Star Wars: A New Hope (and a New Despair)

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Yesterday Jim Poniewozik, Time’s TV and media writer-slash-Tuned In blogger, forwarded me a press release from the Cartoon Network that begins as follows:

After months of speculation throughout the television industry, Turner Broadcasting has landed the broadcast rights to the highly-sought-after CG-animated series, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, from creator George Lucas. A new era of Stars Wars entertainment begins this fall when the television series premieres on Cartoon Network, followed by airings on TNT. The series will premiere following the North American theatrical release Friday, August 15, from Warner Bros. Pictures. Details regarding international television broadcasts will be announced shortly.

Did you see what they did there? North American theatrical release? I find this astounding. There will be something — I don’t know if I want to call it a movie, but a product — bearing the Star Wars name in movie theaters this summer. The apparently unembeddable trailer is here.

I was going to blog about this immediately. Then I felt tired. Then I went out and drank four glasses of Maker’s Mark and felt more tired. Then I got up and saw that Jim had blogged about it, and Dave gave me a hard time in comments about getting beaten out. So I’m blogging about it too. Are you happy now Dave? Is this what you wanted?

The trailer is pretty — beautiful rosy-pink skies, decent voice acting, very dynamic camera movements. Though as Jim points out, there’s a limit to how invested you can get in Anakin when you know he’s going to grow up to kill a bunch of Jedi babies.

And to me, that stylized CGI approach has its limits. What I found amazing about Star Wars when it first came out — and I can remember, at age 8, trying and failing to articulate this — is how dirty and shabby everything looked. It wasn’t like Star Trek, all gleaming white antiseptic surfaces. Everything looked used and lived in. The droids were dusty and dinged-up, the Millennium Falcon was scuffed and shabby and shaky. It’s what made it all seem so real. I felt the same way, later, about the tech in Alien. I don’t get that from CGI. It’s all nice clean shiny bits and bytes.

But it’s not like I’m not gonna watch it.