Star Wars will be with us, always

Daisy Redley as Rey

The original Star Wars was only released in Malaysia in May 1978, a year after it hit the screens in the US.

So, those insisting they watched it in Malaysian cinemas in 1977 are probably suffering from the ‘Mandela Effect’.

Despite the delay in reaching our shores, its effect on Malaysians was similar to those around the world and that feeling of being awed by the ‘best wooden acting in history’ could be why so many here can’t remember when they actually saw it.

Originally titled Star Wars, it was retroactively made the fourth episode in the nine-part ‘Skywalker saga’ when the studio suits realised it had a megahit and eventually retitled ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ when it was re-released (for the first time) in 1981.

It took us back in time to a galaxy far, far away and our lives have not been the same since.

In this day and age it will be unthinkable for a movie to be shown here days after its release, never mind a year later.

Not only will the ‘space’ pirates upload the movie on the internet, but certain people will take delight in revealing spoilers although not as unwittingly as Homer Simpson.

Fast forward to 2019 and the Skywalker saga has concluded with the latest instalment – ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

Then like now, Star Wars was divisive, delighting and dismaying in equal parts so much so, its creator George Lucas ran away from Hollywood before its premiere, convinced it would flop.

Fox’s Alan Ladd Jr, who approved the movie – after several other studios called it “nonsense” – feared he would be fired.

The movie was only released in 32 cinemas (such was the lack of confidence in the project) but the story struck a chord and the special effects were ahead of its time.

With fans demanding to see Star Wars, it took another two months for it to be released nationwide. It would become known as the movie which ‘made’ Fox studios.

Lucas may have ‘planned’ a nine-part saga but he didn’t have all the pieces together – hence the Luke and Leia kissing scene in ‘A New Hope’.

A lot of what happened in the first instalment and subsequently in the next two – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of Jedi (1983) – didn’t really make sense.

But we loved it anyway and refused to look at its flaws. Why? Because it was ‘our movie’. The one we grew up with.

Then along came the prequels – The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack Of The Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) – and the ‘original’ fans were up in arms.

How dare they or in this case, George, do this? The narrative was one of “how could you ruin our childhood with that crap”.

Despite the outrage at the “poor storytelling and acting” the movies made tons of money and changed many lives.

To the younger generation, it was their ‘A New Hope’ moment.

Many years later, that trilogy has earned some grudging respect for its storytelling arc – despite its many, many flaws.

Then the sequels in the Disney-era, happened (Lucas had sold the rights to Disney for US$4 billion in 2012) – and more fans got upset.

Again, just like ‘A New Hope’ and ‘The Phantom Menace’ a new generation fell in love with Star Wars (while the older ones raged).

‘The Force Awakens’ (2015), was dismissed as “too much like ‘A New Hope’/Star Wars movies” while ‘The Last Jedi’ (2017) as “too different”.

Damn if you do, damn if you don’t.

In between, we had ‘Rogue One’ (an attempt to correct major plot holes from ‘A New Hope’) and Han Solo (an origin story) movies.

Which brings us to ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. Is it the best ‘Star Wars’ movie? Far from it. Is it the worst? No, it isn’t.

Does it make sense? There are just too many plot holes and unanswered questions.

Is it a great movie? It most definitely is.

Is it a great ending to the saga? It certainly is (as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say) “from a certain point of view.”

Could it have been better? A big fat yes.

Will I watch it again? At least another two times.

The movie seemed rushed and probably needed an extra hour or two to fully wrap up the 42-year tale.

Or perhaps Disney should have split it over two movies to fully tie-up the loose ends (and try to make sense of it all).

Either way, there will be a big bunch of people who would be delighted the Skywalker saga has finally ended.

The good news is there are many more ‘Star Wars’ projects in the pipeline and a whole new generation will be transported to a galaxy far, far away for years to come.

Thank you, George Lucas.