Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Star Wars, 12 Months and Counting

**Spoilers only for those who haven't seen all of the movies so far**

For my last blog post of the year, I felt it made sense to talk about Star Wars VII, which will be out this time next year. The plan is for me to have my ass in a theater seat with my son next to me, watching a brand new Star Wars on the big screen. It will be something of a Star Wars full circle since my son is now the age I was when I saw my first Star Wars movie in a theater (Return of The Jedi; I saw A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back on TV before that)
I've seen every subsequent Star Wars movie in the theaters since and, truth be told, I wish I had my money back for at least two of those three.
Like every other Star Wars fan born in the 70's and 80's, I was psyched when Lucas revealed that not only would there be three brand spanking new Star Wars movies, but he would also be touching up the original trilogy with new scenes and updated special effects. My thinking was: if the original was awesome, then a revamped trilogy had to be better.
Yes and No.
Some things in the updated trilogy worked, but a computerized Jabba The Hutt in a New Hope? (who, incidentally, is about half the size he is in Return of The Jedi) doesn't. Nor did  the redone band scene in Jabba's Palace. Overall I still gave it a passing grade but the original will always be better, in my opinion.
Now, onto the prequel trilogy.
I looked forward to its release for years (six to be exact) so when the time finally came to watch Phantom Menace, the first new Star Wars movie in sixteen years and which was never supposed to be, I was first in line, popcorn and  Reeses Pieces in hand, and seated in some theater in Florida waiting eagerly for the opening crawl that I knew was coming, and then it did, and for nearly three hours I watched what I had waited so long for. But when the end credits began rolling, I was left scratching my head. What I had watched was Star Wars, but...different.
And very disappointing.
The main thorn in Phantom Menace's side is (of course) Jar Jar Binks. The first trilogy had the perfect amount of humor and there was always a sense of looming danger. Jar Jar Binks took that all away right off the bat. Instead of funny, he was annoying, even in the thick of battle; with him in the scene I felt like I was watching the Power Rangers or some other bloodless Nickelodeon offering. Things were gonna be okay, no danger, they're using Nerf weapons and only the attack droids die.
Then there was the convoluted subplots: Darth Vader built C3PO ON Tatooine ? Memory wipes or not, I' m not buying it.
Lucas said he added Jar Jar so the movies would appeal to children....okkkaaaayyy. I was five when I saw my first Star Wars movie and thought they were all the best things on Earth for the longest time, decapitations, severed arms, tauntaun guts, and brother sister kissing included. And I wasn't alone, obviously; millions of other  children felt the same. And if Mr. Lucas wanted to appeal to children with something as sappy as Jar Jar Binks, what was he trying to do in Revenge of The Sith (oops, jumping ahead) when Anakin gets fried alive in a lava pit? Traumatize them?
But the special effects and graphics were really good and the overall story made sense, so I looked forward to Attack of The Clones (which makes me think of killer tomatoes whenever I see it; don't know why), just not as much as I had been with Phantom Menace.
So, three years later, there I was back in a theater (this time in Massachusetts) eagerly awaiting  the opening crawl once more. This time when the end credits came rolling, I felt it was more Star Wars than Phantom Menace had been. The special effects were spot on, there was a true sense of danger and seriousness throughout, but then there was the fifteen minute chunk of C3PO one-liners that made my skin crawl and Boba Fett's dad is what the Clone Army is derived from? (more convoluted subplots) Not saying it can' happen, it just doesn't seem to fit.
And then finally, Revenge of The Sith. I can't really say anything too bad about it. It brought the trilogy to an effective and emotional end perfectly, the battles were awesome, the story played out as it should, and the only real bad thing I can say is about Darth Vader's over-dramatic "NOOOoooooo!!!!" at the end.
And with all that said, I am once more looking forward to a new Star Wars movie. From what I've seen of the trailers, it has great potential, but time will tell.
None of the above is a knock to Star Wars the franchise. Star Wars is awesome across many mediums (movies, shows, books, video games) But Episodes I and II took something away from the greater whole, in my opinion.
Hopefully by next December, I will be singing The Force Awakens praise...fingers crossed.
Happy New Year everyone! May the force be with you! (yeah, I went there.)

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