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Darth Maul

Anakin and Padame

Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Theatrical release May 1999, Lucasfilm, 2 hours 16 minutes.

Written and directed by George Lucas

Starring Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala / Padme, Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker, Ian McDiarmid as Senator Palpatine, Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker, Oliver Ford Davies as Sio Bibble, Hugh Quarshie as Captain Panaka, Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO (voice), Kenny Baker as R2-D2, Frank Oz as Yoda (voice), Terence Stamp as Chancellor Valorum, Brian Blessed as Boss Nass (voice), and Ray Park as Darth Maul.

The Federation has a blockade preventing trade with Naboo. Jedi knight, Qui-Gon Jinn, and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, go to Naboo to negotiate a settlement, but they are betrayed. They rescue Queen Padme Amidala and head for Tatooine. There they meet a very young Anakin Skywalker.

This movie starts out with a bang and never lets up. There are droids, battles, light sabers, and everything else one would expect of a Star Wars movie.

There is a budding romance between Padme and Anakin that almost works. I couldn't get the Al Yankovic song The Saga Begins, sung to the tune of Don McLean's American Pie.

Ahh, do you see him hitting on the queen
Though he's just nine and she's fourteen
Yeah, he's probably gonna marry her someday

There is a lot of action in this movie. Some if it goes on a bit too long. The pod race didn't really need a third lap. The droid battle, as fun as it is, could be shortened a bit. And the light saber battle between Qui-Gon Ginn and Darth Maul goes on way too long for my tastes.

The Phantom Menace sets up the characters and societies for the rest of the Star Wars movies. It even introduces a few characters like Jabba the Hutt, Senator Palpatine, C3PO, R2-D2, and Yoda.

The first three Star Wars films lead into A New Hope, the first film written and produced. However, if you haven't watched any Star Wars films, it might be better to start with A New Hope. The next two films, episode II and III, Attack of the Cones and Revenge of the Sith, get very dark. They make more sense after you have watched episodes IV, V, and VI.

Reviewed by Romana Drew July 26, 2022

Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan

Droids, Clones, and the Good Guys

Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones.

Theatrical release May 2002, Lucasfilm, 2 hours 22 minutes.

Directed by George Lucas. Story by George Lucas. Screenplay by Jonathan Hales.

Starring: Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Natalie Portman as Padme, Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO / Dannl Faytonni, Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks , Daniel Logan as Boba Fett, Christopher Lee as Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus, Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, Frank Oz as Yoda (voice), Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker,and Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett.

Padme is now Senator Amadala, and Anakin is a Jedi knight but still under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi. When an assassination attempt almost kills Padme, Anakin is sent to guard her while Obi-Wan goes to find out who was behind the attempt.

Obi-Wan discovers that a now-deceased Jedi ordered the creation of a clone army several years ago. The clones are coming of age and ready to fight.

Count Draco has turned to the dark side and has an army of droids ready to take on the clones.

The movie begins with a speeder chase through a city of tall buildings with lots of aerial traffic. It is a clever and exciting beginning to the movie, but it is nothing compared to the battles at the end. However, there isn't enough in between.

Besides the politics, power struggles, and battle scenes, there should be a love story between Padme and Anakin. Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, little time is spent on those characters.

In episode one, the Phantom Menace, Padme, and Anakin are obviously enamored of each other. Although too young to have a real romance, it is apparent that one will happen someday. But in this movie, they just don't work. Neither actor can make the audience believe that they are seriously attracted to the other. Padme does a slightly better job than Anakin. But that magic spark just isn't there. So much so that the wedding at the end was somewhat confusing the first time around.

The final battle with Draco, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda works rather well. It isn't overly long. Although, if Yoda can fly around and fight like that, why does he hobble along using a cane most of the time?

But the big battle that leads up to that confrontation, clones vs. droids, is another issue. It reminds me of songs that end before they finish. You know the ones that repeat the chorus and first verse five times before taking another three choruses to fade out.

The battle is beatifically choreographed. The special effects are complex and believable. Padme shows herself to be much more than a pretty face. Her costume and actions are reminiscent of Leia in the latter moves.

But it takes way too long. I tend to fall asleep in battle and chase scenes. The music swells, the dialogue stops, and no matter how clever the battle, if it lasts too long, I can't keep my eyes open. This battle lasted way too long.

Although the outcome of a battle furthers the plot, the battle itself doesn't drive the plot. Battles don't contain much in the way of character development either. They sometimes feel like filler used to make the movie longer.

Also, if Anakin misses his mother so much, why didn't he visit her now and then? Getting angry at her death is reasonable, but since he knew she was a slave, why didn't he try to free her? I understand that this is part of what drives him to the dark side, but it's a bit too contrived.

If you like endless battle scenes, this movie is for you. But if you a looking for sensitive character development, this won't do it.

Reviewed by Romana Drew August 6, 2022.

Padme and Anakin

Anakin and Obi-Wan

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Written and directed by George Lucas

Theatrical release May 2005, Lucasfilm, 2 hours 20 minutes.

Starring: Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, Natalie Portman as Padme, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, Christopher Lee as Count Dooku, Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa, Frank Oz as Yoda (voice), Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Matthew Wood as General Grievous (voice), and Keisha Castle-Hughes as Queen of Naboo.

Three Years after Attack of the Clones, the war rages on. In an attempt to rescue Palpatine, Anakin fights Count Dooku, who is the Sith Lord, Darth Tyranus. Only by tapping into the dark side of the force can Anakin defeat Dooku. He cuts off both Dooku's hands, leaving him helpless. A Jedi would have walked away, but Palpatine goads Anakin into killing Dooku, further pushing him to the dark side.

Anakin learns that Padme is pregnant and will die in childbirth. Palpatine says he can save Padme if he uses the dark side of the force. This, of course, doesn't work out as planned. At least not as Anakin planned. But Palpatine gets what he wants. Anakin is powerful, blinded by the dark side, and loyal to Palpatine.

This movie, like the previous one, is mostly battle. Anakin's fall from grace and Padme's death should be an emotionally engaging tragedy, but the emotion just isn't there. Neither of the actors, Natalie Portman or Hayden Christensen, project the kind of feelings needed to make this part of the story work.

The ending battle between Ob-Wan and Anakin is a bit hard to take. Lava is simply too hot. Nothing can survive under the conditions portrayed in that battle. Not to mention the poisonous gasses molten lava emits.

The special effects are fantastic. The world looks real. Most of Star Wars is science fiction, but the force and some of the things the Jedi do is better relegated to fantasy. Not that including fantasy elements into science fiction bothers me, but even for fantasy, fighting on machines scooping up molten lava is too much.

In the first three movies, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith, it feels as if George Lucas is struggling to turn Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. Rather than taking the time and sensitivity to explore Anakin's personality and the internal conflicts that cause him to become a megalomaniac, the focus is on action, creating bigger and more complex fight scenes, unique machines, and pushing special effects to the limit.

This movie works the first time because there isn't any time to digest the plot or characters before another chase, lightsaber fight, or battle explodes on the screen. However, in subsequent viewings, the lack of emotional continent and the very long, often repetitive, battles takes its toll on the viewer.

Reviewed by Romana Drew August 23, 2022.

Obi-Wan Riding the Eopie

Fifth Brother and Third Sister

Not the Best Looking Prop

Obi-Wan Knobi - Part I

Directed by Deborah Chow.

Story by Stuart Beattie and Hossein Amini. Teleplay by Joby Harold.

Originally aired May 27, 2022, 53 minutes.

Based on STAR WARS by George Lucas

Starring Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Kumail Nanjiani as Haja Estree, Marise Alvarez as Nyche, Flea as Vect Nokru, Moses Ingram as Inquisitor Reva / Third Sister, Vivien Lyra Blair as Leia Organa, Rupert Friend as Grand Inquisitor, Sung Kang as Fifth Brother, Rya Kihlstedt as Fourth Sister, Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader, Dan Considine as Deck Officer Densin Clord, Temuera Morrison as Veteran Clone Trooper, Esther McGregor as Tetha Grig , Jecobi Swain as Jayco, and Indie DesRoches as Corran.

On Tatooine, the Grand Inquisitor and his minions are hunting Jedi. Third Sister is especially interested in Obi-Wan, but the people of Mos Eisley don't out Knobi. The Inquisitors are cruel, evil, and powerful, but they don't dominate the story.

Obi-Wan works in a factory and lives in a cave. Hardly the life of a Jedi. However, he watches over a young Luke Skywalker from a distance, much to the dislike of Luke's uncle Owen.

On Alderaan, a young Leia Organa lives with her rich and powerful adoptive parents.

Ewan McGregor played Obi-Wan Knobi the first three Star Wars movies and voiced the Obi-Wan character in the last three, making him the prefect actor to play Obi-Wan here.

Obi-Wan Knobi is a quiet film without the chase scenes and light saber fights typical of Star Wars. It takes its time to set up the society and the characters.

Obi-Wan is kind and gentle, living in seclusion. He is reluctant to use his Jedi skills. It isn't so much a fear of the Inquisitors as it is atonement for killing Anakin Skywalker.

Although the episode ends with a cliffhanger, it also ends on a positive note. Obi-Wan is back.

Reviewed by Romana Drew August 26, 2022.

Grand Inquisitor

Obi-Wan and Leia


Obi-Wan Knobi - Part II

originally aired June 1,2022, 39 min.

Directed by Deborah Chow.

Teleplay by Joby Harold. Story by Hossein Amini and Stuart Beattie.

Ewan McGregor, Kumail Nanjiani, Marise Alvarez, Flea, Moses Ingram, Vivien Lyra Blair, Rupert Friend, Sung Kangr, Rya Kihlstedt, Hayden Christensen, and Dan Considine.

Obi-Wan travels to Daiyu in search of Leia. He meets Haja Estree, a con man passing himself off as a Jedi. Even though Haja isn't a real Jedi, he does help Obi-Wan find Leia.

Finding Leia is only the beginning. There are stormtroopers and Inquisitors everywhere.

The Third Sister admits she set up Kenobi. The Grand Inquisitor says she is the scum of the earth, so to speak, and relives her of her duties. It doesn't sit well.

This episode is dark and dystopian. Although the main street reminds me of Tokyo, or rather, pictures of Tokyo. I've never been there. Underneath the glitter, it is pretty gritty.

Leia is both mouthy and her own worst enemy. Had she been compliant, this episode would have been about ten minutes long. But that wouldn't be very exciting.

Vivien Lyra Blair does a great job as Leia. She has all the hutzpah of Carrie Fisher's Leia, wiser than her years and eager to tell off Obi-Wan.

Moses Ingram looks like such a happy, kind person out of costume, but as Third Sister, she is intensely evil. You don't want to meet most villains alone in a dark alley. You don't want to meet Third Sister on a bright crowded street. She might skewer you with her lightsaber just because you got in her way.

This episode gives a little more insight into the Inquisitors and Darth Vader.

Part II isn't a cliffhanger, but it isn't the end of the story.

Reviewed by Romana Drew September 19, 2022.

Obi-Wan and Leia


Vader Trying to Kill Obi-Wan

Obi-Wan Kenobi - Part III

originally aired June 1, 2022, 45 min,.

Directed by Deborah Chow

Written by Joby Harold, Hannah Friedman, Hossein Amini, and Stuart Beattie.

Ewan McGregor, Vivien Lyra Blair, Moses Ingram, Sung Kang, Rya Kihlstedt, Zach Braff, Indira Varma, James Earl Jones, Hayden Christensen.

After landing on Mapuzo, Leia and Obi-Wan make their way across a desert with Joshua trees. They look like they belong on another planet but have a limited range in the Southwest US. Obi-Wan and Leia hitch a ride with an odd looking fellow named Freck. He might have been a star-nosed mole in a past life.

All goes well until they reach a checkpoint.

At the same time, Vader is searching for Obi-Wan and so is Third Sister.

This episode moves Leia a little closer to home and Obi-Wan a little closer to a final confrontation with Vader. Of course, both Obi-Wan and Vader are alive and well in A New Hope, so neither will get killed in this series.

It is a little frustrating because Obi-Wan is still reluctant to use the force, and when he does, he lacks skill and power.

This is another desert planet with no reasonable way of feeding a population. I would love to see a Star Wars movie take place where there is obvious agriculture.

Leia learns a little about her parents.

This episode ends in a cliffhanger. Planning to watch the next episode without interruption isn't a bad idea.

Reviewed by Romana Drew September 23, 2022.

Obi-Wan Escaping the Water Bath

Vader and Third Sister

Escaping with Leia Under Obi-Wan's Coat

Obi-Wan Knobi Part IV

Jun 8, 2022 36 min

Directed by Deborah Chow

Written by Hannah Friedman and Joby Harold

Ewan McGregor, Indira Varma, Vivien Lyra Blair, Moses Ingram, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Maya Erskine, Sung Kang, Rya Kihlstedt, James Earl Jones, Hayden Christensen, Ryder McLaughlin.

While Leia tells off Third Sister and the stormtroopers, Obi-Wan recovers from his injuries on a starship flown by Tala. Once recovered, he goes to rescue Leia.

Even at only 36 minutes, this episode seems to have more time than story. There are plenty of exciting scenes, but it feels as if too many obstacles are there just to stretch out the story rather than add content.

Using the force to hold back the water worked great. Finally, Obi-Wan is regaining confidence, skill, and power.

It is hard to imagine that Darth Vader doesn't have suspicions about Leia. He never seems to ask why she is so important to Obi-Wan.

One thing is a little hard to believe. Hiding Leia under Obi-Wan's coat? Why didn't anyone notice?

Although this isn't really a cliffhanger, it isn't the end of the story. Everyone is still in jeopardy.

Reviewed by Romana Drew September, September 30, 2022.

Obi-Wan and Anakin

The Ship in the Cave

Today is a Good Day to Die

Obi-Wan Knobi Part V

Originally aired June 15, 2022, 53 min.

Directed by Deborah Chow

Teleplay by Stuart Beattie, Joby Harold and Hossein Amini. Story by Hossein Amini and Stuart Beattie.

Ewan McGregor, Rupert Friend, Sung Kang, Moses, Benny Safdie, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Simone Kessell, Vivien Lyra Blaira, Flea, Jimmy Smits, Ming Qiu, Ayaamii Sledge, Derek Bascor, Kingsley Hao, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO.

Trapped in a cave with Vader advancing, the refugees' escape is blocked by a mechanical failure. Leia crawls into a small space to fix the issue. While Obi-Wan plays for time.

This episode features flashbacks to Obi-Wan and Anakin, which show that Anakin's aggression and lack of compassion are long-standing traits.

Why all these people are stuck in this underground place is not made very clear. Also, there are only a couple of people who actually do anything. The rest just stand around waiting. I get why they need to be there and do nothing to make the story work, but they are just a bit too much like furniture.

Obi-Wan has an interesting conversation with Third Sister, which reveals a lot about her motives but doesn't change much at this point.

Up until now, Leia has been in jeopardy. Now, even Luke is in danger.

Reviewed by Romana Drew October 3, 2022.

Throwing Rocks at Vader

Qui-Gon Jinn

A Repentant Third Sister

Obi-Wan Riding into the Sunset

Obi-Wan Knobi Part VI

Originally aired June 22, 2022, 48 min.

Directed by Deborah Chow.

Teleplay by Hossein Amini, Joby Harold and Andrew Stanton. Story by Andrew Stanton, Stuart Beattie, and Joby Harold.

Ewan McGregor, Moses Ingram, Vivien Lyra Blair, Kumail Nanjiani, MarisŽ ēlvarez, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Maya Erskine, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Rupert Friend, Simone Kessella, Ian McDiarmid, James Earl Jones, Jimmy Smits, Hayden Christensen, and Grant Feely.

In the previous episode, Third Sister learned that Luke Skywalker was Anakin's son and that he lives on Tatooine. Since she failed to kill Vader, she goes after his son.

Leia is home safe, but she won't be for long if Vader finds Obi-Wan there. So, he goes to meet Vader.

Although the Obi-Wan/Vader duel is interesting and has great special effects, it was a bit overly long. Instead of forever clashing lightsabers, they throw rocks at each other. Sound boring? Not at all. These rocks are the size of small houses.

Of course, Obi-Wan must escape without killing Vader because they are both alive and well in A New Hope.

At the same time, Third Sister is after Luke.

Of course, in the end, everyone is where they should be for Star Wars: Episode IV". But no one has an easy time getting there.

This is an exciting conclusion to the series. And an excellent introduction to A New Hope

Reviewed by Romana Drew October 5, 2022.

Jyn, Cassian, and K-2S0

Chirrut Imwe and some soon to be dead Imperial Stormtroopers.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Theatrical release December 2016, Walt Disney Pictures, 2 hours 13 minutes.

Directed by Gareth Edwards. Story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta. Screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy.

Based on characters created by George Lucas.

Starring: Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, Alan Tudyk as K-2SO, Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe, Wen Jiang as Baze Malbus, Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic, Guy Henry as Governor Tarkin, Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera, Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook, Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso, Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa, Alistair Petrie as General Draven, Genevieve O'Reilly as Mon Mothma, Ben Daniels as General Merrick, Paul Kasey as Admiral Raddus, Ian McElhinney as General Dodonna, Fares Fares as Senator Vaspar, Jonathan Aris as Senator Jebel, Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Senator Pamlo, Spencer Wilding as Darth Vader, Daniel Naprous as Darth Vader, James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (voice), Ingvild Deila as Princess Leia, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, and Valene Kane as Lyra Erso.

When she was a child, Jyn Eros' father was captured by the Empire and forced to build a weapon that can destroy planets, the death star. Jyn escapes capture. She lives with Saw Gerrera, but he eventually abandons her, and she is imprisoned in an Imperial detention center.

She escapes, but the rebels capture her. They want to use her to find her father.

This is not technically part of the Anakin and Luke Skywalker storyline. It is more of a behind the scenes look at Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance.

In the beginning, Jyn isn't part of either, but she also wants to find her father, so she joins the rebels.

Jyn, Cassian, and K-2S0, a reprogrammed Imperial droid, set off to find Saw Gerrera and eventually Jyn's father. Of course, things don't go smoothly. There are plenty of battles, and lots of stormtroopers get smashed, blown up, and mowed down.

Rogue One is the name of their ship. It is a bit of an homage to A New Hope where the call signs of the ships trying to defeat the Death Star were Rogue followed by a number.

Chirrut Imwe, a blind Jedi warrior, takes out more than his share in one of the more unique fight scenes.

K-2S0 has the most personality of any character in the movie. He provides great comic relief and seems to show up just when needed.

Rather than starting with a bang, Rogue One starts off quietly and builds to an exciting conclusion. Rather than lightsaber fights, there are weapons fire and space battles. It also has a unique way of taking out two Imperial battleships with one shove.

Be warned, this is a tragedy. It chronicles the lives of the people who made it possible to destroy the death star. But that won't happen until the end of A New Hope.

Although the ending is sad, it honors those who gave their lives to the cause. And it shows how difficult it was to get this critical bit of information.

Reviewed by Roman Drew September 6, 2022.

Chewie, Leia, C3PO, Luke, and Han

Darth Vader

Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope

Written and directed by George Lucas

Theatrical release May 1977, Lucasfilm, 2 hr 1 min.

Starring: Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa, Alec Guinness as Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, David Prowse as Darth Vader, Phil Brown as Uncle Owen, Shelagh Fraser as Aunt Beru, Jack Purvis as Chief Jawa, Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin, Alex McCrindle as General Dodonna, Eddie Byrne as General Willard.

Princess Leia is captured by Imperial Stormtroopers and imprisoned on a Galactic Empire ship. She escapes long enough to hide the plans of the Death Star in R2D2 and sends the droid off to find Obi-Wan Kenobi. R2D2 and C3PO fly to Tatooine in an escape pod. There they meet Luke Skywalker and Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi.

Of course, Darth Vader shows up. He destroys Alderaan and kills Luke's aunt and uncle. So, Luke, Obi-Wan, and the Droids hire Han Solo and Chewbacca to help them rescue Leia.

When A New Hope first aired in 1977, it was amazing, candy for the eyes. Both the sound and the visual effects were so realistic that the movie transfixed the viewer. Even though the DVD version has been enhanced. To the younger viewer, accustomed to recent films, the special effects are routine. But the film still works.

It is also interesting to see such a young Harrison Ford.

Unlike episodes I, II, and III, this movie has a complex plot and much more character development. There are space battles and a lightsaber fight, but they don't consume the film.

And this film has a lot more humor.

I have seen the original theatrical version. So, when I watch the DVD version, I try to compare it with my memory. Han has a discussion with Jabba before leaving Mos Eisley. It's obvious that Jabba is a computer-generated creature, which is fine. But I can't remember how that scene went in the original, or even if it was in the original. In 1977, there were no computer-generated creatures. And I don't remember the scene.

Although there is obviously more to the story, this film comes to a conclusion. If other films had never been made, the ending would be fine - the heroes are rewarded, and everyone lives happily ever after - maybe.

For people who have never watched Star Wars, few though there be, A New Hope is a good place to start. Unless you know why Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine are so important, the first three episodes, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Cones, and Revenge of the Sith may seem like much ado about nothing.

Reviewed by Romana Drew September 15, 2022.

Luke and Yoda

Imperial Walkers

Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Theatrical release May 1980, Lucasfilm, 2 hours 4 minutes.

Directed by Irvin Kershner. Story by George Lucas. Screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan.

Starring: Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, David Prowse as Darth Vader, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Frank Oz as Yoda (voice), Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett.

Darth Vader sends droids across the galaxy in search of Luke Skywalker. Luke, along with Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C3PO, and R2D2, are in the rebel base on the ice world of Hoth. Vader locates the rebels, and the chase is on.

Unlike the previous films, this one doesn't start with a battle. Instead, Luke gets captured by a wampa (a kind of Yeti) and nearly freezes to death. When the battle does start, it isn't like the previous ones. Imperial walkers cross the snow, shooting at the rebels as they try to escape.

Although the walkers are fun to watch, they are one of the most ridiculous vehicles ever invented. The rebels bring them down in unique ways. This battle is both creative and not repetitious.

After escaping Hoth, the group splits up. Luke meets Yoda and learns to use the force. Although I love the feeling of the Dagobah world, I don't understand why Yoda would choose to live there. Why would such a wise and powerful being choose to live on an isolated planet away from anyone and every thing? Still, there is a very real feel to the sets.

The floating city was fascinating. It made me wonder how it stayed up there. Bespin, Lando Calrissian's planet, is a gas giant. It's hard to imagine a gas giant that has a human-friendly atmospheric layer.

Han's reason for hanging around with the rebels becomes a little clearer as his feelings for Leia become more obvious. However, he still owes Jabba money. That may be his undoing.

Besides a complex and engaging story, great characters, and exciting battles, The Empire Strikes Back has elaborate and fully fleshed-out worlds and societies. Luke, Leia, and even Han evolve emotionally, and their stories become more complex.

Although A New Hope came to a solid ending, The Empire Strikes Backis a bit of a cliffhanger.

Reviewed by Romana Drew November 21, 2022.

Jabba and Leia with C3PO in the backgound

Leia and Wicket

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

Theatrical release May 1983, Lucasfilm, 2 hours 11 minutes.

Directed by Richard Marquand. Story by George Lucas. Screenplay by George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan.

Starring: Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2 / Paploo, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker, Ian McDiarmid as The Emperor, Frank Oz as Yoda (voice), James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (voice), David Prowse as Darth Vader, Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Tim Rose as Admiral Ackbar, Warwick Davis as Wicket, and Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett.

A new Death Star is nearly complete. Darth Vader arrives to inspect the work, followed by the emperor. Luke, Leia and friends arrive on Tatooine to rescue Han, who is frozen in carbonite.

Jabba's lair is an odd place. Much like the cantina in A New Hope, there is music, dancing, and general debauchery. There is even a pit with a monster waiting to eat those who disappoint Jabba.

Much like A new Hope the goal is to destroy the Death Star. But first, the energy shield must be turned off. That means going to Endor, fighting the Imperial Stormtroopers, and teaming up with the Ewoks.

The Ewoks are a bit silly but quite fun. The movie benefits from the comic relief they provide.

Unlike the Phantom Menace, Attack of the Cones, and Revenge of the Sith, which relied on light saber fights, endless chase scenes, and shooting-type battles, for excitement, Return of the Jedi is much more creative.

There is a speeder chase through the redwoods that is fantastic. Instead of just watching the chase, this one feels as if you are in it.

The Ewoks use (for them) technologically appropriate and creative ways of defeating the Imperial Stormtroopers and the walkers, making that battle fun to watch. Wicket, one of the Ewoks, is played by a young Warwick Davis.

After the predictable light saber battle between Luke and Darth Vader, the demise of the emperor is a bit of a surprise. Instead of another long battle with Luke, Vader, or both, the emperor's ouster is quick and simple, but ever so satisfying.

I watched this film in the theater when it was new. Sebastian Shaw played the dying and now repentant Anakin Skywalker. At the end, when Luke sees the ghosts of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda, Anakin is played by Sebastian Shaw. But in the DVD I watched, the ghost of Anakin is played by Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin in Attack of the Cones and Revenge of the Sith. Although I get the reason why this change was made, for me, it didn't quite work. And it would be rather confusing to someone who had never watched the first three movies.

A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi form a complex and well thought out story. There is good character development and great pacing. The characters seem perfectly cast, making it easy to become emotionally engaged in their struggles. It might be fun to watch one right after the other, but that would make a rather long day of movie watching.

Although any of the movies can be watched without having seen the previous movies, it really is best to start with A New Hope.

And as a final comment. Perhaps it's all Obi-Wan's fault. Obi-Wan trained Anakin against Yoda's advice. He carved up Anakin, causing the final transformation into Darth Vader. With Vader to do the dirty work, Palpatine had the power he needed to rule the Empire.

Reviewed by Romana Drew October 8, 2022.

Rey and Kylo Ren

Chewie and Han

Han and Leia

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Theatrical release December 2015, Lucasfilm, 2 hours 18 minutes

Directed by J.J. Abrams. Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt

Based on characters created by George Lucas

Starring: Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Lupita Nyong'o as Maz Kanata, Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Tim Rose as Admiral Ackbar,

Thirty Years after the destruction of the second death star, Luke Skywalker is missing. The First Order is taking over the galaxy, led by Snoke. The New Republic, led by Leia Organa, is trying to stop him. This sounds a bit like A New Hope

Poe Dameron goes to Jakku to retrieve a map to Luke Skywalker's hideaway. He gives the data to BB8, a Droid. Kylo Ren, dressed in a poor version of a Darth Vader costume, arrives and captures Poe.

A Stormtrooper, Finn, has a change of heart, and defects. He runs into Rey, a scavenger. Together with BB8, they steal a derelict ship, the Millennium Falcon. Before long, they run into Han Solo and Chewbacca.

Instead of a death star, there is a planet killer that sucks up an entire sun and shoots it across the galaxy to blast multiple planets at the same time. Draining some material from a sun to use as a weapon might be believable, but an entire sun? Suns are huge. Our sun could swallow all of the planets and everything else in the solar system without noticing the difference.

Kylo Ren is a strange character. As a Darth Vader clone, he is a failure. No matter how much he tries, he just can't master the power or evil of Vader, his grandfather. Even when he goes full dark side by killing his father, he still gets bested by Rey, a woman who has just awakened her ability to control the force.

Han is much older in this film. Not surprising since it has been thirty-two years since Return of the Jedi was filmed. Harrison ford does a good job of Han, but it's hard to believe that he is still making his living as a not very successful smuggler.

The film isn't about the trauma Ben, Kylo Ren, caused Han and Leia when he turned to the dark side and destroyed all the young Jedi Luke was training. But a little more time should have been spent on that. Perhaps a short flashback or two. It would have added a bit of deeper emotional content.

The Force Awakens has all of the things one expects of a Star Wars film, a cantina scene with lots of weird aliens, music, and a fight, space battles; specific part of the planet killer that must be destroyed, problems with going to light speed, flying ships through narrow twisting corridors, a droid with information both sides want, and Han owes money to someone disreputable. Many of the individual scenes feel as if they are recycled from previous movies. But the characters are fresh, and the movie works.

My favorite character is Maz, the cantina owner. She adjusts her goggles, and her eyes get bigger or smaller. And she also doesn't take anything from anyone.

As droids go, the BB droids are great fun. Unlike R2D2, who isn't all that mobile, BB8 is exceedingly mobile. He whizzes along over just about anything. Having the head able to move around his body makes BB8 quite expressive and loveable.

This is an enjoyable movie, even if it does mean the end of Han.

Reviewed by Romana Drew October 12, 2022.

Rey and Luke

Kylo Ren and Rey

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

Theatrical release December 2017, Walt Disney Pictures, 2 hours 32 minutes.

Directed and written by Rian Johnson .

Based on characters created by George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker / Dobbu Scay, Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Andy Serkis as Snoke, Lupita Nyong'o as Maz Kanata, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Holdo, Frank Oz as Yoda (voice), Billie Lourd as Lieutenant Connix, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Jimmy Vee as R2-D2, Amanda Lawrence as Commander D'Acy, and Tim Rose as Admiral Ackba.

Rey finds Luke on an island where the sacred Jedi texts are stored. Back in space, Poe takes out the guns on a First Order dreadnought.

Even though the Resistance successfully destroys the ship, there are still plenty of First Order ships to chase them through space. As they run out of fuel, their situation gets desperate.

Back on the island, Luke knows that Rey is strong with the force but refuses to teach her. He refuses to help the Resistance, saying that even though the Jedi stand for good, they spawned those who embrace the dark side and who have done unspeakable evil.

The Last Jedi jumps between three different story lines: Rey and Luke on the island, Leia and the Resistance running from the First Order, and Rose, Finn, and BB8 at Canto Bright.

Canto Bright is an interesting place. The fathiers are really well done. They move so much like real animals even when Finn and Rose are speeding along the countryside, riding one. There was an animatronics fathier for the close-ups, but the action scenes are all CGI.

In the casino, a small man, Dobbu Scay, puts coins into BB8. That was animated over Mark Hamill's performance in a mo-cap suit.

The timing didn't feel right. The Resistance is about to be overrun. To save the day, Finn, Rose, and BB8 take off for another star system to find someone they have never met before. Of course, before they can do anything, they are arrested. It seems as if that adventure took way too long to be of any use, even had it succeeded. It made me wonder why the Resistance wasn't simply defeated while they were away.

Luke is distraught over Ben, Kylo Ren, so he flies to an isolated island, abandons everyone, and waits for years and years. That seems out of character. Although bits of the old Luke came through occasionally. This Luke Skywalker is a different character from the original movies.

The battle at the abandoned rebel base on Crait is great. I don't know why the speeders need a skid scraping the ground, but spewing out red dirt on top of the white ground was visually quite exciting. And, of course, the attempt to destroy Luke was the epitome of overkill.

There were a few places where Leia's dialogue was a bit hard to understand. Carry Fisher passed away only a couple of months into post-production. I wonder if those would have been corrected had she been able to do so.

When I first watched The Last Jedi, I was not very impressed, but this time it seemed like a fine movie. It held my interest throughout. I don't know if I have changed or if my original expectations colored my opinions.

Reviewed by Romana Drew October 14, 2022.

Rey and Luke

Kylo Ren and Rey

Poe, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

Theatrical release December 2019, Walt Disney Pictures, 2 hours 21 minutes.

Directed by J. J. Abrams.

Story by Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, J.J. Abrams, and Chris Terrio.

Screenplay by J. J. Abrams and Chris Terrio.

Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker / Boolio (voice) (as Patrick Williams), Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine, Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, Warwick Davis as Wicket W. Warrick, James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (voice), Andy Serkis as Snoke (voice), Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker (voice), Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi (voice), Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi (voice), Frank Oz as Yoda (voice), and Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn (voice).

Kylo Ren meets with Emperor Palpatine, apparently risen from the dead. Palpatine promises Ren the galaxy if he kills Rey.

Poe, Fin, and Chewy take the Millennium Falcon to a rebel base before being chased by Tie Fighters.

On the jungle world of Ajan Kloss, Rey trains to be a Jedi. She and Ren link minds when least expected.

With the return of the emperor and Kylo Ren on the rampage, the battles and chases start.

A new tactic is featured in this movie, lightspeed skipping. The Falcon jumps from low in the atmosphere of one world to another in the blink of an eye. The bad guys are never far behind. Although, it was visually exciting, it hardly makes sense. Nowhere else is lightspeed instantaneous. And jumping into the middle of a city seems reckless in the extreme.

Carrie Fisher appears as Leia Organa in a few scenes. It is amazing that the writers and directors were able to use footage recorded from previous films and fit it into this one seamlessly. The film would have lacked something had she not been in it. And Leia's death felt like a fitting tribute to her character.

Daisy Ridley does a great job as Rey. She is both strong and vulnerable. She cares for Ren and would bring him back from the dark side if she could. I did find it odd that she never changed clothes. No matter what impossible adventures she had, her outfit stayed clean and intact.

Story wise, the last three films don't cover a lot of new ground. There are so many similarities with IV, V, and VI. The bad guys have huge armies and thousands of ships. The rebels are a rag tag bunch of outcasts fighting against impossible odds. Rey, like Luke, has an evil father that she must defeat. Also, like Luke, she never completes her Jedi training, but has a powerful command of the force when needed. And Kylo Ren, like Darth Vader has a change of heart at the end.

The Rise of Skywalker is a great ending to the Star Wars saga, and it leaves the story open for further adventures should someone wish to produce them.

Reviewed by Romana Drew March 5, 2023.