It's easy to forget, but earlier this year, George Lucas, in his infinite wisdom, re-released cosmic disappointment "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace" into theaters, this time converted to snazzy 3D. Because, you know, everyone wanted Jar Jar Binks up in their shit. While it didn't hang around in theaters for very long, this new version of 'Phantom Menace' did eek out a pretty healthy profit (almost $45 million), which doesn't come close to touching the haul that "The Lion King" made last year in a similar 3D run, it's still pretty damn good, especially because, at this point, it's just printing its own money. Well, Lucas will be returning to that well for the remainder of the prequel trilogy, with the official Lucas Twitter account announcing September and October 2013 releases for 3D versions of "Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones" and "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith." Start charging your movie-quality lightsabers now.
Lucas has promised to convert all of the "Star Wars" films into 3D, but in the order he wants people to see them – so the three forgettable ones first, and then the ones we might actually consider paying for again with added dimensionality. The conversion process is actually something that Lucas' effects house Industrial Light and Magic knows about all too well – before animated movies were being produced in house in 3D, it was up to ILM to convert them for exhibition. This included after-the-fact jobs like their dazzling work on Tim Burton and Henry Selick's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and initial first run features like Disney's "Chicken Little." Also, those guys must be glad to do something that changes the movies in a profound new way, instead of sitting around and adding blinking eyelids to the Ewoks.
The best use of 3D in relation to the "Star Wars" universe, at least currently, is in the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios. In it, you zip through the galaxy, but thanks to an engine that randomizes your adventure, you could go to a number of different planets from the two trilogies – one ride could have you cascading through the planet-wide city Corescant while another can have you careening through the snowy landscape of Hoth. Quite frankly, it's the most fun "Star Wars" experience you can have this side of the original trilogy.
In related "Star Wars" news (we guess), the first trailer and clips from the Seth Green-supervised computer animated series "Star Tours: Detours" have debuted (at the annual Star Wars Celebration via Ain't It Cool). The series looks, at least from these initial first impressions, like rancid Tauntaun (and you thought they smelled bad from the outside!)
The series is set in the years in between "Revenge of the Sith" and "A New Hope" and was co-created by Green's "Robot Chicken" collaborator Matthew Senreich. As such seems like a natural extension of the special "Star Wars"-themed episodes of "Robot Chicken." (They also, with the notable inclusion of Seth MacFarlane as the Emperor, seem a lot like the "Family Guy" riffs on "Star Wars.") The animation looks sloppy, the jokes easy, and the whole thing reeks of both familiarity and creative bankruptcy. The idea of a jokey "Star Wars" show is kind of cool but this…this just looks awful (and not just because we kind of hate anything even remotely associated with the new movies).
"Star Wars: Detours" doesn't have a start date or a network yet, but we would guess that this will make its way to Cartoon Network, where Lucas' phenomenally popular "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" series currently airs (and where Genndy Tartakovsky's original, superior "Clone Wars" micro-series aired before it). Maybe in a later time zone so that it segues into the [adult swim] programming block?
So to recap: "Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones" and "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith," 3D-style, in September and October of next year. "Star Wars: Detours" sometime soon, in a galaxy not-too-far away.