Like most of us, time and again I have engaged in the question of what the best Star Wars movie is. This is a very different question from what my personal favorite is. For most of my life I have held The Empire Strikes Back as my favorite of the series.
However, even being in the Empire camp, I think we can all agree about the importance of Hope, how it is constructed, the quotable lines, and that it was at its heart about Hope. Empire is a grim story in comparison, a series of downers as is natural to a second act. It is that turn of events that provide even greater obstacles for the heroes to overcome, the growth of the characters, and all in all making their success all that more meaningful in the final act. Hope manages to bring you into the story while still being in media res. To watch Empire without it leaves one confused for it was there to add layers to the characters established in Hope. No Hope leaves Empire flat.
And that leaves Return. That is exactly what it was – a return to the old universe and old familiar faces. It was even a return to Tattoine. It doesn’t so much add to characters as allow them to complete the arc started in Hope and resolve the complications from Empire. Hope is the only one that stands alone in that trilogy. Hope makes you want to see more, but you cloud walk away and be satisfied.
The Prequels lack that. It is a drawn out single story broken into three parts. The Rise and Fall of Anakin Skywalker. The second act complication really doesn’t happen until the third act. There is some establishment of pieces that will set the scene for the third act, which is probably why the third act feels like the story finally reached being told. The rest is just character backstory.
This raises the question of what the latest Star Wars cycle will bring. Once again it has started in the middle of the action, set up the reluctant heroes and child of destiny to receive the torch passed on from the previous generation, and played to the nostalgia of a galaxy far far away. To my eyes it seems to stand on its own but who is to say what it feels like to a new generation?
Credit: Peter H. for inspiring this rant