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Reviews

A New Hope
(1977)

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Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope is the movie that started it all. That sounds very cliche. Hereís why I like it: When I watch it time speeds up. I get so involved in it that two hours feels like one hour, which indicates to me that itís a very well put together movie. The characters are great, and even now as I say that, it is hard to quite say why. I think what makes them interesting is the fact that everyone gives a bad first impression (Lukeís a pansy, Leiaís a bitch, Hanís a self-serving jerk), but in the end they pull everything together and save the day. You get to see the characters progress and make the decisions you would hope they would make, especially when Han decides not to leave and shots the TIE fighters off Lukeís tail just in time. That is one of my favorite parts. Even though I know that they will succeed in blowing up the Death Star, I get tense whenever I watch the last battle scene. Granted, A New Hope does have the cheesiest ending of all the Star Wars films, but I like that about it too. In addition to the fact that the music in the end is so great that it brings tears to my eyes, the ending gives good contrast to the rest of the films, and the entire series, because it is so light. If you think about the story as a whole, where Anakin is the main character, it is very tragic.

Anyone who says that the characters in Star Wars arenít very well developed has only seen it once, at least thatís my theory. Even R2-D2, who doesnít say a word, has personality. As he interacts with C-3PO that heís an easy-going droid who is willing to put up with a lot of bitching. He is mischievous but acts innocent. I can easily imagine a conversation going like this: C-3PO says, ďWhy didnít you tell me before?Ē and R2-D2 beeps the answer, ďYou never asked me.Ē He is brave, and the non-Star Wars fan might say that he just does what he is programmed to do because heís a droid and has no life to worry about. But, as he is rolling through the canyon on Tatooine is A New Hope, he definitely makes a worried sound. But he is still determined to go on, and find Obi-Wan Kenobi. Even though he is just a droid he still has human emotions, and the alert viewer can easily pick this up. I could give a short analysis of every characterís personality, even the characters who only show up for a few minutes, such as Greedo, Biggs, Wedge, or the bartender in the cantina. Thatís how great the character development is. But you really have to watch the movie more than once to pick up on certain subtle things, because most of the characters arenít eccentric.

There is one last thing I would like to address: the stormtrooper who hits his head on the door. Iím glad it was left in the film, and I think it is part of George Lucasí directing style to leave in such bloopers. (In American Graffiti, he left in a blooper where a guy on a motorcycle apparently couldnít find neutral and he ran into a wall, not very graceful.) The stormtroopers are only human, even if they are clones, and they probably bump their heads just like anyone else does. People complain about the fact that this blooper was left in the film, and even has sound effects, but I think it makes the movie more real. There is absolutely nothing in Star Wars that pushes me out of the movie. Nothing makes me think, ďhey, this is just a movie.Ē It is flawless. To me it is believable and can be easily accepted as real life. This is why I can watch it over and over again and it never loses its excitement.

Rating: 10

The Star Wars Holiday Special
(1978)

The Star Wars Holiday Special is proof that Star Wars isn't always good. It takes plot, creativity, and dialogue to make it good. The Holiday Special didn't have this. It is a disgrace to Star Wars. Those responsible for it--which George Lucas was not--should be burned at the stake. I had heard it was terrible, and I thought, "it can't be all bad, it's Star Wars!" So I downloaded it on BlueHarvest.net and watched it. I guess I was partly right, as I wouldn't give it a 1 out of 10, but it was near crap. What were they thinking when they made it? Possibly that Star Wars was such a great hit that we can just take the characters from Star Wars, make a TV special and it will be an instant hit. How wrong they were.

I don't feel bad about spoiling the story of this one, so I will. It's about Chewbacca and Han trying to get to Chewbacca's home for Life Day. Stormtroopers go to Chewbacca's house and be mean. Chewbacca and Han get there and beat up Stormtroopers, throwing them out of the tree house (the best part). There's the plot. As you can tell, it's not too deep. For most of the time, we get watch Chewie's family grunting at eachother. Worst of all, there's singing in it. Music in Star Wars is good, singing is wrong. Chewie's kid watches a Boba Fett cartoon, and we get to see Boba Fett for the first time, sadly as a cartoon. Star Wars should not be a cartoon! And what's the point of the Boba Fett cartoon? I still don't know. Maybe it was some deep symbolism, but some how, I doubt it. The story continuously goes off to side stories that are irrelevent to the main story, which wasn't good to begin with, and then they distract you from it. If you want to see just how crappy Star Wars can be, and you want to learn to appreciate little flaws in Star Wars such as Jar Jar or the name Attack of the Clones, watch this.

Rating: 2

The Empire Strikes Back
(1980)

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Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is probably my favorite Star Wars movie right now. Itís hard to say which one is best for sure. They are all godly. Time speeds up even more when I watch Empire Strikes Back than when I watch A New Hope. It never loses itís excitement. Itís even bigger and better than A New Hope. We see more planets, more fights, and then at the climax, we learn the shocking truth of Lukeís father. I donít remember the first time I watched Empire Strikes Back. I was probably about two at the time, and I think I saw Return of the Jedi first. But I now wish that I had been old enough to remember what it felt like to learn that Darth Vader was Lukeís father. People who say that the plot of Star Wars is mundane, are forgetting this very important scene. The villain is the heroís father. How many stories have that little twist in it? Whatís even cooler is that when you look at the Star Wars series as a whole and you realize that Darth Vader, the guy we thought was the ultimate evil in A New Hope, is actually the hero of the saga.

Can I express enough the creativity that went into this movie? The designs for the creatures and the ships are better and more unique than anything I have ever seen before. The Millennium Falcon is probably the most unique-looking ship is Star Wars. It doesnít look like it would fly, it doesnít look like a space ship. It looks like a piece of junk, and thatís what it is. But itís the fastest ship in the galaxy. Boba Fett has a cool helmet. No other helmet looks anything like Boba Fettís helmet. That may seem trivial, but the costumes really add to the movie, and are just one more aspect that make the movies unique. The AT-ATís are the coolest vehicles in the entire series. I must say that the battle on Hoth is my favorite part of the movie. Probably a rather realistic fight since there is no real conclusion and the rebels retreat. A lot of good guys die in that battle, though the main characters are spared.

Empire Strikes Back introduces one of my favorite bad guys, Admiral Piett. That guy knows how to survive when working next to Vader as a high-ranking officer. Heís a good Admiral, though in the end the Millennium Falcon gets away and you can see that he knows heís screwed. I love his look of dread as Darth Vader walks away in silent rage. For some reason no high-ranking Imperial officer died that day, and Piett wasnít as screwed as he though he was. He returns in Return of the Jedi.

To wrap this up, Iíll say that Empire Strikes back is probably the most liked Star Wars movie. It has no cute creatures, such as Ewoks. It moves quickly and obviously had a better budget for more creatures, costumes, sets and so forth. Not to mention the fact that Yoda and Boba Fett are in this movie.

Rating: 10

Return of the Jedi
(1983)

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Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was my favorite Star Wars movie by far as a kid. There was a while there when I watched it every day. I got to know the words by heart and still never tired of it. I still love it. I think it is the favorite of young people because there are lots of interesting creatures and planets, and because it has the most conclusive ending, and itís relatively happy at the end. I donít think I realized how tragic the story really was when I was young. Anakin turns to the good side again, only to die soon afterwards. However, if he had lived, the story would have been even more tragic in a way. He would not have been accepted in the ďgood guyĒ society.

The way Vader saves Luke in the end is so satisfying. It brings tears to my eyes just to think about it. He does what you wish he would. He sacrifices his own life, and betrays his evil side to save his son. You can see the battle between good and evil thatís going on inside him, and he chooses good. You then get to see the man who embodies evil, who caused so much pain, be flung over a railing and down the reactor core to his death. Yes, Return of the Jedi is the most satisfying Star Wars film to watch. It is the Star Wars film I make people watch who have never seen Star Wars before. It is the most important Star Wars film.

The action in this movie is very cool. The scene at the sarlaac pit has always been one of my favorites. It has a lightsabre, blasters, Boba Fett uses his jet pack, and Leia kills Jabba the Hutt. Star Wars is very good about not making the women helpless, though there arenít many women. ďLeia is twice the man Luke is,Ē as my father says. Itís cool, because after the indignation of that skimpy bikini, the girl kills the bad guy and escapes herself. Sheís an independent women and can take care of herself. But what I like about it even more is that Leia is not a liberal feminist, like you see in a lot of politically correct movies. Itís more subtle. Leia keeps up with the men, but doesnít preach about how women can do everything that men can, she just goes out and does it.

Speeder bikes. That was my favorite part of the movie. When I rode my bike, Iíd pretend it was a speeder bike. Thereís really not much to go into on this subject. Just that the action is played out perfectly to make the scene exciting. I just love it when Luke jumps on the scouttrooperís speeder bike and throws him off. Whiney boy turned out pretty cool in the end. To abruptly switch topics, Luke grows up a lot from A New Hope to Return of the Jedi. Heís much cooler, but not as cocky. Vader beat his cockiness out of him in Empire. So while he was annoying and not very likeable as a main character in A New Hope, by Return of the Jedi youíre ready to cheer for him.

Rating: 10

Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina
(1995)

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Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina is a very interesting collection of short stories by various authors, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. I found it to be a very enjoyable book overall. All the stories were connected to one another, even though they were all separate, which gave it a good organized feeling. My favorite in the book was "A Hunter's Fate: Greedo's Tale" by Tom and Martha Veitch. Even though you know Greedo is going to die in the end, the circumstances of his death are surprising. I won't give it away completely, but I will say if you get your hands on this book and only want to read one story, read that one. It has an unexpected ending, and is amongst the longest of the stories, giving it more plot developement. That seems to be a general rule of thumb with this book. The longer stories are better.

The worst story, in my opinion was "Soup's On: The Pipe Smoker's Tale" by Jennifer Roberson. The only good thing about it was that it was short, only about 15 pages. It didn't connect to the other stories, it was just a random little tid-bit, doing its own thing. Boring, thin plot. Written as if it was meant to be a poem. Not to mention the author's name is Jennifer. A story that wasn't so bad, but I found disappointing was "Be Still My Heart: The Bartender's Tale" by David Bischoff. The Bartender looks like he has a good story to tell, the scruffy-looking type. And no doubt he has something better than what we were given in this book. His story was about how he hated droids but met a droid and became friends with it. Lame. Obviously, the author took his line, "Hey, we don't serve their kind here," and elaborated on it, rather than making up something new. So, the guy hates droids. Big deal. Now if he hated some race or religion, that would be more interesting, but droids, however animate they seem in Star Wars, are not living creatures. It's like a story about someone hating televisions or something. They could've done so much better.

But let's go back to the good ones, shall we? "Hammertong: The Tale of the 'Tonnika Sisters'" by Timmothy Zahn was a good one. Exciting, good plot developement, interesting twists to make it more than ordinary. "Swap Meet: The Jawa's Tale" by Kevin J. Anderson was another good story. It connected well with the movie, and had great plot and character developement. It also connected well with another great story, "When the Desert Winds Turn: A Stormtrooper's Tale" by Doug Beason. Individually, about half these stories are great, a quarter are good, and a quarter are poor to not-so-good. But all together, these stories make a great book that is worth reading at least twice to absorb the stories better, except for that stupid Pipe Smoker's Tale.

Rating: 9

Tales from Jabba's Palace
(1996)

Tales From Jabba's Palace isn't quite as good as Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina, but it is defintely worth reading. There was no one story that blew the others away in this book, but there were quite a few good ones. The Rancor Keeper's Tale by Kevin J. Anderson was very good, giving an interesting view on the rancor. The Tale of Mara Jade by Timothy Zahn was another good story, but I though it was somewhat out of place in this book since I didn't see Mara Jade in Jabba's palace. EV-9D9's Tale by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens was called "A Bad Feeling," which of course was very exciting. It was a good story too, twisted and weird, which made it very interesting. It also contained some very interesting coincidences. Bib Fortuna's Tale by M. Shayne Bell was full of irony. That was a good story. Over all, the whole book was not as good as Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina because the stories weren't connected as well. In Cantina, I got the feeling that all the authers worked together, whereas in Jabba's Palace, everyone seemed to be writing individually. One reoccuring theme was that everyone wanted to assassinate Jabba.

Of course there were some stories I didn't care for, and some I absolutely hated. For example, The Assassin's Tale by Jennifer Robertson showed up again in this book, exactly the same! It seems that Jennifer can only write one story, someone should tell her it's not that good. Another one I didn't care for was The Tale of Barada and the Weequays by George Alec Effinger. It wouldn't have been bad except for the fact that there was a magic 8-ball in the story. Someone should remind George that we're talking about a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and even if there were things in that galaxy similar to magic 8-balls, they wouldn't have the exact same phrases, which it did. There weren't any other stories that were painful to read, and overall it's a book worth reading.

Rating: 8

X-Wing: Rogue Squadron
(1996)

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The first book of the X-Wing Series: Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole was something of a disappointment to me. I had been told that the X-Wing Series was really good, and though it was an alright book, it was not great, nothing compared to the Jedi Academy Trilogy and of course nothing compared to the movies. It took too long for the story to get started, and when it did get started, there just wasn't much there. The basic plot line was this: Bad guys want to kill Rogue Squadron, Rogue Squadron attack tunnel thingy. There were no interesting twists and I just expect that kind of thing with Star Wars. Stackpole tried to make a special effects movie in a book. It didn't work. Exciting battle sences lose a great deal when you can't see it.

Major characters were missing, making it "just not the same." No Han Solo, no Princess Leia, no Luke Skywalker. It does have Wedge though, which is definatly a good thing. The main character is Corran Horn, who is not even in the movies, and I didn't particularly like hime. He was arrogant and prided himself as being a good person for being against the rebellion in the begining and hating smugglers, including Han Solo. Seeing as Han Solo is my favorite character, I took that personally. Too personally.

I will say that the character developement wasn't bad, even if the plot developement was. I'm hoping, that since it is a series, the next few books will get into the plot more, now that the characters are developed. The last few chapters are the best. The book has a very nice cover picture. By developing the plot a little more in the next books, the series itself might be very good.

Rating: 6

X-Wing: Wedge's Gamble
(1996)

The second book of the X-Wing Series: Wedge's Gamble by Michael A. Stackpole was ever so much better than the first book in the series. If your time is precious, I would recommend starting with this book, rather than Rogue Squadron. It gets right the story and rarely refers to anything that happened in the first book. The story seemed to be made for a book, having a more complex plot and less describing X-Wings flying around with no visuals. Corran is still not the most likeable character, but at least the book's success doesn't rest on his character.

There were a few parts I didn't like. To name one: Corran and Gavin's sex talk. Sex talks do not belong in Star Wars, they belong in raunchy teen flicks. And even though these books are obviously targeted towards teenagers, I like to think that they're above the teen talks about sex. I find those to be uninteresting and painful. Though as sex talks go, this was one of the more amusing ones, dealing with sex with non-humans. If you have a vivid imagination, you're likely to be clawing at your eyes trying to make the images go away.

As I said before, this story was much more complex than the story in the first book. Instead of a lame mission, such as blowing up a pipe, Rogue Squadron was trying to take the Imperial capital on Coruscant. It's sounds important, at the very least. There was pretty good character developement, and by the end of the book, I actually cared about some of the characters, not just Wedge. There was a twist involving a traitor, always good in building a complex plot, and the Imperials started to dabble in biological warfare, which could get interesting, though it didn't exactly go anywhere in this book. Overall, a decent book, worth reading, though it shouldn't be first on your list. It was kind of confusing, and I'm not exactly sure what Wedge's gamble was.

Rating: 8

The Phantom Menace
(1999)

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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the worst Star Wars ever! Yeah, so, Star Wars is divine. Itís the worst one of a bunch of divine movies. Itís still amongst the best movies ever made. Jar Jar brings it down, thereís no doubt there. Heís stupid and annoying, but while heís annoying to listen to, he doesnít take away from the story as a whole. And he brings out aspects of other characters, such as Obi-Wan, that are very interesting. We get to see Obi-Wanís arrogant and intolerant side. It also brings out the contrast between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. There, I dealt with the most controversial part of Star Wars.

The pod race is of course is really cool. I donít think there is any doubt there. Even people who donít like Phantom very much like the pod race, or as a friend of mine called it, ďthe chariot race.Ē Pods have an interesting look to them. They were very well designed, and creatively designed. There really isnít a whole lot of doubt as to whether or not Anakin will win the race, but there never is in those kind of situations. I think it could have been better if there hadnít been so much dialogue through the whole thing, but that hardly takes away from the coolness of the whole thing.

The bad guys in Phantom are pretty flat, well, Darth Maul is anyways. He doesnít say much, but he does seem threatening, especially while heís putting his lightsabre through Qui-Gon. That lightsabre duel at the end is possibly the coolest scene in all of Star Wars. I really hate to say that because I like to be faithful to the original trilogy, but that emphasizes how great it really is. The lightsabre battles in the original trilogy were slow. This one was fast, and intense, with the most intense music in all of Star Wars. I was on the edge of my seat. And then Qui-Gon dies, making you say to yourself, ďmaybe this isnít a kids movie after all.Ē

Anakin is a cute little kid. Cute kids are obnoxious. Itís a good contrast. Anakin goes from cute kid to psycho, Dark Side killer. Iím wondering how itís going to be done convincingly. Iím glad that Iím alive now, even though I wasnít to see the original trilogy come out, so I can see Anakin turn to the Dark Side as itís happening.

Rating: 10

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