Hindsight and Expectations of a Star Wars Fan

RedLetterMedia has sparked buzz once again with its 90-minute review of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (available in 9 parts on YouTube).  Just as insightful and often hilarious as the epic review of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, it is more evidence of fans' disillusionment with the Star Wars franchise. 

I have voiced my own opinions in the past about my growing hatred of prequels and my desire to live long enough to someday see the sequel episodes that George Lucas once promised us.

I confess that I have long been a Star Wars apologist.  While I never hesitated to criticize the Ewoks or Jar Jar Binks, I still defended the weaker elements of the Star Wars saga by pointing out what I considered to be the overwhelmingly positive aspects of all the movies.  I kept giving Lucas the benefit of the doubt, but time continues to clear my rose-colored optimism and I can no longer deny that the franchise I have long enjoyed has become a stale shadow of its former self, bogged down in a CGI-quagmire in which the best things now are arguably the expanded universe novels, which isn't saying much.

Maybe I was spoiled, like many other fans, expecting to relive that childhood excitement the first time I saw A New Hope (back when it was still called simply Star Wars). Maybe it was unrealistic to expect any film to recapture the storytelling wonder and character depth of The Empire Strikes Back.  Maybe we should all have been skeptical after the flaws of Return of the Jedi, even though its cinematic thrills outnumbered all its missteps that many of us still continue to deny.

I, like many fans, brought many grown-up expectations to a franchise that George Lucas continues to remind us over and over again is primarily for kids.  There is no doubt that many children continue to fall in love with Star Wars and adore all the things about it that annoy fanboys like me.  But are we wrong to expect that even tales aimed at younger viewers can have grand, mythic elements that connect with audiences of all ages?

I still enjoyed the prequels when they came out even though they did not come close to meeting my heightened expectations.  As more time passes and I look at them again, I see the prequels as increasingly flawed, just as I see the original trilogy as more and more of the classic gems that they are.

Can Lucas ever redeem the franchise in the eyes of disgruntled fans?  Can Star Wars ever be truly relevant again?  Lucasfilm isn't giving up, with more television series planned, more merchandise being developed, more marketing ideas being conjured.  One can only hope that the real heart of Star Wars still beats somewhere and will once again spark some life into the still noble saga, giving lapsed fans a reason to embrace it once again.

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