Raising a Glass to George on May Fourth…

4 05 2012

Another day, another celebration.

In 1977, George Lucas introduced us to a galaxy that was quite far away and inadvertently created a new religion. He populated this new universe with a host of colorful characters and brand merchandising on a galactic scale.

Since then, the world has never been the same.

In honor of Star Wars Day – it’s May 4th, as in “May the fourth be with you”… – this is my personal top five list of things I love about George’s baby and what parts of the 6 films (the three proper ones and the CGI prequels) that just annoy me.

Thumbs up for…

  1. Darth Vader: Throttling someone who questions the power of the Force, making breathing frightening, hiring Boba Fett, being quite good with a lightsaber, a more forgiving man than the Emperor…too many things to mention. The fact that he was played by the Jolly Green Giant and voiced by James Earl Jones is a bonus.
  2. Han Solo: Cooler than a wampa’s cave. If I couldn’t be Vader, I would be happy flying solo. Won the Millennium Falcon, motivated by money and never happier than with a good blaster at his side. Shoots first, thinks second.
  3. Snow Speeders: The perfect vehicle to get around a planet that is covered in snow.
  4. AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport): The perfect way to attack an enemy that has chosen to hide on a planet covered in snow. Slightly open to the “rope around the legs” trick but apart from that…
  5. Boba Fett: Woefully under-used character who met a sticky end but made bounty-hunting look like a great career choice.

Thrown into the Pit of Sarlacc…

  1. Jar Jar Binks: A predictable choice. Hated him in 1999, watching him in 3D this year just made me realize that Episode 1 isn’t a bad film when he isn’t in it. Depressingly he is on-screen for around 92% of the running time. Hard to fathom how George thought that an annoying creature with no real point was a better bet than Darth Maul. Maul had a double-ended lightsaber, Binks a long tongue and stupid ears. The only saving grace is that technically this inept buffoon (as a member of the Senate for f***s sake!) was responsible for giving Chancellor Palpatine more power…and we know what happened after that.
  2. The Ewoks: A tough choice for second place. Before the prequels, they were my undisputed least favorite thing about Star Wars. As a teenager, I couldn’t work out how a bunch of barely-evolved teddy bears were able to bring down the Empire by defeating the best troops that the Emperor had at his disposal on Endor. Took full advantage of logs, rocks and trees to give the Imperial Stormtroopers a bloody nose from which they never recovered. It is worth pointing out that until Chewbacca stole an AT-ST (All Terrain Scout Transport), they were getting the thrashing they deserved but that one act changed the course of the battle in favor of the Ewoks who then celebrated the end of the Empire by dancing stupidly and using Stormtrooper helmets as bongos.
  3. Stormtroopers: Should be cool, just became annoying due to their continued ineptitude. Supposed to be the best shots in the Empire, they can’t hit Luke and Leia when they are standing on a tiny ledge with nowhere to go, they get beaten by the Ewoks, they can’t seem to follow orders, they fall for Jedi Mind Tricks really easily and they always seem to be late for the important things. If they are supposed to be a more human version of the Clone Army (Episode 2), they are just generally rubbish. The best thing about them is that it’s awesome to see them wandering around conferences or music festivals…but most people who choose to dress as the Empire’s finest are always just too short.
  4. The Romance between Anakin and Padme: Creepy from the start. When they met, he was a precocious 11-year-old boy, she was Queen of her planet. So they didn’t really start dating until he was a glowering teenager and she was a politician. So, he protects her by taking her back to Naboo and then uses his Jedi powers to get her pants off. Anakin was another character that made you think that perhaps Vader wasn’t as cool as he appeared. Much like the horrible realization that Luke was the son of DV, the same could be said that Anakin became DV. Consumed by his emotions, he turned to the Dark Side – in about 20 seconds – to save the woman he loved…a woman that was older than him who had been kind to him from the first moment they met. Freud would have had a field day with this one.
  5. The regression of Yoda and R2-D2: OK, I understand that the films were released in a weird order but there was no excuse for George deciding that both of these characters should reveal more talents in the prequels and then seem to forget them in Episodes 4-6. Take Yoda for example. We meet him on Dagobah and he doesn’t really do a lot apart from spout some ancient wisdom. Then we find out in Episodes 2 & 3 that he has unbelievable lightsaber skills and has a problem with spotting the dark side of the force. He can see it when it is in the form a tree but can’t work out that Palpatine might not be all he seems (the same goes for the entire Jedi council, the wool is so far over their eyes that an entire family of Ewoks could sleep under it). Then there is R2-D2, a little droid who does more in Episodes 1-3 than in the whole of the 4-6. Apparently his jet thrusters stopped working when he and C3PO (would have been in list, but I was limited to 5!) were given to Captain Antilles, same goes for the array of technology that he has at his disposal in the prequels that has mysteriously disappeared by the time he meets Luke Skywalker. His best moments came when he was serving drinks on the sail barge.

But on the whole, I love Star Wars. It has been here my entire life and I can’t imagine what I would have become without it. Arguably one of the most influential pieces of cinema ever, it went beyond celluloid and exploded into popular culture.

So on this day, I would like to thank George for having the vision to create a universe that we could all believe in…May The Fourth Be With You.

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