Imagine what it would be like if Star Wars had not been written 30 years ago.
Now picture a young, idealistic George Lucas showing up in Hollywood with the script for Star Wars: A New Hope in 2006. It’s a safe bet the studio executives of today wouldn’t look at the script and see “blockbuster”. Actually, it’s a safe bet they wouldn’t look at it at all. It doesn’t have any toy or comic-book tie-ins, after all. But, assuming George worked hard and was lucky, he might get the thing into the hands of someone who could make it happen. Some Hollywood bigshot. This person would not see the script as the start of a revolution. They probably wouldn’t even green-light it. But if they did, what would happen to the story? How would the movie turn out?
Very few scripts are filmed as written. This is even more true today than it was in the 1970’s. Certainly Star Wars would not make it to the big screen as we know it. Someone who had already written “successfull” movies (that is, movies that made money – it doesn’t matter if they were any good or not) would be brought in to give the script a treatment. Their goal would be to make it more marketable.
Let’s imagine that George is having a tough time making ends meet in 2006 L.A. Because of this, he decides to sell the script and let the studio have their way with it. He knows they will make changes, they will not let him direct his own picture, and if they take time to even listen to his advice they will smile, nod, and ignore it. Still, he hopes he can take the money and use it on this “American Graffiti” idea he’s been working on. George Lucas takes the money, and signs over the rights to the script.
Then they give the script to an expert…
So, here we are with this script from Jeff Lucas or whatever his name is. You know, the goofball with the beard? Nice kid, but he has no sense of what people want to see. My personal trainer just finished reading me the script during my Tae-Bo session. Great stuff. Tae-Bo, I mean. The script itself is a little shakey.
Anyway, I’ve got some great ideas that will really bring this thing to life. I think there are some good ideas buried in here, and we need to leverage those.
The first thing that has to go is the title. Star Wars? I only count one war in the movie, and it seems more like a couple of battles. Also, we don’t want to use the word “Star”. Like “Star something because it sounds too much like Star Trek, Starman, or Starship Troopers. Those guys would sue our pants off. No, we need something new. Something punchy.
I’m thinking… wait… how about, “Space Battles”. No? I got it. “Galactic Conflict”. Or wait, how about just “Conflict”. One word titles have power and gravity. Check it out: Doom. Stealth. Domino. Impostor. Red Planet. See? Gravity. Also, what’s with this “episode IV” stuff? I’m all for making this into a trilogy. Or quilogy. Or whatever you call a trilogy of four, but you don’t start at the end.
Now, this “other galaxy” business. That seems silly. Why not just say it’s in the future? Like, the year 5,000 or whatever.
It says here to use John Williams for the score. I don’t know. John’s good, but we go to him for dramas or historical pieces. Mom-has-cancer and Waterloo kinda stuff. We need something more intense for a story like this. We could go with Danny Elfman. No Danny? That’s fine. We can just license some stuff. Something sort of Hardcore. Like The Matrix. You like The Matrix? Good? Alright.
Okay, so let’s go over the script:
Obviously we’re not going to use this goofy scrolling intro. That will just annoy people. These people are coming to see a movie, not read a book. Plus, when we cut it for TV or video you’ll chop off the sides and it won’t work. You won’t be able to read it. Let’s just have someone, the Kenobi character I guess, read this stuff in voice-over. We’ll cut it down. Get rid of the stuff in ALL CAPS. Looks like chatroom text for crying out loud.
The rebels have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, a weapon with enough power to destroy an entire planet.
Their hope now rests on Princess Leia, who must bring the plans back, and turn the tide of… the conflict.
Then when he reads “conflict” we launch into opening credits. Like names blowing up in space and stuff.
Scene 1: Space Battle
I like this. We open up with lasers and ships exploding.
These two robots. I love these guys. Funny. I think we’ll get John Cleese for the tall one. The short one with the beeps? That doesn’t work. He needs like a chirpy voice that says just a couple of phrases. Like catchphrases. Like, “Outta my way junkpile!” “Move it or lose it rust-brain!” Stuff like that. I bet Robin Williams will do it. Think of the marketing tie-ins. Happy Meals and stuff.
Now, the princess. She zaps one guy and they knock her out? What kind of rebel is she? My kids are more rebellious than that. We’ll make her sexy but tough. The way I see it, she has lots of attitude, doesn’t play by the rules, doesn’t respect autority, nobody can tame her, etc. I’m thinking Charlize Theron for the part. Instead of this big white bedsheet costume she’ll have tight leather uniform, see? She’s a bad girl. And she’ll fight these stormtroopers with karate kicks and guns. I’m thinking big, elaboate fight scene where she kills like a dozen of these guys before they capture her.
Then Dark Vader shows up. What? Garth Vader? Oh Darth? Whatever. He’s wearing black. Dark Vader. Simple enough.
Anyway, I don’t know about this guy. I think the full mask is too much. Kinda makes him seem more like a horror movie villian. Like Jason or the guy from Scream. Nobody with any star power is going to want to spend the film behind the mask. We’ll lose the mask and get Alan Rickman or Gary Oldman for the Vader part. It’ll be awesome.
Then when Vader comes aboard to talk to the princess she needs to be be defiant. Spit in his face. Show how fearless she is. Better than boring everyone with stuff about the senate or whatever. Then, he hits her! This will establish right away that he’s a bad guy in the minds of the audience.
Scene 2: Sand Dune Planet
First off, we are not calling this planet Tattooine. Sounds ridiculous. No, call it Dryadia or Aridon or Dune-worldia or something.
I like this wacky dialog these robots have. I think the little one should have a nasty streak, but only with the yellow one, and only when nobody else is around. Like a running joke. He turns all mean when nobody’s looking. For this scene when they argue about which way to go, I think we need a little more visual comedy here. Something for the kids. Like the yellow guy falls down and says he can’t get up or something.
Scene 3: Buying the droids
The Luke character isn’t strong enough. He’s our leading man. I got it! Paul Walker. He was great in the Fast and the Furious, and I think that has a lot in common with our Luke character. He’s a rebel and a bad boy. Confident. Cocky. Sexy. Yeah. Maybe he’ll even bring some females in to see the movie.
Scene 3: Chasing R2D2
Okay, they chase this little droid out into the wasteland. Tense. Then we introduce Kenobi, but all he does is scare the robbers away by making monster sounds? This guy is supposed to be a general! I think Kenobi would run in and carve these guys up with his lasersword.
This sounds like a good part for Walter Matthau. Dead? I didn’t know. Well, who else is old? Nevermind. We’ll come up with someone later.
Scene 4: Kenobi’s house
Looks good. We could speed this up a bit by leaving out all the stuff about Luke’s father. It’s not that interesting, and it doesn’t really move the plot forward.
Scene 5: Death Star
I like the scene, except where Dark Vader chokes the guy from across the room, and then lets him go. I think it will confuse people. They will think this guy is choking on a peanut or something. Just have Dark Vader stab him with the laser saber. Show what a badass he is.
I like this scene where all these evil, sort of facist guys, are all plotting the war and stuff. I think it would really amuse people if we worked in some Bush refrences. The facist thing makes me think of him. I say we re-name this Tarkin fellow to Chaney. Like Cheney, get it? It’s clever. People love clever.
Scene 6: Return Home
I think it would be more damatic if Luke arrives just as his family is getting killed. So we get to see them die. More dramatic. Also, I think the family needs a pet. Some cute animal, like a space-dog or whatever. Maybe he leaves thinking the dog is dead and finds out it’s still alive at the end. Symbol of hope and all. Put the fuzzy little guy in the trailer and bring in some kids to see the movie.
Anyway, he shows up and the troopers see him, and we could have a great chase scene where they go after him in his hovercar. Some shooting. Kind of show that even though he’s a farmboy he can handle himself.
Scene 7: Cantina
This is a great scene. They meet Han Solo at the bar. Good character. I like him. A read bad boy. I’m thinking Johnny Knoxville. I’m also thinking we get rid of this wookie thing. The toy would scare children. This Solo guy seems like the loner type to me anyway.
The place needs some dancing girls. Like, some blue-skinned women in thongs dancing around. Give it all that “outer space” feel. Also, I’m going to assume that the notes on the music are a joke. It’s the year 5,000 and it’s going to sound like Jazz music? Gotta be a joke. This would be a good spot to drop in some Rod Zombie or Lint Biscut or whatever the kids are listening to. You know, hardcore. Give the place a deadly, gritty feel.
Then, when the bounty hunter comes in, I think we need a brawl. I mean, here we are, in a bar and these two guys are enemies. The audience is going to expect a brawl. I say, like six bounty hunters come in, and Solo takes them all on. Alone. Solo. I love it. They should be really big black guys. Well, not black guys, or it would be racist. And I hate racists. So, we get a bunch of big black guys and color them green or something.
Although, these guys are like the mob. Maybe they should be Itialians? We could have James Gandolfini play Jabba. I don’t know. We’ll talk about this one later. Call me.
Scene 7: Spaceport
What is this “load your weapons” stuff? What kind of stormtroopers walk around with unloaded weapons? How about, “Don’t let anyone stand in your way. Shoot to kill.” Much better.
Scene 8: Death Star
I like when they bring Leia in and trick her into reveling the location of the rebel base, and then blow up her planet anyway. But we need more. We should have some shots of the people on the planet. Show how inhabited it is. I’m worried the audience will have trouble grasping just how bad it is to blow up a whole planet. It’s not like just destroying a city or a building.
Scene 9: Spaceship
I don’t understand this “force” stuff. I’m thinking it will confuse the viewers. Let’s just call them psychics. Or Psy-warriors. People understand psychics.
Scene 10: Death Star
I love this. They get captured, and decide to rescue the princess. The whole thing with the tractor beam was kind of hard to understand, though.
Scene 11: Prison
This is lame. Princess Leia is just sitting around, waiting to be rescued? I mean, a helpless princess? Is this a fairy tale? Trust me, nobody will want to see this as written. Here is how it needs to go: Luke and Solo break in, start a fight, and find she’s already escaped and fighting her way out! In fact, I think it would be really ironic if they got pinned down and she rescued them. Like, the troopers surround them, all hope is lost, and then BOOM! Princess Leia blasts open a nearby door, runs across the room, and drop-kicks the commander. Maybe knock his head right through a console, which opens the door so they can escape. Now, there is an action scene for you!
Scene 13: Trash Compactor
Great scene. Gives the guys a chance to prove themselves after being rescued by Princess Leia, and return the favor. Except: I don’t know about the underwater monster. Wouldn’t it be more scary if we got to see it?
Scene 13: Kenobi vs. Vader
I enjoyed this up until the part where I read General Kenobi LETS himself be killed? What? What kind a general is this, anyway? Is he a pacifist? And this stuff about the force. It’s a superpower but they act like its religion. This is making everything too complicated.
The whole scene where Kenobi just dies… it lacks closure. Vader should stab Kenobi and walk away. Vader assumes he’s dead, BUT! He’s just barely alive. (Am I reading this right? Ben is supposed to vanish? Lame. ) Then Luke can find him just as he’s dying, and Kenobi can tell Luke to lead the resistance to victory. Then he dies.
Scene 12: Escape from the Death Star
Space battle. Excitment. Great stuff. I suggest: Have princess offer to fly the ship while the boys use the guns. Solo objects, since he doesn’t let anyone fly his ship. But she does, and she’s even better than he is! She’s a marksman and a pilot and a kung-fu master and a princess and looks like a supermodel. Gives young girls someone to look up to. Make them believe in themselves.
Scene 13: The long, boring breifing and the final battle
This is too complicated.
The Princess stays behinds while everyone else goes off to fight? This Lucas guy must be a misogynist or something. Since she stays behind, she should change into some sort of low-cut admiral uniform and take over as the commander at the rebel base.
It would be more exciting if they don’t know how to beat the Death Star, but as a last desperate measure, they send their ships anyway. Then – just as the rebels are defeated to the point where only Luke and Solo are left – the little R2D2 guy comes in and tells Leia about the weak spot. He’s known it all along, but nobody would listen! Catchphrase!
Then Leia tells Luke, he blows up the Death Star, and the good guys win.
Scene 14: The award ceremony
This scene has to go. All these soldiers lined up like a big army? Our heroes are too cool for that kind of stuff. What are we saying with all these soldiers? That we replaced one jackbooted army with another?
They should have a big party. Work in the hit single. Luke and Leia finally loosen up and kiss.
This is gonna be huge. Bigger than The Fantastic Four.
Geeks like me would go to this movie. We’d watch it, and just be grateful Hollywood threw us a bone this year.
But we would have no idea.
Linux vs. Windows
Finally, the age-old debate has been settled.
Quakecon Keynote 2013 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Who Broke the In-Game Economy?
Why are RPG economies so bad? Why are shopkeepers so mercenary, why are the prices so crazy, and why do you always end up a gazillionaire by the end of the game? Can't we just have a sensible balanced economy?
Quakecon 2011 Keynote Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Secret of Good Secrets
Sometimes in-game secrets are fun and sometimes they're lame. Here's why.