The evil Trade Federation have been operating their dealings in a way to stifle the small planet of Naboo. Two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, attempt to negotiate with the leaders but find themselves fighting for their lives and landing themselves on the home planet. After partnering up with a Gungan outcast, Jar Jar Binks, the Jedis are able to find their way back to the capitol city. With the Federation having taken siege, the Jedis and the royalty of Naboo escape the planet and take refuge on Tatooine. While searching for some new parts for their starcraft, they head into town and meet a young boy, Anakin, who seems to have a presence of mysterious energy called the Force. After a speeder race solidifies Qui-Gon’s faith in the child, they sweep him away and make a plan to take back Naboo. Teamed with the Gungans, they face the Federation’s droid army and a deadly force simply known as Darth Maul. The battle leads to a new relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin, as Obi-Wan convinces the Jedi Council to allow him to become his new padawan.
Ten years after the events on Naboo, the older Anakin Skywalker has teamed up with Obi-Wan Kenobi as they search for an unknown dark presence that has teamed with a group of separatists. Padme Amidala has risen to the role of senator for Naboo but has an assassin hot on her trail. As Obi-Wan goes on a search for clues to the plans of the separatist movement and its leader, Count Dooku, he sends Anakin off with Padme back to Naboo for protection. While the two develop a love for each other, Anakin struggles with dreams about his mother and feels an urge to travel back to Tatooine to check on her. He learns that she was sold and kidnapped, but he finds her at a Tusken Raider camp in her final moments. Obi-Wan heads to Geonosis, where he gets captured by Dooku and pressured to join the separatists. Anakin gets the distress message around the same time that Chancellor Palpatine is granted emergency powers to commission the clone army into battle and take out Dooku’s army. Meanwhile, the evil presence makes itself known, leading the way for a series of challenges in the near future.
Over the few years following the start of the Clone War, Obi-Wan and Anakin are hot on the trail of a new Jedi-killing threat known as General Grievous. Along with Count Dooku, Grievous has captured the Chancellor. During a battle with Dooku, Obi-Wan gets knocked unconscious but Anakin is able subdue him. In a fit of coercion from the Chancellor, he takes Dooku’s head and begins a private relationship with Palpatine. After his crash landing on Coruscant, he learns that Padme is pregnant but chooses to keep the secret from Obi-Wan and the Council. Under the orders of the Council, Anakin is commanded to spy on the activities of the Chancellor while Obi-Wan goes after Grievous. While Obi-Wan’s mission is a success, the influence of the Chancellor works its magic and convinces Anakin to turn to the dark side. Putting his plan in motion, the Chancellor orders the clone troopers to exterminate the Jedi, sends Anakin (now Darth Vader) to clear out the Jedi Temple and take out the separatists on the planet of Mustafar. Obi-Wan attempts to go after his padawan and finds himself in a battle for his life.
Starring (1999-2005): Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala/Padme), Jake Lloyd/Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), Ian McDiarmid (Senator/Chancellor Palpatine), Pernilla August (Shmi Skywalker), Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks), Anthony Daniels (C3PO), Kenny Baker (R2D2), Frank Oz (Yoda), Brian Blessed (Boss Nass), Andrew Secombe (Watto), Ray Park (Darth Maul), Lewis Macleod (Sebulba), Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu), Christopher Lee (Count Dooku), Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett/Commander Cody), Daniel Logan (Boba Fett), Jimmy Smits (Senator Bail Organa), Silas Carson (Ki-Adi-Mundi), Joel Edgerton (Owen Lars), Bonnie Piesse (Beru), Keisha Castle-Hughes (Queen of Naboo), Jay Laga’aia (Captain Typho), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Genevieve O’Reilly (Mon Mothma), Matthew Wood (General Grievous)
After years of rule by the Empire and its leaders, Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, a new resistance is growing. On the outskirts of Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine, a young Luke Skywalker lives a rather simple life with his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. When a pair of droids land on the planet and are sold to the farming family, Luke’s fate is changed forever. R2D2 wanders off, causing Luke to go after him and allowing him to meet a hermit named Obi-Wan Kenobi. After learning about the Rebel Alliance and seeing a secret message embedded inside the droid, a series of events lead Luke to go with Obi-Wan to Mos Eisley to find a pilot to take them to Alderaan. After enlisting the help of Han Solo and his partner Chewbacca, the ragtag group blasts off and heads to their destination, only to find it has been blasted to pieces and in its place is a gigantic globe of a starship. Caught in its tractor beam, the Millennium Falcon is pulled into a landing bay. As Obi-Wan senses a presence he needs to explore, Luke and Han go on a search for Princess Leia, who R2D2 learns is trapped in a holding cell. After escaping and meeting up with the Rebel Alliance, Luke joins the fight to take out the Death Star and significantly damage the Empire.
As the Empire continues their pursuit of complete dominance, the Rebel Alliance has taken refuge on the ice planet, Hoth. When the Empire discovers their base, the troopers take aim and drive the Rebels scattering. While making their escape, Luke senses a need to travel to the Dagobah system. Meeting the much older, former head of the Jedi Council, Yoda, he begins his training to become a Jedi Master. Meanwhile, Han, Leia and Chewbacca travel to Bespin to meet up with an old friend, Lando Calrissian. Initially, Lando rolls out the red carpet but soon shatters the reunion with the reveal of Darth Vader and the Empire presence in Cloud City. After capture and interrogation, Vader freezes Han Solo in carbonite and releases him to a bounty hunter, Boba Fett. After Han is taken away, Luke arrives in Cloud City and falls into a trap with Vader. An epic battle ensues, but Lando takes the opportunity to defy the Empire occupiers and free Leia and Chewbacca. Luke learns of a revelation regarding the identity of Darth Vader which changes him to his core.
After reorganizing after their escape from Cloud City, R2D2 and C3PO are sent to Tatooine to create a diversion for the rescue of Han Solo from the gangster, Jabba the Hutt. A mysterious bounty hunter arrives at Jabba’s Palace but is revealed to be Leia and quickly captured. Right on her tail, Luke arrives and demands for Han and his friends to be released. Though captured by the guards, Luke, Lando and Leia enact their plan to battle Jabba’s crew, rescue Han and escape Tatooine. Luke takes a detour back to Dagobah to visit with Yoda, while Han, Leia and Lando meet back with the Rebel Alliance and get commissioned to take on a mission to stop the second Death Star. Landing on Endor and teaming up with the Ewok tribe, Han and Leia lead an attack on a shield generator which protects the Death Star from spacecraft threats. As Yoda fades away, Luke verifies that Vader is his father and Leia is his sister. He travels to Endor to confront Vader and attempt to save him from the Dark Side. An epic battle ensues on the surface of Endor, in space near the Death Star and on the battle station between Luke, Vader and Palpatine.
Starring (1977-1983): Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Anthony Daniels (C3PO), Kenny Baker (R2D2), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), David Prowse/James Earl Jones (Darth Vader), Peter Cushing (Grand Moff Tarkin), Phil Brown (Uncle Owen), Shelagh Fraser (Aunt Beru), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Frank Oz (Yoda), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), Joh Hollis (Lando’s Aide), Clive Revill/Ian McDiarmid (Emperor), Sebastian Shaw (Anakin Skywalker), Michael Pennington (Moff Jerjerrod), Kenneth Colley (Admiral Piett), Denis Lawson (Wedge), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), Caroline Blakiston (Mon Mothma), Larry Ward (Jabba the Hutt)
The Star Wars universe has become so enormous that it is important to keep in context the original 3 films and the 3 prequels. In 1977, the first movie attracted a lot of attention and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. While the remaining 5 films did not get the same appreciation, George Lucas both created an entire fictional history to obsess over and major advances in computer animation and film production. Between 1977 to 1983, the original trilogy combined strong acting with amazing visual effects for the time and an escape to worlds never before imagined. While the first film set up a fantastic storyline, Empire Strikes Back ups the ante for acting and depth of story. The first part of Luke’s journey focused on his coming-of-age realization of a world much bigger than the planet of Tatooine, whereas the second part sees Luke slowly maturing and coming to terms with the depth of his connect to Darth Vader. The moment when Luke loses his hand and is cornered by Vader is one of the most memorable moments in film history. The third film displays a very mature Luke who has found his center and courage to face the dark side.
The films of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith are rather entertaining films, but the quality of the acting is styled more for a youthful audience. Graphics technology had improved to a level where characters could be 100% computer-generated, leading to such memorable but irritating creatures like Jar Jar Binks. Where the comedy was significantly better in the original trilogy, it was more blatant in the more recent editions. One of the other significant differences in the prequels was the focus of the storyline. The original trilogy was focused almost entirely on Luke as the central character. The Phantom Menace was more about Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, as they meet Anakin Skywalker but fight off the powerful, shallowly-introduced Darth Maul. Attack of the Clones begins to shift the focus onto Anakin but expands the scope of the series to highlight the beginning of the end of the democratic senate and civilization. Revenge of the Sith, though riddled with extensive teenage angst through Anakin’s character, takes a focus on Anakin’s turn to the dark side, but also the rise to power of Palpatine. It was certainly a benefit for the series that the child Anakin and Jar Jar Binks only lasted for Episode 1, but the teenage version of Anakin was fairly dreadful as an actor in Episodes 2 and 3.
The series is absolutely one of the best of all time, but there are some challenges with how the series has been presented and represented. On several occasions, Lucas has decided to re-release the original trilogy and recently to convert the films to 3-D to take advantage of the revenue to be made in theaters. This is not to say that film is not worth seeing in 3-D, but the changes do not just affect the visual presentation. When A New Hope was released again 1997, Lucas changed a scene in the cantina which could be seen as small but changes the presentation of Han Solo’s personality. By switching the character that shoots first, Han’s personality goes from rouge to defensive and skittish. Other additions were better in that they served more as background filler than story changing. The movement to 3-D may be entertaining for the fight and space scenes, but there is a limit to the number of times one can go see a movie in the theater and pay the rising films prices for the same film.
Everyone should at least give these films a try, but it is recommended to watch them in the order of their original release rather than by storyline.
A New Hope – Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5
Empire Strike Back – Dan’s Rating: 5.0/5
Return of the Jedi – Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5
The Phantom Menace – Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5
Attack of the Clones – Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5
Revenge of the Sith – Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5