And I thought they smelled bad on the outside

So, Star Wars is coming out in 3D.

Okay, they probably have already come out in other parts of the world, but Japan is sometimes behind the times when it comes to movie releases. Here, Episode One comes out March 16th.


Wake me up for Episode Four.


I don’t really have anything against the Prequels, in fact I see them in a much better light than I did when they were first released. I think they’ve grown on me. I don’t hate Jar Jar anymore.

I don’t really have much for them either, though. They are the weakest movies of the bunch, minus the last half of Revenge of the Sith. There have been scathing reviews by fans and critics alike, and I can find little to disagree with.


For me it’s a matter of time. I don’t like the Prequels as much as the Original films because I can never be five years old again.


I first saw Star Wars when my parents packed us in the car and took us to the drive-in (pre-Betamax!) My sisters and I were in our pajamas in the car as we watched the movie. To be honest, I don’t remember much else about that event, other than for the next while I lived in that world a lot of the time. That Christmas we got the first line of action figures, and we spent countless hours playing. I think most of that time was spent choosing who was going to play which characters. We would lay the toys out on a big blanket and draft them like picking sides for a game of shinny.


Anyhow, back to the movies. I remember The Empire Strikes Back era better, as I mentioned in an earlier post. I also remember spending the next three years wondering if Darth Vader was really Luke’s father, and how they were going to rescue Han Solo from the bounty hunter. While I now view Empire as the best movie of the trilogy, at the time I didn’t like it as much because it left me rather traumatized.


The end of the Original Star Wars was, of course, Return of the Jedi. I stand in the minority among fans in liking Jedi. Liking it a lot. It had the best set pieces. The final battle was a frantic adventure, and at times the outcome was actually in doubt (at least to me at the time.) I went crazy over the scenes in space. The effects one-upped the rest and at the time it was state-of-the-art. I’ll even accept Ewoks.

On the subject of Ewoks, I actually think they get a bit of a raw deal. In fact, while they were cute and cuddly, there was an underlying danger. These were creatures who were able to capture our heroes and were one Jedi trick away from roasting Han Solo on a spit. That puts them on about the same level as the overrated Boba Fett, who never really does anything but act as a glorified stool-pigeon and delivery-boy.


But I digress.


There is a fantastic book on the subject of Star Wars called The Secret History of Star Wars, by Michael Kaminsky that goes very deeply into the creation of the films, and uncovers the truth behind some of the things all fans have heard at one point or another, but never knew for certain. For instance, most people of my generation have heard that there were originally supposed to be nine Star Wars movies, a trilogy of trilogies, and the Original Trilogy are the middle set of stories. This comes from something that George Lucas said in an interview. He did, at one point, actually plan to make nine or even twelve movies. However, he changed his mind, as is his right as a creator. For the details, I recommend you pick up Kaminsky’s book.


On to the Prequel Trilogy. The Phantom Menace came out after I came to Japan. When I heard they were making more Star Wars movies, I was excited, but I knew I wouldn’t feel the same about them. The child had grown into a bigger, slightly more cynical, child. I knew the movies could never live up to my expectations. There was absolutely no way. Like I said, I could never be five years old again. Menace also came out in Japan a good three months after it did in Canada, and I heard some bad reports about the film from my friends back home.

And my disappointment didn’t disappoint. I felt Menace was a rather bland film, despite some very exciting scenes. The lightsaber fights were even better than what I expected from Jedi at the height of their art. I was particularly impressed with the abilities of Ray Park’s Darth Maul. Still, it was well-produced action tacked onto a sub-standard story.

Menace was followed by Attack of the Clones, which I had hoped would restore my weakened faith in the franchise. Again, there were parts I liked, but as a whole it did little to improve my feelings towards the series. I liked Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi and his detective story. However, the story was left unexplained and subsequently unresolved in the next movie.

When I saw the venerable Jedi Master Yoda finally fight, in a battle with the evil Count Dooku, I was rather pleased. While I thought it was a little out of character for the Yoda of the Original movies to use a lightsaber, it showed the over-confidence of the Jedi, and I felt it added a little bit more to their eventual downfall. I choose to see it as a reason we don’t see Yoda perform any acrobatics in Empire.

The last Star Wars movie was Revenge of the Sith. I came out of the movie thinking this should have been Episode Two! I felt that there was too much in the last half of Revenge, and there was a wasted opportunity to show more of the background of the Original Trilogy that I wanted from the Prequels. I’ve heard that there is a TV series in development that will show some stuff from the period between Episode Three and Episode Four, but I felt that at least some of it should have been in Episode Three.


The last subject I want to touch on is the whole Special Edition debate. I think that as an artist, Lucas should be able to do whatever he wants with the movies. They are, after all, his films. He’s devoted most of his adult life to them, and no fan should feel the right to tell him what he can or can’t do. As well, it is not unheard of in science fiction. How many versions of Blade Runner are there? As well, some of the changes have been vast improvements. The things that I haven’t liked have been things that changed the story or the characters (see: shoots first, Han)

What I disagree with is that fans should only be able to see one version. I think the previous versions of the films should be available for people to watch.  I think in the future this will be an option. We may be able to pick and choose which bits we want to keep. It would be possible with the current level of digital technology (I think.)


So in conclusion, I love the Star Wars films, especially the Original Trilogy. I enjoy the technical improvements to a point, but I won’t be dropping my cash to see Star Wars in 3D until they get to Episode Four.


And that’s my Star Wars post. I will probably think of something else I wanted to say about five minutes after I hit “publish.” I usually do.


May the forc– nah…

2 comments on “And I thought they smelled bad on the outside

  1. Michael Gies (Rogue Leader) says:

    As usual Ken, you and I come very close to being identical in our Star Wars views and likes/dislikes. This may have something to do with being born a month apart, having similar childhoods, and spending way too much time together discussing/playing/watching/reading/whatever Star Wars.
    However, I must say that I now temper all my Star Wars beliefs with what my son Cameron is going through. I’m not surprising anyone here by telling you he is a bonafide Star Wars junkie. And with all seriousness, I did not encourage it. So I view the new trilogy as his trilogy. I will watch them (by the 20-30th viewing, Episode II is laughably bad) when he wants, but to me they are nothing to waste time thinking about, save the second half of Episode III. So having stated that, I took Cameron to see Episode I in 3D on the second day and we had a blast. Not because of the movie itself, but because it was his first opportunity to see a Star Wars movie in the theatre, just like how we first experienced them. Nothing beats that, even having them at home on Blu-ray, which we do (George Lucas has me by the short and curlies).
    So if Maria or Leo is a fan I say go and have fun and share it with them. If not, don’t rush out. From a technical standpoint, the movie is washed out a bit in 3D, so the lightsaber battle at the end is less thrilling. And it wasn’t loud enough for me. Ah well, I still cringe when Jar Jar talks and I still don’t get what a mitochlorian (sp) is. But that podrace…LOVE it!

    Keep it up Ken – this is the best reading on the web. And since it is the the exact midpoint between our birthdays, I say Happy 40th to both of us!

  2. betamaxman says:

    Thanks for the comments, Mike!

    You’ve changed my thinking a little. I think I might take Leo to go see Episode I. He prefers his Japanese Superheroes, but going to see Star Wars in the theatre might bring him around.

    It will make for some good father-son bonding. 🙂

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