Monday, June 2, 2014

30 Days of Star Wars: Day 2

Favorite Lightsaber Duel

There are many, many lightsaber duels throughout the entire Star Wars saga.  I'll get to my favorite a little later.  First, I want to talk about a few of the main duels from the movies.

The duels in the prequels have much more choreography in them. They were filmed at a time when technology was more advanced, so they look good, but tend to be over-the-top, long, and sometimes, comical.  For example:

Qui-Gon Jinn & Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul:

This lightsaber duel came at the end of The Phantom Menace.  Fans had been waiting years to see this action again, and this duel didn't let us down.  We all knew that Qui-Gon was going to die; the Jedi mentor always dies.  The only problem I have with this duel is that an incredible villain, one who was completely underused, and had great potential, died in the dumbest way.  Sliced in half...really? Moving on.

Yoda vs. Emperor Palpatine:

When I saw Revenge of the Sith in the movie theatre, the audience went crazy when this duel began.  I was excited to see it too.  However, it quickly turned into a comedy routine.  If you didn't already know that Yoda was a CGI character, this duel made that painfully obvious.  Palpatine was making stupid noises, his facial expressions were ridiculous, and Yoda was flipping around like a gymnast high on every drug known to man!  There was little fighting, as it became more of a "anything you can do, I can do better" duel, with senate seats flying through the air, and force lightning coming from every direction.  The duel also didn't last very long, as Yoda gave up quite quickly and decided he couldn't win.  I still don't understand that.  He is MASTER YODA, and he gives up?  Again, moving on.

Lord Vader vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi:

This was the most anticipated duel of the prequel.  Fans knew this was the moment that would fill in the blanks to the story we had heard throughout the entire original trilogy.  What happened that made these two friends enemies, and how did Vader get into the suit?  Physically, this lightsaber duel is BY FAR the best.  This duel showcases each character, and the audience sees what each is capable of doing.  Where this duel begins to fail is in its length, and where the duel is taking place.  They go from one dangerous, ridiculous contraption on the planet Mustafar to another, all the while gliding across hot lava. (And DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THAT!)  Wouldn't they have burned to a crisp being THAT CLOSE to lava?  Moving on.  Where this duel succeeds is with Obi-Wan Kenobi. He sells the end of this duel with everything he's got.  You feel the emotion from him; he's devestated that Anakin has betrayed Obi-Wan and the Jedi, leaving the galaxy in peril. 

When it comes to lightsaber duels, I'm more a fan of those from the original trilogy.  The three main duels from those movies were full of emotion; anticipation, fear, regret, triumph...and remember, when the original trilogy came out, we had no idea what the backstory was for these characters.

Darth Vader vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi; take 2:

20 + years later, they meet up again on the Death Star.  This was the first duel we ever saw.  Remember, the prequels didn't exist back in 1977 when this movie was first released.  This duel was much slower, which made sense because the characters were older.  Obi-Wan Kenobi can't jump around, and Vader is in the suit, which clearly prevents him from moving like he did prior to wearing it. What I love about this duel is that WE DON'T KNOW THE BACKSTORY WHEN WE FIRST SEE IT. Again, forgetting the prequels exist, we have no idea what is in the suit.  Is Vader human? What happened between them?  These two are in the middle of a cat and mouse game, and when Obi-Wan sacrifices himself...I still scream like Luke does!!

Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker:

The Empire Strikes Back is by far the best of all 6 movies.  This duel contributes to that fact.   The duel starts off with Luke as the aggressor, confidant that he can beat Vader.  Vader, showing us how weak Luke is, fights with one hand, and is trying to scare Luke and turn him to the dark side.  After showing Luke just a little bit of what he's up against, Vader really gets aggressive by throwing objects at Luke using the force, and cutting off his hand.  What makes this duel so incredible is that when Luke is cornered and has to decide if he's going to turn to the dark side, he decides to throw himself down a shaft, not knowing whether he will live through the fall.  Emotion, emotion, emotion!

Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker; take 2:

And now we finally come to my favorite lightsaber duel of all; Vader and Luke's encore in Return of the Jedi.  Luke has to confront Vader again.  Only this time, he's guided by the force, and not listening to his emotions.  This is my favorite duel for many reasons.  I always compare it to being in a room with Satan himself (Emperor Palpatine), along with his right hand man (Vader).  They are doing everything they can to finally make you decide to be evil.  What would you do if you were in a room with Satan?  It would scare the crap out of me.  Listening to the Emperor taunt Luke, with Vader, his father, backing the Emperor up, makes for a very scary time in the movie.  Will Luke give in?  Add to this the fact that Luke accidentally let it slip that Leia is his sister, and Vader attempts to use that against him.  When Luke comes after Vader, my heart begins to pound.  Between the raw emotion in the duel, along with the amazing music, and the incredible way it ends, I could watch it over and over again and never tire of it.   Below is a video of this duel.  Enjoy!

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