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This week Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith hits movie theaters nationwide, marking the final installment in the blockbuster franchise inaugurated by writer/director/producer George Lucas in 1977 with Episode IV: A New Hope. That film effectively transformed Hollywood, and blended visual effects, a fast-moving science-fiction plot, and unprecedented merchandising efforts into a pop-culture phenomenon. But as the years passed, and Lucas released the next two films of the original trilogy, it became clear that Lucas saw Star Warsas more than a hedonistic adventure series: He viewed his hastily concocted tale as a paradigm of mythology and legend, where ancient themes of father-son strife, the nature of evil, and the hero's journey were updated for the Space Age. Lucas, a noted recluse, spent much of the 16 years between the two Star Warstrilogies holed up at his remote and plush Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, where many of his technologically innovative companies were based. Over time, his reputation grew as a genius filmmaker whose imagination was constrained only by the limits of technology. But with 1999's The Phantom Menace and the return of the Star Wars saga, one of the Bay Area's favorite citizens found himself bombarded by criticism that he had become, essentially, a technology-obsessed director of children's films who placed merchandising possibilities over concerns of plot and character. However, early reviews of Revenge of the Sith suggest Lucas has returned to darker territory, and Star Warsfanatics are breathless with anticipation for the final film. Are you, too, an apologist for George Lucas? Take our quiz and find out!
1) Which of the following categories best describes your level of interest/excitement in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the final installment of the Star Wars franchise?
A) Minimal. If Natalie Portman didn't get naked in Closer, it certainly ain't gonna happen in a galaxy far, far away.
B) Pretty high. Even though we know how the story ends, it's always a joy to watch Lucas wriggle out of the impossible plotlines he's tangled himself up in.
C) Spielbergian. Rumor has it the famed director (and Lucas' close friend) wept when he saw the movie at a private screening, probably the first time he's cried in a theater since seeing his own AI.
2) Have you ever waited in a long holdout line, either overnight or for weeks, to be one of the first to see a new Star Wars movie?
A) No, no, no. I'm employed. And married to a woman.
B) Yeah, but it was back in the '70s, and I thought I was seeing Zeppelin.
C) What, do you think I'm dressed as a Wookiee for fun?!? Okay, okay, but I'm also waiting in line.
3) Lucas has already hired a handpicked group of writers and directors to work on two new Star Wars projects for television. What do you think a jump to the smaller screen means for the future of the franchise?
A) Not much. Honestly, what can a Star WarsTV show offer a national viewing audience that Battlestar Galactica couldn't?
B) It means a merchandise tie-in with Taco Bell, I'm sure.
C) Steady work, at long last, for Anthony Daniels. (Bonus point for assuming everyone knows he's the actor who portrays C-3PO.)
4) The 61-year-old Lucas will reportedly be reducing his day-to-day involvement in his companies' Star Wars-related projects, allowing others to expand on his vision. As Lucasfilm President Micheline Chau told the San Francisco Chronicle: "Part of George letting go is saying, 'There's all these great stories to tell, and I don't have to tell all the stories.' For the sake of the business, you don't want him to tell all the stories ... We do have to exist after George. He's not going to live forever." What's your reaction to this statement?
A) For the sake of mankind, you don't want him to tell all the stories.
B) Um, actually, George willbe living forever. Didn't she get that memo?
C) Figure out which ranch she works on, and fire her.
5) Star Warsmerchandise has garnered $9 billion in revenue since the release of the first film in 1977, paving the way for generations of summer movies that have exploited their mass appeal with lucrative marketing deals. There's no doubt Star Wars has had a huge impact on American pop culture; what's your favorite piece of memorabilia from the films?
A) Hmm. Does the rest of Mark Hamill's career count?
B) I can tell you what it isn't: my wife's gold Princess Leia bikini. (Bonus point for shuddering.)
6) This summer, Lucas will move as many as 1,500 of his employees into the new Letterman Digital Arts Center, a $350 million complex in the Presidio that will house both special-effects technicians and video-game developers, marking a new step forward in technology convergence. How do you think films and video games will be influenced by their designers working in such close concert?
A) At long last! A marriage of style and sensibilities between video games and big-budget Hollywood blockbusters ... wait until Jerry Bruckheimer hears about this!
B) Look, I'm just glad Lucas has another absurdly luxurious ranch-style compound for his employees. Thank God they don't have to work in a regular old office building, like adults.
C) Don't ask me ... I thought Jar Jar Binks was a thoroughly engrossing, well-rounded character.
7) How do you think the new Star Wars trilogy compares to the original three films, and do you think Lucas' recent efforts have damaged or improved his legacy as a filmmaker?
A) His legacy as a filmmaker? This is the man who gave us Willow.
B) What's that? I'm sorry, I was too busy watching Lord of the Rings again.
C) Oh, the new ones are somuch better -- although you probably have to grasp the full history of human mythology to understand why they're not just cartoons. The way Lucas applies overly broad philosophical concepts to hackneyed dialogue and painfully contrived narrative, masquerading childish clichés as statements of profundity ... that's why he's such a genius.
How to score:
Score zero points for every "A" answer, one point for every "B," and two points for every "C."
0-6 points: Just be happy the movies are finished, and pray to Yoda the TV series won't have any Ewoks in it.
7-10 points: Yeah, we thought Ewan McGregor would be cooler as Obi-Wan, too. Oh, well.
11-14 points: You're such a true Lucas apologist, you're probably wondering if there will be a special-edition DVD of this quiz (with no new questions, just old ones changed in small, annoying ways). Yep -- in stores by Christmas.