Where the Four Billion Dollar Movie Franchise Began
In the late nineties when I was a wee lad me and a group of school friends decided to check out the latest Star Wars movie called ‘Episode I: Phantom Menace’ (1999). I didn’t know much about the franchise except that the bad guy in the first picture had a really bad asthma problem, and as the 1999 film was a prequel to the original iconic movies I thought it would be a good place to start my Star Wars viewing journey, especially with all the hype surrounding it. How wrong was I? Not only did I and a few mates fall asleep in the cinema, but during the course of the movie I stumbled across the most annoying character ever created for the big screen – Jar Jar Binx. It’s safe to say I was scarred from the experience and it put me off from seeing the rest of the movies.
So when I saw that the original film entitled ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope’ (1977: AFI 1998 #15, 2007 #13) was featured on the AFI’s top 100 list of all time I wasn’t best pleased. But with the excitement of the release of the seventh installment Sky Movies had a whole channel dedicated to the released films so I couldn’t avoid it – and on Sunday night after playing Junior Monopoly with niece with a slight hangover I decided with much persuasion from my brother to take the plunge and finally see how it all began. (well in fact it is the chronologically the fourth movie, but the first made – it gets confusing).
Everyone with some movie cultural awareness is familiar with the opening credits to the original Star Wars movie, so even though I knew what to expect I found the content of the text to be a hard read filled with so many Star Warisms that I had to pause the TV to and re-read the introduction – which was not a good start. What puts me off sci-fi and fantasy films is that they tend to be filled with jargon and terms that is not used in everyday language, so I lose concentration and my mind begins to wonder.
The original Star War movie is considered by some as the best
But my short expansion span diminished soon after because from the then on the movie was jam packed with action and spectacular special effects which were impressive by today’s standards let alone in the 1970s (although a work colleague and avid Star Wars fan kindly pointed out the effects had been re-worked since the original release, but I’ll choose to ignore that). The synopsis of the movie is a pretty straightforward good versus evil tale with Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) playing the heroes who are a mission to rescue Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from the evil Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire.
Darth Vader makes a terrifying entrance
In my review of American Graffiti (1973: 1998 #77, 2007 #62) which was also directed by Lucas I made the assumption that the characters were more relatable than the ones in Star Wars, for which I was told off for by a friend who said I had to see Sci-fi classic before making such ludicrous comment. Although I hate to admit it I must say he has a point – the best thing about the movie is that pretty much all the characters are strong and help unfold the plot until the very end. Despite previously seeing clips of Darth Vader and knowing that the voice over was Mufasa from the Lion King (1993) he genuinely scared me and the friendship between robots C-3PO and R2-D2 genuinely touched me.
So it’s safe to say my second experience so watching a Star Wars movie was a far more pleasant one – I’m not convinced the movie has transformed me into a massive fan like the millions single fifty-year old men living in their parents spare room, but it has made me regret that I didn’t partake in auditions for the new movie ‘Episode VII: The Force Awakens‘(2015) when they held auditions in Twickenham Stadium and obstructed my parking space outside my gym a few years back. Who knows I might have been a part of biggest movie franchise of all time. For its undeniable cultural significance, innovative special effects and unforgettable characters the picture gets a 4.5 out of 5 from me.