There could only be one topic of ‘Movie Chat’ this fortnight, of course we will be talking about ‘Star Wars’. With ‘The Force Awakens’ being released tonight at midnight we wanted to give you our retrospective look at the saga so far. Myself and the guys from JumpCut UK, Nick and Jakob are huge fans of this film series so we wanted to share our thoughts with you, *waves hand* these are the reviews you’re looking for!
Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
‘The Phantom Menace’ follows Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jin, and his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, on their mission to save the planet of Naboo, but on their travels to Tatooine, they meet a young boy, Anakin Skywalker. Both of the Jedi’s sense a great power within the boy, and they decide to adopt him into the ways of the force. Sounds like the makings of a good origins film right? Wrong. Very wrong. The acting is horrendously forced from everyone. The decision to make Anakin’s character a child of no older then 10 and then place him in some kind of bizarre relationship with a much older woman is just weird. The quality of CGI is pretty offensive. Darth Maul had the potential to be a saving grace, but he’s so devoid of emotion, dialogue and screen time that he’s a disappointment too. Oh, and then there’s Jar Jar Binks. If you ever want to introduce someone to the Star Wars series that hasn’t seen any of the films before, do not start here.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
‘Attack of the Clones’ is set 10 years after Episode I and the galaxy has Civil War on it’s horizon. With a rouge Jedi, Count Dooku, leading thousands of planetary systems the Galactic Republic is facing a mass exodus from said systems. Once again despite this interesting and what should be a tension filled narrative Episode II rivals and probably surpasses Episode I to be the worst ‘Star Wars’ film we’ve ever seen. With Anakin all grown up this time around we have to endure an awful romantic story line between him and Padmé. Apart from this painful development not a lot else happens in the film until the more action heavy finale. The film does have some things to appreciate though. We get some crucial character development for Anakin and his journey to the dark side, albeit poorly done. The aforementioned Count Dooku is played by Christopher Lee so as you can imagine his villain has a good presence on screen and the final light saber fight scene is worth waiting for, minus the repetitive close ups. However these few positives aren’t enough to make up for the other woeful aspects to this episode which somehow managed to take a step back from Episode I.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Those shitty prequels weren’t all bad. Whilst ‘The Phantom Menace’ was absolutely meaningless within the saga, at least ‘Revenge of the Sith’ shows us the transformation of Anakin Skywalker from bratty Jedi to the almighty Darth Vader. The third installment in the prequel trilogy focuses all its attention on Anakin and his wavering resistance to the lure of the dark side of the force and the evil emperor in waiting and concludes with a fiery duel between master and apprentice as Obi-wan slices his young Padawan up real good. Personally, I really enjoy ‘Revenge of the Sith’, mainly due to how dark in tone the whole film is and the way that Anakin as we know him is lost forever. Of course there’s some cringe worthy moments, but they are not nearly as frequent as in the previous films in this trilogy, and for that at least, ‘Revenge of the Sith’ should be appreciated
Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
‘A New Hope’ focuses on the efforts of the Rebel Alliance, who are lead by Princess Leia, to destroy the Galactic Empire’s latest weapon of mass destruction, the Death Star. Amongst this all our young hero Luke Skywalker and a couple of droids gets thrown into the mix too with much adventure to follow! ‘A New Hope’ introduced so many now iconic and loved characters, too many to list here but everyone will be able to name at least one character from this film. Episode IV has the perfect mix of humor, action and scale making it one of the best sci-fi adventures of all time. So we can forgive the film for telling the biggest lie in cinema history courtesy of Obi-Wan Kenobi; “These blast-points… Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise”. The films final Starfighter scenes can feel overlong due to the finale feel to the previous escape from the Death Star although this is only a minor criticism which is quickly forgotten when the action starts again. In the end ‘A New Hope’ is responsible for kick starting the most loved film franchise ever and gives such strong foundations for it’s two original sequels.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The best ‘Star Wars’ film out of the lot…so far. We’re all hoping that ‘The Force Awakens’ will be even better than Episode V, but it’s unlikely that anything will ever match the nostalgic, magical feeling which comes with this very special film. Right at the heart of the original trilogy, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ builds on everything which was great in Episode IV and culminates in the ultimate father-son battle. If you aren’t aware of the greatest plot twist in movie history, then we can only assume that you’re a Mormon or something, but the words “I am your father” never lose that impact no matter how many times you hear them come from beneath Darth Vader’s mask. This installment sees a dramatic improvement in acting, action, narrative and direction; it’s no coincidence that Lord Lucas handing over the reigns to Irvin Kershner led to one of the most accomplished and beloved films in the history of film. Over to you J.J, here’s hoping you can produce the best of the best.
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
‘Return of the Jedi’ is a fitting conclusion to cinemas most celebrated of series’, or so we thought… Han Solo finds himself still cast in bronze and under possession of Jabba the Hut, as too is Leia. After saving them from captivity, Luke then goes to finish his Jedi training with Yoda before the ultimate duel with Darth Vader as Leia and Han fight the forces of evil together on the planet of Endor, side by side with an army of Ewoks. The film encapsulates everything that was considerably better about the original trilogy in comparison to the prequels. The characterisation is fantastic once again and the protagonists really cement themselves into the analogues of cinema history. The film strikes a perfect balance between sci-fi, action, comedy and romance making it the perfect film for near enough everyone. And the duel at the end between father and son is just a joy to behold. Will the Episode VII carry on where The Return of the Jedi left off? We’re pretty sure it will. Enjoy The Force Awakens over the coming weeks, and may the force be with you over the festive period.
Written and edited by Nick Deal, Jakob Lewis Barnes & Hamish Calvert
Image Credit: Jakob Lewis Barnes