When the brand new Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries hits Disney Plus Friday, it’s going to present a direct bridge between the prequels and the unique trilogy. Which suggests now’s the right time to rediscover the unique Star Wars movies.
It is simpler than ever to pay money for the whole run of Star Wars motion pictures: they’re all on Disney Plus or obtainable to lease and purchase. However you face a dilemma: if you happen to watch them within the order they had been made, you get the unique (and finest) trilogy out of the way in which first and it is just about downhill from there.
Alternatively, if you happen to watch the prequel trilogy first, you do not get the massive twist.
That is the place a Star Wars-loving genius named Rod Hilton is available in. A couple of years in the past, this devoted fan got here up with a manner of preserving the twist and saving the perfect bits, by merely watching the movies in a unique order. He named his technique ‘the Machete Order’, after his weblog.
Hilton argues that the Star Wars saga is the story of Luke Skywalker, and the story offered within the prequels is barely related the place it offers background to Luke’s journey. So he suggests watching the movies within the following order:
- Episode IV: A New Hope
- Episode V: The Empire Strikes Again
- Episode II: Assault of the Clones
- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Bought that? We begin initially of Luke’s journey; then on the midpoint cliffhanger we flash again to the prequels to study the background of the massive twist. Then, lastly, we return to Luke’s story for the massive climax. That leads completely into The Drive Awakens, which picks up some 30-odd years after the tip of Return of the Jedi.
You’ll have noticed one thing lacking. Sure, the Machete Order fully ignores The Phantom Menace. It’s because the surprisingly self-contained Phantom Menace would not add to the overarching story, and it really makes some issues extra sophisticated or complicated. Plus, it is fairly horrible.
However does the Machete Order work? It was CNET editor Donald Bell’s best choice out of 5 doable watching orders; there are delicate indications in CNET colleague Jeff Sparkman’s Information to Could the 4th that he prefers it as effectively. However I wanted to see for myself. I cleared my schedule, set my WhatsApp standing to busy and devoted myself to watching all 5 motion pictures within the order specified above, as a result of that is simply the sort of brave investigative journalist I’m.
That is what I realized…
The galaxy was fairly horrible even earlier than the Empire
Even earlier than the evil Empire is established, issues may be fairly bleak in that there galaxy far, distant. Between the venal Hutts and the greedy Commerce Federation, the prequels present that greed was some of the highly effective forces within the galaxy. There’s even slavery, which the Jedi are surprisingly chill about.
Dropping Jar Jar is price shedding Darth Maul
One of many many criticisms of The Phantom Menace was the large quantity of display screen time for painfully unfunny CGI sidekick Jar Jar Binks. Thankfully he is barely within the different two prequels, so while you lower Menace you largely lower out Jar Jar, in addition to the stultifying political subplots and cringingly mishandled portrayal of Anakin Skywalker as a floppy-haired moppet. Sadly you additionally lower the searingly cool Darth Maul, however watch this video and you have seen all the things you must see:
Within the curiosity of journalistic rigour I watched Phantom Menace individually after I was executed with the Machete Order, and the actual fact I fell asleep midway via proves you are not lacking something.
You most likely needn’t watch the prequels in any respect, most likely
Revenge of the Sith is well the perfect of the prequels, just because it is so bleak. It is actually intense and violent and bloodthirsty, and it is enormously satisfying to see Anakin embrace the darkish aspect as he lightsabers his manner via mainly everybody within the solid. I might advise you to press Cease the second you first hear that particular hiss, nevertheless, as a result of the previous few minutes are a bit foolish.
Seeing as we have already chucked out The Phantom Menace, why not chuck out Assault of the Clones as effectively and simply preserve Revenge? Nicely, Clones does a whole lot of heavy lifting when it comes to the story, however if you happen to’re ready to gloss over the origins of the Stormtrooper clone military you would simply ditch it too. Though frankly, you do not actually want Revenge of the Sith both…
You may need to observe The Phantom Menace in spite of everything
That mentioned, The Phantom Menace is technically the primary time we meet a younger Skywalker on Tatooine, which suggests it tees up among the stuff we’ll see in Obi-Wan Kenobi. The sequence will draw parallels between younger Anakin and younger Luke, each marooned within the desert and dreaming of being pilots.
The prequels are a missed alternative
If we began selecting holes within the prequels we would be right here all day, so I am going to skip straight to my greatest drawback: they spend a whole lot of time and a whole lot of effort explaining issues we already know from the unique motion pictures, after which inexplicably gloss over many issues we do not know. Comparable to, who really are the villainous Sith? When Darth Maul says, “Ultimately we may have revenge,” revenge for what? Why is Palpatine so evil?
These and plenty of different questions are little question answered within the numerous books, comics and different no-longer-canonical Expanded Universe tales that encompass the movies, however for me, the most important failing of the prequels is that they do not take the chance so as to add new data to boost our viewing of the basic trilogy.
However they’re, like, completely related at present
It is laborious to get excited in regards to the prequel’s political subplot in a taxation dispute, however when you ditch Phantom Menace then the evil scheme is definitely surprisingly related to our world. The prequels give us a politician manipulating an exterior risk with a view to usher society to struggle, lowering freedom whereas claiming to be guaranteeing these very freedoms, and promising that the brand new totalitarian regime ensures “safety” and “peace”. Makes you, like, suppose, y’know?
The Empire did not design the Demise Star
Able to destroying an entire planet in a single obscene technological stroke, the Demise Star is the embodiment of the Empire’s hate-filled, unnatural creed. However a scene in Assault of the Clones means that it was really thought up by random CGI aliens the Geonosians, suggesting that one in every of Palpatine’s motives for the entire scheme was to get his arms on the plans.
Star Wars is gloriously daft
What’s the Jawas’ enterprise mannequin? Are there actually that many droids misplaced within the desert? What do the asteroid monster and the Sarlacc eat to get so large? Do the Ewoks run a logging operation, as a result of they certain have a whole lot of timber at hand? Why does Princess Leia have a bizarre British accent in a single scene and one scene solely? And why does the working gag the place an alien says one thing unintelligible and the human actor replies in English nonetheless make me giggle each time?
Puppets are nice
Surprisingly, the unique motion pictures from the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties have — to my eyes at the very least — dated higher than the prequels from the Nineteen Nineties and 2000s. Each units of movies have a particular look to their results, with the bodily puppetry and mannequin work of the originals, and the computer-generated imagery of the prequels. Certain, the originals aren’t excellent — the speeder chase in Return of the Jedi is especially shonky when considered at present — however the distinctive jerkiness of the basic results comes with a physicality that makes them really feel very actual.
By comparability, the CGI sheen of the prequels is horribly unconvincing. The in depth use of CGI to create even easy units means at occasions the prequels cannot even persuade you the individuals you are seeing are standing in an actual room.
You possibly can see the distinction within the character of Yoda. Within the originals, he could transfer a bit stiffly, however that turns into a part of his persona. Within the prequels, he is a cartoon character. Take a look at the Stormtroopers, too. Within the originals they’re a military of scarily faceless troopers. Within the prequels, they bob about within the background like nonplayable characters in a online game.
One of the crucial jarring moments comes close to the tip of Revenge of the Sith, when Obi-Wan boards the starship seen within the opening moments of A New Hope. After two movies’ price of CGI units, we’re instantly on a correct bodily set and the distinction is palpable.
C-3PO is nice
I by no means actually seen C-3PO as a child, however as an grownup I discovered him hilarious. “Do not name me a senseless thinker, you chubby glob of grease!” Talking of which…
R2-D2 is all the things
Severely. Saving the day on numerous events, the plucky R2-D2 is a bin on legs and but remains to be some of the relatable characters in cinema historical past.
The Millennium Falcon could be alive
Whereas we’re with regards to droids with personalities, in Empire Strikes Again, C-3PO is dispatched to speak to the Millennium Falcon, a spaceship, to work out what’s flawed with it. C-3PO says, “I do not know the place your ship realized to speak, nevertheless it has essentially the most peculiar dialect.” Perhaps droids and spaceships are a part of the Drive too? Maybe in a galaxy that incorporates the Drive there is not the identical distinction between inanimate expertise and pure life as in our world. Which may clarify why so many droids are cowards and Normal Grievous has a cough.
That is my dumb concept, anyway. As a result of rewatching the movies permits you to consider fan theories, just like the suggestion that everybody within the Star Wars universe is illiterate or that Jar Jar Binks is the actual evil mastermind behind all the things that goes on.
The particular editions aren’t very particular
Digital variations of the movies are based mostly on 1997’s Particular Version releases, which inserted deleted scenes and up to date some results. A number of of the brand new CGI results stick out like a sore thumb, most egregiously the musical sequence crowbarred into the start of “Return of the Jedi”. Nevertheless, watching within the Machete Order, the inserted intergalactic celebrations on the finish of “Jedi” do tie the ultimate movie along with the prequels.
Characters are all the things
Spectacular particular results are cool, however you possibly can’t beat good characters. So whereas it is fairly enjoyable to see the Jedi wade en masse into a military of robots with lightsabers flashing in “Assault of the Clones”, that prolonged battle sequence is nowhere close to as compelling because the much less visually spectacular however nonetheless heart-stopping duels between Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker — as a result of we care who wins.
The casting is wonderful
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill simply are Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker — no marvel everyone seems to be so excited for his or her return in “The Drive Awakens”. Anthony Daniels, Frank Oz and James Earl Jones all do unbelievable voice work, whereas Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness and Ian McDiarmid convey gravitas to the proceedings.
And casting might be the most important component within the favor of the prequels too. Ewan McGregor as a youthful model of Alec Guinness? Samuel L Jackson as a Jedi? Christopher Lee because the baddie? Sure please. And that is not together with Phantom Menace stars Brian Blessed, Liam Neeson and Terence Stamp.
Sadly, they’re largely wasted. Samuel L Jackson would not get to do very a lot both and Christopher Lee is barely in it. Ewan MacGregor has publicly lamented the issue of performing on a inexperienced display screen, however he was additionally let down by the odd resolution to make Obi-Wan a comic book character — however that adjustments within the 2022 miniseries.
Jonny Briggs’ dad is in it
The nice casting would not cease on the fundamental gamers. US viewers will little question recognise Cliff from “Cheers” as one of many insurgent pilots. However British viewers can take pleasure in recognizing a number of actors from common UK telly of the ’80s and ’90s, typically carrying an Imperial uniform and sporting spectacular sideburns. These ‘I do know that man!’ faces embody Julian Glover and Michael Sheard, who each appeared in Indiana Jones and the Final Campaign, in addition to Leslie Schofield, TV perennial who was a villain in sci-fi basic Blake’s 7 and performed the dad in mid-’80s kids’s present Jonny Briggs.
My favorite must be Barrie Holland, nevertheless. Not as a result of he is a well known face — each half he is ever performed is listed on IMDB as “uncredited” — however as a result of in “Return of the Jedi” he delivers the immortal line “You insurgent scum!” with actually applause-worthy relish. In actual fact, most of the extras and bit gamers have fascinating tales of their very own, a few of that are advised within the pleasant documentary Elstree 1976.
They had been making it up as they went alongside
George Lucas may declare he all the time had a grand plan, nevertheless it’s fairly apparent he was winging a whole lot of it. Luke and Leia’s kiss, Leia remembering her mom, Obi-Wan not recognising C-3PO and R2-D2, the Empire rising up in like 20 years throughout which period Obi-Wan turns into an outdated man, Han’s skepticism to the Drive when he was clearly alive when the Jedi had been nonetheless round, Luke and Leia hidden in the obvious locations ever… the listing goes on.
And it’s very fantastic! As a result of…
Star Wars is good
It truly is. Like many followers, I might constructed up an enormous quantity of emotional and psychological baggage round Star Wars, though I hadn’t really watched the movies for a few years. Making a aware effort to take a seat down and watch them with a clear slate, particularly within the recontextualised Machete Order, allowed me to take pleasure in them in a manner I by no means had earlier than, and bear in mind all of the issues I and so many individuals love.
Rediscovering Star Wars has been an absolute pleasure. For this fan, the Drive is effectively and actually reawakened.
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