George Lucas Just Learning that People Disliked Phantom Menace ?

Yikes — it is easy to understand how celebrities get insulated from criticism and surround themselves with yes men, but this Time story
claims that George Lucas did not realize that people did not universally love The Phantom Menace (I feel asleep near the end of the movie).

Maybe George Lucas ought to get out more. For the past three years, as he ruled his multimedia empire from the palatial redoubt of Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, Calif., Lucas has dwelt in the lovely dream that his 1999 Star Wars movie, Episode I—The Phantom Menace, was universally loved. Lately, though, inquiring journalists have slapped him awake. “I’m getting my education now from the press,” he says. “They come in and say, ‘Wow. People hated your movie. What do you think about that?'”

That’s just a downright scary level of isolation.

Phantom Menace Re-Edit vs. Mozart

The first rule of making an argument is never to overlook the obvious. Ryan McMaken completely ignores the obvious in an article for LewRockwell.Com about the unauthorized edit of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

In case you’re out of the loop on this, someone who had access to sophisticated editing equipment re-edited The Phantom Menace to try to turn it into a movie that didn’t suck — i.e. less Jar Jar Binks, and some other tweaks. I haven’t seen it, but since the re-edit apparently just manipulated existing footage I am skeptical that even Kevin Smith (who is rumored to be the mysterious editor, though he denies it) could have salvaged it.

McMacken steps into it by writing,

In the case of The Phantom Re-Edit 1.1, the movie is not being misrepresented in any way. The “Phantom Editor” is quite clear that his (or her) version of the movie is not the original version, and that George Lucas is still the primary creator of the film. How is this any different from Andres Segovia performing variations on a theme by Mozart? The variations are not the original theme, but they can be quite pleasant to listen to, and I canÂ’t find any way that such a performance would diminish the reputation of Mozart himself.

Ummm, Ryan, since Mozart died more than 200 years ago, legally it would be impossible to harm his reputation unless someone is prepared to reanimate the dead composer. Nobody, not even Disney (yet) argues that copyrights should extend for life of a composer plus 200 years, but in fact prior to the invention of technologies to record music, composers did everything they could to control performances of their works and I’d imagine that Mozart would have been incensed at somebody cutting and pasting The Marriage of Figaro in the same way as the anonymous editor did to The Phantom Menace (it helps to remember that Mozart was a composer for hire, writing most of his famous works under contract by either publishers or opera houses, and, of course, famously died broke).

Star Wars Gamer: Not Worth the Paper It Was Printed On

I was kind of geeked the other day — while looking to buy a cheap pair of pliers at K-Mart, I happened by the magazine rack and they were stocking Wizards of the Coast’s new magazine Star Wars Gamer. It was wrapped in one of those now ubiquitous plastic bags, so I threw it in the cart. I don’t plan on playing WOTC’s new D20 Star Wars game, but I thought it was a good sign to see a RPG-oriented magazine besides Inquest at a non-game/comic shop.

Unfortunately, the magazine’s content was beyond bad. In fact for as many pages as Star Wars Gamer was, there was surprisingly little content. There was a huge poster-sized, playable map of a spaceship along with an article describing the ship and giving ideas on how to use it, but other than that the magazine was mostly Star Wars fiction and puff PR pieces for upcoming Star Wars related gaming stuff.

It is the puff PR pieces that most annoyed me. Like the older Dragon magazine, Star Wars Gamer continues the practice of flacking for the parent company. A recent Dragon magazine, for example, was going on and on about the Dungeons and Dragons movie completely oblivious to the fact that in the real world everybody thought it sucked big time.

Since WOTC obviously depends a great deal on keeping Lucas’ enterprises happy, I wonder if they will have the guts to note when bad Star Wars games come out. There were a lot of previews at the end of the magazine for upcoming PC and Playstation Star Wars Games. Somehow I doubt that WOTC is going to have the guts to slam a horrible game like last year’s Force Commander.

Star Wars: Demolition, the Vigilante 8 meets Star Wars project, for example, is getting pretty lousy reviews, but I suspect Star Wars Gamer will absolutely glow over the game.

Add more content that actually relates to the RPG and Star Wars Gamer might be worthwhile, but if future issues are anything like the debut, Star Wars RPG fans should save their money.