A Defense of Star Wars

I decided about a month back to watch through all six Star Wars movies with my son Noah.  He’s not quite old enough to sit through an entire live action movie (or he is, and just doesn’t have the attention span), but I thought these would keep him entertained.  For the most part, he has done fine.  He sits for a while, plays for a while, back and forth.  What amazed me is that as nonchalant about them as he was, he’s always asking to watch them.  He particularly loved the character Jar-Jar Binks.  This led me to start thinking about the prequels again, and what a bad rap they’re given.  So I wanted to give my defense of the prequels, and why I still watch them.

I saw each of them no less than 3 times in the theaters.  The Phantom Menace, I saw 8 times.  I’m a dork, yes, but I really did enjoy it!  What was funny, though, was that I started to notice all the George Lucas hating going on.  I couldn’t believe it!  This guy, the man who invented the universe, had given us all these beloved stories and characters, was getting skewered!  Then the second one came out, and it started up all over again.  There were different reasons this time, but it was just as critical and ugly.  The third one silenced critics a bit, and it is definitely the best of the bunch, but I am still amazed at how much flak Lucas takes from people who call themselves fans of Star Wars, for the three prequels.  Let me answer the most commonly heard critiques:

1.”Jar-Jar Binks is a terrible character, and ruins Episode 1, which wasn’t good to begin with.”  I’ll start by saying:  that character was created for kids, as was the entire movie (according to Lucas), and to that end, it was successful.  Noah literally laughs every time he comes on the screen, and while he watched them, that is the only character he asked for.  Lucas makes no apologies for this, and made an imminently watchable movie, despite a character that annoys adults.  The soundtrack continues to impress, the visuals are stunning, scenes build tension, and beloved characters return.  Is there some stilted dialogue?  Of course…but this is STAR WARS!  There always has been!  Now, I’m not saying that this movie is anywhere close to the level of the originals.  But it exists as excellent entertainment that is extremely well put-together. 

2.”Episode 2 is cheesy, the dialogue is terrible, and it ruins the movie.”  Puh-lease.  I watched it again with Noah, and I counted about 6-8 lines that were out of place or poorly written.  SIX!  Are you saying that if you picked apart most movies, you wouldn’t find at least six lines that didn’t fit, or were written poorly?  And it certainly doesn’t ruin the movie.  The action is ramped up, the Jedi Battle is fantastic, and Dooku vs. Anakin/Obi-Wan/Yoda light saber fight is magnificent.  It serves to advance the story, brings Anakin to the edge of the Dark Side, and again has another excellent theme added to the soundtrack.  The ideas like Coruscant, the rain planet, clones, etc. were brilliant!  But no, six lines ruined the movie.  And the prequels.  And the earth.  And life as we know it.  Sheesh.  The only point I’ll grant is that this movie was supposedly made for women (the romance story) and it really didn’t do a good job to that end.  The whole Han Solo-Princess Leia storyline kills this one, but it had the benefit of Harrison Ford, a presence that I’ll admit the prequels are lacking.

That bottom line is that what happens too often is people get hyper-critical of a world that they have known and loved their whole lives.  But you didn’t create this world.  It’s not yours.  It belongs to George Lucas, and he is fit to do with it as he pleases.  These movies have been completely dissected over and over again – every line, every scene, every facial expression, etc., which doesn’t happen to most movies.  Any film that you go over with a fine-tooth comb is bound to have its flaws.  But no one is putting these movies on the same level as, say, The Godfather, Citizen Cane, Magnolia, or whatever.  I really don’t see the big deal.  They are what they are, and if you can accept that they are entertainment in another galaxy, and were made to advance a story that all of us know and love, perhaps you can get off your high horse and enjoy them.  I know I do.

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2 Responses to “A Defense of Star Wars”

  1. Duane Says:

    Have you seen this review of TPM?

    http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/12/17/watch-this-70-minute-video-review-of-star-wars-the-phantom-menace/

  2. jmmelton Says:

    Matt told me about it, but I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. I’ve heard it’s hilarious and pretty on the money, but I’m not sure I care. This kind of proves my whole point about, if you do the whole MST3K thing to ANY movie scene for scene, you can ridicule it…

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