How many people can claim to have actually watched an entire film series, non stop, in a row? Doing so, particularly with a crowd, can vastly alter your judgment on the merits of each film.
After Bondathon, Trekathon, and our Batman marathon, we took on Star Wars. No other film series is as steeped in controversy and heated opinions as Lucas's space opera. It's a debate just figuring out what movies would be included, what versions we would watch, and in what order. More after the break, but check out the video to see what we screened and how they stacked up-
We defined a proper Star Wars film as a feature that was released in theaters that featured the Skywalker family. This meant the two spin-off Ewok movies didn't qualify, but 2008's animated The Clone Wars would be included.
Traditionally we show our films in the order that they first appeared in cinemas. But Star Wars offers unique chronology, as 4 of the movies are prequels, giving you the option to watch them in "episodic" order of Episodes 1 through 6. But having already watched the films in this order, I was aware of its glaring problems, namely huge spoilers and massive jump in effects going from Ep 3 to 4. Watching them chronologically has its share of issues as well. So we ended up with a "Prequels as Flashback" order. To see our reasoning for this unique order and the strengths and weaknesses of the other options, check out this great article.
Essentially, "Prequels as Flashback" introduces the world through Ep 4 and 5, and once we know who Darth Vader is, we flashback to the prequels to see how he came to be, and then end it all on Ep 6, where Vader's ultimate fate is decided. Overall our viewers liked this order, though The Clone Wars (Ep 2.5) really doesn't add anything to the saga and could've easily been skipped.
Finally we debated about which versions of the films to watch. All of them (with the exception of The Clone Wars) have been changed in some way from their original release on their way to home video. We decided to watch the prequels on Blu-Ray, to take advantage of the superior picture and sound quality of the format. The changes to the prequels are relatively minor and are mostly centered on Episode 1, and we felt the changes were insignificant enough that we were able to judge the films accurately. The effects changes (such as the new digital Yoda in Ep 1) are of the era and blend in with the original effects seamlessly.
This couldn't be said of the original trilogy, where many of the added CGI effects stand out like sore thumbs. We put it to a vote and our viewers overwhelming wished to watch Ep 4 through 6 as they were originally released. This meant they were watched on DVD instead of Bluray, but watching Han shoot first made it well worth the drop in picture quality. It also made ranking much easier, as we could vote on what we had just seen, not foggy memories of the original releases or subtracting points for any changes we didn't agree with.
Join us next month as we take on the Alien/Predator franchise in another installment of MOVIE MARATHONERS!