So last week the Thor Ragnarok trailer was released and I decided to go with a review for The Dark World. This week we have been graced with the release of the trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. My first thought was to review The Force Awakens but instead I have decided on something different. With this marathon review I will review all 8 live action theatrical releases of Star Wars in chronological order.
I wanted to do this for a few reasons. Firstly, as I consider Star Wars to be my favourite movie franchise ever, I wanted to put out my opinion and rating for each release. Secondly with some of my previous reviews I feel I have been a bit generous with my ratings and may change a few. Thirdly I want to do it as a test for potential future reviews I can do for other franchises such as Spider-Man, Alien, Lord of the Rings and so on. Let’s get started. For anyone unfamiliar with Star Wars there may be some spoilers within.
1. The Phantom Menace
This was one I was looking to slightly redo as I was still using my grading system instead of the points I’ve been using for a while. You can find the original review here: http://www.fpgnews.com/star-wars-episode-phantom-menace-review/ After watching this one again I don’t really feel much differently about it. I do still feel that tinge of nostalgia that I talked about in my more lengthy review, but it’s so easy to see why this is still considered to be the most disappointing movie of all time.
To be honest without any of the action scenes this would be an absolute slog to sit through, as the acting from just about everyone here cannot make the plot seem any more interesting and I don’t think I need to add much else about the cringe factor that is Jar Jar Binks. Overall a bad movie held together by some captivating fighting scenes and some hope that this would be fixed in the sequel. Or would it?
2. Attack of the Clones
Oh boy this one has been a long time coming. For quite a while I considered this to be the worst of the series, but looking at it from a critical standpoint alongside Phantom Menace, I can’t decide which is worse. While there are some improvements here such as a more interesting storyline and better pacing, there’s still a hell of a lot holding this back. After a bad performance from Jake Lloyd in Episode 1, the poor character of Anakin continues his bad luck with another cringey performance, this time from fan favourite Hayden Christensen.
I don’t blame Hayden for this at all as the blame should go to George Lucas as he couldn’t seem to direct anyone properly in the prequels, but it’s still one of the worst parts of the movie as he has his creepy moments with potential lover Padme and has some of the worst lines in the entire franchise. Did I mention that he hates sand? It doesn’t help that the entire romance side of the story is just dreadful and considering that Padme first met Anakin when he was just a child kind of gives it a disturbing feeling.
We also have Yoda fighting with a lightsaber at the end of the movie which some people hate but I’ve personally always enjoyed it and liked seeing a different side to the Jedi Master.
The villain, Count Dooku, thankfully gets more screen time than his predecessor and Christopher Lee brings class to the role as you would expect. Much like Episode 1, the action scenes save it as the battle on Geonosis is a lot of fun to watch with the lightsaber battle coming in as just decent up until Yoda arrives to duke it out.
3. Revenge of the Sith
You can find the original review here: http://www.fpgnews.com/rosss-reviews-star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-sith/
This film here might be the main reason why I went ahead with this kind of post as I totally regret and take back my original rating of 10/10. While it is still totally a guilty pleasure for me and I still love it, that shouldn’t have affected the overall score and my critical analysis. And looking back now, I definitely wouldn’t call it my favourite movie of all time.
While I still adore the lightsaber battles and other action sequences, the wooden acting performances still bring it down a bit. Hayden is much better this time but still has some eye rolling lines and deliveries. The pacing is all over the place as well as the first twenty minutes are fast paced action and then we go to less exciting scenes of council debates and jedi conspiracy. There’s still a lot to love for myself, but as an overall movie it’s very good at best.
4. Rogue One
Link to previous review: http://www.fpgnews.com/rosss-reviews-rogue-one/
Here’s another one that I think I overrated in the original review. Not by much as it’s still an excellent film overall and one of the best in the entire franchise, but 10/10 was too much for a flawed film. Of course the action scenes here are fantastic and honestly the best I’ve seen since Mad Max: Fury Road. The battles between the rebels and the stormtroopers, and the X-Wings taking on the TIE fighters is enough to take you back to your childhood. And of course the Darth Vader corridor scene is now practically legendary and still holds up on multiple viewings.
My issues do come from the characters as it was only from rewatching the Blu Ray version that I realised I didn’t care about most of them. Of course we weren’t going to get much detail from just one movie but it feels a lot like Suicide Squad where I’m supposed to get emotionally invested with characters I couldn’t care less about and it does impact the ending. I don’t really have any other issues as this was still terrific and added to the lore of the entire franchise. Only a slight demotion here.
5. A New Hope
What can I say about this masterpiece that hasn’t been said already? I mean if it wasn’t for this movie, cinema today would be very different as this has influenced the movie business for 40 years and people are still trying to copy its success. I’m constantly trying to decide between this and Empire for my favourite as they’re both just so good. This film introduced so many iconic characters to the public, and the special effects still hold up to this day, even if George Lucas’s added CGI to the more recent copies are very dated. Rewatching this for perhaps the millionth time still excites me and I never find myself bored. I can’t find anything wrong with the original movie and it will forever stand the test of time as the ultimate sci-fi classic.
6. Empire Strikes Back
For my in depth review: http://www.fpgnews.com/rosss-reviews-empire-strikes-back/
This’ll be my shortest summary as it’s the only Star Wars review I’m still happy with and in fact it’s my favourite review to date as I was still a bit emotional from the passing of the wonderful Carrie Fisher. This may go down as my favourite movie of all time and, aside from close competition with A New Hope, is the best of the series by far. It takes the greatness that the original gave us and expands this to epic levels. More interesting characters, a tense story, darker moments, adding so much content to the lore, and the biggest cliffhanger the movie industry has ever seen gives us a masterpiece that we may never see the like of again.
7. Return of the Jedi
I should say that for reviewing this, I’m looking at the original film that I’m lucky to still have on DVD as the updated version of the movie is garbage with so many unnecessary additions and changes that really didn’t need to be added at all as it is all fine as it was.
Anyway there’s a lot I love about this movie but there’s also quite a few things I don’t enjoy as well. For instance while the scenes in Jabba’s Palace are fun with a couple of classic moments in there, I still feel that it could have been a bit shorter as the half hour spent there takes away from the main antagonist of the Empire itself that just kind of disappears for a while. I won’t go over why the Ewoks still irk me as many fans and critics have voiced this stupidity in the past. I have heard that it was originally supposed to be Wookies instead of Ewoks, and had that been the case then I’m sure my opinion of this film would be much higher.
As I said there is still a lot to love with the final battle scenes (not on Endor) wrapping up the original trilogy is suitably epic fashion as it could be argued that the assault on the Second Death Star exceeds the assault from A New Hope. We also have an amazing lightsaber battle between Luke and Vader that’s just dripping with emotion as Vader and the Emperor try their best to turn him to their side and almost succeed, leading to the final redemption of Vader. This had a chance to be the best of the series but a few flaws do bring it down a notch. Still awesome though.
8. The Force Awakens
This was a hard one to rate. Since this originally came out I’ve watched it at least 10 times, and my opinion changes a lot each time. Like Return of the Jedi there’s a lot to love but a few things that bring it down. While I do enjoy some of the callbacks to the original movies, some of the similarities are a bit close to just straight up copy and pasting such as another cantina scene and yet another assault on a weapon that can destroy planets whilst also having one weakness to lead to it’s destruction. Aside from these issues this movie is a lot of fun. The space battles are a highlight along with a lightsaber battle I enjoyed more than most others, especially with the epic reveal of Rey’s true Jedi abilities.
Speaking of Rey, the new characters are fantastic and I can’t wait to see them in more features. Rey holds up well as our main protagonist and I’ve enjoyed Finn’s character change from stormtrooper to hero. BB-8 is a cute little bundle of joy. Kylo Ren might be my favourite new addition as he feels like a new take on the traditional badass villain as he’s young with a temper and just wants to live up to his proposed legacy. I’m looking forward to seeing how his story arc goes. So while there are some flaws, this is Star Wars back in great form in a movie worth watching again and again.
So there are my opinions on the entire Star Wars franchise. It may have it’s low points but it’s still my absolute favourite and I watch every one of them whenever I have the chance. If you haven’t seen most of these I’d advise to get a move on, and join me in a galaxy, far far away.