Think Disney buying Lucas Films and making (at least) 3 more Star Wars movies is an awful idea that will further destroy your childhood? Well you are wrong, and I’m going to prove it to you. Over the next 3 posts I’m going to explain to you why Disney buying Lucas Films is the best thing to happen to the Star Wars franchise in the last 32 years. I’m going to lay this out as clearly as I can and I wanted to break it into a few different posts so you have time to really think about this. The first installment let’s call the Best of the Best. We are going to look at the 3 best films by Lucas Films and the 3 best films put out by Disney. I’ve seen all of George Lucas’ movies, but not all the Disney movies so I’m keeping this to just Disney movies I’ve actually seen.
Lets start by taking a look at the best 3 movies George has to offer us in no particular order.
THX 1138 was George Lucas’ first full length film, released in 1971. It is a stark look at our far flung future, and while he borrowed heavily from other dystopia texts, there is something particularly haunting about the sterile white settings that make up much of the film. If Lucas brought half the intensity of this movie to his later works they would have been too scary for children and probably would have been box office flops, but they would have been amazing. If you haven’t seen THX 1138 watch it now, then spend a few minutes thinking about what Star Wars could have been.
Star Wars Episode IV
I know everyone says Empire is the best Star Wars movie, and while it is probably my favorite to watch, I still think A New Hope is the best of the 6. Without this one you have nothing else. Sure you have to deal with a whiny teenage Luke Skywalker, but Han Solo is at his scoundrelly best whether it is blasting bounty hunters or giving us such great lines as “Hey, Your Worship, I’m only trying to help.” Leia also is at her best in the first movie, blasting storm troopers left and right insulting Vader to his face, making out with her brother. For some reason she is reduced to barely passable eye candy in the rest of the films, relying on the strength of the men around her to carry the day. Besides, this is the first movie I remember seeing in a movie theater so it gets bonus points for that.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
First off, am I the only one who spent their whole childhood thinking Margot Kidder and Karen Allen were the same person? I mean seriously, just look at them, are you tell me you know which one is which?
Nazis, biblical artifacts, Lois Lane in a drinking contest, oh wait that wasn’t Margot Kidder we just covered that, what more could you want from a movie. And unlike Empire, no one thinks the second movie in this franchise was better than the first. I’ll take how many racial stereotypes can you squeeze into one movie for $500 Alex.
So that is the best of Lucas Films. That was easy because he hasn’t made that many and lets face it most of them were pretty awful. Now lets look at the best old Walt has to offer. A bit more challenging because they have so many damn movies, but again I’m just looking a ones I’ve actually seen so that narrows down the field a bit. I’ve also gone for a bit of a spread, old movies, new movies and animated movies.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The poster says it all, Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas and Peter Lorre. Add to that legendary source material from Jules Verne and how can this not be a good movie. It hasn’t aged well but sci-fi and fantasy movies rarely do because they so often rely on what is at the time cutting edge special effects, and we know how quickly cutting edge becomes hokey.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Some how Disney managed to make a good movie based on a very out of date theme park ride. Well not somehow, we know how, Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush. The cute girl and elf weren’t too bad either. Despite the rather thin source material they actually made not 1 but 4 good movies. They did start getting a bit stale by the 4th one, but taken separately they all were fun films with enough humor and action to sustain them through their rather long play times. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a pretty face (you can decide which one I’m talking about) but I really like this movie and would rank it ahead of all but 2 of the above movies from Lucas Films.
Anything by Pixar
So maybe not all the Pixar movies. I haven’t actually seen all of them, but the ones I have seen were all pretty damn good. Not only are they visually striking but they have refreshingly unique plots and memorable characters. Lucas has memorable characters too, unfortunately many of them are memorable for the wrong reasons. Pixar movies show us what is possible when a movie isn’t bound by the limitations of the real world. The last 3 Star Wars films suffered from too many special effects. Lucas bragged that there wasn’t a single frame that hadn’t been enhanced by digital effects. Yeah George, we noticed, and again not in a good way. When a movie has real people it is nice to see them in real settings, we can tell when characters are in an artificial environment and it is disconcerting often when you mix the real and fake. Pixar doesn’t suffer from this because it is all “fake” and we are able to just let go and be sucked into the story.
On Monday the worst of Lucas Films and the worst of Disney… oh god that is going to be fun.