So far Star Wars has influenced at least three generations. Literally billions of people have seen it.
Most of those have written about it. I am not stupid enough to think I can plumb the material for the jokes practically every sit-com, talk show and Family Guy missed. So today will be a brief exercise, basically my random thoughts on the trilogy.
I was too young for Star Wars when it was first released. I remember I had a The Empire Strikes Back T shirt with Luke on a Taun-taun though. It had the crappy plastic decal on it so you couldn’t wash it more than a few times without it fading away. But dammit it had sparkles built into the design! I must’ve worn that shirt everywhere for over a year until it was ruined.
- A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… where bras are optional.
- Surely for a race of mischievous thieves relying on stealth and remaining unseen, having Glowing Eyes must be an impediment?
- You never see R2D2 take the stairs.
- The ‘new’ CGI additions don’t really make things better.
- A good matte painting is worth its weight in gold…
- So is a good musical score.
A little while ago me and mates Ringworm and Fat had an animated (drunken) discussion about the following dilemma; Would you rather be the proud owner of Darth Vader’s voice, or 12 inches? Eventually after much toing and froing we agreed Darth Vader’s voice.
1/ because it would be easier to unleash the voice to pick up prospective slave Leias (at least in public) and
2/ because anyone rocking that voice is bound to have 12 inches anyway. A package deal, so to speak.
Highlights: The design and look of practically everything. Boba Fett, Chewbacca, the Millennium Falcon, the Light Saber, I could go on and on.
Best scene: The turret dogfight.
Underacknowledged: Leia’s spunk, for a princess she is a little hellraiser. (Note: not she is a spunk.)
Final Rating – 9.5 / 10. Two hours of totally original excellence. Hundreds have films have tried since, no-one has managed to capture the imagination of the public with something so entirely fresh and new (though T2 came close).
Empire took the immortal beginnings and somehow made a film that was equally creative and stronger all around. I am convinced that if Star Wars never got a sequel that it would still go down in history, but it was The Empire Strikes Back that ensured ‘the trilogy’ would be forever cemented in cinematic folklore.
- The first 15 minutes: Intergalactic search probes. Ice monsters. Taun-tauns. One armed ice monsters. Taun-taun guts – which in a moment of marketing genius became taun-taun sleeping bags!
- The fact that Chewie was tasked with welding bits onto the Millennium Falcon has to bring with it the huge risk of fur-fire surely?
- The AT-AT – not as practical as a tank perhaps, but a fuck of a lot cooler. Until a bit of string or a twig drops them to the ground that is.
- Another 15 minute span: Asteroideoscope. Yoda in Dagobah. The arrival of the Emperor. Carbonite.
- Father / son day at the light saber games.
- BOBA FETT!! The coolest guy ever to never really mean anything to a movie trilogy.
The most amazing thing is that the film is essentially consists of only three scenes; the escape from Hoth where Luke goes one way and Han and Leia (& the rest) the other, and the rescue and escape from Cloud City.
Highlights: Still more new creatures and toys. A random scene in this film contains more good stuff than five full films.
Best scene: I’m a total sucker for the first quarter hour. Any thoughts that Star Wars was impossible to follow up are instantly dispelled.
Underacknowledged: We can talk up the director (the late Irving Kirshner) all we like (and we should), but it would’ve taken a complete muppet to not make something memorable with these ideas.
Final Rating – 10 / 10. It must be incredibly daunting to try to follow up a film acknowledged as being a world-changer. The Empire Strikes Back manages to do all that, remains true to the Star Wars universe, AND makes a better overall film in the process. When I think of Star Wars this is where my mind goes…
Somewhat derided as the Ewok-ridden little brother in the trilogy, there is still a lot to like about Return of the Jedi, though surprisingly enough for the most recent of the three films the special effects here have fared the worst in retrospect.
- The gang reunites… in captivity. And we finally meet Jabba (Yes I’m ignoring his CGI appearance in Empire).
- The Rancor rocks, but is still nonetheless killed (indirectly) by one rock. Personally I was always a sucker for the Gammorean guards myself.
- I have to mention the bikini, but it hasn’t been ingrained into my memory in the same way it seems to have effected practically every other dude in alive in the 80s.
- The Sarlaac was scarier in the original film, before the CGI job done in the late 90s turned it into the long lost sand-cousin of Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors.
- Some ‘All Powerful’ Emperor, he makes his first battle appearance and is killed by being picked up and thrown…
Highlights: It’s a toss up between the Gamorrean guards and the speederbikes, as a lad in the 80s gotta go with the speederbikes.
Best scene: The centrepiece of the movie is obviously the rescue from the barge at the Sarlaac pit, (sorry to those that have no idea about any of those things.) and it is so well realised that we’ll go with it – though Boba Fett ended up going out with a total whimper.
Underacknowledged: Luke is perhaps at his most skilled here, but he is definitely at his most arrogant. His powers are full on, but let’s not mistake mind-lifting a few rocks and a little green sidekick with taking on the entire Dark Side!
Final Rating – 8.5 / 10. Yeah the Ewoks are cuter and cuddlier than they should be (Jar-Jar Binks anyone?), but props for the scenes in Jabba’s palace, the Sarlaac pit sequence and the three way showdown; Endor / Death Star 2 / Space battle.
Final Trilogy Rating – 10 / 10. No-one can over-estimate just how important these three films were for those of us growing up during the era. In fact having watched all three in recent days the only thing from the newer prequels that would have made the original films better is the dual-ended light saber. That’s it.
Thanks George, you couldn’t do it twice, but once is more than enough.