I was nine when Star Wars first turned up, but probably closer to ten when I first saw it. Exactly the right age to be wowed by the space battles, the simple tale of good vs evil, even not be too bored by the lovey-dovey bits between farm boy Luke and kick-butt ‘princess’ Leia. I loved the crazy creatures, and the music. I think I saw it once at the cinema proper, but then we stayed at my grandmother’s during school holidays when it was on at the drive-in. From the front of her place we could see the screen. I watched it many nights in a row.
I saw Empire Strikes Back at the cinema and it became a firm favourite. I remember the earnest discussions among my school friends about Darth Vader being Luke’s father, the blossoming relationship between Luke and Leia, and the complication of Han Solo. Empire is still my favourite of all of them.
We collected the action figures.
In 1983 my best friend and I scored tickets to the first night screening of Return of the Jedi. I still remember when the movie mags I devoured knew of it as Revenge of the Jedi. Then it changed. I remember loving the speeder bike chase, and laughing at C3PO and the Ewoks. Being dumbfounded by the revelation that Leia always knew she was Luke’s sister! Really? Er. Nope. Argh.
Was I a fan? Yes, to the level of loving the films. I read the books, and listened with fascination to the extended radio play versions of Star Wars. I watched them when I could, but while I played with the idea of writing some fanfic, I never completed any. Stopped collecting all the novels. Kept an ear out for news on the other six movies and then stopped thinking they would.
Then in the 1990s they announced they were making the first set of three films, and I didn’t believe them.
I saw the Phantom Menace at a midnight screening on its first day of release in Sydney, and wasn’t exactly blown away. It had some good set pieces, like the pod race that just went on a bit. I can see why people hate Jar Jar Binks, but I found him okay. The only thing was the odd possible racism, which I’m not sure about. Don’t want to reject it, but equally not sure it was intended as a bad thing. My main thought was: it was a dull movie. I wanted to be wowed, and instead we got slightly cod socio-economics and politics that didn’t quite add up. And as for Anakin Skywalker being that young? Nope. Didn’t work for me. And while the C3PO joke was fun I’m not sure it was entirely worth it. Suitable retconned later, though, so hey. [Imagine a shrug.]
But, the SFX were amazing, and the music. I don’t not watch it in re-watches of them all, but it leaves me cold. I did watch the DVD documentaries when I first got the releases and I remember the Lucas-chosen kid over another who looked a more credible age and from his show reel could act. Ah well.
The Clone Wars were something referred to in reverent tones in the various other movies and ephemera I had loved as a kid and young teenager. I keep renaming the Attack of the Clones to the Clone Wars, and I haven’t actually seen the series. I thought the film better than Phantom Menace, but still felt a bit flat. Hayden Christensen is terrible, but I enjoyed the whole Kenobi plot uncovering the strange order of a clone army. Laughed with joy at the idea that the Stormtroopers are all Maoris.
Revenge of the Sith plots the creation of Darth Vader and should leave us at a decent jump off point for what will always be the original Star Wars – A New Hope. Now if Anakin was played by someone who could act that might have been achieved. But, the horrors that Anakin unleash on the Jedi order in his service to Palpatine (who is brilliantly played by Ian McDiarmid) don’t quite work. Padme’s record-breaking pregnancy, and the strange dying of a broken heart thing. Just not quite right. Christopher Lee is brilliant, of course, and his casting brings a nice symmetry to the series that started with Peter Cushing as Vader’s man on the Death Star.
And that was that. Two excellent films, three okay films, and one dud – all in terms of my enjoyment levels. I’ve watched all of them more than once so there’s that.
Am I a fan? No.
Do I have a fondness for the films? Yes.
I was very sceptical when news broke about The Force Awakens. The title didn’t grip me (still doesn’t), and I’ve only seen one of the many teasers. The proper ones. The first one I did watch in its Lego version, and did shiver at some of the old tropes. The old music.
I didn’t book a seat immediately. Yeah, once bitten.
Then people started to tweet positive things about it. It was fun. Back to basics. I thought I’d book a seat before spoilers started to to leak, and I’m glad I did.
I’ve seen it twice now (and shall leave it at that at the cinema – I’m no longer the kid I once was and time is precious), and both times I was taken back to that time a long time ago, when I visited that galaxy for the first time.
No spoilers now, but what I love about the film is the fine balance of new (I love Rey, Finn and BB8) and old (ah Chewie, Han, Leia, Luke, C3PO and R2D2 – original actors back, too!), but also because it’s fun. Space battles, simplistic good vs evil (or is it?), and old mystics. Desert sands and lush jungles. That music.
There’s a lot more I want to say, but I won’t because of spoilers. But, I will share this little thing. First go around I laughed at Kylo Ren – so cardboard and arch, but a failure. (I love Emo Kylo Ren on Twitter). Then I watched all the films in this order: IV, V, II, III, VI and VII (I had seen I recently enough, so shush! But, you can watch I before II and it’s cool – it all works as a rather good flash back between all the revelations between Empire and Jedi). I was prepared to giggle at Adam Driver’s wooden performance only to notice he isn’t. Watch when Ren and Rey first battle each other and you’ll see what I mean.
Oh, last one I promise – but Snope or Snape? Am I the only one who things Snope is a little too much like Voldemort?