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Saga With what criteria do you evaluate movies?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by StampidHD280pro, Oct 1, 2011.

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  1. StampidHD280pro

    StampidHD280pro Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 28, 2005
    When you decide whether a Star Wars movie is bad or good, what are your priorities?

    What makes a movie good? Do you desire more specific traits from Star Wars movies?

    Hopefully these questions can help us understand our interest in these films and each other. Most of the time I can barely tell where posters are coming from.
  2. Darthman1992

    Darthman1992 Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 17, 2011
    With STAR WARS I first judge it by the overall storylines. Not the nitty-gritty details, 'cause then I couldn't really like any of the films since if you look deep enough they all have some plotholes and minor inconsistencies. I like to take the saga in broad strokes with its plot, themes, symbolism, imagination, characters, and poetic parallels between the two trilogies.

    After that really almost everything is on the same level to me. The acting, action, score, and effects. All of those should be good as well, but the main selling point to me is having a good story. Something I think all 6 films have.
    CoolyFett likes this.
  3. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    This. And I would add that my favorite Star Wars movies, as well as my favorite episodes of TCW, have characters that cannot easily be pigeonholed as "good guys" or "bad guys". I like the lines to be blurred a bit. I like my good guys to be flawed, even fatally so, and I like my bad guys to at least have understandable motives.
  4. Gary_Buchenara

    Gary_Buchenara Jedi Youngling star 3

    Apr 29, 2009
    Coherent and interesting storyline, good writing, convincing acting, appropriate pacing, special effects used to aid the story, rather than story written around special effects opportunities.

    But in SW, all the films, with the possible exception of TESB, don't always score too well on these general criteria, so I go to my second list: chemistry, heart and, of course, starwarsishness! If I focus on what they are, rather than what they're not, I can enjoy all of the films. Well, most of all of them...
  5. drg4

    drg4 Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 30, 2005
    As Gary wrote above, my criteria for a great SW movie diverges somewhat from that which I have set for basically every other film. Honestly, I don't ask for much, save for the following three qualities...

    First, the movie must be infused with a transporting, operatic sweep. (Which is why I value TESB over ROTJ, which looks and plays like a BBC production of the time.)

    Second, there must be subtext to the proceedings, allowing me ample meat on which to nibble. (Which is why I value the flawed TPM over the comparatively perfect but unrewarding ANH.)

    Third, the actors must deliver their god-awful dialogue with a degree of conviction. (Which is why I value ROTS over AOTC.)
  6. Jedsithor

    Jedsithor Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Oct 1, 2005
    There are a lot of things that come to mind but ultimately, the number one priority for me is that they are fun films. I have fun watching these movies. Yes I love the stories, the operatic feel, the subtext and all that stuff but what makes STAR WARS my favourite movie series (and A New Hope my favourite movie) is that I have a blast watching them. The number of times I've quoted along to Palpatines gleeful evilness in Sith and Jedi are to many to count. When the Force theme transforms into the Star Wars/Luke's theme as he turns off his targeting computer I find myself humming along. In Family Guy Blue Harvest, Peter sings the music of Death Star escape - I DO THAT! That moment when that energy shield wall drops and Maul and Kenobi light their sabers for their final showdown sends a chill of anticipation through my spine. Star Wars is a hell of a lot of fun and while I love all the other things people mentioned, it's the fun factor that stands out for me.
    Valairy Scot likes this.
  7. ezekiel22x

    ezekiel22x Force Ghost star 5

    Aug 9, 2002
    When I think of Star Wars I think of visuals that make me want to pause the screen and transport a given image from my TV and frame it on a wall, engaging action scenes that seem like coherently plotted mini films in themselves compared to shaky-cam fist fights, and moments where the quietness of individual frailty and resolve take respite from or converge with the larger strokes of operatic space spectacle.

    I find something of this in all six films, so I'm not quick to rank the films these days, but admittedly both Clones and Empire come to mind if I'm being asked to fill in the "eminently watchable" blank. So maybe I just like middle parts.
  8. HevyDevy

    HevyDevy Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 13, 2011
    Empire Strikes Back is my favourite because it feels the most like a believable environment. All of the OT has that quality.
    Having said that, the prequels take me away for different reasons. Revenge's music is spot on, a very important factor for me.
    Although Empire probably holds my interest because it isn't quite as cheesy as the others, and is of course darker, the prequels reach me on another level. The characters are more symbolic, there seems to be a reason for every moment (particularly in The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith). There seems to more of a "will of the force" influence in these chapters, although you can say that about Luke and Anakin overthrowing the Empire in Return, or R2 ending up with Luke in the original Star Wars. Anakin Skywalker is a more complex character than all-around good guy Luke. I like how varied your response, and the response of others, to this character can be.
    The emotional aspect of the movie is also really important. I care what happens to the characters in Star Wars, and with all six (unfortunately not in AOTC at times), I do. It's just that in Ep2 I don't find the Jedi very Jedi-like, Yoda doesn't say anything wise, compared to his other four episodes, and Palpatine is a little disappointing as a Sith. I love Yoda in ESB the most by far.
    I like dialogue you can interpret several ways, and lines that encourage further viewings of each movie, for example when Palpatine says "The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way". That has so many repurcussions in the rest of the saga... I find it very interesting.
    I see people complain about pacing, particularly in the prequels, but it doesn't really bother me. The Phantom Menace is admittedly slow, but it isn't a stand-alone movie, and the way it sets everything up keeps me enthralled. Anakin's turn in Revenge of the Sith is fast, but I've come to associate it with deeper meaning in his every action. When he turns the galaxy turns with him, and the fast pacing of these events seems actually quite fitting.
    The PT and OT are one, but two seperate entities, and I of course evaluate them on different merits. For example, some strong areas of Ep3 derive from there being a lot to look at, or richness in visuals. While the OT doesn't come close on this level, it isn't really missed, because the originals feel somewhat closer to our world aesthetically.
    FRAGWAGON likes this.
  9. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Jan 5, 2011
    The only thing that matters is how entertaining it is. Obviously there are many things that can add to the entertainment, and just as many that can take away, but if I'm entertained all other aspects are irrelevant.

    As it was said above, it's all about fun.
    Force Smuggler likes this.
  10. -NaTaLie-

    -NaTaLie- Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 5, 2001
    Star Wars are more than just movies to me so I try not to approach them too critically (otherwise, it's too hard not to notice various plotholes and corny dialogue - yes, even in TESB). That said, I think I think III, IV and V are my favorites: the story is more intense, the performances are more solid, and there're more good old Star Wars fun. But I also like the ornate style of Phantom Menace, the mysterious feel of AOTC and, of course, the powerful drama of ROTJ. I love them all, Star Wars is the best saga ever!
    CoolyFett likes this.
  11. StampidHD280pro

    StampidHD280pro Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 28, 2005
    Yes! Yes! To NaTaLi-Wan you listen!

    I agree about III-V also. It's the heart of the story, and they're also the darkest and most emotionally draining episodes when the saga is viewed in order.
    obi-rob-kenobi4 likes this.
  12. Lars_Muul

    Lars_Muul Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Oct 2, 2000
    It's simple. I ask myself: Do I enjoy the movie? How much do I enjoy it? Does it captivate me? Am I spellbound by it? Do I feel like I could rest in peace now that I've seen it? Do I just find it moderately enjoyable? Am I disappointed? In that case, how disappointed? Am I just plain bored when watching the movie? Do I find it to be completely uninteresting?

    That's how a work of art should be evaluated, IMO.

    Evaluation of art - it's personal
    Alexrd and Ord-Mantell70 like this.
  13. Frank T.

    Frank T. Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 2, 2012
    For SW films I look for creativity. So, to me, they are all good.
    For movies in general I just want to be engaged and get some enjoyment in order to call it a good movie. A good(not necessarily happy) ending is usually importent for me too.
  14. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 16, 2005
    They must entertain! I like the hint of characterization even if hidden behind hi-jinks and "for the fun of it" stuff like the overdone droids/Anakin and Padme on Geonosis, the pod-racing on Tatooine, etc. Great visuals are great, too, of course. I look at the movies as space fantasy/opera where I can add in my own overtones of deep story (morality of using clones, the Jedi fighting in a war, etc.) that are glossed over for the spectacle.
  15. Ord-Mantell70

    Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 9, 2009
    Tricky and interesting subject actually.

    I've never found any of the Star Wars movies really bad, although I have a favorite (ESB) and a least favorite (AOTC), as most people do I guess. My priorities are basically aesthetics and design (photography, sceneries and sets, spaceships, locations, costumes, duel choregraphies...), mixed with good dialogues, dramatic tension and engaging characters and performers, as personal and subjective as it can be I'm afraid. Also a certain sense of magic and wonder, coupled with that cryptic and fascinating backstory inside (political, characters), that I think the OT has particularly well touched upon : that's why I like it so much, and had such great expectations and anticipations for the PT storywise (backstory development and revelations).

    Nevertheless I did find pretty bad scenes, moments and characters to my tastes, essentially in the PT (picnic and fireplace scenes AOTC, burial scene AOTC, balcony scene ROTS, Sidious-Grievous conversation ROTS, NOOOoooo ROTS :eek: :oops:, Bongo trip underwater TPM, Darth Maul TPM, Jar-Jar's "over the top-ness" TPM...). And I wasn't expecting that, not to that extent at least. There are very few in the OT (couple of scenes in ROTJ and the whole Ewoks issue mainly). I'm also not very fond of digital special effects and CGI widespread use, especially when mixed with real actors. That's why I prefer the OT movies, although there are very good moments, scenes, characters and story elements in the PT and the PT films here and there.
  16. CoolyFett

    CoolyFett Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 3, 2003
    Believabilty is my number 1 thing. T has to be believable in the world it is based in. Fantasy movies are mostly believable. I view Star Wars as a 13 fantasy movie, like Never Ending Story, Conan the complete adventure, Lord of the Rings they all have that fantasy feel that I enjoy. But then they myth type of characters & put them in a futuristic world where they have laser guns, laser canons & laser swords inplace of bows, steel swords & catapults. A worlk with humaniods, andriods & aliens. A world with natural beast that or born or hatched in the same world of robotic beast used as weapons or security. Its such an indentifable world that GL built.
  17. CoolyFett

    CoolyFett Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 3, 2003
    AOTC is a very mysterious episode! I agree, kinda has that sherlock holmes investigate type of feel. There is a lot of who & why in AOTC.
  18. DRush76

    DRush76 Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 25, 2008
    I judge them on two criteria - the story and the level of entertainment (at least for me).
  19. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Apr 26, 2009
    Interesting topic, but the SW/franchise/saga/episodic context muddies it a bit. Although I'd like to be able to apply the same criteria to any SW film that I would apply to some other film, one has to allow a certain amount of latitude when dealing with episodes that have open ends and/or require a heap of prior knowledge. The only two that can stand alone on their own terms are SW/ANH & TPM, and many of TPM's strengths derive from a certain knowledge of just what's about to happen (Anakin's fate, Palpatine's manipulations), although it's not 100% necessary. Ironically, both the strongest (ESB) and weakest (AOTC) SW films in my opinion when it comes down to specific aspects suffer most brutally when it comes to standing on their own - because they simply don't.

    When it comes down to it, though, a film should follow these criteria:
    1. Have a good story to tell
    2. Tell it well
    3. All other aspects - acting, directing, cinematography, editing, SFX, set design, costume design, music - should serve points 1 & 2.

    Akira Kurosawa put it best - “With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. With the same script, a mediocre director can produce a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can't possibly make a good film. For truly cinematic expression, the camera and the microphone must be able to cross both fire and water. The script must be something that has the power to do this.”
  20. DRush76

    DRush76 Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 25, 2008

    It's strange to me that you consider ESB as the strongest film and AOTC as the weakest in the franchise. Especially since I consider both films as the best.
  21. only one kenobi

    only one kenobi Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 18, 2012
    I've been thinking about this alot recently and I think that one of the strengths of the movies is their malleability. Paradoxically this is also, I think, one of the reasons that the PT jarred with a lot of older fans, and why (some) EU does with OT and PT fans. There is enough characterisation that one has a feel of a character, and then your own imagination can fill in the blanks.

    So, when someone actually fills in those blanks, even though an element of us looks forward to that if it doesn't quite match up with what we got from the character then that.....disappoints us. But, we are always left with enough room to manouvre our way around - there's little enough dialogue that we can still re-incorporate what it is that we saw in the first place.

    And, what really works are the individual performances. Guinness stamps his mark early in ANH, and Ewan McGregor does a great job of stamping his own personality while reminding of the older Obi-Wan that... it just works. Harrison Ford has the swagger to pull off Han Solo, Carrie Fisher brings just the right amount of ballsiness to Leia, Mark Hammill had a naivity which evaporated - quite possibly matching his real life experience. Hayden convinced me in ROTS, Natalie Portman...well, she can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, Liam Neesom convinced so many of so much more than was actually written into the part, and the same can be said of Christopher Lee - for such a short time on screen he creates a lasting impression and Ian McDiarmid manages to bring so much to Palpatine/Sidious - the false charm/smarm playing off against that cold, chilling, ammoral evil.

    I can't be the only one who, perhaps subconsciously, just blots out the parts we are least comfortable with - like ewoks, Jar-Jar, the cackling, near pantomime Sidious at the end of ROTS.
    Valairy Scot likes this.
  22. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    For Star Wars how fun is the movie? Am I entertained? Can I get behind the characters? Does it have lightsabers, starfighters, Skywalkers, Solos, Good vs. Evil, funny moments, amazing scenery etc.
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