Classic Movies | STAR WARS (1977)

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My appreciation for the Star Wars franchise as a whole may be diminishing as I’m growing older and realizing the franchise’s flaws, but there is one entry whose followups’ mistakes haven’t ruined its magic for its forty-year place in pop culture: the one that was once straight up called Star Wars.

Sure, Star Wars is a special effects revolution whose psychological audience reaction was visualized by the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark (probably), but if that’s all it were, it would have gone the way of James Cameron’s Avatar. What Star Wars really is is a thematically universal fairy tale with a relatable protagonist and a clear distinction between good and evil. Sure, Han Solo’s “heroism” isn’t as clear-cut as Luke’s, Leia’s, and Obi-Wan’s, but he’s given a redemptive arc. Why Star Wars still works so well is the sense of wonder it conveys by introducing us to the far, far away galaxy through Luke Skywalker’s eyes, and C-3P0’s and R2-D2’s before his.

It’s not dramatically perfect (it is George Lucas writing and directing, after all). I mean, come on, Luke’s still sulking about somebody close’s death while Princess Leia seems to have completely shaken off her entire home world getting blown up in front of her eyes? Obi-Wan seems more troubled by the destruction, and he doesn’t even watch it happen!

Nonetheless, while The Empire Strikes Back may be widely regarded as the best of the trilogy, and it is great (if there’s one thing I’m still a sucker for, it’s lightsaber fights, and Empire has the best one ever, especially compared to the one we get here), it needs a Return of the Jedi that’s better than what we got. Star Wars is, and always will be, the definitive Star Wars movie, the one that ignited our imaginations and introduced both a new potential for filmmaking and John Williams’s most legendary musical score. A

Classic Movies | WALL·E (2008)

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There may be Pixar movies more iconic than WALL·E, such as Toy Story, and there may be Pixar movies more emotional and thought-provoking than WALL·E, such as Inside Out, but WALL·E is as bold as the boldest of Hollywood’s most ambitious animation studio.

The entire first act in of itself is a bold decision, not only for its deliberate pacing but also for its almost purely visual storytelling. Watching the character of WALL·E is like watching a modern parallel to Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp. The way the filmmakers are able to get us into the head of, and instantly fall in love with, a garbage crusher with binocular eyes and tank treads blows me away. The robot aspect of the story explores the universal desire for love; the human aspect of the story also touches upon this, but it’s more interested in satirizing our over-reliance on technology and what that could turn us into.

WALL·E isn’t only an animated masterpiece; it’s a science-fiction masterpiece, one I appreciate far more than the 2001: A Space Odyssey it blatantly homages at times, and my affinity for both good sci-fi and silent filmmaking—silent filmmaking that, if accomplished correctly, can evoke emotion without making a sound, which WALL·E essentially can—are probably why I favor it above any other Pixar movie. A+

My response to Catholic Skywalker’s response to me

Fellow blogger Catholic Skywalker and I have been following each other for quite some time. As his name would suggest, he loves Star Wars. In fact, he defends Star Wars more than anyone I’ve seen. He could make you look at the Prequels in a new light. He even contributed to Gaming with Faith (my contributions to which I’ve taken down due to my developed apprehensions about video games), and he’s a more qualified critic than I am, having seen over 2,100 movies over his lifetime, and viewing a wider scope of movies in theaters than I do.

Our first big response to each other was a couple years ago where I, through a blog and post that no longer exists, criticized A New Hope for being “bland, silly, rainy day-type entertainment”, and Catholic Skywalker went full-on Aquinas on it. Given how little I was looking at the big picture, I deserved that one.

Now, with “The Generational Choice: A Response to Catholic Wannabe Critic on The Force Awakens, he’s responded to my latest critique of Star Wars, “Where Disney’s Star Wars Went Wrong”. He is much more appreciative of this critique than he was of the previous critique, and so am I. And once again, he’s proven how he’s both a better critic and a better Catholic than I am, particularly because of his understanding of humanity.

The main point of his response is that even though Return of the Jedi may have brought an end to the Sith, it was the next generation’s choice to continue with that peace, and it failed. As he states, “Human beings have the power to reign down utter destruction on ourselves. But even the best of us can only offer hope with no guarantees. All we can ever leave the next generation is a chance. Even Jesus’ saving work is ultimately a free invitation. The choice is still up to us.”

Even with that, while I can excuse the First Order, I still find it a stretch to say that it was humanity’s choice to keep the balance to the Force that Anakin Skywalker was prophesied to bring. If merely defeating the Dark Side balances out the Force, then the Force could theoretically be balanced out multiple times in history; why was it so important that a Chosen One would balance out the Force if balancing the Force can be replicated? Perhaps it’s our choice to follow the path to salvation, but our prophesied redemption through Christ was never undone and repeated.

The whole “Chosen One permanently defeating the Sith” prophesy doesn’t line up with how humanity actually works, but the Dark Side returning doesn’t line up with how the whole previous Saga actually works. Saying that a spiritual evil can be permanently killed is a lie, but having that evil return contradicts what was prophesied. Perhaps the Chosen One angle doesn’t enhance Return of the Jedi‘s climax at all but rather problematizes it.

That’s why the Original Trilogy by itself stands the test of time. Without the Prequels, there’d be no promise that the Dark Side would be permanently defeated, and without the Sequels, there’d be no way for the Saga to contradict itself. Star Wars would not be about the fulfillment of a prophecy but rather about a son who saves his father for its own sake, which is still why Luke did it as he never knew that his father was a fallen messiah.

Then again, they could still pull that “Rey is the real Chosen One” twist I theorized…