It’s December! While this month has lots of cool things happening (Doctor Who finale! Christmas) perhaps the most exciting is the new Star Wars movie. While I’ve talked about two of my three favourite geek things in detail (Doctor Who and comic books) I haven’t discussed Star Wars much. So with The Force Awakens coming out soon, I thought it was time to discuss the greatest sci-fi film franchise of all time.
My Star Wars experience began when I was very young, after I watched Revenge of the Sith. Yes, I watched a prequel first. I also watched the animated Clone Wars show and basically watched that and Ben 10 for the whole weekends. Now, I’ve seen all the films (except for Phantom Menace) and I love all of them. Yes, even the Prequels. So let’s discuss them first-
Now, as I’ve stated before, I am aware of the Prequel’s flaws. I know they’re stupid, full of plot holes and compared to the other films they really don’t stand up. But that doesn’t mean I hate them. Easily the best thing about the Prequels was the added mythos and story which were added to the franchise. Attack of the Clones launched into the Clone Wars, which made the whole Star Wars universe feel so much bigger and more epic. The Jedi and Sith backstories were expanded upon and there were so many cool characters.
Mace Windu, Jango Fett, Darth Maul, Count Dooku, General Grevious, Plo Koon and Kit Fitsu are just some of the characters which are just awesome. The Prequels breathed more life into the universe, with more alien planets, more alien races, more Jedi and more Sith.
But that’s just what the Prequels created. What about the films themselves? Well, I haven’t seen Phantom Menace, so I can’t have an opinion. If general consensus is to believed however, I’m not missing much. I do know about the lightsaber fight and after watching it, it is amazing. But I have seen the other two. I find Attack of the Clones to be a fun movie, especially at the end. The whole ending is just so cool to watch, with hundreds of Jedi Knights, Yoda versus Count Dooku (I know Yoda having a lightsaber kind of defeats the purpose of him, but I still find it acceptable) and the awesomness of Jango Fett. The rest of the movie is… OK. Anakin’s journey is kind of well done, with his mother’s death being the trigger which turns him into Darth Vader. But all the stuff revolving around him and Padme drags and I wish the film focused on Obi-Wan and the plot about the clones. That stuff is great.
Count Dooku is a great villain but he isn’t in the film enough. Jango Fett however is a constant threat, and I find him cooler than Boba Fett, as Jango does more. I know the plot has holes and it is very convoluted, but I find it engaging and the film ends with a great and dark note, as the galaxy is at war. So overall, I’m not saying Attack of the Clones is a good Star Wars movie, but I still enjoy watching it.
Revenge of the Sith is the first Star Wars film I saw, so of course I’ll defend it. However, I think even now it is a great film. It’s darker, more character driven and less stupid than Attack of the Clones. I love the whole idea of the Emperor corrupting Anakin from the inside and the way the film connects with the original films is very clever. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan continues to be awesome, and his fight with General Grievous is very entertaining.
However, the film gets dark the instant Palpatine becomes the Emperor and Anakin becomes Vader. This is where the film becomes great in my opinion, as the character beats from the last film pay off. Are they payed off satisfyingly or in the best way possible? Not really, but at least the film knows what it is and ends the Prequels well. The Anakin/Obi-Wan duel is emotionally charged and very tense. I love this film, not just because it was my first Star Wars film, but because I find it to be a good movie.
So, let’s talk about the films I don’t have to defend, and yes, I do own the unaltered versions-
The original Star Wars movie is a very strange one for me. It’s a great movie, mostly because of the fact that it’s the first Star Wars. However, I don’t know if it’s blasphemy to say that I find it kind of dull in places. Obviously because it’s the first film it needs to be slow and establish characters, but the film still drags a lot. The final attack on the Death Star is brilliant and the characters are instantly likeable, but the stuff while they break into the Death Star seems like filler. A movie which is a fair comparison is Fellowship of the Ring, yet that had slightly better pacing and more action. I feel like Star Wars (or, for the sake of not confusing everyone, A New Hope) needed more action and less wandering around. Did we really need that garbage chute scene? That could have been used for more Darth Vader screen time. Anyway, it’s still good overall, and is more than worthy of starting a franchise that just got better.
The Empire Strikes Back is the BEST. MOVIE. EVER! Well, it’s one of them, along with Jurassic Park, Up and Return of the King. Not only is Empire Strikes Back a sequel which surpasses the original in every way, but it’s the only Star Wars film which can stand on its own as a masterpiece. The strong emotional core of the story is about family, friendship and the power of good and evil. While the action is incredible, with the Battle of Hoth, the asteroid chase and the final duel all being the best action sequences in the original trilogy, the story is what makes the film come alive. Yoda is a perfect character, showing that the true nature of the Force is a spirtitual force that is powered by emotion. This is the driving force behing Luke’s character. All the characters are pushed to the extreme and the film is constantly moving from action, story and character without ever being boring.
Another thing Empire does better is make the threat feel real. Darth Vader and the Empire feel like genuine threats in this movie. It just adds to the already high stakes and the fact that the heroes are seperated for most of the film means they can go on their individual character arcs. The Empire clearly wins in this movie, making the heroes feel more vulnerable and more real.
Return of the Jedi is a step down, but that’s only because its predecessor was so amazing. While the emotional values are still there, the film repeats a lot of material from the first film. The Death Star appears again, and with the same design fault (seriously, that is a major plot hole). The whole Jabba plot is cool, and features the great Sarlacc Pit fight, but the Empire plot and the emotional core of Empire Strikes Back doesn’t get expanded on too much. Instead, after Han is rescued, the film slows down when the Ewoks appear and the Storm Troopers show their utter stupidity (which is another problem. These films ain’t perfect) by being defeated by them in a ridiculous fight. All the scenes involving Luke, Darth Vader and the Emperor are incredibly powerful though, which is a contrast with the silly Ewok action. There’s a serious tonal problem in the film. Overall, the film is still a satisfactory conclusion to the series.
And that concludes my mega Star Wars overview. I cannot wait for The Force Awakens, which I’ll be watching in two weeks (I’ve got my tickets already). I will definitely review it and it will hopefully satisfy the Star Wars nerd in me. Will it be as good as Empire Strikes Back? Probably not, but not many things are better anyway.