Monday, August 17, 2015

Watching Star Wars with your kids

For most guys my age (and probably a few girls as well), sitting down to watch Star Wars with your kids is one of those watershed moments.

I'd been waiting a long time to share George Lucas' seminal film with my eldest JKY, trying to size up when he'd be the right age to watch it. I didn't want him to be too young because a lot of it would be lost on him, but I didn't want to leave it too late either in case he accidentally watched it without me. Plus, there are one or two moments in the film which could have been unsuitable, and also the character of Darth Vader, who younger (or more sensitive) sprogs could have nightmares about.

The reason I wanted to oversee this 'event' was because I grew up with Star Wars, endlessly watching it on VHS (actually Betamax first of all) where we'd recorded it off the telly. It was hugely informative, sparking my imagination as a kid in so many ways – feeding my love of sci-fi and action. The entire Star Wars universe was a vast and exotic place to get lost in, fighting the evil Empire, saving princesses and flying awesome spaceships.

JKY is not unfamiliar with all things Star Wars. He's been exposed to it in all kinds of ways since he was a toddler. This has been mainly through Lego, and the numerous Star Wars sets he's received over the years (did I mention he has a LOT of Lego??), as well as various games and Lego movie shorts that we've acquired. Whilst it's been impossible to shield him away from it all, it's always been a worry of mine that his exposure to the original trilogy (ie Episodes 4 - 6) would leave him a bit disappointed.

You see, all the recent Star Wars stuff, including the prequels, is still set in the same universe but it's like everything's on steroids. Case in point: the showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and Darth Vader (Robert Prowse/James Earl Jones) in A New Hope is actually quite a tame battle when you think about it – but the action takes second place to the story and tension of two well-developed characters locked in mortal combat, representing the age-old conflict between good and evil. Culminating in a sacrificial gesture by Kenobi to help Luke and his companions flee the giant Death Star, the scene has all the right ingredients. Compare it to the Darth Maul (Ray Park / Peter Serafinowicz) lightsabre duel with the younger Obi Wan (Ewan MacGregor) and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and there's a lot of flashy swordplay and jumping around impressive sets ... but to me it lacks any real heart or passion. I guess I was worried JKY would expect the 1977 Star Wars to be slow and boring.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about. JKY loved the original trilogy and has asked to watch them again at some point. I'm only slightly disappointed that he already knew the major plot reveal in Empire Strikes Back, thanks to various Lego Star Wars movies giving the game away. If you're new to Star Wars and watch Episode V, it's quite a revelation:


It was, however, satisfying when we watched Return of the Jedi where we learn about Leia and Luke. JKY didn't see that one coming!

Now he's seen episodes 3-5, we're all set to watch episode 7 in December. Can't wait!

I've already expressed my opinion about the prequels but I'll probably watch them with JKY (except number 3 - maybe that will have to wait until he's older). They aren't great, but they do have their moments, I guess.

Podracing anyone??

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