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  1. SethS's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 2:14 PM - How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #1

    So I have a theory-- it's a pretty decent one, though it is based on my tastes and opinions, so your mileage may vary. Up front, I love the OT, I despise the PT, I have mixed feelings on the ST, and I am a big fan of Rogue One, I find the CW and Rebels to be decent fun, and pretty much despise the former (and new) EU and every fan film I've ever seen. In trying to figure out what makes a good SW film vs a bad one, I think I have hit on something interesting.

    In looking at which versions of SW I hate, my primary complaint is that they don't "feel" like Star Wars to me. Despite having the same characters, the same setting, and all the trappings and visual cues, the feels are not there. The PT felt nothing like Star Wars to me to the point that I have trouble even reconciling it as part of continuity.

    Obviously, the quality of the filmmaking and script are key-- bad writing can tank ANY movie when it comes down to it. But making fun of the terrible writing in the PT is low hanging fruit at this point. If I'm just talking about the FEEL, where does that come from and how does one invoke it?

    Everything that misses the mark, in my opinion, makes the same mistake. The PT and EU especially make the same big mistake-- they invoke the wrong thing to make them seem like Star wars. What does that mean? It means they take the setting, the look, the trappings, and all the visual cues, (often with established SW characters), and say "There-- now it's Star Wars and we can tell whatever story we like."

    I'm going to posit the idea that, none of these things are what make Star Wars, Star Wars. Sure, it helps for visual continuity and flavor, but the core of what Star Wars is, to me, is it's structured narrative. What Lucas did that was genius back in the day when he had to work his ass off for a living, was to take the narrative cues of mythology and fantasy, and wrap it inside a serialized sci-fi wrapper. His models for story were based on other movies that worked with these elements-- one part samurai films, one part Flash Gordon, etc etc.

    I love this site-- it's old, but the woman who wrote did her thesis on mapping out the influences that made Star Wars:
    http://www.moongadget.com/origins/index.html

    Here's my theory-- if you want to make a good Star Wars film, you have to look to these sources and work off of them. You go to the core DNA of the franchise and work with that. If you use the OT as your starting point, you run the odds of failing. Examples--

    The PT: uses the visual language of the OT and pre-established plot points but frames its story around not myth, but the idea that the OTs backstory had to be filled out. It was built off the OT's back. Sure, some of the same influences are there, ideas that didn't work in the OT were recycled, but it's core conceit was not based on the same DNA. Add in poor filmmaking, and it fails.

    The EU: In my opinion is already at a disadvantage. Star Wars is a filmic narrative. Star Wars is a mythic narrative. Those conceits go together. Applying filmic narrative to the structure of a novel doesn't work. It inherently is a different beast. While the plots for the myriad of books could be inspired by a wide variety of things, at the end of the day, it's still just building on what the films built and trying to sustain it.

    The CW and Rebels: more of the same. Building off the OT, and in TCW's case, the PT. Working around established plot points and again-- just keeping the same territory alive. The only thing that saves these cartoons for me is their heart, and Filoni's desire to try and make sure we feel that. While I like them for pulling this off, I don't truly LOVE them, and likely won't rewatch them in the future.

    The ST: Here's where it gets complicated. I'll defend TFA and TLJ, but at the same time, I totally get and respect why people would have trouble. It seems obvious to say that TFA is built of the OT, it's probably the most literal example of that. Despite this, I like TFA because after the PT feeling so off to me I need the hard reset to feeling like thew OT again. The more time passes, the less love I have for it, but at the time it was what I (and the franchise) needed.

    TLJ is a complication for me. In terms of Luke and Rey's story, I'd argue it's the only Movie that truly looked back to Joseph Campbell to take the myth to the next level. The fact it wasn't precious about the OT and went back to some of the core roots made for what I think is the best sequel story that could be told... that said, my problems with the film structurally, and the fact that everything outside of Luke/Rey/Kylo is PT level filler, make not my favorite Star Wars movie.
    @TheWook will fight me, but I'd say Rian's SWIQ is actually top notch-- it's his writing and directing that fell short.

    Rogue One: for me, easily the best of the new crop of SW films. Yes, it obviously builds off the OT by connecting directly to it and having all it's visuals based in the OT era-- but unlike the PT, they didn't stop there. The story itself went back to the roots-- you have Campbell's sins of the father revisiting the child, you have a mentee that has to look past their mentor's flaws, you have a story that is based on a classic Samurai film-- when you add that to the fan-pandering fun stuff, you have a big win.

    The TLDR version-- you can make a great copy off an original source-- but if you make a copy of a copy, you lose quality and focus.
  2. Mr Webber's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 2:35 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #2

    Dont hire Rian Johnson and your halfway there.
  3. SethS's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 2:41 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #3

    Thanks for the thought out and well-intentioned response.
  4. Mr Webber's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 2:44 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #4

    I simply gave an honest answer to the question.
  5. The Wook is offline The Wook
    Feb 5, 2018, 2:47 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #5

    SethS said: View Post
    @The Wook will fight me, but I'd say Rian's SWIQ is actually top notch--it's his writing and directing that fell short.
    If his SWIQ was high, then his writing and directing wouldn't have fallen short.

    The Wook
  6. SethS's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 2:53 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #6

    Writing/Directing a movie and knowing Star Wars do not have to be mutually exclusive.
  7. The Wook is offline The Wook
    Feb 5, 2018, 3:04 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #7

    SethS said: View Post
    Writing/Directing a movie and knowing Star Wars do not have to be mutually exclusive.
    Your thread is not talking about writing/directing just any movie. It's talking about writing/directing a Star Wars movie. And I'm sayin', that if a writer/director possesses a high SWIQ, his writing/directing of a Star Wars movie will not fall short. (Assuming he has full creative control.)

    In the case of TLJ, his writing/directing fell short, because he has a low...make that, *extremely* low...SWIQ.

    The Wook
  8. Keycube's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 3:04 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #8

    This won't be the deepest approach to the question (maybe later when not at work), but the one thing to me that transcends story and characters - because I do feel that Star Wars can probably get away with some things that other movies can't in terms of a traditional approach to filmmaking - is that the film at least has to take itself seriously.

    I'm not even talking about "Dropping bombs in space" stuff; that realm of "science" falls under reasonable suspension of disbelief, IMO. It's, for example, the exchange between Poe and Hux at the beginning of TLJ. Or even using contemporary references like "Droid, please" in TFA. Within the realm of "the state of the galaxy is at stake", it's totally jarring. Sometimes stress invokes humor as a release, I can see that. But TLJ kept riffing on interweaving it into heavy moments, and destroyed any supposed sense of urgency with anything. R2 and 3PO (in the OT) were great because they let you exhale briefly, and gave you a little contrast to the serious business at hand. But...you've got to convince me first that there IS some serious business at hand.

    Basically, make me think that you, as the filmmaker, really "felt" your own story, and didn't just take a bird's eye view at what would look pretty and get a reaction. Sometimes a good story is just this linear thing that you're absorbing, and only at the end do you have time to say, "WOW". Tell me a gripping story, it doesn't even matter what it is; just make sure everyone's buying in.
    Last edited by Keycube; Feb 5, 2018 at 3:25 PM.
  9. Axlotl's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 3:39 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #9

    A good Star Wars movie should inspire a person to test their limits, to be true to themselves, to aspire to be more than they are, to believe in themselves.
    A good Star Wars movie should teach kids that while the bad guys may have won the battle, they'll never win the war, because good always triumphs over evil in the end.

    ...and it should have spaceships and laserswords and robots and wizards...
  10. CWDevine's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 4:38 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #10

    Allow Kathleen Kennedy to play her part as a producer and have NO say in anything creatively!!!!!
  11. Bryancd is offline Bryancd
    Feb 5, 2018, 4:48 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #11

    CWDevine said: View Post
    Allow Kathleen Kennedy to play her part as a producer and have NO say in anything creatively!!!!!
    Can you point to any specific instances where she injected a creative choice on JJ, Gareth, or Rian?
  12. CWDevine's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 4:55 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #12

    Bryancd said: View Post
    Can you point to any specific instances where she injected a creative choice on JJ, Gareth, or Rian?
    In an interview she boasted about how so many female writers involved in the projects. Maybe wrong, but I think I remember reading somewhere that the "Leia Poppins" idea was added by her.
  13. Mr Webber's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 5:05 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #13

    Just google it people. no spin there.
  14. Bryancd is offline Bryancd
    Feb 5, 2018, 5:08 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #14

    Mr Webber said: View Post
    Just google it people. no spin there.
    No spin, simply discussing not having seen her do anything with the Force, Rian created the sequence. Sorry Seth, I know this is off topic.


    In a recent podcast interview with Empire Magazine, Last Jedi directorJohnson once again recalled how Leia’s use of the Force in The Last Jedi came as a result of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy wanting to dig into Luke’s assertion to Leia in Return of the Jedi that she has within her the same potential he does:
    The idea behind that moment was that in a moment of that—first of all her use of Force in that moment is not incredibly powerful she’s in space which offers no resistance. So actually take much to pull her back in she is in zero gravity, but also [her use of the Force] is instinctual.
    That was the bigger thing for me is that it’s the equivalent of like when you hear stories about parents who have a toddler trapped under a car and they lift the car up they get Hulk strength. It’s that idea “this is not going to end today. I’m not finished yet” and that she it’s almost like just a drowning person is clawing their way to the surface the way she pulls her way back.
  15. Greenie's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 5:08 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #15

    Characters that you can relate to. Characters that you can aspire to. Characters that you are attracted to..........and a big space battle!
  16. CWDevine's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 5:14 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #16

    Bryancd said: View Post
    In a recent podcast interview with Empire Magazine, Last Jedi directorJohnson once again recalled how Leia’s use of the Force in The Last Jedi came as a result of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy wanting to dig into Luke’s assertion to Leia in Return of the Jedi that she has within her the same potential he does:
    The idea behind that moment was that in a moment of that—first of all her use of Force in that moment is not incredibly powerful she’s in space which offers no resistance. So actually take much to pull her back in she is in zero gravity, but also [her use of the Force] is instinctual.
    That was the bigger thing for me is that it’s the equivalent of like when you hear stories about parents who have a toddler trapped under a car and they lift the car up they get Hulk strength. It’s that idea “this is not going to end today. I’m not finished yet” and that she it’s almost like just a drowning person is clawing their way to the surface the way she pulls her way back.
    By the way, while Leia was unconscious for that brief period of time, she was breathing. So unless her lungs were filled with water or something, she should have been suffocating in space. But I guess Rian felt no one would realize that, cause it's a SW movie.
  17. TheDavisBros's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 5:20 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #17

    @SethS,very good points, one other thing I would like to add in regards to why the PT doesn't feel like star wars is because it f***s up Star Wars' cosmology.
    The OT has the cosmology of Asian religions like hinduism and Zen Buddhism, it's about balance. Then in PT the cosmology is Christian and Abrahamic, it's talks about virgin births, and the eradication of evil. So in the end you have clashing cosmologies, you can blend the two but George didn't put that work in.
  18. sztriki's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 5:24 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #18

    SethS said: View Post
    It means they take the setting, the look, the trappings, and all the visual cues, (often with established SW characters), and say "There-- now it's Star Wars and we can tell whatever story we like."
    Totally agree. I know there's a difference of opinion here but to me this sums up Rogue One only that the story they told there and the characters involved were paper-thin.

    To me on-screen it's TFA that really captured the best what Star Wars is about. Yes, the plot is ANH rehash, no arguments there and initially I was disappointed about that too. But the dynamics, the pacing, the way the characters were presented and ther relatability was what gives me Star Wars.
    Outside the movie universe (and again I agree there, 99% of the old EU is trash) I would go back to the original KOTOR game which had the essence of Star Wars, but was set in such a distant time from the original movies and prequels that it wasn't really possible to pull the "let's throw in X-wings, troopers, TIEs or some derivatives of them" trick. Yet it did feel Star Wars because the way the characters were presented and molded (here's the advantage of an in-depth RPG) and how the story progressed.
  19. CWDevine's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 5:35 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #19

    Kathleen Kennedy is the problem. Remove her and maybe you stand a chance a making some good SW films, before it's too late. (At this point I think it's too late!)
  20. SethS's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 5:53 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #20

    My theory has very little to do with WHO, and more to do with HOW. Feel free to comment on that instead of making the same complaint again and again.
  21. Bryancd is offline Bryancd
    Feb 5, 2018, 6:07 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #21

    SethS said: View Post
    My theory has very little to do with WHO, and more to do with HOW. Feel free to comment on that instead of making the same complaint again and again.
    Honestly I think it's pretty simple, linear story telling with well defined characters and iconography, and clearly defined good and evil. Rogue One was certainly the most outside that box in regards to characters and complex motivations. The universe is built, curiously built mostly by fans in their heads, but none the less it's an available construct to base stories off of. When people talk nonsense like SWIQ that really wasn't anything created by George by design, WE have made this monster about what Star Wars should be. And everyone is wrong and everyone is right. If I'm trying to shepard new Star Wars films going forward, find people who are knowledgeable and passionate about the franchise and give them the opportunity to actually play in the sand box. George always envisioned Star Wars being open creatively to all his friends, let that be the legacy. And arguably that has been the legacy so far. KISS, have the spectacle, the great music, the familiar, and make sure any random 10 year old boy or girl can be invested in the characters and story. That's 90% right there. Don't make it for me, make it for them.
  22. SethS's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 6:12 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #22

    I would agree with that— do you think you could make a Star Wars movie that was successful without any of the visual cues we know? Like all new production design, no Jedi, no lightsabers, no plots characters from another movie.
  23. Brent M's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 6:18 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #23

    Mr Webber said: View Post
    Dont hire Rian Johnson and your halfway there.
    That was a hilarious response and I agree 100%.

    The other half, of course, would be to replace Kathy Kennedy before she damages the franchise worse than Uncle George did in the late 90s/early 2000s.
  24. Bryancd is offline Bryancd
    Feb 5, 2018, 6:21 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #24

    SethS said: View Post
    I would agree with that— do you think you could make a Star Wars movie that was successful without any of the visual cues we know? Like all new production design, no Jedi, no lightsabers, no plots characters from another movie.
    I do and I think there is a degree of inevitability that it will happen based on the planned content release schedule. You still need the little things to make it feel in universe, a speeder, and old Y-wing flying by, an Ithorian in a pub, but beyond that SW can live beyond The Force, the Skywalkers, etc. In fact I think Rian might be exploring that opportunity as we speak.
  25. SethS's Avatar
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    Feb 5, 2018, 6:28 PM - Re: How Do You Make a Good Star Wars Movie? #25

    I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what he was doing, but I didn’t want to say it as his name spawns troll comments.

    But more or less, this is kind of what I was getting it. If you go back to the roots of what inspired George and capture just a bit of what is familiar about Star Wars, it would not only work, but I think actually be better than what we’ve been getting.
    Last edited by SethS; Feb 5, 2018 at 6:42 PM.

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