Josh Shaffer

Shaffer: My cheat sheet for ‘Star Wars’ newbies

Josh Shaffer's short guide to Star Wars

News & Observer columnist Josh Shaffer gives his short explanation for the very few who have never seen Star Wars.
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News & Observer columnist Josh Shaffer gives his short explanation for the very few who have never seen Star Wars.

All right. “STAR WARS” cheat sheet. (Cracks knuckles.)

This story takes place in space.

It starts with a farm boy named LUKE SKYWALKER, a space orphan who lives on his uncle’s moisture farm. (It’s a desert planet, and water is scarce.) Luke longs for the life of a Jedi knight and begs his uncle to let him leave the farm. His uncle demands that he stay and help another year.

MEANWHILE, a space princess named LEIA is escaping the clutches of the evil galactic empire, which controls everything, and sends a message to Luke’s planet via a pair of cute robots named R2D2 and C3PO. As the robots hurtle toward Luke’s planet, in search of an aging Jedi named OBI-WAN KENOBI, Leia is captured by the evil lord DARTH VADER.

The robots are picked up by space peddlers called Jawas, who sell them to Luke’s uncle. But R2D2 is determined to deliver the message and escapes in search of Obi-Wan. Luke finds R2D2 with the space hermit he knows as Ben Kenobi, who is actually Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan explains that he’s a Jedi, Luke’s father was a Jedi and that Darth Vader actually killed Luke’s father long ago. He also gives Luke a light saber, which is the Jedi’s weapon, a sort of space sword.

MEANWHILE, the galactic empire tracks down the robots and burns down the moisture farm, killing Luke’s aunt and uncle. Luke pretends to be sad for a minute, then dashes off to rescue Princess Leia, aided by a space pirate named HAN SOLO and his space ape friend CHEWBACCA. They hang out for a while in a really cool space bar and get chased by STORMTROOPERS but end up on this huge round evil space station called the DEATH STAR. After lots of shooting, they rescue the princess, get dumped in a trash compactor and kiss each other. As they escape, Obi-Wan meets up with his old nemesis Darth Vader, who kills him with a space sword.

SO, our heroes escape to a secret base, where it is explained that the Death Star has a tiny design flaw that will make the whole thing go kaboom if you shoot a laser into it. Luke brags that he used to bulls-eye womp rats back on his home planet. Thus confident, he blows up the Death Star and saves the universe. Everybody gets a medal.

BUT ...

Darth Vader escapes and the evil continues in a sequel, “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.” This is actually the best movie, but the only really vital piece of information that surfaces is that Darth Vader didn’t kill Luke’s father. He (massive spoiler alert) *IS* Luke’s father. Luke shouts “No!” and Vader chops off Luke’s hand, as space fathers sometimes will.

SO, Luke goes to Jedi school, taught by a tiny green creature named YODA. And he becomes a total space ninja in the next movie, “RETURN OF THE JEDI.” And he confronts Darth Vader, who has a spanking new Death Star shaped like the Apple logo and who tries to enlist him in some father-son space evil. But Luke resists.

MEANWHILE, Han, Leia, Chewbacca and the robots manage to blow up the new Death Star thanks to some fuzzy creatures called EWOKS who – big surprise – happen to make really great stuffed toys. And while Luke is pulling his evil dad out of the burning evil apple, Darth Vader tells his boy he was right all along. There really was some good left in him.

The End.

There’s also three more movies that take place before these events and explain how Darth Vader became evil. But never mind those.

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