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+