12:00 pm EDT, December 17, 2015

I lost my Star Wars virginity in 2015: 7 days, 6 movies, 1 epic review

‘Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’

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  • I guess Anakin has graduated from Padawan school now because he’s allowed to have ridiculous hair and an incredibly unsubtle all-black leather outfit. He’s also got a much more fun and friendly dynamic with Obi-Wan — brotherly, homoerotic, whatever you want to call it. It’s great, for the twelve seconds it lasts.
  • Ani’s become better at being a Jedi since his secret marriage — I guess if he knows he has a little rebellion tucked away, it’s easier for him to put up with all the protocol. Anyway, he has found some chill, which makes him a bit more likeable, at least at first.
  • Of course, this is Anakin Skywalker, don’t get your hopes up. It’s still confusing to me — do they actually want you to root for him at any point, given what we all know is coming?
  • Tell us again how wonderful it is that you’re pregnant, Padme. Come on, once more with feeling. Spoiler alert: it is not wonderful. Another spoiler alert: if you make out in a public government building everyone is going to see you.
  • I’m assuming that no one has ever told Anakin about the prophecies about himself, because he seems to just think that the Jedis don’t like or trust him, which ends up making him resentful. Maybe if they filled him in about the risks surrounding him, he’d feel more comfortable with the situation and not turn to the friendly ear of his good buddy Palpatine.
  • Okay, straight up, how has no-one noticed by this point that Palpatine is shifty? He isn’t exactly trying to hide it any more.
  • Has no one in these movies ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Come on, guys! It’s always the actions you take to try and avoid the thing that end up making the thing happen! Just pretend like you never saw it and all will be well.
  • Yoda’s whole spiel about letting go of what you fear to lose is exactly the same lesson that Aang learns from his guru in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Just saying.
  • This movie really doesn’t hold back on how thoroughly Palpatine has been manipulating Anakin. It’s classic abuser grooming, it stinks of gaslighting, and it’s just utterly twisted. It’s almost sleazy, and it got to the point where I was relieved that he revealed his true intentions, because it was so blatant that it would really be idiotic for Anakin not to notice. Once Ani does know how the cards fall, Palpatine doesn’t see anything wrong with, you know, sending voicemails directly into Ani’s brain. Cool friend.
  • This is actually a very good, very raw movie with some decent character work. Anakin’s growing self-hatred as he ties himself to Palpatine, the way his mind twists the more he uses the Dark Side, the systematic slaughter of the Jedis, Obi-Wan’s grief, Padme’s realization that Anakin is cray-cray… It occurred to me while watching this just how much Obi-Wan’s life is going to suck for the next thirty years, and I got really, really sad for him.
  • That being said, Obi-Wan, if you loved him so much maybe you should have given him a clean death and put him out of his misery, instead of cutting off both of his legs and an arm and leaving him on fire? Like, that’s not very humane, and also, he survived to ruin another day. No wonder you went to live in a cave.
  • For all that they’re the worst couple ever, the bit at the very end when Anakin is in the Vader mask, using that famously scary voice to ask after Padme is kind of tragic. The surgery to put him into his life-support armor hammers home how much of a cage it is and how completely the new Emperor now owns him. It’s tough to call someone who’s done what Anakin did — killing Jedi children, choking out his pregnant wife, betraying everyone who’s ever loved him — a victim, but it’s also tough to deny that there’s an element of that when it comes to his relationship with Palpatine. A note for future generations: if any politicians show an extra-special creepy interest in your superpowers, just say no, kids.
  • Leaving Luke on Tatooine with Anakin’s family is truly a genius move. It’s literally the first place Vader would go, so I’m assuming he doesn’t know the babies got born, which begs the question — when did he actually find out about Luke? And was Obi-Wan ever going to come and get Luke and teach him what’s what? Putting him there was such a scumbag Dumbledore move, like, oh well, it’s dropped.
  • ‘Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’

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    • Well, Jabba the Hutt is as gross as expected. Why do these Hutt things even have power? Could he take anyone in a fight? He can barely move. But between the droid torture, the slave girls, and the weird Jim Henson animal band doing a musical number that would have fit better in Labyrinth, his lair sure is a horrid place to be.
    • In terms of becoming a real hero, and to become worthy of Leia, Han needed to be knocked down and have his surface nonsense stripped away — the carbonite is his Mr Rochester moment, right down to the blinding factor. I don’t mind him and Leia being together after this ordeal, because now, it’s for the right reasons. Their role-reversal of the “I love you,” “I know,” exchange is way preferable to the version in Empire, mainly because it involves Leia blowing someone up.
    • For all that I’m like, oh, the Jedi mind tricks are really unethical, Luke doing it is super hot.
    • I’ve been hearing my whole life that Mark Hamill is super wooden in these movies, and that the acting isn’t good, but can I just call bullshit on that? His delivery is much more naturalistic than Harrison Ford’s. Han speaks like a cartoon, Luke speaks like a real person.
    • After Jabba makes Luke fight the Rancor and he kills it, there’s a shot of its human handler checking that it’s dead and breaking down into full-on sobs. What a strange and distressing thing to showcase.
    • Leia tricking and then killing Jabba is obviously the best. She is easily the most competent person in this franchise and once again, I’ve no idea why this isn’t something that gets talked about more. Oh wait, I have plenty of ideas why, and they all start with misogyny.
    • How big is the time gap between Empire and this? Because Luke has come on in leaps and bounds in his use of the Force. He made his own green saber and leveled up without ever going back to finish training with Yoda — by the time he gets back, Yoda’s noping the hell out of there.
    • “What I told you was true from a certain point of view.” I’m glad Luke was as unimpressed with this little bit of Obi-Wan logic as I was, because seriously, dude?
    • This movie is the best of any of them so far, even including the Ewoks. My favorite thing about the Ewoks is that King Julien’s lemur community in Madagascar is obviously based on them. They like to move it, move it.
    • Luke and Leia — yes, yes, they’re brother and sister, it’s very sweet. Leia clearly has a lot of potential to master the Force, so I am very keen to see if that is something that’s a part of the new movie. Do you have to commit to the Jedi lifestyle to use the Force, if you just happen to have it?
    • I’m still thinking about the way that Palpatine basically owns Vader. Could Anakin have been healed in a way that didn’t make him totally dependant on Palpatine? Would it have made a difference at all in what he chose to do?
    • “Now his failure is complete.” – Sick burn, Anakin. You’ve made Obi-Wan’s life suck enough already. Way to salt the wound.
    • How, precisely, does Palpatine expect to convince Luke to come over to the Dark Side? Just depending on daddy issues? Ugh, his glee when he has Luke and Vader fighting in front of him — stop making them perform for you, you creep.
    • The Machete Order’s greatest triumph lies in the way it lines up the parallels between Vader and Luke and their temptations to the Dark Side. Watching Palpatine trying to score himself another Anakin, watching Vader quietly realize he doesn’t want that for his son, and watching Luke achieve what Anakin couldn’t hits home a lot harder than it would have otherwise. Both sets of trilogies are flawed in different ways, but running them together in this order does seem to elevate them to be the best that they can possibly be, especially in terms of character development.
    • Just as I’m asking myself “when will someone finally kill Palpatine,” Vader finally kills Palpatine, which is very satisfying, if about 25 years overdue. I had no idea at all that Vader actually makes good in the end — I assumed that he died in battle with Luke — and I found myself quite touched that he actually did come through in the end, for Luke’s sake.
    • This movie should really be called Return of A Jedi — there’s really only one around at any given time. Yoda’s dead, Obi-Wan’s dead, and Luke’s a newbie. The only Jedi to technically “return” is Anakin, in his few moments of redemption. Speaking of which, I watched the remastered editions because I was told it would be less jarring switching between the different eras, but I was still not prepared for the smirky Jedi ghost of Hayden Christensen to appear at the end, replacing the original Vader actor.
    • In conclusion, what I took away from this experience is that Star Wars in practice is a very different beast to Star Wars in theory, no matter how much it’s been referenced in pretty much everything ever. Every base fact that I knew about Star Wars turned out to be correct, but my initial impression of its lot of deeper matters, like themes and characterization, turned out to be the opposite of what I actually witnessed, which, as I mentioned, says a lot about who’s been dominating the conversation for the past 40 years.

      However, I’ve got a feeling that’s all about to change. I’ve already seen The Force Awakens, and as I anticipated, it made watching these six movies, with all their quirks, completely worthwhile. If I know what fandom likes – and I do – the old-school grumpy gatekeepers are in for a nasty surprise. The way that these movies are talked about is about to undergo a dramatic facelift, led by a new breed of fans who finally feel like this is something that they can engage with. And honestly, it’s about time.

      ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is in cinemas today

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