Hey all! Trenchie here again with something different. I'll be re-posting the better responses from my Formspring account here. The goal is to post a new response every couple of days. Let me know what you think!
JOSHUATHEANARCHIST asked - What's your favorite space opera?
That's a very narrow genre with not a lot of entries to draw from. Less than that even as I'd contest many of those labeled as such. Even Star Trek doesn't really fit until some of the later series. And the reverse is true of Star Wars' later-day Prequel Trilogy, which it could be argued are closer to Political Thrillers than Space Operas.
But even then, there's some excellent examples to be found. I'll freely admit to a soft spot for Titan A.E., and both Wrath of Kahn and Undiscovered Country are damn good movies by any standard.
In the end though, I'm going to have to come back to Star Wars. It's easy to forget in the current climate of Lucas-hate just how much the original film and the two which followed changed the cinematic game. The editing choice in New Hope to craft around the rhythm of the story rather than to match pace with the actors' performances is a style which still informs editing choices on modern spectacle pieces. The sound design by Ben Burtt pushed the idea that sound should be as important as the visuals (not the first and not the only, but absolutely among the movement's key players). John Williams' score set a precedent still followed today. The special effects and merchandising too changed their respective disciplines.
In a very real way modern American moviemaking as we recognize it started with Star Wars. Watching with an eye to all that, it's absolutely breathtaking to see the mastery of craft present in those films.
I can't honestly say the same about any other Space Opera.