WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of "Obi-Wan Kenobi." If you don't want to know what happens and haven't watched, I suggest you turn back now.
"Star Wars" fans are capable of complaining about anything. I can say that because I'm very much a part of that fandom that likes to complain. But while I was watching the Obi-Wan series yesterday, something occurred to me. The lightsaber combat scenes in the new "Star Wars" movies and TV show just kind of sucks. Let's start from the beginning here. The original "Star Wars" films didn't exactly feature dazzling combat. The only lightsaber fight we see in "A New Hope" is when a 63-year-old actor and a man in a robot suit were awkwardly whacking one another with sticks. It never bothered me, though. It's still an engaging scene in a great movie, and in fairness, the combat in the original films improved as the series went along. The final battle in "Return Of The Jedi" still holds up quite well.
Then came the prequels, which showed the Jedi in their prime, partaking in insane and completely unrealistic combat. It was silly. It was nonsensical, but as someone who was a child of the prequels, it was utterly fantastic. I'm not going to act like every fight was perfection. Seeing a CG Yoda fight Christopher Lee's stunt double in "Attack Of The Clones" never really did it for me. But I love the fluidity of the combat. And don't get me wrong, it doesn't make a lick of sense. The fights in the prequels moved at a rapid pace that clearly made the battles look choreographed and unrealistic, but so what? I tweeted yesterday that realism doesn't matter to me when it comes to "Star Wars." One of the reasons the Empire was destroyed was because a man with a fish head helped take down the second Death Star. Escapist entertainment means more to me than realism in a universe where Jar-Jar Binks is partially responsible for the fall of democracy. I wrote a blog a few months back where I talked about a few great scenes in bad movies, and the fight scene at the end of "The Phantom Menace" was at the top of that list. That movie is two hours of boring drivel for the most part, but it has one of the most incredible sequences in any "Star Wars" movie.
I'm writing this because in Wednesday's episode of "Obi-Wan Kenobi," we got to see Obi-Wan and Darth Vader square off, and it just looked lame to me. Don't get me wrong, seeing Darth Vader haul ass is the 100 MPH fastball of the Star Wars universe. It never gets old. But the fight itself? Eh.
I think this is an issue that has plagued "Star Wars" since Disney bought out LucasFilm. The combat in the fight scenes is weak. There are certain things I'm willing to forgive. I immensely enjoyed the end fight in "The Force Awakens." It had an excellent visual aesthetic to it, and it was clearly established that these characters were inexperienced in combat. But by the time we got to "The Rise Of Skywalker," the fights, much like the movie itself, did very little for me.
A quality story, good characters, and solid dialogue are way more important to me when it comes to "Star Wars" properties than seeing Jedi doing backflips during lightsabers fights. But…is it too much to ask for both? It's where I give Hayden Christensen a lot of credit as a performer. People can bitch about his acting in the prequels (I'll contend it wasn't his fault). Still, the amount of physical exertion he and Ewan McGregor went through training themselves for those fights was undeniably impressive.
I have to acknowledge the absurdity of this blog. Writing 700+ words about how much cooler the fights were in the "Star Wars" prequels might not precisely play around these parts, but it's something I'm passionate about (even if it doesn't make any sense.) I've written blogs and made videos about how the prequels have aged bizarrely well and that people from my generation remember those movies fondly. A big reason is that they featured fight sequences that made Jedi feel like superheroes and not just men (or women) hacking at each other with CG sticks. Going forward, I hope this is something that gets fixed. If it doesn't, at least I'll always have something to complain about.