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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'Indy 5'? Say it ain't so, George

Lucas_3 With "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" hitting the theaters next week, George Lucas has been out on the interview circuit, beating the drums for the latest installment in the franchise, this one an animated film featuring the derring-do of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Every time I read a new interview with Lucas, my heart sinks. Once a bold, experimental filmmaker overflowing with great ideas, he's been transformed into your wheezy great uncle, boring you with the same dreary old yarns about his youthful exploits.

The "Star Wars" series ran out of gas years ago. This summer's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (though it made tons of dough) should have stayed in the garage. Sandwiched between sleek, imaginative, jet-propelled summer fare like "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight," it felt like a jalopy rumbling along behind a pair of sleek Porsches. In a long interview with the London Times, Lucas suggested--perhaps threatened would be a better word--that he isn't through with "Indiana Jones" at all. As Lucas put it:

"If I can come up with another idea that [Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford] like, we’ll do another. Really, with the last one, Steven wasn’t that enthusiastic. I was trying to persuade him. But now Steve is more amenable to doing another one. Yet we still have the issues about the direction we’d like to take. I’m in the future; Steven’s in the past. He’s trying to drag it back to the way they were, I’m trying to push it to a whole different place. So, still we have a sort of tension. This recent one came out of that. It’s kind of a hybrid of our own two ideas, so we’ll see where we are able to take the next one."

All I can say is--Yikes! For years, Lucas has been giving interviews, saying how he's eager to return to smaller, more personal filmmaking. He does the same in the Times interview, saying he wants to direct some "esoteric films that have a personal significance." But it's time to put up or shut up. As the slogan goes: Just do it. George's old pal Francis Coppola finally dragged himself away from his vineyards and made a personal film, "Youth Without Youth." It wasn't so hot, but at least Coppola shook off the cobwebs and put his unique cinematic skills to work. He's already headed down to South America to shoot another film.

These days Lucas sounds like a museum curator, fussing with dusty memorabilia. It's time he challenged himself. In the interview, he called personal filmmaking an "expensive hobby." I disagree. It's a craft and a rare, wonderful skill. Lucas has always been as much of an inventor as a filmmaker. If he has any inspiration left, he shouldn't waste it on exploiting something old when he could put it to use dreaming up something new. 

Photo of George Lucas from Lucasfilm Ltd.

Comments () | Archives (10)

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Please, please, please George if by "future" you mean "aliens" count me out of any other Indy adventure.

I think that Lucas had his time--made a crap load of money and really isn't interested in doing anything crazy. Haven't you noticed that when people get the "dough" they get less hungry? Rappers are the same way...your music starts going down hill cause you are above the struggle. At very least we have movies that will live for generations.

___ _____ needs to stop it.

I wrote a long comment critical of Goldstein's post and you didn't bother including it in the feedback. That's ridiculous censorship.

So, I'll try this again, with the hope that Mr. Goldstein will see it. I've been a fan of Mr. Goldstein's work for a number of years, but now I'm more disappointed and disheartened by him than I ever could be by George Lucas. At the very least, Mr. Lucas has told a tale that is expansive, original, visionary and enthralling -- the whole is almost inarguably better than the sum of its parts. It has had lasting, worldwide appeal. Mr. Goldstein, on the other hand, has turned into something worse than a "wheezy uncle" -- he's become a boring know-it-all who criticizes those who might SEEM "boring" by being boring himself.

"Star Wars" has never been less than entertaining -- and entertainment is what Mr. Lucas set out to make all those years ago. He created a galaxy, not just a story, and it's a galaxy that others (not just he) have sought to explore and build through books, videogames, short films, etc. So, it seems, everyone ELSE should explore that galaxy except Mr. Lucas himself.

In "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," he wrote a most entertaining, compelling story. There's little doubt it was botched, but I seem to recall this was a Steven Spielbeg film from a script by David Koepp and a story by Jeff Nathanson and George Lucas. If Mr. Lucas should take any "blame" for a still-entertaining though perhaps less than perfect movie, perhaps he should bear 20 percent of it. Or less. Mr. Spielberg oversaw this movie -- it was HIS film, as Mr. Lucas has said about every film on which thye've collaborated. If you were disappointed by "Skull," Mr. Goldstein, I suggest you take Mr. Spielberg to task. The underlying story was actually quite sound and compelling.

More to the point, how can you claim that starting an animation studio and trying something that's never been done before (actually, several things -- an animated action-adventure film, an animated "Star Wars" theatrical feature, a stylized look that is unusual to say the least) isn't just as experimental and bold as a small arthouse film? After all, it's Mr. Lucas's own money, and it's a pretty risky gamble. Applaud that, Mr. Goldstein, don't rub the man's nose in it. He's trying something new, and you just focus on the setting of the piece.

It took Mr. Coppola 10 years between the lackluster "Rainmaker" (and, according to IMDB, an uncredited stint on the defines-risible "Supernova") and his "Youth Without Youth." Mr. Lucas has gotten back to the screen in three. I've read he's executive producing a live-action "Star Wars" TV series AND a quite-risky exploration of the Tuskegee Airmen. I'd say three projects at once is enough to keep anyone busy -- and if he never wants to direct again, so be it. He's a filmmaker, not JUST a director. But then, you're a columnist. There's not a lot of comparison between your achievements, is there?

I think he should do another one. Sans alien plot line. Spielberg should have more to do with the story this time and like the previous for base it on a historical myth/religious artifact. Indy needs redemption from this last installment but really it is just as believable as the previous three. Bring back Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan) and I'll pay to see it, oh and leave Shia out.

That's the second time my comments haven't appeared. So, I'll just say -- you're the bore, Mr. Goldstein. While Mr. Lucas is writing stories for movies, serving as executive producer, developing a WW II history film, running a company and getting flack for the errors and problems of Steven Spielberg (who directed Indy, not Lucas), you're sitting at your computer typing out ridiculoulsy unfounded comments based on material you didn't even report. Who's the wheezy one? You actually used to be pretty good, too.

I won't ever argue that George Lucas wasn't one of the most brilliant and creative storytellers of the 20th Century, But that's been over for a long time. He wrote and directed STAR WARS which was an incredible feat, especially for the time, and God knows he's an ingenious technical innovator.

However, EMPIRE'S plot may have been Lucas's, but the execution belonged to Lawrence Kasdan, who should have come on board for JEDI to make for a better script. Additionally, it was Kasdan again and the combination of idea with Spielberg that made RAIDERS the greatest adventure of all time.

The "new" STAR WARS movies have no plot, no character development, and all three can be strung together into one hour-and-a-half movie to tell all that needs to be told. Lucas could never direct actors and that is blatantly apparent in these last three. And as far as Indy is concerned, Lucas has again made the mistake of thinking that these characters belong to him. They no longer do - when you create something that becomes so wildly successful for generations and you make more money than God, the characters now belong to the fans. And he screwed them over in CRYSTAL SKULL. If Lucas wants to do something different, do something different, but he should stop upsetting old fans by taking known series in ridiculous directions.

George Lucas, you need someone to edit your stupid ideas! Pay someone to clean up your "wild and crazy" writing! Make the films, but stay away from them - seek out new talent, pay them very little, and let them do the films. Everything you have done since The Last Crusade has been boring, pointless, and stupid. Sure, you put nice CG up on the screen, but who cares? We watch these stories for their humanity, their themes, not "we can do this! and this! Oh, wow, this, too!"
Stop, stop, stop!

Please, someone either kill Lucas or give him a box full of Crayons and a piece of paper.


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