Part of what Johnson does so well in all of his films is bringing real, modern day problems into his fictional worlds. So along with understanding Lucas’ fictional world, he understands our real one.
I remember where I was when I first heard that Star Wars would be coming back. I never thought that it would happen after the widespread distaste for the Prequels, but nevertheless, we were officially getting a sequel trilogy with the original cast returning.
The third film in a trilogy doesn’t only have to wrap up storylines, character arcs, and hanging plot threads. It also has to effectively complete any thematic ideas that have been explored in the first two movies.
This movie does so much to play with your expectations, bring in interesting themes, and tell a great story all at the same time. The introduction of Yoda gives a great insight into George Lucas’ mind and his ideas about the world. Yoda imparts so much wisdom on Luke in a short amount of time, and it encapsulates many of the movie’s main themes.
A New Hope isn’t only great because it’s incredibly fun, though. It somehow becomes a relatable story with characters you instantly connect to, even though it takes place in a galaxy far, far away…
Along with The Last Jedi, this movie probably does the most to expand knowledge of the Force since the Original Trilogy films. It gives a lot to think about in regards to the Force being with everyone, as long as they are able to find it within themselves to tap into it. I think that has a lot to do with why people are drawn to this movie. Its ideas about spirituality are unique for the type of film this is.
So because of this, the two Star Wars Stories to be released in theaters – specifically Solo – seem quite detached from the rest of the big screen Star Wars episodes. They’re perfectly fine movies that expand the universe, but they aren’t as thematically rich as the rest of the films. There is just something that is missing from them in that regard.
If Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith proves anything, it is that Anakin’s arc – in the Prequels, at least – was always meant to be a tragedy. Through all of the political debates, Senate meetings, pod races, and bad dialogue the one constant was the downward path Anakin takes from the moment the little innocent slave boy is shown on Tatooine.
Even though it doesn’t land at all, cinematically, there is a very obvious attempt at something meaningful here. At the center of the film is a love story that, no matter how well it actually works, is meant to be the source of so much conflict throughout the rest of this saga. Something of this magnitude is simply poised to have some huge ramifications, as well as heavy ideas woven inside of it.
It can be a very good exercise to look at a movie based solely on what it is trying to say, rather than how well plotted it is, if it has good mise en scène, or if Jar Jar Binks is annoying for 132 consecutive minutes (he is). Because I found that when watching Star Wars: The Phantom Menace through this specific lens, I perhaps got more out of it than I ever had before.