I rant a little about the Blu-Ray releases of the week! We talk about mail-in offer order forms and more swap-outs! And is it time to reboot Star Wars completely? All this and more, just read on!
1. Have you heard about the "NOOO's" being put into the climactic scene in Jedi and other changes? Wanted to know what you thought of this. Hey, that's what he's been doing since he added Episode IV during the re-release. So this is not new. I've got the original theatrical versions on DVD somewhere so I just find these tweaks amusing and curious every couple of years. But I do want to mention this, I'm a bit disappointed that those theatrical versions didn't make it into the package. Other franchises include original versions in the mega package (E.T. or Blade Runner for instance).
My question: Why not just reboot the whole thing? Seriously, he has already made so many changes to the point that the character arcs (for example Solo) are different. Why not just recast and let Peter Jackson or better yet, Bryan Singer re-do a new imagining. starting with Phantom on up to Jedi?
Would you support that?
Reboots are usually a good idea after the franchise has run out of steam. The Clone Wars is, effectively, a mini reboot which took the franchise, tweaked it, and marketed to a new young group of fans. Key word: young group of fans. If you look at licensed properties across the board, it's rare to see something catch fire that wasn't originally aimed at kids, so even if we get a reboot I fully expect adult fans to hate (or at least dislike) it. (You can trot out The Matrix if you want but I think a large part of that was teens and that lost steam pretty damned quick.) Lord of the Rings burned out quick, but it had enough cultural significance decades before it came out that I wouldn't count them as a new franchise anyway.
I'm not sure what you (Robert) would want, so it's tough to say if such a gambit would work. Star Wars did transcend just kids originally, but let's face it: most of the people who are in to it now, and who were in to it in the 1990s, were kids or teens when it first came out. The only reason to reboot the series is to increase its viability with young audiences, which in turn would jump-start the licensing division, which would mean that the stuff we enjoy now would probably go away. That, and Lucas has strongly asserted control over the franchise since 1997, letting fewer people in to do it their way. A reboot would be work-for-hire, Lucas would be in charge, and you'd still get 201X Lucas sensibilities which tend to be a bit more family-friendly, and significantly less badassssss.
Despite all the digital swabbing, I have to assume George ultimately feels that the actors are a core part of the series and seeing him not recast Indiana Jones (ala James Bond) yet might reveal an aversion to replacing the human factor. Since I'll likely never get the chance to interview the man, I have to assume that the original actors are an integral part of the film experience even if the work of the craftsmen who built sets, props, models, and other gear is seen as replaceable. It's tough to piece together exactly what he would want from his many interviews, but a reboot means a merchandising reboot, and I don't know about you, but I am not going to start this hobby over again. I've bought over 2,000 plastic men. Even if he did a sequel trilogy, I don't think I could stomach another decade of new product and 250+ figure years again.
2. I know this question has been asked before, but what do you think is the best address for official Star Wars autographs beside all the greater conventions? Is there any kind of "agency" or web site offering official autographs like StarWars.com?
Everybody has their favorites, the one getting the most press these days is Philip Wise's Official Pix. They seem to handle a lot of the signings at numerous shows and have a lot of really great shots, a few fans have told me they enjoy what he offers. I haven't heard as much from them lately but Wattographs also offers a few actors, and again, the few people I've heard from have enjoyed their experiences with them as well. I get no money from these people and do not personally collect autographs. (I've got like six signed things. I want Hasbro employees to sign stuff but the last time I asked members of the team if they'd sign a figure for me was like 10 years ago and I don't think they realized I was serious. That'd be an exciting thing to have in my office.)
3. So here is my question about one epic scene in Episode III "Revenge of the Sith". When Mace Windu, Saesee Tiin, Agen Kolar and Kit Fisto invade into the Chancellor's office, three of the Jedi Masters are killed in between 8 seconds!! Agen Kolar as the first one is just stabbed even before the first lightsaber contact! I think there is so much more potential in this specific scene as in many more of the movies, but I also know that George Lucas and the team also had to watch the total time of the movie. Just as a suggestion for LucasArts, I would add some scenes right there when Darth Sidious defends himself against the four Jedi Masters. I think the final duel between Mace Windu and Darth Sidious comes way to quick.
Tough to say-- that scene was heavily, heavily edited to the point where I'm almost not entirely sure how much of what was shot was myth or not. An early edit was said to have Darth Sidious grabbing Anakin's lightsaber for use in the duel-- hence the early action figures having not only an Anakin hilt, but a blue blade-- and the resulting short assault may have been at least partially due to making lemonade out of the narrative lemons after reshoots. The original StarWarz.com (note the Z) archive of deleted scenes has been removed, and the Web.archive.org results have not been helpful. So for all I know there's no more footage to edit, and they'd have to reshoot, and... well, I dunno if that would be a great idea. I understand it's sort of goofy to think three great warriors were immediately dispatched, but a four-on-one duel that lasts for five minutes might even be worse.
...also, LucasArts makes video games. Lucasfilm is the parent company. I'm not sure why so many people still use the software company (Lucasfilm Games changed its name to LucasArts in, I believe, 1990.)
4. For the new mail-in fett promo, do you know if the downloaded form is good enough to fill out, or does it have to be an actual plastic-coated form from an action figure package. The instructions say no copies, but isn't a downloaded form a copy?
This seems to be bad copy that keeps getting used from everywhere from internet coupons to internet forms-- the intent is that you print it out and use it, and history shows that people are getting their figures. Hasbro's mostly interested in your check, as evidenced by the relaxation of any UPC from a Hasbro Star Wars action figure being accepted. Why confuse people?
So go ahead and print it off, they'll accept it. I can't guarantee the same for the denizens of Wal-Mart taking your internet coupons, because some people cannot grasp how an internet coupon is, by definition, always a copy.
5. Hey Adam I was at a local Walmart and stumbled across a defend kamino battle pack with a COMMANDER COLT figure instead of a COMMANDER BLITZ.Do you know if there is a variation or have I found a bait and switch from some local crime lord?
...really, we're still asking these?
If you see a package where a more desirable figure is replaced with a less desirable figure, examine the wrappings, tape, ties, and rubber bands closely. Any sign of tampering, and you can be sure it was a stolen figure. Even if there's no sign of tampering, statistically speaking, it would be more likely that the set went out with no figure in the slot than a wrong one which was just the wrong color. It's a swap-out, pure and simple.
The Blu-Rays come out this week, and since it's also my birthday, this works well for me. I'm still seeing all the changes being discovered, more of which will be found soon, and while I could write some highfalutin thing about the original movies and their importance to the culture, I've also presided over the change of the franchise as a little columnist who saw it go from a has-been franchise with books and Gumby-like figures which, let's face it, sucked to a merchandising and media juggernaut. The Expanded Universe isn't about selling stories, it's about moving paper, the action figures are less about making a high-quality fun plaything than they are about crafting a collectible you most likely will purchase, shelf, and/or box up, and the movies themselves are all about pushing units. The movies are still important, and to most people who buy them, they're going to be enjoyed and odds are most of the tweaks will go unnoticed. I have no doubt that's why they're giving us the deleted scenes, bonus features, and-- if the sticker I saw was right-- 90 minutes of spoofs. You can't not be cynical if you're buying something that has making fun of it as a selling point, unless Mike and the 'bots are involved, and even then, it'd be suspect.
Part of the fun for this-- which isn't as fun for some people-- is watching what makes people mad. I don't know if you know this, but on quite a few forums, I've seen topics discussing this very column and how I should not be allowed to write it. Which is funny. Not just because it's my column and I've been doing it in some incarnation since 1999, but it's similar to how people say George can't be in charge of George's movie. I agree that it would be great if someone could make the original cuts preserved somehow, but it's tough to say where to draw the line. Some of those old effects shots suck, and I'd want to change them, too. I might leave the narrative alone, but the blobs under the landspeeder or a few other things have to be a nightmare to think someone really genuinely wants to see those kept around.
Granted, I'm easy. As long as the basic soundtrack is the same (or close to it) with no dialogue or music changes I'm easily pleased. I like Lapti Nek. The Ewok song is hokey but that's how the movie ended. I'll deal, I guess, but I'll always prefer Lapti Nek. It's just so fun and weird, and best of all, it doesn't outstay its welcome like Jedi Rocks-- brevity can make any idea work better.
Oh-- and don't forget, LEGO's The Padawan Menace Blu-Ray comes out this week. It's one part classic TV special and two parts insidious stealth toy advertising... and is genuinely funny in spots. If you think your kids would like Robot Chicken with age-appropriate humor, this is it, and the Wal-Mart version of the Blu-Ray comes with an exclusive young Han Solo LEGO figure. So for $13, it's a lot for a 20-minute show, but it's the figure you're buying here.
Got questions? I bet you do. Email me with Q&A in the subject line.