I received the Star Wars Trilogy DVD for Christmas and watched Empire Strikes Back while in Kansas and right now we’re watching Return of the Jedi as we ring in the new year. Let’s just be thankful it’s not a Star Wars Holiday Special (shudder).
Since watching Star Wars as a little kid (I remember watching Obi-wan confront Darth Vader during A New Hope in the theater with my eyes covered) the saga has a special place in my heart. The new prequels are weak in comparison, but watching the old ones again shows their many flaws. But I still love ’em.
Mark Hamill’s acting is so great. It’s no wonder he didn’t go on to anything else. Bits of the story here and there are pretty goofy, but overall it’s pretty amazing. The chemistry between Han Solo and Leia is awesome (especially in Empire Strikes Back). I really think Harrison Ford carried these movies.
And I think it’s hilarious that R2-D2 and C-3PO were the comic relief in the originals. I hadn’t realized that was their role, which makes Episode II a little more understandable. Too bad George Lucas had to resort to Jar-Jar Binks in Episode I.
Watching Return of the Jedi it’s also sad to see Boba Fett meet such a pathetic demise. He’s built up so mightily in Episode II. What a waste. Though Lucas repeated the same mistake by killing off Darth Maul in Episode I.
The most painful part of watching the originals again is seeing all the changes Lucas made. The guy is addicted to CGI and most of it sucks. As fake as some of the models, miniatures and matte paintings look in the originals, they look better than the computer animation in the prequels. I only hope Lucas learned that lesson from Lord of the Rings for Episode III.
Most of the time Lucas’ so called improvements are CGI embellishments that don’t fit. The worst is the worm-like creature added to the pit of Sarlac. The pit was much creepier when it just looked like a gaping mouth in the sand. Lucas had to add in the giant worm mouth that appears in every sci-fi flick (not to mention the asteriod in Empire Strikes Back). He did the same thing in Empire letting you see the CGI snow monster creeping up on Luke instead of the original where you could only hear the monster coming. Much scarrier in the original. It’s basic lesson in fear, and you’d think Lucas would have picked it up.
With the prequels and the changes to the originals, it’s almost as if Lucas is getting crazy in his old age. Though I suppose the Star Wars Holiday Special confirms that there was always a bit of crazy in there.
Watching the originals again reminds me what didn’t work in the prequels. They felt like video games, hopping from one end of the galaxy to another like an ADD video game. The originals did their fair share of jumping around, but it wasn’t quite as insane.
Most of all Star Wars has that extra bit of camp that makes it great. I wonder if Lucas instructed some of the extras to deliver their lines with such over-stated drama. It’s great. I can’t wait to dive into the DVD extras.