Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Questionable Star Wars vol. 9

So they filmed number four first.... but it’s probably the best. Or maybe five is number one? Confusing. One thing is for sure, number two is a whole bunch of number two.

Question: "Rank the movies from best to worst."

Scott's Answer:
The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars
Return of the Jedi/Revenge of the Sith (tie)
The Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
We'll discuss it more in the comments but Jedi and Sith both have some good stuff in them and some tedious stuff as well. The Phantom Menace has Liam Neeson (who brings authenticity to everything he does - even this) and, in retrospect, there's a certain amount of nostalgia that I have for it, what with it having been the first new SW film in many years and all the marketing hype. For better or worse, it was an Event with a capital "E." Attack of the Clones, on the other hand, is weight down by the poorly-written love story and a finale which is all over the place. "Begun, the Clone Wars have." Really, Yoda? Are wars always named in the first five minutes of fighting? [smile]

Andrew's Answer:
Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back
The Phantom Menace
Return of the Jedi
Revenge of the Sith
Attack of the Clones
I love Empire, but Star Wars holds a special place in my heart. Jedi, honestly left me cold. Clowns sucked. I have to admit that despite its massive flaws, I want to like Phantom Menace. I love Neeson and the feel of the first half of the film, even if the plot sucked Bantha doodoo.

45 comments:

Commander Max said...

Star Wars(the original version) is the best of the lot, the first normally is. From there I go in order.
For me at the time the ships were all I was really paying attention to.

Andrew I figure you want to like PM, for the same reason I wanted to. Food for the starving man, we wanted more SW when Lucas made it we were all so jazzed, and worked up. Only to face disappointment. I think the Nubian(chrome ship) was one of the best ships in SW.

The last two films? Hey Disney how about a reboot. If you can make them more like the original ST.

K said...

Star Warz (Lucas catches lighting in a bottle)
The Empire Strikes Back (a creditable sequel)
_
_
_
Return of the Jedi (Ewoks as Viet Cong. Why George, why?)

Attack of the Clones (great design work on the Star Warz merchandise introduced)

Revenge of the Sith (great opening SFX, after that meh)

The Phantom Menace(Obnoxious kid, The Force = infection. Why George, why?)

Dave Olson said...

Not that I'm turning into a grumpy old man or anything, but I'm going way out on a limb and predicting that Episode 7 will make "Phantom" look like "Empire". Say what you will about GL's directorial style, he rejected shaky-cam and lens flaring...which is about the only good thing you can say about the prequels.

Anyway, 4 and 5 are in a Celebrity Death Match for best of the series; 5 is clearly a superior work of film, but 4 started it all and it's my "Hypothetical Desert Island" movie. (You're stranded on an island with a solar-powered iPad loaded with precisely one movie to watch.) The rest of the series can go scratch. If it hadn't been for the magnificent twist in 5, would anyone really care what the other movies were?

Anonymous said...

The Empire Strikes Back - The masterpiece of them all
Star Wars (should we call it A New Hope?) - The original, but still has flaws.
Return of the Jedi - Ewoks really? But it had the metal bikini...
Revenge of the Sith - He killed the younglings... At least the saga was over
The Phantom Menace - Overwhelming joy mixed in with bitter disappointment
Attack of the Clones - WORST LOVE STORY EVER! But at least it had less Jar Jar.

Scott.

rlaWTX said...

the originals - in order...
(and I still like the silly little Ewoks)

However, you keep mentioning these other movies with phantoms, sith, and clones, but I do not recall them. Perhaps they are simply a figment of your overactive imaginations after a dinner of bad shrimp and cold pizza?

AndrewPrice said...

Max, That's true. I think the thing the first prequel has which the others don't is potential. It starts well because it takes time to build up the horror that is to come. So you can still enjoy the first few minutes.

rlaWTX said...

If I acknowledged their existence, this would be the best synopsis of the tragedy called the "prequels": "It starts well because it takes time to build up the horror that is to come. So you can still enjoy the first few minutes. "

AndrewPrice said...

K, Great design work on Star Wars merchandise. Yeah, that sums it up.

AndrewPrice said...

Dave, I agree, 7 will make us long for the days of the 1-3. I'm envisioning a cross between Pirates of the Caribbean 7 and Transformers 5.

Star Wars is on my desert island list too.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Those are all excellent points. I totally agree about the "overwhelmed with joy mixed with bitter disappointment" too. That film held such amazing promise and it died frame by frame.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, A wise policy to blank out the existence of the so-called prequels... if there is indeed such a thing.

:) Yeah, I think that should be the tag line for the first one... and probably the seventh.

BIG MO said...

Empire - a true masterpiece in every way
Star Wars - great, but in a rare instance, surpassed by its sequel
Revenge of the Sith - satisfying, though flawed
Return of the Jedi - good but not the equal of the other two originals
Attack of the Clones - OK, not great, massive flaws
Phantom Menace - OK, not great, massive flaws (placed lower than Ep II because the acting was so flat; Ep II was livelier)

I actually like the prequels, flaws and all (*ducks to avoid flung tomatoes*). I think the stories are great. The thing is, Lucas creates terrific rough drafts with potentially dynamite characters. But the rough draft is ultimately what appears on screen: little plot refinement, laughable dialogue, Death Star-sized plot holes, etc. that looks and sounds fantastic.

If you could take the best parts of Eps I, II and III and write new movies around them, you could have superior films:

I = the pod race, Darth Maul, and the lightsaber duel between Maul, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan

II = speeder chase through Coruscant, Obi-Wan vs. Jango Fett (especially the landing platform fight), Count Dooku "interrogates" Obi-Wan, and the final lightsaber duel

III = Coruscant battle, Anakin vs. Dooku, Palpatine's legends, Palpatine vs. Mace Windu & company, Anakin's betrayal, the betrayal of the clones, and the ultimate light saber clash of the entire saga, Sidious vs. Yoda and Anakin vs. Obi-Wan

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, That's a good point. When you just look at the outline, the stories seem like they should make good films, but the problem is that he just can't handle the details. His dialog is horrid. His sequencing is horrid. His staging is horrid. Lucas may be a good big picture guy, but he really needs to hand off his projects to competent directors/writers.

djskit said...

Andrew - I saw what you did there...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx2nFt-x7r4

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! Nice catch djskit! :)

Tennessee Jed said...

What, there were more than three? Liked the first one the best. There was a certain, "wow" factor that is impossible to dup;irate, AND it stands wonderfully on it's on.

BTW, this is not meant in any way to hijack this thread, but for Bond fans who have Blu-Ray, Best Buy is having a sale on individual Bond movies at $7.99 this week as part of the promotion for SKYFALL. I picked up several, and viewed Dr. No earlier this afternoon. They had the original camera negatives, and used Lowry Digital Images to do the restoration. Using DTS Master 5.1 soundtrack, these are absolutely stunning. Played back on my Oppo player and Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED Series projector, I was literally looking at details in the fabric of Connery's suit that I had never seen. Not sure if this is a "while supplies last: deal, but if you love the Bond films, this is the way to see them, so scurry on down to your local Best Buy.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Rumor has it that there are three more films about Star Wars floating around. :P

Thanks for the tip. I may go buy those. I love the JB series (actually planning to start talking about it next week).

ScottDS said...

Max -

"Food for the starving man," indeed! The excitement was palpable to say the least. I even remember the reports of people going to see Meet Joe Black and The Waterboy just for a possible glimpse of the teaser trailer, then leaving after the trailer was over.

ScottDS said...

K -

I'd call Empire more than credible. :-)

And you're right - Clones did introduce some cool-looking tech and my hat is off to the designers (guys like Doug Chiang and Ryan Church) and ILM for the stellar work they did.

Yeah, midichlorians. I wouldn't even have much of a problem with it if George hadn't made it sound like "mitochondria." As if we wouldn't get the connection.

Kenn Christenson said...

Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back

all the other films are dead to me. :)

ScottDS said...

Dave -

We'll see. Lucas' directing style was… nothing if not efficient. THX-1138 is pretty expressive at times and he was forced to shoot much of American Graffiti documentary-style. But Star Wars and the prequels? They get the job done.

I doubt the new film will look as good as Empire, which is still IMHO the best looking of all six. Maybe JJ can hook up with Peter Suschitzky, the cinematographer on that film - he's still working. Then again, all JJ has to do is say, "Give me lens flares!"

ScottDS said...

Anon/Scott -

I like the way you think. :-)

In the Red Letter Media review, they mentioned something interesting about Clones. How cool would it have been if Padme was the love-lorn one forcing Anakin into an inappropriate relationship? Food for thought...

ScottDS said...

rla -

The Ewoks never bothered me that much… my problem is that the movie sloooows doooown once they get to Endor and it takes a while for things to pick up again.

ScottDS said...

BIG MO -

You're right. The raw materials were there and it did feel like Lucas simply filmed the rough draft. He should've brought in another writer or two, but I'm wondering if he was forbidden from doing so because of his relationship (or lack thereof) with the unions.

The script for Clones is co-credited to one Jonathan Hales but I'm wondering where Lucas' work ends and his work begins.

ScottDS said...

Jed -

I picked up the entire Bond set a few months ago. Most of the movies look great but from what I've read, there are still little errors here and there: a shot tinted the wrong color, a music cue remixed too loudly - that sort of thing.

And they apparently used an older master for GoldenEye which doesn't look as good as it should.

For the initial Blu-Ray Bond releases, they actually re-created the documentaries in HD… but for the remaining titles, they didn't. So half the making-of documentaries are beautiful 16x9 while the other half are fuzzy 4x3.

And yes, there were more than three SW films. :-)

ScottDS said...

Kenn -

Don't mince words - what do you really think? :-)

K said...

ScottDS: I wouldn't even have much of a problem with it if George hadn't made it sound like "mitochondria."

Yes, there's that.

For me, "The Force" was a large part of the underlying myth/religion to the first 3 movies.
It was vague enough to be interpreted according to the viewer's own background without getting in anyone's philosophical or theological face about it.


Lucas apparently decided that would never do and "explained" it for us, thereby smashing part of the myth so he could .... what?

Now that I think about it, I'd like to revise my first post:

Star Warz (Lucas catches lighting in a bottle)
The Empire Strikes Back (okay, a very creditable sequel)
_
_
Return of the Jedi (Marketable teddy bears as Viet Cong.
_
_
_
Star Warz where Han doesn't shoot first.

ScottDS said...

K -

Good call on Han shooting first. I think most people wouldn't have a problem with the Special Editions if Lucas hadn't changed the actions of the characters! (And if he made the originals available, but that can of worms was opened a long time ago.) :-)

As for the Force, I agree 110%. I don't even know why Lucas made that choice - it wasn't necessary. Maybe Liam Neeson could've "sensed" something and that would've been that.

tryanmax said...

My ranking is the same as release order. My sincere hope is that the next trilogy changes that. I don't really have anything to add to the discussion.

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

Thanks for chiming in anyway! Release order's a pretty good order.

(And feel free to comment on my Die Hard review from last week.) :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Kenn, Excellent thought! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I don't know what the problem is with the unions, but that's no excuse. Give me 20 years to prepare three movies and I would have a script finished and polished long before I ever showed up with a camera or hired actors. Star Wars isn't something you throw together at the last second.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Excellent hopes. :)

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

He started writing them in 1994, though I;m sure he had years of notes by that point.

With the unions, because Lucas resigned from the DGA during Empire (and possibly the WGA though I'm not sure), he may have been forbidden from working with union talent.

But you're right. He should've known better.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - I honestly didn't really want the whole set since there are simply a bunch of Roger Moore/Jaws/Rocket ship type films that just never interested me. I mainly picked up the early Connery films, though I actually liked Timothy Dalton as well. The Wilderness Years if you will. I can only speak for Dr. No, and certainly didn't go into slow mo and pause with a frame by frame microscope analysis. Overall, the look of Dr. No was fantastic, and gave me a whole new appreciation for the film. I still say the first shot of Connery in his tux saying "the name's Bond ... James Bond ..." forever sealed the character. It was, of course, the first Fleming novel to be filmed.

ScottDS said...

Jed -

No worries. The earlier Connery films do look excellent. (And there are geeks out there who will do a frame-by-frame analysis!)

I just caught the introductory scene from Dr. No on TV the other night at random. That first shot... iconic stuff.

And with a Target gift card burning a hole in my pocket, I picked up Skyfall today.

Dave Olson said...

Big Mo mentioned the "best parts" of the prequels. I wonder if we'll ever get to see Topher Grace's re-edit.

ScottDS said...

Dave -

I'd forgotten about Topher's version.

If you want to see a really cool re-edit, Google a guy named "adywan." He's working on Empire as we speak, but for the first film, he redid some color timing, recut some scenes, fixed countless mistakes, and yes, Han shoots first again.

This link leads to a Google document detailing all of the changes he made, mostly for the better.

Jason said...

When I was a kid, my favorite SW film tended to be a toss-up between Star Wars and Return of the Jedi. Not saying I didn’t like Empire, but from a kid’s point of view, it was a little harder to understand and the ending, being a cliffhanger, didn’t fully satisfy. It was a little disturbing to see Han get frozen in carbonite and have the movie end with him not being rescued yet. The other two were more fun and had rousing finales you couldn’t wait to get to.

Of course, fast forward to adulthood, where maturity has, heh heh, changed how I look at the movies, I have to say I adore what Kershner and company did with Empire. Imagine a movie where the heroes can do nothing but run from the evil force, and the resolution isn’t victory but just escape. And of course, much of the movie is also Luke’s personal quest to become a Jedi, and he ends up learning much more than he bargained for. It’s a really rich film you can peel back the layers more as you get older.

On the other hand, Lucas also deserves a lot of props for the first Star Wars. It was no small achievement to take the conventions of the Flash Gordon and other-like serials, with their alien worlds, wide-eyed heroes, their villainous overlords with their flowing capes and bellicose declarations of galactic conquest, and turn it into a bona-fide film classic. I imagine before SW, such conventions were just the stuff of kid’s films.

I’d say Scott’s list echoes mine. Clones was horrible until I got to the Genosis battle. Then at least I had eye candy for about 45 min.

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, I feel a lot the same. "Star Wars" was like the ultimate dream for a child. It had everything you could want. But "Empire" was the better movie, speaking as an adult.

ScottDS said...

Jason and Andrew -

I agree. :-) When my brother and I were younger, he liked Jedi most of all, though I'm not sure why. I assume because of all the creatures. He also thought Empire was the "boring" one, though Jedi IMHO is the one that drags a bit.

I'm not sure how he'd rank them today.

shawn said...

I'll agree with tryanmax- release order. Empire is better than Star Wars in many ways, but it isn't a stand alone movie, so I give the edge to Star Wars.

Koshcat said...

Empire is my favorite but the other two are very close. Return has some "cutesy" issues but still pretty strong and nice ending. Although now the galaxy will be thrown into complete chaos and anarchy.

I have decided not to include the prequels as part of the real Star Wars family. Not only poorly written, directed, and acted but there were so many things that didn't make any sense.

-An "elected" queen? Who the hell would vote for a teenager?
-If the Gungans breath air, why do they live underwater? If being underwater is an evolutionary strength, why would they fight on land?
-Metachlorines? What the f---?
-Padme dies in childbirth. So they can fly faster than light-speed but can't perform a c-section? Maternal mortality is very low today. Besides, Leia "remembers" her mother.
-Why call it the clone wars? Why not the robot wars? Or the super duper nasty war to end all wars?
-In what sick, twisted world would a teenager girl be attracted to a 10 year old boy? Or a mid-twenties young woman be attracted to a teenage boy? Lucus is a sick pedophile.
-What is the deal about Jedi Knights not being able to marry? Isn't the raping and pillaging and the Lady's throwing herself at you one of the reasons to be a knight? If they don't want you to sow your oats or get married, shouldn't they castrate the knights?
-"If you do this, you will be thrown out of the order!" Do we really want to throw out partially trained jedi knights so they can be recruited to be siths?
-Yoda needs a cane to slowly limp around but during a light-saber duel he jumps around like a cricket on crack?
-Anikan spares the emperors life because he should have a trial but massacres sand people without mercy? Kinda racist, don't you think?
-Spares the emperors life but wipes out a bunch of innocent children? Lucas probably also gives money to planned parenthood.
-Wouldn't a "light-shield" to protect from the sabers been a handy item?

Floyd R. Turbo said...

I agree with Scott's list:

The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars
Return of the Jedi/Revenge of the Sith (tie)
The Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones

You guys might like this on The Battle of Hoth -- a complete breakdown...

http://www.threedonia.com/archives/58222

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I am applaud your list! :D

Floyd, Thanks! Here's your link: LINK

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