It’s always funny when there’s a May the 4th or D23 or some other special reason to celebrate and commemorate Star Wars on the Internet, as though the Internet isn’t dedicated to celebrating and commemorating Star Wars every other damn day on the calendar. But today actually is a special day for Star Wars, because it was 40 years ago, on May 25, 1977, that the first Star Wars opened in theaters across the country. We would love to commemorate it with some kind of special Internet #content — were it not for the fact that good God, if there’s a film/series about which every imaginable thing has been said, it’s this one.
But maybe not! Maybe there are some amazing contrarian opinions we can air about this oft-discussed franchise! And then, nope, turns out all of the hot takes about Star Wars have also been written. No, seriously, all of them. Yes, that one too. In fact, there are so many that, why, you could even partake in that most reliable of Internet #content generation exercises: ranking them, from worst to really worst. So here we are.
10. The Force Awakens’ Rey is a “Mary Sue.”
This one was initially offered up by wildly untalented screenwriter / Twitter “personality” / nepotism beneficiary Max Landis, who could barely wait until he was out of the theater before tweeting that the seventh film’s protagonist (played, wonderfully, by Daisy Ridley) was a “Mary Sue,” the dismissive fan-fiction term for a female character who is widely beloved, does everything well, and saves the day. As with most of what Landis says, tweets, or writes, it can be dismissed with a bare minimum of effort: if Rey was a Mary Sue, then so was Luke Skywalker, and so was Harry Potter, and so was Jason Bourne, and so on.
9. “SJW”s ruined Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Along similar lines: just before TFA’s release, Stephen L. Miller (whose other, totes reasonable opinions include that Hollywood doesn’t discriminate against female directors and that Amy Schumer should let people call her a slut because she jokes about her sexual proclivity) took to the pages of National Review to bemoan how “Social Justice Warriors” were going to ruin his precious Star Wars experience:
The filmmakers and cast would serve both our own galaxy and the galaxy far, far away well by telling the Vox-splaining concern trolls, who will doubtless be poring over every story arc and line of dialogue in search of microaggressions, that they’ll get no such social-justice pleasure from them, but alas, that is probably too much to ask. The original Star Wars was celebrated as a pop-culture revolution that brought the country and the world together in a way a film and brand hadn’t done previously. But that was before the dark times. Before the Social Justice Empire. Never will Star Wars have encountered a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. One can already see the trending “hot takes” on the film flying out faster than an X-wing through the Death Star trench… Ever since the universally rejected prequels, race in Star Wars has been a topic of discussion for progressive elites, but it’s clear the aim of Social Justice Media is to bring it more into focus. “What does a black stormtrooper’s wielding a lightsaber finally say about ourselves and our culture?” the headlines will read. Black Lives Matter will start waving toy lightsabers during their protests while chanting, “Hans Up, Don’t Shoot First.”
Funny story: turned out, The Force Awakens’ discernable effort to present a wide range of races and sexes in its major roles made it a richer, better film, and the dumb takes on it came less from “SJWs” than privileged white dudes like Miller and Landis. Imagine that!
8. Han Solo is the ultimate Uber driver.
Look, I get it: when a new Star Wars movie is coming out, that SEO makes you do whatever you can to connect your beat to that particular peg. At least, that’s about the only reasonable explanation for The Verge’s transportation reporter, Andrew J. Hawkins, typing these words and hitting “publish”:
The Millennium Falcon may not qualify as an uberX — that hunk of junk? — but it certainly meets the credentials for an UberPool: multiple riders and their droids. Solo may not provide candy nor bottled water, but he does offer his passengers entertainment. (A game of dejarik with his co-pilot? Let the Wookie win.) Ever the mercenary, he also is flexible when the destination switches from Alderaan (vaporized) to a rescue mission aboard the Death Star. Anything for that rating. Okay, maybe this is a stretch.
Gee, ya think?
7. Episode I: The Phantom Menace is actually good.
Few films on this earth have been as breathlessly anticipated as the first of George Lucas’s prequel trilogy… nor as roundly rejected, as Lucas’s clumsy screenwriting and clunky direction made many a viewer question what they’d ever liked about Star Wars to begin with. But not according to What Culture’s Jon Lovatt:
[D]espite the large scale criticism of Episode I, it is possible in hindsight to look back on the 1999 Star Wars prequel and appreciate it for what it truly is. A brilliant film. This may seem a bold statement, even an ill-informed view or misjudged approval, but after careful consideration it is time to cut The Phantom Menace some slack.
And why on earth should we do that, you ask? Because it was of its time.
Making The Phantom Menace a light-hearted, at times comedic, family film was only a natural transition in the context of the 90s as a whole. Foolhardy characters like Jar Jar Binks find their place within family films as comic-relief, and ultimately don’t detract from the overall story. For our generation, The Phantom Menace is representative of a more innocent time in relation to our childhood, but also the film industry of the 90s, and is all the more appealing for being so.
“Appealing.” Well, that’s one word for it.
6. Episode II: Attack of the Clones is actually good.
Lest you think this kind of revisionist taste-making only extends to Episode I, guess what? Moviepilot’s Julian Bahmani would like you to know that Attack of the Clones, generally considered the worst of the terrible prequel trilogy, is his favorite movie in the series (better than Star Wars, better than Empire, those movies are for punks). And why? He comes up with exactly three reasons: the “best action of the franchise,” “the best theme in the franchise” (not just the trilogy, the franchise, so better than the Star Wars theme, better than the Vader theme, yep, best), and – seriously, real thing someone wrote – the “emotional stakes”:
The Original Trilogy was understandably doused in ’80s camp in a good way. The Phantom Menace, though released in the last remnants of the ’90s, still harbors some of that ’80s warmth and lightness. Episode II eschews all of that in favor of a far darker and more mature storyline…
(Clicks back to tab) I’m sorry, you lost me at “doused in ‘80s camp in a good way.” What’s that you were saying about maturity?
5. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is actually good.
Little White Lies’ Tom Bond is actually a very good writer, which makes his contention that Revenge of the Sith is (here we go again) “the best Star Wars movie” a bit of a painful read:
The film’s final hour – as Anakin turns fully to the Dark Side, slaughters the younglings in the Jedi temple and battles his mentor, Obi-Wan – is the darkest and most thrilling of the entire series. It’s grand and operatic and its stakes feel viscerally real in a way that the original trilogy never quite managed. Anakin’s final clash with Obi-Wan is crosscut to great effect with Yoda’s battle against Sidious, as John Williams’ score thunders to a tense and triumphant crescendo. Never has the term ‘space opera’ felt more apt.
“Most thrilling of the entire series,” you say? Hmmm. The destruction of the Death Star from Star Wars would like a word.
4. The prequels are actually good.
And if you were concerned that these single-film boosts were an anomaly, fear not – there are plenty of writers who will tell you that the entire prequel trilogy, not just the one they were at the right age or in the right mood for, is boss. What Culture’s Alex Leadbeater belly-aches:
The problem is, people do take… the prequel haters very seriously indeed. Which is a shame because the films don’t deserve to be disliked anywhere near as much as they are. They may not soar as high as Episodes IV-VI, but there’s a lot of effort on behalf of the whole production crew put into making a legitimate continuation of the Star Wars saga…
Yeah, c’mon everybody, “A” for effort for the prequel gang! They tried super-hard!
And Screen Rant’s Joesph Allen offers:
These movies were George Lucas’s vision, and they weren’t exactly beloved when they were initially released. Still, the prequels have a reputation they really don’t deserve. For every flaw in the dialogue or plotting, there’s a virtue somewhere else that more than compensates for it.
And what, pray tell, were those virtues? There’s a list! It includes “They Explain the Jedi” (because really, that’s what’s missing in the original trilogy, a literal explanation of the Jedi org-chart), “Complex Ideas About Corrupted Government” (and ask anybody, all those intergalactic Senate meetings really are a highlight) “They Add Nuances to the Original Trilogy” (okey-dokey), and “The Design of the Republic’s Ships.” Keep these in your back pocket for your next Reddit fight – when someone says the prequels are bad, you can shoot right back with, “Oh yeah! Well how about the design of the Republic’s ships, smartass?”
3. Jar Jar Binks is actually good.
Of all the crimes the prequel trilogy (notably, Episode I) commits against cinema in particular and humanity in general, none is worse than the conception, writing, and execution of Jar Jar Binks, the Stepin Fetchit of the Star Wars franchise. He’s an abomination top to bottom, a loathsome, obnoxious, vaguely racist notion of “comic relief” created by a man who clearly hadn’t laughed in years, so of course a four-second Google search will produce a “defense of Jar Jar Binks,” this one penned by Den of Geek’s Bryan Young. It’s full of the kind of toothless deflection you might expect; he’s supposed to be obnoxious, he’s a classic Shakespearean clown, etc. etc. But then there’s, um, this:
This is an excellent lesson to be learned from Jar Jar in the Star Wars films, and it turned out to be disturbingly prescient. Six months after the release of Attack Of The Clones, the United States Congress unwittingly pulled a Jar Jar and gave George W. Bush the same war authority powers Palpatine was given and in another six months the United States would be embroiled in its longest, most senseless war to date.
Yes, we should all like Jar-Jar Binks, because if we had learned his lessons, maybe we wouldn’t have gone to Iraq. Come again?
2. Star Wars is actually bad.
Nothing is easier than hating something everyone likes, so how about this troll, eh?
“Star Wars” is like getting a box of Cracker Jack which is all prizes. This is the writer-director George Lucas’s own film, subject to no business interference, yet it’s a film that’s totally uninterested in anything that doesn’t connect with the mass audience. There’s no breather in the picture, no lyricism; the only attempt at beauty is in the double sunset. It’s enjoyable on its own terms, but it’s exhausting, too: like taking a pack of kids to the circus.
Man, lol, who wrote that click-bait? Oh, um, it was The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael, the preeminent film critic of our time.
Hmmm. Moving on!
1. The Empire Strikes Back is actually bad.
Here we go, okay, what hack did /Film find to say The Empire Strikes Back was the worst Star Wars movie? Oh my, it seems this isn’t an opinion piece, but an aggregation of David Poland’s reporting from the 2007 Producer’s Guild Luncheon:
George Lucas, giving the award to Sid Ganis, who was the in-house publicist on Star Wars: Episode Five – The Empire Strikes Back, said, ‘Sid is the reason why The Empire Strikes Back is always written about as the best of the films, when it actually was the worst one.’
And there you have it – and really, it should only stand to reason that the man who made the Special Editions would be the biggest Star Wars hot-take purveyor of them all.