December 6, 2011

Maybe George Lucas Isn't So Bad After All

I watched a few minutes of Terminator: Salvation on TV this weekend (my review), and it got me thinking about creative control, and George Lucas' legacy.

I have complained that Lucas's complete creative control over the Star Wars franchise has completely smothered the whole universe. His stranglehold over the characters has prevented anything interesting or daring from happening to the series. Instead we got three terrific movies, a sixteen-year gap, then three very well-executed and polite, but lifeless "prequels." I would have preferred a wild, daring failure to a comatose failure.
 Then I watched Terminator: Salvation. We can all agree that Cameron is a visionary. Terminator 1 and 2 turned out EXACTLY the way he wanted. Only Arnold returned for Terminator 3. Terminator: Salvation is the flip side of the George Lucas coin. If a movie studio has complete control over a franchise, eventually you'll get a movie which is a sequel in title only. Salvation is a competent robots vs. humans post-apocalypse chase movie, but if you change the names of the characters? Cameron's legacy might disappear entirely.
 So when I see Jar Jar Binks, Baby Anakin Skywalker, or flying R2D2 on cable TV, I have to remind myself: if Lucas didn't have total control over Star Wars, 20th Century Fox would have remade and continued to sequelize the Star Wars franchise throughout the 1980s.

Maybe Star Wars would have ended up like James Bond: some good, some bad, but immortal and evolving.
OR, maybe Lucas's stale, airless prequels are the best possible outcome? WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

Related on STUB HUBBY