Star Wars — the modern American epic, a groundbreaking sci-fantasy story, and a pop culture tornado.
So whether you love it, hate it, or experience both emotions for different parts of the story, it’s undeniable that “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” inspires passionate emotion in almost everybody. The original trilogy is absolutely brilliant, the prequel trilogy much less so, but it’s definitely one of those things you HAVE to watch one way or another.
All six movies form a multigenerational epic — the prequel trilogy follows the sinister Darth Sidious and his Sith minions infiltrating and slowly conquering the Galactic Republic. In the meantime, the Jedi find a child, Anakin Skywalker, who is said to be the Chosen One (groan, another overused fantasy trope).
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is entrusted with the boy’s training, but he cannot stop Anakin’s increasingly dark, angry feelings from swaying him. As Darth Sidious manipulates wars, planets and the Jedi Order itself, Anakin becomes his greatest pawn.
Then we get to the original trilogy, which takes place about twenty years later. The Republic has turned into the brutal, cruel Empire, but there is a Rebellion fighting against it from the shadows. Young farmer Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) ends up on the run with the mysterious hermit Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness), a pair of quirky droids, scruffy pilot Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and feisty Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher).
As he helps the Rebellion fight the Empire, Luke learns that he has the potential to be a Jedi, and he turns out to be more powerful than anyone expected. However, the evil Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones) has a particular interest in Luke — and soon reveals the shocking connection between them, which will change Luke’s life forever.
The Star Wars Saga is more than just a series of movies: it’s been homaged, spoofed, quoted ripped-off, studied, dissected, analyzed, spun off and even had a tiny religion named after it. It is a pop culture juggernaut, and it is impossible to escape all the stuff connected to it — honestly, who has never heard “Luke, I am your father” (even if that never was actually said)?
So how good is it? Well, the original trilogy is absolutely brilliant — a seamless blend of groundbreaking special effects, classic storytelling and solid acting. Things do get a bit goofy with the introduction of the living teddy bears, but you cannot deny the raw, gritty power of the last scenes of “The Empire Strikes Back,” or the exultant golden joy of “A New Hope’s” finale.
The prequel trilogy is… not nearly as bad as people say. Yes, it’s overloaded with special effects, the stories are flabbier, and Jar Jar Binks makes me want to stab myself in the head with a barbeque fork. But it still has some solid content, such as the Greek tragedy that Anakin’s life turns into, or the death of Obi-Wan’s mentor Qui-Gon Jinn.
Similarly, the acting is a mixed bag. The original trio of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are absolutely brilliant, and there’s a real chemistry there that makes you believe that these three are fast friends… and in Han and Leia’s case, a bit more (“I love you!” “I know”). And you’ve got the other classic characters: Chewie, the droids, and the hulking deep-voiced Vader.
The prequel trilogy has great performances by Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Christopher Lee, and the glorious Ian McDermid… buuuuuutt, we’re also treated to very wooden performances by Natalie Portman and Hayden Christenson. Especially in their romantic scenes, (“I’m not afraid to die. I’ve been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life”).
Despite its flaws, “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” is a movie series that everybody should definitely watch — it still has plenty of power, imagination and fun.