Monday, August 27, 2012

Star Wars: Machete Order Review (Part 1)

A couple of weeks ago, I found this post that explained an order of watching the Star Wars movies that I had never heard of before: Machete Order.

I've always struggled between starting with the Original Trilogy versus the Prequel Trilogy when I re-watch the movies, and even more so when I'm showing them to someone new to Star Wars.

Starting with Episode I had many flaws:
It is the weakest film in the franchise, and therefore more likely to cause new viewers to stop there.
It doesn't explain the universe well at any point.
Jar Jar Binks.
A decent chunk of the characters are introduced and die off, leaving few returners for the following films.
Several of the main characters look drastically different from their future versions, which can be confusing to new viewers.

Starting with Episode IV had a few flaws:
Beginning with "the fourth movie" is confusing in itself.
The movie is dated, which can dissuade some viewers from progressing in the series.
The jump from Episode VI to I is jarring.

The article above introduced me to a new order, called Machete Order (honestly, I'm basing that title off of the blog I found it on -- I don't know if it has another name). It goes as follows: IV, V, II, III, VI.

In case you didn't notice, it completely removes Episode I and puts II and III in the middle of the series. Confusing yet?

Read the article if you want an in-depth explanation for the reasoning behind this order before watching it. After reading it, I found that it made perfect sense and, conceptually, I 100% agreed with it.

Now I'm putting it to the test. I'm going to watch and review each film in relation to where it is placed on the viewing timeline. I'll list pros and cons and key points to consider when a jump between two films occurs. If there are any glaring issues, I'll post them up here as well. This review will be broken into a series of five posts, starting with my review of Episode IV after the break.

Last night, I watched Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) with the wife. I have always felt, even when I'm struggling with which film to show first, that it is the best introduction to the Star Wars universe.

Very early on, we are introduced to the main characters:
Darth Vader is established as a merciless killer and notorious villain, who just so happens to be working for the ruling government, painting a quick sketch of the galaxy at large.
Princess Leia isn't an ordinary damsel in distress -- she might get captured, but not before having the foresight to send a message to Obi-Wan to save the rebellion (NOTE: she never asks to be saved herself!).
R2-D2 and C-3PO obviously have a history together.
Luke is a farmboy with delusions of grandeur and some family problems.
Ben is revealed to be Obi-Wan, and quickly explains his relation to Luke's father, Luke's father's "killer", and that he was a Jedi during the Clone Wars. This leaves us wondering what the war was, but it obviously ended with dark times for the galaxy.
Han Solo is a rogue. Whether or not he shot first (he did), he is still a drug vain, drug smuggler who just happens to share an adventure with Luke and save him when it counts.

Luke, as our medium, is introduced the the galaxy at large when tragedy besets him. He is not a well traveled character and so has a limited view of things, similar to first time viewers. Also, Obi-Wan gives the best definition of the Force out of all six of the movies, and does it early. In practice, it is still subtle, but that allows viewers to grow accustomed to the strange powers as opposed to jumping into a crazy lightsaber sequence with Episode I.

This movie is one of my favorite in the series, and it still stands strongest as the first watched in the saga. This isn't a surprise, simply a validation of why starting on IV works so far with Machete order.

The movie is still dated. Not terribly so, but it can be difficult to keep interest. This is slightly abated by the films getting progressively crisper, but it doesn't help at this point.

Also, some my be overly curious about references to past events, even if they are shown in the prequels or not. The upcoming "flashback" films should work to assist with this, but for now folks will have to remain curious.

The Wife: I hate Chewy. There, I said it.

I suppose that could be a con as well, but at least he's better than Jar Jar...

I'll post soon with Part 2, which will be a shorter post due to lacking the explanation before the break. Look for it (and the weekly Extra! Extra! post) soon!

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