It’s a given that when you write a movie franchise that is at first only supposed to last three films, which is plenty enough already, but then mushrooms to an incredible eight (as of last year’s Rogue One), then you are going to hit some stumbling blocks along the way in your dialogue. When your movie franchise is Star Wars and your writer is the legendary and much beloved director and producer George Lucas, well then, you also know you’re going to get more than your fair share of clunker lines. George is a brilliant visionary but his screenwriting can sometimes seem a little, shall we say, forced…
Then there’s the issue of actually filming all of those scenes across eight movies and not only keeping everything straight in the storyline but also hoping your actors are up to the task at hand. Unfortunately, the Star Wars flicks have also had plenty of actors pass through, some of them major cast members, who were maybe not quite ready for prime time, as the old saying went.
And finally there’s the little problem of incredibly annoying or insensitive characters rearing their heads at inopportune times and weird plot choices fairly ruining important scenes. Yep, Star Wars, as awesome and influential as it is, has suffered from all of these problems over its lengthy history. To celebrate them, here are 15 of the worst scenes in Star Wars.
15. Little Anakin
When it comes to The Phantom Menace and its portrayal of young Anakin Skywalker, you either hate actor Jake Lloyd’s performance or…you hate actor Jake Lloyd’s performance. This is really too bad because young Jake was totally awesome in the Schwarzenegger Christmas clunker Jingle All the Way (oh wait- no he wasn’t). What’s really too bad is that this kid seemed to have almost no direction- as in being directed by a director as to how to act- and was given horrible dialogue. Most grating in young Anakin’s mouth was his horrible catch phrase “Yippee!” One could almost say that the way he used it was a menace to theatergoers everywhere. You saw what I did there, right? Anyway, in the scene where Anakin, the poor little slave boy is told he can knock off for the day and go home, he shouts his catchphrase. Nope- I’m not gonna repeat it anymore. Later, he’s told by Aslan, excuse me, Qui-Gon Jinn, he’s gonna become a Jedi Master. Same response, same inflection. Good to know the kid and George Lucas know how to really get emotional resonance out of a scene.
14. Darth Maul Dead
One thing The Phantom Menace got right, in fact perhaps the only thing The Phantom Menace got right, was introducing an awesome new villain; one who could compete with Darth Vader for scariness, brutality, and mystery. No, I’m not talking about Jar Jar Binks- we’ll get to him in a bit, don’t worry. I’m talking, of course, about Darth Maul. You remember him, right? He exuded physical menace, a cool manifestation of both the title and what was going to happen in the prequel trilogy, and looked super cool on top. He opened up some awesome back story possibilities about the Sith. He even had the coolest Ninjago-style lightsaber ever. So of course George Lucas had to go and kill him off in the very first movie he appeared in- by slicing him in half. Whoosh! Talk about defusing audience expectations- his death scene was one of the stupidest things we’ve ever seen in the Star Wars ‘verse.
13. Bye-Bye Boba Fett
Here’s another head scratcher. Boba Fett, the mysterious masked bounty hunter who seems to float in and out of our conscious awareness like a bad dream, seemed well on his way to legendary character status after his appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. OK, OK, I’ll admit he’s attained legendary status anyway but that’s more for what he could have been and his whole presentation than for what he actually did. Like Darth Maul after him (well, before him but you know what I mean), Boba took cool badness to a new level. Back in the day, every kid wanted to be him for Halloween, forget about Luke and Han. When Fett flew off at the end of Empire with Han’s carbonized body on board his ship, everyone just knew he was gonna be a major player in the third film. Except, a funny thing happened on the way to Jedi. Boba was pushed to the background and then killed off in the first 45 minutes of the film. Say what? Bad scene, bad choice.
12. “Noooo!” Part I
I’m pretty sure everyone knows both the scene I’m about to explicate and the later one that duplicates it (and is actually much worse). To set the tableau: Luke is hanging off the bottom of Cloud City (OK, credulity already strained) after losing his Jedi fight to Darth Vader. He’s lost a hand. He’s not doing so hot. And then Vader does the big reveal that he’s Luke’s father. Luke’s response (and Mark Hamill’s everlasting shame) is the infamously screamed “Noooo!” as he hears the truth about his parentage and ponders suicide. Listen, I love Mark Hamill, but the delivery here is so overwrought, so very over the top that it’s almost impossible not to say to yourself “wow, that is one bad piece of acting!” It’s almost embarrassing, really. But, what Hamill didn’t know at the time was that someone else would steal this particular crown from him so he’s got that going for himself.
11. Kylo Ren Looks Funny
One of the problems many people have with The Force Awakens is how almost literally it lifts plot lines. Characters and indeed, much of the premise of the whole movie from Episode IV: A New Hope. I’m not sure why sci-fi movies feel the need to completely repeat themselves when they have an infinite multiverse to play with but the Star Trek reboots have done it, the Aliens and Predator franchises have done it and now Star Wars has done it. The most egregious copycat example of this behavior in Force would be the mysterious and evil Kylo Ren- a masterful lightsaber-wielding villain dressed all in black with a black cloak and a black helmet. Sound familiar? Duh. Unfortunately for everyone involved, when Kylo is finally unmasked, he’s not some monstrous half-machine man like Darth but a downy-faced pretty boy with long eyelashes, vulnerable eyes and curly hair. Um, no. Just please for the love of God no.
10. Every Jar Binks Scene Ever
The easiest character to make fun of in the Star Wars canon and perhaps on film has to be the infamous Jar Jar. As an exemplar of his race, who we sadly are also forced to meet, Jar is a very unfortunate ambassador. I mean, what the hell was George Lucas thinking? The droids worked really well in the original trilogy both as comic relief and plot devices- they were an inspired creation. Jar is just a creation, of some sort. But what is he? I don’t think George Lucas is aggressively racist or insensitive but Jar Jar sure makes you think he might be. He’s like a cross between a caricature of a Rastafarian and rejected character from the Muppets. Or a live action version of something from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Jar is awful- brutal look, brutal delivery, and brutal storyline. Why couldn’t he have been frozen in carbonite? Like before he even made it to the screen.
9. The Podrace Announcers Suck
Most professional sportscaster suck. It’s just a fact of life. The ones who are totally celebrated, like Troy Aikman now for NFL games or Tim McCarver back in the day for baseball, just suck slightly less. So, when you have some weird double-headed monster announcing the podrace in Phantom Menace, perhaps you should have the damn thing just speak English only, not be a complicated single-bodied announcing tandem (whoops, I’m sorry- I meant “Basic”). Or perhaps you should write some better jokes for it. If the one head that speaks only Huttese is actually funnier (and I don’t speak Huttese) than you have a problem. The announcer(s) looks funny, it acts funny but it’s not funny. Here’s a little clue, Star Wars brain trust- something isn’t funny just because you want it to be or think it is. You actually have to workshop the idea and see if it really is.
8. My Young Padawan
I’ve already mentioned that the dialogue in almost every Star Wars movie can be cringe-worthy at times. In fact, sometimes it can be more than a little cringe-worthy and border on actual ridiculousness. One perfect example of really, really (like really) bad dialogue occurs during the Battle of Geonosis, which is supposed to be a highlight of the movie. Instead, you’ve got Obi Wan complementing Anakin’s strategic sense by saying to him “Good Call, my young Padawan.” OK- that’s the best you can come up with when you need to write some lines for a major battle scene? I mean, I’d just like to ask who talks like that? Nobody talks like that. Apparently people in George Lucas movies, who are nothing if not fantastic at woodenly delivering horrible lines. Or maybe they’re actually all droids- wouldn’t that be a neat trick! At least it’s better than the awful, terrible, horrible lines Lucas puts in Anakin’s mouth while he’s wooing Padme (more on that soon enough) but even a pack of feral monkeys could write better dialogue than those lines.
7. So Padme Is Softer Than Sand? Yay
I said I’d get to the whole “Anakin and Padme forever” thing. Which is funny, putting it that way, because their entire romance might have seemed a little bit more authentic if Anakin had simply carved their initials and his undying love into a tree. Why you ask? Well, because Anakin’s “romantic” dialogue is just about as dumb as it can get. Seriously. How about when Padme is talking about her childhood and reminiscing in a beautiful way? Padme says “We used to lie on the sand and let the sun dry us… and try to guess the names of the birds singing.” Anakin’s awesome response? “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere.” OK, thanks for the update, lover-boy. Geez, that is some seriously un-romantic writing. At least it was delivered well by that most excellent actor Hayden Christensen. Oh wait…
6. Starkiller: Death Star In Disguise?
I’m just going to go out on a limb for this next one and assume that maybe just maybe you remember a small, little plot device in the original movie (excuse me, Episode IV: A New Hope) called the Death Star. You do? Great. As we all know the Death Star was the ultimate in badass Empire weaponry, a “battle station” the size of a small planet that could destroy…well, small planets. Everyone remembers the Death Star. It was the single most important element of the entire first movie- much of the action in the second act took place upon it, Obi Wan met his fate on it, and the entire third act revolved around the Rebel alliance trying to figure out how to destroy it. Let’s fast forward, then, to The Force Awakens, where we find ourselves faced with the existence of the Starkiller Base which is, essentially, a battle station the size of a small planet that can destroy small planets. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.
5. Chewie Gets Shafted
I’ll admit it- I’m not the world’s biggest Chewbacca fan. Don’t get me wrong, I like the big furball well enough but I don’t love the idea of the character; it kind of seems like a cop-out to have a major character whose best attempt at communication is a weird, constipated moaning growl. I mean, the Jawas’ language is bad enough and then we have to listen to Chewie groaning all the time? It just sort of feels like a cop out for the character’s development. All that being said, however, that scene at the end of the first movie where Princess Leia and a bunch of Rebel Alliance dignitaries you’ve never seen before or since hand out medals to Luke and Han has got to go. “But why, Geer?” you may ask. Well, because Chewie doesn’t get a medal, that’s why. I mean seriously, give the dog-bear his well-deserved recognition, people. Or at least a biscuit. Geez.
4. Anything With Ewoks
Nope. No. Just…no. They’re not cute, people, OK? They are super freaking annoying and weird. They’re also yet another species in the Star Wars canon whose language sounds like outtakes from a cheap Saturday morning cartoon. But seriously, what the hell was the whole Ewok story line anyway? Because to me it seems like a cheap way to cash in on the cuteness quotient and make money off of kids. I don’t know, maybe I’m jaded, but Wicket and Gadget and Diddle and all of their little fuzzy friends leave me ice cold. Also, the scenes where they’re fighting the Stormtroopers with their stone-age technology and winning? W.T.F? I know Stormtroopers are the worst soldiers ever- they make Orcs look like Napoleon- but they can’t beat a handful of Chihuahuas? It just doesn’t make any sense. Also, they probably have fleas.
3. Greedo Shoots First?
Perhaps the most famous of all Star Wars “controversies” is the “Greedo shot first” one. In a nutshell, in case you’ve been living in a Wampa cave on Hoth (and if you have, sorry, and why?) in the original movie, Han shot Greedo in the cantina only because Greedo had a blaster trained on him. So Han was smarter. Fans applauded his savvy and ruthless nature. Then in the ridiculous Special Edition release, Greedo clearly shoots at Han first but misses. Some fans applauded Han’s apparent “innocence.” Then Lucas changed it again to Greedo sort of shooting first and Han dodging, then shooting. Fans were confused. Hell, I’m confused and I know the timeline- it doesn’t pay to confuse your fans. Or maybe it does since Star Wars ain’t lacking in the financial department. Still, this is a scene where George Lucas has really illustrated his penchant for meddling with his own canon. Ouch.
2. How Do You Say “Alderaan” Again?
OK, so I know Star Wars is set in a fictional universe. So is Harry Potter and everyone says “Hogwarts” the same way. I know perhaps George Lucas was trying to show the differences in various cultures (maybe- it’s a reach, I grant you). So did Peter Jackson by having Elrond roll his “R’s” like a drunken Spaniard every time he said “Mordor.” But seriously? Having four different characters in four different scenes of the original flick pronounce “Alderaan” differently is a bit of a stretch, suspension of disbelief-wise. It doesn’t feel so much like a creative attempt but rather shoddy direction and continuity. There’s even a point where Grand Moff Tarkin (the late, great Peter Cushing) and Princess Leia (the recently lamented Carrie Fisher) say it differently in the same scene! Come on people, decide on a pronunciation and stick with it.
1. “Noooo!” Part II
The worst scene in Star Wars history. The scene that monumentalized bad acting and bad writing. The scene that almost killed a movie- well, I’ll admit that Revenge of the Sith almost killed itself because of many scenes.. OK, OK, I’ll stop. But seriously, here it is, that perfect moment when a great idea, a great actor, and a great piece of dramatic tension all fold under the weight of expectation. Or something like that. Let’s face it- everybody but everybody was waiting for the end of Anakin (bye bye Hayden!) and the emergence of Darth Vader (welcome back James Earl Jones). The scene looked like it was going to be awesome, didn’t it? But then Vader opened his mouth and screamed that notorious “Noooo!” And the whole thing was ruined. I don’t know if better writing could have saved this seminal scene or better acting or just an entirely different way of setting up the “birth” of Vader. But I do know this way sure didn’t cut it.