By Morghan Holt
George Lucas spent more than $115 million out of his own pocket to finally explain a few of the puzzles of his Star Wars legacy. So far, just a week after the movies release, he has earned almost all of it back. Not only that, but his box office hit is on its way to becoming the most profitable film of all time.
Despite critics bashing of the recently released Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace, the movie began with a bang and continues to attract fans, thereby raking in the dollars. The movie has been surprisingly successful in light of the reactions of the film gurus. Ordinarily, critics have the power to send even a potentially saleable work straight to the gutter. All it takes is a crummy review. Somehow George Lucas, with is newest production, was able to avoid their trap.
Perhaps the reason that Star Wars: Episode I was well-received by the public even after have been trashed by the critics is that Star Wars IS a legacy. People want to know what spurred the legacy, where R2D2 originated, and how on earth villainous Darth Vader could have begun his life as adorable little Anakin Skywalker. They wanted to know, so George Lucas told them. Only, he didnt completely tell them. Instead, he left pieces of the story untold, setting himself and the public up for the second in the Star Wars series.
After having seen the movie myself, I was thoroughly impressed both by the special effects and by the movies ability to remain in sync with the originals. Now, however, I do understand why the critics could have so poorly perceived the film. Because the movie is Episode I, the story line ought to have explained things from the beginning, rather than simply assuming that the audience was familiar with the previous films. Parts of the film would not have made sense to a viewer who had not already seen the old shows, which is backwards. Lucas may have chosen this route to avoid boring his audience with tedious details that they knew by heart, but he wound up confusing the members of his audience who hadnt committed them movies of the Harrison Ford days to memory. Had Lucas run back through the story, and explained the characters and their positions in the movie, Star Wars: Episode I may have been better received by its reviewers.
Still, Lucas object was not to impress the pundits, not to gain great coverage in the newspapers and magazines, but was to gratify the fans he had already drawn. He succeeded in creating a family film that lights a fantastical spark in us all. Star Wars is more than a legacy, its the journey to discover the Force within ourselves. In his attempt to do so, he made an excellent movie filled with outstanding special effects, the incredible acting of Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and youngster Jake Lloyd, and subtle, yet telling, connections to the box office hit of 1977. The assiduous hype that preceded the release of the galactic cabaret certainly stirred an interest in the show, but may also have hurt its initial reception. No movie, no matter how fantastic, could ever live up to that eminence. As far as my $5 goes, though, I was wholly impressed with Lucas presentation of Star Wars from the beginning. Not only did the film explain what had formerly been written off as inexplicable, it left me with a sense of suspense, an intrigue. I need to know more. Upon release of Episodes II and III, you can bet that Ill be waiting in line.