Where’s the News? reviews the Star Wars series

A long, long marathon from a podcast not so far away

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With the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” looming over fans, the hosts of “Where’s the News?” decided to watch all of the Star Wars movies to share their thoughts on the franchise and build excitement for the upcoming release on December 20.

Watching every film in the main story line, from “The Phantom Menace” to “The Last Jedi,” the host share their thoughts below about the individual films. For a more in depth analysis, you can also listen to the full podcasts about each trilogy.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Garret: “There’s no defending this movie; it’s horrible. The worst movie of the entire franchise, ‘The Phantom Menace’ feels like the longest two hours of CGI nightmares any person can suffer through. Trade routes and political jargon mix with characters like Jar Jar Binks and Watto, creating a movie that is a mix of horrible ideas and a plot that seemingly never gets to the point. This entry doesn’t even need to be watched to understand the series, so just skip this one and watch something better.”

Nick: “This movie is flat our painful to watch, but I cannot imagine what the feeling was like when it originally came out in the late ’90s after Star Wars fans waited over a decade for new movies. Jar Jar Binks, the worst character in the entire franchise, gets more screen time than Darth Maul, who is the most intriguing character in the entire movie. Anakin’s pod racing scene is cool, but it drags on for way too long. His first words to Padmé are ‘Are you an angel?’, which is really cute until you remember how their final interaction as husband and wife goes. The lightsaber duel is solid and creates a sense of urgency while watching it, perhaps this movie’s only saving grace.”

John: “Star Wars is easily my favorite film franchise and I try my best to always defend it as a whole. ‘The Phantom Menace’ is without a doubt the hardest to defend. The CGI has not aged well, and there are some rough edits that really haven’t stood out to me until this most recent watch. Qui-Gon Jinn is an interesting character and l love watching his less traditional style clash with that of the Jedi councils. Sadly, everyone else just feels dry. It is a shame because there is a lot of potential here, especially with the meeting of Obi-Wan Kenobi/Anakin Skywalker and C-3P0/R2-D2. Neither of these relationships are really focused on and that is the most painful part of this movie. Duel of the Fates plays in this movie and it is one of the best songs from the franchise, which is probably the most redeeming quality of the movie.”

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Nick: “I am going to make a statement that will undoubtedly make people mad. ‘Attack of the Clones’ is actually a good movie. Of course, the scenes with Padmé and Anakin made me feel like I needed to take a shower with how painfully awkward they were to watch. Aside from that storyline, however, this movie is actually really solid. The coliseum battle scene, the debut of Count Dooku and the Obi-Wan and Jango Fett storyline are all fun to watch. Although this movie doesn’t crack my personal top five, it is still a fun watch. Also, Obi-Wan’s mullet gave me new life just when I was feeling down after watching ‘The Phantom Menace.'”

John: “I found a new appreciation for ‘Attack of the Clones’ during this rewatch. Anakin is undoubtedly the worst part of this movie. It is hard to blame Hayden Christensen for this due to the poor script that he was given but his acting is far from stellar. Padme is a really interesting character in this movie. I enjoy watching her conduct her political business and react to assassination attempts. It is truly sad watching this strong woman suffer from what feels like Stockholm Syndrome as Anakin harasses her into loving him. A picnic on Naboo, burying your suitor’s mother and almost getting killed in a colosseum by a space tiger, talk about a crazy first date! Regardless, Obi-Wan’s detective work is fun and Count Dooku is an extremely interesting character and I wish we could have seen more of the Jedi turned Sith.”

Garret: “Previously my most hated Star Wars movie, ‘Attack of the Clones’ is much better than it’s predecessor. The movie certainly isn’t good, plagued by a bad script and horrible directing, but there is actually a plot worth following and the love story they try to create is one you want to see succeed. This movie is redeemable, but certainly not one of the greats.”

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Nick: “The final prequel is actually the first movie I watched from this series. I will always have a soft spot for this movie, which I would put in my top three of the franchise. Yes, it does fall short in some aspects, especially in terms of dialogue, but I think it is an emotional and powerful watch. The turn of Anakin is well built up and there is still a part of me that thinks he will side with Obi-Wan and the Jedi instead of turning to the Sith. One thing I strongly dislike about this movie is Padmé’s death, which is still one of the shining examples of lazy writing at its finest. The movie also features the best lightsaber duel of the entire franchise, which, of course, is the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan. It is incredibly well choreographed and emotional, especially just before they begin fighting when Obi-Wan tells Anakin ‘I’ll do what I must.’ I needed Garret to pass me the tissues after that part.”

Garret: “I actually prefer this one over ‘Return of the Jedi’ at some points. The interactions between Obi-Wan and Anakin are heart wrenching and impactful, with this movie actually making their friendship believable. The action is better, with flashy fights and epic force battles. Not one of my top three, but close to being one of my favorites.”

John: “It is no secret that ‘Revenge of the Sith’ is the best of the prequel movies. It has easily one of the best openings from a Star Wars movie, the use of music and cinematography that introduces the beginning space battle is awesome. I love watching Hayden Christensen grow as an actor in this movie. His presence is much stronger in this movie and he does a better job of portraying ‘The Chosen One’. The movie does a much better job of establishing the brotherhood between Obi-Wan and Anakin and it is easily one of the best parts of this movie. Emperor Palpatine is hilarious, but great in this movie. He is an absolute ham in every scene he is in and it is interesting to watch him manipulate Anakin to the dark side, not that it takes much. One noteworthy complaint that I have is that Padme is almost completely wasted in this movie. She is almost solely in the movie to die and have Luke and Leia. She does have a very great scene with Obi-Wan before he heads to face Anakin. In terms of music, ‘Battle of the Heros’ is another great product from John Williams.'”

To hear the full discussion about the Prequel Trilogy, listen below!

Star Wars: New Hope

Garret: “The original film that started the franchise, “A New Hope” is one of the best. The plot is simple, but that makes it easier to follow and allows newcomers to enter the series with wide eyes and excitement. The binary sunset is iconic for a reason, giving the hopeful tone that the rebels have for the rest of this trilogy.”

Nick: “A very tame movie, but an enjoyable one at the very least. The original movie of the franchise hooks the viewer early on with the demanding presence of Darth Vader being introduced right at the start of the movie. The movie takes a while to get going, but the build to the climax is all worth it.”

John: “If you don’t get waves of joy and chills down your spine when watching this movie, are you even human? The cinematography is gorgeous, the characters are interesting, the costumes and prosthetics hold up ten times better than any CGI we have seen from the prequels and the acting is perfect for each character. In particualr, I took on a completely new appreciation for Han Solo a character that I didn’t appreciate as much when I was younger. I also wanted to point out that the beginning of this movie is particularly impactful with the end of ‘Revenge of the Sith’ fresh in your mind. Overall, there is a reason this franchise blew up and this movie is that reason. There is not much more to say about it.

Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back

Garret: “Out of all of the films in the series, “Empire” is my favorite. We finally see the cool side of Darth Vader, with the intensity of the dark side coming through in his actions. Luke, Han, and Leia all receive great development as characters and interact with each other as friends and comrades. Yoda is a swamp hermit, but also shows that he is full of wisdom and experience. The cinematography, script, acting and attention to detail all create the perfect Star Wars experience.”

Nick: “The best film of the franchise is still as captivating to me as it was the first time I sat down and watched it. The dark side looks incredibly intimidating and powerful, as one might guess by the name of the film. The heroes also grow as characters and become even more appealing. Much like Garret said, this is just a perfect Star Wars movie, everything just clicks and works well.

John: “I would be remiss if I didn’t agree with my colleagues in saying that ‘Empire’ is my favorite out of the franchise. Darth Vader is intimidating and really establishes the fear that comes with the Empire. Yoda is a fantastic time and still demonstrates the mystery of the Force that we have all come to love. I love watching the characters grow as Nick mentioned. I feel like a proud dad, similar to Darth Vader who watches gets to be there for his daughter’s first true kiss with Han Solo (right before he freezes him in carbonite.) My favorite part of this movie is Luke discovering the wonders of the Jedi and also releasing that they are sometimes selfish. As he dangles, defeated, from Cloud City, whispering to himself ‘Why didn’t you tell me, Ben?’ moments after that famous reveal that his worst enemy was his father all along (Spoiler Alert, I guess.) It is chilling and a perfect scene that strikes a strong emotional punch.”

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Nick: “Palpetine is as treacherous as ever in this movie, and the interactions between himself, Darth Vader and Luke lead to some tense viewing. I could do without the Ewoks, but at least George Lucas appealed to PETA, I guess, by getting animals involved? It still chokes me up when Luke removes Darth Vader’s helmet and pleads with his father to come with him as he is about to flee the Second Death Star. It is a good movie, not great, but a fun and, at times, emotional watch.”

John: “This movie is a roller coaster and I love it. While it is the worst of the original trilogy, it is still just so much fun! It beautifully captures that signature Star Wars humor while simultaneously tugging at our hearts while Luke flirts with the Dark Side of the Force. I am happy as I watch Han get annoyed by the Ewoks, as I do myself. I get chills as Luke tosses his lightsaber and tells the Emperor ‘I am a Jedi, like my father before me.’ It is truly a fun movie when you wade past the Ewoks and the rough CGI that got shoe-horned into Jabba’s palace it is a wonderful adventure movie that does a great job at completing the arcs of these characters we have all grown to love.”

Garret: “While this movie isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, it also seems to drag at points. The Ewoks slow down the momentum of the film, causing the middle of the film to feel slow and as if it can’t get to the point. However, the final battle with Darth Vader, phenomenal role of Palpatine and excitement of the Second Death Star’s destruction quickly make you forget about the unpleasant parts of the movie.”

To hear the full discussion on the Original Trilogy, listen below!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Garret: “Essentially a narrative parallel to ‘A New Hope,’ there’s not a lot wrong with ‘The Force Awakens’ as a movie. I enjoy Kylo Ren as a villain, giving a stark contrast to the calm and collected nature of Darth Vader and evoking a bratty Anakin Skywalker vibe. Harrison Ford as Han Solo really kills it in this movie, both literally and figuratively.”

Nick: “I get the comparisons to ‘A New Hope’ that a lot of people make to this movie. I really do. That being said, I still think this movie is pretty good. Kylo Ren is a very intriguing character that seems to have no self-control at all, and that adds to the lure of his character. Watching him strike down Han Solo was a roller coaster of emotions, and is the best scene in the entire film. This isn’t one of the better movies of the franchise, but I think it is wrong to write it off as nothing more than a carbon copy of the original movie.”

John: “I totally bought into ‘The Force Awakens’ when it came out and I still did after the second watch. The opening scene that introduces the First Order is intimidating and a powerful start to this new trilogy. Kylo Ren and his struggle to find peace and balance is wonderfully entertaining and one of the best parts of this whole new franchise. I love Rey as a character! I enjoy watching her work alongside these heroes that she grew up believing were just myths all while being amazed by them. Many argue that the is a ‘Mary Sue’ but to that I say, so were Anakin and Luke. Luke blew up the Death Star on his first Rebel Alliance mission. Anakin took out the droid army during his first time piloting a real spaceship as a child. Rey interests me because she has the traits of a traditional hero but is also intimidated by the Force. She is a good character and should not at all get the hate that she does. Han and Chewbacca are wildly entertaining and still bring that strong sense of humor and heroism that made me love them in the first place. The chemistry that they bring is equally matched when Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher are on screen together. I love this movie and I believe it is a good sequel.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Garret: “Easily the most divisive Star Wars movie, I actually like ‘The Last Jedi.’ I enjoy the development of Kylo Ren, the action is great and the send off to Luke Skywalker is phenomenal, further developing the themes they never explored in depth during the original trilogy. That being said, I understand why people hate this movie and can almost agree to most of the points. The bad humor gets in the way of stellar writing, Rose is almost as bad as Finn and I particularly despise a certain scene of someone using the force to escape dying. This one is hit or miss, with nobody happy in the end.”

Nick: “I could try to write a compelling paragraph summarizing my thoughts about this movie, but, frankly, I would put more thought into that short paragraph than Rian Johnson actually put into the real movie, so it really isn’t worth my time.”

John: “I strongly disagree with Nick. I believe that a lot of thought went into this movie. J. J. Abrams asked a lot of questions in ‘The Force Awakens’ and then didn’t answer them, Rian Johnson did. The most important of these questions being that Rey’s parents are nobodies. I personally love this decision. The Force has never been only accessible to one last name, people and aliens all over the universe are sensitive to it. Rey happens to be one of those people and there is nothing wrong with that. The relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey is spectacular as they both struggle to find their place. Every scene that they are in together is great. I also love seeing an old and disheveled Luke Skywalker. This character has always been someone to struggle with failure and care about not letting his friends down. It makes sense that this is how he would react to failing his nephew. It is an interesting path for the character and even in his final moments, he is there to rescue his friends. It is wonderful. His interaction with Kylo Ren are also great, he knows Kylo is lost and plays into it perfectly. I would mention the rest of the film, but it is not worth it. Finn is a quip machine who has horrible character motivation. I cringe every time he is on screen. Poe is sadly the same way, he is reckless and kills the tension in every scene that he is in. Admiral Holdo is right in everything she says about him. I like ‘The Last Jedi’ and I will continue to stand by that.”

For a more in-depth analysis, including predictions about “The Rise of Skywalker,” listen to the full episode below!