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Saturday, December 19, 2015


Everyone of course already knows that  the 7th version of STAR WARS returned to your local theaters Thursday night.  The reviews have generally been good, with Rotten Tomatoes reviewers giving the film a 95% rating and audiences 93%.  By the way, next Wednesday. 45 Years opens, getting a similarly lofty combined 188 score, starring almost 70 year old Charlotte Rampling (right), who spent a period three decades ago in a state of mental depression.

So here are some simple summaries about the Star Wars series that should give you a higher sense of understanding about this cultural phenomenon:
  • The story is about the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker (from prequels), who in SW1, the first film, was Darth Vader:
    • a Jedi knight who fell to the Dark Side and served the evil Galactic Empire
    • father of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia
    • named as the third greatest movie villain in cinema history to Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates
    • whose voice was provided by James Earl Jones
  • Star War terms:
    • Sith:  interstellar kratocratic government led by those who seized power through force and cunning by using the dark side of The Force.
    • Galactic Republic:  a democratic union that governed the galaxy for thousands of years until overturned by the Galactic Empire.
    • Jedi warrior:  small group of peace seekers using the light side of the Force to overcome the Galactic Empire--at the end of the civil war, only one Jedi survived, Luke Skywalker.
    • Death Star:  mobile space station and super weapon of the Galactic Empire with a crew of 1.7 million troops and 400,000 droids (robots), capable of destroying an entire planet with its super laser. (right)
    • Rebel Alliance:  motley group of rebels fighting the Galactic Empire to restore justice and democracy.  
    • The Force:   cosmic energy field harnessed by the Jedi for Peace/Justice and Sith to seize power.  May the Force be with You could well be the most memorable line from the film series.
      • Lightsaber:  seems anachronistic to me, as a simple pistol should be more effective than a sword, but these Star War sabers could cut through anything and reflect shots back to the origin--Jedi used blue/green and Sith red.
        • Han Solo:  loner and smuggler played by Harrison Ford, belonging to the Rebel Alliance opposing the Galactic Empire
        • Chewbacca:  a 200 year old 8 feet tall Wookie, portrayed by Peter Mayhew, from Kashyyyk and co-pilot of Solo's spaceship (they have a long history of loyalty)
        • Princess Leia:   a princess of Rebel Alliance Planet Alderaan, played by Carrie Fisher, who thwarts father Sith Lord Darth Vader and destroys the Death Star.  In Episode 7 she is now General Leia Organa.  In case you missed it, Leia married Solo and they produced three children, one actually named Anakin, after his grandfather, Darth Vader, and cared for by C-3PO and Chewbacca.  But no future heroics for Anakin Solo in the future, for he is now dead, but, hmm, there is the Force.
        • Luke Skywalker:  twin brother, played by Mark Hamill, of Princes Leia (their parents are Darth Vader and Queen Naboo/Senator Amidala), friend of Han Solo and apprentice to Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi
        • Obi-Wan Ben Kenobi:  hermit and master mentor on the ways of the Jedi, portrayed by Alex Guiness and Ewan McGregor,  taught by Jedi Master Yoda, "killed" by Darth Vader, but Ben becomes a spirit in the Force to guide Luke Skywalker.
          • Bad droids:  B battle droids, above, abandoned by the Galactic Empire in favor of armored soldiers called Storm troopers (right).
          • Good droids:  R2-D2, BB-8 and C-3PO below: added comic relief.  Companies like Motorola and Samsung had to purchase licensing rights to use the term Android for their smart phones
      • USA TODAY ranked BEST to WORST (combined Rotten Tomatoes rating--they coincide!!) (Worldwide box office revenues in MILLIONS)
        • 1  Empire Strikes Back--SW2 (191) ($457)
        • 2  A New Hope--SW1 (190) ($622)
        • 3  The Force Awakens--SW7 (188) (will break all box office records)
        • 4  Return of the Jedi--SW3 (175) ($418)
        • 5  Revenge of the Sith--SW6 (144) ($849)
        • 6  Attack of the Clones--SW5 (125) ($641)
        • 7  Phantom Menace--SW4 (116) ($984)

      Interesting that "the train wreck," the WORST of the lot, Phantom Menace, has thus far made the most money.

      George Lucas spearheaded the first six Star Wars:
      • All were nominated for Academy Awards.
      • Box office gross revenues of $4.38 billion.
      • Holds the Guinness World Record for most successful film merchandising franchise.
      • Franchise value in 2012 added up to $30.7 billion.
      • Sold to Walt Disney Studios in 2012 for $4.06 billion.
      Upcoming, my review of Star Wars 7:  The Force Awakens:


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