Comment – All Star Wars In One Day

A whole day full of Star Wars films; what is wrong with that?

At 10am on Friday, 28 December 2011 I sat down in front of the TV. On screen the Star Wars music was playing and those giant letters were scrolling off into space. I had a supply of food and tea and six films to watch; my hopes were set high.

To some this might appear to be a form of torture, others might find it too self indulgence. For me this event has always had an element of the latter and once been the former. I already watch a lot of films (about two each week) and often immerse myself in science fiction on various different media. What I started doing a few years ago is a little different.

I watch the movies in a series as they appear at the cinema or when released on DVD. I eagerly await each episode (yes, even Harry Potter), and spend far too much time pouring over trailers, sneak previews or Twitter posts. What I do not get the chance to do is see an entire story arc in one sitting. Movie day was created to fill this gap.

In previous years I have watched the three Lord of The Rings films (extended editions), and listened to the original Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy radio plays (not films, I’ll admit, but I write the rules). My experiences have been varied, which left me with a little foreboding about Star Wars. Add to this the debate among friends about which order I should watch them in and the disparaging remarks that are attached to episode one (and specifically Jar Jar Binks).

My choice was story order, rather than the order they were released in.

After twelve hours of viewing, what did I think: more enjoyable than Lord of The Rings, but nowhere near as fun as The Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy.

Everyone is right, The Phantom Menace is not that great when compared to the others (but then I still hold that it is the one aimed squarely at children). That crazy talking CGI character is a little annoying, but then so is the incessant complaining of C3PO if you pay it too much heed. The story arc across all six films is good. I particularly like the political manoeuvrings in episodes two and three and still think that the last film (Return of The Jedi) is the second worst film of the bunch.

The one thing I expected to notice was the shift from good CGI in episodes one, two and three, to the special effects of the 1970s in four, five and six. This turned out not to be the case. Yes, the light sabre fight between Darth Vadar and Obi One Kinobi in Star Wars looks rather half-hearted, but then I have always thought that. As for the other battles in the older films, they actually compare pretty well, certainly those set in space.

My lasting impression was of how well the story fitted together across the six films, and a realisation of why so many fans who loved the first three disliked the newer episodes. It has very little to do with the childishness of The Phantom Menace or the silly Gungans; it is all about characters we can admire and adore.

Male cinema goers young and old wanted to be Han Solo or Luke Skywalker and fell in love with Princess Leia. Females did the same but in reverse (or at least the Han Solo bit). What do episodes one, two and three offer up by way of competition? Awesome mass battles and a certain New Zealander some women drool over, but not much else. Then again, if you like a plot that is a little more than skin deep Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi will not sate you.

My advice would be to watch each film for what it is. But then that goes for any movie.