I remember going to see the original Star Wars (Oh, all right, if you HAVE to, Episode IV). I was, what, fifteen or so; the cinema showing it had life-size cutouts of two stormtroopers guarding its exits; the movie was fantastic. I eventually saw that particular episode of Star Wars at least seven times, I knew the dialogue down pat down to the intonations in which it was uttered, and like most of my generation at the time I thought of it, as Scalzi says in his piece, as a breath of fresh air. "Empire", when it came out, had some really wonderful moments (the first vision of Yoda and him playing to stereotype remains one of my favourite scenes) and it also had the one significant moment of the storyline which I hadn't seen coming - maybe I should have, but I didn't, so there, and Darth Vader's portentious announcement above the abyss of Cloud City's guts and entrails was a revelation, as it should have been. "Return of the Jedi", wrapping up the two-boys-and-one-girl conundrum, had Leia in a slave bikini, and had Han Solo saving the day and getting the girl which by this time I was rooting for (because Luke was a WIMP! DOn't make your action heroes SNAGs, it just doesn't WORK!) and I have to confess that I rather liked the Ewoks on the basis of the fact that I like plush toys in general. They entertained me. But that last movie of the first trilogy aimed for transcendence and came in just shy of it - and never quite hit the mark, as far as I am concerned.
I went to see Episode I with a friend and my husband - it had promise, because the movie poster of the little boy casting Darth Vader's ominous shadow upon the wall was a damned good image. But that movie never progressed beyond a cartoon for me, and what wasn't cartoon was painfully obvious and relentless merchandising (and we won't even talk about Jar Jar, who DID have his moments, as far as I am concerned, but he was STILL a cartoon and an annoying one at that). That movie set up the characters of Anakin Skywalker and Amidala - and I am SORRY, but that is where everything went to hell in a handbasket for me. I refuse to believe that a sophisticated young woman who was a leader of a nation would EVER fall to harbouring romantic feelings of ANY sort for someone whom she first met as a snot-nosed little boy. And in the next two movies, which I went to see alone because my husband refused to go at all, Anakin never progressed beyond the snot nosed little boyishness - and George Lucas should be prevented by law from writing romantic dialogue and love scenes. Ye gods, what a mess.
Visually beautiful, but a major major MAJOR mess.
I went to see the last one, in the end, because I wanted closure - Star Wars had been a part of my childhood, and I wanted to see one more time that screed disappearing into the distant stars, and hear for the last time those opening chords of the Star Wars theme blasting in sensurround from a movie screen. But the movie was laughable. No, really, it was. I still want to know what the hell Anakin and wassisname were standing on during that light sabre duel, *on flowing lava*, and having a philosophical discussion on the nature of evil while doing so.
Laughter at the most dramatic scene in a movie is not a reaction that the movie maker was aiming for, probably...