... a deeply researched and striking new biography ... To stitch together his tale, Jones had to rely on previous biographies, interviews, and magazine profiles, which at times make this biography feel more factual and respectful than analytic. Still, overall Jones’s narrative is undeniably spellbinding and will be especially compelling to film nerds.
This biography is 'unauthorized,' but even though Jones interviewed only a handful of Lucas’s friends and collaborators, he has mined the literature on Lucas’s life and work to produce an admirably comprehensive view. He treats the man more as a businessman than an artist, avoiding psychologizing and critical assessments of the films to concentrate on the tangible accomplishments. As a book, it’s not so much for Star Wars fans — although even they will probably find something new in it — as it is for those who want to know how Lucas changed an industry.
...in a world currently taken by a biographical subject as rich and substantive as Alexander Hamilton, this may not be the one you're looking for. In many ways, there is simply not all that much to the story ... Film geeks will rejoice at the detailed explanation of how Star Wars was made. And there's great insight into the way the film industry works — and how Lucas and company changed it ... while Lucas was also an innovator in other aspects of the modern movie game — technology, merchandising, sequelizing — the unavoidable fact remains that he made a few good movies four decades ago and a huge amount of dross since ... Lucas emerges as a likable and largely admirable person — a tremendously accomplished guy who's enjoying his life and has done good things with it. But, again, is that a story worth telling — much less reading and paying for?
Mr. Jones cites scores of interviews given by Mr. Lucas and his colleagues over the years. Yet this is not just a scissors-and-paste biography. Mr. Jones has viewed his subject’s life and career from afar and ascribed to it an arc that seems logical if not quite inevitable. His serviceable prose suits the deceptively relaxed informality of Mr. Lucas’s own lifestyle.
The most compelling part of Brian Jay Jones’ very readable book covers the years in which this kid went from a provincial, and nearly rural, childhood to studying illustration and going to film school at the University of Southern California ... it’s not that Jones has much that is new, but his narrative of the ordeal and triumph makes wonderful reading ... Jones is a good storyteller, but for the most part the Lucas empire has not assisted him.
Unfortunately the narrative of Brian Jay Jones’s George Lucas: A Life, almost collapses under the weight of this embarrassment of riches. Up until the aftermath of the first Star Wars film, Jones’s biography provides a captivating look at very specific parts of American cultural history...And the account of the making and release of Star Wars is riveting...But in subsequent chapters Jones piles on details to a degree that will put off all but the most devoted Star Wars geeks ... Any sense of a story of Lucas’s life is almost crushed under the weight of details.
Jones' book reminds us that Lucas saw the promise of digital filmmaking before just about anyone, and consistently put his own riches on the line to make that promise a reality ... You're also reminded why it became so easy for true Star Wars believers to dislike him ... he left a Chewbacca-size footprint on the culture. Jones overstates this case a bit.
While it may just be a refresher for hardcore Lucas fanboys, for more casual moviegoers the book offers a lot of interesting trivia and insight ... Jones goes deep 'inside baseball' when it comes to filmmaking techniques and industry minutiae — though movie nerds will eat those parts up ... A Life is a solid read about a fiercely independent, unforgettable American filmmaking icon.