Turns out the Phantom Menace is great!
Star Wars holds a special place for people who grew up in the 1980s.
I can recall the excitement of my dad returning from work with a packet of Stars Wars stickers and whizzing through hyperspace with a Millennium Falcon toy (now probably worth a fortune if I’d only kept it in a box!).
The movies themselves were breathtaking, from the thrills of Star Wars, the OMG moment in The Empire Strikes Back (we won’t spoil the surprise!), to the fun of Return of the Jedi.
And then somehow it all got ruined when those dreadful prequels turned up. But were they really that bad? One of the joys of getting Disney Plus and having an eight-year-old son is that it’s a chance to rewatch all the films.
And it’s great seeing them with someone who has a completely fresh set of eyes and is seeing them all without any preconceptions. Also he has a Darth Vader dressing gown, so he's very comfy while watching them!
Where to start our Star Wars marathon on Disney Plus?
Well we decided to go in story chronological order rather than going in order of when the films were made. So, that meant starting with Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace (1999).
I saw it for the first time in an icy cold air-conditioned cinema in Florida on holiday and it seemed a bit of a letdown at the time. However, my eight-year-old loved it! He was mesmerised by the special effects and even liked the much loathed Jar Jar Binks. And he was simply blown away by the pod race scenes, where little Anakin flies around the track at a zillion miles an hour. "BRILLIANT!," was one comment.
Rewatching it’s a great story and cracks along at a fair pace. The highlight has to be the lightsaber battle between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn to John Williams's epic score. This prompted lots of “Ooohs” and “Wows” from my son.
So, next onto Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones…
OK, the bad bit first about Attack of the Clones (2002). This film gets pretty confusing at times, prompting lots of questions I couldn’t always answer like "Who are those clones actually fighting for?" But Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Hayden Christensen as a grown-up Anakin strike up a great on screen friendship.
My son couldn’t get enough of the big action fighting scenes. I was suddenly, thinking, "Hang on, the prequels are really good!"
Hmmm, so the third film - Revenge of the Sith (2005) - I recall it being a bit more violent. So I thought he’s too young for that. I gave it a rewatch though and see Anakin’s descent into hell. I then have to break the news to my son that Anakin has turned into a villain called Darth Vader. This prompts a startled look on his face. Every kid has heard of Darth Vader even if they haven't seen the films! "So, the little boy in Phantom Menace has turned into Darth Vader?" Yep!
Disney Plus has Solo (2018) on its line-up next, so we move onto that. First question from the eight-year-old, who’s Han Solo? So I explain that he’s really big in Star Wars. Next question, "Is he a goodie?" Yep, he's a goodie.
Solo is much more light-hearted than episodes one to three and we’re both soon into the heist plot. My son is particularly taken by Chewbacca and finds it hilarious that he’s a 190 years old! Alden Ehrenreich is great as Solo, capturing some of Harrison Ford’s swashbuckle as the character.
Both of us are mesmirised by the Millennium Falcon of course! And Solo gets a big thumbs up.
Next up on Disney Plus’s list is Rogue One (2016), but I recall it being really dark, so might be a bit scary for him. So we’ll have to go straight onto the original Star Wars (1977) next… now what will he make of that?! I'll do an update when I find out! Let's hope he doesn't think it's rubbish!!
Written by David Hollingsworth and Arthur Hollingsworth
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David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.
Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years on TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough.
David started out as a writer on TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.
Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!