Sunday 3 January 2016

Star Wars I-VII Runthrough

I've been a Star Wars fan for about 35 years but I fall in between the usual extremes. I'm certainly not a die hard fan but I've stayed with it throughout, I know quite a bit about it and I'm interested in the newest addition in context with its predecessors. I also felt that I should finally write about the films here at Apocalypse Later Now!

My Star Wars Nerd Credentials

I certainly saw Return of the Jedi in theatres when it came out and I may have seen The Empire Strikes Back that way too. I was only seven when Star Wars was released, though, and first saw it on British television, so I wasn't there at the very beginning like some of my friends.

As a kid, I played with Star Wars action figures at the houses of friends but didn't have my own; I was into Action Force instead. I only acquired the trading cards later in life. I did read Alan Dean Foster's novelisations, though, and learned about a lot of things through the Star Wars lens in books like The Star Wars Question and Answer Book About Space, which I still own. I played some of the video games back in the nineties but I can't even remember which ones they were.

I was interested enough in the Special Edition of Episode IV to go and see that on the big screen, though I was far from impressed with the changes and never followed up with the equivalents for V and VI. I watched the prequels on home video with varying degrees of horror and was surprised to find both that I only own Episodes II and III on VHS and that my Episode I DVD is a bootleg edition with hard coded Chinese subtitles.

I own a bunch of the expanded universe books but haven't got round to reading any thus far, even though I've met at least three of the authors and have two of them as Facebook friends (for other reasons). I have, however, watched a number of fan films and even screened some, like Logan Must Make Star Wars and Trial of the Mask, in my Apocalypse Later mini-film festivals.

I haven't watched the Clone Wars animated series. I have, however, watched and reviewed The Star Wars Holiday Special. That must count for something, right?

Most importantly, I read nerdy articles about the Star Wars series and realise that I'm out of touch with it. I haven't seen Episodes V and VI in what might be thirty years, at least since watching I to III. They've faded enough in my mind that I no longer have a picture in my head of the whole series.

The I-VII Runthrough

So, with Episode VII: The Force Awakens breaking every record in the book in theatres right now, I felt that I should revisit the entire series, watching them in chronological rather than release order, before following up with the new movie.

I'm aiming to refresh my memory of the series and look at each film from three particular perspectives: quality, progression and Jar Jar Binks.

1. I want to see how good each film is, from the perspectives of a fan and a film critic. I remember IV to VI being awesome, but some films don't stand up to what I thought of them as a kid. I remember I and III being awful, but maybe they just seemed that way compared to my memory of the originals. Oddly, I remember II being surprisingly entertaining but I've only seen it once.

2. I want to see how well the series progresses from film to film. I know episode IV well enough to be aware of how the prequels rendered some scenes nonsensical, but I don't remember V and VI well enough to know if that's the case or not there.

3. Having recently read a fascinating fan theory by Reddit user Lumpawarroo that suggests that the usually hated Jar Jar Binks could really be a Sith Lord and the ultimate power behind the Emperor, I wanted to see if this remotely holds up.

It's going to be an interesting ride. Let's see if I can cover these seven pictures at the rate of one per day.

The Films

The Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith
A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
The Force Awakens

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