“Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.” – Yoda
It’s hard to believe there are only two more “Star Wars” movies left to watch with the boys. When that Blu-ray box arrived at the house, setting off the Occupy Dad’s Office movement, it seemed like it would take forever to make it through all of the films. Now we’re coming down to the biggest moments in the series, and the boys are already getting ready to start over.
“Dad, in the ‘Revenge On The Sith’ and the ‘Return On The Jedi’ movies, we’re gonna learn about the truth about Darth Vader, right?”
“So we’re going to know if Old Obi-Wan or Darth Vader was telling the truth, right?”
That conversation is just one of the dozens we’ve had in the last few days here at the house, and it shows me that Toshi is really thinking about the movies between viewings. Every day, something else seems to be his lead concern, and every day, he wants to ask me more questions. Meanwhile, Allen remains incredibly consistent in the things that impress him. After we sat down Saturday morning to watch “Attack Of The Clones,” he had one moment in particular that he wanted to talk about and re-enact repeatedly.
“I like when Jango Fett got his head cut by Mace Windu.”
You put that statement together with the cutest little smile you’ve ever seen, and it’s obvious that my younger son is to be feared and watched closely. He’s been a holy terror with a plastic lightsaber since we started watching the movies, and Toshi spends much of this time evading a beheading of his own.
Thanks to the time they’ve spent watching random episodes of “The Clone Wars,” they already had a basic understanding of the nature of the Clonetroopers. They love Captain Rex and the other clones, and they’ve asked many questions about their origins. Like kids in the ’80s when Boba Fett was originally introduced, they’re also nuts for the design of the character and his armor, so when they connected the dots in this film and realized that Boba Fett’s father is Jango Fett, and Jango Fett is the source of all the clones, meaning Captain Rex is basically a Fett, it was like someone had just cured cancer here in the house. They were amazed and delighted by this realization, and they were equally delighted by the fight between young Obi-Wan and Jango on the landing platform at Kamino. In general, anything that involved Obi-Wan and the mystery he was trying to solve played like gangbusters for them.
The love story? Not so much.
It cracks me up when we’re watching a movie and there’s kissing, because Toshi is at that age where kissing is the single grossest thing that can happen in a movie, and he makes a big deal out of covering his eyes every time. That means Allen covers his eyes as well, because he takes most of his cues from Toshi at this point. After one of the kissing scenes, Toshi asked me if all the kissing is what made Anakin turn into Darth Vader. I’ll make sure to remind him of that in a few years once kissing starts to get interesting.
Being the middle part in a trilogy can be difficult for a film because it’s not really establishing or wrapping anything up. It’s the busy work in the middle, the shoe leather, and there’s a lot of running around in “Clones” without really solving anything. In some ways, though, it’s nice because it also leaves room for digression and gives you room to play. The structure of the film is very strange, and the set pieces are given lots and lots of room to breathe when they happen. The chase scene across Corsuscant, the sequence in the asteroid belt above Geonosis, the tour of the cloning facility, the droid factory rampage… each of those scenes had the boys flipping out over various images and ideas.
But amidst the fun, “Clones” introduces some darker notes regarding Anakin’s fall, and I was surprised how much Toshi was invested in that particular story thread. Ever since The Moment in “Empire,” he’s been troubled by the idea of a good guy who becomes a bad guy, and he’s watching Anakin closely. When Anakin found his mother just before she died and then went on his killing spree in the Tusken Raiders camp, Toshi actually stood up. He walked closer to the screen, upset, needing to see every detail of what was happening, and when the scene was over, he asked me to pause the movie.
“Daddy, those people took Anakin’s mommy, right?”
“And they hurted her, right?”
“So then he wanted to kill them all so they can’t hurt anybody else, right?”
“Is that the right thing to do?”
“No.” The way he said it, though, it was more a question than a statement. “But they shouldn’t have killed his mommy.”
He was still wrestling with it when Anakin confessed to Padme a few scenes later that he had killed all of the Tuskens, even the women and children. That made him ask me to pause again, and he was upset by what Anakin said. “Jedi are good guys, and they should do good things, and he killed little kids and mommies, and that’s bad.” We talked about the reasons why and he told me that he was sad for Anakin, but he was also mad at him. He’s always thought of Anakin as a hero, and seeing him start his fall and giving in to anger and rage is upsetting him deeply.
By far, though, the biggest reaction of the day came towards the end of the film when Anakin and Obi-Wan confronted Count Dooku in the hangar. They were already flipping out during the fight sequence before Yoda got involved, but once Yoda came walking in, they got positively manic. They love Yoda. It’s that simple. Any appearance by him gets them excited, but to see him in action sent them into overdrive.
“Daddy, Yoda is the best fighter!” Allen yelled that three different times during the fight. You add that kind of unfiltered joy to the excitement of seeing the Clonetroopers head into battle the first time, also led by Yoda, and the final half-hour of the film was almost too much for them to handle. I think part of the appeal is that Yoda is about the same size as Allen, and seeing that he’s the most powerful Jedi of them all makes Allen feel powerful as well.
A big moment for them was when they realized that Mace Windu, who they both really like, is the same person as Nick Fury from the new “Avengers” trailer. They’re now convinced that Samuel L. Jackson is the single greatest human being to ever walk the earth, and they love that he’s got a purple lightsaber that’s different than anyone else’s. One of the questions that is driving them both crazy concerns the identity of Darth Sidious. They know he’s the Emperor, but they are also sure that he’s someone else in the movies, and they can’t figure out who it might be. I’m amazed that the “secret” works for them, because when I look at Sidious in the final scene of the film, it’s pretty clear to me that it’s McDiarmid under the cowl. The boys haven’t figured it out, though, and when we went through all the possible suspects after the film and I brought up Senator Palpatine, they didn’t even blink. He’s just that “nice old guy” who helps Anakin in this one, and they’ve got no clue he might be connected in some way.
Our next film on Saturday is where many of the biggest answers will be revealed, and Toshi’s really anxious about it. We’ve been looking at Drew Struzan’s new book the last few nights before bed, and as we’ve looked at the poster art for the prequels, Toshi keeps coming back to the image of Obi-Wan and Anakin fighting, and it’s giving him stress. “I always thought Obi-Wan and Anakin were friends,” he said as we were looking at the poster last night.
“But so why are they fighting?”
“We’ll have to find out in the next movie.”
“Is it because Anakin killed the mommies and the babies?”
“We’ll have to find out in the next movie.”
“But you know, right?”
“You can tell me a little bit, and I won’t tell Allen.”
“No way, man. You have to wait and see it in the movie.”
“I don’t want Anakin to be a bad guy.”
“I know, Tosh.”
“I hope Darth Vader’s a big liar.”
I have a feeling this coming Saturday is going to be an emotional one, and a bitter pill to swallow. For now, the films seem to have taken up a permanent slice of real estate in the heads of both of the boys. Allen walks around the house singing the Imperial Theme, Toshi draws pictures of TIE fighters in the borders of his homework, and they’re both convinced that with a little work, they’ll be able to use The Force to reach the remotes for the DVD player and the TV in the playroom.
Truly wonderful, indeed.
“Star Wars: The Complete Saga” is now available on Blu-Ray.