It goes without saying that anyone who's reading/watching me should also be reading Drew McWeeny, once known as AICN's "Moriarty," one of the men responsible for "inventing" this ridiculous profession of mine. Drew is a living legend among "film geek" personalities - a onetime video store clerk who became part of the first wave of "name" writers to emerge from the nerd-gossip-site pack; went on to write screenplays for John Carpenter (among others) and has now settled into a star-columnist role at HitFix; where he still finds time to remind everyone why he broke out in the first place.
This is one of those times.
Presently, McWeeny is married with two young sons, and he's been writing up his experiences in sharing classic movies with the boys in a series of columns called "Film Nerd 2.0." It's always been a good read; but when he decided to start introducing them to the "Star Wars" films it became something else entirely - a series of six thoughtful, moving, excellent pieces that now comprise what I think is easily the definitive "Decade Later" look at "Star Wars" post-prequels and post-special edition.
Thus far, every appraisal of "later day" Star Wars has mainly been about older fans being disillusioned or dissapointed about Lucas, alterations and the series in general... and after awhile, it's all become rather irritating. The backlash during "Phantom Menace" was one thing - that what was always going to be a letdown on some level wound up being in fact a pretty lackluster movie overall touched off a combination of delayed-reaction rage ("Wow... I'm really NOT ten years-old anymore. Damn it.") and nerd-nitpick feeding-frenzy that has for good or ill (mostly ill) defined the fan/filmmaker relationship to this day.
Frankly, it got out of hand quickly and it's endurance at this point is kind of sad. Yes, I was as impressed as anyone with Mr. Plinkett's tenacity and attention to detail... but to be honest the REAL value of that series is that it's a TON of really good filmmaking/storytelling advice structured around the review of a movie everyone has seen... as yet another excuse to pass around the bile-bucket and spew about Lucas "raping your childhood?" Guys... it's time to give it a rest. And it's sort of fitting that THIS new appraisal comes from McWeeny, whose original semi-negative review of Phantom Menace as "Moriarty" was a major touchstone of the "wait... a Star Wars movie... sucks?" sweep of the era.
THIS, though, is a guy writing about the reactions of his kids - kids who don't have the weight of expectations and preconceptions that "Generation Zero" SW fans had; who've always known a world where it's ubiquitious and are familiar with it - at first - mainly from the "Clone Wars" cartoons. He made an interesting decision regarding the order in which to screen the films - New Hope and Empire first, THEN all three prequels, then wrapping up with Jedi - that overall seems to have paid off gangbusters.
You should read the whole thing yourself (links below) but what's really great about this is the way it cuts through both the obnoxious fanboy-entitlement AND the very real objective criticisms of the prequels etc. to find a more essential truth that's been ignored by many, myself included, for much too long: That the things that WORK about Star Wars - yes, even in the prequels - are A.) uncoincidentally the things that are bigger and more vital than who-shoots-first or whether this or that creature looks like a puppet and B.) perhaps best understood by children... who, at the end of the day, are who Star Wars has always been for.
GET READING, FOLKS:
A New Hope
Empire Strikes Back
Attack of The Clones
Revenge of The Sith
Return of The Jedi
When I see "Phantom Menace" on the big screen for the first time in over a decade in it's "3D" release next year, I'll be doing my damndest to try and watch it on it's own terms; outside the swirl of negativity it's existed in for so many years in the collective psyche. And this series will be the big reason why.
Well done, Mr. McWeeny.