Star Wars

Film Focus

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 December, 2006, 12:00am


Related topics

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (also known as the late 1970s), George Lucas set in motion what would become the biggest money-spinning movie franchise of all time. Star Wars (later known somewhat less catchily as Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope) and its original sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, broke box-office records around the world, marked the birth of movie-tie-in merchandising on a grand scale and ensured a generation of children would grow up longing to own a lightsabre.

Then, for a long time, nothing happened. Despite persistent rumours that Lucas had a trio of prequels up his sleeve, it seemed the Star Wars saga had run its course - until 1997, when Lucas released special editions of his landmark trilogy and announced he was starting work on a new Star Wars opus. Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Episode II - Attack of the Clones and Episode III - Revenge of the Sith followed and, although only the latter of these came close to matching the original trilogy, there was a certain satisfaction in the knowledge that the saga, 28 years after it began, was at last complete.

Celebrating this fact a year later, Star Movies is showing all six Star Wars movies on consecutive Sundays, beginning with Episode I - The Phantom Menace (above; today at 9pm). Far from the best of the bunch and memorably described as a 'jumped-up firework display of a toy advert' by Tim Bisley (Simon Pegg) in TV show Spaced, The Phantom Menace is not entirely without merit and should whet your appetite for the better instalments - if you can tolerate Jar Jar Binks, surely one of the most annoying characters ever committed to celluloid.

A fantasy world of a different sort is on display in Corpse Bride (HBO, Saturday at 9pm). From the warped yet winsome imagination of Tim Burton, this animated tale sees Johnny Depp providing the voice of a clumsy soon-to-be groom who inadvertently marries the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter) and is whisked off to the Land of the Dead. Beautifully crafted and strangely endearing, this represents fun for all the family - although Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas would have been more in keeping with the season.