Star Wars

Thoughts on watching all the Star Wars movies — some for the first time in a very long time, others for the first time ever. Overall, I find them mildly entertaining (some more than others) but I have no idea why they’ve become as popular as they are.

Episode IV — A New Hope (1977)— I saw this a whole bunch of times when it first came out, before all the updates and CGI were added. I don’t remember it well enough to know what’s changed, but there were places where the CGI was obviously new and bad. But my main thought is this: Princess Leia wanted to get the death star plans to the rebel base, but in a world with all sorts of funky technology, there was no way to send it digitally? Her only option was to stick a file into a droid and send it off to a planet where a Jedi lived in hope that somehow the droid and the Jedi would meet? And it worked because the droid, that was immediately captured by droid pirates, just happened to be sold to Leia’s brother whom she didn’t know even existed and then only because the droid his uncle actually wanted blew up at the last minute? Could happen.

Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1980) — I wasn’t a huge fan of this movie when it first came out. I’m still not. The long bit where Luke trains with Yoda is dull. Luke leaves before his training is finished but somehow is a Jedi anyway. I have a question about the opening scene too. The rebels are on the ice planet where they get around by riding on tauntauns. But they can’t ride them at night because it gets so cold that the creatures freeze. But don’t the tauntauns live on that planet? Why are there any left? And the betrayal by Lando felt like a scene that exists only to drag the story into a third film.

Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983) — Jabba the Hutt is a giant slug who’s attracted to human females in skimpy costumes? And why does Luke threaten to use the force in Jabba’s headquarters but then never actually use it? And what was the actual plan to rescue Han and did they have to get all the other members of the team captured on purpose to execute it? OK, the part with the Ewoks wasn’t bad. But the ending … The Emperor wasn’t scary so much as he just looked like he hadn’t slept in a week.

Emperor: “Luke, give way to your hatred. Grab your light saber and fight your father. Then you will become part of the dark side.”

Luke (does everything the Emperor just told him to do)

Emperor: “Delightful. You have now joined the dark side.”

Luke: “No”

Emperor: “Rats. I thought that would work.”

And the Emperor, who supposedly has all the power of the force, can’t even levitate himself or save himself when Darth Vader picks him up and throws him down that wherever it was he threw him down. It seems the force is a rather fickle and useless power. And did the Empire learn nothing in the first movie when the rebels flew down a hole in the death star and fired on that one place that would make the star blow up? Apparently not. They built a second, bigger star with an even bigger hole for the rebels to fly down so they could fire on that one place that made the star blow up.

Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999) — A hot mess this movie was. The first hour was almost unwatchable. I was repeatedly amazed that well-known actors were able to utter their awful lines with straight faces. It seemed to get a little better in the second half, although I may have just stopped paying close attention. Who was the phantom? What was with the queen’s hairstyles and makeup, and how did she change them so quickly so often? And did it actually say that Anakin was fathered by cells inside his own body? 

Episode II — Attack of the Clones (2002) — That was a lot of movie just to establish who Luke and Leia’s mother was and to explain how Darth Vadar lost his arm. There really wasn’t much of a plot, and what there was I’m not sure I understood. How did Jango Fett’s clone army end up fighting for the good guys? How come Yoda can barely walk with the help of a cane but he can dance a jig while having a saber fight with Count Dooku? And when Dooku took off at the end of the fight, Yoda used the force to push the pillar away from Obi-Wan and Anakin. Why didn’t he toss it at Dooku’s ship and disable it? And this isn’t really about this movie in particular, but Christopher Lee has played the exact same character in every movie he’s ever been in—a pompous, boring prig.

Episode III — Revenge of the Sith (2005) — Only the most die-hard Star Wars fans could get into a movie when they already know exactly what happens to every one of the characters. It did get a bit more interesting after Anakin finally made up his mind for the dark side. I still don’t understand why Yoda doesn’t use the force to walk without a cane, or why the Jedi can sometimes just point at things and blow them away but usually don’t. For example, during that long, boring sequence that showed the clones killing all the Jedi … Why didn’t they just blast all the clones into the next county? And when did R2D2 suddenly become a fighting droid?

Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015) — Yet another death star with yet another fatal weakness. Will they ever come up with a new idea? And why didn’t they build it inside a tropical planet instead of one that was perpetually winter?  And Kylo Ren—he can whip things all over the place with the power of the force, so why did it take him so long to dispatch Finn? Anyway, this one was more interesting than any of the others (except maybe the very first one the first time or two I saw it), with characters I actually could root for. If the next one’s going to be any good, Mark Hamill is going to have to learn how to actually act.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) — Another way to look at the Star Wars franchise is as a compendium of silly helmets. Seriously. Anyway, since I wasn’t paying any attention when this movie came out, it took me a while to figure out what was happening and when—and why. To explain how the plans for the Death Star got to Princess Leia, they took two-and-a-quarter hours, made up a bunch of new characters that were all killed off, and created bad CGI fakes for several others. Instead of this totally forgettable movie filled largely with battle scenes between anonymous people, they could have just had a character in the next movie say, “The engineer who designed the Death Star hated the Empire and created a flaw so that it could be destroyed. He got a message to his daughter who led a raid to capture the plans and send them to the rebels.” See how easy that was? I just saved you two hours and 13 minutes.

Episode VIII — The Last Jedi (2017) — It appears we’re finally done with Mark Hamill’s grim attempts at acting. The thread about Kylo Ren as a troubled little boy with a temper is getting old. I thought the bit with Poe’s mutiny was dumb. Why didn’t Admiral Holdo just explain her plan? What was the point of keeping it a secret? I do like the characters of Rey, Finn, and Poe, so it was mostly entertaining when they were on screen, if forgettable. What I really didn’t care for was when Snoke said to Kylo Ren, “Well done, my good and faithful apprentice.” At best, it was a feeble attempt at making the Star Wars story deep. At best.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) — This movie had a huge strike against it before it began—if it isn’t Harrison Ford, it isn’t Han Solo. The major plot device seemed to be having major characters double-cross each other, which got ridiculous quickly. But it kept my interest thanks, in part, to a lot more character development and a lot fewer space battles.

Episode IX — 

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