Star Wars

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

Director:

Richard Marquand

Writers:

Lawrence Kasdan

George Lucas

Starring:

Mark Hamill

Harrison Ford

Carrie Fisher

Billy Dee Williams

Ian McDiarmid

Blurb:

After a daring mission to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, the Rebels dispatch to Endor to destroy the second Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke struggles to help Darth Vader back from the dark side without falling into the Emperor’s trap.

Thoughts:

The changes that George Lucas has made to Return of the Jedi have made it almost unwatchable. The musicians in Jabba’s palace are so bad that I can’t even look at the screen when they’re on. Changing the music at the end means that I end the trilogy without that nostalgia hit that brings back all the happy memories from my youth. Not to mention the new song is just plain boring when compared to the old one. Then there’s the replacement of Sebastian Shaw’s Anakin with Hayden Christensen. It is all infuriating.

I had never seen these new changes until the blu-rays. When the six movie box set was released on blu-ray, my husband and I watched it straight through one day. Ending the series without listening to “Yub Nub” left a fun experience on a sour note. Return used to be my favorite Star Wars movie as a child, and now I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched it. I get angry just thinking about all that was done to it.

Once again, I will be there on day one when they release non-fucked up versions of this film. My husband has a theory that George Lucas made a deal when he sold Lucas Film that Disney couldn’t release the original cuts in his lifetime. If that’s the case…

Anyway, this was the end of one of the most influential series of my childhood. It makes me sad that I couldn’t enjoy my re-watch.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Director:

Irvin Kershner

Writers:

Leigh Brackett

Lawrence Kasdan

George Lucas

Starring:

Mark Hamill

Harrison Ford

Carrie Fisher

Billy Dee Williams

Blurb:

After the Rebels are brutally overpowered by the Empire on the ice planet Hoth, Luke Skywalker begins Jedi training with Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader and a bounty hunter named Boba Fett all over the galaxy.

Thoughts:

There is nothing new I can say about Star Wars. Everything that can be said has been said over and over. I have multiple making of books to prove it. At this point, each of the first six Star Wars movies should have the most extensive Wikipedia entries out there.

During this re-watch, I flipped through my copy of The Making of Empires Strikes Back the Definitive Story by J. W. Rinzler. It’s a massive book with tons of information. For example, did you know that Leigh Brackett wrote the first draft of the movie? She was the first woman to be shortlisted for a Hugo award. She was called the queen of Space Opera. So it makes sense that Lucas would hire her to work on the script. Unfortunately, after submitting the first draft, she was admitted into the hospital and shortly died from cancer. Unlike Lucas’ wife’s involvement in A New Hope, I’d heard of Brackett before, but she was always mentioned with derision. Yeah, sure, she wrote the first draft, but Lucas hated it and rewrote everything.

Since I’d just written my A New Hope blog post, my mind was on the women behind the scenes, so I decided to flip through the making of book and see what they had to say about Brackett. Thankfully, there’s an index, and I ended up finding seven mentions of her. It was quick enough to read them, and I was immediately disappointed. It says that she had a long meeting with Lucas and there was mentioned a 51-page typed transcript of their initial plot conversation, but that only Lucas’ side was recorded. Next, there was a quoted conversation from Kasdan that talked about how Brackett had missed what it was to be George in her draft. The book says that her draft was faithful to everything Lucas and she had talked about. However, the dialogue and action weren’t right.

That’s fair. It was the first draft, and Lucas is notorious for being shit at direction. He tells you vaguely what he wants, expects you to do your thing, then he tells you what he liked. Except that Brackett never got to that point because she was hospitalized. That’s when Lucas jumped in to write it. Even though he hates writing scripts, he seems to complain about that a lot, actually. Yet, he’d done that for every movie up till that point.

The last mention of Brackett is Lucas saying that she should be given credit for writing the story.

“I didn’t like the first script, but I gave Leigh credit because I liked her a lot,” Lucas says. “She was sick at the time she wrote it and she really tried her best.”

It’s fascinating how much I can enjoy something that someone has created, yet know that if I were ever to meet the creator, I would absolutely hate them.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Director:

George Lucas

Writer:

George Lucas

Starring:

Mark Hamill

Carrie Fisher

Harrison Ford

Peter Cushing

Alec Guinness

Blurb:

Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the mysterious Darth Vader.

Thoughts:

I remember the first time I watched A New Hope. I was ten. My dad bought me and my sister the Star Wars Trilogy box set on VHS for Christmas that year. It was one of those gifts that parents give their kids, but they’re really for the parents. I’d never heard of Star Wars and hadn’t experienced much, if any sci-fi, at that point. I was ambivalent about the gift, but my dad was so excited about it he put it in the VCR, and we watched.

Star Wars became a huge part of my life at that point. I re-watched those VHS tapes, so many times it was a miracle they weren’t destroyed. I scrimped and saved my birthday and Christmas money to buy the entire Young Jedi Knights series. I was ten, keep in mind, so I didn’t read many of the typical expanded universe novels. I loved The Courtship of Princess Leia. I would check out Star Wars DK books from the library and pour over them. I talked with my girlfriends about Star Wars all the time too. I had other obsessions and interests, but Star Wars was one that has stuck with me my entire life.

I no longer have those VHS copies, I no longer have a VCR for that matter, so I watched my Blu-ray copy. All of the Star Wars movies are available on Disney+, though if anyone wants to watch them. I love the visual quality with the Blu-ray, but I hateeeeeee so many of the added things. Since I watched my original copies so often, every time a new addition pops up, it’s jarring. I do like the sharpening of the lightsaber colors and a few other things. Why did Lucas have to add all those creatures, though? That Jabba scene? Also, Han shot first. It’s ridiculous that it was changed. I hope Disney decides to release the trilogy I watched because I will be there day one to purchase.

Relatively recently, when I was listening to the Forgotten Women of Genre podcast, I learned just how significant a role that George Lucas’s wife at the time, Marcia Lucas, had in A New Hope. I truly believe, after reading more into it, the film would not have been nearly as good or have the cultural impact it has today without her contribution. Yet, I’d only ever heard about her in passing. It says a lot about George Lucas that he didn’t do more to showcase just how much she’d contributed. She edited the film. She made sure that Han Solo’s appearance at the end was perfect. She contributed to the emotional impact of the movie. She deserves so much recognition for her work.

By the way, Forgotten Women of Genre by Syfy Wire is such a fantastic podcast. All the episodes are well researched, and if it doesn’t make you angry about the treatment of women in genre, then you have no empathy at all.

I have a theory that when a lot of men become successful, they aren’t argued with and told no often enough. They get too big for their britches, basically. George Lucas had people arguing with him over stuff in the original trilogy all the time. Especially A New Hope, but I doubt he had that kind of push back on any movies following them. I enjoyed the prequels, but if he’d been told no and had more push back, they could have been better. It’s just a theory, though. *Cough* James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Quinton Tarrantino*Cough*

Darth Vader and Obi Wan’s fight scene is such a huge contrast to the prequel fights that it’s almost funny. Two old men fighting, except that in Rogue One, Vader destroyed people like they were bugs. The original thought behind lightsabers was that they were like a two-handed broadsword. This sounds fun, but when you can make sword fights like what’s in the prequels, it just hinders you. I don’t know if there’s ever been a good in-world explanation of the change, but it’s easy enough to overlook. After all, Star Wars is a space opera. It’s about space wizards, which we definitely need more of in entertainment.

Disney Toybox Re-Issues

It looks like the Disney store has a few re-issues right now. Briefly yesterday The Mandalorian and Child were available. Jango and Toy Story RC Car are also showing up. So if you missed out on them earlier, like I did, then now’s your time.

The Mandalorian and Jango showing up makes me think that someone is reading my blog. If that’s the case…how about a Finn figure? Mace Windu? Some more POC? Maybe some Disney Princesses? You know, if you’re looking for some ideas.

Disney Toybox Darth Vader Reissue

It looks like they’ve reissued Darth Vader. He popped up on the online store today. A quick comparison of the older version shows very little differences. The only thing I noticed was the lights on his chest have a different light pattern. I find it amusing that in their promotional picture it looks like his lightsaber is bent.

With this reissue I’m really hoping that they’ll do the same with Jango and The Mandalorian. It’s probably much more likely to happen with Mando than Jango, but we’ll see. Stranger things have happened with these toys.

Since my last post a few of the other figures have gone on sale. It’s worth a look if you’re missing some that you want.