I Can Go Down Memory Lane In 12 Parsecs: My Star Wars Movie Marathon

Although I’ve seen every Star Wars movie, I’ve always considered myself more of a Trekkie. That means I’ve never watched any of the Star Wars tv shows – until The Mandalorian, that is. With my love for all things Grogu, and other aspects of the show, Mark thought it would be a good idea to sit me down and watch Clone Wars. I remember seeing snippets of episodes here and there when it first aired, but I never got into it. Back then, I just wasn’t all that interested. Now, of course, I was interested. And with all this extra time at home, it’s not like I have an excuse not to watch it.

Long story short, I really enjoyed Clone Wars and I even have some new favourite characters. Anyone familiar with my love of blue people will not be surprised to hear that Cad Bane has claimed the top spot. But this isn’t about Clone Wars. While Mark and I made our way through all seven seasons, I realized that it had been a long time since I had seen the prequels. When they came out, I was still quite young and I only ever watched those movies in theatres. I remembered almost every part of The Phantom Menace, about half of Attack of the Clones, and almost nothing of Revenge of the Sith. After finishing Clone Wars, I thought it might be fun to go back and re-watch the Star Wars prequels now that I’m an adult. I realized that, since Clone Wars focuses on the political aspects of the story, I had never really understood the plot of the sequels. I was too young to understand all the politics. So I also wanted to give these movies a re-watch to see if it changed my understanding of the plot.

Before embarking on this mini movie marathon, I knew that I had loved The Phantom Menace, hated Revenge of the Sith, and had liked parts of Attack of the Clones. Let’s see if any of that changed.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999): I was 8 when this movie came out. Despite all the hate this film has received from the fandom, it continues to be my favourite Star Wars film. And, yes, Jar Jar Binks is still one of my favourite characters. I think one of the reasons why I love this film so much is because it was my introduction to Star Wars. When I started seeing posters, commercials, and merchandise for this movie, I told my parents that I wanted to see it. Kids meals at fast food restaurants had toys for this movie – it’s hard for an 8 year old to ignore. But, my mom said that I could only watch this movie if I saw the original ones first. I didn’t know what she meant at the time, but it was not long that my parents sat me down and had me watch the original three Star Wars films. Of course I enjoyed them, and this experience only made me want to see The Phantom Menace that much more.

Back then, we didn’t really go to the big theatres. We went to West End Family Cinema which, sadly, no longer exists. As long as we were prepared to wait a few weeks, we would see older theatrical releases after their run was over, on a big screen, and at a fraction of the cost. But we made an exception for some films. Star Wars fell into that category. When we went to see The Phantom Menace, we saw it in a “real” movie theatre. That alone made this a big thing. And little 8 year old me loved this movie so much that I went to see it in theatres again, and then AGAIN when it came to the West End Family Cinema. That’s right – I watched The Phantom Menace three times in theatres.

It should be no surprise, then, that re-watching this was a fantastic experience for me. I clearly remembered the story, the characters, and almost every single scene. I enjoyed this re-watch simply for the nostalgia alone. But, I also enjoyed it for other reasons. I have always loved the makeup and costumes in this movie, and the CG (though somewhat dated at this point) isn’t quite as bad as I expected it to be.

The main problem, as I discussed later with Mark, is that this film doesn’t really know it’s audience. It’s trying to appeal to multiple groups of people: adults who watched the first Star Wars films; children who watched the first Star Wars films and who are now adults; children of the adults who watched the first Star Wars films (that’s me); and any other newcomers they can get interested in the franchise. So, for viewers like me, it makes sense to have a large portion of the story focus on little Anakin – after all, the actor is only two years older than me. And a character like Jar Jar, who exists only to provide comedic relief, is hilarious to a small child. But a viewer like Mark, who is 11 years older than me, is more drawn to other elements of the story with, say, a young adult like Obi-Wan. The many layers of the story that are meant to appeal to many different demographics mean that the story probably isn’t as streamlined as it could be.

So, yes, this film has it’s fair share of problems, but I still really enjoy it. The Phantom Menace still is, and probably always will be, my favourite Star Wars film. And I still love Jar Jar Binks.

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002): I was 11 when this movie came out. I barely understood the plot when I saw it in theatres. I didn’t understand the politics, or most of Obi-Wan’s story line, but I did understand the action, as well as the love story between Anakin and Padme. I remember watching this movie first in a “real” theatre and not liking it as much as The Phantom Menace. Still, when Attack of the Clones came to West End Family Cinema later on, I told my parents I wanted to see it again. The only reason for that was because the execution and final battle scenes on Geonosis were my favourite part of the film and I loved it so much that I was willing to sit through the whole thing again just to watch those scenes.

Re-watching as an adult, my opinion of the film has changed. I actually understand the political parts of the plot now, and Obi-Wan’s story arc is the most interesting to me. And I still adore those scenes on Geonosis. But the love story between Anakin and Padme ruined the whole thing. I guess that the actors were probably trying to do the best with what they had been given to work with, but those scenes are just so painful to watch. That dialogue is so awful and clunky. But their relationship is worse! I enjoyed their love story as a child, but watching it now just makes me uncomfortable. The way Anakin stares at, and lusts after Padme is just plain creepy. And the way she seems to fall for him so quickly is just weird to me. Plus, with what I saw in Clone Wars, their whole relationship just makes me so uncomfortable. Anakin is far from an ideal partner and I really think Padme should have tried her luck with someone else. Perhaps someone with a little more emotional maturity? Oh well. If it weren’t for their relationship we wouldn’t have Luke and Leia, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

When I discussed this with Mark, he mentioned that he found the second half of the film much more enjoyable than the first half. That makes total sense given that the bulk of the love story between Anakin and Padme takes place during the first half of the film. Really, this wasn’t a bad movie – it just had some bad moments. I enjoyed this re-watch a lot more than I thought I would. I feel like this would be something I would enjoy re-watching again if it didn’t have the love story. Thank goodness I can just press a button on my remote and skip over those parts.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005): I was 14 when this movie came out. Honestly, I barely remembered anything about this movie. We had stopped going to the West End Family Cinema by this point because we had moved further away, and only saw this one in a big theatre. But, honestly, I don’t think I would have gone to another viewing of this one. I did not think it was a good movie. Before the re-watch, all I could remember were handfuls of moments. Not scenes – moments. Obviously, I knew how it ended simply because that leads into the original Star Wars films – and some of the moments I remembered were from near the end of the movie – but the rest was a complete blank in my memory. If you had asked me to explain the plot before my re-watch, I would have been at a loss. Well, other than the obvious “Anakin turns to the dark side, kills people, and becomes Darth Vader.”

After my re-watch, I can honestly saw that watching it only once in theatres was not the reason I couldn’t remember it. It’s just not a very memorable movie. It’s definitely the weakest of the Star Wars films. Even by the end of the movie, I was already having a hard time remembering what had happened at the beginning. Also, I really thought General Grievous had a larger role in this, but I was wrong. And disappointed. I was also underwhelmed by Padme in this movie, compared to all of the others. In both Clone Wars and the previous films, she’s a bad ass who isn’t afraid to get in on the action. But in Revenge of the Sith she was just a helpless victim for all but one or two scenes. Yes, I know she was pregnant and probably trying to keep calm, etc., but I felt like she lost that fire that made her Padme. But hey, at least Anakin got better lines this time, and Obi-Wan got a better haircut.

I don’t know that I would have had such a negative view of this film if it hadn’t been for Clone Wars. After 7 seasons of falling in love with characters, it’s just not as exciting when some of those characters are shown as merely a nameless character in the background who gets killed off. Honestly, I only found the Order 66 scene of the film moving because I had seen Clone Wars. If I had simply re-watched the movie without having seen Clone Wars first, I would not have cared that characters like Plo Koon and Kit Fisto were killed off. And after following a story for 7 seasons set in this time period of the Star Wars universe, it’s just not interesting to watch a 2 and a half hour reduced version of that. If I want the story of the events of the Clone Wars, I’ll watch the tv show, not the movie.

Revenge of the Sith isn’t necessarily a bad movie, but it’s not a good movie either. It’s just meh.

Final Thoughts:

  • Ever since I first saw her, I have wanted to wear Queen Amidalla/Padme’s outfits. I still do. All of them. Not a single exception.
  • Darth Vader may be cool, but Anakin is not. I dislike him much more now than I did when these movies first came out. Padme can do better.
  • Why do the main Sith/Seperatists (i.e. Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and General Grievous) get such little screen time? I have a problem with this
  • Clone Wars has the best story and character development out of all the prequels.
  • Yes, I still love Jar Jar. This is a hill I am willing to die on.

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