Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Star Wars! Nothing but Star Wars!

As long as I'm poking around Simon's blog, I see that he posts answers to an extensive poll about all things Star Wars. And obviously, I can't allow this to go unanswered, myself, so here goes.

(First off, the significance of the title of Simon's post is that the number in question is the serial number of the trash compactor in A New Hope.)

And now, the queries:

1. Best Star Wars moment:

For me, the defining moment in the entire saga is when Luke's X-wing sinks into the swamp in The Empire Strikes Back, and Yoda chooses that moment to make his most profound object lesson. Plus, that particular scene is scored wondrously by John Williams.

2. Best Hero:

Luke Skywalker. I guess Han Solo would be the "cool" pick, but I've got to go with the guy who redeems Darth Vader.

3. Best Villain:

I'll rule out Vader and Palpatine, since they're blindingly obvious. For the rest, I'll pick Count Dooku. I love his chilling switch from trying to convince Obi Wan to join him to a more ominous, "It may be difficult to secure your release." Meaning, "We're going to kill you."

4. Best Alien / Creature:

The succession of large fish in the underwater segment of The Phantom Menace.

5. Best Minor Character:

Jango Fett. ("I'm just a simple man trying to make my way in the Universe" is a great line.)

6. Best line of dialogue:

Han Solo: "Never tell me the odds!"

7. Sexiest character:

I really don't think of Star Wars in terms of sexual themes. That said, Padme looks really gorgeous when she and Anakin arrive at the island retreat in Attack of the Clones. (Leia and the gold bikini never excited me, really. Since I dig long hair, Leia's dress in the Ewok village was much more my speed. Although I've always wondered how the Ewoks were able to sew something so perfectly for someone twice their measurements.)

8. Best costume:

Again, I have to rule out the obvious (Darth Vader). Those red-clad Imperial Guards sure looked menacing.

9. Best haircut:

Huh?! I mean -- huh?! Qui Gon Jinn, I guess.

10. Best innuendo:

OK, this is going to get me totally pilloried, but I don't care. I actually like Anakin's ham-handed attempt to be poetic ("I don't like sand....") in AoTC. Padme just kind of gets this look like she has no idea what the hell he's babbling about. I've always believed that this awful line is awful by design (it's no accident, I think, that every horrible line in that film comes from Anakin).

11. Best Lightsabre:

Luke's green one in Return of the Jedi. It's the first time we really see Luke pop open the proverbial can o' Jedi whoop-ass.

12. Best Gun:

Han's blaster.

13. Best Fight:

Should I just go ahead and name the Obi Wan/Anakin thriller that's coming in Revenge of the Sith? If not, I'll take Vader versus Luke in The Empire Strikes Back.

14. Best Vehicle:

The Millennium Falcon. Although Count Dooku's solar-sailer is pretty neat.

15. Best Title:

Attack of the Clones. It just sounds campy as all hell, which is as it should be. I find it funny that people like me get all hyper and serious about a movie series with titles like Attack of the Clones, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Phantom Menace.

16. Best Toy:

Huh. Truth to tell, I never had that many Star Wars toys. I've always wanted a die-cast Millennium Falcon, though.

17. Best Spoof / Spinoff:

This. I still watch this every now and then.

18. Best Game:

Not familiar with many of them at all. But I did like the vector-graphics 1980s arcade Star Wars game.

19. Best use of, "I have a bad feeling about this."

Anakin's, as the execution-by-horrible-hungry-beastie in AoTC begins. He managed to sound cocky and understated at the same time.

20. Best use of the Force:

Luke's trusting of the Force when he destroys the Death Star.

21. Best Poster:

The teaser poster for The Phantom Menace, in which Anakin-as-a-boy casts Darth Vader's shadow on the wall.

22. Best Trailer:

The first trailer for The Phantom Menace, which provided our first glimpses back into the Star Wars universe in fifteen years.

23. Best Death:

Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker.

24. Best Entrance:

Not really an "entrance", I guess, but when the doors open to the dining room in The Empire Strikes Back, revealing Darth Vader.

25. Best Chase Sequence:

The asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back.

26. Best Action Set Piece:

The Battle of Hoth.

27. Best musical cue:

Hoo-boy. Here's a tough one. Seriously, John Williams has done so much amazing work on Star Wars that I'm tempted to duck this question entirely. But one cue always seems to rise to the top whenever I go on a Star Wars music listening binge: "The Clash of Lightsabers" from The Empire Strikes Back.

28. Best sound effect:

Lightsaber ignition.

29. Best visual effect:

An obvious choice would be lightsabers, so I'll go non-obvious. Like him or hate him, Jar Jar is a pretty amazing accomplishment. So are the Clone Troopers. (Did you know that in all of AoTC, there is not a single shot of a clone trooper that involves an actor wearing a clone trooper costume? They are all digital.)

30. Best expanded universe character:

Hmmmm. Grand Admiral Thrawn is pretty obvious, so I'll go with his second-in-command, Captain Paellion (my spelling may be off), who -- while being Imperial -- is competent and principled.

31. Best Gag:

Yup, the stormtrooper hitting his head on the door in A New Hope. I love that it's become a recurrent gag, to the point that for the recent DVD release of the original trilogy, George Lucas actually added in an audible "bonk" sound for the gaffe.

32. Best Planet:

Coruscant. The ten-seconds or so in The Phantom Menace depicting sunset on Coruscant are as beautiful a sight as any I've ever seen in a film.

33. Best Special Edition Tweak:

The herd of Banthas in Return of the Jedi.

34. Best Film:

A New Hope. I know that conventional wisdom has TESB taking the prize, but ANH started it all.

(35. Worst scene:)

(I'm adding this entry, just because I don't want anyone to think I'm so blinkered in my admiration of George Lucas that I think he's done flawless work, especially on the Prequels. The scene between Padme and Jar Jar in the hold of the Queen's ship in The Phantom Menace is just a horrible, awful scene. It's a "filler" scene, it feels like a "filler" scene, and it's not even a good "filler" scene.)

(36. Honorable mention Worst Scene:)

(Just to demonstrate that the Original Trilogy had its own hiccups, I point out the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke's in the hospital bed. Here's a scene that posits "scruffy-looking Nerf-herder" as a terrible insult. Ye Gods.)

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