I am not a super fan….of anything. I seem to have missed the boat on many major cultural fixations; when Harry Potter debuted, my little sister received the first book for Christmas, so naturally I perceived the series as “kids’ books” and looked the other way. Imagine my surprise when many college friends extolled the series and its fantastical world as being some of the most incredible, imaginative works of fiction they had ever encountered.
Boy, did I feel silly.
That’s why I relished in the fact that I didn’t have to be a Star Wars super fan. As a 30-year-old, I was too young to appreciate the original movies. That left me disinterested in delving into the series when the most recent three were released when I was in junior high and high school. Star Wars was the science fiction series my uncle loved…not me.
When I started dating my husband, I learned about the Star Wars books (Wait a minute…books?! Now I’m behind on the books AND the movies? I’ll never catch up now). When news of the seventh installment began spreading, I cried uncle. This summer, I agreed to watch one movie every Sunday night with my husband and his super fan friend until I was caught up.
I enjoyed the series, and while I knew all the major plot points (because…hello, I’m a human living in 2015), I am glad to finally understand the nuances and subtle references I had been missing all these years. I also discovered a few things I wasn’t expecting to, which I’ll explain below.
Super fans, take note: I’m new to this series and have yet to develop the affinity you have for the large cast of characters and complex imaginary universe. Take these assertions with a grain of salt.
1. Yoda’s speaking style is distractingly strange.
My husband and his friend decided I should watch the movies in chronological order, so I began with Episode 1. I knew Yoda had a different speaking habit, but I was not prepared for how utterly annoying his syntactical style would be. I understand that Yoda is the philosophical sage who has taught countless Jedi knights how to use the Force to battle evil, but in Episodes I, II, and III, Yoda’s assertions seemed forced and trite. At least he was funny in the original three movies.
2. Speaking of Yoda, he seems drunk in Episodes IV, V, and VI.
When Luke initially meets him, Yoda is giggly and jittery…like a drunk old hobo you try to avoid making eye contact with on the street. Don’t get me wrong; I thought it was hilarious, but it seemed strange considering how serious he’d been in the previous three movies. Also, the animatronic Yoda is so much better than the computer-generated one. I didn’t mind most of the computer-generation in Episodes IV, V, and VI, but Yoda as a computer image falls far short of the dimensional, hairy puppet seen in the original three movies.
3. Chewbacca annoyed me.
This was one of the odder revelations for me because I assumed I would like Chewbacca. He seemed, to me, like Han’s BA canine-like sidekick who is smarter than a dog (maybe Han himself.) Then I watched the movies. Why doesn’t Chewbacca get subtitles? He’s one of the most iconic characters of the franchise, yet Han is the only one who can communicate with him? (And C3PO, I guess, but he’s even more annoying than Chewbacca. But not quite as annoying as Jar Jar Binks.) Even a bunch of other random aliens get subtitles. But not Chewie? Strange. So strange.
4. Queen Amidala/Padme could have been a better character.
Padme was strong, assertive, and powerful in Episodes I and II. Her friendship and flirtation with Anakin Skywalker was playful and endearing. But by Episode III, Padme had transformed from powerful politician to lovesick high school girl. And the outfits? Her clothing devolved from intimating headdresses and conservative robes to skimpy dresses and low-cut necklines (although they still don’t hold a candle to the bikini Leia wore in Episode V!). I was disappointed by the arc in her story, and even more so by the sex appeal the producers felt was needed in the romance.
5. I appreciate the lack of blood and gore in the series.
I assumed any battles with light sabers and other intergalactic weapons would involve some blood, which is why I was always perplexed to learn that small children love the movies. Now that I’ve watched them, I discovered that the movies didn’t rely on blood and gore to make the series interesting—it was inherently interesting by being set in space, where sweet spaceships and pod races retain your attention…not severed body parts and blood spatters. It was refreshing. I overheard a coworker describing that the reason for the lack of blood is because light sabers cauterize wounds; however, my husband contends that is not always the case. The debate continues…
6. Episode I is terrible.
I was excited to start watching the movies…truly excited. That’s why I was a bit let down after watching Episode 1. And watching is a bit of a stretch. During the last 45 minutes, I had to fight falling asleep every few minutes. The story just didn’t move. Nothing that happened in the movie was pivotal to the storyline and could have easily been included in Episode II. It all felt so…contrived. I’m just relieved to know I’m not alone in this assertion.
Despite some of the negative discoveries, I did enjoy the movies…five of them anyway. Harrison Ford as Han Solo is perfectly cast, and Darth Vader is as scary a movie villain as any other ever created in cinematic history. (Although the iconic Imperial March introducing every Darth Vader scene in Episode VI got a bit redundant.) The soundtrack is unmatched, and the names of everything are so cool…Millennium Falcon—how awesome is that?
I may not be considered a super fan yet, but I’m closer now than I was six months ago. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll find me at The Force Awakens this weekend. My husband won tickets to a private screening…but he invited his super fan friend instead of me.
I guess that’s fair.