— Admiral Ackbar (on the shameless commercial scam to buy Lucas's movie merchandise) on Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. It centers on an ordinary good vs. evil battle that supposedly took place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. There are seven films in the series: The Phantom Movie, Attack of the Clowns, Revenge of the Script, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Wakes Up.
The Star Wars films are massively successful, having grossed billions of dollars and won a total of sixty Academy Awards, the most for any series in film history. In fact, in 1983 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made the unheard-of move of bestowing its coveted Best Picture award as a tie between two movies in this series that had come out in the same year.
The incredible Star Wars storyline is set "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 franchise 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.
The series centers on the conflict between the "light side" and the "dark side" of a magic substance called the Force. It has it all: action, adventure, romance, and explosions. Lots and lots of big, sexy explosions. All of this shit is set in space: the final frontier ... to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Although no Star Wars fan has ever managed to get a date, fans of the fictional universe keep track of the dates on their calendar with a dating system based on an exact moment in A New Hope when the Stormtrooper entering the control room on the Death Star bangs his head on the door and yells. Using this system, events occurring before this moment are designated BBY (before bang/yell), and events after ABY.
On Coruscant, this dating system is used almost exclusively by the New Republic. The earlier Galactic Republic/Empire preferred to date events from the Great ReSyncopulation to the time of Third Base. The Old Republic, for years, dated from Russan mail order catalogues of 1,000 Rubles each.
A galactic year, based on the length of a year on Earth, can seem like days or weeks, but take place in twenty-four hours. This occurs when a prospective date promises to call back, and the recipient waits by an answering machine, seemingly forever.
So, there's the original movie, A New Hope. It is a period of civil war. Also, it is a period of galactic unrest, and um ... the bad guys are fighting 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. We see a dashing young man named Luke Skywalker go on a quest to become a "Jedi" or something. He saves Princess Leia, doesn't fight the villain Darth Vader, and makes the big bad Death Star explode.
Then there's The Empire Strikes Back. Here, 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 Tattoo ... Tattoo ... 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 trilogy than, 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! I mean, seriously George. "Jar Jar is the key to all this"? What does that even mean?
Thirty years after the Empire was taken down by a whiny teenager and a bunch of midgets in teddy bear costumes, the dark side is still alive and kicking. Supreme Leader Snokey the Bear has constructed an enormous mcguffin capable of powering entire plotlines. Luke Skywalker has gone missing in action, and despite Han and Leia's efforts – putting up "Missing Jedi" posters all over Coruscant, buying space on the side of blue milk cartons to display Luke's face on – he has not been found. However, a young woman named Rey from the desert planet of Jakku comes across a piece of a map to Luke's location in a droid, which was a good idea, because the rebels have never made a habit of putting vital information into droids in the past. Oh, and Rey is totally Luke's daughter, or Han's daughter, or Obi-Wan's nephew's granddaughter or something, because literally everybody is related to everybody else in this goddamn franchise.
Along for the ride is Cameron Poe (played by Nicholas Cage, who reprises his role from the 1997 action film Con Air), and Token. These three heroes must find the rest of the map to Luke Skywalker, sold separately in select Lucky Charms cereal boxes at your local supermarket. Collect all six maps! But unfortunately for our heroes, Han and Leia's emo son is after the map as well, and once he finally comes out of his bedroom, nothing will stand in his way. His dad totally, like, doesn't understand him at all, so he kills him.
In 1975 George Lucas, riding on the coattails of masterpieces like Howard the Duck and Willow, came up with Star Wars. Well, he made six of them as to separate all this into chapters of a serial since this he realized he could make more money and draw a larger audience if he stretched this out. All he wanted to do was special effects and making movies was his way of making BILLIONS for his special effects along. This six-part saga was going to be a NINE-part series, but even Lucas himself got fed up with this damn thing.
After losing much of his fortune in a divorce settlement, Lucas cut down the six-part saga to a single trilogy and vowed he would never make the prequels. Ever. That is, until 1997.
Prequels and what little credibility the franchise has left
For a while, there were only three Star Wars movies. Of course, after such a massive success as the original trilogy, fans and faceless Hollywood corporations were left wanting more. The fans desired more movies so that they could escape from their boring lives for a few more hours. The faceless Hollywood corporations wanted more so that they could leech money off of said fans until there was 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.
This left Lucas with only one option: return to his franchise and finish the story. In 1997, after the script to the first prequel was written, Lucas decided to anticipate the return of Star Wars by releasing Special Edition remastered re-releases of the original trilogy, so he could raise enough money to make the new film. $100 million dollars were utilized in changes/additives/subtractions, including cartoony added CGI, altered dialogue, re-edited shots, remixed soundtracks, added scenes, Greedo shooting first, the ending song in Return of the Jedi being changed, orangutans, breakfast cereals, fruit bats, and large chu. These changes were done to conform to Lucas's original vision; "I always intended for Greedo to shoot first," Lucas stated in an interview, "but in the '70s, I didn't have the technology necessary to make that vision a reality. Now I do." The Special Editions were box office hits – mostly due to the fact that nobody had seen a Star Wars movie in a theater for nearly twenty years – but hardcore fans sneered at the changes. Lucas would later re-re-release the original trilogy about 15 more times on DVD and Blu-ray, with even more changes like Vader's saber being changed to pink and eyelids being added to the Ewoks.
This wasn't the end of the fans' disenchantment, however. Once enough funds were raised, Lucas commenced principal photography on the first prequel. All the money raised by the Special Editions was used to pay for the film's digital groundbreaking effects, including the final battle scene against the zombie gungans where Lucas spent $3,500,000 to get the color of the zombies' eye irises just right. The first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, really sucked and was a massive disappointment. The second one, Attack of the Clones, also sucked – maybe even more so. The third and final prequel, Revenge of the Sith, supposedly didn't suck, but went largely unnoticed. By the time it came out, everyone had lost all faith in the Star Wars franchise, and none of my friends even mentioned it at lunch.
Disney buyout, sequels
In 2005 many Star Wars fans became depressed, as they had nothing left to look forward to in life except reissues of countless Special Edition DVDs with a new stupid piece of CGI put in which would only make fans roll their eyes every time. "Why was this?" you may ask. Well, this was because the Star Wars saga had ended. Or did it?
In 2012 Lucas unexpectedly sold Star Wars to Disney for a reported sum of $4.05 billion. Shortly thereafter, Disney announced a sequel trilogy would be produced in the future. After millions of nerds protested the prequels by self-harming, burning Jar-Jar Binks in effigy, and bitching on internet forums, the franchise was revived when J.J. Abrams, the director of such films as Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness, took the helm to direct a 2015 remake of the first Star Wars film. After a decade of complaining about how different the prequels were from the original trilogy, this new film gave fans a chance to complain about something else: how similar it was to the original trilogy.
The seventh film in the series, Episode VII:
A New Hope Redux The Force Awakens, was released in 2015. Abrams gave the film his usual Michael Bay-esque explosions combined with a touch of 1950s sentimentality and "gee whiz"ms. TFA is famous for causing earth-shattering simultaneous nerdgasms across the globe, as well as putting the studios behind every other 2015 release on suicide watch.
A New Hope was a pretty good movie, I guess. The Empire Strikes Back is also regarded by everyone as one 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. Return of the Jedi was mediocre, I hated those stupid Ewoks. And despite being massive, epic failures (on the "entertainment" level), the three prequels made Lucas a lot of money, furthering Lucas and his puppet-masters' plans to "control the world."
Fans, on the other hand, weren't as happy at being on the receiving end of George Lucas's money-raking scheme. In fact, Disney's future Star Wars theme park will run on the nerd-rage caused by editing Hayden Christensen into the end of Return of the Jedi. Disney plans to lure fans onto treadmills with pictures of Lucas on the other side, their angry waddling will power the park and help solve the obesity epidemic at the same time.
Fans hated how Lucas permanently tarnished the legacy of his films with a trilogy that completely misunderstood what made the first films so popular. Fans wanted Star Wars, and instead got lazily-made cash grabs directed by a fat man who lost his touch with filmmaking. Almost every creative decision made was the worst one; just look at Darth Vader's backstory: they took a dark, menacing, and mysterious character and turned him into "Annoying little kid who grows up to be a whiny teenager who turns to the dark side to save his wife ... then proceeds to choke said wife to death for some reason."
Anyway, The Empire Strikes Back is a testament to the fact that directors can make a sequel that doesn't suck, but most of the time, they just choose not to. The prequels, on the other hand, 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.
- From the Latin Star, meaning "Giant" and Wars, short for "Fan Wars".