December 31, 2015

21 Observations About Star Wars From A First Time Viewer

Confession: I've never seen Star Wars before. Like, any of them. I never thought of this as some kind of deep, dark secret, but with Star Wars: The Force Awakens taking over all aspects of life (Star Wars themed home decor! Star Wars shaped food! Star Wars sponsors Grey's Anatomy!), it seems my lack of Star Wars knowledge is putting me increasingly in the minority. So I went on a 4 day binge, watching all 6 previous movies in preparation for joining the masses at a screening of Star Wars Episode VII.

As a classic series debuting before I was even alive, I went in expecting some hokey graphics and other often-overlooked flaws many of our favorite childhood movies have. But as a set of fresh eyes watching the entire series start to finish (in the recommended order of 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 6), I noticed a few things along the way:

1. As Yoda would say: Cute, young Anakin Skywalker is. Carry long portions of dialogue, he cannot. Elijah Wood, he will never be.

2. George Lucas loves an extended flight scene. Like, really, really, extended.

3. It seems the whole "rebels wear leather jackets" thing extended back even into the 70's. Clichès really are clichès for a reason.

4. The casting of Samuel L. Jackson as a Jedi is bizarre. George Lucas does realize Jedi are supposed to be calm, rational people right? Do you realize Samuel L. only shouts once in all 3 prequels? Did he forget to bring his personal writer on board or something?

5. Anakin Skywalker is the whiniest character since Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator. He's even more annoying to watch than Harry Potter when he falls under the negative influence of the horcrux.

6. Also, Padmé can do so much better than Anakin Skywalker. Sure, he's a Jedi, but she's a freaking former queen! And wouldn't that whole "I killed them all--not just the men, but the women and children too" confession send up some red flags to preclude you from marrying him?!? (And doesn't anyone find it creepy they first met when he was like, 8, but "fell in love" when he conveniently reached an appropriate age? Yuck.)

7. My theory of prequels and sequels remains intact: they are never as good as the original. Sequels lack the excitement of the first, and prequels rarely surprise you because you know where the story is headed.

8. Jar Jar Binks might be the worst sidekick ever created. If the Star Wars franchise were controlled by CBS, they would probably give him his own spin-off with Kat Dennings.

9. I don't want to be overly sensitive, but between the inexplicable Japanese accent of the viceroy of the Trade Federation and this guy to the left, I'm starting to wonder if George Lucas has something against Asians.

10. I know it's a fantasy story, but are we really expected to believe an 8-year-old Anakin Skywalker built and programmed a droid, built a racing pod, and taught himself to fly? He doesn't even look old enough to cut his own steak.

11. I appreciate that female characters (while few and far between) are not simple-minded, weak women, waiting to be rescued. Aside from the whole Leia/Han Solo "I love you." "I know." And Padmé once she gets pregnant and just stands around with worried looks.

12. I now understand why fans and critics hated The Phantom Menace. Natalie Portman is like a cardboard cutout of herself and I cannot un-see that terrible Mexico spring break braid in Ewan McGregor's hair.

13. I'm still fuzzy on exactly what "the Force" can and can't do. Apparently it allows Jedi to leap buildings like Superman and throw heavy objects around with their hands, but prevents them from actually flying, thrusting opposing planes out of the way, or even deflecting bullets?

14. There is no way Luke and Leia are twins. They don't even look to be in the same age range until Episode VI.

15. I know "the Force" was weak or whatever, but it seems the whole Darth Vader transformation could have been avoided if they hadn't kept Anakin Skywalker on the sidelines like a JV player.

16. This series never would have made it if not for Harrison Ford. He makes everything better. (Except 6 Days, 7 Nights. That couldn't be saved.)

17. I used to dream of owning a pet wallaby. Now, I dream of having a little Yoda who can limp around my house and give me wisdom. (Though I'd also settle for an ewok.)

18. Anakin seems to be the only person unable to correctly pronounce Padmé. He calls her Padamé. Like he couldn't read his script or something.

19. Obi Wan turned out to be significantly less badass than I had imagined. R2-D2 is significantly more so.

20. This series remind me a little of The Fast and the Furious--each subsequent movie had to up the ante on finding new ways to incorporate fast rides, fighting, and explosions.

21. If the promotion and box office success of Episode VII are any indication, I can safely assume sequels will continue to be made until my grandkids are old enough to watch them.