As you may have noticed, Star Wars is back with the latest installment The Force Awakens. JJ Abrams has directed, produced and co-written (with Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote Empire Strikes Back). The new film has kicked off a new trilogy of movies and is breaking box office records left, right and centre. He certainly had a lot to live up to. No franchise has inspired more devotion that Star Wars, and it has an ongoing popularity that has seen an entirely new generation of fans (whose parents weren’t even born when the first film came out) be enraptured by the adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han.
The release of Star Wars in 1977 also changed the movie business, as science fiction became main stream, the role of the blockbuster was cemented in the movie company business plan, and film merchandising became a huge revenue stream. Adjusted for inflation, it’s also the second most popular film of all time – basically only Gone With The Wind has ever sold more tickets. Empire Strikes Back got darker, Return Of The Jedi completed the trilogy. George Lucas waited for the technology to catch up and he produced a prequel trilogy that was… well we’ll get to that I’m sure.
So, we have all seen the film now, as has half the world! So we have had a chance to reflect and accept the new film into franchise. So, will it feature in our thoughts as The Snooty Ushers have a look at Star Wars…
Dan: The Empire Strikes Back
Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The Empire Strikes Back has it all, love, betrayal, death, victory, war, twists and turns. It’s a roller coaster of action and emotion that begins with one of the best battles portrayed in any film on Hoth, ends with a shocking revelation and a whole load of unanswered questions leaving you to salivate for Return of the Jedi. Also, Luke’s visions during his training with Yoda are incredibly dark and so damn good.
Welshy: Return of the Jedi.
While I am aware and agree that Empire is the best, my favourite is Jedi. I love the Jabba’s Palace scenes and Luke getting his new lightsaber. I love how it ended the trilogy and the Vader/Luke fight scene was in my eyes an incredible duel. PS. I love Ewoks….like seriously love Ewoks.
Dave: A New Hope
Like Welshy, I accept that The Empire Strikes Back is the best film of series, and when I was a kid I loved The Return of The Jedi (I am old enough to have seen Jedi at the cinema), but A New Hope or Star Wars is my all time favourite. It is the film that started it all, everything works. The farm boy who saves the galaxy, the roguishly heroic Han Solo, the x-wings, man, the x-wings!!! Add that to Alec Guiness and Peter Cushing. The escape from The Death Star is brilliant and well, more on the end battle later. Along with Ghostbusters this sums my childhood right up. As brilliant today as it was in 1977.
James: The Empire Strikes Back
Any explanation needed? The story that Star Wars set-up was explored more in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s darker – so much darker. And the introduction of Yoda is great, I love this first incarnation of him as the odd, teasing tutor. The best film in the series – and not directed or scripted by George Lucas (he only came up with the story). Coincidence?
Least Favourite Film
Dan: The Phantom Menace
When I watched The Phantom Menace, it was with rose-tinted jam jars and I was only 11 years old so to see a Star Wars film released for the first time at the cinema was a big thing. Unfortunately after that first viewing it just went downhill. I got older, wiser and was able to see through passionate enthusiasm for a series I loved. It may have given us 2 of the best elements of the SW films with the mysterious Darth Maul and the scintillating score Duel of the Fates, but there is little else on offer. For a while Revenge of the Sith remained my least favourite (I was so angry at the film after watching it at the cinema I’ve only ever seen it the once) What hammered the nail into the coffin for The Phantom Menace was watching it again when it was re-released in 3D. The horrific 3D conversion aside, the film was boring, slow and that final fight with Darth Maul isn’t as good as you remember it. Never have I ever clock watched during a Star Wars film until that day.
Welshy: Attack Of the Clones
To be honest the prequels are like picking the most polished turd or in this case the least polished. I am not going into much detail on this, as I examine these film, in quite some detail, in my star wars article. Clones just got everything wrong ….the story, the bad dialogue, awful creepy romance, unnecessary use of CG and wasted opportunities to name a few. It’s just a mess. Menace only misses by a nose hair, to be fair. But its’ the shoehorned romance that pushes this steamer past the post.
Dave: Attack of The Clones
This film is a mess. We all waited with bated breath after the under whelming Phantom Menace, this was worse. Ep 1 at least had Darth Maul and Liam Neeson, this was just an utter horror show of bad dialogue, excruciating acting and some eye meltingly bad CGI. The Kamino planet scenes apart, there is nothing good in this film. The scene when the Jedi’s turn up to save Obi Wan and Anakin, should have been an out of your seat moment (see the resistance X-Wings swooping in to save Han and Finn on Takodana in Ep 7) instead it is a mess of CGI and noise, Terrible in every way imaginable
James: The Phantom Menace
So, I was a massive Star Wars fan as a kid. Bed spread, t-shirts, colouring books, pyjamas, the lot. The Phantom Menace came out when I was 16. I was even past that brief (and it was very brief for me!) I don’t childish things pubescent phase. And I hated it. You can make a bad movie, that’s ok. But making a boring movie is unforgivable. It’s about trade blockades and political maneuverings. And Jar Jar Binks is a pastiche of a joke of a needless comic relief, right? Even Spaceballs doesn’t have anything as downright stupid as Binks. If The Phantom Menace was never made, I would be more of a Star Wars fan. Instead, they are films that I like. I have a really cool Star Wars canvas, based on the original poster:
that I only put up on the wall when my housemate Jonny okayed it. The Phantom Menace is a traumatic, childhood ruining event for me, and I don’t want to talk about it any more.
I like my villains, always have and always will especially if they look cool and have an air of mystery around them. Boba Fett was a character I was fascinated with throughout my youth, in fact I was fascinated with all the bounty hunters and characters in Jabba’s palace too, just so much depth and intrigue, anyway I digress. So when we started this piece I had Boba Fett pencilled in, then I saw The Force Awakens. As soon as Rey put on the worn X-Wing helmet by the fallen AT-AT, every fan saw a little of themselves (And J.J.) in the character,and now by far and wide she is my favourite character. At the end of the day Luke Skywalker was a bit of a baby, he stumbled and struggled through his battles with the dark side and Darth Vader but Rey is the polar opposite. She has a resilience and strength that Luke never possessed at this point and some may look at her discovery of the force as hasty but I looked at it like she has that sh*t figured out. Rey’s tough start to life has put her in a position to handle the force better than many before her, and after putting Kylo Ren in his place she is primed for greatness (or they could totally mess with everybody and make her go dark…how insane would that be!!!) Simply put, Rey is a badass character that is great for women, great for the force and great for Star Wars.
Chewie is a great character and a beloved character. He is a skilled mechanic and pilot. He is a strong warrior and good marksman and most importantly he is loyal. I personally would have liked him to have killed Lando, but that’s a different kind of film altogether. Chewbacca is a cornerstone of the Star wars films. You don’t get Han without Chewie. Han wouldn’t be around without Chewie. He is also a 7ft walking dog who communicates through growls and pulls arms out of sockets. That is awesome. I always loved playing Chewbacca when we played Star Wars as Kids.
Dave: Poe Dameron
When I was young and used to play Star Wars, it wasn’t Luke or Han I wanted to be, it was an X-Wing pilot. The X-Wing was my treasured toy and I was sad that Wedge just wasn’t in it enough. I was thrilled that in the first 10 minutes of The Force Awakens, we meet Poe Dameron, The Resistance’s most daring pilot. Even before that when Oscar Isaac was cast, finally and x-wing pilot is a main character!! I love that description from the opening crawl, it just conjures images of heroics. Then we met Dameron himself, wise cracking and confident pilot, he embodies the spirit of Han Solo, from his opening interaction with Kylo Ren, through his be-friending and ultimately naming of Finn to his unbelievably cool black x-wing fighter, this is the character that I would want to be if I was a kid playing Star Wars. We have a Han Solo for a new generation and while his role was small-ish here, I am hopeful that there is much more to come, and maybe an X-Wing anthology movie?
James: Han Solo
Ok, so Luke Skywalker is the hero, Princess Leia becomes the great military leader, but Han Solo is the character I wanted to be. He is just so cool, he plays by his own rules, and he gets the girl in the end. It’s strange for me to read that anyone other than Harrison Ford was considered, he just is the role, even handling the turn into Bogart and Bacall territory with his relationship with Leia. I just can’t see Nick Nolte or even Kurt Russell being able to do it.
Dan: “Echo station 3-T-8, we have spotted Imperial walkers”
I’ll give this some context, I love claymation and animatronics in film, I also love Arctic/snow settings, and I love a good battle. In The Empire Strikes Back I got them all rolled into one as the Battle for Hoth commenced. Snowtroopers look cool, AT-ATs are mechanical monsters and Snowspeeders are awesome. It started off what would be my favourite film, but it’s just a great start to a film full stop. The battle itself isn’t your generic blow up as many as you can to win either, it’s a battle for survival for the rebels as they have to use alternate tactics to bring down the AT-ATs, and when Wedge and Janson finally use their tow cables to bring one down it’s such a win. That being said, the assault on the Death Star in A New Hope is equally intense and a brilliant piece of action film-making so I could go for either, but I’ll let my the others give you more on that…
Welshy: “Your all clear Kid, now lets blow this thing and go home”
As a seven-year old watching the Death Star trench run I was gripped, almost crying because at that time I thought Luke would get blasted by Vader’s Tie. Yet that roguish pirate, returns to help save the day and I literally cheered, It just sums up good story telling and action adventure and ohhh it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
Dave: “Lock S-Foils in attack position”
The concluding space battle in A New Hope remains to this day my favourite sequence in any film. Ever. It was utterly thrilling and remains so. From the moment those words are uttered, I was glued to the screen. The tragic Porkins, the doomed Y-Wing bomb run, Luke becoming the leader as all around him fall, Luke turning off his guidance computer and then, The Falcon to the rescue! Thrilling
James: “No, I am your father.”
I did not see it coming. Sure, I was a kid, and was watching just the good guys v the bad guys – but how could the bad guy be the good guy’s dad? What? More than all the lightsaber battles or spaceship dogfights (and I do love them!) this is what stuck with me the most. The fact that the prequels ruin this is just another reason that I hate them.
On a scale of One to Obi-Wan, how psyched were you for Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
Dan: Take my money!!!!!!!!!
Welshy: This is what my life has led to………if I was to be taken by the lord, I would go happily.
Dave: I held off as long as I could, the scars of the prequels, but by the week of release I just couldn’t wait. The first real Star Wars film in 30 years.
James: I would say I’m Ben Kenobi on the ridiculous scale that I thought up.
As in, I was almost the full way there, but I could have been more excited. If The Phantom Menace hadn’t happened and broken my heart already, I would have been queuing up probably dressed as Han Solo. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice…err… won’t get fooled again.