Blog Wars Trek Stars

First and foremost, let me disclaim that I was planning to write about something completely different today. As you can tell lately, I’ve been in my well-known annual Springtime Assault of Awesome Blogs and I like to think about things for a good few days (even months) before committing them to these esteemed virtual pages.

Allow me to declare also that I was going to write in another few days regarding a conversation I had whilst eating fried food at Buffalo Wing Factory with my cousin, who also writes his own screeds. He had brought up a fair, and logical, criticism of the prequels; I would go so far as to say that it was the first truly honest criticism of the prequels I’d heard in a long time. One that didn’t amount to “golly, it wasn’t like my childhood and it didn’t make me feel like I wasn’t an unjustifiably cynical child of the 1980s.”

But enough preamble. Let me get to the matter at hand.

He Stole My Balloons


So the rat bastard wrote about what we discussed before I had a chance to do so. Fair enough. Go and read it here.

In summation, though, his overarching point is reflected in the following excerpts, and I agree with it.

TOS had three characters: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Everyone else was secondary. Can any of the newer series or movies say that? No, they can’t. They’ve all moved from being about “the main characters” to being about “the ensemble,” and the result is that none of the characters mean anywhere’s near as much as the original three.

I pointed out to John, a rabid Star Wars fan…The Star Wars prequels became about the ensemble. While it should have been about Anakin, Obi-Won, and Padme, it wasn’t. Mace Windu, Yoda, and a freaking astromech droid were just as important. They got a ton of action independent of the main characters.

He reflects also correctly on the fact that this is a larger trend. Look at The Avengers, or even the singular titles like Iron Man 2. Heck, go back to Batman & Robin (1997) or Batman Returns (1992). Movies have become about giving tons of screen time to secondary characters, or having so many main characters that everyone’s arc can potentially get blunted.

But since I know at least one reader (who refuses to comment because he doesn’t believe in engaging in anything but a phone call, for whatever flimsy reason) will take this as an escape to say “Aha! told you so!,” I’m not an absolutist on this being a bad thing, and neither is my cousin.

There are movies where the ensemble works. It worked for The Avengers. There is a little bit of a cheat on that, though, since the characters were largely developed outside that film. Like a comic book cross–over, the previous titles were editors’ notes about earlier individual arcs.

As with anything else, it’s a case–by–case basis. And in any case, it’s the norm. Complaining about it won’t help. And besides, movies move in stages of imitation; eventually the pendulum will swing back and everyone will b*tch about when things were more exciting and layered.

(I also happen to think that part of this is from the desire to appeal to international audiences, and we’re seeing American films now try to cater to them. The level of spectacle has duly increased.)

And as a final thought, I think we’re evolving into a different kind of film experience…but those are thoughts for a different blog.

So What Does It All Mean?

  1. Rob is correct on most of his points;
  2. He offered the first legitimate criticism of the prequels I’ve heard in a friendly conversation in a while;
  3. You should read Rob’s blog.

And now, since he asked if I could answer his Kirk-kisses-Leia picture, let me answer with something I made on my own.

Since everyone special editions stuff...why not?
Since everyone special editions stuff…why not?

Eh, I had ten minutes to kill.


19 thoughts on “Blog Wars Trek Stars

  1. Arrrgh! I will go read his blog and return with more thoughtful commentary later. But for now – ARGH! This is (close to) what the Boy Wonder and I have been telling you for years! The prequels, specifically, Episode 1, lack a protagonist to make it relatable and drive the story forward.

    To the larger point about ensemble casts – yes, this is to appeal to broader audiences, and is tricky to do because you still need a protagonist. (Or Multi-protagonists, which doesn’t work as well IMHO)

    1. It is nowhere close to what you and the boy wonder have been saying. Don’t try to invoke his name to give your weak argument weight. If you can find me one blog comment, Twitter post, or any other comments that you have shared with me where this is the case I will retract that first part. Instead all you guys take part in is a litany of whining Because you can’t admit that you have changed and You would say the same damn things about the original trilogy that you do about the prequel trilogy if you saw them for the first time today.

      Seriously, when has the boy wonder mentioned this on the podcast? When you asked him questions was it the ensemble nature of the cast that he cited when you interviewed us on the seventh episode? Or was it just the continuing litany of complaints? — Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

      1. Excuse me? I do believe I said at a Convocation Meeting at Union Jacks that the prequels, specifically Episode I made the mistake of trying to show you what good is buy showcasing each Jedi, and making it too much of an ensamble of good that it makes it uninteresting as a whole story. I said just like the Batman movies (Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman and Robin) try so hard to showcase evil that they saturate the story by having too many villains thus making the story of villains uninteresting as a whole. Remember that? So the thought of an ensamble isn’t breaking new ground, it was the fact that I said it, you just wanted to dig your heals in the ground and be a contrarian for contrarian’s sake, and not want to listen.
        You need to learn to pay attention to your surroundings a bit more, Mr. Wayne.

        1. Well, I guess that I lost that comment to the mists of time after it was eclipsed by an endless stream of invective and childlike whining over the last year or so. Way to call out a verbal conversation from more than a year ago when I was three-quarters drunk and drinking a terribly hoppy beer just to be stubborn about it. And I still return to my supplementary: Rob likes the prequels too; a fair criticism doesn’t mean you don’t. I’m just so used to hearing you tell Jar Jar Hater what to think I lose track.

          Was that the same night Moriarty was all sulky and refused to join us because he waited inside and didn’t think to look for us outside?

          You probably said it while I was in the bathroom, too. Do you have an audio recording proving you said this instead of jumping on Rob’s bandwagon?

          Either way, knowing me, I would have said that it was a fair criticism. The three of you jackholes just can’t accept the idea that other people disagree with your subjective opinions.

          1. Good. Lord. Now THIS is Podracing!!!

            I try so doggone hard to push your buttons, yet these guys come in and instigate a full-on Karl Vreski-style meltdown with a mere two comments. I am humbled and ashamed.

            I have a good bit more to say about this, but I have a feeling it’ll be taken as piling on, so I may take a few days before responding.

          2. Go ahead and pile on. You know I lay  bait like this so they can get their catharsis, right? Like Clemenza said, a war every so often is a good thing. Gets out the bad blood. — Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

          3. for the record, me, Moriarty, has never been a part of any plans. you don’t even know who the real Moriarty is.

            and also for the record, the comment about boy wonder telling jar jar what to think was a cheap shot.

            i’m all for cheap shots!

            check mate holmes.

          4. Truly a monumental day when Holmes and Moriarty can set aside their differences and agree that I rope-a-doped Jar Jar Hater. A toast to you, my enemy!

    2. I would like to make one final note, that Rob also likes the prequels. Just because you have a fair criticism, does not mean you don’t. — Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

  2. *ahem* – listen to the first part of Episode 7 on WWN, and you will distinctly hear the Boy Wonder and I making snarky remarks about a protagonist being important to the story. We are referring to Episode 1.

  3. Girls, you’re all pretty. Well, actually, you’re all ugly, but it’s even, so the fighting seems ridiculous.

    One thing I didn’t mention but hope was inferred by the readers is that the prequels did have the benefit of partial character development of Obi-Wan and (to a much lesser extent) Anakin, allowing a little more focus on secondary characters. Still, I stand by my preference for movies that are about a small number of main characters unless the entire point of the movie is the ensemble (i.e., the Avengers) in which the characters are well known for other reasons.

    While I will concede that TPM is the weakest of the six movies, it had to be so. It was a set up for two coming movies that had to respect what was done in the three that came “before” it. Nevertheless, I liked it despite the ensemble because I understood it’s place in the big picture. On the other hand, I really liked AotC, and loved RotS. Why? Because I’m still a goofy little kid at heart. Admit you’re not. Just admit it. No one will judge you for it. In fact, they often judge me for never having grown up. I’m supposed to be the pariah here.

    Now, hurry up and get here, Star Trek into Darkness! That’s some *real* science fiction!

  4. Here’s what I was thinking before. I took the time to give it some thought and distance myself from the larger thread.

    I find your response to Rob’s point to be, well……somewhat disingenuous.

    This isn’t a knock on Rob’s point. His argument addresses the fact that the prequels *should have been so much better*, rather than assaulting them for being as poor as they are. Most of us haven’t taken that route, and maybe it is fodder for a less threatening debate.

    I’m more frustrated with your apparently selective decision about to whom you will and will not concede a point.

    I appreciate the depth of your relationship with Rob, and the fact that he is whip-smart. Yet, I can’t help but to suspect that publicly conceding this point from someone who has a stated appreciation for the prequels (and someone who perhaps hasn’t been quite as aggressive in debating the prequels with you) comes off as a passive aggressive swipe at everyone else with whom you have disagreed on this topic. (For example, someone like me, who has attempted to debate the poor pacing and editing of the film with you, only be told that it is a “different style” that I guess I am not able to appreciate….despite these being points that you conceded to yourself in your own reviews a few years ago).

    Moreover, the ensemble cast argument, while worth consideration, conflicts with your over-arching defense of the films/assault on detractors, which is that the films are consistent with the originals, and that the public has simply lost the magic of youth.

    (This broader point, by the way, is kind of a cop-out. Grown ups see children’s movies every single day. One of the things that Big Hollywood has done well the past several years is strike a middle ground for parents and children to appreciate the same film. For example, if we’ve all become so cynical, why wasn’t the last Muppet Movie panned?).

    This is already a tastelessly long comment, and I realize it will undoubtedly come off as antagonistic, so I apologize up front. But I’m going with my gut here. Something about this post felt a little barbed.

    1. I had tried writing this facacta reply before, but the WP interface pooped the bed, so now I try via e-mail reply window. I’ll do my best to recreate it. All of this is written with love in my heart, an open beer and a serene look on my face.

      I tend to react better to Rob’s points because he and I regularly disagree and we approach things very analytically, and he simply states what he thinks and I do the same. Sometimes we see things the same way. Sometimes we do not. But even if we never agree, we will concede to the person and say, “Well, I see where you’re coming from but I just can’t agree” or the like.

      The Muppets did not receive universal acclaim, though it did get 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. But I personally know someone who *hated* the movie. They even made comments about the stupidity of it, and by inference those that liked it. They hated everything about it, including the cameos. I really liked it – even wrote about liking it on the blog. But at the same time, I watched it snuggled in bed with my whole family (cat too!) and even cried twice because there were things that reminded me of my dad. Does that make my view invalid to him? Or is it just that we disagree?

      The Muppets also was structured almost strictly as a meta-nod to nostalgia itself. They winked at the camera so many times that it was like epilepsy. But again – I didn’t care. I was OK with that.

      I’ve also gone on record as really loving The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve had no less than two people call me “delusional,” a “fanboy,” “unwilling to look at it critically” and “ridiculous.” OK. What am I supposed to do with that?

      The simple fact is, a movie like Avatar has 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, I don’t hate Avatar. But I wasn’t particularly taken with it. I thought it was overlong, forgettable and not as innovative with its animation as most thought. Does that mean I will rage against those that love it? Well, I have yet to encounter more than one person who gives it a “meh,” but obviously if a movie makes more than $1bil, someone really liked it.

      I stand by my previous comments – that despite any flaws, I still consider the prequels to deliver a rich and engrossing story, more complex and layered than the originals in many ways. I know I’m an apostate for thinking this. But it is what I think. And I know I’m not alone, which is even harder for some to believe. I’m just not quiet about it.

      And while you did follow up, I’m still taking my chance here (because I have to): For anyone who comments regularly on this blog and/or gives me crap about loving the prequels to complain, even meekly, about a “barbed comment” is too rich. I give back what I get, no more and no less. If I have to take the shots, then so do all of you.

      I’ll just put this soapbox aside now. 🙂

      On Tue, May 7, 2013 at 11:27 AM, kessel korner

      1. Yeah, yeah…immediately after hitting “Post Comment” I did everything short of smashing the modem and unplugging the computer to try and retract that sentence. Oh, well….

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