What are you doing this weekend? Actually, don’t answer that. I’ll tell you what you’re doing this weekend. As a Memorial Day weekend treat and lead-in to this Sunday’s episode of ‘Behind the Screen,’ MTV will be running all six "Star Wars" movies between Saturday and Monday. If you’ve seen George Lucas’s epic space fantasy, then you know exactly why you should be tuning in. If you don’t… well… here are all the reasons you need to settle in with some popcorn for a long, lazy weekend in front of the TV.
The Fall of Anakin Skywalker
Hardcore "Star Wars" fans like me have some issues with George Lucas’s approach to the most recent trilogy, starting with 1999’s "The Phantom Menace." Wherever your opinions fall with regards to the new movies, it’s hard to say a foul word against Anakin Skywalker’s (Hayden Christensen) beautifully orchestrated descent into the Dark Side of the Force. In addition to be able to witness the birth of Darth Vader, "Revenge of the Sith’s" climactic lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Skywalker, his former pupil, adds new context to "A New Hope’s" -- the first movie released in the series -- rematch saber duel.
Han Solo and Chewbacca
Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his Wookiee first mate Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) are truly a buddy duo for the ages. Han is an unabashed rogue, a charmer, gambler, smuggler, con artist and all-around scoundrel. The stream of arrogant bluster that issues forth from his mouth is so constant that you barely notice how unintelligible his pal Chewbacca is. Chewie is the duo’s heart, a big lug of a walking carpet who makes up for his language barriers with fiercely loyal actions.
The only thing cooler than a Jedi-killing bounty hunter is a Jedi-killing bounty hunter in Mandalorian armor. Boba Fett’s menacing appearance can be credited almost entirely to the ancient armor he wears, which is fully equipped with a jetpack, wrist-mounted rocket launcher and all manner of other gadgets. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he carries a nasty-looking disintegrator blaster, or that he wears locks of Wookiee fur as trophies of his previous kills. Anyone who can take down multiple 6-plus-foot-tall humanoid beasts with sharp fangs and retractable claws is someone you should steer clear of. Unless you happen to be close to a Sarlacc Pit, that is.
I’m not afraid to say that "Episode I: The Phantom Menace" is the worst of the six "Star Wars" movies. A lot of you will probably agree. I’m also not afraid to say that "Phantom" features the best of the movies’ lightsaber duels, even topping Yoda’s throwdown with Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) in "Episode II" and the Obi-Wan/Anakin showdown from "Episode III." This has everything to do with "Phantom’s"Darth Maul (Ray Park), who wields a double-bladed lightsaber and a considerable array of martial arts skills. He takes on two Jedi at "Episode I’s" climax, both of them master swordsmen: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). The fight maintains a respectable action pace until its final moments, when Obi-Wan, stricken with grief, advances on Maul with unbound fury. It’s a standout moment for the series, and it even makes the otherwise unbearable "Phantom Menace" worth watching.
Forget "Star Wars" for a moment. Lightsabers may very well be sci-fi’s single-coolest gadget, period. They appear to be little more than a long, metal cylinder; turn one on and a brightly colored energy blade issues forth from what turns out to be a sword hilt. Lightsabers are the trademark tools of the Jedi Order. There are scant few to be seen in the original trilogy, after the Order has fallen, but the newer trilogy serves up a lightsaber overload as we get to see Jedi Knights and Masters wielding the "elegant weapon" before the dark days of the Galactic Empire.
There’s one final reason you should tune in for this weekend’s "Star Wars" marathon on MTV. On Sunday night at 11pm, right after "Episode IV" ends, you’ll be able to get some insider Hollywood scoops on the latest episode of "Behind the Screen." You’ll be able to catch "Land of the Lost" cast interviews with Will Ferrell and Danny McBride, the broadcast premiere of Sacha Baron Cohen’s "Brüno" trailer, a visit to the set of "Get Him to the Greek" with Russell Brand and two exclusive clip premieres, for Quentin Tarantino’s "Inglourious Basterds" and Rob Zombie’s "Halloween" follow-up, "H2." So tune in to MTV for an epic weekend of classic sci-fi and exclusive first looks.