What He Said

I was pretty much done with “Star Wars” posts, but then I read author Orson Scott Card’s review, which is as perfect a take on the new movie as I can imagine:

Even though the characterization is nonexistent, the relationships like a seven-year-old’s impression of how grownups act, the politics clearly the product of a mind that has never grasped history, and the science at the “How can rivers flow north?” level, the underlying saga still manages to touch a chord.

Don’t misunderstand. I laughed along with the other people in the theater at those horrible moments when the poor actors were forced to say some of the most appalling lines ever spoken on the screen. I could not possibly care about characters who were never for a moment believable as human beings.

But the story itself, the epic that had so inspired Young Mr. Lucas, does have grandeur in it that his own ineptness was unable to destroy. There is power in the sheer ambition of it.

Here’s the strange thing. Even though that opening day audience largely understood how bad the writing was — and laughed out loud and even cheered for the absolutely worst lines — they still got a sense of fulfilment out of watching everything come together.

I’m glad I saw it.

And, incredibly enough, I will almost certainly see it again. And buy the DVD.

Read the rest, and be sorry that Lucas didn’t have the good sense to hire somebody who writes as well as Card.


45 Responses to “What He Said”

  1. Billy Hollis Says:

    Oh, please, don’t make me think about how good a Star Wars written by Orson Scott Card would have been. It’s too painful.

    Now, if they can just get Ender’s Game on the screen in something like his vision….

  2. Scott Campbell at Blithering Bunny Says:

    Mr Card underestimates the power of Lucas’s ineptness at his peril…

  3. Who Can Really Say? Says:

    The Worst Good Movie Ever

    Last week before I saw Revenge of the Sith, I linked to a piece by Will Collier, who likes the Star Wars franchise (as I do) and was hoping for the best with this recent release. Collier today sends…

  4. Jim Nelson Says:

    This weekend as I was watching a Firefly DVD, It occurrred to me just how cool it would have been if Lucas had put aside his ego and hired Joss Whedon to write the prequels.

  5. richard mcenroe Says:

    Billy Hollis — “Leonardo diCaprio IS Ender Wiggins in…”

  6. madawaskan Says:

    The battle in the lava between Darth Vader and Obi Wan made me think someone owes royalties to Monty Python. Seems like they lifted the Black Knight skit from The Holy Grail.

  7. Maestro Says:

    I enjoyed Ender’s Game as much as anyone, but I felt like I had read a book by Lucas’ somewhat more well-read brother. His dialogue and characterization are pretty bad. Maybe not Lucas bad, but still.

  8. epoh Says:

    Read the book. The novelization is much better than the movie. The book makes sense of this film, plus the 2 previous.

    And Tom Stoppard helped with the dialog, which will become apparent if you read the book. The Anakin and Palpatine scenes are great.

  9. Bill from INDC Says:

    Ditto on the Joss Whedon what if.

  10. voxdilecti Says:

    I would have to profoundly disagree with Maestro. Yes, OSC’s writing is largely cerebral and you can see him in all of his characters (as with Lucas) but if that’s the case, it jsut goes to show how much smarter he is than him and more talented.

    1. Believe me, the dialogue would be 100,000,000x better if Card had written this movie and it would have followed the action well. No cheesy lines written anywhere and the dialogue will usually be crisp and biting. Do you remember some of the exchanges bewteen Colonel Graff and Sister Carlotta, or even Ender? That may not be someone’s style, but hell, I think Card knows better than to

    2. The realpolitik and intrigue in setting up the war and playing both sides would have been better explained and explored across a wider range of more believeable characters (and making Palpatine look more like a Machiavelli or Richelieu) If you liked how Lucas pretty much ripped off The Godfather in that sequence then fine, it was acceptable. Its just that OSC could write a much better coup, or at least build up to it better.

    3.OSC wouldve made those lightsaber battles have more to do with each other and explore Anakin’s growth towards the darkside better. To go from saving Obi-wan’s life to whacking off the heads of younglings within a few days leaves more to be desired and it just didnt feel real when triggered by a cheap dream sequence in which the audience doesnt get a sense that Padme actually dies. Thats why I heartily agree with the assesment that episodes 1 and 2 shouldve been the same movie and we shouldve rescieved a more in depth transition of Anakin to the dark side.

    All in all, I think that there was just a ton to work with that Lucas either ignored or executed poorly, and perhaps the very wieght of that couldve been why these movies were dissapointing. Peter Jackson showed us he could direct a fufilling story in a 3 film arc and do a better job with character developement (albeit, Frodo falling/not following under the influence of the ring isnt exactly lightyears ahead of Anakin’s quickie with the Sith).

  11. voxdilecti Says:

    I third the Joss Whedon vote.
    the man can write a damn good story for a 40 minute span – but i think i combined the creator of Alias and Angel into the same guy…hell, either of them would be good.

  12. Billy Hollis Says:

    “Leonardo diCaprio IS Ender Wiggins in…”
    Nooooooooo….. please don’t torture me any more. I’ll do anything you say…

  13. PacRim Jim Says:

    Others, like Spielbergo, want to direct episodes in the series. Lucas said no. I wonder what he fears?

  14. richard mcenroe Says:

    I’m a fan of Firefly, but let’s face it, it came up way short in terms of nekkid teenage lezbeen witches…

  15. richard mcenroe Says:

    “Others, like Spielbergo, want to direct episodes in the series. Lucas said no. I wonder what he fears?
    Posted by PacRim Jim”

    Saving Jar-Jar Binks
    Kenobi’s List
    Close Encounters of MY SISTER?! Kind

  16. richard mcenroe Says:

    Billy Hollis

  17. yk Says:

    The writing would have been better if a dumb monkey had written. The last 3 movies have been BAD. RotS is BAD.

  18. John Farren Says:

    What the movie needed was a psychologically believeable explanation of Anakin becoming Vader.
    So here it is…
    Palpatine: “Come to the Dark Side, Anakin, and you can rule the galaxy at my side.”
    Anakin: “Not interested.”
    Palpatine: “You can take vengeance on those who scorned and mistreated you”
    Anakin: “Nope.”
    Palpatine: “You can protect your wife and family.”
    Anakin: “Nah.”
    Palpatine: “You get to slaughter Jar-Jar Binks.”
    Anakin: “Sign me up!”

  19. Aaron Says:

    Its weird. All we do is complain about how bad the Star Wars movies are (except Episode IV and Empire) yet we keep going to see them. It seems that Lucas took an amazing story and tried to see how bad he could make it.

  20. richard mcenroe Says:

    I’m holding out for the John Ringo version:

    “I find your lack of faith… disturbing.”
    “I find your lack of cover and concealment relieving.” *BOOM*
    “Cally, that’s the last time I take you to a matinee…”
    “Aw, granpa…”

  21. Billy Hollis Says:

    You holding out for Ashton Kutcher?

    You’re worse than the guy that made Starship Troopers.

    Besides, I has Ashton slotted for Bean….

  22. voxdilecti Says:

    You holding out for Ashton Kutcher?

    …Just aslong as they dont have Jake Lloyd, Johnathen Lipnicki, or any of those pumpkin headed munchkins that are *cute* yet untalented…I think the Ender’s Game movie will be fine.

    Hell, want talented child actors? Remember the kids that starred in that British film about the ballet dancing 12 year old *Billy Elliot* I believe. All three of those kids could act, if OSC gets casting on that level, he should be fine.

  23. syn Says:

    Bad scripts? So what else is new when discussing America’s great and powerful industry controlled by the wealthiest yet most inept bejewelled bottom-feeders in modern history.

    David Mamet is right when he stated that Holywood lost the art of storytelling to simple visual stimulation. This explains why in review after review on recent block-buster movies people enjoy the visual effects but the dialogue, the story, the acting and directing suck. With all the money, and ‘talent’ Holywood has why does it take thousands of bad crappy films to finally produce one good film?

    Holywood spends billions each year to produce and market a product aimed at dumbing down the American populace, which explains why the masses keep going back for more and why entertainers are so filthy rich.

    The most egregious act of all is that Holywood shoots their crap in what is bascially considered tax-free locations, while avoiding unions then has the audacity to declare themselves as compassionate advocates of the poor working person ie..Warren Beatty’s recent commencement speech at Berekely.

    Basically, our American culture worships rich idiots

  24. syn Says:

    Correction “what are basically tax-free locations”

  25. richard mcenroe Says:


  26. Sgt. Mom Says:

    I used to amuse myself in mediocre movies by mentally re-writing clunky dialogue… I can see that going to see this movie won’t be a diversion, it will be like a two and a half hour special homework assignment.

  27. richard mcenroe Says:

    And of course getting away from the bloated, corrupt Hollywood unions, particularly the mob-spawned IATSE, is a HUGE incentive.

  28. RPD Says:

    My big question, how long do I have to live to see the remakes? Do I have to outlast Lucas by 30 years? 40?

    With movies this profitable, It’s just a matter of time.

  29. Scott Free Says:

    My thoughts exactly. I hope I live long enough to see a well crafted and R rated re-make of the whole Star Wars Saga.

  30. Lexington Green Says:

    The problem of rotten screenwriting is all-pervasive. The technical competence in Hollywood is limitless and is the envy of the world. But their ability to work with the oldest and most important tool of all — the English language — is pathetic.

    Just think for a minute what the six Star Wars films would have been like if they had had exactly the same casts and technology, and the same basic story, but written by someone who could actually write and could impose order and coherence on the whole thing. Lucas, for all his millions, failed to find and hire and use the talent he really needed to make this series into something great, instead of a big expensive and entertaining mess.

    Who should Lucas have used? Some names that pop into my head — Jerry Pournelle, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling or John Scalzi. Each would have brought a very distinct and very different voice to the thing.

    Maybe for the remake … .

  31. blue Says:

    a long time ago in a galaxy far far away

  32. Fausta Says:

    For some reason, after I watched ROTS I kept thinking what a great movie the late Kurasawa could have made with the material and the technology.

  33. Just Me Says:

    I have never understood why Lucas didn’t hire a real screenwriter for the Star Wars stories, his dialogue pretty much sucks-and sucked back in the first three as well.

    But the story itself is a good one.

    I also agree that too much time was spent on the Anakin early years-and combining the first two into one, and developing the fall into the dark side would have made for a better story.

    I feel like there was too much left out of this movie regarding Anakin and the whole fall thing. It certainly would have made for a better story, had it been more filled in.

  34. dorkafork Says:

    Firefly is awesome, but the dialogue is just too good for Star Wars. Star Wars needs to have charmingly cheesy dialogue. If George Lucas would just stop letting a 3 year old come up with the names (Naboo, Count Dooku(!)), he’d be more than halfway there. For example: “Hold me like you did at the lake on Alderaan” is not terribly groan-inducing.

    “Others, like Spielbergo, want to direct episodes in the series. Lucas said no. I wonder what he fears?
    Posted by PacRim Jim”

    Catch Meesa If You Can
    Tusken Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Saving TK-427

  35. richard mcenroe Says:

    Submitted for your consideration:

    The Star Wars series, directed by Howard Hawks.

  36. Erbo Says:

    Slightly OT but still Star Wars-related: I’ve been immortalized in the latest Joy of Tech comic, by Canadian comic artists Nitrozac and Snaggy, as the old guy talking to a bunch of young fans with their toy lightsabers. (And yeah, I might say something exactly like that to that bunch of whippersnappers!)

  37. Baseball Crank Says:

    POP CULTURE: More Sith

    Gary Farber has a long, interesting post on Revenge of the Sith, including a link to the original script and discussion of deleted scenes, some of which might have been useful to developing the plot. (via Instapundit). Farber and his…

  38. Kapitalismo Says:

    Star Wars Review by a Sci-Fi Master

    Orson Scott Card, a sci-fi writer who I hold great esteem for has written a review of the lastest release in the Star Wars saga. As Vodkapundit so eloquently put, “what he said . . .” Even though the characterization…

  39. Doug Says:

    I’m sure someone has already said this but…..

    The saddest thing about the SW saga is that its such a great concept written but such a bad writer.

    Can you imagine what they would’ve been like if Peter Jackson had done EP I-III ?

  40. Mark Jones Says:

    No, no–a SIMPSONS “Ender’s Game”

    “The enemy’s gate is DOWN!”

    with Bart Simpson as Bean (“Eat my shorts, Blue Team!”)

    Principal Skinner as CO of Battle School

    Nelson Muntz as Peter Wiggin
    “I’m the Oligarch of Earth–HAH Ha!”

    And Groundskeeper Willie as Mazer Rackham (“Och, those bugs are wiley!”)

  41. Mark Jones Says:

    Stupid HTML…

    No, no–a SIMPSONS “Ender’s Game”

    [Ralph “Ender” Wiggum Voice]
    “The enemy’s gate is DOWN!”
    [/Ralph “Ender” Wiggum Voice]

    with Bart Simpson as Bean (“Eat my shorts, Blue Team!”)

    Principal Skinner as CO of Battle School

    Nelson Muntz as Peter Wiggin
    “I’m the Oligarch of Earth–HAH Ha!”

    And Groundskeeper Willie as Mazer Rackham (“Och, those bugs are wiley!”)

  42. blue Says:

    in london they burn crosses

  43. BladeDoc Says:

    Actually it seems to me that a re-edit of the 3 movies into one 3 hour film (ala Phantom Edit) has potential. So any good editors out there willing to go to jail for the cause?

  44. Carl Says:

    To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld:

  45. Jean-Paul Borda Says:

    Damn, I’m here in Zabul. The local Bazaar still doesn’t have the bootlegged copies in stock. They said this weekend

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