Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) movie poster

director Rian Johnson
viewed: 01/07/2018 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

For maybe the first time, I sat in a theater seat when the Star Wars theme cranks up and the scroll starts that I didn’t have the brief flutter in my pulse. This has less to do with Star Wars: The Last Jedi than perhaps just me and where I’ve gotten to in my relationship with the film series. I mean, it had been out for three weeks before I finally saw it. I don’t think you could have explained that to my 10 year old self.

I wonder how anyone has a personal relationship with Star Wars anymore. It’s so globalized and ubiquitous.

I won’t try to add to the myriad litany of discourse here other than to say that, yes, I liked The Last Jedi. I liked the new characters, I liked the development of Luke and Leia and definitely did indeed feel that flutter at seeing Mark Hamill’s (and all of our) goodbye to Carrie Fisher. Kudos to Rian Johnson on taking the series into new spheres. I hope that they continue to do so.

It was most definitely too long of a movie.

Rogue One (2016)

Rogue One (2016) movie poster

director Gareth Edwards
viewed: 12/17/2016 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

Rogue One is the first of a wave of an endless barrage of Star Wars movies, “anthology”, “one-off”, “outside of the main canon.”  And for the most part, it lands solidly on the beachhead.  It’s got a good idea for a story, how the Death Star plans were stolen prior to the original 1977 film.  And it features a multi-ethnic cast of interesting characters, interesting at least in an ensemble picture, played affably by several appealing actors.

For those of whom found The Force Awakens (2015) to be trading too heavily on the original films without really innovating…is this more of the same?  Or a relatively fresh breath of air?

For all the positive, the script and dialogue are often painfully bad.  It’s one thing if George Lucas is cramming stupid words in actors’ mouths.  The committees and hordes of writers on this film should have been able to do better.  Ben Child of The Guardian makes a good case that the film may have gone through some rather extreme re-direction, which could account for some of the writing foibles.  I’ll leave that speculation and quibbling to others.

I was personally very off-put by the CGi reincarnation of Peter Cushing.  His sallow, lank, dead-eyed appearance was really disturbing.  It lacked the nuance and character that Cushing brought in real life and seems another glaring warning from the future that you could be resurrected digitally at any time and besmirch your legacy through no fault of your own.

My kids both liked it.  My daughter more so than my son (as is quite typical these days).

I found the ending interesting, if eventually inevitable.  That (spoiler alert) all of the new characters are dead at the end, yet still tying it decidedly to the original film was a moderately bold move.

Still, I have to say that for all of its short-comings, Lucas’s original films were original films, his vision, a unique and fresh creation.  These new films are corporate products first, playing with ideas and styles and a universe that maybe no longer belongs to Lucas, but will never, ever resultingly be truly fresh or original.  Maybe quite entertaining.  Maybe even good.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) movie poster

director J.J. Abrams
viewed: 12/19/2015 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

I don’t know what I have to add to the overall universe of discussion and commentary on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but here are my two bits nonetheless.

First and foremost, it’s quite good.  A lot of fun, promising, nostalgic, and successful.

With his work in the Star Trek universe, director/co-writer J.J. Abrams rebooted that franchise by reinhabiting its original cast by hiring actors to play versions of its original crew, rejiggering its universe with alternate timelines, and hitting the notes of nostalgia while laying the groundwork for an entertaining group of actors in the roles of the original gang.  Whatever you think of either Star Trek (2009) or Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), it’s hard to argue with the casting of the newbies.

In Star Wars though, this isn’t a reboot and he’s not hiring actors to imitate originals.  Instead, these are the children (literally and figuratively) of the original cast, and while the main characters are essentially all new, they are deeply imbued with echoes of the original trilogy.  My daughter kept asking me if Rey (Daisy Ridley) was going to turn out to be Princess Leia.  Because though her brown hair isn’t done up in anything like either Leia or Princess Amidala’s notable configurations, she’s a plucky brunette, sure to appeal to those who admired Carrie Fisher or Natalie Portman.

Likewise, it is easy to see R2-D2 in BB-8, our new model robot pal.  And villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is actively looking to embody his grandfather, Darth Vader.  He doesn’t yet need the mask/helmet that disguises his voice and face, but he likes it and models his entire being on the Sith lord of yore, if not yet quite so impressively.

A lot has been made of the diversity of the cast of the new film: putting a female in the lead hero role and a black guy in a stormtrooper costume outraged idiots somewhere on the internet.  Diversity is good, but why it works is because this new cast, including John Boyega as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron are all well-cast and are deftly drawn as characters that an audience will want to see more of.  Worthy new additions to the galaxy of characters.  I will say that Driver’s Ren isn’t necessarily a home run, though he shows possibility.  And I will wonder aloud about casting the almost alien beauty of Lupita Nyong’o in a motion-capture character, utterly animated.  That seems like a missed opportunity in more than one way.

The real heft of the film’s nostalgia is the return to the screen of Leia, Luke (Mark Hamill), Chewbacca, C-3P0, R2, and of course, Han Solo (Harrison Ford).  While those entirely in costume haven’t aged a day, those human beings who haven’t reprised these roles in 32 years returning to screen as characters so near and dear to the hearts of so many is really the clincher.  Sure, Leonard Nimoy graced Star Trek in a weird young-meets-old segment, but The Force Awakens shows us our heroes who have aged right along with the rest of us, introducing us to the next generation of Star Wars characters, but significantly invested in them.

When Hamill, Fisher, and Ford first took on these roles, it wasn’t in a franchise yet.  The first trilogy virtually invented the modern franchise (I say virtually because there are certain precedents).  The Force Awakens IS launching a franchise.  I would argue that this is a significant difference.  The wait for the sequel is already known.  The opening date for the third film in the trilogy is already set for 2019, and Disney (now the parent of the franchise) promises a Star Wars film a year for as far away into the future as you could project.

My guess is this movie will make the money it needs to assure this without any doubt.  And my guess is that Abrams has delivered a film that will satisfy and excite enough that these future films are already eagerly awaited.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) movie poster

director George Lucas
viewed: 01/02/2015

You know, though it’s probably the least bad of the prequel trilogy Star Wars movies, Revenge of the Sith is still not a very good flick.  By contrast with The Phantom Menace (1999) and Attack of the Clones (2002), it’s certainly a tad better.  The deepest weaknesses of those two movies, Jar-Jar Binks, Jake Lloyd, and the romance components are all more or less nullified.  But it’s still ham-fisted and truly shabby in others.

In the end, when Darth Vader learns of the death of Padme and his baby and cries out, “NOOOoooo!!!”, you have both immensely tired cliché and emoting from one of filmdom’s most stoic of villains.  And the sucker punch of lame right at the end.

For the most part, the film trades on unfolding a story that Star Wars fans had imagined or projected for years and years, the origins of Darth Vader, how he came to be, and the set-up for the original Star Wars trilogy, so loved and appreciated by so many.  So, good or bad throughout most of it, it holds one’s interest and distracts from itself through much of it.

But it’s still not very good.

This viewing of the trilogy was for Clara, who had never seen them, and works in some early preparation for the new Star Wars movies due out late this very selfsame year.  Good or bad or middling, it’s doubtful that they will suffer the pitfalls of the prequel trilogy, but it is certain that they will carry their own onuses and threats and promises.  If there is anything that one can be certain of regarding them, it’s simply that they bear the future of a very, very profitable franchise and are without a doubt merely the tip of the iceberg of things to come.

Clara enjoyed the series overall.  She was actually wanting to see the original film again — it’s been a couple years now.  So who knows?

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) movie poster

director George Lucas
viewed: 12/31/2014

This run-through of the Star Wars prequel series has been for my 10 year old daughter Clara who had never seen the films.  We’d watched the original trilogy a while back and I had wanted those to sink in as “the real Star Wars” or something.  We’d just viewed Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) about a week earlier so it was all more fresh in my mind than any other viewing of this film.

Interestingly, I wrote about Attack of the Clones twice before here.  Once, on its initial release and again just before Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) came out.  I do catch these films on television in bits and bobs enough that I’ve actually seen most of them again at several points over the years too (I only write about films when I sit through them from start to finish).

Though I’d long held that The Phantom Menace was the worst Star Wars film, I’m now kind of wondering if Attack of the Clones isn’t almost a tie.  I think that the combined dislike of Jar-Jar Binks and Jake Lloyd pushed the former to the top of my list of the worst pretty definitively, but you know, the love story sequences between Anakin and Padme are as bad as anything.  And the “adventure” scene in the droid factory is like a barely live-action version of the badly animated The Clone Wars television show.

Overall, it’s more enjoyable, I guess, especially the final 45 minutes or so or whatever.  But really, maybe I’ve been a little wrong all these years.  Maybe it’s not so much an improvement but a lateral shift in quality.

The dialogue in the love scenes is just so AAuugghh!

Clara enjoyed it overall.  Especially Yoda getting to fight Count Dooku.

The finale is pending.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) movie poster

director George Lucas
viewed: 12/24/2014

This was for my 10 year old daughter who had never seen the Star Wars prequel trilogy.  Last year, we completed the first cycle of Star Wars movies and I had wanted to let that sink in.  The prequels tarnished the reputation of the original series, but it’s easy to imagine that someone of a more modern generation not fully grasping the difference right off the bat.  So, I figured we’d wait to see episodes I-III.

I don’t think it’s radical to state that Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the worst of the six movies.  Starting next year, with the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015), the J.J. Abrams-directed first of the new Disney franchising of Star Wars, we are about to enter an all-new onslaught/glut of Star Wars as never before seen or conceived.  Who knows, they might be good, great, meh or terrible, but the only thing for certain is that the original films and even this second series will soon be diminished at least by volume in an ever-growing empire (haha) of franchise-ization looming far into the future

Hard to imagine The Phantom Menace as quaint, but I reckon it will be by comparison.

I recall vividly first seeing trailers for The Phantom Menace and being overwhelmed with excitement.  The John Williams score on top of the vivid visual images from the film tapped into a deep, deep part of me.  It looked great.  And frankly a lot of the movie still “looks” pretty good.  There is a lot of great design and costuming.

But it’s terrible, too.

George Lucas somehow managed to expose his greatest weaknesses in this film, like some confluence of his worst elements, which overshadow any qualities the film actually retains.  The Phantom Menace traded on immense goodwill.  People freaking love Star Wars.  They were ready to be awed and amazed.

Then there was Jar-Jar Binks.  Even if Binks wasn’t intended as racist a caricature as he appeared, he was massively annoying.  In 1999, fully digitally animated characters interacting with live-action actors was still moderately new and was far from perfected.  Jar-Jar is both a horribly conceived character and also weak from an overall execution standpoint.  Digital animation makes massive strides every year, and Jar-Jar, technically innovative at the time, does not read well visually.  It’s not surprising that Lucas suppressed him through the latter films of the series in large part due to critical and fan response.

Jake Lloyd, bless him, is also completely awful.  It’s hard to blame an 8 year old for his performance in such a critical role as the young Anakin Skywalker (and eventual Darth Vader), and so I don’t blame him at all.  He’s terrible and it’s entirely Lucas’s fault.  He wrote the lines Lloyd has to speak, selected the kid, directed the kid, and ultimately put him up on screen as wooden, awful, and pandering a presence as one could imagine.  At least he draws some attention away from Jar-Jar Binks.

You’ve got good actors like Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, and many others contending with Lucas’s dialogue.  It’s not hard to understand why a kid would come off the worst for the whole in comparison.

The racial stereotypes are also extremely hard to fathom.  It was 1999, not 1931, but yet you have the Stepin Fetchit-esque Binks and the Jamaican cum Creole Gungans, the insidious East Asian inflected Neimoidians, and Watto, a pawn dealer-like Jewish character seemingly from another era.  Lucas has of course denied such claims up and down but the reality is there onscreen.  It’s hard not to read them as racist stereotypes.

Reductive analysis of Lucas’s Star Wars universes typically can be insightful.  I had a film professor who equated Tatooine with Modesto, CA (Lucas’s home planet) and the more beautiful Yavin 4 as the Bay Area.  Maybe the Death Star is Los Angeles and Hollywood, I can’t recall.  But with planets of snow and planets of desert, it’s easy enough to read singular places and races as representative of individual groups or countries of our real world.

The film has a convoluted plot set-up that of course lines up the narrative for the other five films.  And oddly enough, if it wasn’t for all the really awful parts of the film, maybe there is a reasonable amount of good stuff too.  The bad stuff certainly distracts from the good.

Clara found Jar-Jar annoying and Jake Lloyd really awful but I think she enjoyed the movie otherwise.  I actually hadn’t seen it in full in some time myself.  I think it runs on regular television enough that I’ve managed to catch parts off and on to have almost seen the whole more than the one time I sat through it in the theater in somewhat shocked disappointment.

This time through, I still found it awful and annoying in the aforementioned ways, but I enjoyed aspects of it as well.  Clara has an understanding of the whole from pop culture and video games and other things, so though Felix claimed to have watched The Phantom Menace six to ten times, we’ll be sitting down before too long to take in the final films of the series.

The Return of the Jedi (1983)

Return of the Jedi (1983) movie poster

director Richard Marquand
viewed: 03/22/2013

This viewing was all about Clara.  It was only a week before that we watched The Empire Strikes Back (1980), which she had enjoyed so much.  Striking while the iron was still hot, the movie still fresh in mind, not the “three years later” that I had had to wait in my childhood, we went to finish the trilogy.  It had been almost four years since I had last watched it with Felix.  But, luckily, like the prior week’s The Empire Strikes Back, we watched the more or less unadulterated version, not the one that George Lucas tainted with digital extras in toward the turn of the century.

Clara loved it.  Particularly, she loved Yoda and the Ewoks, the latter of which she dubbed “the cuties”.  She went on to say it should have been called “Return of the Cuties” or “The Cuties Strike Back” or even “Attack of the Cuties”.  Apparently, Clara, age 9 was a prime target audience for Lucas’s trilogy finale.

I have the least amount of sentimentality for The Return of the Jedi than for the other two of the original films.  I was already 14 or so when it came out, and while I hadn’t necessarily matured on to girls and music, I was not so easily amused by the “Cuties”.  Even then I could see it as a keen marketing ploy, dolls for the little ones to ooh and aww over.  And the disappointments of the finale outweighed its joys.

I recall really liking the speeder chase in the redwoods.  I remember thinking that felt exciting and cool.

More than anything, I remember the quaint disappointments like seeing Darth Vader’s head for the first time.  He’s a bald old dude!  Not very menacing.

And apparently, unlike many others of the time, I did not fantasize about Princess Leia in her slave get up.  Although, I’ve certainly noted that Carrie Fisher was indeed very pretty as a young woman.

And this time, more than before, Luke Skywalker seems like a condescending jerk threatening Jabba the Hutt.  It’s like, hey dude, you’re not a Jedi yet.  Faker.

I kept my sarcastic remarks to myself, though.  Both Felix and Clara enjoyed it.  It played for them the ways that it was made to play for moviegoers.  Fun, funny, lovable adventure.

I stuck to my guns about showing the films in their release order, though Star Wars (1977) is already a little vague in Clara’s mind.  I think I’ll give it some time before we venture into the prequel series.  Give her some time for those first three films to be “Star Wars” in her mind, which to my mind is for the better.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) movie poster

director Irvin Kerschner
viewed: 03/16/2013

Having Clara all weekend with Felix away in Tahoe, I decided it would be a good time to show her The Empire Strikes Back.  It was more than a year ago that we watched the original Star Wars (1977), which hadn’t quite had the impact on her that I thought it would.  Oddly enough, she was really pressed to remember it.  She recalled the trash compactor scene, but a lot of the rest of it was a bit of a mishmash.

As usual, she had lots of questions, mainly about when Yoda shows up.  It was clear yet again that everything from Weird Al Yankovic songs to other cultural effluvia have informed what she knows/knew of the series.

But this time, she was much more into the film.  It probably is due in part to the fact that Empire is pretty well considered the best film in the series, but as much perhaps is that she is now nine.  Someone else suggested that the romance angle probably worked in her favor, but I don’t know about that.  Both of my kids like to cover their eyes and ask “Is it over yet?” when kissing comes onscreen.

Weirdly, I felt that it wasn’t all that long ago that I’d last seen Empire.  My guess now is that it was during the period that I wasn’t updating this blog.

The best thing, beyond sharing the experience with her, was that somehow I lucked into Netflix sending me the original version of the film as opposed to the version with all the CGI that mucked up the original films in very annoying ways.  The pleasure in the film, for me, was enhanced in seeing the original version without someone adding crap to my memories of my favorite childhood stuff.

From the Hoth battle with the AT-AT’s to Yoda to the “reveal” of Darth Vader being Luke’s father, it’s got a lot of fun stuff in it.  And Clara really liked it a lot, even adding it to her list of favorite movies.

At the end, after the cliffhangers, I told her that when I saw it for the first time, I was 11 and that I had to wait 3 years to see how everything turned out.  I asked her if she wanted to wait three years to see Return of the Jedi (1983).  She very quickly said no!

I also shared with her that viral video of the young boy seeing the “reveal” of the Vader paternity, because somehow I think that aspect was spoiled for her.  She thought it was pretty darn funny.

And now next weekend, we’ll watch what took three years for me to get the chance to see in my childhood.

Star Wars

Star Wars (1977) movie poster

(1977) director George Lucas
viewed: 11/11/2011

The other day, I was stumbling among various childhood effluvia of mine and showed it to my kids.  When I showed Clara a picture of Darth Vader, she told me that she kind of knew who he was (from Lego Star Wars video games, various household items, and general culture) but had never actually seen the movie, Star Wars.  In fact, she’d never seen any of them.  I realized that while Felix had been introduced to these films at an early age, she was probably too young at the time to be interested.

I felt vaguely ashamed.  Of all of the films that we watch together, I was overlooking one of the most culturally significant film series of my generation, something that is a major cultural touchpoint for apparently all generations that have followed.  You can criticize it from here to kingdom come but by goodness, everyone has seen it, knows Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, R2D2, C2PO, Chewbacca, Yoda, and the rest.

I also saw this as a great opportunity.  At age 7, she is kind of an excellent age to introduce to the films without cynicism.   In many ways, she’s at an age to enjoy the films as much as any time in her life.

The funny thing was, she really had no clue about the film.  She couldn’t name or recognize any of the characters, Darth Vader included, with the exception of Yoda, who of course doesn’t show up until the second film.

Interestingly, Felix has his own take on the whole series.  Part of a generation who has all six films to work from, he sees the story as starting with Episode 1 and ending with Episode 6 (Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)).  For those of us of my generation, and perhaps other people trying to watch the films in the order of their production, you start with the original film, Star Wars, before it had a subtitle and work your way through the chronological productions, ending with Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005),

Apparently, this touched some sort of hidden nerd nerve within me.

Clara started by asking lots of questions (which she does a lot of on any occasion).  “Who is the baboon guy?”  “Where is the green guy with the big ears?”  “Why does she roll her hair up so weird?”  But as the story got going, she got into it.

This time through the film, what was I thinking?  So focused on Clara’s experience, I wasn’t pulling it all in quite the same way as I would on my own.  At first, I was struck by some of the dated design and the lesser moments.  But from the first striking notes of John Williams’ score, I was struck, the way that I was struck back when I was 8 years old, first experiencing the film, being as in love with a movie as much as I ever became.  Numerous scenes resonated similarly.  Lines of dialogue, echoed in my brain, nuance for nuance.

In some ways, perhaps many ways, I’ve been fighting the fact that I truly loved Star Wars myself.

My feeling has generally been that, yes, I did love Star Wars as a kid, as much as anybody.  My experience was personal, visceral, real, but as I grew up and realized how universal this experience was, it kind of cheapened it for me.  And as Star Wars has gone on to such weird extremes of cultural saturation that I’ve felt more alienated from it.  That other people had more intense relationships with the movie.  For all the times that I saw the film in the theater (before home video), many, many others had wound up seeing it many, many times more than I ever had and many, many others have been more obsessed with it than I ever was.

In some ways, it caused me to develop a distance with the film(s).  In this post-modern world, where it is very hard to experience anything with fresh, unjaundiced, not pre-influenced eyes and mind, I had been in some denial of my own genuine relationship with the movie and its sequels.

It’s hard to know how Clara ultimately felt about it.  She said she liked it and I believe she did.  Felix enjoyed it, but not overtly.  I think it’s likely that we’ll revisit (or in her case “visit”)  it’s sequels, at least the original sequels, in the coming weeks.

We shall see.

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Return of the Jedi (1983) movie poster

(1983) dir. Richard Marquand
viewed: 09/19/09

Richard Marquand?  Director of a Star Wars movie?  Sure, for the hardcore, that’s probably one of the initiation things.  But seriously, ????

Writing about any of the Star Wars movies always feels a little weird for me.  I mean, as a kid, they were the most incredible things in the world to me.  And frankly, my passion for them (at the time) far outstretched most other kids I knew.  As an adult, and as a film student, and as time has marched along, I’ve come to realize how pervassive these films are, far more pervassive than I could have ever imagined, and that people have adopted them on such massively infintessimal levels that I am just flat-out amazed.

I mean, the world has changed, sure.  Way more than we could have conceived as children or young adults, though not in the ways that we might have anticipated.  Who would have thought how completely pervassive Star Wars would be 30 years after?  I mean, here I am, sitting with my son, who is almost 8 years old, watching a film that he chose and connects to (perhaps through Wii Lego Star Wars more than anything), the age that I was (8) when in 1977, I first got introduced to the coming legend.  It’s mind-boggling.

It’s also full of ironies and weirdness.

Felix’s favorite part of the film he likes to refer to as “the teddy bear war” which is where the ewoks fight off the stormtroopers with their old school technology (No lasers, lightsabres or robots for these miniature models of lost humanity.  No, they employ rocks, logs, nets, and their bows and arrows.  Surely there is a full analysis here of how the ultimate battle of the series comes down to non-technology and “human spirit” over evil and advanced weaponry.  — It’s easy to digress.)

So, I was 8 years old when Star Wars (1977) came out, prime age, seriously prime age (my son’s age now almost).  I was 11 years old when Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (or as we simply knew it then: The Empire Strikes Back), pretty fucking prime.  But by the time that Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi came out, I was 14, a cusp age for the whole thing, still willing and interested, but moving on to other things and more cynical.  And the film itself was a bit of an anti-climax.

Arguably, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) was the best of the series, and in leaving the cinema in 1980 (which I still remember vividly), thinking that we’d have to wait 3 years for a sequel, I was disheartened to the max.  The cliff-hanger stuff worked exactly the way that George Lucas had wanted it.  But to cliffhang for 3 years?  Dude.

The Return of the Jedi, again, as we knew it in the old days before all the chaptering began in earnest, was a disappointment.  The ewoks were cute but seemed like a marketing grab.  I mean, by this time, they’d been making action figures for 6 years and could certainly see the value in overpopulating the films with characters that all viewers would need to own some semblance of.  Jeez, even at 14, I noticed that.

But hell, my old feelings aren’t the current feelings.  Though they highly influence my current feelings, and frankly, my writing about films is all about “my” feelings.  But I am appreciating my childrens’ feelings as well.  Felix likes the “teddy bear war”.  And though I find the ewoks cloying, I appreciate that they appeal to others.  And to tell the truth, to sit on the couch and watch this film with my son, who genuinely likes and appreciates something that I adored as a kid his own age…  it’s freaking beautiful and freaking weird.

It’s beautiful to have such a connection, absolutely, even if I’m removed from it.  I’m absolutely aware of my own childhood feelings (Felix wears my original Star Wars t-shirts that I wore as a child).  But also, I recognize the radical difference of these films in the present sense.  So complicated one doesn’t even think to try to fully encapsulate the whole reality in one thought but here’s a stab: video games, DVD/video, post-modernist absorbtion (Felix was amused at jokes in Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series of books that referenced the films),… I mean, these films are as much if not more of our cultural identity than The Wizard of Oz!!!  Which may have been the primary such thing for most of the 20th century.

It’s bigger than many comprehensible concepts.

But it’s still a movie.  One that I watched on a Saturday afternoon with my almost-8-year old son who has a fever.

My impressions this time:  Harrison Ford was the man.  Han Solo delivered his lines with aplomb.  Carrie Fisher pulled off the sexy outfits.  She had a great voice.  Mark Hammill should have never worked in cinema, only televison, and his face looks strangely plastic.  And discussing how they handled Yoda, a puppet, with Felix.  Strange on many levels.

But I hate the digital additions made in the re-releases.  The films should be the films that they were, I believe.  Flawed or wonderful, the tampering only dilutes the reality.  If they can transcend time and experience, let them do that as the things they are, because the rest of the world is changing.  Adding little digital asides (or worse) is criminal in a sense.

You know, there is too much said about these films to say anything original.  But yet I still have this very personal connection to them.  I won’t belabor the point other than to say what an overall anti-climax this film was in its day, and how it holds up a tad better than that overall.  One’s experience with this film or this series is unique to each individual, no matter how un-unique it is in the world’s truly broadened, widened self.

Memories vs. today.

Today includes the memories.  And it changes it.  The experience of the Star Wars films is something unlike many, many other things.   And their power and success, diminish beneath their own mythology (their own mythology and the mythology of their pervassive success and cultural influence.)  Strange.  Bizarre.  Yet not unpleasant.