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Tim’s Star Wars Countdown #7 – Oh My Dear Friend, How I’ve Missed You

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I was so excited for The Force Awakens back in 2015. I went to the midnight premiere in Albany with a good friend and my sister. I was in my Jedi costume (Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi) and there were hundreds of people filling the cinema, all as excited in their own costumes or Star Wars themed clothing.

We ended up coincidentally sitting next to some other friends of mine, midnight came… and then midnight went. Our screening started at around 12.30 for reasons I never found out but that was fine. The audience cheered when the blue words came across the screen “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”  and then– BAAHM, BA BA BAAHM!! That was it. We sat enthralled and happy as the first of the new trilogy played its way through 2 incredible hours.

I loved The Force Awakens. I knew that they were rehashing the storyline from A New Hope as soon as Poe put the map in BB-8’s compartment, but I didn’t mind. The film was great. New characters, we got to see Chewie, Han, and Leia again, there were thrilling battles, an intense climactic lightsaber fight (space battles and lightsaber fights are essential), and an infuriating cliff-hanger. Like I said: the film was great, but it wasn’t perfect.

For example, I know a lot of people didn’t like the fact that the storyline was recycled. I personally didn’t mind so much but that’s just me. Something that I wasn’t so fond of was the fact that they went with the Darth Caedus storyline from the extended universe, where Han and Leia’s son Jacen (not Ben) becomes a Sith lord.

The storyline was depressing and I took comfort in the fact that it wasn’t a plot from one of the films, so I could basically ignore it. And then The Force Awakens happened and surprise! Kylo Ren was Han’s son and turned evil. They had the whole E.U. to get material from, including George Lucas’s own script and treatments, and they went with that?! Oh well. It’s another thing I have to let go.

I actually really like Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, though my sister can’t take him seriously. She actually snorted when he first took his helmet off because she recognised him from his role in the series Girls, in which he does some shall we say… less than savoury things…

Han’s death scene was emotional. I knew it was going to happen the moment he stood on the catwalk and cried out “Ben!” Despite knowing what was going to happen, it still hurt when the lightsaber went through his chest.

Finally there was Luke’s appearance right at the END of the movie, followed by a two year wait to see what was going to happen! At any rate, I went home feeling invigorated and excited. I couldn’t wait for Episode VIII.

The Last Jedi wasn’t what I had hoped for. It wasn’t what a lot of people had hoped for and has become one of the most divisive films of the series. I actually saw someone put it under the 1978 Star Wars Christmas Special on a list of best to worst Star Wars films, something I thought was a bit dramatic because almost nothing is that bad.

My frustrations with The Last Jedi are more or less the same as most people; namely Admiral Holdo not telling anyone her plan of secretly evacuating the ships to the planet Crait. Instead, she keeps it to herself in some bizarre idea of inspiring hope in people. This leads Finn and Rose to go to Canto Bight where they find DJ, the codebreaker, who then sells the Resistance out to the First Order, causing them to know of the whole plan anyway! All of it could have been avoided. But it is what it is I guess.

The movie is still awesome, the lightsaber brawl in Lord Snoke’s chambers is awesome, even if it makes no sense practically (a few friends of mine are authorities in sword-fighting and they had issues with the choreography in the scene).

Luke wasn’t what everyone had hoped for either, both in the film and out of it. Bitter and jaded, he was a bit of a shock to everybody. We didn’t even get to see his (presumably) epic lightsaber skills. All he does is a couple of fancy ducking moves and vanishes. There is a lot here that my inner fanboy has to take deep breaths about and just get over.

One more thing I haven’t liked about the new films is the way they seem to introduce cool new secondary characters who then die almost immediately. Like Lor San Tekka, the old guy at the beginning of The Force Awakens who Kylo Ren kills. He seemed like such a cool new character AND he was played by Max von Sydow! You don’t use an actor of that high calibre for just 1 scene. That would have been like giving Ian McKellan a mere cameo in Lord of the Rings.

Then in The Last Jedi some of the more prominent X-wing pilots and Rose’s sister die in the bombing run. It’s a little confounding. And don’t get me started on Admiral Ackbar’s death. All I’ll say is go to YouTube and watch the How It Should Have Ended for The Last Jedi and you’ll see what could have been. I don’t usually take those shows too seriously as they’re just meant to be in good fun but that particular episode spoke a lot of truths. Oh well. In the end I’m still going to the midnight premiere and I’m still going to dress up in my Jedi costume (though not this year as my costume is in another country).

The thing about Star Wars is it’s not perfect. We like to make out that the prequel and sequel trilogies are inferior to the original films, and maybe they are, but the originals weren’t perfect either. They had their flaws.

Everyone complained when Supreme Leader Snoke was killed off without an explanation as to who he was but the same thing happened with the Emperor in the original trilogy and no one cared. Can you imagine the frenzy that would occur on the internet if the revelation about Luke and Leia being siblings had happened these days? Or Obi Wan’s explanation about Vader ‘killing Luke’s dad’ being a point of view? Well… let’s just not go there.

I know there are reasons for these things and you can justify it one way or another but in the end, they’re movies made by nerds like us who are, also like us, fallible and human. In the 2009 film Fanboys, when Eric Bottler’s douchebag older brother is asked what he was doing at the premiere for The Phantom Menace, he says: “Oh come on bro! It’s the Wars!”

That’s it right there. Whether it be lazy parodies, Jar Jar saying ‘stink-o-whiff’ (ugh), Anakin whining about sand or things being unfair, bad puppets, crappy CGI, pointless additions and alterations to the films, reused storylines, or characters making ridiculous decisions, in the end it’s Star Wars.

I’m counting the hours until the Rise of Skywalker. To any of you who are reading this, I hope you enjoy the movie, and try not to be too much of a critic (I know, I’m a hypocrite). I know that when I’m sitting at the cinema waiting for the title crawl, I’m going be 10-years-old again because, like I’ve said twice already: It’s Star Wars!

– Tim Baker

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