Star Wars Saga Marathon

There are some things in life that you have to do at least once. Eat an ice-cream at the beach, spill hot coffee on yourself, kiss a Camel. For the fan boy there’s a few more options. One of them would be watching the entire Star Wars saga in one sitting. With a complete day to spare I finally did that. Was it worth it? I’m not sure.

I think lots of fans had waited for the day to watch all the films back to back from Episode I-VI since they are one epic story.  I had wanted to do it myself for a while but since you have to put away at least 12 hours of free time without interruptions it’s really difficult. Thanks to it been a holiday with many places closed and thanks in part to the poor weather I had that time to burn (Star Trek 7).

For anyone who hasn’t attempted it here’s what you might need.

Food. Snacks if you will, but a easily cooked decent meal will help get you through it, especially those prequels. I find snacks somewhat distracting at times and I can’t relax with messy hands if it’s crisps (chips) or chocolate etc. I had a big meal before starting and at the midway point I had another big meal followed by a walk outside to refresh myself.

Coffee. Coffee will be needed. A Coffee break during the prequels will be more necessary. The Original Trilogy will require less coffee as the films themselves will keep you alert.

Phone off. This won’t be difficult for some of you (all 3 of you) but if you have a life it’s just going to get in your way. Either tell your friends what you are planning to do or leave an automated message on your phone letting them know why you can’t come to the phone right now. If they are fellow fans maybe they’ll ask to join. If they are normal people they aren’t going to understand in which case it’s just better to say you are taking a vow of silence for a day to raise money for….the rebel alliance!

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Anyone remember when we didn’t use this “episode” stuff? When the ‘Star Wars’ wasn’t ‘Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope’.

I remember I went to the first night showing of this on the day of release at my local cinema. My local cinema at the time been utterly useless in design. If someone sat in front of you it would block part of your view of the film and if they were tall you were screwed. The problem was added by the fact that there was no ticket numbering. You just bought the ticket and sat anywhere. It was a first come first served basis. With this being the first Star Wars film in 16 years there were a lot of people wanting to book advanced tickets so fortunately I was able to book a good seat early. One week before. To avoid the problem of having someone blocking my enjoyment of this movie I also bought the seat in front of me. That wasn’t a joke.
It’s the only film I watched where the audience applauded at the beginning of the movie. As soon as the title and music kicked in there was a rapturous applause and whoops from people. We were excited. This was Star Wars. F**k YEAH! The films blew people away in the 70s and we were ready to be blown away again.

“That was crap!” said a young overweight boy as we shuffled out of the cinema at the end of the screening. The voices in my head said otherwise “No it was good, it was good, IT WAS GOOD!”. You can’t come out of that film experience and hype without trying to think that all the years of excitement and anticipation were for nothing.

That was then, this is now. I still consider TPM to be the weakest Star Wars movie. What I liked was the silent Darth Maul and Qui Gon Jin. Both of whom get killed off. I thought having Anakin Skywalker as a kid was a mistake as it turns Obi Wan into a Father figure/Teacher rather than a best friend/brother figure that might have made a more interesting trilogy. Also we have to deal with pissy teenage Anakin for the sequel. The Jar Jar Bink’s performance has aged better. Jake Lloyd flying playing around in a Starfighter IS NOT INTERESTING. Accidentally blowing up the enemies ship IS NOT ENTERTAINING. The space battle is a poor man’s Death Star run. No drama, childish and a rip off of the original, AGAIN.

Lightsaber fights. Pretty cool and fast. Very choreographed though. But for most of the film it’s just chucked full of too much cutesy wutesy CGI that shows us Lucas is now out of control. How many times do we need to hear little CGI cartoons say “uh-oh” in one movie?

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

A Step up. Anakin being a pissy teenager doesn’t work though. You can believe that this asshole is going to turn to the dark side. Where’s the inner conflict? Look at Luke, so good and innocent but conflicted because he is afraid of the dark side and desires to protect his friends. Anakin is just arrogant clearly from the beginning. He’s still the same little boy Padme knew? Clearly not. This punk just talks big and gets his ass whooped by Dooku in the end.

Speaking of Count Dooku. This is a villain the Trilogy sorely needed and it harkens back to an older time of movies in the 70s and 80s when bad guys were  not braggarts but cool, collected and intellectually evil. Christopher Lee onscreen reminds me of Peter Cushing in ‘A New Hope’.

The Anakin and Padme relationship is a big bunch of nothing, wannabe ‘Titanic’ stuff. Ful of random scenes of them talking about their feelings for each other when we haven’t even seen how these feelings developed. I felt that the Han Solo character got split into two characters, the comedic, roguish side went to Obi Wan’s character while the romantic, asshole, cold blooded killer (yes, he shot first!) side went to Anakin’s character. In truth both characters only work half as well as they should because they are lacking in personality beyond what was given to them.

I liked the final land battle, it was reminiscent of something out of pulp science fiction magazines. Yeah I know when we heard the word “clone wars” we didn’t realize they’d be on the side of the Jedi. Neither did the Jedi actually. A Clone army is conveniently and suspiciously created on their behalf and they use them without a second thought to fight a war that is in reality being controlled from both sides by the same person. It’s unnecessarily complicated and makes the heroes look stupid to go along with it.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Best of the prequels, tries to tie everything up in one movie. Grievous seems rather wasted as a Character. Anakin is still a dick. Space Battle awesome, light saber battles awesome. Ian McDiarimid is dripping with awesome.

But the setting and these characters are by this stage bland and uninteresting. The plot is thin and used solely just to bring characters to their next destination/action sequence. The film doesn’t really have a story because it’s based around these set pieces and the action is not the result of conflict, the conflict is the result of the necessity of an action scene. It’s the downfall of Anakin, but compared to Luke’s story it just isn’t compelling because the focus is not so much on the inner conflict which never really existed, but on the set pieces that present the story visually with action and flashy effects. If you put the actors sitting in a room only reading their dialogue then what we would get is this…

The final Lightsaber battle of the Prequel Trilogy

OBI-WAN: I have failed you, Anakin. I was never able to teach you to think.

ANAKIN: I should have known the Jedi were plotting to take over . . .

OBI-WAN:
From the Sith!!! Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil.

ANAKIN: From the Jedi point of view! From my point of view, the Jedi are evil.

OBI-WAN: Well, then you are lost!

ANAKIN: This is the end for you, My Master. I wish it were otherwise.

OBI-WAN: It’s over, Anakin. I have the high ground.

ANAKIN: You underestimate my power!

OBI-WAN: Don’t try it.

OBI-WAN: (continuing) . . . You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would, destroy the Sith, not join them. It was you who would bring balance to the Force, not leave it in Darkness.

ANAKIN: I hate you!

OBI-WAN:
You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.

Now compare this to the final conflict between Vader and Luke. Also a Lightsaber battle that the original trilogy would end on.

VADER: You cannot hide forever,Luke.

LUKE: I will not fight you.

VADER: Give yourself to the dark side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for….

VADER: (Continued) Sister! So…you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the darkside, then perhaps she will.

LUKE: NEVER!!!

EMPEROR: Good! Your hate has made you powerful. Now, fulfill your destiny and take your father’s place at my side!

LUKE: Never! I’ll never turn to the dark side. You’ve failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.

EMPEROR: So be it…Jedi.

Revenge of The Sith was written by George Lucas.

Return of the Jedi was written by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas.

Now I get hard for action and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the action and visuals of Episode III or any of the prequel films for that matter, but once you’ve seen them and look back on those films what is it that people would talk about? Just the action alone or what was actually going on between the characters that the action was centered around? Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship was a crucial part that this trilogy hinged on but not enough focus was given to it.


Episode IV: A New Hope

From the opening minutes of this movie I find it to be far more tense and exhilarating with a real sense of danger from the beginning all the way till the end. The perfect Space adventure. I’ve already reviewed this and Empire as being among the best Sci-fi movies so I won’t go into too much depth with the reviews here.

The Death Star Run. Wow, even though I have watched this movie so often and know the outcome it’s still edge of your seat stuff and I still keep wondering if Luke can really do it. That’s movie magic right there. just compare that to the battle in TPM with little Ani spinning around in a starfighter saying “oops, uh-oh, this is not good, spinning! that usually works”, with no real sense of danger or immediate threat unlike here. This film should be the blueprint for that.

Episode V: Awesome

The Empire Strikes Back is without doubt the best. Luke’s journey is so much more compelling than Anakin’s. Luke is a guy who just doesn’t get the force, he’s a fighter pilot. He didn’t grow up training to be a Jedi, he even says so in a New Hope. When Obi Wan offers to train him at first he refuses until he is left with no other alternative. But he is the hope of Obi Wan of defeating the face of the Empire. Darth Vader. He knows he isn’t ready and he fears that and yet knows that he has to help his friends too. This conflict comes before he even knows who Darth Vader really is.

and yeah i still say this is the film Noir of Star Wars…

‘The Empire Strikes Back’ Directed by Irvin Kershner, Cinematographer Peter Suschitzky

‘The Big Combo’ Directed by Joseph H Lewis and Cinematography by John Alton

Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi

Pretty nice film to end the trilogy on. I have few problems with it except to say that the Ewoks are the early signs of the Direction Lucas would eventually take this franchise in. Too cute, indeed. But a fun adventure movie. It’s the weakest of the original Trilogy but the characters and setting that have already been established are already captivating enough to carry this film and make it pretty darn enjoyable.
The Luke and Vader conflict is wrapped up nicely and the scene that I have found most powerful in this movie which has stuck with me since I first saw it as a child is the scene of Luke cutting off Vader’s hand and then looking to his own which is robotic too, just like Vader’s was. It shows that the more Luke cuts Vader down the more he becomes like him and it’s so well done that even as a kid I totally got the message.

I wonder what a child’s impression would be of ‘Revenge of the Sith’ though. Something like “Don’t F**k with Obi Wan or he’ll cut your arms and legs off and let you burn on the side of a hill even though he had raised you since you were 10 years old.” What kind of message is that?!

So I concluded my viewing of this 6 movie saga with the opinion that spending 6 hours watching the prequel trilogy is a bit of a hard slog and ultimately not worth it. But spending the better part of the day watching the Original Trilogy is a heck of a lot of fun. I formed this opinion about 2 minutes in to the start of ‘A New Hope’. What the movie shows more than ever is how flawed the previous 3 films you just watched were. So in my opinion just do the last 3 as a movie marathon.

As I write this Episode I is about to be released in 3D. I had thought about seeing it (I’m 3-D-curious ok!) but I don’t think I can sit myself down to watch Episode I again so soon. ‘A New Hope’ on the other hand i’m already itching to watch again.

So for anyone who has never watched Star Wars (what hole have you been hiding out in?!) then I suggest IV-VI first followed by I-III. If you want to give your kids a good movie education in good vs. not good movies then I suggest you show them all of these movies and while they watch the prequel trilogy have em smoke a full packet of cigarettes and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

Favorite Quote: “May the Force be with you, always” – Obi Wan Kenobi (Old Ben)

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