A documentary that never quite manages to make itself more worthwhile than just as a gimmick, The People vs. George Lucas amounts to little more than fanboy ramblings about how George Lucas has taken the ‘Star Wars’ saga way from its rightful owners.
Individual arguments work and hold water, but the total thesis is muddled and diluted, keeping the viewer from actually seeing this as being a successful documentary. What saves this from being a waste of time is how entertaining some of the flick is (especially the fan re-creations of the original trilogy), but it can’t add up to enough. The end result is a bit of a disappointment, especially if you have a passionate stance on whether or not Greedo or Han Solo shot first (if you don’t know what that means, this documentary either isn’t for you or it will be incredibly informative to you, if rather one sided).
Using at times a courtroom style debate approach (though they never really stick with it), the documentary looks at George Lucas, the godfather of Star Wars. Lucas is given a quick biographical background check, and then the insults start flying. Among them, the talking head nerds take issue with his hypocritical tinkering with the original trilogy (after testifying before Congress years back in regard to keeping Black and White films from colorization) that resulted in the “Special Editions” being the only ones available currently on DVD. There’s also a lot of mudslinging done in regard to the prequels that he put out (they argue basically that he’s a prick for making them suck and taking their money), as well as a general distaste for the moneymaking juggernaut that his company has become. As previously mentioned, it’s not very well focused, and while it’s clear that all of these people (mostly C level celebrities and below) love Star Wars, but have a complex relationship with Lucas. The documentary ends up pulling its punches at the denouement, unwilling to completely burn the bridge from Lucas.
Director Alexandre O. Philippe obviously sides with “the people,” but that doesn’t excuse him from not making the documentary compelling enough to appeal to those not already featured in the film. This feels more like a special feature on a DVD than an actual movie. To be fair, much of the flick works on the level it’s meant to work on, but it’s just not enough in my opinion. To me, there was the potential for so much more and it’s more or less wasted on inconsequential pouting by a bunch of people who really need to focus on the positive and let go of the negative. Not everyone will agree with me there, but that’s where I stand on that.
In regard to my personal feelings on “Uncle George”, I happen to love all 3 original films in the saga and have no major issues with the prequels. Episode 3 is excellent to me, and 1 and 2 are serviceable summer entertainment, nothing more. Would I like to have every version of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to watch on DVD at home? Of course. Does it matter much to me? Of course not. I’m just not nearly as angry as these guys and girls are.
All in all, The People vs. George Lucas works as a portrait of fanboy obsessions, but it fails as an expose of George Lucas and his supposed crimes against his fans. I also think a lot was left on the cutting room floor, so perhaps there’s a successful documentary to be found somewhere in this slight mess. I definitely didn’t dislike it, but this is a great special feature of TV special posing as a theatrical quality work. Star Wars fans will use it as a jumping off point for debate, but most others won’t have a huge use for it. It’s just not a strong enough documentary to earn my recommendation.