I’ve been re-watching Star Wars with the kids in anticipation of Episode VII: The Force Awakens. We finished tonight with Return of the Jedi.
Ah, so good. I loved that movie as a kid. I don’t think I’ve loved it recently, but today I really enjoyed it again. I think the kids enjoyed it too, though they had more fun playing with the box of my 30-year-old Star Wars toys.
So the big question was what order to watch the movies in. Prequels first? (Pshhh, nope.) Originals first?
I went with Machete Order—4, 5, 2, 3 and 6 (and you completely skip 1). Good choice. You skip all the useless stuff in number one (Jar Jar, midichlorians, boy Anakin and major characters that never show up again—Qui-Gon and Darth Maul). The only downside is that watching Episode I makes Episode II seem good by comparison.
The Prequel Issues
Watching the whole series again really underscores the faults of the prequels. This feels like a topic that never gets old.
This time around I really noticed the lack of motivation for Anakin’s fall to the dark side. They try to set it up as his love for Padme and desire to protect her. But they barely explain how the Jedi are supposed to be selfless, eschewing all family and relationships. We know Anakin and Padme’s relationship is hidden, but the Jedi are clueless. End of discussion.
Seems like they could have done a lot more with this. It’s the dark side. It’s the temptation at the center of the entire series. They could have done a better job showing the slide and downfall.
The originals also talk a lot about destiny. Is there any destiny mentioned in the prequels? They do a good job mirroring so many things, but some of the big concepts were overlooked.
The prequels also really mess up the idea of Jedi returning as spirits. Who taught Anakin how to do it? (And showing up as young Anakin, the same one who slaughtered a bunch of kids, is just weird.) Is the Emperor going to reappear as a misty spirit? And if they have immortality as spirits, why don’t they just come back and explain everything? Could we see Yoda or Obi-wan again in the future? Why or why not?
And Yoda. I love Yoda. Who doesn’t love Yoda? But his awkward speech pattern is so exaggerated in the prequels. It’s there in the originals, sure, but every single phrase is not reversed. It’s over the top in the prequels.
I should stop.
The Future of Star Wars
So all of this is leading us to Episode VII. We’ll soon have a new trilogy to add into the mix (the sequel trilogy?). Will it be as painful as the prequel trilogy? Are we getting our hopes up?
As much of a letdown as the prequels were, I still loved seeing the Star Wars universe again. That’s why I’m so excited about new Star Wars movies.
There’s a lot to be excited about. But we’ll just have to see how it ends up. Until then, we have rampant speculation.
We’ll start with the most insane: Jar Jar Binks as secret Sith Lord. I refuse to even read that one.
Then there’s the one that has Luke secretly turning to the dark side. Lots of impressive arguments marshaled in this one, but it’s not a Christopher Nolan movie with a crazy twist that no one realizes for 30-plus years. Yes, the Star Wars saga has one of the best twists ever with “Luke, I am your father,” but I don’t think you can reinterpret an entire movie decades later.
Plus, if the central hero of the original series is actually a bad guy, then that’s a bigger betrayal of my childhood than anything in the prequels.
There’s also the Luke killing Han theory, which is an even worse betrayal of my childhood.
And I haven’t seen anyone bring up this theory again, but the idea that R2-D2 and Chewbacca are ringleaders of the rebellion is worth coming back to. I mean, who is the only character to show up in all seven movies? R2-D2.