2015 is a huge year for Star Wars. With a resurgence in video games (Battlefront), a new movie, and news of separate standalone films, Star Wars is as big as ever. Last week was May the 4th and Revenge of the Fifth, the “Official Star Wars days”, and I partook in a marathons of both trilogies. It is interesting to watch them all, back to back, with excitement growing for this coming December. While watching it was hard not to think back to my childhood which was filled with Star Wars–toys, movies, video games, action figures, you name it. So now, for my second Raging Rant, I am going to be talking to you about my thoughts on the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and what is to come.
In Regards to the Original Trilogy:
As a kid of the 90s, I remember having the special edition VHS collection of the original trilogy–you know, the ones before George Lucas really got “creative” with reediting them. Saturday mornings I would pop them in and occasionally forget to turn down the volume when that loud THX logo appeared resulting in a shaking room, but then I was there in a galaxy far, far away. I was terrified of Darth Vader entering at the beginning of New Hope, stunned at the revelation in Empire Strikes Back, and desiring more than anything to have an Ewok and speeder bike from Return of the Jedi. My childhood up until the Phantom Menace was a constant barrage of watching the old movies, playing with toy lightsabers, and acting like a stormtrooper with fake blasters.
This was a time before I was actually into film, so I was ignorant as to the filmic quality of the original trilogy. But as I have grown older, it is hard to look past at the greatness of each movie. Sure, some of it is a little slower paced compared to the sci-fi of the 21st century, and the special effects are nowhere near what we have today–but you cannot deny that each film was a work of genius. Han, Chewbacca, Luke, and Leia were like friends you were always excited to see. You desperately wanted to have force powers, to be able to train with a real lightsaber, to live in this universe.
Everyone can relate to someone in Star Wars, and I think that is why it has aged as well as it has. It is probably the most recognizable pop culture icon to come out of the 70s. It spawned hundreds and hundreds of books, action figures, spoofs, parodies, and even the occasional porno. Yet it was 16 years later that things would drastically change. In 1999, we would be introduced to Phantom Menace and then it got polarizing.
In Regards to the Prequel Trilogy:
As a kid of about 6 or 7, it is easy to ignore the stunted dialogue, hollow acting (freaking Jake Lloyd as young Anakin), and annoying characters *cough* Jar Jar *cough.* We were just excited to see some wicked lightsaber fights with Darth Maul, epic battle scenes with the Droids, and a whole new slew of toys for us to mess around with. Phantom Menace is pretty hated, as is most of the prequel trilogy. Yes, it is not necessarily a “good” movie. But it is fun, especially for kids. Watching it now, I am still entertained. Yes, it is hard not to laugh at some of the one-liners that were probably thought to be as classic as some of the originals, and it is even harder not to despise Jar Jar. Yet it is just still so epic when Darth Maul appears and that chilling and amazing music from John Williams rings out. You may hate it, say it puts a bad name to the saga, but I say just go with it–you’re taking it too seriously.
What people might forget among its not-so-good quality is that it really introduced Star Wars to a new generation. Showing people these days who have seen neither of the trilogies actually seem to prefer the newer stuff based on its pacing, special effects, and general technological advancements. So if you hate it, we get it. It’s never going to be as good as the originals but it serves an important purpose in bridging the generations and introducing some to the a great saga.
Attack of the Clones on the other hand is, in my opinion, worse than Phantom Menace. Hayden Christensen is blatantly cringe-worthy with more awkward and creepy advances to Natalie Portman’s Padme than you could possibly handle. The fight scenes are a bit unnecessary, and it serves as merely a bridge between the childhood years of Anakin, to the beginning of his path down the Dark Side–also we learn that Anakin hates sand, like seriously–so there’s that.
I still remember the excitement of preparing for Revenge of the Sith back when I was in 5th grade. My brother, his friends, and I marathoned the 5 films in preparation for what we thought was going to be the final chapter. We showed up at the midnight premiere 10 years ago this month. People were ecstatic–dressed in all forms of costumes, carrying lightsabers, and eagerly anticipating the movie. Applause filled the air when the crawl started–it was going to be the last one at the time. I honestly love Revenge of the Sith. I think it perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the two different trilogies while serving as an excellent conclusion for a less-than-perfect trilogy. The final turn to the Dark Side, Yoda heading to Dagobah, seeing Chewbacca, the heart-wrenching final scenes on Mustafar, the magnificent duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan (with incredible music)–it is an immense and great film. George Lucas pulled out all the stops in order to redeem the first two films, and he did so with success.
In Regard to the New Movies:
When Disney announced the purchase of LucasArts back in 2012, there was a loud outburst–“No, we’ve had enough! Leave it as it is!” “We don’t need another Phantom Menace!,” but, with J.J. Abrams in the director’s chair and the first two trailer’s out, I am more excited than I probably should be. Even if the actual movie is half as good as the trailer’s are, then it won’t be a horrible movie. There is still no full plotline, but rumors have it that the original cast is only going to appear so as to “pass the torch” to a newer generation of actors to carry on the Star Wars legacy. Because, I mean, they’re all getting old. Abrams knows what people want, he knows how to please. But, just like those who are immense fans of Star Trek, there will be those who might not value the new movies. Nevertheless, I am excited.
While the new trilogy is being established, there are two announced standalone films within the Star Wars Universe–one is a story about the early days of the Death Star and the rebels who try to steal its plans, and then the other is an origin story of Boba Fett (those who may know we already saw him as a kid when his father, Jango, was beheaded by Mace Windu in Attack of the Clones). These films could be a nice little spice to the Star Wars stew, focusing on things that are more canon and less known than the main strifes with the Empire.
Regardless of your happiness about the resurgence of Star Wars, it is here to stay. As I partially relive my childhood, I find myself counting down the days to December 18th when I can finally return to that galaxy far, far away.