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RANT - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
RANT
Why oh why is Orson Scott Card incapable of talking about movies this summer (or in 2002 or 1999) without finding a way to slam the Star Wars prequels? This time out, in an unrelated review, he posits that the fact that people were looking forward to TPM can be the only explanation why those who liked it thought it was a good movie.

No.

We thought it was a good movie because it was A GOOD FUCKING MOVIE. If you didn't like it, that's fine, that's your prerogative. But it was decently structured, it had characters I enjoyed, it was thematically rich, and it was visually stunning. I've spent the last six years talking about exactly what's good about it, and you know what? It's not my imagination, and it's not wishful thinking. Mr. Card is free to dislike it--he was set on Jake Lloyd as Ender in the movie that's taking so much sweet time that the kid will be able to play Graff, and the people who decided that they didn't want a kid in Star Wars made Lloyd unmarketable to the desirable teen male audience, so naturally, he's not going to like it...

Oh, wait. You mean, he might have disliked it on merit, based on aesthetic judgments that are important to him, and not based on some weird quirk of his psychology and foot-stomping about his own project?

Surely not. That's impossible. For something so incomprehensibe to me, there must be some serious self-deception going on, he must have very weak brain functioning, why... perhaps he's been brainwashed by the Writers Guild of America, who Lucas hacked off in the '80s! That must be it! Yes!

Grrrrrrrrr...

Of course, I would not say those things without the tinge of sarcasm. One doesn't say such things about bashers without being roundly censured for it (as a long-ago poster on TFN found out when he tried to psychoanalyze bashers, saying things far less vitriolic than were being said about fans). But with actual prequel fans, guess what? It's open season.

G-d, this pisses me off. I like the guy on most things, but on the matter of Star Wars, he drives me up the freaking wall. I think I'll stop reading him for a few weeks, until I cool off again.

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Comments
imadra_blue From: imadra_blue Date: July 6th, 2005 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hunh. I always liked Orson Scott Card, but i'm thinking his movie tastes are different from mine. I liked TPM. People give me weird looks, but it was cool. Sure you have the creepy factor of Anakin dating his babysitter *shudders*, but that doesn't change that it was a good film. I also have no Jar Jar hate, because yeah he was annoying, but he made me laugh and I can't muster much hate for something so obviously intended to put a smile on your face. I liked the characterization to be found in TPM, I think that was the most important aspect of it. And hell, the lightsaber battles rocked. Why do people find it so hard to believe that SW fans can actually like TPM?

Of course, I'm the traitor who fastforwards through half of AotC so as to avoid sugar-shock. ;D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 6th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, you're talking to someone who's now written two Jar Jar fics!

I enjoyed the Padmé/Anakin relationship here, and it's one of the reasons I don't get the confusion about their relationship later. He changed her life entirely in this movie--took her from the girl who was rather lost and looking for advice from the council to the girl who takes charge, because she can see that a little slave boy with actual power in the world is able to take charge of his own life and others... she's a queen with power--surely she can do the same! And the fact that when he's frightened, he makes something for her. It's endearing. Obviously, at that point, they're brother and sister, but I had no trouble whatsoever believing that she would later fall in love with him.

I adored Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan, the lightsaber duel rocked, and Shmi interested me. I think one thing that threw people was that the Jedi Council wasn't presented as perfect--they were good guys, but making mistakes, and I think people took the fact that they were confused and goofing up as some sign that the movie wasn't being morally clear or whatnot--that we were supposed to see their actions as inherently right, and therefore when they do things that are questionable, it means that the movie is endorsing those things... or something.

My favorite criticism is that it's "childish and simplistic." Because, yeah--this entire sham of a battle with its useless victory set up to put Palpatine into power and enslave the galaxy just as they think they're celebrating freeing it... that's sure a lot less complex than, say, Shoot the Aliens Before They Shoot You.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: July 7th, 2005 11:17 am (UTC) (Link)
My favorite criticism is that it's "childish and simplistic." Because, yeah--this entire sham of a battle with its useless victory set up to put Palpatine into power and enslave the galaxy just as they think they're celebrating freeing it... that's sure a lot less complex than, say, Shoot the Aliens Before They Shoot You.

I'm not much of a prequel fan (though TPM was my favorite of the three), and this criticism has always just baffled the hell out of me. Were these people sleeping through every scene that didn't contain Jar-Jar, or what?
imadra_blue From: imadra_blue Date: July 9th, 2005 01:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
You wrote Jar Jar fics? You are brave! *gives Leia back her lines* ;)

I can see the brother/sister kinda thing in TPM, but it still... grossed me out a bit to look at it in perspective of AotC and RotS. Perhaps one of my reasons for not being a big fan of them. The whole set-up of ages and relations of Padme and Anakin just threw me. The Jedi Council thing was intriguing and I had no preconceptions about them like I had Anakin, so I was okay with that. Qui-Gon... I honestly don't see much purpose for him in the grand scheme of things, his role could have been completely absorbed by Obi-Wan, I feel, but I do like Qui-Gon, and Padawan!Obi-Wan. It gives beautiful insight into the Luke-like aspects of young Obi-Wan. (I.e. "Was I any different at his age?")

Yeah, that criticism is sort of weird. The movie is presented in a somewhat childish manner, but the underlying themes of the movie are quite complex -- but so is the whole series. But then, I'm the type who can criticize almost any movie and still love it to pieces. I see faults, but I don't hold it against it. And I can pick apart Card, too. ;)
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: July 6th, 2005 11:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I also have no Jar Jar hate, because yeah he was annoying, but he made me laugh and I can't muster much hate for something so obviously intended to put a smile on your face.

That's pretty much how I feel. Personally, I'm not interested in Jar Jar, but I can't imagine the idea of hating a character just because he was slightly annoying. It's one thing for SW fans to hate someone like Palpatine -- he's evil and supposed to be hated by the audience -- but why hate Jar Jar? I can understanding not liking the character, or thinking he's uninteresting, but hating him? It doesn't make any sense to me.
imadra_blue From: imadra_blue Date: July 9th, 2005 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't say Jar Jar interests me, either, but I found Anakin in AotC far more annoying than Jar Jar, and no one goes batshit about his existence. Though this might be due to the fact that the fangirls are distracted by teh pretteh. (Personally, I don't think Hayden is all that.) Jar Jar hate also baffles me. C-3PO is also more annoying. That whole droid assembly plant on Geonosis makes me want to spit nails. Then again, I should just leave AotC alone, because it makes me vitriolic.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: July 7th, 2005 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
People act like Jar Jar was Barney. Okay, he got a little annoying, and I was glad he wasn't in ROTS because it would've made the whole dark theme thing a little awkward, but he wasn't BAD. In fact, he got a laugh or two out of me.

And I liked TPM.
murasaki99 From: murasaki99 Date: July 7th, 2005 12:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I liked all the SW movies, old and new alike. They've been so much fun for so many people over the years it's amazing they haven't outlawed it like weed or crack. If Mr. Card has a movie in the works, he may simply be unhappy that he's had to put up with the Hollywood rigamarole and maybe is a tad jealous that Mr. Lucas can turn out his movies with apparent ease. You and I both know there's nothing 'easy' about making grand SF films, but that won't keep people from complaining.
phylogenetics From: phylogenetics Date: July 7th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with you on bashers. I have a personal theory about why some people tend to bash the prequels here:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/phylogenetics/1220.html#cutid1

where I took issue with cinescape's bashing of the prequels for it's 'ham fisted dialogue' (because the original trilogy was truly shakespherian :p)

In short, it's because some people think back nostalgia to when they first saw star wars, and expected the prequels to do the same to them---unfortunately, that's not going to happen. Lucas made the star wars films exactly like he made them in the past, the only thing that's changed is our taste and expectations and therein lies the problem: people get all misty eyed thinking about star wars, and gloss over the bad aspects of it (bad dialogue, poor acting etc), yet when they see the prequels, these shortcomings are glaring to them, and all of a sudden, the same problems that plagued the OT becomes PROBLEMS in the PT. I think this is a problem whenever you try to 'change' something that people feel akin to a religion----not even God himself (Lucas) can touch the Holy Trilogy and not get burnt.
mistralcat From: mistralcat Date: July 7th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC) (Link)
It's not just Star Wars. His review of Timeline basically boiled down to "I've heard it's bad, so I'm not going to see it, and neither should you, 'cause it's bad." Now, Timeline wasn't a great movie, but he didn't know that - since he didn't bother to see it - so he shouldn't have said it. Someone who has the following that Card does should really be especially careful what he says, because so many people slavishly follow him.
ashtur From: ashtur Date: July 7th, 2005 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I just read his review of Batman Begins (just to see how he does things), and I can't say that I'm impressed with him. Anyone who goes into a Bats movie considering Jim Gordon a "throwaway" role just doesn't understand the series at all. Yeah, the humanity of Oldman may have stolen the show, but that's the point... Jim Gordon is one of Bruce's human anchors. If that's typical of him, I don't think I'll be back to his site.
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: July 7th, 2005 03:28 am (UTC) (Link)
What a coinkydink, because just last night while I was poking around beliefnet.org for new material about SW, I saw his latest crucifixion review of ROTS. Aside from the obvious enjoyment he gets from the professional bashers (one guy commented that Card is a "breath of fresh air"...he must have never heard of TFN's boards), aside from his not getting these movies at all, I think it's typical SF trufan envy. It's no big secret a lot of SF writers hate media fandom, with SW being one of their favorite targets for the past 28 years.

If he thought the film version of The Postman was any good, he earns my mockery for life.
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: July 7th, 2005 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Card's biggest gripe--at least from what I've read in other reviews of his--is that he doesn't like Lucas's scriptwriting. I haven't seen too many complaints about the story from him, just the dialogue. And I generally agree with Card. But on the SW movies--well the dialogue isn't brilliant("Anakin, you're breaking my heart!"), but the films are carried by the stories and characterizations and just the whole spectacle of them. Add to that a brilliant musical score, and it's no wonder they make lots of fans and lots of money.
zoepaleologa From: zoepaleologa Date: July 7th, 2005 06:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I have no idea who Orson Scott Card is, but suspect if I did, I'd dislike him a great deal. ;-)

I liked TPM and found Jar Jar funny. I'm childish that way. I loved the Ewoks, too. He was meant to be funny. Generally, having a comic relief character is a particular signature in Lucas's work as I see it. Critics tend to forget that one of the wellsprings for Lucas's work is the Saturday morning thriller series, and therefore the movies are meant to be entertaining to children. Hence the addition of a stock "silly" character. I bet most kids adored Jar Jar. Mine did.

Lucas is writing a strong, heroic, adventure saga along very "classical" lines, but generally, children do not find the Norse or Greek hero myths all that accessible. He seeks to make his mythos very accessible to a modern young generation. Taking my daughter, the reluctant reader of all time, to see RotS has got her reading again, as she's swiped my novelisation of the Movie. A. Good. Thing.

TPM does suffer from being a "scene setting" and from itself coming along with a deal of backstory. Particularly for those watching who essentially know that it is largely about the tragic fall of Anakin Skywalker. So, we enter the story (from the perspective of Fall of the Republic) very late along plot lines (it's clear Sidious has been up to a great deal of plotting long before the action of the film for instance, and backstory addicts like me want to know all about that).

However, Lucas correctly has centred the prequel trilogy on Anakin, and it fittingly starts with Anakin's entry to the larger story of the Galaxy.

To correctly judge TPM you need really to see the whole prequel trilogy. However, I feel that TPM can also stand alone as a great adventure story - I wish people would come at the movies with the understanding that these movies are primarily that. The fact that they have very ambitious themes is just a fantastic extra.

But I think the wrong critics are looking at these films, anyway. The Guardian film critic, two years ago, listed his 100 favourite movies. Only two of them were in English. So he essentially collectively dismissed the entire output of the capital of Movies, the US. It made me feel like howling.
imadra_blue From: imadra_blue Date: July 9th, 2005 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Orson Scott Card wrote Ender's Game. I honestly don't care much for any of the sequels, they get more and more boring and irritating as you go along, but Ender's Game is prime SF. One of my favorite books. I can't remember much else by him (none of it other than Ender's Game is terribly memorable), but he did do the novelization of the movie The Abyss, which I also liked.

To me, TPM is almost like "Episode Zero". Some aspects of it I feel could have been absorbed into AotC, and made into one new Episode I, with Episode II being set during the Clone Wars, and Episode III as it stands. I like TPM quite a bit, but it is scene-setting, and I love so many things about it. Qui-Gon's role could have been absorbed into Obi-Wan, in all honesty, but I liked how it showed a young, eager Padawan!Obi-Wan, so I don't complain overmuch about this. I still find Anakin and Padme a bit creepy in this movie, but it could be simply because I know how they end up and I'd never date the kids I babysat, no matter how much they hit on me (and they have ^^;;). ;) But I love TPM for all it does offer, the insight it gives us on things, and the extra bits we get. I can't say it's my favorite of the series, but it's good. I can crit it, sure, but I can crit everything. Including Card, so he needs to get off his high horse.

I can't stand some film critics. I happen to like adventure stories, and those summer blockbusters that all the critics whine about. Do I think they're the best movies ever? No. But I enjoy them and I like them. I love Star Wars, and the entire series is actually my favorite of all time. (I'll be honest and admit this is due to the Original Trilogy, but I do have lots of love for TPM and RotS.) But I don't like a lot of these "wonderful" movies they adore that have no meaning to me and most of them are in foreign tongues. Half the crap that gets Oscars bores me to tears.
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