Monday, June 17Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Has Peter Jackson done a “George Lucas”?

In 1998 George Lucas was adored. The news of the prequels created unfettered joy and excitement, a chance to be brought back to the wonderment of their childhood.

Now Lucas is not much more than the butt of jokes, seen in the “George Lucas Edition” of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer. Exactly the same, just now filled with endless CGI characters everywhere. The joke is from a quote where Lucas said how CGI allowed him to make every frame of the prequels “dense”. In his pursuit of density all Lucas succeeded in was filling each frame with needless CGI, ruining the tone and making the film feel soulless and fake. Lucas’ error was believing CGI was brilliance in itself, not simply a means to an end. He wasn’t using it for a reason, just using it because he could. He also looked to repeat what was in the original trilogy to death, bringing back characters like Boba Fett even when the story didn’t need it. It was successful in the original trilogy, better fill the entirety of the new one with it. It demeaned the effect of such characters, while adding nothing new to the story. Then there is the infamous Jar Jar Binks, a “comedic” character added for the sole purpose of attracting children, a decision made on the bizarre assumption a story about politics and trade federations is for children.

This destruction of a legacy is something being seen with Peter Jackson, and his recent The Hobbit films. The excitement of being brought back to the world he brought to life in the Lord of The Rings has quickly dissipated, filled for many instead by a willed amnesia of his new trilogy ever existing. What is the biggest shame is that in many ways he has produced The Lord of The Rings: George Lucas edition, failing to avoid the mistakes Lucas had made just a few years prior. Again he has filled the screen with endless CGI, gone are the practical effects, costume and make up of Lurtz, replaced by endless soulless orcs who look simply silly. Notes of the original music are brought in simply because they were successful in the original trilogy, as have characters been needlessly brought back (Legolas, Galadriel, Elrond, and worst of all Sauron). Then there are the needless “comedy” characters like Alfred, the buffoon in the most recent film constantly annoying Bard, and being seen dressing up as a woman in his pursuit of escape, there simply to add “laughs” and attract children, in a film where someone lets themselves get stabbed to death so that they may then chop the head off their enemy. Clearly a children’s film.

There are many factors that make both trilogies failures, but the shame is that so many of these factors are shared. Jackson had a blueprint of what not to do, and ignored it. Luckily, the trailer for The Force Awakens appears to suggest Snyder has avoided many of these issues, but what of Middle Earth? All we can hope is that this time Jackson follows Lucas’ example, and leaves his franchise behind, before he ruins it even further.