Light & Magic (2022)

Title: Light & Magic

Year: 2022

Genre:  Documentary  |

Seasons: 1 |

Runtime:  54-63 min

Director: Lawrence Kasdan

Starring: George Lucas, Dennis Muren, Lorne Petersen


9.0/10

Showcasing the people of Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects division of Lucasfilm, this series takes us back in time as they create the effects for some of the biggest and most successful films of the last 45 years.

LOSES IT’S GRIP IN THE END

2001: A Space Odyssey was released in the late 1960s. An epic tale taking place in space. But as it was great as a masterpiece, George Lucas wanted to do something quicker. Something faster like dogfights of spaceships in outer space. That’s the beginning of DisneyPlus Light & Magic, it contributes to the manikin story of how Lucas redeems the industry, first with Star Wars. A film with such magnitude that revolutionizes the whole of Hollywood in storytelling but mostly the visual effects.

As it was produced from 1975-1976, the required technology wasn’t available. Lucas’ determination on moving forward, led to his crew building the cameras and building the software and utilities that were needed to finish the film. This innovative cornerstone is a major part of Lawrence Kasdan’s impressive limited series that chronicles the visual aspect of Lucas’ own visual effect company Industrial Light & Magic hence the series titles. It covers the company’s history from its humble beginnings in the 70s into The Mandalorian with the special effects of the present day.

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It focuses on the same person in each episode retelling specific moments from every decade, giving fifty years’ worth of work. We get to know old and new employees that have worked with ILM. It’s a series that grows and it’s very lighthearted. It pushes the envelope and showcases in detail how the special effect team dealt with an absent George Lucas and a new technology that didn’t exist. It deals with problems, issues and the comfort this group of key people has had. Of course, the documentary showcases strong leadership from Lucas, Steven Spielberg and his friends.

In the end, the success and the creative innovation of ILM might become slightly deterrent with its repetition. As you understand, these guys are hired by the best of the best in Hollywood to share their stories. This is the crew that introduced Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Jurassic Park by creating iconic scenes that still are in discussion, 30 years later. This was during the three first decades an innovative revolutionized company that changed the motion picture forever. It brings such detail and information that few in the genre of behind the scenes of Hollywood, that other docuseries come close to. It also mirrors the hard work, the layoff and the lesser conflicts stirring up.

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This is a series that keeps it tight in the narrative in the first three episodes, to later widen the narrative as the company took on other projects.  The last episode doesn’t really stick the landing as expected. It doesn’t appeal as an honest series finale. Sure, Lawrence Kasdan is a wonderful director in this but the final sixth episode doesn’t live up to the standard those other episodes give. It’s a wonderful series, but it ended on an open note and didn’t conclude this. It tries to look ahead to the future.

I like the personal portraits, giving a more nuanced perspective and a little more humane sense of how it works. It doesn’t drag anywhere in substantial behaviour as it has great flow and pace making these hours of content just fly by. It’s also a portrayal of how goody-good the people at ILM are, compare to others. In retrospect, it’s a major interest point for Star Wars – fantasts but also those who are interesting in film and post-production. On the downside, it could have gone deeper in some of the films than just name-dropping it.

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