I don’t know if it escaped your notice, but a somewhat popular movie is set to hit theaters this weekend. You might have caught the branding on toys, clothes, water bottles, cereals, toothpaste, vitamins, toilet paper …

Star Wars. It’s everywhere you look.

If you haven’t already, highly recommend you sit down and watch the movies. At least the original trilogy. However, if you refuse to see them or just feel like brushing up your memory, here are all six movies summed up in 12 points. Careful, there are spoilers!

  1. The actual plot is less complicated than the episode numbers. Think of the entire Star Wars narrative as a three part story. The very first movie, in 1977, was Episode 4, followed by 5 and 6. Yeah, we started in the middle. Fans almost universally agree that these are the best. In 1999, we went back in fictional time to the beginning of the narrative in Episodes 1, 2, and 3. Most fans try to pretend these don’t exist. The current movie showing up on your tangerines and shaving cream is Episode 7. It picks up the story a chunk of time after the happenings in Episodes 4-6. If you can follow this twisted timeline, you will have no trouble following the actual movies.

The Original Trilogy (Episodes 4-6, where any fan will tell you to start)

  1. We meet Princess Leia (a gutsy ambassador who secretly works for rebels), Luke Skywalker (a lonely teenager longing for adventure), and Han Solo (a ruggedly handsome smuggler pilot whose sidekick Chewbacca, looks like a walking shag carpet and communicates in fog horn imitations.)

  1. We learn about “The Force” (please read with an appropriately dark and mysterious tone because otherwise it just sounds like a cheap car alarm or something). There is no way you’ve lived on this planet long enough to read this without hearing “Use the Force.” In Star Wars world, there is a natural energy that comes from everything around us. The downside…only special knights called Jedi can use it. The upside… they use the force to power really cool glowing energy swords called light sabers, make things move, and mess with people’s heads in order to protect the rest of us.

  1. Sadly, some people use the “dark side of the force” – a more metaphorical side than, let’s say, the dark side of the moon. The “Dark Side” uses negative emotion like fear, anger, and hate to fuel its power. Even worse news, the Emperor of the entire galaxy uses this dark energy to rule as a dictator with his underling, Darth Vader. He’s the big guy in all black that wears a helmet/face mask and has serious mouth breathing issues.

  1. These super bad guys want to build a super secret bad guy weapon, the Death Star. Leia has the plans to the SSBG weapon but is found by Vader in the first five minutes of the movie! She sends the information with a plucky droid, R2-D2, who looks a bit like a blue and white mail box/fire hydrant/trash can, and the other half of his comedy duo, C3-P0, a stuffy but brilliant golden droid reminiscent of an Oscar (the Academy Award not the Grouch). Leia tells R2 to find one of the last Jedi and give him a message you’ve no doubt heard. “Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You’re our only hope.”

  1. The rest of the original trilogy follows this trio as they fight with the rebels against the Empire, and eventually blow up not one, but two Death Stars. Luke somehow finds time to train with Yoda, the green guy with big Chihuahua ears, and becomes a Jedi. Han gets captured by bounty hunters. Leia tries to save him but ends up in metal bikini. They visit a variety of places, an ice planet, a forest moon, a cloud city, a giant trash compactor, the belly of a weird asteroid space worm, and so on. Both guys kinda’ like Leia but eventually she and Han declare their love, which is good because…

  1. Family dynamics get really twisted. We find out near the end of Episode 5 (for those of you keeping score that’s the second movie), that Vader is Luke’s father. Then later, Yoda lets slip that Luke has a twin sister, his sorta’ crush, Leia. Yikes!

  1. We end the trilogy with Vader who makes a last minute team switch, saves Luke from the Emperor by throwing the bad guy down a shaft, then dies from it. The rebels celebrate blowing up the second Death Star. The galaxy remains at loose ends without an actual ruler but no one notices because there is music, fireworks, and Ewoks that look like adorable dancing teddy bears.

Those Other Ones (Episodes 1-3)

  1. Very few people enjoyed these as much as the Original Trilogy, mainly due to weak acting, overwrought special effects, and a character named Jar-Jar whose name has become synonymous with annoying.

  1. We see a young Obi Wan meet an even younger Anakin Skywalker. Anakin has massive abilities with the force so he is taken to Jedi headquarters in the Capitol to train. Around this young boy, all sorts of political games are played. We know, because we’ve seen what comes next, that we are watching the future Emperor maneuver into ultimate power.

  1. As Ani, yup, that’s what they call him, grows up he falls in love with Queen Amidala. They eventually get married in secret and she gets pregnant. Between tragic events, impending fatherhood and the mind games of the Emperor, Little Ani decides the best way to help his wife is join up with the Dark Side.

  1. In an epic overthrow, everything happens at once as twenty year’s worth of planning unfolds. Almost every Jedi is killed. Obi Wan fights Anakin then leaves him for dead. The Emperor swoops in to save him with a life support full bodysuit and rename him Darth Vader. It is all for naught, however, when he awakens to find that his true love has died. Annie-now-Vader does not know that Amidala lived long enough to give birth to twins. Yoda and Obi Wan separate the babies and hide them. You know, so that we can see them awkwardly flirting later.

And there you have it, six epic movies in a somewhat larger than normal nutshell. Enjoy the culture craze and embrace the madness this weekend!

May the Force Be With You!