Attack of the cloensOkay, so “Attack of the Clones” is an improvement on “The Phantom Menace”. Take away the pod race and the final duel with Darth Maul from “Phantom Menace” and you have no movie. “Attack of the Clones” has a bit more going for it.

Still one can’t help but feel that most of your adrenaline responses came from the excellent special effects and the blow-you-away battle scenes. The characters seem a bit more fleshed out than Episode 1. Close. But no cigar.

I really wanted to feel sad when Anakin’s mother died in his arms. Nada. Nothing anywhere close to my feelings when I saw Luke Skywalker encounter the bodies of his uncle and aunt. And hey, why shouldn’t Anakin have a chip on his shoulder when Obi-Wan seems to get his jollies from constantly referring to his protégé as my “young padawan”??

Ok, you don’t get a prize from guessing where this piece is going. Call me old but my vote goes to Episode 4, “A New Hope” as the best Star Wars movie to date. (“The Empire Strikes Back” was great but more transitional in nature. And I didn’t like the teddy bears in “The Return of the Jedi”.) Which is quite amazing since Episode 4 had no grand battle scenes, and special effects that seem amateurish compared to what Hollywood can do today.

So what is it about Episode 4 that sticks in your heart? The people. The plot. It was a powerful story. You cared for the people. You cared what happened to them. And you cheered the profound spiritual lessons embedded in the story.

Like when Luke learns the limits of technology and learns to trust “the force”. (OK this is open to new age applications but Star Wars is no Sunday School tract.) And didn’t we all cheer when Han Solo finds his moral compass and comes back to help the good guys even though he could have gotten away with his loot? How about when Obi-Wan lays down his life so that he could gain a different order of life, one more needed for the hour? (Where have we heard this before?) Or the bravery of the rebel forces, choosing to give their lives against impossible odds because it was the right thing to do?

A good movie, like a good book, must speak to the heart. And the human heart wants to hear again and again that life has meaning. It wants to hear again and again, that though times are bad, the good guys will win in the end. The human heart is dying for hope.

So good entertainment must not only entertain. It must also give hope. So that when people encounter real hope, the hope that lies in Jesus alone, they will not have forgotten what hope feels like.

“O Lord, you alone are my hope.” Psalm 71: 5a