This documentary lost me less than half-way through. The entire movie is a kaleidescope of sound bites from random fanboys who appear to have no particular expertise or social capital required to keep my attention. At one point, one of the random people says something like, “Our opinions don’t matter anymore. We are old and paunchy!” As an aside, there is a clinically big difference between paunchy and morbidly obese. The increased mortality of these fanboys means that in another 20 years, they won’t be around to complain about George Lucas.
Age is most certainly a factor to the viewpoint of this documentary. Fictional character Barney Stimpson calls May 25, 1973, Ewok Line. If you born after the Ewok Line like me and my children, you find the Ewoks funny and cute. If you are born before the Ewok line, like all of the fanboys in “The People Verus George Lucas”, then you think the Ewoks are stupid. Full presentation available here.
Perhaps the opposite is also true; folks born after the Ewok Line may be more likely to find complaints about “Star Wars” to be overly cynical and pointless.
There is also, in my mind, the myth about “The Empire Strikes Back” being great because it was the darkest movie. First off, hardly anyone dies in “The Empire Strikes Back”. None of the main characters die and Luke even gets a robot hand to replace his real hand. By comparison, the original “Star Wars” had a huge body count: hundres of dead Jawas, the crispy corpses of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, and the billions of Alderonians exploded into space. The “I know” line is also misinterpreted. Many think of the line as a kind of an F-you. Earlier in the film, though, Han impishly tries to goad Leia into admit that she loves him. The “I know” line is comparable to the mom’s monologue from “Terms of Endearment”. Just listen to Harrison Ford’s voice. His tone is comforting, not bitter. Then “The Empire Strikes Back” ends with everybody safe and ready for the next adventure. This ending was hardly the portent for the bummer endings demanded by today’s portly fanboys.
Criticism of the Star Wars prequels and “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” are fair in their own right. All four movies suffer from over use of computer generated effects and clearly George Lucas was past his creative prime at the time these movies were made. And I do mean George Lucas was past his creative prime. I remember seeing “The Phantom Menace” on opening day. There were waiting lines of excited young fans in costume, giddy as all get out. (Because the prequel was showing on so many screes, the lines were in fact unnecessary. I just walked right in and bought a ticket). Everyone was yelling with excited joy as the scrawl started. Then everyone fell silent as they read the words “The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.” This is not how you open a movie in your creative prime. (My kids have not seen it, and without an understanding of tax law, perhaps they will love it.) But the prequels and “The Kindgom of the Crystal Skull” were not made by Lucas alone. And now George Lucas has sold the rights to Star Wars. From here on out, the fans cannot blame him for anything.
Maybe my problem with this documentary is the sole focus on fan opinion. “The People vs. George Lucas” needed the insider-outsider’s perspective. William Shatner made the wonderfully entertaining “The Captains” and “How William Shatner Changed the World“. Shatner, of course, is not a fan. His connection between the success of a Star Trek spin-off and how positively it portrays technology is particularly hilarious and insightful. Fans tend to polarize to admiration and loathing, making their opinions rather pointless. If “The People vs. George Lucas” had someone like Shatner to give it focus, I might have watched all of it.