Star Wars To Cleanse the Palate

Okay. I’m back in San Antonio in front of my own computer and surrounded by comic books and action figures, and I’m ready to delve into some nerdy topics. Enough with Europe and their hoity-toity classical literature. And when looking for nerdy topics to blog about what better place to begin than with Star Wars, the Pangea of nerdy topics.

Anniia asked in the comments section of the blog, “Okay, since we’ve opened the ‘Star Wars’ topic, let’s discuss. Best one? Worst one? I posit that the original, “Episode IV: A New Hope” was the standard where the bar was set, and none of the others ever met that again, and “Episode I: The Phantom Menace” was the lowest of low points.”

Anonymous weighed in and replied, “The Empire Strikes back was the best. It was dark and didn’t have any of that feel good sap that Lucas brought into the next three films. The Phantom Menace and the whatever the next waste of film was called both sucked (unless you skipped all the scenes with Anikin and Pademe). What the Revenge of the Sith lacked in plot, acting ability, and other classical criteria, it made up in action and special effects. Doesn’t make it the best, but hope lifts it off the dung heap. Which I think is somewhere in or near Waco, TX.”

Well, let’s clear one thing up immediately: the dung heap you speak of resides in Gatesville, TX. Waco is merely a stop on the road to said dung heap.

That said, I do agree that Empire is probably the most solid of all six films. The acting surpasses that of “New Hope,” Luke no longer whines like a little girl with a skinned knee, the plot twists rival that of a Grecian epic (more on this in a minute), and you don’t see one dammed Ewok. Plus, “Empire” introduces us to Lando, the smoothest mofo that ever piloted the Millennium Falcon.

Unfortunately, I don’t have as much fun watching “Empire,” as I do when I watch “A New Hope.” Sure the dialogue could kill a diabetic, and Luke desperately needs to get rid of that “Brady Bunch” hair-do, but no matter how many times I watch that movie the excitement and the gee wiz-factor still infect me like the very first time I saw it. When Luke plunges down that trench in the X-Wing and decides to use the force I’m right there with him. And when Han’s blast sends Vader flipping into space I clap and cheer like the characters on the screen can hear me.

“Jedi” is okay, but to quote Dante Hicks, “all’s Jedi had was a buncha muppets.”

I think we all agree that the prequels pretty much suck compared to the original films, but the question remains: why? Why do the first three films kick so much ass when the last three (in order of filming not sequentially) suck so totally? How could Lucas hit three home runs then bunt at his last three at-bat’s? I think Lucas simply strayed too far from the Jungian archetypes that made the first films so popular. He forgot Campbell’s “Hero With A Thousand Faces” and instead used “Primary Colors” as a blueprint for the plot. Unfortunately for him none of us really give a damn about political intrigue. We all wanted to see another Hero’s journey, and instead of “The Call to Adventure” he gave us “The Call To Closely Monitor the Political Process And Make Sure That One Faction Does Not Gain Too Much Power Because If They Do They Will Probably Abuse It.”

Plus the fact that Hayden Christensen’s portray of Anakin makes Warwick Davis’s portrayal of Wicket look positively Shakespearean. When Christensen tries to cry I want to punch a baby.

Of the three prequels I think “Sith” comes closest to containing actual drama, mostly due to McGregor’s talent as an actor. Then you have that little moment at the end when we finally hear Vader’s raspy, mechanical breathing coupled with James Earl Jones’s Vader-voice””two moments that made me glad I paid for my ticket instead of buying one to “Cheaper by the Dozen” and sneaking in.

McGregor, along with Liam Neeson and Ray Park, barely salvage “Phantom Menace.” Jar-Jar Binks and those goofy-ass Asian aliens do everything in their power to turn that movie into something Elvira would introduce on a cable station at three o’clock in the morning.

And poor little Jake Lloyd. I don’t like picking on little kids, but really, could he have been any worse? Well, I guess after watching Christensen we know the answer to that, but I’m reasonably sure there were better actors available to play little “Annie.” Lucas should have hired Macaulay Culkin. He wasn’t doing anything, and I don’t think he’s hit puberty yet.

I still can’t believe that the same guy who chokes people through video-conferencing once had the nickname “Annie.” What’s next? We learn that Palpatine’s buddies called him “Palp Smear?”

I don’t think I have the strength to write anything about “Attack of the Clones.” Good Lord that was a bad movie. Lucas must’ve let the guy who wrote “Ice Pirates” pen portions of that script.

Well, there you have my flippant analysis of the Star Wars films. Just so you know, I’m no different than any other nerd out there, which means that as much as I bitch about the films I still watch them frequently enough to memorize even the cheesiest lines from “Clones.” I still secretly harbor hope that Lucas will eventually decide to film three more sequels to the original trilogy. We could see the Jedi twins onscreen and watch as Luke goes to the dark side and eventually reforms the Jedi Council. The only thing cooler than that would be to see Han and Boba have that final duel.

Whew. That’s a lot of nerdiness, no? I think it best to end this post with a link to the video of MC Chris’s “Fett’s Vette.” His backpack has jets…just in case you didn’t know.

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Comments

  1. Anniina says:

    Yes, yes, yes! One of my senior theses was “Luke Skywalker as Archetypal Hero” and it was all about Lucas’ use of Campbell’s “Hero with a Thousand Faces” – since Campbell’s death, Lucas seemed to think he could somehow relinquish all that, not realizing that the reason it works is because it’s the formula that has worked for millenia across cultures.

    Welcome back, Mark! Missed you like the devil 🙂

    Anniina

  2. Anonymous says:

    Listen Gatesvill is within 60 miles of Waco so I think that that qualifies for near!

    Most of the other stuff I would pretty much agree with. I think that the first two precraps lack an epic feel. Lucas starts this new trilogy the way Yates ends the world. The last film however starts with a stirring battle, an epic sweep of the universe on fire and our characters making their way though it. I liked that bit. I also loved some of the music in the movie. I thought that it was very dramatic. And the last fight scene made me wish I would take up karate or something like that. That stuff (technical term) made up for the rest of the shit and the horrible feeling that the Jedi all had Forrest Gump’s IQ.

    With some selective editing (which wouldn’t have been difficult) we could have had a decent 3 hour movie and a lot less disappointment and bitterness.

    I kind of hope Lucas never turns his hand to the final three films because then they remain the dream that he hasn’t screwed up yet. I will give that he had a lot to live up to but . . . .

    I would also like to dive into a bit of heresy and say that the original films really were not that good. They were new a seized our imagination and so we look at them with kid gloves instead of admitting that they many have many of the same problems that the precraps have. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy them, but I also drink corona from time to time and that doesn’t say much does it. So except for Harrison Ford which one of them actually had an acting career (and from time to time he worries me ie. “Seven days Six nights”! and whatever crap with Josh Hartnet was called!) after Star Wars.

    So Empire was the best. It lived up to expectations. The good guys did not win (yet). And it had the balls to admit that there would be a sequal. So there you go.

    An hey give me a little credit cause I signed my (I thought about throwing in a colorful mediphor here, but I guess that just makes me crude) name to the last post. and it hurts my feeling that you didn’t care enough to give me my props. (I’m in the corner now and I have assumed the fetal position. Rocking back and forth. back and forth)

    The first film made me wi (this might belong somewhere in the rest of the post somewhere, but I have no Idea where. Or it wasa a new idea that I had right befor I thought I should go fix something above. Or I died in mid sentence. It is really up to you to figure out which one it was). (I think that the next word was either wish or wince I’m still not sure).

    Flood

  3. Womo says:

    Here’s my Star Wars rankings:

    6) The Phantom Menace

    What rules?
    Kick-ass Jedi lightsaber action; Darth Maul (total Maul screentime=9 measly minutes)

    What drools?
    Pointless, endless, irritating pod race; Jar Jar Binkd
    (total Jar Jar screen time=90 fucking minutes!)

    5) Attack of the Clones

    What rules?
    Ginormous Jedi battle finale; Yoda kickin’ ass and takin’ down names

    What drools?
    Unbearable “love” “story”; “I don’t like sand” (worst line of dialouge in the whole series)

    4) Return of the Jedi

    What rules?
    Speeder bike chase; dazzling space battle finale

    What drools?
    Endless, dull expository speeches; lame ass resolutions to every single plot thread (twin sister my ass!)

    3) Revenge of the Sith

    What rules?
    Palpatine tempting Anakin; relentless pacing; record amounts of lightsaber action

    What drools?
    Every sigle word Padme utters; disapointing duel between Obi Wan and Anakin

    2) Star Wars

    What rules?
    R2 and 3PO bickering; Luke, Leia, and Han bantering; Obi Wan and Vader trash talking; pure, giddy, goofy entertainment value: the most fun you can (legally) have with your clothes on!

    What drools?
    Special Ed: Greedo shots first? Han steps on Jabba’s tail? Fuck that shit!

    (I pity every living soul who didn’t get to see the original Star Wars on the big screen in the summer of ’77.)

    1) Empire Stikes Back

    What rules?
    Yoda (best performance in the whole series); Han and Leia’s romance; cliff-hanger ending; Who’s your daddy plot twist

    What drools?
    Me! I’m salavating just thinking about it!

  4. Mark A. says:

    Thanks. I missed me too. It sucked not being able to respond to comments.

    I didn’t really mind Lucas going back and redoing special effects, but Jabba should not walk. Or writhe. Or whatever the hell he’s doing. He’s a lot scarier when he forces other creatures to cart him around. And when Maul died at the end of Phantom I just knew that Lucas killed him because the next movie had an even badder villain. Boy was I disappointed. We get two geriatrics and some storm troopers. Bleh. Anything that makes the Wilhelm Scream when it dies is not, I repeat, NOT scary.

    It’s kind of funny that the best performance of the whole series was by a Muppet.

    And Flood, it worries me that you suddenly stop writing in mid-sentence. At least try to claim that II needed to be fed or something.

    And you’re right about the actors after Star Wars. I think Harrison Ford throws darts to choose what film he’ll choose next. And Carrie Fisher? She needs to start snorting blow again. She was a lot more fun coked up. Now she’s just annoying.

    And what the hell’s wrong with Corona? I’m not sure, but I think making disparaging comments about it in S.A. is a hanging offence.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hurts that you didn’t leap on the heresy bit, but oh well.

    And listen Corona is a shitty beer. It doesn’t bother me to say it or drink it. I just have a commitment to the truth.

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