Tag Archives: Frank Oz

Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi (1983) Retrospective Review

Star Wars Episode 6- Return of the Jedi

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Carlrissian
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
David Prowse as Darth Vader
James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (Voice)
Ian McDiarmid as The Emperor
Frank Oz as Yoda
Director: Richard Marquand

After a daring mission to rescues Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from Jabba the Hutt, the Rebels to Endor to destroy the second Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) struggles to help Darth Vader (David Prowse) back from the dark side without falling into the Emperor’s trap.

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I remember when I was younger finding Return of the Jedi to be my favourite of the original Star Wars trilogy. In rewatching it more recently however, I admit that I’m not that impressed with it anymore, honestly I was rather underwhelmed by the movie on the whole. It’s no doubt got some great parts to it, and its acted and directed relatively well, but most of the movie is generally just ‘fine’.

I’m not really sure how most people view the early section of rescuing Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, but to me it wasn’t that good, and actually had me a bit worried for the rest of the movie. It keeps you there for quite a while, gradually watch the droids go into Jabba’s place, then watch Leia’s unsuccessful attempt at rescuing Han, then there’s Luke making his attempt. It’s just rather boring and sort of a pain to sit through. One of the absolute worst parts of the movie is the worst scene to ever ‘grace’ a Star Wars movie, which is also one of the worst changes George Lucas made to the original trilogy. I’m talking about what is known as Jedi Rocks. Now originally there was a scene of a band playing a song in Jabba’s Palace, and watching it online, it’s actually alright. The song was subtle, simple, and it lasted for less than a minute. It seems that Lucas was never satisfied with how this was done however, and added way more to this sequence, replacing the song, making it longer, louder, and having these random aliens take up the screentime, and it’s incredibly obnoxious. It’s even worse if you’re like me and you’re just not liking the Jabba Palace section, and it just tests your patience. It’s the single most painful moment to watch in the entire series. Back to that whole first act, it improves a little when Luke appears (and established himself as a much more powerful Jedi now) and ends up fighting a Rancor, but it really starts to pick up to being kind of good once he gets his new green lightsaber and starts fighting Jabba’s people, along with the other main characters. That action scene was satisfying and almost made up for everything that came before… almost. Also, every time I hear about Boba Fett being apparently great, I’m instantly reminded of his part in this movie where he gets accidently knocked down by a partially blind Han Solo and then eaten. Just thought it was worth mentioning as well.

So the first act wasn’t all that good, but I really didn’t care much about the storyline on Endor either. This is where they are going to down the shields on the second Death Star. This is the big conclusion, and I felt like I really should’ve felt the stakes, or some degree of emotion really. However it feels oddly inconsequential and nothing much happens in here. There’s not even a lot of scenes between Han and Leia where they talk about things that aren’t the objective. It’s just about the rebels trying to take the base, and also the Ewoks are in it. Now as for the Ewoks themselves, I don’t hate them but I don’t particularly like them either. Maybe if they were Wookies or some other species that was at least more credible (or one you can take somewhat seriously), I would’ve liked it a lot better. But as it is, it honestly felt like Lucas just went with these just for making toys. Let’s just say that the Ewoks are something that you’d expect from The Phantom Menace more than any other Star Wars movie. Not to mention, I almost feel like they only just pad out the runtime so that this section isn’t 20 minutes long. However it’s not like they’re the reason I didn’t like the storyline, on its own it wasn’t that interesting or engaging either. When they finally get to the battles at the end it picks up, for the Endor bits the Ewoks unfortunately make it hard to take it seriously. The ship battles to take down the Death Star 2 are pretty good however.

It’s really a shame that I don’t love this movie, because the storyline with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader is pretty much pitch perfection. Luke is a full on Jedi now, and has learned a lot since Empire. The movie really builds up their eventual next meeting that happens in the second half of the movie, with now the knowledge that Luke is his son of course. The movie also adds the part about Leia also being his sister, which I’m all good with, but their kiss in Empire Strikes Back is still going to feel weird forever. It all comes to a head in the throne room scene during the attack on the second Death Star, and there’s a fight between Luke and Vader. I also liked where it actually showed Luke for a brief moment give into the dark side as he even chops off Vader’s hand, but doesn’t follow through with killing him. This moment along with bits in Empire Strikes Back cements Luke as an imperfect and flawed character instead of a perfect Jedi (which The Last Jedi also follows along with), which just made him all the more compelling. Then there’s the moment where The Emperor is electrocuting Luke and then you have that fantastic moment of Vader choosing to save him by throwing Palpatine over the edge, fulfilling Anakin’s prophecy of bringing balance to the force (until suddenly when the Emperor returned again from the dead in a later movie for some reason but whatever). The worst change from George Lucas is possibly when he added in Darth Vader saying “No. NOOOOOOOOOOO” just before he ‘kills’ Palpatine. It was such a powerful moment requiring no lines at all, just the physical acting by Prowse was enough to convey everything. But for some reason ever since that change was made, it was kept for future versions of the movie, and I’ve never liked it, and its much less to do with the silliness of the lines. Despite this plotline having large stakes, it feels very personal and intimate, and that made it even better. Also while we are on the topic of changes, I’m more than fine with Anakin’s force ghost being updated to be that of Hayden Christensen’s appearance.

The cast are all good. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams and others return and provide some good work once again. This movie also introduced Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor and he’s having an absolute blast in this role, perfect casting.

The direction isn’t quite as good as the previous movies, but it has its moments. Some of the CGI still looks a little off, the green screen of the speeder section on Endor particularly looked like it was out of a Bond film from the 60s and 70s. Whenever it came to the action with the Ewoks, it was just rather silly, and not in a good way. The rest of the action however is generally filmed well. The fights with the lightsabre are good, especially the end Darth Vader and Luke battle. John Williams of course scores this movie excellently.

Return of the Jedi has a lot of issues, and I’m not really that much of a fan of it. Outside of the cast who play their roles well, as well as some aspects on the technical side, it’s just sort of whatever. The first act drags and is borderline straight up bad, and even much of the rest of the movie after that wasn’t particularly engaging or entertaining. What ultimately saves this movie is that Luke and Vader storyline, which is genuinely fantastic and I couldn’t think of a better way of ending that. The movie has some merit, but ultimately I can’t say that it’s better than ‘just good’.

 

Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Retrospective Review

Star Wars Episode 5 - The Empire Strikes Back

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
David Prowse as Darth Vader
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: Irvin Kershner

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) face attack by the imperial forces and its AT-AT walkers on the ice planet Hoth. While Han and Leia escape in the Millnennium Falcon, Luke travels to Dagobah in search of Yoda (Frank Oz). Only with the Jedi Master’s help will Luke survive when the Dark Side of the Force beckons him into the ultimate duel with Darth Vader (David Prowse).

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The Empire Strikes Back has been known as the best Star Wars movie, and for very good reason. It takes the best elements of the first movie and improved them, while taking the story and characters into new territories. Even nearly 4 decades later, it still holds up very well.

This movie is darker than the previous movie for sure, however that’s not the only reason this movie works so well. It doesn’t repeat what the previous movie did, and takes the story and characters on different (and more interesting) directions. I actually don’t have any complaints really with the story or characters. I liked the storyline of Luke going on Dagobah and training with Yoda, I liked Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO escaping in the Falcon from Imperial forces, and I also really liked the first act battle scene on Hoth and the climax on Cloud City. I’m not one to call movies perfect, but Empire Strikes Back is at least very close to being perfect. I really don’t have too much to say about that aspect.

The cast have improved and grown since the first movie. The biggest improver over the past movie was Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, he’s grown quite a lot as an actor and a character. Hamill also really sold the impact of learning that Vader is his father, which of course is one of the most iconic scenes of all time. There’s also Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher as Han and Leia, who share great chemistry. I found Darth Vader in A New Hope to be just fine, but he’s on another level in this movie, and this movie is where he became great. There’s no Tarkin that he has to follow orders from, outside of the Emperor, he’s really the one in charge, and he’s shown to be really ruthless throughout. The additions to the cast were good as well. Billy Dee Williams was introduced as Lando, and although he’s just in the third act, he does well in his screentime. There’s of course Yoda voiced by Frank Oz, who immediately became iconic upon his first appearance, and he was great as well.

This movie is very directed well by Irvin Kershner. The visuals also mostly hold up pretty well, and there are some spectacular sequences, from the fighters against the AT-ATs on Hoth, to the Falcon flying from TIE fighters, to the final fight between Luke and Vader. That last fight was particularly great, such an improvement over the lightsabre fight in A New Hope. It seems that compared to the other two movies in the trilogy, George Lucas didn’t add so many changes and that was for the better, in fact it seemed the changes helped quite a bit. For example, in the scene with Darth Vader communicating with The Emperor via hologram, they replaced their original version of the character with Ian McDiarmid delivering the lines, who famously played him from Return of the Jedi onwards. Definitely helped with continuity. Also in the scenes taking place at Cloud City, there were windows added in, so it looks a lot better. With that said there was one change to one of the earlier versions which may well have been the worst change of the original trilogy. At the end of the iconic “I am your father” scene, instead of joining Vader, Luke willingly falls down. For some reason in one version, Lucas added in a screaming sound for him, which made it almost like he fell. Thankfully he seemed to have realised that it wasn’t a good idea and removed that bit, which is good because that would’ve actually ruined the scene. John Williams’s score for Empire Strikes Back is even better than A New Hope. The highlight is the new Imperial theme, it was sort of there in the original Star Wars, but in this movie, Williams revamped it into something even more menacing and iconic.

I still feel confident in saying that The Empire Strikes Back is by far the best Star Wars movie. In every other Star Wars movie, even the ones I love, there usually are some clear issues that I have with them. That’s not the case with Empire however, watching it again recently, I couldn’t really find any problems with it.

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005) Retrospective Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: George Lucas

Three years into the Clone Wars, the Jedi rescues Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). As Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor). As Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) pursues a new threat, Anakin (Hayden Christensen) acts as a double agent between the Jedi Council and Palpatine, and is lured into a sinister plan to rule the galaxy.

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Revenge of the Sith was already the best of the prequel trilogy, so when I was going through my rewatches of the Star Wars series, I knew I’d still like it. However I ended up loving it even more, to the point where it’s one of my favourite movies in the series, flaws and all. After the past two disappointing prequels, George Lucas handled the final film in the trilogy greatly, delivering on a satisfying conclusion and one of the highlights of the series.

Revenge of the Sith at 2 hours and 20 minutes had my attention all the way through. The dialogue is better, with some occasionally bad lines that go through, however they don’t detract too much from the movie. It’s a much darker story, and it really needed to be that, with it being the chapter of Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader. This movie was the first Star Wars movie to be given a PG-13/M rating, and it uses it to great effect. Revenge of the Sith starts out on a high note, with an entertaining action sequence as Anakin and Obi Wan are in fighters as they try to rescue a ‘captured’ Chancellor Palpatine. The CGI and action are good, and it gets you really into what’s going on. The rest of the rescue was great, as they encounter droids, Count Dooku, and General Grievous, and manage to land half a ship. It’s pretty much classic Star Wars.

If there was a weakest section of the movie, it would be the one where Obi Wan is hunting Grievous, not that it’s bad or anything. It’s entertaining and all, but that’s all it really is. It doesn’t really help that Grievous wasn’t that great as an antagonist. While they really only got to shine in the third acts of their respective movies, Darth Maul and Count Dooku still got to show off. As unique as an antagonist as Grievous is physically, he ends up being a mostly normal physical threat. His lightsabre fight with Obi Wan was the most disappointing part of it, with it only lasting 30 seconds and with Kenobi seemingly easily cutting off two of his hands. Nothing bad about this section necessarily, just pales in comparison to the rest of the movie.

Surprisingly I was more interested in Anakin’s story, but that needed to be the case, with this whole trilogy being about him becoming Darth Vader after all. There had been much criticisms about the portrayal of The Jedi Council, and how unheroic and sometimes unlikable they are seen in the prequels. The portrayal is deliberate, and that’s even more so the case with Revenge of the Sith. The part where Palpatine tells Anakin about how the Jedi and the Sith are quite similar in the opera house scene, he really didn’t have to lie all that much. Much of the Jedi don’t exactly stick by their code, a chief example being Mace Windu trying to kill Palpatine even when he pretty much had him already beaten. Also remember back to after Anakin and Obi Wan’s conversation after the mission, where Kenobi lists the killing of Dooku among some of the successful things he did on that mission, whereas Skywalker didn’t feel like it was right and wasn’t the Jedi way, and only did it because Palpatine pushed him to do it. Anakin’s questionings of some of their dealings aren’t unfounded. The Jedi were also very paranoid and distrustful, especially when it came to Anakin. Mace making the point directly by himself that although Anakin was on the Jedi Council, he wouldn’t be a master (which turns out has never been done before), just solidified their distrust for him, aside from Obi Wan of course. A mix of these, along with fearing about Padme dying, would all lead to him on the path to the dark side.

This would all build up until Palpatine is revealed as the Sith lord behind everything, and there’s a direct confrontation. The scene where Palpatine and Windu fight is rather disappointing considering the skill and power of both, but the way Palpatine just kills the other 3 Jedi within like 5 seconds is so silly. It’s not that he’s shown to be quite powerful (that’s what we’d expect) but 2 of them practically let themselves get killed. I noticed that some people really had issues with how quickly Anakin makes the decision to join Palpatine, especially as it’s done right after he says “What have I done?”. Personally I saw this as Anakin reluctantly joining since there was no turning back after being involved with killing Mace Windu and helping Palpatine, mixed with his genuine disillusion with the Jedi Council, and of course still his desire to save Padme. I do remember when George Lucas once said that in this movie you’ll get to learn why he was given the name of Darth Vader. He must’ve forgotten to do that because it’s not explained anywhere here (unless you know that Vader in German means father), not that it really matters though, it’s a small detail.

The third act showing the fall of the Jedi order was really great. The Order 66 is indeed a fantastically handled sequence and one of the highlights of the entire series, as it cuts around to the Jedi being killed by the clones that they were fighting alongside minutes ago. You really feel the weight of everything going on in this last act. The final fights are also really good, with Obi Wan against Anakin and Yoda against the Emperor. With the former you get a bunch of large scale fight scenes in the volcanic planet of Mustafar, and the latter you get both parties using the force plenty as well as using the lightsabres. I do think they went a little overboard with the Anakin and Obi Wan fight, where the fight is so long and they two of them seem to be keep being placed in every ridiculous scenario possible, but the movie seemed to be leaning into the whole space opera thing, and on that end it mostly worked. Outside of that, the only slight problem I had with the Anakin and Obi Wan fight was that I was hoping to see was at least some attempt from the latter to bring Anakin back from the dark side at the beginning of it, given that just before he told Yoda that he can’t do it. I would’ve liked that instead of Kenobi just pretty much going in knowing that he’s already gone at this point. The moment of Padme giving birth being paralleled with Anakin’s turn into Darth Vader was pretty much perfect, and I was even fine with Vader’s freakout over hearing that Padme is dead, it would make sense. But I’m with everyone as not being such a fan of his giant “NOOOOOOOO” at the end of the scene, it was a little too much and rather silly. The rest of the ending is great and set things up well for the next movie. Side note but I never picked up till my most recent rewatch that C-3PO and R2-D2 had their memories wiped at the end of the movie, that made so much sense as to why they don’t recognise some of the other characters in the original trilogy.

Ewan McGregor is once again pitch perfect as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and he gets better with every subsequent Star Wars movie he appears in. He resembles Alec Guinness even more and is completely believable in the role, he’s particularly great towards the third act. Hayden Christensen gets a bad rap for his performances as Anakin Skywalker in these prequels. Indeed, I had some problems with him in Attack of the Clones. In Revenge of the Sith there are a few lines of dialogue that aren’t all that great. However most of the writing for him works, and I don’t actually have any problems with his performance here. The dynamic between him and Obi-Wan for instance was what I wanted more of from the two of them in Attack of the Clones. You just get the first act of them during the rescue, as well as some other scenes involving the council before Kenobi leaves to go after Grievous, but they work so well. It feels so natural, none of these forced “You’re like a father to me” lines from Attack of the Clones which you don’t believe. You can also really see the conflict in Anakin, and that’s something that Christensen nailed as well. Sure, Anakin is moody again, but unlike Attack of the Clones, it doesn’t come across like some whiny teenager. Christensen’s visual acting is fantastic, while I struggled to see him as Anakin in the previous movie, here I buy it. And of course when it came to him as Vader, I really bought it. Of course he does have some pretty lame lines at times that most actors would struggle with (“If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy”, “From my point of view the Jedi are evil”), but he also delivers them as best as possible.

Natalie Portman gets to do more acting-wise here in this movie, it’s a shame though that her character of Padme is just relegated to being pregnant, being worried, crying, giving birth and then dying, especially considering that she actually did some things in the plot of the other two prequels. It’s really annoying hearing that originally in the script, Padme was involved with forming the rebellion, and that would’ve been perfect for her. Given some of the things she says in the movie, it would’ve made sense, like in one scene where she seems to be doubting the war. Surprisingly the romance between Padme and Anakin actually works here. Sure you get a few bad lines between the two (“You’re so beautiful”, “Only because I’m so in love”), but you are able to stomach it, not to mention the soap opera lines seem a little deliberate, with Star Wars being a space opera after all. You can actually buy their relationship, even with the scenes with less lines. The rest of the supporting cast also do well. Ian McDiarmid is always fantastic as Emperor Palpatine, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones gradually showed Palpatine’s rise to power, but in Revenge of the Sith he’s at the centre of the story. His scenes with Anakin are great as he’s slowly bringing him towards the dark side, the highlight being the opera house scene, where he tells him the story about Darth Plagueis the wise. Now McDiarmid does go incredibly over the top at points (even more than in Return of the Jedi) and maybe he’s a little silly, but even those moments are just glorious to watch too. McDiarmid and McGregor are the MVPs of these Star Wars prequels, they’re fantastic in their roles. General Grievous was a character that was introduced in the animated Clone Wars series. He was quite a unique villain, a cyborg who had 4 arms, each wielding lightsabres more often than not. So he was known even before Revenge of the Sith came out. It’s unfortunate then that he’s rather underwhelming in the movie. Sure he can pose a bit of a threat, but his fight with Obi Wan was rather disappointing, and there’s not much to him as a character.

I think George Lucas did a great job at directing this movie. While the movie has its fair share of exposition, Lucas seemed to allow the movie to breathe and told the story visually at points. One of the biggest examples is when Anakin and Padme are seemingly looking at each other across buildings, which takes place right after Mace Windu and a few other Jedi go out to arrest Palpatine. Along with the great facial acting from both Christensen and Portman, it’s such an eerie and powerful moment, and manages to convey so much about both characters at that moment without needing a single line of dialogue. There definitely is a lot of reliance on CGI, but the visuals themselves are definitely better than Attack of the Clones. There are so many spectacular sequences that work really well, from the lightsabre fights, to the space battles, and so on. There are plenty of moments that are really over the top, especially some fight scenes, but again, this is a full on space opera, and seeing the movie as that certainly made it make sense. The worlds are also greatly designed and thought out, same with the robots, costumes, etc. John Williams has always been good at scoring Star Wars, but I’m pretty confident in saying that Revenge of the Sith is his best score for a Star Wars movie. It’s large, epic, emotional, tragic, and just fit perfectly with the whole movie.

I always liked Revenge of the Sith, but the more recent viewing of it made me love it even more, and solidified it as one of my favourite Star Wars movies. Its issues are noticeable and hurt the movie a lot, but it’s only because the rest of the movie works so well. It generally accomplished what the movie needed to do, and although the prequels were mostly disappointing, it’s a relief that the final film at least managed to stick the landing.

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002) Retrospective Review

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains low level violence
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Senator Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Sheev Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Creator: George Lucas

Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) discover there is more than meets the eye behind an assassination attempt on Naboo Senator Padme Amidala’s (Natalie Portman) life. Meanwhile a Sith Lord orchestrates events between the forces of good and evil, all the while waiting to play the final move that will ensure him control of the galaxy.

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Despite much of the dislike for The Phantom Menace, many consider Attack of the Clones to be the worst Star Wars movie. I’ve always considered it to be the second worst, but decided to give it another go to see if that changed. After rewatching it… I came to the exact same conclusion, although like with my most recent viewing of The Phantom Menace, I liked it slightly more than the last time I saw it. It’s got some good things in there and could’ve been great, it’s just there there’s equally as many bad decisions that prevent it from reaching that level of greatness.

The writing is a mixed bag. I liked pretty much most of the plot and character decisions made, the execution however had much to be desired. The dialogue had the same problem as in The Phantom Menace, still sounding rather unnatural. However, most of the characters does feel slightly less stiff, even if it still comes across as forced at times. While it would take till Revenge of the Sith for the Star Wars series to start receiving M ratings and start being truly dark, The Phantom Menace is the only movie in the series that feels like it was actually made for kids, and not to say that it’s a bad thing inherently, but it seemed to be at the detriment of the movie on the whole. Attack of the Clones does take the plot a little more seriously, and outside of some cheesy moments (that the original trilogy had too), I liked the tone of the movie generally. The political angle definitely improved since The Phantom Menace, it’s very present but shown in small bursts and wasn’t as heavy handed. And again, it’s also interesting seeing the rise of Palpatine. The Phantom Menace in the beginning took a little while before you began to notice the awkwardness creep in, but Attack of the Clones immediately starts feeling quite off. It has a bit of a clunky start and doesn’t really pick up until the chase scene between Obi Wan and Anakin with the assassin, which in itself was a pretty thrilling and entertaining sequence.

From this point until the third act, the first two acts mainly consist of two main storylines, one for Obi Wan, and the other for Anakin and Padme. I’ll start with Obi Wan’s storyline, which is mostly good. After the assassination attempt on Padme, Kenobi investigates the assassin and discovers Kamino, Clones, and more. Not to say that there weren’t some odd moments, like when Kenobi couldn’t find anything about Kamino in the Jedi databases, he had to go to a class being run by Yoda to ask for help, and then a student had to point out the incredibly obvious that maybe someone erased that information. However, for this movie it’s pretty typical to have random and pointless moments like these, and I’m probably just nitpicking. Once Obi Wan actually gets to Kamino, it really picked up and I was generally interested in what was happening. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people didn’t like it, but I actually liked the introduction and formation of clones, who would eventually become Stormtroopers. Maybe linking them to being clones of Jango Fett was a weird and unneeded choice, but it’s one I just went along with. From there it takes him all the way to Geonosis, where his and Anakin and Padme’s storylines would join up in the third act.

The other main storyline is with Anakin and Padme, and the first half of that which takes place on Naboo was easily the weakest portion of the movie. I get that it’s supposed to be building up their relationship, and I’m more than fine with that. The problem is that the writing for them is absolutely terrible. It can range from being cheesy (like that scene in the field), or just ridiculously cringe worthy (when they confess their love to each other and talk about whether or not it should happen). Had the writing here been even just as average as much of the rest of the movie, I probably would’ve liked the movie slightly more, but that portion sticks out as being really bad. Once Anakin has a nightmare about his mother and the two of them head to Tatooine, their storyline noticeable improves, even if it still has some issues. It seemed like the natural way of progressing his story, especially with Anakin’s mother being particularly quite important to him in the previous movie. I will say that I always found it weird how easy it was for Padme to overlook Anakin’s outburst about him killing the sand people. Indeed the actual outburst doesn’t come across as impactful, as a result of a mix of Christensen’s performance and the writing makes him come across as whiny and throwing a tantrum more than anything. Anakin and Padme would then make their way to Geonosis to try to rescue Obi Wan, with a pretty good action scene at the factory, however Padme doesn’t really get to do anything except to get saved by R2-D2, and I have no idea why C-3PO was in there at all.

The third act is even more of a CGI fest than The Phantom Menace was, but I can’t deny I had fun with it. It starts off with a fight at an arena with Obi Wan, Anakin and Padme, and it already was a good setup. Then it introduces the Jedi, the droid army and the clones into the mix. So much of the movie doesn’t feel real and it really doesn’t allow you to get immersed in these scenes, but after a while you do get used to it, and I started to enjoy it. One thing that does irk me particularly however was that they really made way too many CGI clones, especially when it came to actual human actors having to interact with them, it was just way too distracting and just felt rather lazy. The fight with Obi Wan and Anakin against Count Dooku was pretty decent, as well as the one between Yoda and Dooku. I know some people didn’t like the idea of Yoda having a lightsabre and fighting and all that, but I personally liked it. I also liked how the movie led the way for the Clone Wars, I really wished that there was an episode that took place during the Clone Wars as the next episode would take place at the very end of it, but I guess that’s what a lot of the expansion novels and animated shows are for.

Ewan McGregor reprises his role as the younger Obi Wan Kenobi. He showed potential in The Phantom Menace but he resembled Alec Guinness even more here and has improved even more since then. Even with some of the odd lines he’s given, he absolutely sells each of them perfectly. Pretty much no complaints with him here. Hayden Christensen’s performance as Anakin Skywalker in this movie is… a very mixed bag. There is so much here that doesn’t work. To be fair, he’s not got much to work with, from some of the terrible dialogue he’s given, to the writing in general, and to how he’s directed. People have said this many times before, but he really does come across as whiny, even when he’s supposed to be angry, and it’s hard to take these moments seriously. Not to mention the rest of the time the performance and line deliveries are rather bland. Some of the romantic moments between him and Padme come across as creepy more than anything else, and most of that comes from Christensen, from the line deliveries to some of the unnerving looks he gives her. It’s a shame that both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith keep separating him and Obi Wan, since that’s quite important. However, Revenge of the Sith would at least have shown a solid dynamic between the two, in Attack of the Clones however it wasn’t really all that convincing, outside of Kenobi being frustrated that he padawan wouldn’t do what he says and Skywalker whining about how he keeps holding him back. Then there’s that throwaway line that Anakin says about how Obi Wan is the closest thing to a father that he has, although you don’t really believe it. Christensen does get a few good acting moments, such as when he finds her mother before she dies, and then when he starts killing the Tuskin Raiders. Still, you get the idea that he could be better. Thankfully, both the writing for him and his acting certainly improved in Revenge of the Sith. Natalie Portman returns as Padme, for the most part I liked where they took her character, though I wish she got to do a little more. Much of her character is overshadowed by the romance between her and Christensen, which was handled rather badly. On paper, the idea of the romance sounds great and fitting, especially for Anakin (though this might just be from knowing what happens with them in Revenge of the Sith). The problem is that the writing for them and the dialogue between them is disastrously bad. I get that it’s been like 10 years since the two have seen each other and they’d be a little awkward, but you really don’t believe their romance at any point in the movie. It’s at best fine and at worst creepy and cringe-worthy. With that said, like their storyline, their dialogue and writing slightly improves after they leave Naboo, and becomes much more bearable.

On the antagonist side it’s about the same level as The Phantom Menace, but maybe slightly better. Ian McDiarmid of course delivers as Palpatine/The Emperor, and the movie shows his rise in power even more. This movie has Jango Fett (played by Temeura Morrison), related to Boba Fett, the fan favourite bounty hunter. To get it out of the way, Jango Fett is much better than Boba Fett, though to be honest it was never much of a competition. I never found Boba Fett to be that good in the original series, the only credible thing he did in those movies is track down Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back, otherwise he just looks cool, and ends up dead in the most embarrassing way. Here you get to actually see Jango do things, holding his own against Obi Wan, killing at least one Jedi in the final act, and being killed in battle by Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). I’m not really sure why they decided to have Boba being a clone of Jango instead of just his son but whatever. The prospect of Christopher Lee as a Star Wars villain in Count Dooku sounds extremely exciting to say the least. Lee really does own the scenes he’s in but unfortunately you really only get to see him in the last third of the movie. It’s also a shame knowing that he doesn’t last very long in the next movie. Like with Darth Maul and General Grievous, Dooku is a Star Wars villain who seemed to shine more in a lot of the spin offs and shows than in the live action movies, and at least had a lot more to do.

The direction by George Lucas like with The Phantom Menace is a little mixed. The movie generally relies more on CGI than The Phantom Menace did, and it was really distracting a lot of the time, from Dexter’s Diner all the way through to the third act. After a while you just sort of accept it for what it is. There’s even some really good action, from the chase of the assassin by Obi Wan and Anakin, to Obi Wan fighting Jango Fett, to much of the third act. Even with some distractingly fake and empty CGI at times, Lucas generally creates some creative scenarios and makes the sequences at least somewhat entertaining. With all the prequels, the new worlds were always great to see, and Attack of the Clones continued this the likes of Kamino and Geonosis, and it was even nice going back to familiar places like Coruscant, Naboo and Tatooine. The designs of everything, from the costumes, to the production design, the worlds, creatures, etc, were also handled quite well. The score by John Williams is great once again, introducing even more iconic Star Wars themes. Across the Stars in particular is fantastic, and deserved to be used for a much better on screen romance than Anakin and Padme’s.

Attack of the Clones is a very flawed movie. There are plenty of problems, with the overreliance of CGI, the writing, some of the directing decisions, there are so many things that were handled disappointingly and at times badly. At the same time it has some potential, I liked most of the ideas, generally the plot was pretty good, I was invested in some parts of the story, and some of the cast and characters work (mainly Ewan McGregor as Kenobi). So while it’s disappointing and I’m not likely to revisit it often, I don’t think it’s without some merit.

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999) Retrospective Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains low level violence
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Queen Padmé Amidala
Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid as Senator Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks
Anthony Daniels as the voice of C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: George Lucas

Two Jedi Knights (Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor) set out to search for someone who can bring peace to the Force. Their search ends when they come across a young, gifted boy. But the Sith returns to stake claim to the Force.

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With The Rise of Skywalker coming in December, I decided to revisit the Star Wars movies in timeline order. When I was younger I used to watch The Phantom Menace over and over again and I liked it a lot back then. Upon revisiting the movies in the lead up to The Force Awakens however, I found it to be the worst in the series. I had a feeling that with people talking about it, as well as really noticing the fandom’s constant hatred, I decided to take a different look at it. After my rewatch I can confirm that I definitely don’t dislike it, but I don’t think it’s particularly good either. However it’s not without some decent parts (or at least it had potential).

As this is a retrospective review it’s only fitting that this movie is talking about spoilers. So obviously don’t read this or the other Star Wars retrospective reviews if you haven’t watched the movies already. The writing of The Phantom Menace is a very mixed bag, while some of the ideas are fine enough, most of the executions weren’t handled well. The story goes in and out of being interesting, more often than not however I wasn’t very engaged. A lot of the dialogue is very formal, stiff and unnatural for most of the characters. In the case of the Jedi, it works, but I’m not so sure why every other character acts like that too. Not to mention so much of the dialogue is really bland and even cheesy. Not to say that the original Star Wars trilogy was like that (a little more than a lot of Star Wars fans would like to admit), but the prequel trilogy is even more so. One thing I consistently liked about this movie and the prequels was the introduction of new worlds, as well as it expanding upon the lore and the universe. The first act starts off fine enough, but it has its issues. The Gungan parts were handled a little weirdly. Though to be fair most of it comes from the fact that Jar Jar Binks is meant to be our insight to the Gungans, and we don’t really learn a whole lot from him about them (more on that later).

There’s quite a large portion of the movie dedicated to the main characters on Tatooine, which takes up much of the second act. I’ve always found it unnecessary to re-introduce this planet, for all the new worlds that were introduced (and those were greatly appreciated), we didn’t need to come back to Tatooine. It seems like it was done to connect Anakin to Luke from the original Star Wars, but they really didn’t need to do that. It’s a bit of a nitpick but I also really didn’t see much of a point introducing C-3PO in this way as one of Anakin’s creations. He doesn’t really do anything, it’s random more than anything and feels thrown in. On the whole, this whole segment on this planet is surrounding Anakin, but he doesn’t really become the main focus point of the plot. The podracing scene is praised quite a lot from some people. While it certainly establishes Anakin’s skills as a pilot, I personally just think it’s okay, I guess it’s directed fine enough. It just never did anything for me. The Coruscant section was something I didn’t really like before watching this movie more recently. While I still have some issues with it, it does expand the Star Wars universe with something that the original trilogy didn’t have, politics and a political system. Sure it’s not particularly exciting but at least they actually tried something different, so I can’t complain too much (just a little bit). It doesn’t vibe well with the rest of the movie and it really slows to a snail’s pace, and they really could’ve handled the political talk to make it a little more engaging and less bland. The highlight of this segment was how it showed Palpatine’s rise in political power, that’s something the prequel trilogy did well over the entire prequel trilogy. In this segment we also get to see the Jedi Council, and much of how the Jedi act feels purposeful, they’re meant to be a little monotone and all that, and so I was fine with that in the grand scheme of things. I would’ve liked to have seen Jedi more involved in this movie but given the number of issues The Phantom Menace has, that’s hardly a problem even having. A much despised aspect about this movie was the introduction of midichlorians for the force. I do agree that it’s not needed, even if it was made with good intentions to expand the lore. Personally I just ignore this aspect of the plot, it doesn’t matter to me or the movie really. I don’t even recall the other prequels mentioning them.

The third act is quite good and my favourite section of the whole movie. There are multiple battles and I liked most of it, but the whole Gungan vs battle droids was not so great, though to be fair it’s mainly because a large portion of it was just showing Jar Jar’s comedy unfortunately. The rest of that battle would’ve been fine otherwise. Then there’s the ships trying to destroy the Trade Federation station and involving Anakin in the third act, but I’ll get to that later. The parts where Padme is leading an attack was pretty decent. The best part of this segment is of course the fight with Qui Gon and Obi Wan against Darth Maul. For as much as some Star Wars fans complain about some of the dance like choreography in the prequels (and there’s a truth in that), the choreography in this scene is pretty much perfect. It’s entertaining and it really works, I can’t really think of many complaints about this fight. Although this third act is the best part of the movie, it still has its own share of problems. There are 4 battles going on at once, and it can be a little much, not to mention you don’t really care much about any of them, so you’re basically just watching them because they’re entertaining.

The movie doesn’t particularly do a good job at establishing a singular main character or a focus. Not that they can’t focus on multiple main characters or anything, but it definitely would’ve helped to have at least one major character that you could latch onto, but there’s none to be found here. It’s not Qui Gon, we don’t get to learn about him much, nor is it Obi Wan, we spend even less time with him. Padme’s not really the focus of the story, and it’s a whole third of the way into the movie before you even see Anakin. There’s really no emotional connection to be had with any of the characters, at least in this movie. Thankfully despite some problems, the next two movies focussed on the main characters a little more. Most of the characters feels very stiff, but some of the actors break out of their shell at points. Liam Neeson is believable enough as a Jedi, and Ewan McGregor even from just this movie has vibes of a much younger Obi Wan Kenobi. McGregor also worked a lot better due to the fact that he had two additional movies to develop and showcase his character. In that respect, I do feel like Liam Neeson should’ve been the main character, because we didn’t really learn much about him outside of some brief snippets, and then he just dies at the end. Natalie Portman is also victim to the bland monotone acting that much of the cast has fallen to, the direction really doesn’t take advantage of her great talent sadly. However she is trying, and I do actually like the character quite a bit and she does actually get to do things in this movie. I do find it a little weird that the Jedi couldn’t somehow figure out that she had a decoy, given that they have the force and all that, but that might just be a nitpick.

Jake Lloyd plays the young Anakin Skywalker in this movie. In a previous review I might’ve been a little too critical of him. Honestly the problems I have are not to do with the performance. Ignoring the fact that he’s meant to be a younger Anakin/Darth Vader, Lloyd plays the rest of the role as well as possible given the material. His last scenes with Anakin’s mother I actually thought were well acted. However there are some problems with the character. He’s brought in as a side character a third of the way through, he’s shown to be significant as potentially the one destined to bring balance to the force, there’s parts about him being very powerful with the force and him being a great pilot but that’s it. He almost feels tacked on like a subplot then rather a significant driving part of the movie. Considering that the reason the prequels exist was to show the transition from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader, it was a little weird that in the first movie they didn’t even put him in one of the leading roles. It doesn’t help that towards the end he ends up blowing up the Trade Federation station at the end by accident instead of purposefully. They already established him as a great pilot with podracing back on Tatooine. Even if they were to have him get stuck in the ship flying towards the station, everything he does after the autopilot is switched off is one Jar Jar moment after the other, where he accidentally manages to save the day, and it would’ve been the perfect moment to prove how capable he is. As for the idea of him being just created by the force, I don’t mind that. Jar Jar Binks is… not really all that bad. George Lucas seemed to find him to be hilarious since he’s placed in so many of the scenes, but unfortunately there’s really nothing that he does that’s genuinely funny. I lost how many times Jar Jar would say “How wude!”, to absolutely no laughs whatsoever. I don’t like him and he’s still slightly annoying but not insufferable, I’ve seen countless worse comic relief characters in other movies. If anything the most disappointing part of him is that they don’t really do anything with him as a character. He’s essentially meant to be our insight into the Gungans, but they do basically nothing with that, nor do they give him any form of character outside of being clumsy. Even if you wanted to make him a slapstick character for 80% of the time, a little bit of character would be nice. He’s distracting more than anything, but hardly among the worst parts of the movie.

The Trade Federation villains like Nute Gunray I’ve always found to be rather uninspired and underwhelming. I’m not expecting every Star Wars movie villain to be at the level of Darth Vader or anything, but I’d like to feel more about them than just “what was the point of them?”. They are after all aside from Darth Maul at the end the ultimate antagonists of the entire movie. I’ve always found the battle droids to be rather unimpressive as physical enemies to the main characters. As much as the Stormtroopers are made fun of because of their terrible aim, they had their moments. Aside from having some large droids, I don’t remember them being particularly threatening at any point in these movies outside of the very large scale battle scenes later on. Ian McDiarmid always delivers as Palpatine/The Emperor, The Phantom Menace establishes him very well in this time period and he absolutely nails all of his scenes. Pretty much everything involving The Emperor in the prequel trilogy was great. We also have Ray Park as Darth Maul who everyone likes, even people who hate The Phantom Menace still highly praised him. He became so popular in fact that he was resurrected in spin off Star Wars stories and media, and even cameoed in Solo. I do wish he was in the movie more and we don’t get any sort of idea of his personality or character and he doesn’t get many lines, but what we get from him is great. He’s got a great and dangerous presence about him, and he’s shown to be quite the adversary in the third act.

George Lucas’s direction is a bit of a mixed bag. With the prequel trilogy, Lucas put an even higher emphasis on CGI, unfortunately the CGI hasn’t really held up all that well. Some moments are okay, some aren’t so much. Most of the practical effects and sets are good, there was actually a lot more practical effects used in this movie than I remember there being. The only parts which distract are the Trade Federation aliens, they just look so lifeless from their blinking to the lip movement. And since we are talking about CGI and aliens, we should probably address Yoda, even if he’s a very small part of the movie. Initially The Phantom Menace had Yoda done through puppeteering, and that sounds good on paper, but something must’ve gone wrong because he looked freakish and creepy. In the updated versions of this movie they replaced him with a CGI Yoda like with what they’ve now done with episodes 2 and 3, and honestly I think it’s better than what it was before. With that said, something seems really off about it, the animation really doesn’t fit the voice at all and it can look quite out of place. CGI not always being great aside, generally the action in The Phantom Menace is filmed well. John Williams’s score across the first 6 movies have remained iconic, no matter how much the prequels are hated. Tracks like Duel of the Fates stick out at as some of the most standout songs from the franchise.

The Phantom Menace is still a mixed bag, but I guess at least I like it more than the last time I saw it. I think there’s a lot here to like, I like some of the expansions of the Star Wars lore and worlds, even if not all of it works I appreciate the efforts. There are also some parts like the third act that I legitimately think are good. However, there are just so many missteps and mistakes made here that really hold the movie back from being as good as it could’ve been. I’m not mad at the movie at all, just disappointed, and I’m unlikely to revisit it that much. Still the worst Star Wars movie, but more average than actually bad.

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005) Review

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Star Wars Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium Level Violence
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Frank Oz as Yoda
Director: George Lucas

It has been three years since the Clone Wars began. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from General Grievous, the commander of the droid armies, but Grievous escapes. Suspicions are raised within the Jedi Council concerning Chancellor Palpatine, with whom Anakin has formed a bond. Asked to spy on the chancellor, and full of bitterness toward the Jedi Council, Anakin embraces the Dark Side.

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Revenge of the Sith is the only Star Wars prequel that I can call in good conscious good. Everything has improved over the previous prequels like the acting, writing, dialogue, special effects, overall everything, along with adopting a much darker tone. It doesn’t get everything right, sometimes the dialogue doesn’t always work and Anakin’s turn to Darth Vader could’ve been done better but I do think that the pros outweigh the cons.

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The most notable difference between this film and the previous prequels was the darker tone, this is to date the darkest Star Wars movie and this really helped the movie. It also helps that this is the story that we wanted to see in the prequels, Anakin’s turn into Darth Vader. I do think that was the weakest element in this movie. It isn’t terribly done but I’ll just say without diving into spoilers it could’ve been done better. Occasionally this film does suffer from some stiff dialogue and some bad lines but for the most part the dialogue works. The story is actually great and it actually delivers. It’s not always executed in the best way (like Anakin turning into Darth Vader) but I do think that it works for the most part, probably because it is the story that we actually wanted to see.

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The acting has improved from everyone. Ewan McGregor like in Attack of the Clones is a great Obi Wan Kenobi. Hayden Christensen also has a lot more material to work with, I said in the past how he at least does well visually acting, he gets a lot more opportunities to do that here. Even Natalie Portman has improved, in fact I felt that there was actual chemistry between her and Christensen and their scenes (for the most part) were well done. Ian McDiarmid is also great as the Emperor, he’s the one shining point in all the prequels. At times he can be a little too over the top in this movie but even that’s fun to watch. Everyone else, even Samuel L. Jackson who I thought looked bored in the previous films, actually seemed like real characters here. All of the cast at some point have to deliver some bad dialogue but the actors still seem credible.

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The action scenes have improved immensely. The CGI has changed from Playstation 2 graphics to fantastic looking CGI, I still do think that there is too much of it used but at least it’s good CGI. Occasionally there are some scenes with noticeable CGI backgrounds but that’s it. The lightsabre fights are also greatly improved and exciting, even though at times it feels choreographed. It’s almost pointless bringing up John Williams’ score, because once again it is great.

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Revenge of the Sith isn’t a perfect movie but it’s a great improvement over the past 2 movies and at sometimes takes the series into a great direction. Despite the prequels not being up to par with how Star Wars movies should be, I do think that Revenge of the Sith deserves some credit for its qualities. Looking back at the prequels, I do think that all of them have some elements that added to the Star Wars world, so even though they are disappointing, none of them are not without their positives.

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002) Review

Star Wars Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Senator Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: George Lucas

The film is set ten years after the Battle of Naboo, when the galaxy is on the brink of civil war. Under the leadership of renegade Jedi Master Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), thousands of systems threaten to secede from the Republic. When an assassination attempt is made on Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), the former Queen of Naboo, Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is assigned to protect her, while his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is assigned to investigate the assassination attempt. Soon the Jedi are drawn into the heart of the separatist movement, and the beginning of a new threat to the galaxy: the Clone Wars.

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I said before watching Attack of the Clones that it would be better than Phantom Menace, despite some calling it the worst Star Wars movie. After seeing this movie I still believe that, however it’s still not a very good film either. The dialogue is still bland, some of the characters aren’t well written, and it has one of the worst romances in movies I’ve seen. It still has some good ideas and potential, they just aren’t fully realised.

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This film is only slightly better written than The Phantom Menace but I can give credit to this film for introducing the Clone Wars, it wasn’t just an origin story for the Stormtroopers, it led to a lot of interesting stories in the Star Wars universe. The dialogue is still emotionless, particularly with the Jedi, however I wasn’t getting frustrated like I was with Phantom, with the exception of the dialogue between Anakin and Padme, which is very cheesy and really let the actors down. Overall the story is better than Phantom and it has some good ideas, however it needed to be put together better.

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Like I said in the past, the actors aren’t to blame for their performances, it’s the writing that lets them down. Hayden Christensen suffered greatly from this, most of the dialogue he delivers you don’t buy but that’s the same for most of the actors. It’s not all bad for him though, there is a moment halfway through the movie where he is great, as he doesn’t have to deliver any bad dialogue and can effectively act visually. Natalie Portman is the same as she was in The Phantom Menace, maybe worse as she and Christensen have forced romantic dialogue and no chemistry. Ewan McGregor was really good however, in the previous film he never seemed like Obi Wan but here, he seems like a younger Alec Guinness and can make some of the dialogue seem credible. I liked seeing Jango Fett in action, even though I don’t think that it was necessary showing the origin of Boba Fett. I also really liked seeing Christopher Lee as a villain but the film should’ve used him more, at least he played a bigger part in the story than Darth Maul.

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There are quite a lot of battle scenes that I enjoyed but you can definitely tell that they are fake because of the CGI overload. They weren’t as painful as the ones in Phantom Menace, but the effects still weren’t very good. The soundtrack by John Williams is excellent, that, and the sound effects are the only elements that are consistently great throughout the Star Wars movies.

Star Wars II, attack of the clones Année : 2002 - USA Thousands of Clone troupers on a Kamino landing platform Réalisateur : George Lucas

I still say that The Phantom Menace is the worst Star Wars movie and Attack of the Clones is better than it. However it still has a lot of flaws in the writing, dialogue and effects. I think the main reason why Attack of the Clones gets more hate is because it wasn’t that much better than Phantom Menace, and it’s still not a good movie. I still do like this film more though, I was more interested in the story, I wasn’t bored (for the most part) and it had some pretty good ideas.

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999) Review

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Star Wars Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Low Level Violence
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Queen Padmé Amidala
Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker
Frank Oz as Yoda
Director George Lucas

When the evil Trade Federation plots to take over the peaceful planet of Naboo, Jedi warrior Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) embark on an adventure to save the planet. With them on their journey is the young Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman), Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), and the powerful Captain Panaka (Hugh Quarshie), who will travel to the faraway planets of Tatooine and Coruscant in an attempt to save their world from Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid), leader of the Trade Federation, and Darth Maul (Ray Park), the strongest Dark Lord of the Sith to ever wield a lightsabre.

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Over a decade after Return of the Jedi, George Lucas returned to the Star Wars series. Everything seemed to be going well, especially with a cast consisting of great actors like Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor. Despite this, The Phantom Menace fails to be a good Star Wars movie or a good movie on its own. A review can’t capture all the flaws in this film, it can really only be done through an analysis (I might do one) but I’ll do my best to mention its main flaws just as a movie.

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One of the biggest flaws of the prequels is that the story is so complicated and confusing. The original trilogy had a pretty straight forward plot, but when it comes to exposition, particularly on Coruscant, it becomes really hard to follow. The film also has some pretty uninteresting moments, particularly on Tatooine and Coruscant, and the film slows down tremendously and becomes really boring. Also notable is the dialogue, which is so stiff and wooden, both in its writing and its delivery and everyone ends up sounding the same.

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There are a lot of great actors in this movie with but they are wasted, because of the poor direction and writing, they come across as rather wooden but they shouldn’t be blamed for their performances. This goes especially in the case of Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker, which would result in a bad performance, even with a different actor. I know that I’m not the only one who says that Jar Jar Binks is the worst character in the entire Star Wars universe. Lucas seemed to have found him funny because he tried putting him in as many scenes as possible and it made the whole film experience worse. Darth Maul is probably the best character in the film, probably because he has the least amount of dialogue as well as his double sided lightsabre but he was incredibly underused, only becoming a threat in 2 scenes, one of them being only 30 seconds long.

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One of the most noticeable aspects of the prequels is the overuse of CGI. Sometimes it looks fine but at other moments it looks extremely fake, especially with the battle droids. The action scenes are done decently enough but as said before, they rely on CGI too much. I will say though that the lightsabre fight near the end of the movie is one of the best in the franchise. The soundtrack by John Williams is good as always, particularly the theme used for the aforementioned end lightsabre fight.

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The Phantom Menace is for me the worst Star Wars movie, I’ll have to watch Attack of the Clones in order to be sure of this but it’s hard to imagine that film being worse. The worst part about this movie is that it didn’t need to be made, it doesn’t actually need to be watched in order to understand Attack of the Clones. As much as it pains me to do this, I think that most of the blame has to go to George Lucas, and no matter how The Force Awakens turns out, it will definitely be better than this film.

Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi (1983) Review

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Star Wars Episode 6- Return of the Jedi

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Carlrissian
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
David Prowse as Darth Vader
James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (Voice)
Ian McDiarmid as The Emperor
Frank Oz as Yoda
Director: Richard Marquand

The Empire is halfway through construction of a new Death Star; when completed, it will spell certain doom for Luke Skywalker and the Rebels. Meanwhile, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) has been imprisoned and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has sent R2-D2 and C-3PO to try and free him; Princess Leia (Carrie Fischer) and Chewbacca go along as well. They regroup with the Rebel fleet, which is massing for an attack against the new satellite battle station at Endor. Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) is leading the Rebel fighter attack, while Han is put in charge of a group of soldiers to take out the shield generator protecting the Death Star.

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The original Star Wars trilogy has some of the best movies ever made and Return of the Jedi is no exception. There are some people who may have been disappointed with this movie, but for me, this was the perfect way to end the Star Wars trilogy. It has everything that the previous two films had: great characters, an epic score, excellent storytelling and well done action scenes. This final chapter brings everything full circle and concludes the trilogy in the best way possible.

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The film has everything good from the previous two films and this includes the writing. The tone of the movie isn’t as dark as its predecessor but doesn’t go overboard either in being light hearted (with maybe the exception of the Ewoks which I’ll get to later). The first act was really good, especially with Jabba the Hutt; it is very interesting to see what’s going on. The second act, while still enjoyable, slowed down a bit as we are introduced to some creatures called Ewoks; these creatures have some of the more negative attention from some people. They didn’t personally bother me, they are a little distracting, however they don’t detract from the experience altogether. The final act however picks up; it is great and is so well cut together, intercutting scenes from three different events and locations. There is also a plot point near the end of the movie which was just perfect and is unexpected as most movies wouldn’t usually go that route.

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The actors play their characters for a third time and we can see how far they have developed and matured. An example is Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, in the first movie he was a naive farm boy, here he is a wise and powerful Jedi. The same goes with Carrie Fischer’s Leia and Harrison Ford’s Han Solo; their relationship from Empire Strikes Back continues here and it’s done as well as it was in that movie. Darth Vader is intimating as always with James Earl Jones’s well suited voice. A stand out performance is by Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor, like Vader, he has such a big screen presence.

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Like in the previous Star Wars movies, the special effects are as good as always. The action scenes, whether it may be in Jabba’s Palace, in space with the fighters or on the forest moon Endor, they are so well shot and are very exciting. John Williams’s score is great as well in adding so many emotions to the film.

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Return of the Jedi really ends on a high note. I still think that The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie made but in my opinion it’s on par with Star Wars (Episode 4). After hearing about the next three sequels it’s hard to imagine them getting anywhere close to this trilogy, the prequels certainly didn’t. Whatever your thoughts are about the prequels and unless the new trilogy changes everything, at the moment, the original Star Wars trilogy will remain the best Star Wars movies and overall, some of the greatest movies of all time.

Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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Star Wars Episode 5 - The Empire Strikes Back

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
David Prowse as Darth Vader
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: Irvin Kershner

Fleeing the evil Galactic Empire, the Rebels abandon their new base in an assault with the Imperial AT-AT walkers on the ice world of Hoth. Princess Leia (Carrie Fischer), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca and the droid C-3PO escape in the Millennium Falcon as the Imperials pursue them across the galaxy. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the droid R2-D2 travel to the swamp world of Dagobah to learn the ways of the force from the legendary Jedi Master Yoda after receiving a vision from Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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The Empire Strikes back is the best Star Wars movie ever made and also one of the best films of all time. It was a hard act to make a follow up to original, but Irvin Kershner more than manages it. Dark and powerful, it improves on everything that was great in the first movie – it’s overall a masterpiece.

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Tone-wise, The Empire Strikes Back is darker than Star Wars but not too dark. The story picks up after the events of the first movie and from start to finish, always interests the audience. The first act is really good and starts off on a great note, it is the invasion of Hoth; the battle is so well put together and filmed and is one of the best scenes in the franchise. There is a particular plot point near the end of the movie that no one could have predicted at the time – which I will not spoil for those few people who haven’t watched this movie yet. If that same thing was repeated in another movie today, it wouldn’t really work, not just because this movie used it; with this movie, it is appropriate and somehow strangely works. The ending also is a little bit of a cliff-hanger. It isn’t like the previous movie with them invading the Death Star but somehow ends up being more satisfying.

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Just about everyone from the previous film returns here. A lot of the characters go through changes – overall they are much stronger characters. Luke is starting to learn about becoming a Jedi. Darth Vader in this movie is also more of a threat than in the previous movie. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fischer have great banter and dialogue between them which are effective, fun to watch and further the characters. The new characters introduced are also well acted, such as Billy Dee Williams in the role as Lando Calrissian; although he doesn’t have that much screen time and not much information is given about him, he is definitely a great addition to the cast. However the supporting character who steals the show is Yoda, played by Frank Oz who is a scene stealer and makes the character so special. Oz actually manages to go beyond Yoda being a puppet, and has successfully made him a character that really lives and breathes.

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The special effects are similar to Star Wars but end up being slightly better. The film takes a variety of locations, from the ice planet of Hoth, the swamp planet Dagabah and many others. John Williams’s score here continues to impress. The song that stands out the most is the Imperial March which is mostly used for Darth Vader; it gives such a dark and powerful vibe and in my opinion it is actually better than the original main theme of Star Wars.

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The Empire Strikes Back isn’t just the best Star Wars movie; it’s also one of the greatest films of all time. It improves on every element, from the acting, to the effects, locations, art directions and even the writing. It is up there with movies like The Godfather Part 2, Aliens and Terminator 2 as brilliant sequels that are better than the original. Absolutely brilliant, the Empire Strikes Back is a fantastic film in every way.