In the autumn of 2012, I did what I always wanted to do: watch all six of the Star Wars movies (which will soon be 7) back to back. Simply put it, Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon that has 6 movies (discounting The Clone Wars), several video games, countless books, and animated TV shows to its name. Being that today is Star Wars Day, I want to share my experience. But, I will not go into the Star Wars franchise as a whole, focusing only on the films.
I’ll be going through them in canonical order (the prequel trilogy first). I’m just throwing it out there so that I don’t have a bunch of trolls saying “you should have put the original Star Wars first”. Furthermore, I’m fully aware that the original Star Wars never used to be called Episode IV until 1999. I’m just counting the episodes as they are.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
This was the first Star Wars movie to be released within my lifetime. There was a game based on it for the PS1 (I’ve never played it, but it’s got to be better than the actual movie). It actually reminds me of John Carter, except for the fact that John Carter was a piece of crap, and this wasn’t.
The plot was a complete joke. It was far too embroiled in politics, and it was way too long for what it was, and Jar-Jar Binks only seems to make it worse. But those aside, they actually tried hard to make it good. The presentation seems to be genuinely inspired, and the action scenes look good, despite there being so few of them.
It seems as though George Lucas spent too much time making the film look good rather than having a good plot to it.
Overall, it’s definitely the worst in the series (only because I haven’t seen The Clone Wars), but it’s not as bad as everyone says it is. In fact, if they ironed out some of the flaws, it would have been great.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
I remember seeing an ad for this movie in America when I was 8. I also remember that Simpsons gag where Lenny and Carl were fighting with plutonium rods over which of the first two Star Wars movies sucked more.
Yes, it was a significant improvement over The Phantom Menace, because it was less about the politics and more about the impressive-looking action. The characters are better, except Anakin, who somehow ends up being worse than ever. The presentation is still very well done, and, pretty much everything except Anakin improved in Attack of the Clones.
Why it took three years to do that astounds me. Maybe it takes three years to make a Star Wars movie (9 years for an entire trilogy).
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
This is probably just my opinion, but this is definitely the best of the prequel trilogy.
This is where everything in Star Wars goes to its more recognized form, complete with establishing the history of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader, and pretty much every major character from A New Hope. The special effects and fighting scenes look awesome, as though the special effects have been perfected, as though they actually got better with age.
It manages to capture the spirit of the old Star Wars movies in a new one, which is nothing short of an achievement.
Episode IV: A New Hope (originally just Star Wars)
And now we arrive at the obvious classic, the original Star Wars.
The characters were portrayed very well, and the special effects, though they seem outdated, were ground-breaking for the time and are still amazing. The special effects especially play a major part in the action sequences, which are very well done.
It’s a great movie, but I worry that the number of parodies have ruined the younger generation’s impression of it, with Family Guy having done the worst damage, treating the Star Wars trilogy like just another random Family Guy episode.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (originally Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
Once again, the original trilogy had come out with a classic for the ages.
The story actively paves the way for the sequel, Return of the Jedi, and the actors once again fulfil their roles with genuine ability. The special effects have slightly improved over A New Hope, and the locales are brilliantly designed. Of course, this is where that classic plot twist comes from, resulting in parody after parody, but it lives up to the greatness of its predecessor.
Some say this is superior to A New Hope, but I think this is better, due to plot being a little less one-sided than A New Hope, and more complex.
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (originally Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
It may not be as good as the other two before it, but I think it’s a great way to end a trilogy, better in that regard than the way the prequel trilogy ended in Revenge of the Sith.
The presentation is still at top quality, and the characters are still all great. Speak of characters, this was the movie that showed that Darth Vader was more than just a villain. He was actually a complex character with a deep back story (something that would get needlessly convoluted with the prequel trilogy).
The finality of the ending actually makes me question whether or not we actually need an Episode VII, VIII, or even IX. The original trilogy was already great, so why spoil a good thing?
You could say that Star Wars is for nerds, but you’d be missing the point, just like I used to miss the point when I saw various heavy metal posters and associated them with the same death metal sound (now I know better). Even though Disney now owns the rights to Star Wars, I doubt that they’ll do too much to it. It’s not as though Disney would try and offend the millions of fans, who would vent their rage on innocent forums if that did happen.