George Lucas’ “Star Wars” prequel trilogy was not beloved by critics, but it does have an admirer in Mark Hamill. As part of an interview for J.W. Rinzler’s just-published book on “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” film producer Howard Kazanjian, Hamill revealed he was “impressed” with Lucas’ controversial entries “The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones,” and “Revenge of the Sith.” Hamill sat the prequel trilogy out, but he did return as Luke in the Disney-backed sequel trilogy years later.
“I was impressed the prequels had their own identity,” Hamill said. “They were criticized because they were exposition-heavy and more cerebral and probably, like he said back in 1976, they weren’t as commercial. It’s a darker story. But in the age of social media, people’s voices are amplified, and I’m shocked at how brutal they can be, not just in the case of ‘Star Wars’ films, but across the board.”
One member of the “Star Wars” family who doesn’t hide her dislike of the prequels is Marcia Lucas, who won an Oscar for editing the original “Star Wars” along with Paul Hirsch and Richard Chew. She returned to co-edit “Return of the Jedi” and went uncredited on “The Empire Strikes Back.” Marcia Lucas was married to George Lucas between 1969 and 1983. In Rinzler’s book, Marcia revealed “Phantom Menace” was so bad that she cried after a screening of the movie.
“George is, in his heart and soul, a good guy and a talented filmmaker. I wish he would’ve kept directing [other kinds of] movies,” Lucas said. “But when I went to see Episode I — I had a friend who worked at ILM, who took me as a guest to a preview — I cried. I cried because I didn’t think it was very good. And I thought he had such a rich vein to mine, a rich palette to tell stories with. He had all those characters.”
Lucas continued, “I thought it was weird that the story was about this little boy who looked like he was six years old, but then later on he’s supposed to get with this princess who looked like she was twenty years old. There were things I didn’t like about the casting, and things I didn’t like about the story…it was a lot of eye candy. CG.”
While she is critical of “Phantom Menace,” Marcia is even more scathing when it comes to the sequel trilogy from J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
“Kathy Kennedy and J.J. Abrams don’t have a clue about ‘Star Wars.’ They don’t get it,” Lucas said in the book. “And JJ Abrams is writing these stories — when I saw that movie where they kill Han Solo, I was furious. I was furious when they killed Han Solo.”
“Howard Kazanjian: A Producer’s Life” is now available to purchase.