violation of cinematic convention executed to advance a new narrative form or even just to sock it to the man, I have to disagree. There are simpler explanations that fit what we know about studio marketing imperatives and the director who did the work.

  3. pk says:

    May 11th, 2007 at 9:36 am (#)

    Responding to the post (and not the dialogue on SM3), I ought to just say, “YEAH!” But…

    Even if we excuse the clanging Muppet insipidities he allowed to intrude upon the integrity of the hallowed IV-V-VI triptych, Lucas has signed off on so much money-grubbing merch and spin-off drivel in the past 30 years that he has no credibility left. For him to twinkle with lofty mischief like some Grand Old Man of the cinema–“Ah! But ‘Star Wars’ wasn’t silly!”–would be insulting if it weren’t so deluded.

    Silly has gotten sillier since then, but “Star Wars” absolutely goddamn well was silly, wonderfully so, and a healthy person would happily admit it, rather than endlessly dis-assemble, re-cobble, and re-distribute an empire of plastic-toy junk with somber mytho-religiosity, guarding his thin gruel of secrets like a high-glucose-corn-syrup version of Tolkien.

    An auteur he wasn’t. In the end, compared to the achievements (and even the failures) of his contemporaries in the ’70s new school, George Lucas’s true personal legacy, through IL&M, will be as a glorified stagehand.

  4. pk says:

    May 11th, 2007 at 9:40 am (#)

    I, uh…I meant “high-FRUCTOSE-corn-syrup.” To the extent I was making any sense at all, I mean.

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