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(Also known as "Episode IV: A New Hope", but only to those pretentious jerks who like to pretend they know about Star Wars but don't even care about the real Star Wars like I do.)
In 1975, George Lucas got an idea. It was based on a true story. Not an idea as simple as one that you or I might have, of course, as the idea was not had by you or I. It was had by George Lucas. Yes, George Lucas, already the brilliant mastermind behind such works as "American Graffiti", but who really cares about that, anyways? He made fucking STAR WARS!! Well, he had this idea, and he made his movie. A movie which took place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....
It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base have... etc, etc, DEATH STAR!!, etc, Princess Leia, etc, save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy!!
Star Wars takes place "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," if you are slow and didn't quite get that the first time I mentioned it. Yes, George Lucas was such a mastermind, he didn't have to set his story in the future, which is clearly a Sci-Fi cliché. Instead, Star Wars takes place in the past, completely ignoring every law of science and common sense about technology there is to ignore. The movie also takes place in an alternate galaxy, because it seems like it should. Really, look at the Milky Way. BORING! Unless you throw in an extra dimension or two, you just can't make our humble galaxy interesting.
So, the movie begins, with Lucas, in his eternally laudable sense of storytelling, giving us a bit of background info on the story. Apparently, at the start of the movie, it is a period of civil war. Also, it is a period of galactic unrest, and um.....Princess Leia's ship....yeah, anyways, the bad guys are after the good guys. There are lasers, and cool explosions and stuff, so....yeah.... I forget exactly what happens next, since I went upstairs at this point to grab my popcorn. Anyways, a couple of these robots (I know, robots in a sci-fi movie! Who would've thought?) wind up on a desert planet, apparently Yootapootapowpow, or some such creative name, where they meet Luke Skywalker. The princess, meanwhile, is captured by the heavy-breathing Darth Vader, who apparently is not a very nice person. Presumably, Vader is lonely and would like a friend. He and Leia pass the time by staring menacingly at one-another and threatening to blow up planets.
Meanwhile, the two robust robots fall indirectly into the hands of a spry, rather whiny young lad named Luke Skywalker. His robotic companions lead him to the humble abode of three sand people, who proceed to beat the living snot out of Luke, until an old man comes along and asks them to leave. The old man, after revealing himself to be Ben Kenobi, takes a shot at Luke as well. Luke takes this opportunity to whine, and is again punched, this time by C3P0, one of the droids.
They reach Ben's home, where Luke is told of his father, one of my personal favorite parts of the movie. Ben speaks to Luke: "Uncle Owen... never told you about your father..."
Luke says that "He told me enough. He told me you killed him!"
"No," says Ben. "I am your father. Search your feelings, boy! You know it to be true!"
At this point, Luke's hand is chopped off by Obi Wan's lightsaber, and the entire Cantina goes silent. Luke, now with one hand less than before, recruits the help of the rugged and manly space captain Han Solo, whose gruffness hides his soft spot for soap operas and kittens. Put simply, Han Solo is not a stock character, nor is anyone else in the Star Wars movies, and anyone that says they are is obviously not an expert on the movie like me.
Along with Han, they meet Chewbacca, the lovable yet internally tortured companion of Han. His greatest dream was always to be a spaceship-piloting smuggler-mercenary-type thing, but his father always wanted him to be a baseball player. "Someday I'll make you proud, dad," sighs Chewie as he boards Han's spaceship.
At this point, the movie moves into space, territory previously uncharted by science fiction, which Lucas bravely opted to venture into. Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan, and Luke take off in Han's spaceship, the Centuryhawk, or some such device. There are a couple space battles, but they all get to the Death Star and rescue the trigger-happy Princess Leia, who proceeds to somehow wind up with a firearm and shoot nearly every human, alien, and droid in the station. This clears the way for her, Han, Luke, and Chewbacca to escape the Death Star while Obi-Wan Kenobi wanders away and apparently gets lost, being the senile old man he is. Darth Vader finds him, and he is not really the nicest of people. A downright meanie-head, if you'll excuse my fucking language. Yeah, he kills Obi-Wan. It really didn't take him very long, either. Obi's last words are..... irrelevant, really, because he comes back later as a ghost, anyways.
At this point, there is a final, climactic, frantic, conclusive, final, climactic battle. In space, of course, as Lucas's aforementioned genius permits the aforementioned battle in the aforementioned movie to take place in the aforementioned setting, space. Space, of course, being aforementioned, like many other aforementioned aforementionings.
Essentially, Luke is flying through some evil-looking canyon-y thing, when Darth Vader has locked onto his spaceship with his lasers. Darth is dramatically pausing before finishing his opponent, which he knows will certainly happen, because all the odds are in his favor and at this point nothing could possibly go wrong to stop him. Suddenly, and completely unexpectedly, Han Solo appears in his spaceship, which was apparently not around for any of the actual battle and just showed up at the end to serve as a Deus Ex Machina. Either way, he shoots Darth Vader's ship, and Luke shoots some shiny things down a hole, which was apparently important, because it makes the Death Star explode.
At this point, I assumed the movie was over, because only a filmmaker with such brilliance as Lucas could think to end a page with an explosion. Still, there was more! An awards ceremony where Luke, Han, Chewie, and the droids all get medals, presumably for being in what is without question the greatest fucking movie of all time.
As soon as the movie was released, it instantly fell under a constant waterfall of acclaim and praise. Of course, the movie came out in 1977, so no evidence of this praise actually exists today. Still, anybody who was anybody went to see Star Wars, and then went home to tell everyone how awesome it was. Star Wars is also considered one of the first "High Concept" movies, which, despite having absolutely no idea what that means, I will mention here. Even today, it is praised as one of the best science fiction movies of all time, by critics such as myself, as I am now an expert on the movie, having just watched it.
One of the things critics praise about the movie is its intricate symbolism. For example, did you know that the seemingly outdated 1970s special effects are actually symbolic of the internal, emotional battles of man? They are. Not only that, note the numerous, supposedly unintentional holes in the plot, where the movie seems "inconsistent" to the untrained eye. These represent the chaos of modern society, and indeed the entire universe, as Lucas saw it in his artistic mind's eye at the time.
Still Star Wars' symbolism proved to be accessible enough for both the "Average-Joe" moviegoer and the wolf-like critics, who gaze intently at the screen, waiting... waiting for a flaw to exploit, and an excuse to destroy any chance the movie had for ever making any money and ruining a director's credibility, all in one fell swoop. Damn you, critics! Why? WHY??? Luckily, Star Wars was basically perfect on every cinematic level, so no critics anywhere disliked it, and Lucas's credibility remained intact. Well, until the sequels, at least...
....DUNH DUNH DUUUUUUUUUUNH!!!
Sequels, Prequels, Novels, Comics, Spin-offs, Spoofs, and What Little Credibility the Franchise has Left
In the beginning, there was only one Star Wars. Of course, after a success such as Star Wars, fans, and the faceless Hollywood corporations are left wanting more. The fans want more movie time so that they can pretend that their boring life is action-y and explosion-riddled for a couple of hours. The faceless Hollywood corporations want more so that they can leech money off of said fans until there is nothing left to take, and they control all the money. This is because if they control the money, they control the spice, and if they control the spice, they control the universe. Still, this left Lucas with only one option: numerous sub-par sequels!
Well, the first two sequels, also known as the second and third movies, also known as the fifth and sixth episodes, weren't really that bad. It was the third and fourth sequels, also known as the fourth and fifth movies made, also known as the first and second episodes, that really sucked. The fifth and final sequel, also known as the sixth and final movie, also known as the third episode and finale to the prequels, was largely unnoticed. Supposedly it didn't suck, but by the time it came out, everyone had lost all faith in the Star Wars franchise, and none of my friends ever even mentioned it at lunch.
Anyways, the sequels can be summarized rather quickly. In The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader is Luke's father. No he wasn't dead. Yes, he's Luke's father. Yes, Obi-Wan was lying. Yes, Vader is Luke's father. Yes, Darth had sex with Luke's mommy and nine months later a baby came out that grew up on Tatoo....Tatoo....that dry planet and was named Luke. In other words, Darth Vader was Luke's goddamn father!! Really.
In Return of the Jedi, Luke goes to the "New Death Star", which I assume was like "New Coke", and vastly inferior to the original. There, Luke fights Darth Vader one last time. Did I mention that said Darth Vader is Luke's father? He is. Anyways, Luke wins, Vader dies, and so does the Emperor, because Darth throws him off a cliff into some giant pit-thing, which apparently leads to something bad, and/or something that he would not survive hitting at terminal velocity. Luke buries Darth Vader, who I should probably mention is Luke's father. This is the end of the series. Well, not really.
The Star Wars prequels, released much later than the original than the two sequels, follow the life of a young Anakin Skywalker. We watch as he blossoms from a young child, full of hope and a sense of adventure, to a whiny teenager with a temper issue. He falls in love with Queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo. Apparently, she cheated on him with Obi-Wan, because one day Anakin gets really angry at both of them all of a sudden. He chokes Padmé (with the Force, because I guess he can do that now) and attacks Obi-Wan. Needless to say, this upsets Obi, who, after trying to "talk things out," chops off all of Anakin's arms and legs and pushes him into a giant lava pit.
Luckily, Anakin seems to have rolled for +17 and is impervious to blood loss, post-traumatic shock, lava melting, and immobility due to lack of bodily appendages. He slowly worms himself out of the lava in what could only be described as an amusing display of a pathetic attempt to move. The Emperor finds him, and, from what I can tell, turns him into a robot, and Darth Vader is born, completing the prequels.
Oh, and I should probably say that the prequels are lame. That's what all the real Star Wars fans say, and I feel that I am finally ready to join their ranks, as I have seen (parts of) almost every Star Wars movie! So yeah, fuck the prequels!
Critical Acclaim of the Other Stuff
Despite being massive, epic failures, the three Star Wars prequels made Lucas a lot of money, furthering Lucas and his puppet-masters' plans to "control the spice." Not only that, but both of the original sequels are regarded by everyone as some of the best sequels of all time. At least, I assume so; I thought that one I saw was pretty good. Way better than Big Momma's House 2. Anyway, these sequels are a testament to the fact that some movie directors can make a sequel that doesn't suck, they just choose not to. The newer prequels, meanwhile, show that sometimes you just can't win em all. More than any other symbolism in these, there is this: quit while you're ahead. George Lucas has never said anything smarter. After all, I would know.