Following on the heels of yesterday’s discussion of the original trilogy and its many revisions, here are a few observations about the films themselves:
- When you watch them all at once rather than piecemeal, you start to notice the unavoidable continuity errors. Some are negligible, but others are kinda huge. For example: why doesn’t Obi-Wan remember R2D2 and C-3P0? (I know, I know–I’m just saying, it would have been good to address this in the prequel films.) The best ret-con I can come up with is: protocol droids and R2 units are common throughout the galaxy. Maybe in 20 years of being on the run, Obi-Wan doesn’t recognize them as being the droids that were so instrumental in the events of the fall of the Republic. Yeah…that’s the ticket. Which leads into my next thought…
- GeekDad raises a question that occurred to me as I watched the films: the droids are basically slaves, right? Everyone in this universe, good guys and bad, buys and sells sentient beings as slaves, uses them as cannon fodder, and pretty much treats them worse than pets. Put them in harm’s way without telling them why? Sure. Shut them off (rendering them inert and “comatose”) when they annoy you? Absolutely. Just think back to how C-3P0 is freaking out about R2 being completely fried after the Death Star trench run, and Luke blowing off his concern. “Yeah, yeah, he’ll be fine, LET’S GO PARTY EVERYBODY!” …That’s some cold mess, man.
- Yoda in the prequel trilogy is a quiet, thoughtful strategist and a skilled warrior, who seems to use his crutch as a prop, more than for necessity. Yoda in the classic trilogy is an insane, old wizard (as Obi-Wan is called by Owen Lars) living in a swamp, gibbering to himself and sometimes acting like a child. Yes, I know that last part is probably an act to throw off Luke. But even after Yoda reveals himself as a Jedi, he’s still a wild card. If you’ll allow an imperfect cross-fandom analogy: Prequels-Yoda is Gandalf; Classic-Yoda is Radagast.
- Okay, we just need to admit it, folks: Obi-Wan Kenobi is a jerk. He lies to Luke about who his father is, then backtracks with some verbal judo to justify his lies. Then, when Luke (rightly) hesitates in taking on Darth Vader before his Jedi training is complete–something Yoda straight-up tells him not to do–“ghost” Obi-Wan guilt-trips him into going through with it by saying that he’s the only hope and otherwise their cause is lost. Lies. Justification of lies. Passive-aggressive guilt-trips. Manipulation. Our wise and beloved mentor, ladies and gentlemen.
- Something I just caught for the first time: at the end of Empire, after our heroes have fallen into Vader’s trap, Vader says Solo is being interrogated, and it cuts to the scene where Han is strapped to a machine that is jabbing him with needles, causing him to scream uncontrollably. Later, in the holding cell, he tells Chewie, “They didn’t even ask me any questions.” They just tortured him, for no reason–which strikes me as incredibly sad. I can’t believe I’ve never picked up on that before.
- You may have heard the theory that Luke actually turned to the dark side (and that this is why he’s not been in any of the press materials for Episode VII). As I watched the movies, I considered this theory again. While it does have some strong evidence in its favor, it can’t account for all of the evidence. So I’m going to go on record and say that I’m … at least 93% sure that Luke did not turn to the Dark Side.
- One point in favor of Hero-Luke: both Luke and Anakin faced the murder of their beloved family members on Tatooine. Anakin slaughtered an entire village of sandpeople in a fit of rage. Luke decided to become a Jedi. Quite a difference.
- Although, on the other hand, Owen and Beru were murdered by storm troopers, and Luke was instrumental in killing hundreds of thousands of Imperial soldiers, so in a way, his revenge was more bloody than Anakin’s…
- Come to think of it, we see Luke mourn his aunt and uncle (whom he lived with all his life) for maybe a few hours, but as soon as Obi-Wan (a guy he’s known for all of A COUPLE OF DAYS) dies, Luke is heartbroken because his mentor is lost to him.
- Everyone slams the prequels for terrible dialogue and a whiny lead actor. Folks, may I introduce you to Mark Hamill in Star Wars? Just re-watch his conversations with his aunt and uncle. Point, set, match.
- Okay, I know it probably came up late in the writing of the trilogy, so there was nothing they could do about it: but every time Leia kisses Luke on the lips, it’s icky.
- Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar are leading a briefing about what is basically a suicide mission to destroy the second Death Star–and then Luke waltzes in, interrupting the meeting and drawing attention to himself. Way to make it all about YOU, Luke.
- The final celebration scene after the explosion of the second Death Star, when you see celebration of several planets like Naboo and Coruscant, gives the impression that the entire Empire fell immediately with the death of Vader and Palpatine. If you do any reading of the in-canon novels (and I expect this will bear out in the new movie), you’ll see that this was not the case. Even when the Empire falls, there are still pockets of resistance that have to be stamped out, like Nazi sympathizers at the end of World War 2. I think the celebration sequence gives the viewer the idea that the conflict is resolved as soon as the Ewoks start singing a song that is definitely not “Yub-Nub” (sorry, still bitter). But this is definitely not the case.
So what’s my verdict? The classic trilogy is still great. It’s not perfect. There are technical issues and story issues. Some of the dialogue is cheesy, and some of the characterization is weak. But despite all its flaws, these movies are just plain fun, and that’s the ultimate argument for them. They’re imaginative, thrilling, funny, emotionally-engaging stories that are a blast to watch and a joy to share with others.
There are elements of all 6 films that could be improved, but as a whole, the Star Wars saga is rightly considered one of the most beloved film series of all time. And I have full confidence that The Force Awakens will only add to that legacy.
Your Turn: Want to argue with any of the points above, or make your own observations about the classic trilogy? Sound off in the comments below!