Call me uncultured, but I had never watched Star Wars. Okay, Episode IV was on at a party once, but I didn’t really pay attention. Most people see the series for the first time as children, and I grew up in more of an Oklahoma! household. Space battles—or any battles more serious than farmer vs. cowman—just weren’t on the agenda.
In honor of the series’ new digital release on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play and other platforms, I settled in to finally see what I’ve been missing, crashing Episodes IV, V and VI (the first three by release date). It’s easy to see why it’s been an international favorite for decades, but—as a whole—it’s so much goofier than I expected. Yet the odd bits (catch phrases, strange creatures, distinctive costumes) are exactly what work to make the franchise so beloved, not to mention culturally potent enough to delay its digital release until now. It’s like The Beatles of the movie business!
Without further ado, Episode IV:
1:00 I have to ask, why put the scrolling text at an angle that’s so hard to read? I get it, we’re traveling through space, but couldn’t we at least have a more vertical trajectory?
3:00 Space people always seem so calm in emergencies. “We’re doomed,” says the gold guy, in about the same tone you might use to say “Princess Leia is late for afternoon tea.”
4:45 Darth Vader seems to be the only one who breathes like he has a scuba mask on, even though all his minions have similar face masks.
12:30 These little desert critters, like all of the villains so far, don’t exactly inspire terror. It’s hard to imagine an action movie in the 21st century employing such puny bad guys.
19:45 “Thank the maker!” says the gold one while going into an oil bath. Who is his maker? Is there a god in this world?
34:15 I always thought Darth Vader was the kind of bad guy who’s staging a coup to take power, but now I see he is in power—he’s like the Oliver Cromwell of his day.
36:45 All this talk about the Force makes me think of Joseph Campbell. I guess my high school English teacher was right to make us read his treatise on Star Wars and the hero myth.
42:00 Oh good, they have big band music on this planet.
52:45 You know how people call others Jabba the Hutt as an insult? I now get why that’s really mean.
1:01:00 Is this movie anti-atheism?
1:18:00 Chewbacca’s whining and moaning is the only response that makes sense in all this hubbub. How is everyone else calmly making wisecracks? That said, if he moans one more time, I’ll puncture my eardrums.
1:21:00 The underwater garbage monster is certainly icky, but considering how shallow the depths are and how easy the struggle is, it does not strike fear into my heart.
1:25:00 Why has no one spotted Obi-Wan on the ship in his peasant clothes? Those can’t be dress code.
1:26:00 This movie sure doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, but at least Princess Leia kicks butt. “Listen: I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but from now on, you do as I tell you. K?”
1:32:00 Is it just me or is that a very anti-climactic sword fight?
1:38:00 “You think a princess and a guy like me…” “No.” Oh great, we’re all set up for a love triangle in Episode V.
1:44:00 C-3PO (I learned his name!) and R2-D2 are like a robot version of the Odd Couple.
1:53:00 What’s so bad about the Empire that they have to be doing all this fighting anyway?
2:00:00 Odd that a princess would be a leader of a revolution rather than a target.
On to Episode V!
4:00 Oh look, it’s the yeti from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer! Did the studio loan him out?
5:30 Apparently puffer vests were all the rage a long time ago in a galaxy far away.
8:00 Han tells someone he’ll see him in hell. Is that a thing in this galaxy?
13:30 Just realized Yoda wasn’t in the first film.
18:00 Princess Leia is basically the only woman we’ve met in this world (besides Luke’s aunt), and to demonstrate to Han what women are like, she kisses Luke to make him jealous. Great representation!
30:00 The more I watch the more convinced I am that the friendship of R2-D2 and C-3PO is a love story for the ages.
39:00 Where is Neil deGrasse Tyson to explain asteroid fields to me?
44:30 What is wrong with Darth Vader’s scalp?
46:00 Every time Han makes a pass at Leia I kind of want to puke.
47:30 Yoda is here! And he sounds like Fozzie Bear.
Update: It is Fozzie Bear! Both were voiced by Frank Oz. The more you know.
1:02:00 I’m surprised I’ve never seen a backpack that looks like Yoda clinging to Luke’s shoulders.
1:05:00 Speaking of products, the light sabers so far have been blue and red, so why are the plastic toys usually green?
1:16:00 All this training with Yoda looks a lot like yoga.
1:36:00 Never knew this was where “I love you” / “I know” came from. Kind of a jerk move, Han.
1:51:00 Huh, so he didn’t actually say the “Luke” part of “Luke, I am your father.”
And onward to Episode VI.
0:20 The font used in each film for “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” looks like what they should have used as a placeholder before final edits.
11:00 By now C-3PO is definitely my favorite character and I want him to come be my butler.
13:00 What actress wouldn’t want to tell her grandchildren, “I was one of the backup dancers in Jabba the Hutt’s lair”?
12:00 This whole freezing-a-man thing is a great tie-in for Disney.
23:00 Oh dear God. Poor Carrie Fisher—how could they put her in that slave bikini?
31:00 All these Jabba the Hutt scenes are so campy, I wonder whether the series would be more of a cult classic than a mainstream favorite if they had been in the first movie.
42:00 But who is Luke’s mother?
46:00 And did the writers plan for Vader to be his father all along, or change their minds for a plot twist in Episode V?
54:00 How much time has even passed since the beginning of Episode IV? Three weeks? Three years?
57:00 These jungle scenes feel like the Jurassic Park section of Star Wars.
1:10:00 Attack of the teddy bears!
1:34:00 After six hours of Star Wars I’m now starting to feel some serious fatigue, which is making me much less forgiving of the old-school special effects.
1:37:00 The teddy bear army strikes back!
1:56:00 The emperor’s electricity attack on Luke is like something out of a Halloween movie.
2:01:00 Finally seeing Darth’s face is a very Wizard of Oz moment. The man behind the curtain/mask is not as great as he seemed.
And that’s all! The force is not strong with me at the end of this marathon, but I hope it will return. Episodes I, II and III await.