Star-Wars-Saga-1-6-poster Ever since I was 3 years old, I’ve been a devoted fan of the Star Wars Saga. And it’s especially great to be one right now as the whole Saga is expanding with a whole new trilogy of episodes VII, VIII, IX and a trilogy of anthology films each of which will focus on its own particular thing. Not to mention there’s also the Rebels TV series which I’ve been a huge fan of since it started airing last year and I was able to watch the season 2 premiere featured Darth Vader with James Earl Jones returning to the role once again.

 I’ve decided to do a review for each film of the Star Wars Saga here as for preparation for VII: The Force Awakens on Dec. 18th. While many people seem to loath the Prequel Trilogy for various things from poor acting, too much CGI, poor writing etc, I’ve never had the same feeling probably due to the fact I grew up watching them in the Cinema. I was 5 when The Phantom Menace came out, 8 when Attack of the Clones was released and 11 with Revenge of the Sith. Granted there are some legitimate complaints about the prequels (which I’ll be getting into), but I think they’ve too harshly judged. Without further ado, let’s jump right into the fray.

The Phantom Menace

Like I said, I was 5 when the movie came out in 1999 so I never had much problem with it for a long time and still have nostalgia for it to this day. Though as I got older, I did notice major flaws. The biggest is the acting (as is with the prequels at large). Lucas I think isn’t that good a director. Look back at A New Hope without the nostalgia goggles and some of the acting isn’t that great. In fact, the rough cut of the film was a nightmare which is when Lucas had fired his editor and brought in Paul Hirsch and Richard Chew to clean up the film. So the poor acting in regards to The Phantom Menace shouldn’t be a huge surprise. But yeah it’s still a problem. Then there’s Jar Jar. Most people hate him and say he ruined the movie and the prequels at large. Actually I’ve never had a huge problem with him. I’ve never loved him, but I don’t despise him. There’s things to like like the Pod Race scene (though does go on for too long). I think the thing that saves the film is the Maul/Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan lightsaber duel at the end of the film. Ultimately I still have a lot of nostalgia for the film so I can’t say I hate it or even simply not like it. I’ll give it a generous 6.70/10. Also please stop picking on Jake Lloyd. He was only a kid.

Attack of the Clones

This I must say is actually my least favorite of the whole Saga by far. It’s filled with the poorest acting of the Star Wars films by far (due to Hayden Christensen’s acting in part). The romance between Anakin and Padme is painful for me to watch every time I put the film in. This is an example why George Lucas shouldn’t have been directing. I think what should’ve happened after Phantom Menace is that he should’ve stepped aside and let another director take the helm much like he did with Irvin Kershner on Empire Strikes Back and that film turned out to be the most beloved of the Saga. Maybe Steven Spielberg or hell even Christopher Nolan who are both possible candidates to direct a future Star Wars film. This is the Star Wars film I think I’ve watched the least. The CGI is just saturated everywhere, though I will say Anakin and Obi-Wan pursuing Zam Welch in the beginning is pretty exciting (even though it does rip off The Fifth Element). Also the action scenes are good to watch particularly Obi-Wan fighting Jango Fett which has some pretty funny moments. Despite the poor acting two performances stand out; Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi (as he does throughout the prequels) and Christopher Lee (may he forever rest in peace) as Count Dooku. Typically when you think of a Sith Lord, they tend to be absolutely batshit crazy or just angry all the time. But with Dooku (or Darth Tyranus if you go by his Sith name), he seems so calm, cool and collected in every scene you see him. Very aristocratic in nature. The lightsaber fight in the film is my least favorite out of any of the films as it doesn’t look interesting. Though the Yoda/Dooku fight is just plain kickass. Yes I know there’s people who bitch and moan that Yoda shouldn’t be having a lightsaber, but it’s still awesome. Also worth mentioning is Tamuera Morrison as Jango Fett. I know a lot of people were pissed off to hear that Boba Fett was a clone, but please let’s put that behind us. It’s been 13 years now, it’s canon so best just live with it. But anyways I thought Jango Fett was just a badass and that seems to be passed down to Boba Fett (respectfully portrayed by Daniel Logan who reprises his role in The Clone Wars series). Also it’s great to see the Jedi in action if only for a little bit in the Geonosis gladiator arena. One of the other flaws of this film is that the clone troopers are CG. I don’t some of them being CG, but seriously couldn’t get some extras to fill in? Overall I like this less than The Phantom Menace, it can still be watched as a Star Wars film. I’ll give Attack of the Clones a 5.50/10.

The Clone Wars Era

This is a very interesting time period in the Prequel Trilogy era. There’s much material in this brief 3-year time period. So I’ll first cover the very undercovered (and underrated) Clone Wars micro-series. It’s done by the same guy who did Saumari Jack (which I haven’t seen personally though have heard much positive vibe about) which is done in the same style and it’s really great. There’s not a lot of dialogue as most of the story is driven through visuals. The animation is hand drawn with a little CG here and there. The interpretation of Anakin Skywalker is the best ever put to screen big or small. It really projects his rage so well especially when he duels with Asajj Ventress. It’s since been released on DVD as a quasi 2-hour movie of sorts and available on YouTube. Then there’s The Clone Wars “feature film” and The Clone Wars CG TV show that aired on Cartoon Network from 2008 to 2013 (the last season was made exclusively available on Netflix last year). I’ll the feature film first. Well really it isn’t, it’s just the first few episodes of the TV show cobbled together into a quasi movie. There weren’t any plans originally for a cinematic movie, but George Lucas came up with it at the last moment like all great ideas he put in the prequels. The Clone Wars film is the lowest grossing cinematic Star Wars film with 68 million box office worldwide and 19% at Rottentomatoes. The CGI isn’t good at all certainly not close to par with Pixar or Dreamworks. There’s hardly any facial expressions on the characters faces and the acting is some of the worst. Dave Filoni was just getting his footing around this time so releasing this as a cinematic film was a bad idea. That all said, The Clone Wars TV series was MUCH better. The animation gotten better and better as the series went along, the characters were very interesting and the space battles were always EPIC. Some of the lightsaber battles are a little robotic and the animation isn’t cinematic quality, but this is meant for TV and for that it’s pretty good looking. The biggest negative is that it was cancelled before it could reach its natural conclusion. After Disney bought Lucasfilm and Star Wars, Disney then decided to cancel The Clone Wars series prematurely. It was suppose to go on for seven seasons and the last episode would’ve not only taken place during events of Revenge of the Sith, but even afterwards showing where key characters ended up. *coughs* Ahsoka *coughs* Rex *coughs* But credit due, the last fully completed season was made available on Netflix a year later along with all other episodes and the feature film. An odd element of the TV show is that the episodes were made and aired out of order. What the hell is with that?! The first chronological episode aired in the latter half of season 2! And the several were in early season 3! Thankfully released the official chronological order of all the episodes and the film so I suggest ya’ll go there and look it up. Overall I give Clone Wars (the mirco series) 9/10, The Clone Wars feature film 4/10 and The Clone Wars CG series 8.87/10.

Revenge of the Sith

This film is very interesting as it has very divisive opinion. Lot of people love it, some really hate it and then there’s some who are indifferent to it. Personally I’m in the first category. I love this film. Best of the prequel trilogy by FAR. The opening scene I think by far is the best opening scene in all of the Star Wars Saga. It’s a space battle over Coruscant and it’s just exciting to watch with Republic and Separatist ships blowing each other up. Anakin and Obi-Wan’s back and forth banter during the course of it is enjoyable too. Revenge of the Sith introduces us to General Grevious who’s a hell of a badass, but I feel he’s slightly underused in this movie (thankfully that’s made up for in The Clone Wars TV series). Another thing of note is this isn’t the first time technically General Grevious is seen. The first time he’s introduced is in the Clone Wars animated micro-series which is a very different character. The film while still has flaws that are present in the other two films, they’re not as prominent and more tolerable therefore. Anakin Skywalker’s dissent into the Dark Side I think is handled decently even if it happens to quickly and too easily (which is why I highly recommend you watch The Clone Wars series on Netflix as it provides a lot of filled in gaps). The highlight of the film is Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine/Darth Sidious who was in Attack of the Clones and Phantom Menace as well. In fact, back when he first portrayed Sidious in Return of the Jedi, he was only in his late 30s and Sidious was suppose to be in his 80s! McDiarmid explained at Star Wars celebration a couple months ago that they originally had an actor to portray Sidious who was in his 80s, but the contacts to make his eyes yellow had irritated him. McDiarmid was playing an elderly Howard Hughes in a London play which had caught Lucas’ attention and eventually he was cast in the part. And I that I think was the most spot on casting of any Star Wars character in the Saga. When you see Sidious in his true form on screen, you get the chills and creeps watching especially when he declares Anakin Skywalker as Darth Vader. The fight between Vader and Obi-Wan on Mustafar is one of the best duels in any Star Wars film and the Yoda/Sidious duel is enjoyable to watch as well. The film like I said does have its flaws such as some hard scenes to get through. Most prominently one with Anakin and Padme in their apartment at the beginning, though all their other scenes are actually tolerable at least for me. The best scene by far in the film (and possibly in the whole Saga) is when Anakin is in the Jedi Council chamber and it cuts back to Padme in her apartment looking out the window. There’s no dialogue at all except for a voice-over of Sidious warning Anakin about losing Padme. There’s just ominous music with a singer in the background that gives you this feeling of tread. For as much as George Lucas is criticized for poor writing, he’s not that bad a writer and this scene (and another I’ll too) really shows him at his best. My personal favorite scene in the film is the Opera House Scene with Anakin being told about Darth Plagueis (who was Sidious’ Sith master *spoiler alert*). This scene really allowed the mythos of Star Wars to be expanded and eventually gave way to the Darth Plagueis novel (which I couldn’t recommend any HIGHER as a read). The scene where Vader is officially born with James Earl Jones in the role is something to be seen (well maybe with exception of “NOOOOOOOO!” part). Overall I’ll give this film a 8.83/10 grade.

A New Hope (or simply Star Wars per the film’s original title)

The film that started it all! This is truly a classic to be respected and changed cinema for the better with respect of the new revolutionary special effects. This film as well as Empire and Jedi I grew up watching and are one of the first loves of my childhood (the first being Winnie the Pooh). The opening scene of the film puts you right into the action with stormtroopers invading a rebel ship and then Darth Vader walking in the Doorway is one of the greatest classic moments in cinema history. C-3PO and R2-D2 while not primary characters are the perspective the audience follows in the beginning and are interesting to watch. As a sidenote; all props to Anthony Daniels who is the only actor who has appeared in every Star Wars film (including the upcoming The Force Awakens). When I think about it, I’m astonished that this film is almost 40 years old now. And yet it still visually holds up well with exception of a few shots. Then there’s the special edition changes which bugs off people the wrong way. Personally I’m not so annoyed though some changes like Greedo shooting first and some CG shots are unnecessary. The best with this film I think is the added Jabba which I enjoy watching. It was a missing part of the story that was put back in (though Han stepping over Jabba’s could be edited out in the next special edition of New Hope). Luke Skywalker by far is the best character in the film (with Obi-Wan coming to a close 2nd). He’s the average person that we the audience can identify with and sympathize. People forget even though it’s not as dark as Empire, there are some dark moments like Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru being killed and their remains shown in full. The lightsaber fight with Vader and Obi-Wan while is among my least favorites in the Saga, is very compelling because the past shared between the two. Han Solo and Chewbacca are just awesome characters and cool to watch. The best scene is the final battle destroying the Death Star which delivers tension and excitement. Overall Episode IV: A New Hope is a terrific classic that changed cinema for the better. I give it a solid 9/10.

The Empire Strikes Back

Considered the best in the Star Wars Saga by far (though my favorite is actually Jedi), Empire Strikes Back really takes the story in a darker direction. It takes place 3 years after the events of New Hope and the Rebel Alliance is on Hoth. They’re discovered by the Empire and driven off. After George Lucas had directed A New Hope, he stepped out of the director’s chair and got Irvin Kershner to direct. And boy does he do a hell of a job. The acting is better, the characters are fleshed out further and a solid romance between Han and Leia built (which was tried and failed in Attack of the Clones). Come to think, maybe it should’ve been Kershner directing Attack of the Clones. He would’ve made the romance between Anakin and Padme much more believable, but I digress. What’s really compelling about the story is Luke Skywalker’s journey to becoming a Jedi. Something to notice is that Luke is much more skilled in Empire than he is in New Hope which makes you wonder how he learned without a master. For that, go read Marvel Comics’ Star Wars (2015) series. Something else of note is Vader searching for Luke Skywalker. In the altered scene in which Ian McDiarmid plays Sidious (originally it was Elaine Baker who was wife of the film’s editor and voice provided by Clive Revill), he mentions Vader that Luke is his son. Vader then responds “How is that possible?”. The average viewer may wonder why the continuity error. Well Marvel Comics’ Darth Vader series properly explains that when Vader found out about Luke Skywalker, he deliberately didn’t tell Sidious as he plans to forcibly convert Luke to his cause in overthrowing the Emperor and ruling the galaxy. In fact, Sidious and Vader have a whole history of lying and backstabbing one another which isn’t surprising considering the whole history of the Sith in the Bane line. It could be assumed that Lucas when adding in the scene for the 2004 DVD version had intended all along to highlight this element of the relationship between the two. But I digress. The best scenes in the film are by far Luke’s training sessions with Yoda on Dagobah. Part of what makes the Yoda puppet work is Mark Hamill’s performance. And of course Frank Oz’s voicing and operating him (which he of course returns to voice him in the prequels and in an episode of Rebels). Then there’s the fight between Luke and Vader on Cloud City. This is my favorite lightsaber fight right next to Duel of the Fates in The Phantom Menace. In New Hope and Empire, there’s little/no music during the lightsaber fights which I think especially works in favor here. The sound of the lightsaber is the most intriguing sound I’ve ever heard. On its own, it sounds very musical. Then there’s the introduction of Lando Calrissian who’s quite the charmer due to Billy Dee Williams awesome performance. In fact there’s an upcoming Marvel Comics’ series on Lando so be sure to check those out. This was also the first time we see Boba Fett was originally voiced by an entirely different actor before Tameura Morrison had redone the role to match the official canon. Boba Fett is one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars Saga even though he has hardly any dialogue. And it also has the biggest, shocking reveal of any film with Darth Vader being Luke’s father. I recommend you go to YouTube and search children reacting to Darth Vader revealing to Luke being his father. Their reactions are worth gold. Overall The Empire Strikes Back is among the best films in cinema history. My grade for it is 9.80/10.

Return of the Jedi

My most favorite film of the Star Wars Saga, it’s the perfect bookend to the Original Trilogy and the Star Wars Saga if there was no sequel trilogy. It was the first time we see Jabba the Hutt and boy is it a hell of an introduction. We start the film with Darth Vader coming to the 2nd Death Star demanding an explanation why it isn’t finished yet. Something to notice about Vader throughout the Original Trilogy is that the look of his helmet and a few other things change slightly with every film. This film also has the best space battle of any the other films. The battle above Endor is a sight to watch. With exception of a few bits that do look a little dated, it still holds up 32 years after its original release in 1983. Luke Skywalker is now close to being a full fledged Jedi and now must face his father Darth Vader once again. This is the first Star Wars film that uses full score music during a lightsaber fight as the really escalate the drama and boy does it succeed big time. Luke raging on Vader after he finds out about his secret sister Leia is so huge and tense to watch as he almost succumbs to the Dark Side. Oh yeah, there’s Ian McDiarmid as Darth Sidious who’s just perfect for the role. Previously he was and is to this day a stage actor and his play credits far outweigh his film credits. I think it’s that classical acting that really makes his performance as Darth Sidious work. For years I was actually afraid to watch any scene in the film where his face could easily be seen as I was always creeped out. To this day I always skip the unmasking scene with Anakin. Then there’s the Ewoks. Some people love them, others hate them called them the worst thing of the Saga (until Jar Jar came along). Personally I don’t mind them and they have a purpose to the story. My favorite scene by far is when Sidious is lurching force lighting on Luke and then Vader turning back to the light as Anakin Skywalker throwing him down the shaft of the Death Star. Overall it’s my favorite Star Wars film in the Saga and it completes it (though it’s great to be seeing a whole new trilogy in store). My grade for it is a solid 10/10.

What did ya’ll think of my take on the Star Wars Saga? Anything I should add or change? Let me know your thoughts below in the comments section. Have a great day and God bless!