A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away….
In 1977. a man named George Lucas changed the world forever with his vision. He made an incredible movie—a space opera—based on the classic westerns and film serials of his childhood. It was called Star Wars. Straight and simple. There was no subtitle. And a certain rogue/scoundrel/scruffy-looking nerf herder didn’t just shoot first, he shot only. At least, that’s what I remember of the first two times I saw it at our local drive-in movie theater. The film—filled with a farm boy, a space cowboy, a princess, robots, spaceships, crackling laser swords, and more—was a hit. And it delighted moviegoers young and old and in between. It’s also #13 on the American Film Institute’s top films of all time.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
A few years after that phenomenon, Lucas did it again—only this time he let someone else write (Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett) and direct (Irvin Kershner) his vision. It was a near masterpiece. Far better than the already-incredible predecessor. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is not only considered to be the best Star Wars film of the entire series, but also one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. I couldn’t agree more.
Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi
Two years later, George Lucas closed out what would become known as the Star Wars trilogy with Return of the Jedi (written by Kasdan and Lucas, with Richard Marquand behind the camera). I was about 13 when it came out and I’m pretty sure I went to see it just as many times that summer. Jedi is considered to be the weakest of the three (mostly because of those lovable, little, alien Care Bears known as Ewoks). However, it’s still an incredible film that closed the arc of its main characters and solidified Star Wars as one of the most lucrative, creative, entertaining, and influential film franchises in all of cinematic history.
Then, like space itself … nothing. Star Wars was over. At least, when it came to the big screen. Lucas said he had story ideas but that he would never make them into films. Movie fans like myself fell into a great depression after that. Sure, there were still books based on the characters and mythos, but only hardcore fans would get into them. There were video games too, but again, they only catered to a small market of young gamers. The Star Wars phenomenon was officially dead. Until….
Star Wars: The Prequels
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Nearly 16 years after the release of Jedi, Lucas returned to Star Wars, giving us the prequel story, The Phantom Menace. It sucked. No, seriously. It really did. Compete Bantha poodoo. Don’t try and argue with me. Just … don’t. Directed by Lucas, the movie had a talentless child as its hero (young Anakin Skywalker), a horrible CGI sidekick (Jar Jar Binks) as its comic relief, a slow, muddled storyline—midi-effin-chlorians! Ugh! It was a piece of junk. However, it made a fortune, which spurred Lucas to make another piece of junk—even worse than that one!
Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones was just plain insulting. Like its father before it, it was filled with god-awful dialogue (“I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth”), more offensive CGI (that stupid coliseum battle), and even worse acting from a second actor playing Anakin. How!?!
Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith
Its sequel, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, was an improvement (and only because of an excellent lightsaber battle). But really, it was like putting lipstick on an Ugnaught. The story was just poorly thought out. I mean, Anakin chooses to go to the dark side? Just like that! The lava CGI scene looked terrible. Padme dies of a broken heart. She even says it before she succumbs. And then that Vader scene at the end? Ugh. He wasn’t the only one standing up at the end of that movie and wailing to the world.
I blame George Lucas. I absolutely do. I’ve watched the numerous commentaries contained on all of the DVDs. It’s his fault. His lack of story (which he writes with a pencil on yellow, lined paper), his subpar directing skills (“Do it again—faster”), and his enamorment over the special effects are the reason why the prequels all sucked. So, how did I feel when it was announced that Disney was buying Lucasfilm?
A New Hope …. Again
When I heard that Lucas was selling his empire to Disney, I had mixed emotions. At first I was like, “Disney?!? Ugh. None of their non-kiddie movies are ever good.” But then I realized that Disney had been killin’ it with the Marvel franchise. So that gave me a—you guessed it—new hope.
Following the Mouse House’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, an announcement came that they would continue with the lives of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and other characters from the original franchise. Fans were thrilled! But then Disney let it be known that they were not following all of the material that was considered “canon” in those galaxies far, far away. Fans were scared. Only time would tell….
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
In my opinion, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was good. Yes, I was bothered by the weak story moments (Poe Dameron disappears into an unexplained sand creature, Captain Phasma just gives up and opens the shield, Leia hugs Rey after Han’s death and not Chewie), and annoyed by unnecessary CGI characters like Maz Kanata. However, I enjoyed the mix of new and old characters, and was fine with the so-called, rehashed plotline from A New Hope. I really don’t think it is a retread. It’s a classic arc followed by every genre of storytelling. In the end, my faith in the franchise had been somewhat restored.
Star Wars: Rogue One
When it was announced that Disney was going to do a one-off about the race to steal the Death Star plans, I was in. Rogue One, which featured a cast of mostly new and unknown characters knocked my socks off. It was dark like Empire, based in the original trilogy’s timeline, had very few weak spots in the story, and took it easy on the CGI. Plus, it had that Vader scene at the end! I place Rogue One as the 4th best Star Wars movie in the franchise after Empire, New Hope, and Return. It could possibly be third, but I haven’t seen it 30-plus times like I did with Jedi.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
O.M.G., Rian Johnson. What did you do?! Why? How? How could you, the director of the wonderful Looper, ruin Star Wars … again?!? You took everything that was classic Star Wars, and everything that was new Star Wars, and said f*ck it. There was so little that was right with this film that I can’t even bare to watch it again. Finn? Wasted. Rey? Wasted. Luke? Wasted. There were characters Force dying, Force living, Force sweeping! What the Force were you thinking?!?
I swear, I’m done.
Or Am I?
Disney also announced that they were going to do other one-offs. Solo: A Star Wars Story is next. At first, I was wholly against this. Way before they cast Alden Ehmerich (who looks and sounds absolutely nothing like Harrison Ford), which was way before they replaced the original directing team with Ron Howard (who makes decent, but not great films). And way before that stupid Last Jedi travesty. But now? Having seen the trailers for Solo? I’m kinda hopeful. So who knows? Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Or maybe I’ll hate it and swear off Star Wars movies forever … that is … until the next one.
May the Force be with you!