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Featured DVD Review: The People vs. George Lucas

October 24th, 2011

The People vs. George Lucas - Buy from Amazon

Star Wars is still one of the biggest franchises of all time and has one of the most dedicated fanbases. However, there has recently developed an almost adversarial relationship between its creator, George Lucas, and the fans. The People vs. George Lucas takes a look at this complex relationship.

The Movie

George Lucas began his film career with THX 1138, but while that film earned critical praise, it wasn't able to find commercial success. His next film, American Graffiti, not only earned near perfect reviews, but also made more than $100 million at the box office, back when that was a major accomplishment. Most people know him for his third film, Star Wars, which created one of the most successful franchises of all time. Later he helped write and produce Indiana Jones, which also became one of the biggest franchises of all time. However, despite this success, in more recent years, he's been known more for making some unpopular changes to the franchise. This documentary looks at fans who both love and hate George Lucas, often at the same time.

The film begins with Episode One, an overview of George Lucas featuring interviews, including archival interviews with the director himself, as well as many, many, many, many fans. There are also clips to countless fan films, which is a real treat. Episode Two looks at the changes made in the special editions of the original trilogy. There is a semblance of balance in the reactions. Granted, most of the people interviewed hated the changes, but there are also people defending them, or at the very least defending George Lucas's right to change his films. The second section also talks about the merchandising, as if George Lucas invented that. Come on. Merchandising has been around for decades. Do any quick Google search on any cartoon character from the 1930s onwards and you will find tons of vintage merchandise. Episode Three looks at the new trilogy, the anticipation and the ultimate reaction to the films.

I sure hope most of these people are just putting on an act to get into the movie. If not, then a lot of these people need to be medicated. I'm 100% serious about this. Many of these people act as if their emotional well-being is connected to someone else's creative work. This is not normal. If you wrote a novel that was being adapted into movie and the filmmakers changed core elements that reversed the point you were trying to make, then you have a right to take those changes personally. If you actually think Jar Jar Binks casting the deciding vote to give Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is a direct attack on the fans, you are getting overly emotional. If you honestly think George Lucas is raping your childhood, then you need to seek help from mental health professionals.

Moving on...

Episode Four, looks at the future of George Lucas relationship with his fans ending on a somewhat hopeful note.

On the one hand, this is certainly a fascinating topic with a wide range of opinions from an equally wide range of people. There are professional critics and fellow professional artists through to the average fans. (Or to be more accurate, fans that are slightly more deranged than average.) On the other hand, as you can probably tell by the rant above, more than once I wanted to grab someone from the film and slap them, hard. Even those interested in the subject will find it difficult to take the arguments seriously and they do become monotonous at times. It's a challenge to give a rating for this movie, because I think how much a person likes or dislikes the movie will depend heavily on how big of a fan that person is of Star Wars and how much they like arguing. If you are just a casual fan and don't want to get into the minutia of the debate, there's little here to keep your attention. (It would be just the clips from the many fan films included.) On the other hand, if you spend your time arguing on the about various geek topics like Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Marvel vs. D.C., Captain Kirk vs. Captain Picard, etc. then this is film is definitely for you.

The Extras

Extras start off with an audio commentary track with Alexandre O. Philippe, the director; Robert Muratore, the producer / D.P. and Chad Herschberger, the editor. There's more interviews with fans, this time about the upcoming 3D conversion, a music video, three clips from the poetry slam performances and an interview with Gary Kurtz. Only the audio commentary track and the final interview is really worth checking out.

The Verdict

The Phantom Menace earned 61% positive reviews, Attack of the Clones earned 67% positive reviews and Revenge of the Sith earned 80% positive reviews. Four of the top ten biggest hits of the year so far have earned far weaker reviews (Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Hangover 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Cars 2). If you call the prequels the worst films ever, you don't come across as cool, you simply lose all credibility.

Watching this movie, you would think the haters are the vast majority, when in fact they are in the minority. This is probably the biggest complaint I have with The People vs. George Lucas, but overall, I still think it is worth checking out. The DVD doesn't have a huge amount of extras. Call it a solid rental, leaning toward a purchase.

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