The “Star Wars” Universe: Film and Series Review

“Star Wars,” it is something everybody knows about. The epic lightsaber battles, the space dogfights, even the comical dialogue. Everybody has seen it, but there is more to it than meets the eye. An over-arching story that has been told for the past 43 years. A story of a boy who grew up to be a Jedi, but turned evil, only to be brought back to the good by his son. Then a girl, the granddaughter of the evilest person ever, defeated the dark lord himself.
“The Skywalker Saga”, as Disney now calls it, is the culmination of all the numbered films in “Star Wars” (I, II, II, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII and IX). Though it does leave out “Rogue One” and “Solo,” because these are not specifically about the Skywalker family, it also leaves out the TV shows like “The Clone Wars,” “Rebels,” “Resistance” and “The Mandalorian.”
“Star Wars” has shown it can really do anything, from a love story to a nasty, gritty battle. A lot of the story lines surround friendship and companionship, which is normal for a lot of films. Anakin has Obi-Wan, Luke has Han and Leia and Rey has Poe and Finn. It also shows love such as Anakin and Padme’s, Obi-Wan and Satine’s and Han and Leia’s. However, each movie and show has something very special and unique about it. Let’s start by going through the order in which they were released.
Episode IV- “A New Hope”
The first movie of its kind to hit home. Though “Star Trek” was a thing about 11 years prior, “Star Wars” and George Lucas brought something new to the table. The special effects for the time were amazing; they made it feel like real life almost. The new techniques that were used for this film were amazing.
Its story was new and one-of-a-kind, one that every kid could get into. Kids loved this movie for it redesigned battles. No more airplanes, instead they had X-Wings. It is amazing and an awesome start to what we know today.
Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back
As “A New Hope” was the hit of the decade, “Star Wars” had to have a sequel, and Lucas delivers. Though Lucas did not direct, he had his friend, Irvin Kershner, take the reins. “Empire Strikes Back” is seen as one of the best films in the franchise. It has amazing sequences and one of the most famous and missaid quotes of all time: “No, I am your Father.” People usually say, “Luke, I am your father.” The two are mostly the same, but Vader does say “No” instead of “Luke” in the film.
The amazing scenes are characterized by the planets the characters are on. The planet Hoth is long-remembered for its famous AT-AT walkers and snow troopers, Bespin for the epic fight between Luke and Darth Vader, and Dagobah, for being the planet where the audience is introduced to the mysterious master, Yoda. The “Star Wars” Fandom is crazy over this film.
Episode VI- Return of the Jedi
Originally named “Revenge of the Jedi,” Episode VI is the sequel to “The Empire Strikes Back.” Directed by Richard Marquand, it is the final film that was under the influence of George Lucas in the original trilogy. Some do not like it because it does not live up to its predecessor, but it gives a finality and ending to Vader and Luke’s story, though the death of Vader does influence the sequel.
The final duel between Luke and Vader shows that Vader is still human and compassionate toward his son. He shows his son that the dark side is not the way to go, that he is grateful for all Luke has done for him and that he is on the right path again.
Episode I- The Phantom Menace
Filmed fourteen years after the finale of the original trilogy, “The Phantom Menace” is about a young Anakin Skywalker who is found on Tatooine (the same place Luke was found in Episode IV). It follows two Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, who find a boy named Anakin Skywalker, a slave, and enlist him as a padawan (a young jedi trainee).
The story is alright. It has flaws but is a good and new story to set off the prequel trilogy. Some parts of the fandom do not appreciate this film because of the wackiness of the character Jar Jar and the inclusion of Midiclorians, or the living cells that give a being life force.
Episode II- Attack of the Clones
The second installment of the prequel trilogy takes a sort of political stance on the trilogy to show that the Jedi are a part of and serve the Galactic Republic. It also strengthens Anakin’s relationship with Padme. It begins the Clone Wars, which sets off the third movie. This film is a set up for the next movie and shows that Anakin is using anger to his advantage, as with the Sand People who Anakin slaughters when they kill his mother.
The second episode is an important one for the trilogy. It sets up the next film and gives the audience insight on the Jedi Order as a whole. One of the most important parts of the film is near the end when the Clone Troopers arrive on the planet Geonosis. This starts off the Clone War, which ultimately sets off the chain of events to the next film.
Episode III- Revenge of the Sith
“Revenge of the Sith” is the last film in the sequel trilogy and the last “Star Wars” film directed by George Lucas. At the time it was considered the end of the saga. The film is a roller coaster from start to finish. It shows the end of the Clone War and the rise of the Empire, the downfall of the Jedi and the rise of the Sith. This movie has to tie up all the loose ends that were set up by the original trilogy.
The film follows Anakin’s turn to the dark side and shows his motives. His confusion and love for only Padme make him turn into something he never wanted to be. He only wanted her, but without Padme, Anakin feels like nothing. The film is very strong visually; everything looks so real. Other movies released in 2005 do not look that good. This is truly a one-of-a-kind film for the time.
Star Wars the Clone Wars
This hit series revolves around the time period between Episode II and III. It shows almost everything that was happening in the war. Though not a full, over-arching story, it is an anthology, meaning that the events are in order but can be watched separately and still have meaning. The show introduces the audience to many new characters such as the beloved Ashoka Tano, who is Anakin’s Padawan and Captain Rex, the leader of the 501st Legion.
The series shows the darker and grittier sides of the war by showcasing themes of loss and destruction. It doesn’t pull back from the death and killing for being a “kids show” on Cartoon Network. The series ended in 2013 when Disney acquired “Star Wars” but was later finished in 2020 on Disney+.
Star Wars Rebels
After “The Clone Wars” ended, Disney wanted to produce their own “Star Wars” show. With the help of Dave Filoni they created “Rebels” in 2014. Though not widely loved because of its appeal to children, the third and fourth seasons are where it shows its true colors of comradery and friendship.
It is a wonderful show that displays more about the Jedi and the rise of the Rebellion during the Galactic Civil War that was not seen very much during the movies. It covers almost everything in the rebellion against the Empire between Episode III and IV.
Episode VII- The Force Awakens
2015 introduced the audience to a new cast of characters with some returning characters. With a semi-new story and adventure, Rey must help defeat Kylo Ren and the First Order. Though some did not enjoy this film because its story so closely related to “A New Hope,” it does present new characters and a new background.
It is an interesting take on the franchise because of the way it is presented. It seems to massively take from the original trilogy, but it is just done worse. Things like the stormtroopers now look different: sleeker, but different. It just seems to steal from the originals so much that it distracts.
Rogue One
“Rogue One” is about how the rebels stole the Death Star plans mentioned in the opening crawl sequence from “A New Hope.” It is a good story with a new set of characters that have never been seen before. It serves as a fresh take on “Star Wars” that shows the grittiness of the Galactic Civil War.
Although it is an anthology film, meaning it is a one-off film, fans still flock to it. It is very well praised. It shows what the originals did not: the battles. This may be part of the reason why fans love the Hoth battle in Episode V so much; it shows the battles that are not usually seen.
Episode VIII- The Last Jedi
The second film in the sequel trilogy was not very well received by fans when it hit theaters. Fans blame Rian Johnson, the film’s director, for making it so bad. Though Johnson loves “Star Wars,” he was given nothing to work with from Episode VII. There was no set up from the previous film that he could go off of.
Fans typically say they could cut out the entire movie, and the story would still make sense, but it is still an important part to Rey’s story and develops her relationship with Luke. It shows what happens after the events of the first film. It is necessary to move the overarching story along.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
“Solo” is a new spin on the character of Han Solo. They had seen him before but never really knew how he got to where he was or how he acquired the things he had. “Solo” shows different parts of the “Star Wars” universe. It does not add a lot to the whole “Star Wars” story, but it is a fun movie about the rebel pilot the fandom knows today.
Episode IX- The Rise of Skywalker
This is the end of the Skywalker saga, what everything over the past five years had been leading up to. This is it, and it brings up a lot of questions that it should have answered. There were mixed reviews with the fans. Some like the ending to the trilogy, others still hate it. It is a fun story that ends the saga and brings on what is to come.
It shows that Rey is strong with the Force and can overcome things that she thought she could not. It shows that people are behind her and stood with her.
The Mandalorian
The most recent “Star Wars show,” “The Mandalorian,” was released on Disney+. It has very good reviews and fans rave over it. It is about a Mandalorian, a member of a creed of people, who is a bounty hunter and finds a child who is valuable. Instead of letting a scientist work on the child, Mando takes him and runs. The Child, more commonly known to people as Baby Yoda, is an unknown species who is Force-sensitive.
Fans are always excited for what is going to happen to the Child and to Mando. New episodes are released Fridays on Disney+.
The Overview
“Star Wars” was made for kids but is still loved by adults. It is not solely for children, and some things are more child-friendly than others. “Star Wars” can be gritty and show death, but can also show compassion, friendship and morals.
There is a running theme of comradery. Friendships are what drive the films. Rey would not have stayed with Poe if they had not befriended each other. Han would have left the Rebellion if it were not for Luke and Leia.
The fights are amazing, especially for the times they were created. George Lucas thought outside of the box for a lot of the effects in the first film. He created things that seem easy enough now, but back then they were challenging, like visual effects. He was revolutionary in his filmmaking.
The score of most of the films are by John Williams, whose work is exquisite. Episode IV brought so many memborable themes and songs.
“Star Wars” is loved by many. The fandom for Star Wars is immense. Fans are everywhere. “Star Wars” will not end anytime soon. It is not going anywhere and will continue to stay in the mainstream.
Disney is going to keep making movies and shows. They want more people to watch. Of course, they get revenue from it, but the fans also get a lot of experience and entertainment. “Star Wars” is really about the fans.