How Far Can You Stretch a Brand?

This question has been on my mind for a while, and it came to a head yesterday when I took my kids to see “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”. Now, I have to add a disclaimer first: Going into the theater, I had very low expectations of this movie…I knew it would be lame because it looked lame. I was just totally unprepared for how lame it really was.

Let me give you a run down of the movie:

1 hour and 3 minutes of robots and clones shooting lasers at each other, some from point-blank range.

35 minutes of totally unenlightening conversation that either a) has little to do with plot or character development or b) does little FOR plot or character development

15 minutes of unenlightening conversation WHILE clones and robots shoot lasers at each other.

5 minutes of jedi dueling (featuring no more than 3 acrobatic stunts usually characteristic of jedi dueling)

5 minutes of real plot development

Yep, that makes about 2 hours of completely mind-numbing emptiness, that will have you checking your watch from the 20 minute point, onward.

And what’s more, I’ve seen better CGI animation on PBS Kids TV Shows…we’re talking a range of 3 expressions on people’s faces, and movements that couldn’t be more stiff if they were on a classic Hannah-Barbara cartoon.

But I digress…to my first point.

How far can you stretch a brand? It seems George Lucas is intent on keeping the Star Wars brand alive, and he’ll do just about anything to keep it current, even if that means throwing a stupid plotless story together and completely destroying what Star Wars meant to us first generationers for our kids. How many more stories can you really drag out of this trilogy Georgie? And why are you so intent on building the brand around characters that 1) don’t have as much draw as the original Han, Leiah, and Luke trio, and 2) are fundamentally tragic: Anakin turns to the dark side, Obi-Wan dies at the hand of his Paduan, and Yoda never really sees the fulfillment of the prophecy he talks about for hundreds of years.

Frankly, you can only go so far with a brand before you start killing it, and Friday, George Lucas broke ground for the grave-site soon to be labeled “Star Wars”.

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