Confessions of a First Time Star Wars Viewer

You all might remember, back in February, that I was going to watch the entire Star Wars saga with my friend who had never viewed it before.  She wanted to see what the hype was in regards to TFA and get all 6 movies done prior to December.  I solicited advice and questions to ask her after watching ANH.  Both Star Guy and Mei-Mei were kind enough to throw in some questions and I had a list as well.

Instead of asking her after ANH, I decided to wait until we completed the entire saga, which happened last month.  She was kind enough to give a thorough answer to all my questions.

Be prepared for some surprising answers that might make you think about Star Wars in a new light.  This has not been edited by me!


 

1. What was your favorite movie out of the saga (all 6 movies) and why?

My favorite movie out of the saga was “Return of the Jedi.” I’m not sure I have a specific reason, but some of the things that I like are: the Ewoks, the redemption of Vader’s/Anakin’s character, and Leia’s infiltration of Jabba’s lair disguised as a bounty hunter.

2. Least favorite and why?

It’s probably a toss-up between “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.” I know real fans’ least favorite is  usually “Attack of the Clones,” (My note: I believe most fans least favorite is TPM but this girl has been hanging around me a lot, which may be why she thought AOTC) but I actually kind of enjoyed it, other than maybe it was a little long, and the romantic scenes with Anakin and Padme were so bad! But on the other hand, the romantic scenes were at least entertaining because I found them comical :). Alternatively, there were definitely parts of “The Phantom Menace” that I really liked. I enjoyed the building of the “backstory” for Anakin, and of course the legendary Qui-Gon Jinn, but to be honest, I fell asleep during some parts of this movie :-\ so it obviously didn’t really capture my attention that well… [And I don’t care what anyone says about Jar Jar Binks – he’s ok in my book! :-P]

3. Favorite character?  Least favorite?  Why?

I think my favorite character is R2D2. He just seems like he knows “what’s up.” For a character that doesn’t talk / you don’t know what he’s saying, r2 and ewokhe has an integral part in all the movies. He’s intelligent, has a great sense of humor, is often saving the day, and is an all around reliable pal and good guy to have around (I’m attributing the masculine pronouns…but I suppose a robot would be agender?).

Would it really upset Star Wars fans everywhere if I said my least favorite character is Luke? I have to say that I find him a bit one-dimensional. He’s a real “goodie-two-shoes,” if you will. I prefer the characters with more depth and ambiguity, like Han Solo or even Anakin. As bad as Hayden Christensen’s acting is, at least the Anakin character has real internal conflict. The big turn might have been a little out of left-field/ sudden onset, but it was there none-the-less (and they definitely used lots of obvious foreshadowing to try to back-up the sudden shift that came at the end).

4. Was there anything that surprised/you didn’t expect about the movies?

I don’t know if there was anything that surprised me, but most of my previous impressions/knowledge of Star Wars was related to the older movies, so I didn’t really know what to expect from the newer ones. I knew that Natalie Portman was in them, but I didn’t know much about the story line/characters, etc. So, I guess I didn’t realize that I was going to find out about the whole “pre-Luke/Leia” story and the development of Darth Vader.

5. Do you think Star Wars is relatable to our lives?

In the sense that all art is a reflection of life in some form, yes. Will I take from it real lessons to apply to my own life; probably not.

6. Do you have any questions about the movies that you don’t think was explained enough in depth?

Not really, but I’d love to know more about the Ewoks! 🙂 Well, I guess ewok wicketwhile we were watching the movies, I was sort of confused about the age difference between Padme and Anakin, but we already addressed that in conversation. With that said, I’m sure that there are plenty of nuances that I missed. I’m sure I’ll need to watch the movies several more times in order to catch everything.

7. Why do you think Star Wars has such a large following?

It’s a cult classic. What’s not to like about spaceships, interesting planets, unique creatures/aliens, robots – excuse me – “droids”, the struggle between good and evil, and a little bit of romance thrown into the mix for good measure as well? Not to mention a little play on incest… [just to be clear, that was a joke. I don’t want your readers to think I am some sort of sicko!]

8. Do you think the movies are catered to children or adults?  Why?

I think they are catered more toward adults because of the themes and more adult nature of the plot lines (and the violence too, I guess). However, I think it makes sense that kids like it too in terms of the fantasy, characters, and of course all the toys/marketing :).

9. Do you think the movies are catered more for men or women?  Why?

I think that they are catered more toward men. In each of the series there is really only one major female character (Leia in the old ones, Padme in the new ones), so men definitely dominate the saga. I also think the earlier movies are particularly objectifying of women (i.e. Leia as Jabba’s prisoner…). While Leia and Padme are both strong female characters, they obviously need the help of the men to survive. And Padme’s not strong enough to live on once Anakin has gone to the dark side? And no female jedi? I suppose the romance was probably added to appeal to the female nature, but as mentioned above, it is laughable and largely unbelievable.

10. What sci-fi elements did you like?  Dislike?  Why?

Is it cheating to say all of them? 😛 I really don’t have an answer to this question. Of course “The Force” has to be a likable element (unless you outright dislike the movies), and all the different planets and creatures, the droids, and ships. I can’t think of anything I particularly disliked.

11. What action scenes did you like?  Dislike? Why?

Again, I’m not a huge “action” scene person. The one that sticks out in my mind is the one where Anakin, Padme, and Obi Won are tied to posts in aobi wan geonosis colosseum and have to fight the creatures that are sent out to kill them. Though, I’m not sure if that’s just because it’s from one of the movies we saw more recently. Oh and if you can count the scene where Anakin and Padme are “frolicking” in the meadow and Anakin gets up and rides whatever that creature was – probably doesn’t count as an action scene, but I love it for the pure comedy! 🙂 For real, though, since I love the ewoks, my favorite action scene probably has to be when they come to save the day in “Return of the Jedi.”

12. What did you think about Star Wars prior to watching the saga?  What do you think now?

My thoughts about Star Wars before watching the saga were that it was a sci-fi classic with a cult (dare I say “nerd”) following [and I don’t mean that offensively – while I am not a Star Wars “nerd,” I do consider myself a “nerd” in many other respects]. I’m not sure that my thoughts have changed that much, other than that the plot lines were actually much more simplistic than I thought they would be, which does not detract from it’s greatness, as there are many other factors that make the saga complex including the various species of creatures, planets, characters, etc., which would probably take actual study to fully know and understand.


 

I’d like to say that my friend actually really enjoyed Jar Jar and couldn’t see why everyone disliked him when she first watched TPM.  I wish she put more of that in there because I thought that was really fascinating.  Jar Jar is basically the symbol of hate for many people regarding the PT…and yet my friend thought he was funny and liked his character.  Same with the ewoks…some of her favorite characters were those that people disliked the most.

Another interesting note – her choice of action scenes.  The PT does excel at action scenes over the OT, especially if you are watching Star Wars for the first time.  The PT is closer to what we see and expect in movies nowadays.

Anyone else find anything interesting?

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Friday Fives: You Upset Me

Now onto my Friday Five, which is an unusual post just because I rarely talk about things I hate about Star Wars.  But there are things that really upset me, and that I almost hate, and most of them actually tie into the Prequels in some way.

 The Five Things That Really Upset Me About Star Wars

  1. I’ve gone into this a lot in my grievances post, but I think the biggest inconsistency that bothers me is Leia “remembering” her mother.  It’s not possible.  I don’t care how strong you are in the Force (and Leia is less strong than Luke and Luke has no memory of her), and if you have past Force visions (whatever), you can’t remember her from the womb or the 10 seconds you were with each other.

    No, no, no, no.  There was just so much potential with a really cool storyline for Leia and Padmé that…died (pun).  Maybe that’s what I mourn the most.  The fact that Lucas could have done something really interesting with Leia and Padmé at the end of ROTS was a lost opportunity.  My great storyline has always been that Obi-Wan tries to hide Padmé and Leia (he already gave Luke to the Owen and Beru). But Anakin knows Padmé is still alive and is searching for her, so Padmé decides to confront him and tries to save him.  She entrusts Leia to the Organas on Alderaan and flies to meet Vader.  Palpatine knows about this and an “accident” happens to her ship and she blows up in flames.  It plays into Palpatine’s master plans and his conniving and we kind of get the same results as before…but this time Leia can actually remember her mother.

  2. Attack of the Clones. Okay, we all know this is my least favorite Star Wars movie.  But let me actually go into more detail on why…the script writing is horrible.    It doesn’t matter how good of an actor you are (I think Ewan AOTC movie posterMcGregor and Natalie Portman are pretty darn good), if you are faced with lines like you were presented in that script, ugh, good luck.  You just can’t make that work.  Examples of what I am talking about:
    1. “I’d rather dream of Padmé. Just being around her again is…intoxicating.”
    2. “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything’s soft… and smooth…”
    3. “Then we’d be living a lie – one we couldn’t keep even if we wanted to. I couldn’t do that. Could you, Anakin? Could you live like that?”

It’s really brutal.  Sometimes when I read the script I think it sounds like a bad soap opera.  And the acting is halting and stiff, none of the characters seem to have any real chemistry.  I think it definitely gets better in ROTS, but AOTC is so horrible that I’m surprised I own it sometimes.  The action scenes are cool, I just can’t get past the dialogue and acting in Episode II.

  1. Hayden Christensen replaces Sebastian Shaw as a Force Ghost the end of ROTJ. I cried when I saw this the first time and it wasn’t out of happiness.  I still remember where I was because I had heard rumors about this.  I kept hoping it wasn’t true, praying it wasn’t true.  I had spent the whole day of a Saturday watching the trilogy as it had just been released on DVD.  I was getting towards the end of ROTJ and I pulled up my legs to tuck under myhayden christsensen dvd rotj chin and just stared with hope against hope that the rumors were wrong.  But they weren’t wrong and Christensen materialized on the screen and I screamed.  And paced.  And screamed at the TV again.  I have heard many reasons for the change.  One of them was that Lucas wanted something to tie both the PT and the OT together.  Another was that as a Jedi Force Ghost, that was how Anakin remembered himself as a Jedi, before he turned into Darth Vader.  A different reason was that Anakin truly died as a Jedi when he was younger, so it makes sense to come back as a Force Ghost in the younger version.  It was a bad decision and it sucks that I can’t watch a nice DVD without that stupid guy’s face popping up at the end.  I’m actually one of the few people that doesn’t mind the added dance scene’s in Jabba’s palace.  I’d keep that in a heartbeat if it just meant taking out Hayden Christensen’s head (yes, supposedly they just CGI’d his head on there, so it’s ¾ Shaw and ¼ Christensen).
  2. When Vader is portrayed super muscular. I don’t know, it just doesn’t sit well with me.  Yes, Vader is large.  Yes, he may be muscular underneath all that machine, but his muscles are not rippling out of his suit.  I’ve seen many paintings and pictures which show Vader as this unstoppable force to be reckoned with, with large, broad Gaston-like muscles.  I understand a lot of it is for comic books, because that’s the style of comic books, but it’s just a little out of character.  I feel like I’m making a really weak argument, but look at these pictures and try to understand where I’m coming from:
  1. Darth Maul returns in TCW. Overall, I liked TCW…except for when Darth Maul came back.  Darth Maul was quintessentially the coolest badass Sith to bring into the Prequels.  He didn’t talk much, which lent to his mysterious background.  He had a double bladed lightsaber (wtf, so cool).  He held his own significantly against
    Not neccessary.

    Not necessary.

    two highly trained Jedi.  I was sad he died so soon, but it seemed to be a fitting end as it hinted at Obi-Wan’s rage and how he teetered on the brink of the dark side.  And damn, he got cut clean in half.  No one is coming back from that.  Oh wait, but he did.  Whhhhhhy?  They put mechanical legs on him, which look dumb, and he talks…all the time.  I really loved Maul when he didn’t talk.  As I said, mysterious.  His whole story line was just weird too, uninteresting, and unimportant.  Technically, it leaves us on a cliffhanger too where we don’t know what is going to happen to him.  Why would Sidious keep him alive?  Why would he even entertain that notion?  (Yes, I’ve read up on Sons of Dathomir so I know what was supposed to happen after that.  Still uninteresting.)

Rants over.  When you love something, you love it with your whole heart, even the bad parts.  I can overlook these bad parts because I love the Saga so much, but sometimes…these little things really annoy me.

Anyone else want to chime in?  Who shot first?

Haiku 04.24.14

Why is there some hate? They defeat the Empire Small and adorable

Why is there some hate?
They defeat the Empire
Little and fuzzy

 

I’ve never really understood the hatred of Ewoks.  I’ve understood the hatred of Jar Jar, AOTC, Hayden Christensen…but not really the Ewoks.  Maybe I should rephrase this.  I understand why people hate the Ewoks, I just can’t relate.  I know that people think they are kind of lame and it’s “disappointing” that they are the ones to help bring down the Empire, but I kind of like it.  It shows that the small can do great things as well and that primitive doesn’t always mean less knowledgeable.

The Rebellion would not have been able to defeat the Empire without the Ewoks because the Ewoks understood the lay of planet unlike anyone else.  They had the resources to help defeat the Empire.  Whereas the Empire was prepared for guns and machinery, the Ewoks were able to surprise them with traps made out of logs and Chewie was able to get inside an AT-ST by swinging on a vine.  The way the Rebellion was able to defeat most of the Empire was by working with the planet and it’s resources, not against it.  Of course, in the end, they blew up the shield with the bomb, but they would not have gotten there without the Ewoks.

And that’s my shpeal on Ewoks.  If I have an Ewok hater followers, I’d love to hear about why you hate the Ewoks so much!

Life:

Creating a vision
Laying the puzzle pieces
Connecting feels great.

Scene it on Friday – ESB Scene #83

My thought process:

I hope I get a good movie.  I’m sick of doing Scene it on Friday’s of the Prequels and getting super short scenes with nothing to work with.

Go to random.org and get #5.

Awesome.  ESB.  It’s been too long since I’ve had that movie.

Random.org, #83.

Look it up.

Speechless.

Possibly the best scene in the entire Saga.

And that’s all folks!

thats all folks

Just kidding.  But seriously.  I’ve been so down in the dumps lately with my Scene it on Friday’s, and this picked me up and left my jaw on the floor.  I actually never thought about when I would get this scene, but damn.  Glad it came today.

Do you remember your reaction when you found out Vader was Luke’s father?  Did you know before watching the movie or were you surprised?

I remember, oh boy, do I remember.  I was sitting on the chair in our living room right in front of the TV and I think was 9 years old, maybe 10 or 11.  I was on the edge of my seat during the whole battle and my mom was to the right of me on the couch.  (As a side note – the chair I was in was the prime position for watching movies and we used to fight over who got to sit there when everyone watched a movie.)

When the famous line was uttered, I just kind of sat there.  In shock, but more in disbelief.  I didn’t hear that properly, did I?

I turned to my mother and said, “What did he say?”

“Vader said he’s Luke’s father.”

I turned back to the screen as Luke is falling.  “What?  Vader is Luke’s father?”

“Yes.  Would you like me to rewind it?”

“Yes, please.”

Rewind.  Vader tells Luke he’s his father.

“Wait.  Pause.”  My mother pauses the movie.  “How is he Luke’s father?  That doesn’t make sense.  Luke’s father is dead, I thought.”

“I guess we’ll just have to watch the rest and try to figure it out.  Can we continue watching now?”

Man, oh man.  Mind was BLOWN.

cloud city duel luke vader i am your father

According to behind-the-scenes info, no one but Mark Hamill and James Earl Jones knew that Vader was Luke’s father until the Premiere.  Even in the script given out to the actors and actresses, Mark read the line “No.  Obi-Wan killed your father.”  When shooting the scene, that was the line that David Prowse uttered to Hamill.  For the longest time, I thought that Mark Hamill did a great job acting out being terrified and dismayed at the thought of Obi-Wan killing his father because it was such a strong reaction we see.  Later on, I found out that Hamill was told the real line moments before he filmed the scene, so that would explain his (in my eyes) superb acting at that moment.

His disbelief, shock, fear, and anger are so clear on Luke’s face that I can’t help give a nod in Hamill’s direction.  Say what you want about him as an actor, I think this scene is amazing and far surpasses any scene that Hayden Christensen filmed.   Christensen had some tough scenes himself, but this one moment supersedes all of his.

luke skywalker noooo

The way this scene is written as well is so poignant.  Luke is slowly backed into a corner and you feel your blood level rising as you and he realize he’s trapped.   There’s literally nowhere for him to go but to join Vader or fight him.  But by joining Vader, he’s joining the Empire and the Dark Side.

Though Vader says “Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did,” we all know, including Luke, that he doesn’t know how to disappear/give himself up to the Force.  So that’s not an option.  If he wants to live, he’s got to somehow face Vader, either in a fight without his lightsaber or by joining him.  As Vader says, “It’s the only way.”

And this is why I love Luke.  It’s not the only way.  He would rather die than join Vader and so he jumps (more like falls without hope) off the platform and into the unknown.

The fall that he takes is symbolized by the fall in his own security of who he is and failure to make a decision on the type of life he now wants to lead.  Before, he knew that he was the son of a great fighter and a Jedi.  Can you imagine having everything you thought you knew dismantled in a terrible, painful (physically and emotionally) moment?

Finally – I do want to point out, which most of you big Star Wars fans already know, Vader does not say “Luke, I am your father,” though our culture seems to want to have that be the prevailing line.  It’s really “No.  I am your father.”  And with that note, I’ll leave you with this great, fan correction from Conan O’Brien:

 

INTERIOR: GANTRY — OUTSIDE CONTROL ROOM – REACTOR SHAFT

Luke moves along the railing and up to the control room. Vader lunges at him and Luke immediately raises his lit sword to meet Vader’s. Sparks fly as they duel, Vader gradually forcing Luke backward toward the gantry.

VADER: You are beaten. It is useless to resist. Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did.

Luke answers by rolling sideways and thrusting his sword at Vader so viciously that he nicks Vader on the shoulder. The black armor sparks and smokes and Vader seems to be hurt, but immediately recovers.

Luke backs off along the narrow end of the gantry as Vader comes at him, slashing at the young Jedi with his sword. Luke makes a quick move around the instrument complex attached to the end of the gantry. Vader’s sword comes slashing down, cutting the complex loose; it begins to fall, then is caught by the rising wind and blown upward.

Luke glances at the instrument complex floating away. At that instant, Vader’s sword comes down across Luke’s right forearm, cutting off his hand and sending his sword flying. In great pain, Luke squeezes his forearm under his left armpit and moves back along the gantry to its extreme end. Vader follows. The wind subsides. Luke holds on. There is nowhere else to go.

VADER: There is no escape. Don’t make me destroy you. You do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover you power. Join me and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.

LUKE: I’ll never join you!

VADER: If you only knew the power of the dark side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.

LUKE: He told me enough! He told me you killed him.

VADER: No. I am your father.

Shocked, Luke looks at Vader in utter disbelief.

LUKE: No. No. That’s not true! That’s impossible!

VADER: Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

LUKE: No! No! No!

VADER: Luke. You can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and we can rule the galaxy as father and son. Come with me. It’s the only way.

Vader puts away his sword and holds his hand out to Luke.

A calm comes over Luke, and he makes a decision. In the next instant he steps off the gantry platform into space. The Dark Lord looks over the platform and sees Luke falling far below. The wind begins to blow at Vader’s cape and the torrent finally forces him back, away from the edge. The wind soon fades and the wounded Jedi begins to drop fast, unable to grab onto anything to break his fall.

Scene it on Friday – AOTC Scene #102

Scene it on Friday – AOTC Scene #102

Short scene, but interesting.  This whole scene is devoted to Shmi, though she is not there physically.  In a way, Anakin is meeting his extended-but-kind-of-immediate family.  I say “family” in the sense of the Brady Bunch structure, not really of any emotional sense.  Clearly, Anakin cannot get attached to these people, nor does he seem to really want to get to know them.  He’s here to find out where his mother is, and that’s that.  The Jedi are his family now, and soon Padmé will be his wife.

In this scene, we also learn more about the Sand People/Tusken Raiders.  We knew a bit about them from Episode IV, but we really see that they are “vicious, mindless monsters” with no real reason to kidnap and torture Shmi.  This seems to be a pattern of the Sand People; they kidnap people for the sake of kidnapping them.  Looking at ANH, we see that they almost took off with Luke if Obi-Wan hadn’t come at just the right moment.  I decided to look into Wookiepedia to see what the EU had to say about this.

“In many tribes, adolescent Sand People were tasked with a ritual known as ‘bloodrite’, in which a youth proved their hunting skills by capturing a creature and fatally torturing it with techniques extending the pain for weeks before death. Most opted for creatures like dewback or desert hulak wraid, but the greatest prestige was reserved for a hunter who performed the rite upon a sentient being.”

Other than that, it seems like the Tuskens often raided Tatooine settlements to try to drive them from their land and so kidnapped people in the process.  Hmmm, that part sounds a little reminiscent of American history.

I am a little confused, however, on one line.  When Cliegg says, “Thirty of us went out after her. Four of us came back. I’d be with them, only… after I lost my leg I just couldn’t ride any more… until I heal.”  Does he mean he would still be with the people who didn’t come back ie the people who died trying to get her back?  Did his leg somehow enable him to be saved?  WOOKIEPEDIA SEARCH!  Ok, yes his leg is a result of a trap laid out by the Tusken Raiders that got caught during the raid.  So what does he mean by “I’d be with them”?  I’m still confused by that line.  Can anyone help?

Lastly, what frustrates me most about this scene is that the dialogue starts off decent but then it quickly goes downhill.  I find that to be a reoccurring problem with Attack of the Clones: I just can’t stand the dialogue.  People say that acting is horrible but I always want to argue that not even someone like Judi Dench could pull off these lines with credible acting.  The second half of the scene after Anakin stands up sounds like a six year old wrote it.

I think that Cliegg’s lines are fine, even appropriate, but there’s no transition for Anakin to abruptly stand up and his lines are corny with Padmé shouting lamely, “No Annie!”  It doesn’t help that the shift between Cliegg’s lines and Anakin’s actions are not done very well by Hayden Christensen.  It’s very dramatic and I don’t like that there is no inner torment inside of him wondering if he is doing the right thing by looking for his mother.  You could argue that the inner torment was played out earlier in the movie with his debate on whether his dreams were real and if he should even go to Tatooine, but knowing what he does about Sand People…shouldn’t there be a little bit of hesitation?  Sure, he’s a powerful Jedi and his anger, in a way, makes him more powerful.  But I know Obi-Wan would have had a few thoughts before singlehandedly trying to take on a whole camp of Tusken Raiders.  And since he’s heard that 30 people went out, and four came back, I’m not so sure I’d be jumping into the fray.

Interesting scene, like I said earlier, and it led me to a lot of EU information.  In the end, it only brought up old anger I’ve had over the bad writing and weird transitions.

 

Awkward dinner where Anakin acknowledges no one

Awkward dinner where Anakin acknowledges no one

INTERIOR: TATOOINE, HOMESTEAD, DINING AREA – LATE DAY

 CLIEGG, OWEN, PADMÉ and ANAKIN sit around the table, BERU brings the drinks in from the kitchen.

 CLIEGG: Your mother had gone out early, like she always did, to pick mushrooms that grow on the vaporators. From the tracks, she was about halfway home when they took her.  Those Tuskens walk like men, but they’re vicious, mindless monsters. Thirty of us went out after her. Four of us came back. I’d be with them, only… after I lost my leg I just couldn’t ride any more… until I heal.

 CLIEGG grimaces, easing his throbbing leg.

 CLIEGG: This isn’t the way I wanted to meet you, son. This isn’t how your mother and I planned it. I don’t want to give up on her, but she’s been gone a month. There’s little hope she’s lasted this long.

 Silence. Then ANAKIN stands up.

 OWEN: Where are you going?

 ANAKIN: To find my mother.

 PADMÉ: No, Annie!

 CLIEGG: Your mother’s dead, son. Accept it.

 ANAKIN: I can feel her pain, and I will find her.

 OWEN: Take my speeder bike.

 ANAKIN: I know she’s alive.

 ANAKIN turns abruptly.