What is it about Star Wars that has everyone so excited?
It is said that you either love or hate Marmite. Possibly because of the salty, tangy, yeasty taste. Or so the PR would have us believe. Is this also now true with Star Wars, the massive global franchise? I've heard many views among aquaintances and while most people like Star Wars, whisper it softly, some do not like it or don't get it.
With the fever building over the forthcoming Episode VII here is a my personal selection of highs and lows across the saga.
The high points:
Film Episodes IV and V
In my view the original films are the best hands down. The Empire Strikes Back is my personal favourite because it shows the strength of The Empire and some genuine struggle against the mighty enemy. I like the plots, the acting and the humour. It's interesting that all the main characters are introduced in the first episode, no matter how many re-imaginings have followed. The production team sure knew what they were doing, though I doubt anyone realised how enormous Star Wars would become.
Star Wars Encyclopedias & Cross Section Books
There are some really good Star Wars books out there with photographs of props and cut-away artwork of all kinds of craft. These are great for catching up on the finer details of factions as they flash (or crawl) by. And let's face it there are some amazing designs in the mix. Naboo Starfighters are one of my personal favourites. Sleek and original, if a little Dan Dare, though not the only design to borrow from Dan Dare.
Star Wars Lego
What a brilliant partnership! A stroke of genius for both Lego and Star Wars. Children are able to make their own craft and scenes. And to act out their own adventures. It's frustrating that you can not buy the main figures separately to the kits. While many sets are incredible, it would take glue or storage in a case to keep them intact when children are playing. A curious irony given the expense.
Star Wars Lego computer games
Building on the success of the real world toys, another inspired idea. I was genuinely surprised by the ingenuity of the Star Wars platform games. It's the humour, puzzles and wit. The fun is in the playing and discovering unexpected twists among the film plots. So far we've seen head banging guitar axe guards in one scene and bathing Stormtroopers in another.
What I laugh about in Star Wars:
Episodes I to III
Sorry to say I found the plots soft and the films over produced and under acted. The pace is unbalanced with far too much happening on screen in some scenes and far too little in others. Politics and duplicity don't really work in an action genre, especially when the twists are telegraphed so clearly. The true lowlights are surely the wretched romance sequences with Anakin Skywalker and Padme.
Jar Jar Binks & The Ewoks
Was Jar Jar Binks intended to be a joke character and an insult to a whole swathe of patois speakers? Perhaps not, but to me Jar Jar is a horrible construction of part Bugs Bunny, part Flipper and part gazelle. Perhaps Jar Jar is intended as a joke, a slapstick funny guy? Either way Jar Jar is seriously uncool and nothing like the leader of the Gungans. As for the Ewoks, where do we begin? Could giant Teddy Bears defeat (supposedly) elite Stormtroopers? What can Ewoks do, cuddle them to death? It's all very silly.
Instant alien to alien translation
How come the walking carpet (Chewbacca) says much the same thing all the time and is always understood? Han Solo must be the best linguist ever and he never utters a world of alien speak. Jabba the Slug too utters alien gibberish back and forth with the American space smuggler. There's some strange logic going on there.
What about science common sense?
Somehow we allow ourselves to suspend disbelief for blockbuster productions on the big or small screen. But there is no getting away from it, Star Wars has little science common sense.
Noise in space - it's a vacuum, sound effects are not going to happen. Sure it would make for some quiet scenes in the movies.
Time travel - hyper drive and no time lags (not even jet lag). That's relativity gone out to lunch right there. Flying into meteror showers and planets is probably best avoided....
Metachlorians (or should that be mitochondrions?) - how are bacteria going to exert forces that move objects? Hilarious.
Never ending fuel - where does it all come from? Giant star ships move in all directions at massive speeds, across vast galaxies with no fuel propulsion and no refuellers anywhere.
Brakes - how do all these craft travel at vast speeds and suddenly come to a halt? In a vacuum that's going to take a lot of energy and time.
Food and toilets - how do they keep all these armies of clone / stormtroopers fed and well? There are millions of them, not just a few troopers.
Millenium Falcon gravity. The ship twists and turns without a gravity boot or seat belt in sight. In the galaxy far, far away no one floats in space. And no one bangs their head on the ceiling either. Don't try this one at home.
Why couldn't they hit a barn door in Episode IV, when the same cloned troopers defeated the droid army in the earlier (yet later) episodes? And then they get a makeover and become the super powerful First Order. All this from the same never-ending clone / training camps drawing on Jango Fett. Perhaps they would shoot straight if they could see where they were aiming through all that (useless) armour. One hit and they die. Hardly worth wearing it then is it?
Well that's all for now. Hope you enjoy the many Star Wars movies and spin-offs. They are sure to be a big hit for many years to come. In case you're wondering, I am a long-standing fan of the original Star Wars worts and all. Later in life I created Sean Yeager Adventures, with original ideas and inspiration from many sources. In Sean Yeager stories, things break and run out of fuel. Characters are heroes and fallible, often in the same scene. A bit like life really.
Happy reading and watching.
D. M. Jarrett