Everybody loves Star Wars, right?
In the first week of June 1977, myself and some buddies from high school went to the North Hill Cinema in Calgary to see the First Star Wars movie. North Hill was the only theatre in Calgary that had a cinemascope screen (I had seen 2001 a Space Odyssey there a few years before–the only way to watch that movie!). When the star destroyer in the opening scene flew overhead, it was amazing.
However, it was all downhill from there.
Star Wars has a huge following, so I know I’m going to upset a lot of people. Sorry, but I have to call them as I see them.
Here’s my first pet peeve with Star Wars–Stormtrooper body armor. In the scene at the beginning of Episode IV where princess Leia is hiding from the Stormtroopers, she ducks out of her alcove and shoots a Stormtrooper square in the chest with her blaster. The poor fellow drops like a sack of potatoes, along with any number of his comrades throughout the rest of the movie.
So I ask you, why did he bother wearing all that expensive body armor in the first place? As someone who has studied, constructed and worn armor for 40 years, I can tell you that mankind has worn armor for the last 3,500 years because it works. Armor in any age is difficult to construct, is very expensive to purchase, and must be maintained. If armor didn’t work, no one would bother to take the time to construct it, pay enormous amounts of money to purchase it, and spend the additional effort and expense to maintain it. Yet in the Star Wars franchise, you can drop a fully armored Imperial Stormtrooper with a simple blaster. Keep in mind that this is supposed to be a technologically superior, space-faring society, yet they can’t build body armor that is defensive against what amounts to a pistol. Our technologically limited (compared to Star Wars) society can produce body armor that will protect against shrapnel and small arms fire, so you would think with their superior technology, they could come up with something even slightly more effective.
But apparently not.
My second pet peeve – Luke Skywalker. He’s a character who amounts to nothing more than a teen-aged farm boy. When we first meet him, he’s living with his aunt and uncle on an out-of-the-way planet. He’s never been anywhere, and hasn’t experienced life at all. In other words, he’s never been off the farm. He complains that he wants to enter the Imperial Academy a year early so he can be with his friends, but mean old uncle Owen still needs him on the farm, so he says no. Luke goes off and pouts. When aunt and uncle are murdered, he’s taken under the wing of Jedi-cum-hermit Obi Wan Kenobi. He’s rescued by the old eremite not once, but twice–once from sand-people and once in a cantina in Mos Eisley spaceport. The kid can’t fight or take care of himself. But this is no surprise, since he has no formal training–he’s been living on the farm all his life. Probably didn’t even get into a scrap at school growing up.
Then we get to the really unbelievable part of the movie. He arrives at the rebel base on a moon orbiting the planet Yavin, and right away he’s suited up and jumps into the cockpit of an X-wing fighter spacecraft. Keep in mind, he’s a teenager with no formal training, who used to “bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home.” So this would be the equivalent of Luke flying a Cessna back home on Tatooine, and then climbing into the cockpit of an F-35 and be expected not only to fly it, but to engage in aerial combat. It takes experienced combat pilots seven weeks of additional training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona to be able to successfully pilot an F-35. I really don’t think a teenaged kid with no formal aerial combat training could do what Luke Skywalker did. To put it simply, it bumped me out of the story, and shattered my suspension of disbelief. “But he had the force on his side,” you say. Still not buying it, especially when most of the experienced pilots around him are being blown out of the sky, and he manages to not only survive, but be the one to destroy the death star.
Really not buying it.
Pet peeve number three - Han Solo's inane statement that he "made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. A parsec is a measurement of distance, not time , about 3.26 light years. The statement is a non-sequitur - it doesn't make any sense. You may accuse me of nitpicking, but in this day and age (including 1977), when you make a sci-fi movie or write a sci-fi novel, you need to make sure you've got your science facts straight. Audiences are much more discerning nowadays, and they'll call you on the carpet with errors like this. Just like I'm doing right now.
Pet peeve number four – the story. It’s been said that Star Wars initial success was because George Lucas used Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” when he wrote the script. There’s a very good chance this is true, but it seems that George thought lightning could strike more than once. In May of 1999, my wife and I took our two children to see the Phantom Menace. As I watched the film, I had an overwhelming sense of Deja-vu. The story was about a princess, pursued by an evil conglomerate, who was helped by a Jedi master. They land on a desert planet, where the Jedi takes a young boy (he appears to be no more than five years old, but he’s a whiz–he can build androids and goofy flying machines–kicks me right out of the story). Together, they rescue the princess, but the Jedi master is killed and the boy flies a mission in space where he destroys a space station.
This was the last straw for me. Two films in the same franchise with essentially the same storyline made me decide I didn’t want to give George Lucas any more of my money. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how Jar-Jar Binks made me want to gouge my eyes and ears out with a rusty butter knife, but that goes without saying. After Phantom Menace, I gave up on Star Wars all together. I refused to watch any more of the Star Wars films, or any other Star Wars related entertainment. When I was visiting my son in LA in 2018, he insisted I go with him to see “Han Solo,” but that film only confirmed my convictions about Star Wars.
Sorry, but it just doesn’t work for me.
Besides, I’ve always been a Star Trek TOS fan.