“Begun, My Training Has”

March 2, 2015

Some of you may recall me stating how I had never watched any of the Star Wars movies or series. Well, I finally decided to fix that. I took it upon myself to watch all the six movies. Yes, even the prequels. This ledger will cover my thoughts on the films, and a bit of my history with Star Wars.

Starting off, I was always kind of intimidated by the sheer size of the Star Wars universe. I felt that I never could just dive in and fully understand all of it. This was even before the prequels came out. When the prequels did start, then came an massive onslaught of merchandising everywhere. This is where my youthful distaste for the franchise came from. For so long, everywhere you looked, something Star Wars was being pushed in your face and down your throat. Again, being a dumb teen, my response to this was to mock it and chalk it up as dumb. Luckily this view did not continue with me for long.

After the prequels had concluded, I slowly began to come around again to the idea of giving Star Wars a try. I remember watching one or two of the original hand animated Clone Wars shorts on Cartoon Network, or watching a bit of The Phantom Menace on television. Still, the interest wasn’t all the way there. The daunting universe had only grown larger, and was even more intimidating to me.

Never-the-less, one aspect of the franchise always kept my interest & respect; The Lightsaber. I saw the Lightsaber as a great weapon that took the basic sword, and modernized it with science. This led to my purchases of the basic $8 Darth Vader telescoping Lightsaber (no sounds). Later I purchased the Ultimate Lightsaber: Build Your Own Lightsaber toy, as I found the idea of interchanging parts, blades and such cool. Then as the CGI Clone Wars series aired, I purchased Obi Wan’s Electronic Lightsaber.

As 2015 approached, I decided that I would finally take on the Star Wars universe. I wanted to be able to see The Force Awakes, and know what all was going on. Then as luck would have it, as I was going through a local consignment shop, I found the 1997 Star Wars Trilogy VHS Set. You see kids, long before there were DVDs, Blu-Ray and Netflix, there were these things called tapes that we older fans could record and watch programs & movies on. The quality wasn’t always the best (except for Betamax, which still holds up perfectly), but it served it’s purpose. I bought the VHS set for $6.50. Plus I then bought the Disney Store Darth Vader Lightsaber, and later the Disney Store Yoda Lightsaber. I highly recommend both of these toys. Finally the time had come. It was time to journey to a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

“A New Hope”

I knew I had to begin with the original series, as any fan would attest to. I have to admit, “A New Hope” starts out kinda slow. I found myself thinking, “We better get some more english speaking characters in here soon.” Granted I enjoy C-3P0 and R2-D2 “arguing”, but it took a little longer than I think it should. Once the main story and action were underway, I enjoyed it. I found Obi Wan to be the most enjoyable. The film did a good job of setting up the characters and their personalities, as well as establishing what was at stake. Plus the old school effects with the ships were very cool & impressive.

“The Empire Strikes Back”

This was an enjoyable action ride. Where “A New Hope” had to do plenty of set up, “The Empire Strikes Back” was able to get right to work with action. It did a great job of expanding on the pending threat of the Empire, Darth Vader and the Emperor. I felt all the action scenes were masterfully done, especially the escape from Hoth. It’s also here that I fell in love with Yoda. The little guy is both funny and wise all at the same time. Almost kinda like The Doctor. I throughly enjoyed seeing the great puppetry work with Yoda. The ending of the movie did a superb job of leaving you wanting more.

“Return of the Jedi”

I should note that at this point I had purchased the most recent Blu-Ray & DVD combo sets of the films, and from here watched those releases. This was action from beginning to end. Here is where I felt Luke shinned as the Jedi he was meant to be. I loved his confidence in the fight against Jabba, his quiet morning at the passing of Master Yoda, the inner struggle to control himself & resist the Dark Side, and finally his faith in his father. “Return of the Jedi” was Luke’s movie and it worked out perfectly. I also enjoyed the battle on Endor with the Ewoks. Yes, I like the Ewoks. They are resourceful and brave little teddy bears. My only issues with the film were the “additions” with the over-the-top aliens in Jabba’s palace, the celebrations on the other planets, and of course, the Ghost Anakin. Still, I found this movie the most enjoyable of the original three.

“The Phantom Menace”

Going in to “The Phantom Menance”, I was weary as I knew not many fans liked it at all. Still, I tried my best to go in with an open mind. I actually found it to be okay. Granted it has it’s flaws, but I still think it set up the story of Anakin well, as well as the looming threat of the Emperor, and the conflict with the Trade Federation. I actually don’t think Jar Jar was all that bad. Granted a few scenes were more than what was needed, but had he just been reeled back a tad, I think he would have been fine. I do feel that Darth Maul was wasted. It was like they gave him a great look, a cool Lightsaber, but then just said “Ah, his story is just that he’s the Emperor’s apprentice. No need for more.” I also could have done without the Pod Race Announcer. Still, the action was good, and I very much enjoyed seeing Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn.

“Attack of the Clones”

This is perhaps my least favorite of all of the films. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story and the action, but it was hard to remained focused on it due to all of the blue & green screen. At one point I found myself wondering, “Were there ANY actual sets for this film?” It felt like I watching a few live action actors go through a Star Wars video game. Still, I liked the telling of how the clone army came to be, Jango & Boba Fett’s story, as well as Count Dooku and the battle between he & Master Yoda. I think Anakin & Padme’s relationship story felt a bit rushed at times. Though the events on Tatooine were well paced. It was good to see the seeds of things to come. Had “Attack of the Clones” just used more of the old school effects, and less digital effects, I would have found it to be more enjoyable and less distracting.

“Revenge of the Sith”

This is an odd movie to try and critique. Going in, you know the main points that are going to occur at the end. Still, I did enjoy the film. I felt there was not as much reliance on the screen effects. I felt the strongest moments with Anakin were the times where nothing was said at all, but just the emotions shown in his eyes. All the fight scenes were done very well, and I loved R2-D2 in the film. I found the movie to be much like a Greek Tragedy. Though I did find myself asking, was it perhaps the Jedi Council’s fear of Anakin, that led to him betraying them? Any movie that leaves me questioning views & what-ifs is enjoyable for me.

Having now seen all six Star Wars films, I am very pleased to have taken on this franchise. I can now fully understand why it has maintained such a massive fan base, as well as become one of the largest keystones in science fiction. I’ve found myself being a big fan of Yoda & R2-D2, thus why I own the Underground Toys plush of both of them. I now anxiously await “The Force Awakens” in December. Though since I have plenty more time before then, I think this is the next phase of my training.



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