My Fave Five Star Wars Characters (Featuring Box Office Buzz)

There is no doubt that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a critical and box office success.  It currently has a 93% with the critics and 90% with the audience on Rotten Tomatoes.  It shattered Thursday preview records, opening weekend records, beat Jurassic World‘s box office record by 1 day, and has made nearly $2 billion worldwide! Currently, it is the third highest grossing movie of all time, behind Avatar and Titanic.

The anticipation and hype surrounding the film was like nothing cinema had seen before.  I doubt we will ever see such anticipation or excitement for an event again, at least not anytime soon anyway.  To celebrate the success of my favorite film franchise, I wanted to take a look at my favorite Star Wars characters.  I have asked fellow Star Wars fan and the mind behind Box Office Buzz, Ashley, to join me in the celebration.  You can check out her review of The Force Awakens here.  Ashley reviews all kinds of movies that are so much fun to read.  Go peruse her site, after you finish reading this article of course. 😛 Now, let’s get onto our five favorite Star Wars characters. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead. Ladies first!

Star Wars is my all-time favorite film franchise. While I love the science fiction setting “long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away,” the main reason I love these movies so much is because there are so many great, memorable characters. It’s hard to narrow down my list of favorite characters to just five, but here goes…

5) Finn

I loved many of the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens, but my favorite so far is Finn. While Finn does provide some of the funniest moments in the film, his character is far more than just “the comic relief.” I love how he doesn’t necessarily start the film as a hero; he’s just a regular guy, forced into a situation he’s not prepared for, and his instincts are to simply run from danger. But deep down, he’s sensed just how evil the First Order is, and his feelings for Rey empower him to become a true hero by the end, standing up to fallen Jedi Kylo Ren even though he doesn’t have any Force powers himself. I’m really looking forward to watching Finn’s character grow in the next two movies, and I also hope we’ll learn a little more about his past.

Luke Skywalker4) Luke Skywalker

Luke Skywalker might not have made my top five list a few years ago, but the character has really grown on me, especially as I rewatched the original trilogy in preparation for The Force Awakens. Luke Skywalker starts the trilogy as an ordinary guy, wishing he could travel the stars. Then, he gets pulled into an adventure he never imagined, and he learns he has the power of the Force. One of the things I love most about Luke is his stubborn sense of idealism. Even when everybody else has written off Darth Vader as an irredeemable villain, Luke still senses the good in him and is willing to risk his own life to bring his father back from the dark side. I’m excited to see what happens to his character in Episode VIII, especially if he’s going to train Rey (spoiler alert — possibly his daughter?).

Ben Skywalker3) Ben Skywalker

Although in the plot for The Force Awakens, Han and Leia have a son named Ben Solo who goes to the dark side and becomes Kylo Ren, in the original Expanded Universe novels (which are now called “Star Wars: Legends” and are considered non-canon by Disney), Luke actually has a son named Ben. Ben was a great character, which is why I was a little sad when Disney ended the Expanded Universe. In the books, Ben is trained by his cousin Jacen Solo, Han and Leia’s son; like Kylo Ren, Jacen does fall to the dark side, but Ben doesn’t succumb to temptation. Like his father, he’s a powerful user of the light side of the Force; he’s determined, smart, and has a great sense of humor. My favorite moments with Ben are in the “Legacy of the Force” and “Fate of the Jedi” series.

Darth Vader2) Darth Vader

Darth Vader is my all-time favorite movie villain and has one of my favorite character arcs in the Star Wars saga. When we first meet him in A New Hope, he’s terrifying: he’s a powerful wielder of the dark side, and he appears to show no mercy to those who oppose him. Although he definitely doesn’t seem like a sympathetic character, the other films in the saga reveal a far more tragic story. Regardless of how you feel about the prequels, Darth Vader does have a really sad back story: he falls from the Jedi Order, unintentionally kills his wife, and is trapped inside a life support suit for the rest of his existence. However, he is not beyond redemption; in the end, he turns away from the dark side and sacrifices his life to save his son, Luke. It’s one of the most powerful and poignant moments in the Star Wars saga.

Han Solo1) Han Solo

When I was a kid, I thought Han Solo was pretty much the coolest person ever, and I’ve still got a soft spot in my heart for a certain scruffy-looking nerf herder. Han Solo starts off as a roguish smuggler with a devil-may-care attitude, and he’s pretty good at pretending he’s just looking out for himself. However, his friendship with Chewie and eventually Luke and Leia show he’s got a softer side, and he eventually becomes a hero in the Rebellion. Spoiler alert! He doesn’t get a happy ending in The Force Awakens, but I like how he’s willing to die doing the right thing, attempting to save his son. And he’ll always live on in the original trilogy as the fearless pilot of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.

Thanks a lot, Ashley! Now it’s my turn.  I have so many favorite characters, it was hard to narrow it down to simply five. My solution to this problem is to make two lists. One of movie characters, as well as one of characters from the old Expanded Universe (where Ben Skywalker resides) and the Clone Wars television series.  First up, are my five favorite non-movie Star Wars characters.

Jaina and Jacen Solo5) Jacen and Jaina Solo

Jacen and Jaina are twins and Han and Leia’s two oldest children from the old Expanded Universe (EU), mentioned earlier by Ashley.  They both become very powerful Jedi under the tutelage of their Uncle Luke.  For the longest time, the two are inseparable.  They quickly proved themselves to be skilled pilots and duelists.  Unfortunately, Jacen couldn’t resists the temptation of the dark side and became Darth Caedus.  It falls on Jaina’s shoulders to stop her brother from taking over the galaxy in the second Galactic Civil War.  What is it with Solo boys and falling to the dark side?

Ahsoka Tano4) Ahsoka Tano

Ahsoka Tano was Anakin’s apprentice during the Clone Wars.  She is everything Anakin is: skilled duelist, great pilot, brash, and constantly spoke out against authority, which earning her the nickname “Snips” from her master.  As Star Wars: The Clone Wars progresses, the viewers get to watch her grow, both in her skills as a fighter and her wisdom as a Jedi. At the beginning of the series she has a single lightsaber.  Eventually, she begins wielding a second, shorter lightsaber and becomes very proficient using dual lightsabers.  After being framed for a crime she didn’t commit, she left the Jedi Order.  For those who watched the entire series, like myself, her leaving was a huge emotional blow.  There is a silver lining however, as since she was no longer a Jedi, she survived Order 66 and she makes another appearance as a much older and wiser Ahsoka in the television series Star Wars: Rebels.

Darth Bane3) Darth Bane

Darth Bane is notable in the Star Wars mythos because he was the Sith responsible for creating the Rule of Two: One Sith to posses the power, the other to crave it.  During his time, there were many Sith, fighting a war with the Jedi all around the galaxy.  He became fascinated with ancient Sith teachings and realized the Sith could not prosper in such numbers because of their selfishness and lust for power.  To eliminate the rest of the Sith, he tricked the leaders into using the Thought Bomb, a strong dark side technique that killed the users, as well as everything around them.  Shortly after, he took up his first apprentice, Darth Zannah.  Darth Bane was an intimidating person, standing at two meters tall! He was also very muscular from working in a mine most of his life. Often he was able to defeat his opponent simply by overwhelming them with strength. For a few years, he even had an organic suit from creatures called orbalisks, making him impervious to blasters and lightsabers.  Darth Bane is one of the most powerful Sith that ever existed, or at least he was in the pre-Disney canon.

2) Mara Jade SkywalkerMara Jade Skywalker

Mara Jade Skywalker is the reason I am so sad the EU is no longer canonical.  Hands down she is one of the most bad-ass women in the entire Star Wars universe.  When she is first introduced, she is a secret warrior for Palpatine called an Emperor’s Hand.  As an Emperor’s Hand, she traveled across the galaxy performing missions for Emperor Palpatine in secrecy.  After the events of Return of the Jedi, she fell in love with Luke Skywalker and birthed their son, Ben.  She was very strong in the force, managing to fight off an alien virus while pregnant and still was able to defeat her enemies in combat.  Talk about girl power!

Cade Skywalker1) Cade Skywalker

Cade Skywalker is hands down my favorite Star Wars character.  He is the main character of the comic series Star Wars Legacy, which takes place 137 years after A New Hope.  What makes him so fascinating is he is a Jedi who doesn’t want to be a Jedi.  Ten years before the story takes place, the Sith rise up once again and eliminate most of the Jedi Order, including Cade’s father, Kol Skywalker.  He becomes a pirate and bounty hunter and refuses to acknowledge his Skywalker heritage.  Before too long, he is once again drawn into the galactic conflict and reluctantly picks up the lightsaber.  But he doesn’t always stay on the straight and narrow.  He regularly channels the dark side, drawing from its power to increase his strength as well as heal others.  It’s a intriguing dynamic that isn’t seen anywhere else in Star Wars.

And now what you all have been waiting for, here are my five favorite Star Wars movie characters.

Darth Maul5) Darth Maul

Darth Maul is criminally underused in the movies.  He is one of the coolest characters to come from The Phantom Menace, and George Lucas kills him! Or so it would seem.  He later returns in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series with a new set of robotic legs.  Maul is one of the few in the Star Wars universe who uses a double-bladed lightsaber and time and again proved his skills with it in duels with characters ranging from Qui-Gon Jinn, General Grievous, and Count Dooku.  It was great that Maul was able to get the development he deserved but it would have been great if he would have had a bigger presence in the films.

Rey4) Rey

Rey is my favorite character to come out of The Force Awakens.  She has no problem taking care of herself in a fight, easily taking down two or three guys at once.  Towards the end of the film, she even takes on Kylo Ren, who has been trained by Luke Skywalker, and manages to hold her own.  Her heritage is a huge mystery right now.  Personally, I’m hoping there is nothing special about where she comes from and she is just a strong, force-sensitive person.  Alas, I don’t think how it will play out. Rey’s story arc is the one I am most looking forward to in the upcoming movies.

Han Solo3) Han Solo

OK, let’s be honest, what Star Wars fan doesn’t like Han Solo?  He’s the bad boy, the guy who your parents warned you about.  When Luke and Obi-Wan first meet him and his co-pilot Chewbacca, he’s only in it for the money. Han doesn’t care about anything except the check.  His charm is irresistible and he tries to play it like he looks out only for himself.  As the series progresses, we realize there is a lot more to him and he actually has a big heart.  In the end, he cares for his friends and family and dies doing what he feels is right.

General Grievous2) General Grievous

General Grievous was introduced in the Star Wars: Clone Wars micro-series that aired from 2003 to 2005, between the releases of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (not to be confused with the series with Ahsoka I mentioned earlier).  When I first saw him, I instantly liked him.  Here was this cyborg, wielding four lightsabers, facing multiple Jedi Masters at once, and winning!  What is more bad-ass than that!?  It is hard to tell from just the movies alone, but Grievous is actually quite the skilled duelist.  Grievous and his MagnaGuard droids trained under Count Dooku.  Before he became a cyborg fighting for the Separatists, he was already an accomplished and skilled fighter on his home planet of Kalee.  Grievous is another character, like Darth Maul, who deserved more screen time to show how great he can truly be.

Darth Vader1) Darth Vader

Darth Vader is without out a doubt the coolest character in the Star Wars saga.  He has one of the best entrances in cinema, his presence alone is unnerving, he is a Sith Lord, fully in control of the dark side of the force, and his men fear him.  It is hard for me to accept that such a strong character came from the Anakin we saw in the prequel trilogy.   The entire saga is based around his rise, fall, and redemption, making it one of the most emotional film series there is.  Anakin just wanted to save the ones he loved and was willing to do whatever it took.  Unfortunately, that path lead to the dark side. Thankfully, his son Luke was able to see past that black armor and realized the good that was still inside of him.  His redemption is one of the best moments of the entire Star Wars saga.

Big thanks to Ashley for joining me in celebrating our love for Star Wars. Be sure to check out her website, Box Office Buzz.

Who are some of your favorite Star Wars characters?

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens Review

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens movie posterSynopsis
Thirty years after the Rebel Alliance defeated the Empire, The First Order threatens the peace of the galaxy, led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). One stormtrooper (John Boyega), defects from the First Order with the help of the Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and along with the scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and the smugglers Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), they join the resistance against the First Order, led by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher).

Star Wars is in my blood. That is as true as Han shoots first. I have been anxiously awaiting the return of Luke, Han, and Leia to the silver screen since Disney bought Lucasfilm. The last time I was remotely this excited for a film was The Lego Movie, and my excitement for Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens exceeds my excitement for that (though not by much actually). Was it worth the hype? I would say yes, but not as much as everyone else seems to think so.

It is very clear that the writers wanted to return to what fans liked about the Original Trilogy. Unfortunately, that meant recycling the plot of A New Hope. The move feels too safe; It leans too much on the nostalgia factor. This type of film should want to give fan service. There are all kinds of references that are inserted into the film without feeling intrusive, which is great. However, fan service also doesn’t mean repeating the story, but with different characters and slightly different settings. Say what you want about the Prequel Trilogy, but each one was different and, for better or worse, told a unique story. When it comes to The Force Awakens, it feels like I’ve seen this story before.

When I left the theater after watching this movie the first time, it felt like there was something off but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then after my second viewing I was able to put words to what I was feeling. To me, this felt more like a middle entry of the trilogy instead of a beginning. This has more to do with Kylo Ren’s development. When we learn who he is, what he did, a certain scene over a certain bridge with a certain someone, they all felt like moments that should have been after spending time with the characters and in the new films. I want to expand on this more because but to do so would go into spoilers. If you want to discuss this more, shoot me an email.

The biggest issue I have with The Force Awakens is how many elements are introduced with very few resolutions. Again, as lauded as The Phantom Menace was, one of the things I thought it did very well was show the political state of the galaxy and exactly how different the Republic was from the Empire we met in A New Hope, although I will admit it dwelt on it too long. Regardless, we were introduced to the First Order, the Resistance, and the New Republic but not given much context how they are related. How big is the First Order? If they are a huge threat, why isn’t the New Republic fighting them directly? Or why did the Republic allow them to get so big if they came from the ashes of the Empire? Why does the resistance need to exist in the first place? I know it is meant to be only the first step in a larger journey and I expect (hope) these questions will be answered in due time but one of A New Hope‘s strong points was despite taking place across an entire galaxy, it kept its scope small and still easily set up a larger universe. The Force Awakens isn’t very self-contained and that bothers me.

I was worried that the returning cast wouldn’t be given the screen time necessary to pass the torch to the new cast. Thankfully, Han Solo has a huge, integral part to play that put those fears to bed. Harrison Ford doesn’t miss a beat returning to everyone’s favorite smuggler. Although, he does have a hard time carrying the film without his original costars, Mark Hamill and Carry Fisher, constantly by his side. This is easy to forgive because he has no problem bouncing off Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. It’s not as satisfying as his chemistry with Hamill and Fisher, but it creates some pretty funny and heartwarming moments.

Within the first few minutes, I knew The Force Awakens was going to be an exhilarating ride. As soon as the first stormtroopers rush the sands of Jakku, it barely slows down to take a breath. Every new scene either begins or ends with a big action piece. JJ Abrams and the rest of the crew are obviously fans of the Original Trilogy because they take every great action sequence from those films, throw them in here, and crank them up to ten. There are space dog fights, land battles, lightsaber duels, and even wild escapes from terrifying creatures. It has some of the best action scenes in the entire saga.

With characters like Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the new characters had a lot to live up to. From the opening scene with Poe Dameron, I knew they weren’t going to have any trouble living up to the legacy left behind for them. Poe is an ace pilot for the Resistance who is criminally underused. Finn, a stromtrooper with a conscience, might be the most interesting. Any previous depictions of stormtroopers show them as mindless and heartless drones. Now we actually get a look under the helmet and realize that there might actually be some morality in there somewhere. Rey is hands down the best new character to come from this next generation of Star Wars. She’s strong, smart, and knows her way around a ship. Daisy Ridley does absolutely magnificent and may be the find of the century.

When it comes to Kylo Ren, I have mixed feelings. It is clear that he is a strong force user (some of his skills include stopping a blaster bolt midair and interrogation techniques that would make Darth Vader jealous), but it is also clear that he is still just a boy with incomplete training. He has temper tantrums and doesn’t have much self-control. He is a stark contrast to Darth Vader, who was always so calm and collected while force choking someone.

Poe’s first interaction with Kylo Ren gave a good idea on the tone for the rest of the film. It is so funny! It reminds me of The Avengers where the comedy was organic and sprang from great chemistry between the characters. Nothing ever felt forced. You could tell the cast was having a blast filming. Finn had his moments with everyone. He and Poe, he and Rey, he even had a moment or two with the adorable BB-8. There are play on words, visual gags, and everything in between. There is a little bit of humor for everybody.

2015 has been a great year for practical effects. First Mad Max: Fury Road, now The Force Awakens. It makes a huge difference when compared to CGI heavy movies. When a movie uses too much CGI, it can remove the audience. While I applaud George Lucas’ willingness to fully embrace CGI in the Original Trilogy special editions and prequels, he embraces it too much, further proving that too much of a good thing can become detrimental. Remember, the special editions and The Phantom Menace were released in the earlier days of CGI (I consider the start of CGI as it is today to be Jurassic Park), so it was good on Lucas to realize what the technology could bring to films. Now, film directors, like JJ Abrams, are moving back to primarily practical effects with CGI to fill in the gaps. It makes a huge difference and greatly enhances the experience.

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens is GOOD :-). There is so much more I want to talk about but then I would be moving into spoiler territory. This is the story Star Wars fans have been waiting for since 1983. The return to practical effects and limited use of CGI makes it feel like I’m watching the original Original Trilogy again. Daisy Ridley is the standout performance but all of the newcomers have great chemistry together and easily fill the big shoes left for them. Great action and comedy is just icing on the cake. However, the recycled plot and introduction of so many elements with few resolutions hold this movie back from being as great as I know it could be.


Cast & Crew
JJ Abrams – Director / Writer
Lawrence Kasdan – Writer
Michael Arndt – Writer
John Williams – Composer

Harrison Ford – Han Solo
Carrie Fisher – Princess Leia
Mark Hamill – Luke Skywalker
Peter Mayhew – Chewbacca
Anthony Daniels – C-3PO
Daisy Ridley – Rey
John Boyega – Finn
Adam Driver – Kylo Ren
Oscar Isaac – Poe Dameron
Lupita Nyong’o – Maz Kanata
Andy Serkis – Supreme Leader Snoke
Domhnall Gleeson – General Hux
Gwendoline Christie – Captain Phasma
Pip Torrens – Colonel Kaplan
Simon Pegg – Unkar Plutt
Max von Sydow – Lor San Tekka

Also read my reviews for the rest of the Star Wars saga: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.

What movie do you want to view for the first time again?

Hey there, my dear readers,

As you know, unless you have been living under a rock, Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally hits theaters this Friday, or Thursday if you have early tickets like I do. To get ready for the long awaited continuation of the journey that saw the defeat of the evil Galactic Empire over 32 years ago, many people are getting Star Wars fever, myself included.  I have read more Star Wars reviews in the last week than in the 2+ years I have been blogging.  That’s not a bad thing. Quite the opposite, I love hearing what others have to say about my favorite movie saga.  This surge in Star Wars love has made me think about how much Star Wars has been a part of my life.

My feelings towards the Original Trilogy

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know Star Wars.  For as long as I can remember, I was on Tatooine buying droids from Jawas with Luke Skywalker and his uncle.  For as long as I can remember, I was with Luke on his heroic run through the trench of the Death Star when he made the impossible shot through an exhaust port that was no bigger than a womp rat.  For as long as I can remember, I was with the Rebels when their base was discovered on Hoth. For as long as I could remember, I was on the Millennium Falcon as Han Solo navigated through an asteroid field. I could go on, but the point is, this epic journey has always been a part of me.

My dad is a big Star Wars fan, so I was exposed to them when I was very young, literally before my long term memory kicked in.  I just kind of knew about the films. Which means the big revelation at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is completely lost to me. It was always just a fact, so I don’t know my reaction to finding that out.  Honestly, I don’t know if I was taken aback or even if I comprehended what Darth Vader was revealing.

The best twist in cinema history.

This topic has come up in my circle of friends before and I have seen it every now and then in one corner or another of the internet but it is still an interesting concept to ponder.  The idea is this:

What movie or movie series do you want to watch for the first time again?

If you could experience that sense of enchantment by the unknown again, the wonder of what lies ahead, to see a with fresh eyes again, what would it be?  I would without a doubt choose the original Star Wars trilogy.  To relive the adventure of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia again would be a dream come true. To see the opening of A New Hope, to witness Darth Vader’s identity revealed in The Empire Strikes Back, to hear Luke declare he is a Jedi and won’t give in to the dark side of the force in Return of the Jedi would be the biggest do-over I could ever ask for.

No matter how many times I hear Luke say this, I still get excited.

What about you? If you could neuralize the memory of your first viewing of a specific film, think of a reverse Total Recall, what would it be? There are many reasons to want to forget a film and watch it again. From reliving a jaw-dropping twist/reveal, to hearing your favorite movie jokes without knowing the punchline, to experiencing a good scare, to simply going through an exciting adventure and not knowing what’s in store for the heroes, to countless other reasons.  Please leave a comment below explaining what movie or movie series you want to experience for the first time again and why.


My Fave Five John Williams Movie Scores

I have stressed in several of my reviews how much a great score can contribute to a film.  A great composer can take what they see on screen and translate that into music, amplifying the emotion or set the atmosphere.  Having been a musician myself, I have a deep appreciation for the time and effort that goes into music making.  As a result, I tend to really listen to a film’s score and get into the emotion of it (or try to anyway).  Whenever I go into a film and I see that John Williams is the composer, I know I’m in for a musical treat.  He is without a doubt my favorite film composer.  Williams knows his way around the heart of a film and can strengthen it like few other composers can.  He can capture strong and powerful or soft sweet and everything in between. He can create tension, making you scrunch in your seat, or alleviate it, and bring you closer to the characters.  Alright, enough about my musical man-crush, here are my five favorite John Williams movie scores.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie poster5) Harry Potter 1 – 3

I was a part of the Harry Potter Generation.  It may not have been as big for me as it was for others, but I still really enjoyed the series, both the books and the films.  For the longest time, I never realized that Williams was the composer for the first three Harry Potter movies.  It wasn’t until it showed up on my film scores playlist on Pandora that I was like, “Holy smokes, no wonder I like it so much.”  Although the Harry Potter films may be one of Williams more recent scores, it has quickly become just as iconic as some of his previous scores.  I would say the Harry Potter theme has become almost as recognizable as any others on this list.

4) Jaws Jaws movie poster

Remember in the introduction when I mentioned a music can help set the atmosphere?  I was mostly referencing this movie when I said that.  Jaws is a good movie, but it is the score that makes it great.  It helps create a tension the film would otherwise lack.  The signature Duuuunnn duuunnn is enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine, even if they are nowhere near the water.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie poster3) Indiana Jones series

I couldn’t tell you what exactly draws me towards the music of the Indiana Jones series.  Every time I hear it, I want to jump on a horse and ride into some booby-trap infested temple.  Then I remember if that if I were to enter that kind of place I wouldn’t make it through like Indy, instead I would be like Satipo (Alfred Molina).  With each film in the original trilogy, the music gets better and better.  But none of it beats the Raiders March, the theme song that carries through all movies.

2) Jurassic Park  Jurassic Park movie poster

The score of Jurassic Park will always put me in a good mood, no matter how I’m feeling.  Few movie scores can really fill me with emotion the way this one does.  Every time I hear the Jurassic Park theme, I can’t help but think of the opening shot of the park itself with several dinosaur species roaming around the open field and getting a drink from the lake and the late Richard Attenborough saying “Welcome to Jurassic Park.”  It is so grandiose I am just filled with a strong sense of positive emotion almost instantaneously.

Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope movie poster1) Star Wars Saga

Star Wars has had a huge impact in cinema.  I would say the original trilogy one of the reasons I am the cinefile I am today.  At the heart of all the films (including the next trilogy) is Williams’ score.  I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but every time I hear any piece of music from any of the Star Wars movies I get swept away.  The highlights for me are Duel of the Fates from The Phantom Menace and Battle of the Heroes from Revenge of the Sith.  Both songs completely capture the emotion of the lightsaber duels on screen and is the pinnacle of what the amazing John Williams is capable of.

Come back tomorrow for the Movie Quote of the Week and the answer to yesterday’s Movie Whose Line (which you can guess here).  What is your favorite John Williams film score?

Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Review

Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith movie posterSynopsis
Three years after the start of the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) begins having nightmares about the death of his wife, Padme (Natalie Portman). Hoping not to lose his wife the same way he lost his mother, he searches for a way to prevent her death. He confides in his friend Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) who offers him a solution: learn about the Dark Side of the Force from the Chancellor.

This is it. This is what Star Wars fans have been waiting for since Obi-Wan and Darth Vader first dueled on screen in Star Wars: A New Hope : Anakin’s turn towards the dark side. This easily is the most action-packed of the Star Wars films. It starts in the middle of a dogfight above the planet Coruscant and ends with one of my favorite movie sword fights. The epicness of the large battle seen at the end of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones flows into this movie. Several scenes share the scale of that battle, but are broken up into smaller sequences. Although General Grievous (voiced by Mathew Wood) may not have a strong presence in the movies (The Clone Wars television show is another story), he is one of the most menacing villains, and one of my favorite Star Wars characters (he’s a four lightsaber wielding cyborg, how is that not awesome?). The relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan was built much more than in Attack of the Clones, which is where I feel it should have been built in the first place. Once again, Christensen’s Anakin is the weakest part of this film. Christensen is monotonous and Anakin acts like a child. Although it still has some flaws, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is the strongest movie in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.



Cast & Crew
George Lucas – Director / Writer
John Williams – Composer

Ewan McGregor – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Hayden Christensen – Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman – Padme Amadala
Ian McDiarmid – Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Mathew Wood – General Grievous (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson – Mace Windu
Frank Oz – Yoda (voice)
Jimmy Smits – Senator Bail Organa
Temuera Morrison – Commander Cody
Anthony Daniels – C-3PO
Kenny Baker – R2-D2
Peter Mayhew – Chewbacca
Christopher Lee – Count Dooku

Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones Review

Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones movie posterSynopsis
Ten years after becoming Obi-Wan Kenobi’s (Ewan McGregor) apprentice, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is turning into a skilled Jedi Knight. They are assigned to protect Padme Amadala (Natalie Portman) after an assassination attempt on her life. Anakin returns to Naboo with Padme while Obi-Wan’s search leads him to the cloning planet of Kamino, where he meets the bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) and his clone army. Meanwhile, the Sepratists, lead by the mysterious Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), are amassing an army, putting the Republic on the brink of war.

The Star Wars prequel trilogy seems to follow the same format as the original trilogy. The first movie, The Phantom Menace, introduced the main character and focused more on the action, like Star Wars: A New Hope. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is much like Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back where it is more concerned with building the characters and setting them up for the final installment in the trilogy.

Other than for special effects, the Star Wars films have simply dabbled with CGI before but they never fully embraced it. With this film, there is a heavier use of CGI for characters, leading to the creation of some pretty good looking species. The animatronics and makeup may look better, but some of the creatures could not have been done that way. Also, Yoda is converted from puppet to digital for the first time. His transfer went pretty well. Some of the action sequences he does towards the end could not have done with a puppet.

I really like Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi. I thought he did Well in The Phantom Menace as the Padawan but he does equally as well, if not better, as the mentor. I’m not sure if he was trying to do an imitation of Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan from the original trilogy) or not, but there were glimpses of Guinness’ Obi-Wan showing through. He is easily the highlight of this movie.

The last forty or so minutes is probably the largest and most epic battle of the entire Star Wars Saga. It is such a large scale fight, I can’t think of many that can compare. It is also unique in the Star Wars movies because it is one continuous scene, rather than showing part of it then cutting away to show part of something else. Even during the climactic lightsaber duel, it doesn’t cut away, allowing the focus to stay on those particular events. At the very end, the Imperial March plays while the camera pans over the Clone Army, giving some great foreshadowing about events to come later in the saga. I would have rated this movie a half-point lower if I didn’t enjoy this last act so much.

My biggest problems with Attack of the Clones is Anakin. He comes across as a love-sick puppy. Some of his lines, particularly those between him and Padme seem like they were pulled from an afternoon soap opera. The film shows hints of Anakin moving towards the Dark Side, showing he is full of emotion (mostly anger), but it makes him look even more like a child. I have a hard time believing this whiny kid would become one of the most badass villains in cinema.

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is the low point in the Star Wars saga. This is mainly due to the central character of Anakin. He comes across as a whiny, love-sick brat who in no way resembles the awesome character he will become. Despite this, there are still some redeeming qualities. The visuals looks great, Ewan McGregor fully comes into the mentor role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the battle between the clone and droid armies is one of the most grandiose of any in all the Star Wars movies. If Anakin’s character growth had been handled differently, Attack of the Clones would have been an entirely different movie, and probably one more deserving of the character.



Cast & Crew
George Lucas – Director / Story / Screenplay
Jonathan Hales – Screenplay
John Williams – Composer

Ewan McGregor – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Hayden Christensen – Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman – Padme Amadala
Ian McDiarmid – Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Samuel L. Jackson – Mace Windu
Frank Oz – Yoda (voice)
Temuera Morrison – Jango Fett
Daniel Logan – Boba Fett
Christopher Lee – Count Dooku
Leeanna Walman – Zam Wesell
Anthony Daniels – C-3PO
Kenny Baker – R2-D2
Jay Laga-aia – Captain Typho
Jack Thompson – Cliegg Lars
Silas Carson – Ki-Adi-Mundi / Viceroy Nute Gunray