Friday, April 26, 2013

Announcing May the 4th Reviews of the Star Wars Saga

(Originally written for Jedi News.)

So I was thinking a number of things. 1. How was I going to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi? 2. What can I write for this space that waxes nostalgic while still looking hard at the subject matter? 3. What can I do to keep positive amidst the latest surge of negativity?

Well, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and bring full reviews of the Star Wars Saga.

Similar to what Doug Walker did with Disneycember (oh how ironic), I want to just sit down over the next month and just really explore and examine the various Star Wars films. What makes them good? What makes them bad? Why do I like them? What’s not to like?

Now, does this mean I’m going back on what I said before about staying positive and not focusing on the negative when it comes to Star Wars? Eh….not really?

Okay, one of my main talking points has been about how the films are more or less equal in quality, and I can’t do that without talking about what I legitimately dislike too. But see, that’s the thing. While I will point out where there’s a possible legitimate flaw, I want to be very careful about separating opinion from fact to show the haters and bullies that it can be done. While I will have some beefs with some parts of the Saga, my main thread will be this:

I love these movies.

There’s not a single one I don’t adore. I can talk about least favorites, but I still love my least favorite Star wars movie more than most things in the world. I can talk about least successfully made, but even the “worst” Star Wars movie is a triumph of cinema. Nothing is perfect, but it’s (mostly) perfect to me.

What will be fun here is examining why I love them, and why all of you do too. I also hope that, with my ramblings, you may find more appreciation for parts of the Saga you may have had been less fond of as well as, yes, bringing a fairer perspective to parts you may have on a pedestal.

I’m giving you this introductory part now because this preamble is long and I don’t want to waste time before the first review setting it up. The reviews will be set up thusly:

1. The opening crawl. Nothing puts you in the Star Wars mood like the crawl, and it’s better than a plot synopsis.

2. The body, where I’ll go on about where the film works, where it may not, and why I ultimately love it and so should you if you’re a fan.

3. Some of my favorite lines from the film. Not all the classic-go-down-in-history lines, though it may overlap. Just lines that make me smile every time I see the movie.

4. While George Lucas has always said these are kids films first, and I agree that the target audience is 7-12 with the deep philosophical undertones as parental bonus and food for thought as young fans grow older, these films are PG (and in one case PG-13). Therefore, I’ll point out what I feel is the biggest “What Do You Mean It’s For Kids?!” moment in each film so that you’re not plopping your toddler in front of the Saga until they’re ready.

5. Two sets of ratings. Where I rate them on my personal scale, and also how they rate as successful films. Keeping in mind, again, that even films at the bottom of the list are better than most things in either case.

A few more notes before I leave you wanting more.

A) I want these to be my main thoughts on all the films, so that anyone who looks up Star Wars reviews and find mine knows exactly what I think. For those of you who regularly follow my column or blog, this means I will be repeating myself. I’ll try not to too often, but if it’s relevant, it’s relevant. Other positions I may change from what I wrote before. Again, I’m trying to really test my analytical skills as well as celebrating these amazing movies.

B) These will be written with the understanding that the writing and acting is, unless specifically stated otherwise, exactly what it needs to be. As D. Trull of Lard Biscuit [[writer’s note:]] so eloquently put it:

“All the Star Wars movies have vast stinking passages of goofy dialogue. That's part of the package, and for true Star Wars fans, that's part of the charm… [This] also goes for the acting. Star Wars movies call for a certain degree of theatrical Velveeta from their performers, and I think the cast… fulfilled that duty admirably. It's not anything remotely approaching what these actors have accomplished in [other] films…but it's not supposed to be.”

Star Wars is meant to be a love-letter to the supremely cheesy serials of the 1930’s, and while you can argue all day whether that style is technically “good” or “bad”, if that’s what Star Wars was aiming for then it’s a screaming success on all fronts. I see no point now, nor have I ever, in tearing the films apart over that. 

C) I agonized for weeks over what order I wanted to do these reviews in. At the end, as much as I prefer Lucas’ intended order, I had to go with order of release. First, because if I didn’t, the Return of the Jedi review would be a month late for its anniversary. Second, because I wanted to talk about the history of the movies, the time frame the films were made, and how it all subtly influenced not only production, but public perception over the years. So the schedule will be A New Hope on May 2nd, The Empire Strikes Back on May 9th, Return of the Jedi on May 16th, The Phantom Menace on May 23rd, Attack of the Clones on May 30th, and Revenge of the Sith on June 6th. Depending on how these go, I may do a bonus look on a few of the spin-offs afterward, but no promises.

D) The versions I will be working from are the 2000-2006 DVD releases. Though I may mention some additional changes in the Blu-Ray, I’ve only seen Phantom, Hope, and Empire all the way through in their latest forms, and even then once each. I’ve only seen parts of Blu-Ray Jedi  (though including the most talked about addition), and I haven’t seen a frame of Blu-Ray Clones or Sith,  so I can’t speak to them as well as I can some earlier versions.

Hope to see all of you next week, and May the Force Be With You.

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