W.B. at the Movies: The Star Wars flicks

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I had a joyful experience watching the latest movie in the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi – more fun than I’d had since the second installment of the first trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back.

Looking back, I think I can categorize the films in four levels. Mind you, I really have enjoyed all of these movies, even the much-maligned prequel films from 1999 to 2005, so I like even the least satisfying ones, but I like some more than others and would probably say I “love” only two, including the latest one.

Top tier – The Empire Strikes Back, The Last Jedi (“Oh, that was awesome!!”)

Second tier – Star Wars*, The Force Awakens, Rogue One (“That was great!”)

Third tier – Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith (“That was terrific but not quite perfect.”)

Fourth tier – Attack of the Clones, The Phantom Menace (“The story is interesting but the movie was kind of disappointing.”)

My general observations: The real home runs were hit in the middle chapters of the first and third trilogies, and I don’t think the first two third episodes quite connected as well as they should have (although Revenge of the Sith is clearly the best film of the prequels.)

The pressure is on for the next film, which needs to wrap up many arcs while setting the table for the next round.

* You can call it A New Hope if you want, but it will forever be Star Wars to me and, I dare say, most everyone who became a fan in 1977.

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How Gareth Edwards became a Jedi Master

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It’s that Star Wars time of year. The first movie not directly part of the Skywalker Saga came out last week, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Red and I haven’t seen it yet – maybe tonight for $5 Tuesdays – but I was intrigued by something director Gareth Edwards was quoted as saying during the publicity run-up:

“I grew up believing in The Force as a kid, and I’m still wondering if it might be true. You shouldn’t get to watch ‘A New Hope’ every day and then grow up to make a Star Wars movie. I’m starting to think it might actually be real.”

Well, of course it’s real.

Obi-Wan Kenobi defined what we’re talking about in the aforementioned A New Hope, which is the “new” name of the 1977 movie called Star Wars for those of us who were old enough to remember when it came out:

“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”

Of course it does.

Of course all living things create an energy field that binds the galaxy together, and those who can tap this energy are the greatest of creators. Edwards is right: Not every kid who watched the original movie every day grows up to make a Star Wars movie. But he did.

He devoted his life to gaining the skills necessary to direct a Star Wars movie, and that focused hard work and study led him to a place where he was chosen to do so. He set the course of his life in a way certain to make that not just possible, not just probable, but actually so.

Edwards set out to make a Star Wars movie, and he used The Force to make it happen. He became a Jedi Master.

The greatest scene yet recorded in a Star Wars movie is the one where Luke Skywalker’s ship is buried in a swamp, and Yoda the great teacher instructs Luke to use The Force to lift the vessel out of the muck. (Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before; It always bears repeating.)

“All right, I’ll give it a try,” Luke says.

“No!!” Yoda barks. “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Sure enough, Luke tries as hard as he can but can only move the buried ship a little bit. Yoda steps forward, holds out his hands, concentrates and pulls the ship up and onto solid ground.

“I don’t believe it,” Luke mutters.

“That is why you fail,” Yoda says.

Yep.

A lot of kids grew up loving Star Wars and wanted to try making one of those films. They didn’t. Or maybe they did try, but they didn’t believe in their heart of hearts that it could be done.

Gareth Edwards decided to do it. And he believed that he could.

That’s why when the credits roll, they say “Directed by Gareth Edwards.”