Once upon a time in Hollywood, writer/director Frank Darabont wrote a script for Indy 4 that he believed to be a great continuation of the franchise. Steven Spielberg loved it. Harrison Ford loved it. George Lucas… well, he didn’t love it so much. “You have a fantastic script,” Darabont told him. “I think you’re insane, George.” George Lucas wasn’t swayed. “You can say things like that to George, and he doesn’t even blink,” Darabont later revealed. “He’s one of the most stubborn men I know.”
Poor George. He has made some truly terrible decisions over the course of his long career, and we’re talking about actually mind-boggling creative decisions that just wouldn’t make sense to a normal person. Lucas has made a couple of good decisions too, I guess: He let Irvin Kershner take the reins for The Empire Strikes Back, he sold LucasFilm to Disney, and American Graffiti was one of the best films of the 70s (crazy, right?). And to give the man some credit where it’s due, he did invent Star Wars, a movie which made millions and millions of people, like, super happy. We can be thankful for that, at least.
But let’s recall that time Darabont called Lucas “insane” over the Indy 4 script. Insane is a word that gets thrown around everyday in a casual sense (what a society we live in!): “Why do I have to be home at ten, mom? You’re insane!” – just one creative example of such casual use. And then you look at all the genuinely bizarre things George Lucas has commissioned, produced, and written over the years. All the products he’s said, “yeah, you can put Star Wars branding on that” to. Are these the creations of a man with his mind in tact?
The purpose of this guide is as a tool which might help explain to somebody with no idea who George Lucas is what the big freakin’ deal is regarding that questionable sanity of his. So without further ado, let’s take a look at a selection of the worst things to have seeped out from between Lucas’ hairy earholes.Next
1. Ewoks - Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
George Lucas’ Role: Creator
These fluffy little shits came to be despised by pretty much every Star Wars fan who had reached the age of fifteen by the time Return of the Jedi came out and were craving darker storylines (as seen in The Empire Strikes Back). Sure, we can suspend our diselief enough to allow our brains to comprehend the fact that these things might exist, but we won’t believe for a second that a small band of teddy bears could take on the entire Empire using bits of wood and some rocks.
The Ewoks were, of course, the go-to Star Wars characters for laughs and mockery all the way up to 1999. Then something else emerged that changed the face of audience hatred forever (See: Star Wars Prequels). For monetary and merchandising purposes, Ewoks were granted various comic book spin-offs and TV cartoons, all of which were questionably evil.Previous Next
2. Captain EO (1986)
George Lucas’ Role: Producer
Chances are you’ve never heard of Captain EO, unless you happened to stumble upon it at random whilst visiting a Walt Disney theme park. And this, Lucas-haters, is just about one of the strangest… uh, things… ever created by a team of intelligent humans. Let’s start by explaining that Captain EO is one of those 4D theatre ride experiences that you get at a lot of theme parks.
There’s a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! one called Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! that’s been around since forever. Remember that? Well, this particular ride stars Michael Jackson as the bizarrely-named Captain EO, a spaceship pilot whose best friends are, like, rejected Jim Henson monsters. These include a disgusting snotty elephant freak and the Jobs-worthiest of all fictional robots.
The plot assigned to this endeavor is utterly incomprehensible: ”Captain EO” and his ragtag crew of piss-poor puppets must deliver a gift to something known as “The Supreme Leader”, a being who happens to inhabit a planet made up of jagged metal parts and steaming vents. The Supreme Leader is also absolutely terrifying, a twisted spider-like woman who characteristically threatens death upon them all when they turn up smiling. That’s until Michael Jackson deploys a song and dance number, of course, and the day is saved. Also, Michael Jackson has the power to transform enemy guards into dancers for the sake of this narrative.
What were you thinking, George? I know this was designed for a theme park, but seriously. And do you know what the worst part of all this is? Francis Ford Coppola directed it. Yes, the man who made The Godfather and Apocalypse Now had to shout through a megaphone: “Okay, Michael, now transform those guards into dancers!” Don’t believe this ever happened? Check out the full 17-minute video below:Previous Next
3. Howard the Duck (1986)
George Lucas’ Role: Producer
Howard the Duck. Actually say it out loud. Howard the freakin’ Duck. How was this ever a possible business venture? Once again, though, George Lucas separates himself from taking full responsibility by taking a producer’s role, but this disaster has his name written all over it, especially given that we know he told poor Willard Huyck (who directed this steaming pile of uncomedy) about the comic book in the first place.
If you’re unfamiliar with Howard the Duck, it’s the story of an alien duck creature who comes to Earth to chew on cigars and annoy the hell out of everyone he meets. Based on a much better comic book, the movie subverts goodness in every way possible and goes for the lowest common denominator (and even they didn’t like it). It’s a completely ill-judged work of utter trite in every way, basically.
Howard himself is a truly scary creation. Presumably he’s played by a small person in a duck suit, but the effect is more unnerving than it ever is appealing. Even as a rollicking comedy, Howard the Duck can’t be taken with a straight-face. One scene progresses as Lea Thompson pretends to come onto Howard all sexy, which probably makes it one of the strangest scenes ever put into film ever. “Howard, you really are the worst,” goes one line in the film. Spot on.
And just to prove how wrong Lucas and his crew got this adaptation, the creator of the comic said that it was an existential work and that there was no joke to the whole thing. Producer Gloria Katz, faced with all the negative reviews and shitty box office receipts, later commented: “It’s a film about a duck from outer space… It’s not supposed to be an existential experience.” Oops.Previous Next
4. The Star Wars Special Editions (1997)
George Lucas’ Role: Writer/Director
Addition of digitally-rendered dinosaur monsters? Check. Added CGI Jabba the Hutt scene? Check. Changing character motives to make them appear less badass? Check. Yes, this where the whole “Han Shot First” debacle first emerged, when George Lucas – with a whole bunch of time on his hands, presumably – decided to go back to the Star Wars trilogy and add and change and mess around with it for no reason.
Lucas’ rationale was that he wanted to make it clear to children that Han had no choice but to shoot Greedo. Who cares? Greedo was a douche, and he threatened Han a whole bunch of times. The man had good enough reason and besides, he’s the long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away equivalent of a drug dealer. Not exactly the most moral-obliged character ever.
Many people will say that since George Lucas owns and invented Star Wars he can do whatever the hell he likes with it, and that’s true to some extent. It’s his own property, at least, and the characters came out of his brain. But once you send a film out into the world and people pay money to see it, it’s not just your property anymore: it’s everyone’s. Messing with things that people adore is just wrong, something that master filmmaker Steven Spielberg later admitted to after CGI-ing E.T. up for a bit and swapping out FBI shotguns for walkie talkies:
“For myself, I tried [changing a film] once and lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but because I was disappointed in myself. I got overly sensitive to [some of the reaction] to E.T., and I thought if technology evolved, [I might go in and change some things]…it was OK for a while, but I realized what I had done was I had robbed people who loved E.T. of their memories of E.T. [...] If I put just one cut of E.T. on Blu-ray and it was the 1982, would anyone object to that? OK, so be it.”
5. The Star Wars Prequels - Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)/Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)/Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
George Lucas’ Role: Writer/Director
It was clear from his misguided attempt to write and direct three prequel Star Wars movies that George Lucas didn’t (and doesn’t) understand why people like Star Wars in the first place. Gone is the fun of the original trilogy, replaced here with talk of the Trade Federation and boring interspecies politics. Factor in an extremely irritating kid, a flat script, Lucas’ ham-fisted call backs to the old movies, and sequences rendered with so much CGI that you’re pretty sure the characters have landed in video game world or something, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
These movies have been dissected to death elsewhere, so you’re probably well aware as to why they failed so miserably in every aspect. Jar-Jar Binks, of course, has become a poster boy for Lucas-hate worldwide – completely unsurprising given that the character is utterly intolerable and stupidly dense in all ways. But Jar-Jar isn’t the entire reason that these films are so bad: it’s Lucas’ own misunderstanding as to why Star Wars is so worshipped in the first place. He’d be the first to admit that he doesn’t know as much about Star Wars as his dedicated fans… and that’s the problem.
Check out this interview he had with Family Guy’s Seth McFarlane, in which he fails to guess several of the film’s musical cues:
It’s not his complete fault, really. George Lucas just isn’t in to Star Wars as much as everybody else is.Previous Next
6. Aliens – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
George Lucas’ Role: Writer/Producer
As Indy moved into the 50s, George Lucas envisioned the franchise getting to grips with that particular time period, mainly by embracing its sci-fi tendencies. Now that’s not a completely terrible idea, given that Indiana Jones could’ve easily got involved in more science-fiction themed adventures. Perhaps they could’ve remained archeology-based, but with a few lasers and crude Russian robot machines thrown in for good measure. The crucial mistake was granting Indy a close-up experience with extra-terrestrial life, a decision so dumb that it’s genuinely surprising to think it was ever OK’d by the people making this movie.
As a result of this close encounter, George Lucas once again confirmed that he was your go-to-guy for nostalgia-based disappointment. Even his buddy Steven Spielberg, who is also partly responsible for the mess that is Indy 4, shifted the blame to his friend:
“I sympathize with people who didn’t like the MacGuffin because I never liked the MacGuffin. George and I had big arguments about the MacGuffin. I didn’t want these things to be either aliens or inter-dimensional beings. But I am loyal to my best friend. When he writes a story he believes in—even if I don’t believe in it—I’m going to shoot the movie the way George envisioned it.”
Spielberg must’ve really felt the pressure rising if he was willing to hand Lucas over to the masses, given that the filmmaker is usually such a humble and placid guy. George, you done goofed again.Previous Next
7. Kinect Star Wars (2012)
George Lucas’ Role: Approval required
We currently live during a time in which George Lucas just hands the Star Wars name over to absolutely anything that might make him some cash, thus proven by the tear-inducing existence of Kinect Star Wars. If there’s one thing that Star Wars doesn’t need, it’s a fully-fledged dancing game – the franchise has absolutely nothing to do with dancing in anyway, shape or form. Even still, Kinect Star Wars gives you the ability to dance to modern tracks with their lyrics changed with about as much subtlety as one of Jabba’s farts. Take “I’m Han Solo” for example, a re-imagining of Jason Derulo’s “Ridin’ Solo”:
Here you’ll find Lando welcoming Han Solo to Cloud City, stating “Look sharp, my friend, you got some real competition now,” which results in Han deploying moves like “The Trash Compactor” and “The Speeder.” Lyrics include: “No Jabba to answer to/Ain’t a fixture in the palace zoo.” The only thing that would ever justify the existence of this game would be for George Lucas to upload a video of him performing one of these songs. And that – in one small gesture – would probably allow us forgive him for everything.
Note: One of the most horrifically-realised pieces of art that have emerged through the course George’s career was The Star Wars Holiday Special, not included in this guide given that – surprisingly – the man had almost nothing to do with it. He even tried to ban it and burn all the copies, and has publicly denounced its existence on many occasions. Thank God.
Enjoy this definitive guide? Which George Lucas-based insanities did we leave off the list? Do we need to add anymore? Let us know in the comments section below.Previous