Looking Back at Star Wars

With The Force Awakens out, I thought I would go over the Star Wars franchise a bit before reviewing Episode VII.

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I loved Star Wars when I was first exposed to it. Anybody remember the original trilogy VHS box set? With Vader’s head on A New Hope’s box, a Stormtrooper’s for The Empire Strikes Back, and Yoda for Return of the Jedi? I really wish I had a mint one just to have. I have so much nostalgia for that set. It helps that the films themselves are in the grand scheme of things, the original versions. Something I’m having trouble finding on DVD.

Anyway, it truly was a wonderful experience seeing these for the first time. I was hooked. The effects were amazing. The worlds they created felt so real and full of life. The story, themes, quotable dialogue, and characters were engaging and worth my time. I couldn’t get enough and I watched these movies over and over. I simply hadn’t seen anything like them before.

When the “Special Edition” of the original films came out, it was my chance to see these on the big screen which was great. Of course, George couldn’t leave well enough alone and added a bunch of things. With the exception of maybe the Han and Jabba scene in A New Hope, I don’t remember anything that was close to a necessary or good change/addition. All the new CGI shots and things added in were distracting and felt out of place. It’s said that this was the way George originally wanted them to be, but what did the changes really add to the story? What did we miss without them?

Sitting through them again, these films feel much longer. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just that I’ve seen these films so many times that I just want to skip to my favorite scenes. Also, the “problems” with logic that have been brought up over the years become more apparent because I’ve become smrter since I first watched these.

I’ll agree with most that The Empire Strikes back is probably the best in terms of world-building and overall character development/writing. That said, my favorite scene (fused together) is the lightsaber duel in Return of the Jedi. Luke’s development as a Jedi came full circle here as you see how far he’s come. It’s as though he harnessed the light and dark side, but didn’t lose himself despite all the warnings about the dark. Simply amazing dialogue, characters, action (for the most part), and imagery going on here. As much as I like the fast-paced choreography of the Darth Maul duel, this destroys it for being more than a spectacle. Easily one of my favorite scenes in film.

Moving on to the prequels, lump me in with the people who didn’t think they were that bad when they came out. I don’t know how many times I saw Episode I in theaters… Wised up a bit for II and III though. I was still in my naive stage when it came to media where my bs meter hadn’t yet developed and my tolerance for bad hadn’t reached its peak. As time passed I became more informed about the technical flaws with these films, especially when compared to the originals which were by no means flawless. Some would consider the prequels officially bad. I don’t know if I could sit through them again. I don’t have fond memories of them and I can’t forget the stupidity of them now. Not to mention how everything is so sterile and artificial compared to the effort that went into the practical effects of the original trilogy with the makeup, models, puppets, and shooting on location. While I don’t doubt the effort of the people working with the material given, there’s still this soulless, empty feeling to these movies. I give the flaws of the original films a pass on enjoyment because I care about the story, characters, and I’m immersed in the real locations and real effects.

I bought tons of the toys, cards, and merchandise in general. All of which are probably damaged and missing pieces by now. Still, lots of memories looking at the cards. Next to Pokemon, this was the first card game I was exposed to. The pull rates on the main character cards were really disgusting. I couldn’t believe that I never pulled anybody despite how many packs I bought. It wasn’t until years later when I scooped up some singles for next to nothing. Sometimes I wish they picked better pictures. It doesn’t help that the box is so small. Look at the first Vader and C-3PO. Could we zoom out a bit? And the fact that rarity isn’t on the card was just dumb. Though since I never pulled main characters, the rares would’ve been trash to me anyway. I never actually learned how to play. I knew it wasn’t exactly a “children’s card game” making it a bad entry-level game for a first-timer. I just wanted to collect them because Star Wars.

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I’ll throw the prequels a bone though.

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That’s how you do a main character card.

I’ll always respect and appreciate the original movies. In many ways, it’s a part of American culture. With the new films coming out and the continuous animation projects, Star Wars isn’t going anywhere. I’ll admit that I’m not a big Star Wars fan right now. I think my lack of faith came from the dip in quality and my not wanting to keep up with more shows. There were just other things that grabbed my interest. I don’t know if Episode VII will push me towards Star Wars again. I assume I’d just start caring about the movies again. We’ll just have to see where it goes from the seventh film. I’ll always remember Star Wars as one of those gateway experiences. It was a unique set of films that will stand the test of time because of how strong its best elements were. There are certainly films I think I enjoy more now, but the original trilogy will forever be something special. And no, I don’t mean the special editions.

Expect the Episode VII Prime Reactions some time next week.

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