My ‘Star Wars’ Movie Experiences

Star Wars has been a part of my life literally since I was a baby. Each movie has provided me experiences that I will never forget and today, on May the 4th, I figured it would be a great time to share those experiences with you. Enjoy!

The Phantom Menace

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My mother and father always tell me of how when I was roughly one-years-old they went to see The Phantom Menace and of course, they took me as well. As a silent infant in the movie theaters I was most often either sleep or breastfeeding but they always say how my attention was drawn to the movie screen when something important was happening. It is a bold testament to how Star Wars has managed to wow me since before even can remember.

Attack of the Clones

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I didn’t go to see this movie in the movie theaters but as a child I remember watching this film over and over again, dazzled by the fantastical worlds and Obi-Wan’s top-secret mission that was always so fascinating. In my youth, what I remember standing out the most was Obi-Wan’s confrontations with Jango Fett on Kamino and in the asteroid belt surrounding Kamino. Those were my favorite scenes to watch and even now, those scenes still stand tall as some of the best moments in the entire franchise.

Revenge of the Sith

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A little older, my parents took me and my sister to see Revenge of the Sith in the movie theaters. I don’t remember much but I can still recall the bold colors of lava bubbling on the big screen as Anakin and Obi-Wan duked it out in a lightsaber duel of the ages. I also remember crying when Padme died, which was a bit surprising considering that I wasn’t a fan of her character, even as a child. It was still tremendously sad though and as we walked out into the night to go back to our car it was very apparent that I had witnessed one of the best Star Wars movies of all time.

The original trilogy is a whole different story of movie experiences that I’ve had with this franchise. Growing up, we didn’t own the original trilogy, at least…not for a while. When we finally did obtain Episodes V, VI, and IV (we got the movies in that order) it was like stepping into a larger world.

The Empire Strikes Back

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I still remember watching The Empire Strikes Back. I was sitting in my parents’ bedroom watching the film with the lights turned out movie theater style. I stared at the screen in genuine awe as I watched a story unfold that I vaguely knew but had never seen before. There was romance and incredible action scenes. Jaw-dropping moments and fantastical worlds. When it concluded it was very clear that I had seen the best Star Wars movie, at that time.

Return of the Jedi

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I don’t remember much when watching Return of the Jedi for the first time. There are, however, moments that I will never forget, such as the incredible escape from Jabba’s Barge, Yoda’s death, but mainly I do recall the anxiety I felt when Luke Skywalker had to face Palpatine.

I didn’t know what would happen. Would Luke Skywalker die? Oh, it was so stressful. Thankfully he didn’t and the Rebellion won. Yay!

A New Hope

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After watching The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, A New Hope was fun but the experience wasn’t nearly as memorable. I do remember, however, being appalled by the lightsaber duel between Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader. After seeing so many legendary duels, the duel was very underwhelming in comparison.

The Force Awakens

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Five years ago, The Force Awakens would enter theaters. It was an amazing time in my life. I never thought I’d ever get to see a new Star Wars movie. Disney made my wish come true and after early reviews of the film depicted a fun, adventurous experience with the newest addition to the Skywalker Saga I couldn’t be more pumped to see this brand new story on the big screen.

To say that I had one of the best movie theater experiences of my entire life is an understatement. I laughed and cheered inwardly, I gazed in awe and felt, at times, slivers of horror. And boy oh boy, did I cry my eyes out.

Walking out of that movie theater with red eyes and an absolutely distraught expression, I was a bit upset that Han died but it wasn’t long before I would realize I had seen the best Star Wars movie in years. I went to see it with my family an additional four times at the movie theaters.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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In 2016 I would be introduced to the first ever Star Wars Story. To be honest, I was skeptical about the film’s chances of being good. I mean, a story that didn’t focus on the Skywalkers or the struggle between the Jedi and the Sith? That was odd. However, as I sat on the near bottom row of the movie theater (the theater was packed!) craning my neck to see the giant screen in front of me, it wasn’t long before I would realize this was one of the best Star Wars movies ever made. In fact, it would become my favorite Star Wars film of all time.

The dark theme of Rogue One was gripping, the noise of the IMAX theater was astounding, and the final fifteen minutes of the movie left me stunned, in a good way. Specifically the moment that Darth Vader appeared onscreen in a blaze of crimson glory. It was a remarkable evening that I’ll never forget.

The Last Jedi

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Watching The Last Jedi was an entirely different roller coaster. The story left me wanting more and not entirely in a good way. There were certain aspects that I LOVED such as the Praetorian Guards and the epic scene that they would be a part of, Snoke’s death was unexpected and perfect in the context of Kylo’s story development, Luke Skywalker’s mirage trick was legendary and caused me to clap with expected enthusiasm when first watching it, however there were also elements I wasn’t fond of.

I’m talking about DJ and Poe’s storyline, Leia’s use of the Force, and the Canto Bight sequence. However, upon my second viewing, it was as if I was seeing an entirely different movie and suddenly I began to understand the brilliance behind The Last Jedi.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

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To celebrate my twentieth birthday I decided to go see Solo, a film that I wasn’t entirely thrilled to see but would ultimately love. I loved the classic feel of the movie. It was a plain adventure film riddled with awesome action scenes, lovable characters, and eye-catching worlds. When I walked out of that theater I was very, very pleased with the choice I made.

The Rise of Skywalker

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Being a Star Wars fan means that one takes each film very seriously. It’s unfortunate to say that The Rise of Skywalker is my least favorite movie experience of this list. The film, after several viewings, has managed to grow on me, but after my first viewing, I wasn’t even distraught. I was angry. Angry that a story that I had grown to love so much, characters that I had invested in wholeheartedly, had been reduced to shells of greatness beneath a clearly lazy facade.

J.J Abrams, in one fell swoop, annihilated the franchise’s most important values and made a film that I ultimately didn’t agree with on any level. Even the greatest Star Wars villain of all time, Emperor Palpatine, had been turned into a joke in my eyes.

However, like I said before, my more recent viewings of the film have painted a different picture. One that makes me genuinely happy at times. No, the movie isn’t perfect, but at the end of the day it possesses what every Star Wars movie has always had, a story filled with heroes and villains that manages to bring families together on beautiful evenings to bond with one another.

One day, I will have a new movie experience to share with you. For now, May the 4th be with you!

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a fantastic day.

 

9 thoughts on “My ‘Star Wars’ Movie Experiences”

  1. I’ve seen all of them in theaters. I can still remember most of them.

    Ep4 — the opening scene of the Star Destroyer flying by the top of the screen was the most memorable thing I remember about it. I was having dreams about that opening for years. I was way too young to know what was going on, but I remember going to the bathroom as they were starting the trench run and then suddenly seeing them flying over a metal landscape and not knowing at all what was going on. Vader’s breathing felt weird to me at first. I was young enough that it was hard for me to distinguish what I’d actually seen on the screen from various dreams, and until I was in 6th grade and finally saw it again I could’ve swore I remembered Luke fighting Vader awkwardly with a yellow lightsaber. (Context: the original, ancient Kenner line of action figures I grew up with had Luke with a yellow saber. Rey’s saber at the end of Ep9 was almost certainly inspired by it.) I didn’t get a clear understanding other than in my picture book versions of what really happened in the movie until that 6th grade viewing when VHS became a thing, Side note: I was really disappointed that they didn’t follow through with their 3D re-releases of all the films, because I really wanted this movie to break Gone With The Wind’s all time record for inflation-adjusted gross. That movie is a blight on our culture in that spot.

    Ep5: A friend in school had told me Vader’s “I am your father” line before I saw it. The walker fight was always impressive to me. I knew they were looking for Yoda in Dagobah, but failed utterly to catch when he revealed himself in real time and went out to the theater parking lot thinking they’d never found him and just spent most of the movie still searching. I’ve since come to appreciate that Empire was the best of them, but in 2nd grade I completely didn’t get it. I saw it three times in its original run, though, so I eventually figured it out a little better… but after showing my five year old this movie I realized that the asteroid field and training scenes aren’t really that exciting to kids.

    Ep6: I read a picture book of it before I saw it, but I understood what was going on better. I never liked this one as much as the other two, because I was enough of a Vader fan that I didn’t like the way he acted like a whipped servant to the Emperor. Saw it two or three times.

    Ep1: I was… a little disappointed when I first saw it. I waited in line at a midnight showing, and wound up just feeling like something was just a little off. Jar Jar is clearly intended to carry a lot of the entertainment value of the movie, and when you feel like you have to ignore him to enjoy the movie the rest of it falls a little flat. Still saw it a few times in theaters.

    Ep2: I heard the name “Dooku” and pretty much dismissed most of this movie in theaters. Worst name for a villain ever. It got even worse when I saw Invader Zim and they started using “dookie” as a term for poop in the show. I’ve since come to appreciate Christopher Lee’s performance better, but visually and in most other ways, Dooku is the weakest Sith, and the movie still hurts for it. The Kamino story was…ok.

    Ep3: Awesome. This redeemed the prequels a lot for me when I saw it. The first moment Vader breathes through the mask was emotional. The “nooooooooo” moment felt a little weird as the send off to Vader’s first scene in the armor, but the exit visual of Sidious and Vader viewing the Death Star under construction is still iconic. I do feel like they might have crippled him a little too much, or at least left some ambiguity as to whether he could still exceed the Emperor.

    Ep7: this was a good startup to the new trilogy. Kylo Ren always struck me as being a bit too much of a Vader knockoff, but you don’t need to re-hear my thoughts on that. 😓 Starkiller Base’s firing came off almost anti-climactic, and the movie utterly fails to get across the impact of why the Hosnian system much matters; you basically have to read why it does somewhere else. Rey’s going rage mode on Kylo didn’t pop out to me as much until after I’d seen Ep9 and watched it again.

    Rogue One: I cried when Jyn died. Like, I was sobbing coming out of the theater, and was texting my wife “I’m not supposed to cry in freaking Star Wars.” In fairness, I was going through a low point in life at the time for reasons that I don’t need to go into here, but still, it hit me a bit. I didn’t appreciate Vader’s rampage immediately afterwards as much until later.

    Ep8: okay… this one flat out bugged me. Snoke had come out mysterious and foreboding in holograms in the dark, and him dressed in ornate gold in a stop sign red throne room with absolutely no features to even break up the giant field of red, with craggy skin and shaggy eyebrows just completely underwhelmed me. That Kylo killed him while he was selectively blind to what was going on after he’s Force-ragdolling everyone was incongruous. I won’t rant again about the feature length chase scene, and I didn’t appreciate the idea of tracking through hyperspace. It was the first movie other than the original in 1977 that I didn’t go back and see a second time in theaters. I did like Luke and Rey’s interactions… but I just didn’t want to go see it again.

    Solo: eh. It was a movie. Qi’ra was all right. I barely even remember most of the rest of it other than the Chewie meeting. I didn’t hate it and wasn’t actively bugged by it like some of the others, but I didn’t go see it again. I only barely caught it at the tail end of bombing out of theaters as it was. It’s the only one of the eleven I haven’t seen again.

    Ep9: Saw it in a night before showing. Came away even more bugged than I was by Ep8. I’ve already ranted about the reasons plenty. I’m forgiving a few things about it more, but I still consider it the weakest numbered movie in the bunch, more so for the fact that it weakens no fewer than three movies that came before it for the ending. I made myself watch it again in theaters when my parents wanted to see it over a Christmas visit, in hopes that I’d like it more. Didn’t, much.

    Clone Wars: oh wait, I’ll get you forgot (or never knew) this had a special edition kickoff in theaters, right? Well, I saw this too. Just the once. I remember almost nothing other than when I watched the credits, I saw two women a few rows in front me suddenly cheer in the middle. I asked, “know somebody?” Then went, “yeah, us!” This was when I remembered that the theater in question was down the road from Skywalker Ranch. I’m not 100% sure since nobody knew who she was at the time, but I believe one of them was Kathleen Kennedy herself. Meeting actual producers was much more memorable than the movie itself. Most people don’t even remember this ever hit theaters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I loved reading this. It seems that your movie experiences of late have not been that great. I hope in the near future the next Star Wars movie will have you beaming as you walk out of the theater.

      I just watched TROS after watching TLJ and I have to admit, I cried like a baby. No, it isn’t perfect but it touched me in ways I wasn’t expecting. I’ll elaborate more in an upcoming post but I totally understand why you dislike it. Like I said, it’s not perfect.

      May the 4th be with you! 🙂

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      1. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I really liked Rogue One, it was just the first time I saw a Star Wars movie end with the main hero dying. It caught me at a rough patch in life, so the surprise of that got to me. I did like Ep7 in theaters and was looking forward to the others. The others just had a few too many flaws to like them quite as well.

        Not that the originals didn’t have a few hiccups too, but Darth Vader’s presence as a character acts as a rather powerful deodorant as such. Since I grew up with him in the movies, there’s kind of a negotiation and searching process to find the cool stuff in a Star Wars movie that doesn’t have him in it. It’s like if you made a new series of movies about Sarah and John Connor and there’s no Terminators in them, or a Friday the 13th without Jason, or a Nightmare on Elm Street and no Freddy. I don’t blame Lucas for stopping when he ran out of plausible ways to make movies once there was no more of Vader’s story to tell. It’s hard for another franchise character to walk in those big black boots. And as a fan, there’s a search process for me to find the cool stuff without him. It took me a while with the prequels, too. I’m getting there with the sequels, but it’s not the same. But I like Star Wars enough that I’m never going to say it was truly bad. There’s just great and… less great. Even the less great ones are still better than the rolling train wreck of the Aliens movie du jour.

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      2. I have elected to only watch Alien and Aliens because I have heard the other movies are pretty crappy. And yes, even the worst Star Wars movies are better than most movies.

        Question: I don’t know if you’ve told me but what’s your favorite Star Wars film?

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  2. Re: Aliens… I applaud your wise decision. I’ve seen the first three and Prometheus. There’s just not much new after the second one, no, and it drops off badly from there.

    My favorite Star Wars film is Empire Strikes Back. There’s just so many different things where it’s the peak of the series. If you can stand my walls of text, I’ll even tell you some of them. 😓

    – Yoda’s expositions on the Force are must-watch to truly understand the spiritual philosophy of the saga.

    – The Battle of Hoth is the most brilliant but nonetheless simply presented example of three dimensional chess in the art of war by opposing sides in the entire saga, and it’s not close. The presentation of what’s happening subtly starts before the fleet even shows up with the seemingly toss-off comment, “with all the meteor activity in this system, it’s going to be difficult to spot approaching ships.” This informs Vader’s fury with Ozzel for giving up that advantage by popping out of hyperspace too close, which seems random and pointless until you cross reference it with the earlier line of dialogue. That, in turn, touches off a strategic exchange of high level moves and countermoves that make sense to the average viewer and yet display both sides anticipating what the other will do in response to them. I could go on for several paragraphs about this, but as an armchair strategist, it’s breathtaking in its display and yet simplicity.

    – The Imperial March. It first appears here. All the Star Wars films after, and most of the TV shows, all pay homage to it. It’s the musical peak of original, classic leitmotifs of the series… and at some point, the music of John Williams is almost as big a cultural contribution as the actual movies themselves.

    – The duel on Cloud City is one of the most intense and story driven lightsaber battles in the whole saga. Arguably, it’s the best.

    – Han Solo’s freezing is one of the most tragic moments of the series. Leia’s just fallen in love with him and has begun to understand him… and down he goes on ice. Even their last words, “I love you!” “…I know.” are classic.

    – The cave run on Dagobah. This scene gets interpreted a lot of ways, but IMO it was obviously a warning and a taunt to Luke that his path was not as different from Vader’s as he thought.

    – The Falcon’s asteroid landing, which develops dramatically but not all at once. It’s not good from the start, but it takes a while for them to realize it. The hints of what they’re in for build up, and it’s awesome in its presentation.

    – And, of course, the reveal of Vader’s relationship with Luke. Biggest “omg” moment in cinema history.

    ….maybe I ought to just start my own blog for this stuff instead of writing walls of text on yours. 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol. I’d be your first follower and don’t worry, I love your walls of text. The Empire Strikes Back is my second favorite Star Wars film for nearly all of the same reasons as you but mainly because of just how darn good it is!

      And you’re right. Luke and Vader’s duel is undoubtedly epic beyond simply the choreography or the setting. The gravity, the build up to the ultimate plot twist, Luke’s agony at learning such a terrible truth. It’s fascinating stuff.

      Rogue One’s my favorite film for its grittiness but mainly for the horrifying fact that everyone died. It was something that had never happened before in Star Wars and a shocking move on Disney’s part that I highly respected. Plus, I’m one of those fans who can’t get enough of Darth Vader and that hallway scene at the end is jaw-droppingly EPIC!

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      1. Re: being first follower, awwwww. I can’t make any promises, but I might eventually work up the motivation to get my page off cookie cutter startup mode and into something I can scribble on.

        Rogue One, there are parts I really like and there are a lot of parts that’ll just kinda so so. The Vader rampage is one of his best scenes in the saga, no doubt. Both major scenes with him in it are really good, but the end scene is one of the best in the saga. The Bacta tank was a cool visual, but it’s a little hard to square with the overall continuity of Vader’s prosthetics — so he just takes them off like he’s getting undressed and puts them back on to go out and meet people? I don’t know if I like that choice as much, given that it’s the only case in the entire saga where anyone with a cyborg prosthetic takes it off at will. The painful reconstruction scene in Ep3 seems to imply strongly that this probably wasn’t really an option for him.

        But then there’s the rest. Zombie-CGI Tarkin was… a questionable decision. The continuity splice from Vader, lightsaber in hand, personally watching Tantive IV flying away from an empty docking bay to his descriptions of “I have traced the rebel spies to her” is a bit incongruous. Some of the narrative pacing in the rest of the movie is a little dragged out, and the sheer length of time spent on action scenes is a bit overkill. Having Jyn die was definitely different, and I didn’t expect it coming into the theater, but given that she clearly is nowhere to be found in the original trilogy, that choice becomes less bold and begins to approach “blindingly obvious” in retrospect.

        And then there’s the massive plot hole trade off. Writing off the exhaust port as an act of deliberate sabotage by a key engineer who’s antagonistic to the Empire is a great story. But it makes the Imperial decision not to inundate the rebel fighters at Yavin with their own TIEs inexcusable. Now the Empire knows there’s a strong chance the station is compromised. It’s one thing to eventually calculate in ANH that the plans don’t really help the rebels much, and finding them is a higher priority. It’s something else completely when you’ve got a compromised key engineer who likely has given the rebels an overt reason to believe they expect to find something. The only reason the rebels win at Yavin is hubris; it’s a pretty explicit part of the story. But that hubris turns into something else altogether when you have the Empire know this.

        …and to top it off, I just rewatched the end on Disney+ while I had this in mind. Found another serious flaw: Jyn telling Krennic there’s something to find was… stupid. The script writers paper over it by killing him off before he can pass it on… but it’s pretty bad tradecraft to tell your enemy that your inside source has put “a fuse inside your machine, and I’ve just told the whole galaxy how to light it.” That oversight kinda jumped out at me just now. It doesn’t help you even a little to find a secret like that if your enemy knows you’ve found it. The only reason she gets away with it is because Krennic conveniently dies right afterwards. 😖

        I still like it. But it’s got issues.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha! I never thought of that. Yikes, that is kind of stupid. What if he had lived? The rebels wouldn’t have won because of her willingness to rub her father’s win in his face.

        I really do love your take on these movies. You are actually pointing out things I had never thought about. Thank you for that.

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  3. Re: Jyn telling Krennic. Even though Krennic was dead, though, he lived long enough that Vader had reason to suspect. It’s okay to write it off as Imperial hubris that the rebels wouldn’t find a weakness in the plans when they don’t have any specific reason to know there was one. But when Vader has been informed that a key engineer is a traitor to the Empire? And he takes it seriously enough to order Krennic to get ahead of it? That makes the decisions of the Death Star commanders in ANH harder to take. Rogue One kinda made that plot hole bigger, even with Krennic dead. It’s an unfortunate trade off with the “deliberate sabotage” plot line.

    Re: loving my take… well, I love giving ‘em. Your blog and trading thoughts on this stuff is a blast.

    Liked by 1 person

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