A few words about the Star Wars movies

(December 3, 2020)

(this post is an archived version of a Twitter thread; original is here)

I’ve been rewatching all 11 »Star Wars« movies (the three Skywalker trilogies and the two spin-off movies) in the past two weeks, in story-chronological order (1-2-3-Solo-R1-4-5-6-7-8-9) and on Disney+ (i.e. in 4K with all post-release modifications). Here’s a few remarks.

The 4K remasters look very nice. Episode 1 used to look incredibly dated in the 2003 HD version, but now it holds up quite well. Interestingly enough, now it’s Episode 9 (from 2019!) that looks worst, because of that horribly excessive film grain.

In the original trilogy, the parts that have been added in the 1997 Special Editions stand out – they are a blurry mess! They carefully rotoscoped the inserted objects, so everything else in the affected scenes is still sharp (which might be why it’s so noticeable to begin with).

The lack of continuity between Episode 3 and Episode 4 still upsets me. That neither Obi-Wan nor Vader recognize the droids is already borderline unbelievable, but Owen and Beru? C-3PO lived at their farm for years!

I didn’t see »Solo« before, but I was pleasantly surprised. A solid gangster story set in the Star Wars universe, it felt a bit like good old »Firefly«. In my book, it’s even better than the critically acclaimed »Rogue One«, which in retrospect is just a bland war film.

Speaking of »Rogue One«: Those character animations of Tarkin and Leia hit the uncanny valley so hard, it’s atrocious. Even the real Peter Cushing looks fake for the first half of Episode 4 if you’re watching it directly afterwards!
Good thing they didn’t do that again in Episode 9.

In general, it’s hard for me to rate the movies in relation to each other. Most people think Episode 5 is the best, but I really don’t have a clear preference here. Each of these movies has its merits and drawbacks.

Episode 8 is really outstanding. So much suspense! So many plans that actually fail for once! So visually striking!
The only thing that doesn’t fit perfectly is that whole Canto Bight (“Space Monaco”) section. It’s jarringly disconnected from everything else; an arbitrary MacGuffin.

I don’t know what to make of the two J.J.Abrams movies. Episode 7 is just 100% fan service, but nice and entertaining. The first half of Episode 9 is a burning trainwreck of a badly written, soulless, incoherent Hollywood blockbuster. The second half, however, is quite decent.

Seriously, I can’t overstate how bad the first half of Episode 9 is. It’s by far the worst 5% of the whole series. It feels like half a season of a sub-par TV show where every episode was written by a different person, then crammed into one hour of screen time.

I find it mildly annoying that the Episode 6 »look how your friends are dying, join us to save them« Sith-tries-to-convert-the-Jedi scene is repeated multiple times in the sequel trilogy. In Episode 8, it was a nice reference, though a bit lame. But in Episode 9, it was there again, WTF?

Finally, I gotta say, Palpatine is a formidable bad guy. He creates two armies, stages a galaxy-wide war, gets himself elected chancellor to undermine the democracy from within, all the while mentoring three apprentices and hiding himself from the Jedi, for 20+ years before finally becoming emperor.

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