Spotlight on…..The Star Wars Saga

Posted by David On July 31, 2011 4 COMMENTS

Continuing my Spotlight On ‘mini reviews’ I thought I’d do what the majority of nerds consider to be the greatest run of films ever – the Star Wars Saga! With my last Spotlight On series (on Steven Spielberg) I reviewed the films in order of release date but this time I’m going to put them in order of lowest to highest ratings. Let me know what you think of my choices and post a comment!

Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace

Released: 1999

Directed by: George Lucas

Written by: George Lucas

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman

Plot: While acting as emissaries to Queen Amidala from the blockaded planet Naboo, two Jedi Knights uncover a wider conflict, with hints of the return of the Sith. While investigating this mystery they meet young Anakin Skywalker, who Master Jinn believes is the Chosen One.

For: A new Star Wars for a new generation! Liam Neeson makes a great Jedi. Darth Maul is friggin’ awesome. The Podracer sequence is exciting, with some truly magnificent sound effects. Senator Palpatine is a great villain. An exciting new score from John Williams.

Against: Jar Jar Binks – I understand that this is aimed at kids so I have no problem with comedy relief characters, but the ridiculous amount of screen time this idiot’s over the top antics receives is offensive. Anakin Skywalker is strongly hinted to have been ‘conceived’ by the Force – a Jesus analogy as subtle as a slap in the face. Darth Maul is setup to be a major player, but is defeated in a really annoying way. Nitpicking here but, it’s never fully explained just how the Trade Federation has the legal right to blockade Naboo, and if they don’t, why Naboo doesn’t just hire some mercenaries and blow them all away.

Favourite Scene: The Jedi vs Sith lightsaber battle & anything with Senator Palpatine.

Rating: 2 Lukes

Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones

Released: 2002

Directed by: George Lucas

Written by: George Lucas

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman

Plot: Anakin Skywalker, now a Jedi Padawan, and his Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, investigate a Separatist assassination attempt on Senator Amidala which leads to the discovery of a secret Republican clone army. While assigned to Padmé as her bodyguard, Anakin declares his feelings for the young Senator and they begin a forbidden romance.

For: Tighter plotting than Menace. The Clone army idea is cool, including the origin of Boba Fett. Count Dooku is interesting. The sound of Slave I’s mines is one of the best in the series.The Jedi finally go wild!

Against: The so called ‘love story’ between Padme and Anakin is crap, and slightly creepy. Anakin is already clearly unhinged, his slaughter of the Sand People and obsession with Padme is evidence enough of this. The whole thing comes across as forced, stilted and unbelievable. Initially the fight between Dooku and Yoda is cool, but, for such a serious event, it does look quite comical.

Favourite Scene: Mace Windu ignites his lightsaber under Jango Fett’s chin and later fuels young Boba’s hatred of all Jedi by taking out dear old dad.

Rating: 2.5 Lukes

Star Wars: Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith

Released: 2005

Directed by: George Lucas

Written by: George Lucas

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman

Plot: After three years of fighting in the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker is now a hero of the Republic, but the machinations of Emperor Palpatine come to fruition and Anakin is drawn to the Dark Side of the Force, at the cost of his friendship with Obi Wan Kenobi and his marriage to Padme Amidala.

For: Best lightsaber battle in the series – the long awaited duel between Obi Wan and Anakin when both in their prime, & the magnificent score by John Williams. Palpatine’s plan all come to fruition with the corruption of Skywalker into his new apprentice Darth Vader, total power as the Emperor, and the destruction of the Jedi Order. The Force Off! (watch the lightsaber fight to see what I’m talking about).

Against: Noooooooo! And the way in which Obi Wan eventually defeats Anakin.

Favourite Scene: The entire lightsaber duel between Obi Wan & Anakin (except the climax).

Rating: 3 Lukes

Star Wars: Episode 6 – Return of the Jedi

Released: 1983 (original), 1997 (special edition)

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Written by: George Lucas & Lawrence Kasden

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Plot: The final chapter in the Star Wars Saga – After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the Rebels attempt to destroy the Death Star II, while Luke Skywalker strives to bring his father back to the Light Side of the Force.

For: Luke kicks arse. The SFX are awesome for its time and Jabba still looks great today. Luke vs Vader round 2! Anakin redeemed. Slave costume Leia (sorry, but all you males are thinking the same thing!)

Against: The Ewoks are an insult – a race of teddy bears defeating the Empire is just stupid. Some people have suggested that it is a Vietnam analogy (primitive tactics and weaponry triumphant against supposedly superior firepower), but I disagree. To me it is nothing more than the most blatant merchandising scam ever put on film.

Favourite Scene: Luke strides into Jabba’s palace like he owns the place. The battle at the Sarlacc, & the confrontation in the Emperor’s Throne Room.

Rating: 3.5 Lukes

Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope

Released: 1977 (original), 1997 (special edition)

Directed by: George Lucas

Written by: George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Plot: Orphaned Luke Skywalker leaves his home planet of Tatooine in the company of ‘Old Ben’ Kenobi, droids R2-D2 & C-3PO, and smugglers Han Solo & Chewbacca, in order to save Princess Leia from the evil clutches of Darth Vader and join up with the Rebel Alliance in their fight against the Empire.

For: The film that started it all. One of the, if not the, most influential Sci-Fi films of all time. A rollicking adventure that draws from the classics of storytelling to take the viewer on the ride of their life.

Against: The dialogue is quite bad at times (a constant throughout the series). The special edition version has the most annoying changes in all of the special editions – including the almost blasphemous ‘Greedo shoots first’ change, and the unbelievably fanboyish Boba Fett nod to the camera (who the hell is he nodding at!!!!).

Favourite Scene: There are too many to mention here, but highlights include the confrontation between Vader and Obi Wan, every scene Han Solo is in and the Trash Compactor scene.

Rating: 4.5 Lukes

Star Wars: Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back

Released: 1980 (original), 1997 (special edition)

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

Written by: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasden & George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Plot: After the destruction of their Death Star, the Empire ruthlessly crush the Rebel base on Hoth and pursue the survivors across the galaxy, Meanwhile, as Luke receives Jedi training from Yoda on Dagobah, Lord Vader captures his friends on Bespin in order to use them as bait to draw Luke to him and attempt to turn him to the Dark Side of the Force.

For: Not only the best of the Star Wars films, but also one of my favourite films of all time. A darker film that A New Hope, Empire forces our heroes into situations that look believably dangerous and not un-feasible that one of them might not make it. It also has one of the greatest ‘Holy Crap!’ moments in film and the 2nd best lightsaber duel. I have to stop here or I’ll be going on forever. Brilliant stuff.

Against: Nothing. Even the special edition didn’t annoy me.

Favourite Scene: Too many to list here, but I’ll single out the lightsaber duel and ‘The Revalation!’ & Han outmaneuvers the pursuing Imperial fleet and takes on the odds (3720 to 1) to lose them by going into an asteroid field.

Rating: 5 Lukes

Well there you have it, my opinion on the Star Wars Saga. Thank you for taking the time to read it. What do you think of my ratings and reasoning? Agree/Disagree? Let me know by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

4 Responses so far.

  1. Peter Gillson says:

    Can’t agree more. On the points about the special editions. A new Hope:The additions covering the Battle of Yavin are terrific. But in ROTJ you query the nod? If my memory doesn’t fail me, the nod is not a special edition addition. The nod is to Leia in the guise of the bounty hunter, a sort of well played’, for bargaining with a thermal detonator.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. David David W says:

    Hi Peter! Thank you very much for commenting, I’m glad you liked the post (and agreed with me!). Regarding the ‘nod’, I actually mentioned that in the New Hope section, and was refering to the newly inserted Jabba/Han scene on Tatooine (which is itself a re-do of a deleted scene from the original cut), in which Boba Fett looks straight at the audience and nods. It makes me almost as angry as the ‘Greedo shoots first’ debacle! The nod in RotJ is actually very cool and exactly what Boba would do.

    Thanks again for visiting the site and don’t forget to check back for Spotlights. Do you have any you would like us to cover?

    David

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