This thread my jump around around a bit, but I think all the points I'll be making loosely tie together. Feel free to respond to it as a whole, or to the individual points.
Does anyone else wish the two trilogies looked more like each other? I'm speaking strictly of about the visual aspects: production design, costumes, special effects, etc. Let me break it down piece by piece.
- Hair and faces: I'm a big fan of ugly people, especially when it comes to actors...and I mean that in the best way! I'll take an interesting face over a "pretty" face any day. Do you ever get the feeling that the people who populate the PT universe are just a little too pretty? Why does the PT universe have to be completely devoid of a General Madine comb-over? There had to be at least one other guy out there in the galaxy who had that wonderfully terrible hair-do before 'ol Crix. And what about sideburns? ANH is full of guys with great sideburns. General Tagge had those wicked pointy sideburns and a kickin' gladiator crop job. What about feathered mop tops, ala Luke? Nowhere to be found in the PT unfortunately.
- Monitors and HUDs: It occured to me when we first see Obi-wan point to Tatooine on the navigation monitor of the queens ship in TPM, that the PT universe had some pretty spiffy equiptment. I guess the Empire really jacked up the technology industries of universe when they took over, because the X-wings and TIE fighters of the OT seemed to be outfitted with Pong for use as a targeting system. I wonder how that happened. Obers gets to look at hi def on the queen's starship, but poor Han Solo has to look a a blinking blue light when looking for a safe port.
- City culture and fashion: The citizens of Coruscant sport some crazy get-ups. What the heck happened to fashion over twenty years that everyone ended up in polyester and double-knits?
I'm obviously having a little fun here, but seriously, why couldn't the trilogies have matched up a little better. Why couldn't everyone in the PT be made up to look like they walked out of the late '70s or early '80s? I think at the very least, it would have made the PT a little more fun. I don't think it's too far of a stretch to think that it may have even helped bridge the two a little better. Lucas is apparently a very visual guy, so I'm surprised he didn't push for a little more of what I'm talking about. If Princess Leia wears a disarmingly simple dress, then I don't see why Padme couldn't have worn something similar. Instead, Natalie Portman is forced to drown in a number of needlessly ornate and stuffy costumes. Do Padme's queen costumes "wow" you? I think that's what they're supposed to do, but I dunno, maybe I just don't get it. Maybe I need an actor to bring a costume to life for it to work for me. I know Padme had a white jumpsuit in ATOC, and that was supposed to suggest a kind of Leia feel, but again, it just didn't work for me. It was too tailored and too modern. The boots had kind of a techy, fabricated, futuristic feel, as where Leia just wore plain white chelsea boots. I know, I know...I get stuck on this little stupid stuff, but hang with me...
And getting back to that navigation monitor that Obi-wan uses to locate Tatooine. Did that special effects shot "wow" you? I think most of us just took it for granted. The only reason it jumped out at me is that it really didn't fit into any logical timeline. Obi-wan has this fancy monitor, yet Han Solo has a blinking blue light, which by the way, works just as well as a device to propel the story. I guess someone would argue "Well, we can't really see what Han is looking at, so it very well could be a fancy monitor, and all we see is the blue light...", but I'm not buyin' that. Those little effects shots that Lucas seems to think really "flesh out" the PT are totally unnecessary and actually detrimental to maintaining the timeline.
Think about this one: the cantina from AHN vs. the sports bar from ATOC. Is anyone else here bothered that the people in SW watch football? I mean, it's pretty unmistakable...the game those droids are playing on a grassy grid-iron field looks awfully familiar. And since when do the people in SW watch tv? I dunno, there's just something so ordinary and modern about that stupid sports bar. On the other hand, the cantina from ANH has a kind of timeless quality about it. It could be a cowboy saloon. It could be a tavern from the dark ages. Heck, Frodo could walk up to the bar and order a drink and he'd fit right in. It's exotic and wierd and threatening all at once. Most importantly, it doesn't particularly remind me of any place I've ever been before. The sports bar from ATOC is like the ESPN zone. And of course, the women are dressed like every other woman from the late nineties and early 21st century. They have tight, low-rise pants with a boot cut. They have those all-too-common high-rise shoes that thankfully have gone out of style. I think I even saw a woman with a sun tatoo around her navel...try to tell me those aren't trendy these days. I'm not sure I have an alternative to offer up, but I'm pretty confident in saying that the bar from AOTC sucks pretty bad.
I don't want to be totally negative, so I'll give a positive. I really like how they approached the communication hologram effect. It's pretty much the same as seen in the OT, only now we have shots where the camera pans around the hologram (think of the hologram of senator Palpatine in the beginning of TPM). I'm perfectly fine with this because hey, all the shots with that effect in the OT just happen to be static. And I guess we do actually see different angles of holograms, we just don't get a pan (think of the Leia hologram in ANH...we see her in profile, then for the close up, we get a front/side view, but it's edited as two different shots). We get to see two or three distinctly different angles of what we logically conclude is a fully rendered 3D hologram. The fact that TPM shows us one of these holograms fully rendered via a camera pan is perfectly logical.
Back to the negative...
I brought this thread up because it occurred to me that Lucas drowned his film-making people in a sea of useless details. It's bad enough Lucas was pushing his guys to do live actors riding CGI animals (which still hasn't been done correctly in my opinion), but he also had to bog them down with having to animate robots playing football in a sports bar? Was it really that important to the story? Why devote tons and tons of time and resources to Padme's costumes when she could just have worn one simple, easily identifiable outfit (like Leia)? Did this film even have a producer to help make these kinds of decisions? *cough* Rick yes-man McCullum *cough cough*
I guess I was just looking for a place in the PT that feels a little more like SW, that's all. I suppose we got the Rebel Blockade runner in ROTS, but only for a few moments, and somehow seeing Jimmy Smits lumbering down the hall just brings it down a few notches.