Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
... and it’s a big one.
Maybe a little too big. I called this meeting of the Jedi Council at the last minute, our final informal gathering of people from various camps of fandom, assembled to discuss all things STAR WARS. This took place a little over a week ago at a secret location in Burbank. Plush, comfortable, and large enough to accommodate a big group. I told Obi-Swan and Frosty Skywalker and the rest of the guys to cast a wide net, and over the course of about eight hours, they ended up putting over twenty people into a room together. Some old familiar faces. Some people who have never been to one of these before. Some people from inside the industry or even with ties to Lucasfilm, and some people who are simply fans. Everyone identified themselves for the tape, but there are cases where it was impossible to tell who said something when transcribing. Hats off to Obi-Swan and Andre Dellamorte, who really busted their asses sifting through that entire recording and making sense of it. I’ve gotten a ton of mail from people wanting one last Jedi Council, one that sort of sums up this last sweet moment of anticipation for fans, and which (as you’ll read) also sums up the rather bitter frustration that some people feel towards all things Lucas. You’ll read both optimism and extreme pessimism in this article, and you’ll read some spoilers. Like I said... this was over a week ago. No one in the room had seen the film yet, but screenings had already started. The TIME review wasn’t out yet. This is three separate articles, so follow the link at the bottom of each page to read the whole thing.
I saw the film Thursday, but Harry should be the first one of us to write about it. I wanted to take a few days to reflect before I react to a film I’ve waited 28 years to see. I’m filled with all sorts of conflicting emotion tonight. Right now, I want to just post this conversation, since so many of you are still hovering, totally awash in all the spoilers that are out there, ready to see the film for yourselves, just like we were as we sat down and I looked around at the intimidating group that was assembled:
Sarah S (one of the primary figures in the whole “Lined Up In Front Of The Wrong Theater” story that the media has had soooooo much fun with for the last few weeks)
Sarah (who wanted it made quite clear that she is NOT the one who stands in line)
Darth Benedict XVI
Andre Dellamorte: We could have turned on Turkish Star Wars.
Obi Swan: I know. If I had brought it. I’m sorry, I didn’t bring Turkish Star Wars.
Moriarty: There’s no easy way to get into this, so I guess we’ll start by just generally talking. At this point all the spoilers are pretty much out there, the books are out there, the art of books, the making of books, lots of behind the scenes footage, images leaking pretty much every day, and the soundtrack is out. I’m curious what everyone’s anticipation is at this point and how spoiler soaked you are or aren’t at this point.
Dave: Just TV spots and trailers at this point. I haven’t been reading the scripts, or anything.
Moriarty: You haven’t picked up the book, or looked at the comic book?
Dave: Haven’t done it yet.
Moriarty: And are you going to before the film comes out?
Dave: Probably not. I’ll probably pick everything up after the movie comes out. But for right now, nothing else.
Moriarty: What’s your anticipation at this point? What do you think the movie looks like?
Dave: It’s hard because I’ve been waiting for it since I was six, so I pretty much have most of the movie mapped out in my mind. But I’m really looking forward to that duel at the end… unabashedly so, even more than I’m willing to admit.
Moriarty: Obi-Swan, you’re pretty excited. Are you buying the toothpaste?
Obi Swan: I actually heard that the duel is kinda weak (laughs)... somebody told me that, they said “it’s not that good.” But actually you know what? It’s going to get here. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t even seen the trailers, but then I read the comic, then I read the script, (laughs) then I listened to the soundtrack, and if you showed me the movie right now, I’d probably watch it even if it was on VHS panned and scanned. I dunno… I’m just trying not to think about it.
Moriarty: Anyone seeing it before release?
(Five hands raised)
Moriarty: How many are going to a Midnight show?
(more hands raised)
Obi Swan: And how many people are seeing it the day after as well?
Sarah S: And the day after.
Mr. Beaks: Well, that’s the day Paul Schrader’s EXORCIST opens, so I’m going to have to go see that.
Moriarty: There you go. So... who’s super spoiler soaked? Who’s pretty much seen and heard everything?
The Hellboy: All of it.
The Hellboy: Well, [Andre] Dellamorte and I have had a lot of conversations about this. I was hopeful, not so much now.
Dave: Certain things are being explored in there that leave me a little disappointed. A little disappointed.
Andre Dellamorte: I went into ATTACK OF THE CLONES pretty much spoiler-free, and I hated that film so much when I saw it… (evil cackles at Obi-Swan’s expense) I was so pissed off, I was like, “I wasn’t a big fan of Phantom Menace, but this is worse,” and it was just pain for two hours and twenty minutes. I hated it, I hated it. I decided, “Okay, I’m just going to read everything on this one.” And I have, I saw the German footage with General Grevious walking, I read the comic book, I read the screenplay, and I hear that’s chopped up…
Moriarty: It’s funny... I haven’t seen Grevious at all. I couldn’t get the German clip to work, and I think all day long, that site got hammered by people trying to get it, and there was this piece of footage that leaked that had a big chunk from the opening of the movie in it. I haven’t seen it, I haven’t seen Grevious in motion, and I hear some people hate it. Some people really don’t like the execution of the character.
Mr. Beaks: Wait a minute… an extreme belief in regard to a Star Wars film? There’s no middle ground? (laughs)
Moriarty: That character already seems to be driving people berserk.
Obi Swan: Didn’t somebody compare him to Jar Jar?
Andre Dellamorte: Based on ten seconds of footage?
Moriarty: That’s even from some of the exhibition showings I’m hearing that.
?: It’s the overall execution in the film.
Moriarty: I love the design. I think he’s a cool character looking at him. One of the only figures I have… actually I think I have two things so far, are the Unleashed Duel Figures, and the Unleashed Grevious figure.
Flmlvr: Grevious is a cool design; it’s a neat looking thing. But is it like Darth Maul; is it in five minutes of the movie?
Andre Dellamorte: I was just going to finish saying... I don’t like anything that I’ve seen so far. I’m not looking forward to it, but I think my expectations are lowered to the point that I will be able to enjoy it as eye candy. And I saw a little bit of the space battle and thought, “Okay, this is what we’ve been waiting for.” (in his best Bill Murray) So I got that going for me…
Obi Swan: … which is nice.
Sarah S: I will say something from the apologist camp. I didn’t watch the clip, I saw two second between my fingers because I didn’t want to watch, but I played it with my Star Wars friends.
Moriarty: (pointedly) And who, by the way, are your Star Wars friends?
Sarah: From the Star Wars Grauman’s Chinese Theater line. And a near riot broke out of happiness, I mean people were going absolutely crazy, gleefully dancing in the street happy with it. That’s just the other camp.
Andre Dellamorte: Excited about what?
Sarah S: Grevious. They thought that the German footage was amazing, that swoop down… they just love it. You know how nerds are, they can’t say “badass” enough times.
Andre Dellamorte: I’ve got nothing against Grevious so far. He’s doing the coughing thing.
?: He’s a robot who coughs, right; you see that in motion, man.
Windy Starkiller: The one thing that I looked at that I was impressed with was if it executes the way the camera moves in that shot, you can only do that shot with a CGI character. You could never do that realistically before. They’ve never done that before, with all the characters in the room? The shot alone is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a Star Wars movie. And I’ve heard there’s more camera movement like that.
Andre Dellamorte: There’s that trailer shot of Yoda getting hit with the lightning, and it’s sorta more like a Raimi shot than something you’d see in a STAR WARS movie.
Windy Starkiller: He’s definitely upped the ante on this, so he’s going places he’s not gone before, I think he’s stepping up.
Obi Swan: Didn’t somebody say that there’s a lot more of the shots, like EPISODE II, that looks like real war footage, where there’s those zooms.
Flmlvr: Like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN stuff?
Obi Swan: Yeah
Darth Benedict XVI: Didn’t some of that start in FIREFLY, and it’s become the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA clichÃ©?
Mr. Beaks: Once I gave up on Tom Stoppard writing it, and faced the harsh reality of Lucas writing it… again, it’s one of those movies where I go hoping to love it, as I do any movie, I don’t like sitting in a theater for two hours and not having a good time, and I have to be honest… the first time I saw ATTACK OF THE CLONES, I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it for it what it was. I had no expectations as I didn’t like THE PHANTOM MENACE all that much, but it was eye candy, there was some great battles, they had the lightsaber battle at the end, and it didn’t bother me that much. It was only on repeat viewings. I shouldn’t have watched it again, and I definitely should not have watched it four times, and that fourth time should not have been on IMAX. But I will say this about that cut… they did cut out a lot of the Anakin-Padme scenes.
Moriarty: I heard that digital houses will have a different cut than what’s shipping on film. So there’s a difference in the two cuts in the theaters already.
The Hellboy: This guy loves tweaking until the last minute.
Moriarty: The film prints are struck, what, two weeks before the digital prints, before you have to deliver?
The Hellboy: Yeah.
Darth Benedict XVI: I think he did that with ATTACK OF THE CLONES.
The Hellboy: I think it’s dangerous to the film, I think that’s some of the problems with them.
Moriarty: I’m going to see it at a digital house, because I’m curious to see the last version of the film before they wrenched it from him, only because there’ll be a different version on DVD, so I’m curious to see what this one looks like.
Mr. Beaks: That’s the version Lucas would want you to watch, and the quality will be optimal.
Windy Starkiller: There’s a rumor that Lucas gone back and has completely redone EPISODE I Yoda digitally.
Darth Benedict XVI: That EPISODE I puppet is definitely coming out.
Moriarty: I hope so.
Obi Swan: It’s inevitable, and yeah, I don’t really like the puppet from EPISODE I, but it’ll be a shame to see it go, because it’ll be Frank Oz’s last performance with a real puppet.
Windy Starkiller: But what would you rather have?
[SPEAKER UNKNOWN]: As long as they don’t go back to EMPIRE.
Moriarty: Please... please don’t go fix EMPIRE, please don’t fix Yoda. He gives the greatest performance in the entire trilogy.
Mr. Beaks: Go make your independent films.
Moriarty: He gives the best performance in the first three films, it’s awesome. Please… please don’t touch that.
Obi Swan: George, EMPIRE is broken. Fix it. [Huge laugh from the room.]
Moriarty: And he’ll only listen to one of us, and it won’t be me, so that’s the scary thing. Okay… there’s an article here that Frosty Skywalker brought that just ran on jimhillmedia.com. Jim Hill’s the Disney guy, and gets tons of information about the films and the theme parks and what’s in development. And he ran an article about the 20th anniversary of Star Tours, about how they’re talking about doing a brand new digital update for it. It says that the entire thing started back with PHANTOM MENACE, when he showed them the pod race, specifically hoping to make a ride out of it, and they just didn’t take the bait then.
Jed: There have been rumors about Star Tours reupping and remaking for a decade now, rumors that have been circulating in Orange County and Anaheim, and it’s not happening.
Frosty: Well, now that digital filmmaking keeps getting cheaper, and they’re doing the TV show, which might be on ABC, so there’s that synergy there. But I had heard the animated stuff, the Clone Wars stuff, I hear that’s dead, it’s all over and it’s all going to be a live action show.
The Hellboy: Thank god.
Moriarty: In the new WIRED, the one with Lucas on the cover, he says specifically there will be two shows.
Frosty: I could be wrong about the whole animated thing, but I guess someone different will be working on it besides Genndy Tartakovsky.
Moriarty: But he’s saying that it will be Clones Wars style… it’ll be that type of animation style that will continue, and it’ll be a two pronged attack on TV for a while.
Darth Benedict XVI: There’s a new animation division of Lucasfilm that just opened up in Singapore, so I think it’ll be taken in house.
Moriarty: Well, maybe Cartoon Network should handle all the style design, cause that worked well with the fans, and I think people would want that to be what the animated style would look like. I bet they’ll mimic the look very hard.
The Hellboy: I hope not.
Moriarty: Really, you wouldn’t want that at all?
The Hellboy: I hate that show, especially the second season. I hated it. You’ve got Jedi warriors that can wipe entire armies…
Tom Joad: Why didn’t they do that in ATTACK OF THE CLONES?
Hellboy: Exactly. I can’t stand it.
Sarah: Again, it really goes back to the idea that The Cartoon Network is a kid’s network, outside of the Adult Swim hour. Some cartoons were not meant for us. So that’s how kids would imagine what a Jedi can do.
Obi Swan: Where was that kid in 1977?
Jed: To answer that question, Yoda and Mace Windu kick a lot more ass in The Clone Wars Cartoon ‘cause I think Genndy has a much better idea of how to show Jedi kicking ass than some people. And, yeah, the scale in the Clone Wars Cartoon is not what we’re used to seeing, but that’s what I think of when I think of Jedi, not “barely moving this,” and “kind of moving that”… they’re knocking shit left and right, they’re knocking planets out of alignment.
The Hellboy: Eh, it contradicts the films, so it’s not my thing.
Moriarty: That’s interesting, because I thought the cartoons were fairly well received across the boards.
The Hellboy: I think they were.
Andre Dellamorte: But you bought Volume One of the Clones Wars on DVD anyway.
The Hellboy: Well, yeah, cause I’m stupid.
Andre Dellamorte: And you also bought the Ewoks set right?
(The Hellboy holds up hands and nods)
Sarah S: Oh my god, that Ken Wheat… Ken Wheat did the Ewok movies, he’s got the best sense of humor. When the Ewoks movies came out on DVD, he googled himself, and one of the things my Star Wars group did was go down to the Virgin Megastore and buy the DVD, and we met at the Hamburger Hamlet beforehand and in walks this guy, who’s kind of checking us out, and he says “Hey, are you the Star Wars group?” and we said yes, and he said “I’m Ken Wheat, I made the DVD, I just wanted to see who my fans were.” It was a riot. He’s a very generous and nice man. And then we went down to the Virgin Megastore, and they only had one copy and put it out early.
Andre Dellamorte: Well, maybe the other copies were already sold.
Grand Moff Lebowski: So, there’s this website put up by a fan who’s gone in and scrounged every deleted scene outtake, alternate angle, behind the scenes footage, and he’s reconstructed a comprehensive longer version or alternate version of Star Wars starting with the very beginning legend from Journal of the Whills, going in to the Alternate Long Time ago in a Galaxy far far away, to the original Star Wars that originally said The Star Wars with the original opening crawl. It’s radically different across the board into such detail as the deleted scene when Luke is wearing the Gilligan hat and the binocs, looking at the battle above Tatoonie. There was no sound for that original outtake, it was all black and white scratchy workprint, and he took the sound from the radio show and very strategically edited in Mark Hamill’s voice to give it sound. It’s just amazing, he went through the entire film and plugged in all this deleted footage, and it’s just Star Wars, though there’s a little bit of Empire and Jedi footage, and it’s up now on the web, and probably gone by the time this posts.
Moriarty: I guess there’s a fair question there, which is if he’s not going to do anything with this stuff any time soon, should he get too terribly upset with a fan who does it with the sole intent of other fans being able to look at it?
Tom Joad: Any fan would replace this copy with the real thing when it gets out there. I don’t think it’s inhibiting sales of anything.
Obi Swan: You don’t think Lucas has ever lost a dollar.
Tom Joad: I find it hard to discount this sort of thing.
Grand Moff Lebowski: And soon it’ll be at conventions sold as a bootleg.
Windy Starkiller: And hey, TROOPS. TROOPS was awesome.
Moriarty: Well, I guess that’s the crossing over into actually being allowed to play with Star Wars that is the ultimate goal of these people. I’m really curious to see what he does with the TV show. Doing it post-episode six, that’s actually something I’m interested in, but who’s he going to cast? Which characters are going to reappear? All of those things matter if I’m going to tune in, and I haven’t heard anything conclusive.
Mr. Beaks: So we don’t know writers?
Herc: Writers are very important to TV.
Moriarty: There’s two big rumors. One is the Kevin Smith rumor, which I’ve heard just as many people discounting it, is that he’d be running the live action version.
Herc: Let me go on record here: I believe the Kevin Smith rumor is total bullshit.
Moriarty: That would discount that. The other not necessarily credible rumor I’ve heard several times is that it’d be J. Michael Straczynski, who did BABYLON 5, the creator of that. So, would he even want to hand anything over to anybody who’d have that strong a signature on TV, or do you imagine it’ll be someone you never heard of?
Herc: I think he’d want someone very controlled and very weak, I don’t see anyone as strong as JMS.
Andre Dellamorte: Maybe it’s the Jonathan Hales pay off for working on the scripts?
Herc: I think what Andre said is exactly right, or that much more right.
Moriarty: That’s what Herc was saying the other night, he was saying “Jonathan Hales! Jonathan Hales!”
Herc: I said it once. But I think he’ll use people from the INDIANA JONES show, people who really aren’t that powerful in business and do exactly what George Lucas tells them.
Moriarty: A lot of the YOUNG INDY guys went on to be Frank Darabont, Jonathan Hensleigh…
Herc: Wouldn’t it be nice to bring Frank back? But it’ll probably be someone besides Frank.
Moriarty: At that point, those guys had maybe a credit or two. It’s exactly the case, whoever comes to work on this show… it’s like the art department on this film. Anybody pick up the “art of” book yet?
Darth Benedict XVI: Own, but don’t open.
Moriarty: It’s pretty awesome, and I gotta say I love the design work on this thing. All of these guys also contributed to that STAR WARS VISIONARIES book, and it seems like they got to try anything they thought of. There were a lot of great ideas thrown out, and some of it stuck and some of it didn’t. It does look like fans worked on this film. It looks like they loved the source material, and if nothing else, they got a lot of ideas in the movie. Lucas didn’t come to the table with everything. Most of the art department’s work was done before the script was written. He put their stuff up, looked at it, and then imagined the movie. In a way, isn’t that at least promising, that some of that stuff is guys who really love Star Wars trying to get this into the movie?
Mr. Beaks: Well sure, but the thing is all the art and the books are not my caveat. It’s all about the writing. Going back to what I was thinking… does Pixar have an in-house writing program? I assume they do.
Moriarty: Pixar has an in-house everything program. That place is spooky in its efficiency.
Mr. Beaks: Well, maybe he should cherry pick some writers out of there. Maybe get a bit of familial help.
Andre Dellamorte: It’s a little late for that.
Mr. Beaks: I meant for the TV show. Let those guys become the next Darabonts.
Moriarty: I think that’s what he’s looking for. And hopefully he’ll take it seriously enough. He keeps saying he going to be hands-off, he keeps saying “I don’t want anything to do with it,” he keeps promising his weird experimental films. The WIRED interview is a lot of the same stuff we’ve heard, and him now putting names to a couple of things. He promising to do RED TAILS again, he says he’ll produce it at the very least, he keeps talking about INDIANA JONES. How many people think there’ll actually be an INDY IV?
Mr. Beaks: I doubt it.
Herc: I don’t think it won’t happen.
Moriarty: I don’t think it’ll happen at this point. The moment came and went.
Bryan: Well, with the regime change at Paramount, though, I think that’s a signifying element that there are now people at Paramount willing to do something.
Moriarty: I don’t think it was Paramount who stopped it in the first place.
Bryan: Well, I think there was definitely some stopping there on the part of Sherri Lansing and some of the people under her going, “This is too expensive, this is not what we need to make,” and now that Brad Grey’s there, “We need to bring the twenty something back, we need to get the fans back.” I think there’s some love there for it.
The Hellboy: Paramount has no say. They take it, just like Fox with these things. There’s a deal, they just distribute it.
Moriarty: It was Lucas. Lucas sabotaged it, and there was a moment where everybody else was ready to go.
Bryan: I keep getting hints that this is moving forward. I keep hearing casting sheets going out to people to fill roles, so there’s a script out there, or something resembling a script…
Moriarty: Well, Nathanson’s doing a rewrite or did one.
Bryan: They dumped so much money and so much time into this that they’re pushing forward.
Moriarty: That’s their problem.
Mr. Beaks: I hear he’s finished.
Moriarty: Is he?
Mr. Beaks: I heard Jeff Nathanson is finished.
Dr. Hfuhruhurr: Anybody hear anything about Shymalan’s draft?
Herc: Believe it or not, I interviewed him and asked him that very question. He said he never did a draft.
Moriarty: That’s what I heard... that he got close, flirted with a deal, couldn’t make his deal, didn’t do the film.
Flmlvr: Why did Lucas sabotage it?
Moriarty: I think it was a genuine creative difference of opinion. He wanted one film, and everyone else wanted a different film. And at this point, Harrison Ford is never going to play Indy again. At least I’d count on that.
Andre Dellamorte: How old is he? 62? He’s too old.
Mr. Beaks: Oh, he can’t do Indy any more, even as an old man. The glint is gone. There are old men like Scott Glenn, who can still do it, but he’s lost it.
Sarah (Not the one who stands in line): Oh, he can do it.
Mr. Beaks: I know he could do it, but I don’t want to see him do it. It’s demoralizing.
Herc: Harrison’s now older than Connery was when he played his dad.
Moriarty: And at this point, Connery has graduated into a full-blown coot.
Mr. Beaks: And that’s the movie.
Moriarty: Instead of making movies these days, Sean makes headlines for beating up his neighbor and stuff. Sean’s awesome.
Mr. Beaks: It’s GRUMPY OLD MEN with a bullwhip.
Darth Benedict XVI: What makes me think there’s some lingering interest in this series is that Lucas doesn’t see it as a trilogy. Lucas sees that trilogy as the middle of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. And he wants something at the end to tie up this entire body of work.
Herc: I’ve got an idea. Here’s what you do with Harrison Ford. You do what Richard Donner did with MAVERICK. You get Harrison Ford to play the James Garner role, and then there’s little Indy, who does all the action.
Andre Dellamorte: “Dad!”
[SPEAKER UNKNOWN]: They could get Jake Lloyd.
Moriarty: Did you guys see the big Jake Lloyd “Please let me work, I swear I’m not bitter” interview? I think it was quite telling when MTV posted it, they had his name spelled wrong, both in the headline and in the URL.
Herc: Did Mark Hamill console him?
Moriarty: No one could never spell Hamill either.
Sarah S: I would like to apologize to both of my very kind donators to my charity auction: Jake Lloyd, you’re great for donating. And I went to Mark Hamill’s house to get him to sign stuff. I sat on his couch…
Herc: Did you leave a stain, Sarah?
Darth Benedict XVI: Did anyone find out what was the Holy Grail for the new movie?
The Hellboy: Roswell. 1950’s. Sci-fi. Definitely.
Moriarty: I think the verification of that came from the release of the DVD set and an incident that happened around then. The implication around the time was that they were going to put a teaser trailer on the box set that got kiboshed at the last minute. It was supposed to happen, they designed it, they shot it, and it was saucers in the 50’s and nodded to what it was to be. And I guess the powers that be said it was too much information, and they didn’t want to put it out there yet, so…
Obi Swan: It would have been like that early teaser for TEMPLE OF DOOM, which was always cool.
Moriarty: Based on how long it’s been sitting around, it might be like that ALIEN 3 teaser they put out, where they promise one movie and then you went and saw it, and you were like “Hey, bitch, you promised us Earth!”
Darth Benedict XVI: Back on topic, I think the interesting thing about the VANITY FAIR cover was that everybody was so carefully arranged, that you had EPISODE III on the cover, and then you opened and had two, and then you had one, and then you had everyone from the four through six movies, and it was exactly like a Japanese book cover. Hamill’s not too old to be a part of the TV series.
Moriarty: I would like to see him show up from time to time at the beginning of an episode, just to introduce an episode.
Obi-Swan: You know what’s really cool. If Mark Hamill is in the series sometimes recurring as Luke Skywalker, you know there’s gonna come an episode, second season, third season, where Mark Hamill’s on the show, Harrison Ford’s on the show, Carrie Fisher’s on the show, and George Lucas is directing. Now, if that happens, get the Pampers ready for me.
Sarah S: I just want to go back to that VANITY FAIR cover really quickly. I don’t know why they didn’t digitally drop in Alec Guiness. They should have dropped him in, and funnily enough Ray Park and Temura Morrison were supposed to be on the cover, and last second (snaps fingers) they were told not to come.