Intermission: Cody’s Realization

I interrupt my journal about my movie year to tell you something that really got to me. My oldest son Cody is four and a half years old and has started watching the Star Wars live action movies. I spoke about this in my first review of Episode I this year. Yesterday something happened that got me and wife off guard. Cody has been going on about who is a bad guy and who is a good guy in Star Wars. He knows Darth Maul is a bad guy and Anakin is a good guy, but while watching A New Hope he asked if Darth Vader was a good guy and without really thinking about it we told him that Darth Vader was definitely not a good guy. This scrambled his brain a little bit, because I have never seen him react the way he did. He just sat there for a good ten seconds, just staring, pondering the possibility of Vader being a bad guy. We both thought this was a significant event, but he went ahead with his day and so did we.

The ForceCastThis morning I was listening to an older episode of The ForceCast, a podcast dedicated to Star Wars. It was the episode in which HitFix’s Drew McWeeny talks to Jimmy en Jason about the decision to show his kids Star Wars in a very particular order. A very good interview with a lot of good arguments why that would work. It was a moment in his story that took me back to Cody’s revelation. He tells about his kids’ reaction to the downfall of Anakin. How he grew from a little boy to a petulant teenager to a disgruntled man who hurts the ones he loves. This realization devastated them. And then I thought about the look in Cody’s eyes when he heard Vader was a bad guy and realized I have to tread lightly around this material.

Cody is not at an age where he will be able to grasp all the intricacies of the plot, but he will be able to pick up on the basic stuff. I will not be screening Revenge of the Sith anytime soon (not that I was planning to) and when he is a few years older I will probably utilize Drew’s excellent chronology to ease the boys into the whole saga. This is turning out to be a bit harder than I thought it would be, mainly because I grew up with this stuff. It is engrained in my head, but he is totally blank when it comes to Star Wars. I have another boy called Owen (see the obscure Star Wars referenced in the names) and I will be a little bit more careful with him around these movies.

End of Intermission.

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039: Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D

I know, I know… I promised to not talk about a movie twice during 2012, but this is different. This is Star Wars in 3D. I will not rehash my thoughts on the movie, you can read those here. What I do want to talk about is the experience of watching Star Wars in 3D.

I must say that seeing the Lucasfilm logo and subsequently the Star Wars logo in 3D is very cool. It makes me want to fast forward to 2015 for A New Hope in 3D, because seeing the crawl (I don’t read it anymore) from Episode I is anything but spectacular. The babble about trade franchises just makes my heart sink and the next two hours become a chore. The wooden acting and stilted dialogue don’t change a bit with the addition of 3D.

A surprising fact is that a lot of the scenes are in soft focus. This makes you think that the transfer from the 1999 print didn’t fare so well. I have to check the blu-ray to see if that is also this blurry. It occurred the most when live-action performances were pulled apart from their non-live-action backgrounds. These backgrounds also often showed their true nature as artificial additions to the Star Wars universe. It was not a pretty sight.

I am afraid that The Phantom Menace didn’t stand the test of time really well. The animations of the CGI characters look too rubbery and don’t convince as well as they did thirteen years ago. 3D hasn’t changed my position on The Phantom Menace and I didn’t think it would. I just wanted my kid to experience Star Wars on the big screen and he loved it.

013: Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace

> IMDb

023: Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

I was feeling a little bit under the weather and just needed some comfort food for my eyes. So I popped in Return of the Jedi on blu-ray. When I was young this was always my favorite of the Star Wars movies. Probably because I did not fully grasp the gravity of The Empire Strikes Back, which now by far is my favorite.

I just love everything that is going on in this sixth installment (or third, whichever way you want to look at it) in the series. First the impressive arrival of Darth Vader on the new Death Star, then all the dealings in Jabba’s Palace and the Sarlacc Pit, the demise of Yoda and the subsequent battles on Endor and in space, and the climax between Vader and Luke. Awesome. I remember watching these at a friend’s house and then replaying the scenes with our toys. Great memories.

Back to the movie. I can see the faults with this episode. Sometimes the writing is off and the acting can be stilted, but we are expected to just forgive these in favor of the whole movie. And what do you know? I do exactly that. I even forgive the movie when it kills off Boba Fett way too quickly and that’s saying a lot.

It is of course impossible to not address the changes made to Jedi when I say I watched the blu-ray version. I don’t have a problem with the giant door at Jabba’s Palace, the added Dug, Wicket’s blinking or Han’s thawing. I have on the other hand a huge problem with Darth Vader yelling “Noooooooo.” like he did in Revenge of the Sith. It sounds fake, it feels terribly out of place and it is downright awful. I dislike this so much that I turn off the sound to not hear it. Yes, it is that bad.

With that said, I can conclude that I still love Return of the Jedi after all these years, and I can not think of a set of movies I have seen more times in my life than the original Star Wars movies. I can’t wait to (hopefully) see it in the theaters again in 2017, whether in 3D or otherwise.

> IMDb

013: Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace

I have seen this movie countless times and to be honest I do not really know why. It is badly acted, clumsily written and just an embarrassment to the Star Wars Saga. Still, I wanted my 4-year old to experience Star Wars from the beginning (chronologically, let’s not get into that)… and he loved it.

Of course he did not understand anything that was being said and the complexities of the story flew over his head, but he loved the visuals and I have never seen him sit still for 2+ hours, mesmerized. Now I know I can take him to the theater next month to experience The Phantom Menace in 3D.

(Personally I prefer the fan-edited versions to the theatrical (or Lucas’ enhanced versions.) I recent years several fan editors have been tinkering with the sage, which resulted in better flowing movies, with less annoying mistakes. But that is for another discussion.)

This movie is now almost thirteen years old and I have to say you don’t notice it. The visual effects are of such a high quality that 99% of the movie could compete with movies made today. I am therefore very curious what The Phantom Menace will look like in 3D.

039: Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D

> IMDb