Lucas isn’t too bad of a story creator. After all, Raiders of the Lost Ark was mostly his idea, though no doubt having Spielberg and Kasdan around helped. But the guy can’t write good dialogue and other than the occasional special effect, the guy can’t direct a scene very well either. Granted, Lucas has almost no experience with directing outside of the Star Wars movies. The guy is obviously very skilled at surrounding himself with the right people, creating a multi-billion dollar cash cow. But when he takes full creative control of anything, it’s usually bad news.
Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones: The awfulness of this movie can be proven by one of the worst lines in movie history, also written by our friend George Lucas. “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth.” Yes, an adult wrote that line. I’d be willing to wager that 90% of the Star Wars fan fiction has more competent writing than this movie does. A terrible bridge between the other two prequels, Attack of the Clones is cringe-worthy when it’s not boring your synapses into a coma. The only thing that saves this movie from an F rating is some fairly well done battle scenes, including a kick-ass one-on-one fight with Yoda.
Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace: My expectations were actually pretty low when I went to see this as I had already heard the blah reviews coming in. Those expectations were met and then some. Jar-Jar Binks is a problem, but he’s barely more annoying than C-3PO. The problems lie in the directing and the awful acting of Jake Lloyd who got to play kid Darth Vader. The casting wasn’t all bad, as I quite enjoyed Liam Neeson and Ian McDiarmid. Even Ewan McGregor plays an okay Ben Kenobi. But Natalie Portman is wooden, though I’m not sure how much of that is her versus how her character was written. George Lucas ain’t exactly strong with character depth.
Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith: A mild improvement over the previous two films, if only because of the improved story. Much like the second movie in the original trilogy, nothing much good happens to any of the annoying heroes. Perhaps Lucas is better at writing dark than happy. Fairly solid connections to the fourth movie in the series, with only a couple of annoying continuity things.
Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope: For the record, this review is for the original version, not the retrosuck updates Lucas made in the 90’s and ongoing. The pantheon of space operas, this movie mesmerized me as a child and I still enjoy watching it today. If I’m flipping channels I’ll almost always stop. The story is very simple, with clearly divided lines of good and evil and fairly flat characters. The dialogue is as terrible as anything Lucas has done. “My name is Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you!” is pretty lame stuff. Princess Leia’s lines are nearly universally cliche. The directing of the actors is also obviously flawed. Now Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill aren’t the world’s best actors, but they’re better than they are here. What helps Lucas out is that the actors, especially Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, really appear to be enjoying themselves. And, naturally, Alec Guiness is fantastic as Ben Kenobi. I know he was upset that he was most remembered for this short role and not the rest of his career, but he was really good here and if it weren’t for this movie, I may not know who he is.
What Lucas did do right is direct some pretty incredible special effects. It still amazes me how realistic the spaceships look for 1977. There are some glitches, but nothing too distracting. And, of course, John Williams’ score is epic. The opening trumpets still give me chills, and the sound effects are solid. Finally, the confrontation with the death star is wonderful. “All right kid, now let’s blow this thing and go home.”
Other George Lucas Movies You May Have Seen