AI Dared to Imagine What a Wes Anderson “Star Wars” Movie Would Look Like
A fake trailer for "The Galactic Menagerie" was made using AI tools, but some film fans are less than thrilled with the viral video
Is the Force strong with artificial intelligence? It depends on who you ask, but people on the internet — per usual — have no shortage of opinions.
We know this because a YouTube channel called Curious Refuge, whose managers describe it as “weird, random, serious, and silly,” posted a mock trailer of a Wes Anderson-style Star Wars movie that appears to have been produced with the help of AI software, possibly Midjourney. We write “appears to” because the YouTubers did not confirm as much in their post. However, the video’s voiceover narration and images have many AI calling cards, including robotic-sounding, monosyllabic sentences, which frankly would fit right into Anderson’s oeuvre, and not-quite-totally-accurate-looking depictions of real-life actors, including Timothée Chalamet and Scarlett Johansson.
The “film” was dubbed The Galactic Menagerie and described on YouTube as “a whimsical and visually stunning fan-made fake trailer that reimagines the classic Star Wars universe through the eccentric lens of Wes Anderson.”
“This enchanting mashup brings together iconic Star Wars characters with Anderson’s trademark symmetrical compositions, pastel color palettes, and quirky humor,” the blurb continues. “Journey to a galaxy far, far away and experience a unique adventure featuring Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and other fan favorites. Watch as they navigate the Galactic Menagerie, a universe filled with eccentric creatures, charming droids, and peculiar locations reminiscent of Anderson’s beloved films such as ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.’”
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If you’re a Star Wars and Wes Anderson fan like I am — at least of a few selections in those respective canons — you might think the outcome of this fun and innocent experiment is pretty spot on in that it deftly combines the best of both worlds.
Many online agree, as The Hollywood Reporter noted. Twitter user @JBufford3 wrote, “Completely tracks and I would watch that. So good.” Twitter account All The Right Movies (@ATRightMovies), which posted the fake trailer, responded: “Would absolutely watch.” And YouTuber @MarkGalanter1171 commented underneath the original post, “I’ve never wanted to see a movie as much as I do this one.”
But AI has emerged as quite a polarizing piece of technology — and understandably so. Writers (like me) are concerned about how word-focused uses of AI will phase-out their jobs. Some have already given up hope, supposedly becoming “AI prompt engineers,” using their writing skills to provide AI software with well-crafted instructions that will theoretically help it optimize content production. Vulture just published a feature about how AI will soon be able to produce feature-length films, saying the tech is already changing the movie industry. And in the longer term, we’ve seen time and time again in human-produced movies how reliance on machines ends for humankind.
So when even a self-described “silly” YouTuber experiments in AI film production, people get upset. “You robbed *both* Star Wars and Wes Anderson films of what makes them charming and unique with this AI crap. Congratulations,” tweeted @doctorbaixue. “An artificial intelligence will never be able to grasp the sincerity of the emotions, expression and humanity painted onto the screen by Wes Anderson,” @funEman_ wrote. “All ai is capable of is mocking how an image is structured. It has no comprehension of Mise-En-Scène. It does not feel.”
The debate may come down to whether or not people would actually pay money to watch an AI-produced film. Sharing a jokey video is one thing, but if people actually shell out for a full-length AI movie — which I don’t doubt given what Marvel movies make — the old ways of cinema could fade into oblivion, like a dying Star Wars character.
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