16th May, 2005

The excitement and the dread

On Thursday the 19th of May, at 2.30pm, I will be closing a chapter of my life that began aged four. Since my Mother dragged me to the cinema to see Star Wars: A New Hope, I have been hooked on George Lucas’ epic space fairy tale, and I make no apologies for that.

Thus, I await Thursday’s viewing with the same dueling emotions as most fans - excitement and dread.

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In this post I will seek to seize upon the former of those two emotions - the excitement. It is likely that my second Star Wars post, to be written on Thursday evening, will indeed expand upon the second emotion - the dread, and how that was proved well-founded.

OK. My research into Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith has been exhaustive, owing to several recent train journeys clutching movie magazines for company, plus numerous online reviews of the film, and also the views of an acquaintance who already owns a copy of the movie on pirate DVD. George, if you are reading this, I have to tell you that I do not know his address or telephone number, and anyhow the guy does a lot of work for charity.

Why is this movie important?

I don’t know. How the whole Star Wars franchise captivated an entire generation is beyond analysis. All I know is that I HATE Sci-Fi. Crap genre. Total make-believe. Hollywood ego manifesting itself in unverifiable nonsense where aliens are aliens because they have slightly weird foreheads (the indefensibly crap Star Trek). It’s just a totally geek-out genre, and that’s why girlfriends hate us liking Star Wars. They lump it in with Star Trek and every other dull Sci-Fi film or TV series. It’s something that to many we simply shouldn’t know so much about, and with that comes a stigma that is inescapable. Like Star Wars? You’re a geek - end of discussion.

Well, I’m very sorry, but Stormtroopers are cool, Imperial Guards are cool, Han Solo is fucking cool, and Chewbacca goes “Wooeeaarrrgg!” loads, and therefore he is also cool. Why such details make Star wars special, I do not know. All I know is they do. It’s bigger, better… and probably actually happened… in a galaxy, far, far away…

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Yes, but why this movie?

Episode 3? Well, it’s the final chapter of the story. Sure, we know what happens in the plot, but for those of us who first witnessed Darth Vader stride onto the movie screen when we were infants, this is the thing we have been waiting for, especially since George Lucas announced his intentions to make the first three chapters back in the mid-Nineties. According to the BBC, the film is a bloodbath, Empire magazine gives the film 4/5 in it’s review - and they know their shit. Star Wars as we know it starts here. This is what we’ve been waiting for, and the consensus is that it doesn’t disappoint.

So what did your mate say?

The chap who owns it on DVD? Listen, I don’t know him, he just drinks in a pub I frequent. Anyway, his first words were “It’s shit”, which didn’t fill me with the greatest confidence. Rest assured I quizzed him deeper, and the more he talked about it, the more excited he became. Vividly miming the key scenes, and describing certain parts as “Incredible”, I did feel he wasn’t exactly backing up his original damning soundbite. In the end, I would say that as a die-hard fan, he felt a little short-changed, but was on the whole really impressed with it. His “It’s shit” seemed to stem from his dislike of Hayden Christensen (who I thought was alright in Episode 2, to be honest), the prolonged romantic stuff between Anakin and Padme, which is pivotal to the whole story (let’s just hope there are no more picnics amidst herds of giant fleas this time), and also his displeasure at the tiring gloss of too much CGI treatment. These are all things I expected to hear him say, and in general everything else sounds amazing.

What can we look forward to then?

Apparently, the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan (Kenneth) Kenobi is fifteen minutes of the greatest fighting ever committed to celluloid. Apparently General Grievous is the meanest, baddest-assed-ist villain since Boba Fett. Apparently the battle scenes, be they in space or in Chewie’s garden, are mind-bendingly mind-bending. Apparently the teenage whining of Anakin in the previous episode was purposefully over-the-top as this is used heavily in this film, thus vindicating it (and anyway, what was sooo bad about Episode 2? I thought it was great). And it’s all with an assuringly cautious 12A rating here in the UK. We get to see Anakin chopped and burned before witnessing the glorious transition from human into Dark Lord. We’ll see little baby Luke and little baby Leia. And there are some tall red blokes that look a lot like Imperial Guards. This is why I cannot wait for Thursday. Yoda will once again kick ass, and Palpatine will become Darth Sideous by removing his contact lenses. Last but not least, Chewie will once again be wandering ‘round going “Wooeeaarrrgg!”. Loads.

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We hope you’re right

So do I. The proof of George’s big fat space pudding will be in Thursday’s eating. Let’s face it, old Ewok-face has learned a lot from the first two prequels. He knows we want it “dark”, he knows we’ll accept nothing less that spectacular, and he definitely knows we don’t want any more seven-foot fucking aquatic rabbits going “Me so horny” or whatever the fuck that bloody thing was going on about in Episode 1. Still, the movies are for kids, and I know my Dad couldn’t understand why there was a “gay British robot” in the original trilogy.

Like many of you, I’ll have seen it in five days time. If I can be arsed, I’ll come straight home and put A New Hope in the DVD player and see how it feels. Equally likely is that I’ll come home and put Episodes 1 and 2 in the toaster. For now, as this chapter of my childhood comes to a close, I shall remain optimistic.

It’s remarkable how similar this feels to the stress encountered with the English football (soccer) team’s chances in international cup competitions. If Lucas fucks it up, I’ll pin my hopes on the 2006 World Cup. If Lucas pulls it off, I’ll assume England will go out in the first round. That’s how life works.

More on Thursday night. In the meantime, feel free to sound off…

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