Earlier this year I had some recent downtime and was able to re-watch a few movies in my collection that I haven’t viewed in quite awhile. In this entry, I’d like to cover my thoughts as I finally re-watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy (which I hadn’t watched in a year or so) as well as all six Star Wars movies (which I haven’t watched in at least a couple of years).
Lord of the Rings
In total this trilogy is about 7-8 hours (not the extended edition, I couldn’t handle that). I don’t remember if I saw the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, in the theater but I do remember watching it when it first came out on DVD with family in Arkansas. Besides the visuals, it’s Howard Shore’s music that stands out for me. The first movie is the setup, and I enjoy its slower pace and less focus on combat/battles. It’s great to see the Shire as well as Rivendell, though the latter isn’t shown much besides where the council meets. The mines of Moria were incredible, and the visual of the Balrog, engulfed in flames and wielding the flame sword and whip, well that was better than any dragon could have ever been!
I do remember watching The Two Towers in the theater, and it was a pretty long movie. I did like seeing more of the human realm with Gondor, despite all the problems and politics they deal with. The battle at the end of the movie was great to see, although I still have a hard time believing that even with the help of Gandalf and Gondor’s men’s they didn’t come so much closer to defeat.
If I did see The Return of the King in the theater, then I don’t remember having to sit through this extremely long movie. Heck even right now I’m having trouble remembering what all even happens in the movie. Frodo and Samwise finally reach Mordor, although it can’t be as simple as throwing the ring into the fire, with both the temptation to Frodo (though not as great as it was to man) as well as Gollum’s scheming and ultimate lashing out in one last attempt to steal the ring for himself. I liked that Aragorn was re-united with Arwen despite her father’s objections, and that the heart-broken Eowyn may still find happiness with Faramir, and with all he’s been through it would be a great turn-around for him as well.
It will likely be quite awhile before I watch these movies again, and in the meantime I still need to read the books!
Initially I was only going to watch the original trilogy, but I decided if I was going to re-watch those I might as well re-watch all 6, as it had been just as long since I viewed those. I remember having a mixed opinion of the prequel trilogy, but with this viewing I went in with a fairly open mind; since it had been so long since I had seen them, it wasn’t too hard to accomplish that. I did watch them in the order they were released, as that still makes the most sense for me. For a new movie viewer, I would recommend starting with the prequel trilogy.
The amount of wonder and awe that Star Wars elicits doesn’t fade much even with so many repeated viewings. Starting with the opening shot we’re put right in the middle of this universe, and we see how important characters already make an impact on its happenings. We get glimpses of bigger things, but time and budget kept things focused. The model-work still rivals the best that CGI can offer, and John Williams‘ score is still top-notch.
If there’s a better sequel than The Empire Strikes Back, it would have to be really damn good. Taking off after the events of the first movie, this film delves deep into the dark side in many ways, showing the efforts and repercussions of the Empire’s deeds as well as the struggles of the Rebellion. Directed by Irvin Kershner and written primarily by Lawrence Kasdan, this movie also showed that while George Lucas is the creative mastermind behind this universe he could trust others to step in and make an even better movie.
The final original movie, Return of the Jedi, has some failings compared to its predecessor. The ewoks. Ohhhh the ewoks. I don’t necessarily mind them, but they definitely take up a disproportionate amount of screen-time. Otherwise there is some good story development, and some closure with the relationship between Luke, Darth Vader, and Leia. At the end of the movie we see a glimpse of hope for the re-building for many major cities and planets, and we’re curious to see where things go from here. A wonderment that would take over twenty years to get answered.
The first movie of the prequel trilogy, The Phantom Menace opened in theaters with ungodly expectations and humongous fanfare. We get a wandering and overtly-political story, ham-fisted villains, overwrought CGI that dominates everything, and probably the most annoying character the movies will ever see.
The second film of the prequel trilogy, Attack of the Clones, is in an odd position in relation to the other five movies. Considered an improvement compared to the first movie but not as good as the third, Attack of the Clones is the debut of an older Anakin Skywalker played by Hayden Christensen. While he has received very negative reviews for his performance, I have no doubt as much if not more blame must go to the director, George Lucas, both for poor dialogue as well as over-reliance on green-screen CGI effects. Text here. Christopher Lee makes a great villain, and his sword-fights are quite plausible.
The final movie of the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith, is another step up compared to the previous two films, and I would consider it the fourth-best movie (including The Force Unleashed). Hayden’s acting is a bit improved, as is the script. Maybe George finally got into a groove as well as took some criticism and feedback for the first two movies. Ewan McGregor does a great job especially in this movie, and Natalie Portman is heart-wrenching at the ending. But in contrast Ian McDiarmid is way over-the-top and the fight with Yoda is quite laughable. Yoda may have been a bit more spry years before meeting Luke, but literally bouncing off the walls? No.
I can’t remember when and where I read it, but someone once said that the true reason of Star Wars’ popularity was because of Han Solo, not Luke Skywalker; in other words, people rooted for the underdog, non-Force-wielding human just trying to survive and earn a living in this large and incredible universe, which just happened to have a war between the Rebellion and the Empire. They likened that viewpoint as the reason for the popularity of Firefly and Serenity. Overall I’m glad I took the time to watch these movies again, it’s definitely like coming home to an old friend. I will probably watch at least the original trilogy on a yearly basis, give or take. The prequel trilogy? Likely rarely, especially now that I have The Force Awakens and new ones are already coming soon!