Yoda, a nasty little green oven mitt, until proved otherwise?

Tuesday, 19 January, 2016

It’s fair to say that US scientist and science fiction author David Brin takes a reasonably dim view of the Star Wars films, especially the first six movies. It’s series creator George Lucas’ “sneering contempt for democracy and the common man”, that particularly gets on Brin’s goat, to say nothing of that “nasty little green oven mit” Yoda:

Yoda is pretty much, inarguably, the most evil figure ever in the history of any human mythology. I have defied folks to name one time when he says or does anything that is indisputably wise. The trail of destruction that follows him and every decision that he makes is inarguable and overwhelming.

Evil, and not much of a strategist either. Or was he?

I do hope folks will notice, for example, that Yoda, in Attack of the Clones, orders the Jedi into a suicide charge that kills most of them, then conveniently shows up with the new clone army that he ordered. An act of treachery and betrayal so stunning that I had to watch the movie twice. Perhaps that was Lucas’ evil plan.

Brin has written a book, Star Wars on Trial, that examines the good and bad aspects of the saga in court case fashion, where he, unsurprisingly, acts as the prosecuting attorney.

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Avatar, and the mystery of the missing cultural footprint

Friday, 15 January, 2016

Avatar, directed by James Cameron, took over US$2.7 billion at the box office, upon its release in 2009. By way of comparison, The Force Awakens, the latest Star Wars film, has taken about US$1.7 billion to date. Here’s a puzzle though, if Avatar was so popular, why is it devoid of any sort of cultural footprint?

The total absence of a cultural footprint for Avatar is fascinating… Hey. Right now. Try to quote Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time. Quote ANY line. Or name 2 characters. No cheating.

How often, for instance, do you notice certain of these lines from Star Wars cropping up? Mind you, the Star Wars story is spread across seven films, not counting animations and holiday specials, over almost four decades, so that has to be a help.

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Han Solo’s life story may not stand up to many special modifications

Thursday, 14 January, 2016

Today’s obligatory Star Wars related post – I think have one ready to go for tomorrow as well – asks the question, should there be a Han Solo anthology, or “spin off” film made? As I said a few months ago, Solo’s the sort of person who’d have a couple of stories to tell. Thing is, would it be a good idea to make movies out of them?

Something else I also wondered about was who on Earth would you cast to portray a younger Solo? One thing is for sure, whoever it might be will have big shoes to fill, as David Sim, writing for The Atlantic, notes:

Why do audiences need to see the events that made Han Solo who he is? He’s a complete package the second he’s introduced – rebellious, charming, with just enough bravado to disguise that he’s making it up as he goes along – and so much of that is down to Ford’s performance. Any new actor in the role will be saddled with the choice between trying to imitate Ford or creating their own take on the character, and both will be a tough sell.

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Write a crawl for your own private Star Wars story

Wednesday, 13 January, 2016

This is fun, write your own Star Wars crawl text… just what those who are into Star Wars role playing games, and the like, ordered I would think.

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A rebooted trailer for The Empire Strikes Back

Monday, 11 January, 2016

A contemporary trailer for The Empire Strikes Back, the second film in the original Star Wars trilogy. It casts the story in a whole new light, doesn’t it?

By way of a comparison, here is an earlier trailer, dating from about 1980, that is narrated, apparently, by Harrison Ford.

I think I know which one I prefer.

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The Force Awakens… a new hope or a false start?

Monday, 11 January, 2016

SPOILERS, of some sort, follow.

If box office takings are anything to go by, I expect it’s safe to assume just about everyone reading this has seen the latest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, by now. I’ve seen it twice.

The story is not too bad, despite the forty – or so – plot holes that one reviewer identified, and shows up director J.J. Abrams penchant for simultaneously copying, and changing, earlier versions of a story that is he has taken over telling. His Star Trek reboots are a case in point here.

I think he missed the mark however in regards to the current crop of villains who are intent on galactic domination. They have no presence. Darth Vadar was terrifying. Kylo Ren is not. Ditto Supreme Leader Snoke, who completely lacks the enigma and menace of Palpatine, the Emperor.

Palpatine went virtually unseen for the first two original Star Wars films, and that, I thought, played a big part in building up his character. An over size hologram of Snoke is the only fear instilling mechanism this time around, and that’s not saying much. It’s also something we’ve seen before anyway, in The Empire Strikes Back.

So, what to expect in episode eight then? Another “I am your father” sort of moment? Might be brother, or sister, of course. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, only eleven months to go until Rogue One, the next Star Wars movie, the first in the spin off, or anthology series of films, opens.

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Wuher: A Star Wars Story, and other films you may not live to see

Thursday, 19 November, 2015

If a single movie, Rogue One, a Star Wars “spin off” story, slated for release in late 2016, can be spawned by way of a few words taken from the opening crawl of A New Hope, then imagine what else seen in the six films released to date, has the potential to inspire? A point that’s not lost on current series producers, the Walt Disney Company:

And if the people at the Walt Disney Company, which bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012, have anything to say about it, the past four decades of Star Wars were merely prologue. They are making more. A lot more. The company intends to put out a new Star Wars movie every year for as long as people will buy tickets. Let me put it another way: If everything works out for Disney, and if you are (like me) old enough to have been conscious for the first Star Wars film, you will probably not live to see the last one. It’s the forever franchise.

I think Wuher, the gruff bartender in the canteen at Mos Eisley, is worthy of a film. In fact, I’m of the opinion that the significance of his role in the saga has been greatly understated so far. Read his profile. I think you’ll agree there’s far more to him than meets the eye.

And on that note… four weeks to go until you know what.

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R2-D2, loyal astromech droid, or a lying pile of scrap metal?

Wednesday, 11 November, 2015

I hope not to be featuring too many Star Wars theories, I expect you’ll run into no shortage of them elsewhere in the coming weeks anyway, but have you given any serious thought to the motives and integrity of R2-D2, everyone’s favourite astromech droid? Whatever way you look at it, he appears to have kept a great deal of information to himself:

In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke leaves the Battle of Hoth to go to Dagobah and seek Jedi Master Yoda to complete his training. R2-D2 knows who Yoda is, especially as a astromech droid who served the Jedi in the Clone Wars. Yet, when Luke shows up at Dagobah, R2-D2 trolls Yoda and Luke by fighting with the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy over some junk in Luke’s camp. That’s like you meeting Ghandi and throwing sand in his face.

It seems not a single character in the saga is really beyond scrutiny. Look closely enough at anyone, and there’ll be some reason to question who they are, or what they really stand for.

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There’s a lot of crazy Star Wars theories… and here’s another one

Monday, 9 November, 2015

Luke Skywalker, Sith Lord, and because I think too much has been written about the soon to be released J.J. Abrams directed Star Wars film already, I’ll try to keep this brief.

Rob Conery posits that Luke Skywalker actually turned to the dark side of the Force during his climatic light sabre duel with Darth Vader, in The Return of the Jedi, and the story goes that he did so to protect Leia and his other friends. If he did, why didn’t we see the evil yellow glow in his eyes, that the Sith are possessed of? Sorry though, I digress.

Much of this thinking has come about on account of Luke’s absence from the most recent trailer for the film, and also the poster. Some suggest he is the Dark Jedi (a sort of naughty, rather than evil type, of Jedi) armed with the red crossguard light sabre in the trailers, who goes by the name Kylo Ren. Ok, there’s something in that, Jedi going from good to bad tend to take new names.

Personally, having spent much time mediating, Jedi style, on the question, I conclude that Kylo Ren is a random Darth Vadar fan boy, who has ideas well above his station. He wouldn’t be alone either. The galaxy would have decended into chaos following the death of the Emperor, as the rebels had no plans, or clue, for asserting any sort of order, once they toppled his regime.

Further, Luke struck me as being too genuinely happy after the Empire’s defeat, to be a freshly turned Sith. Do Siths even smile, except possibly through gritted teeth? That doesn’t mean he was content though. And why might he? Having witnessed the turmoil that Force-sensitives had unleashed upon the galaxy, he may have come to think all were better off without the Jedi, et al.

It’s true that Gary Kurtz, producer of episodes four and five, envisaged a more open ending to six, but was overruled by George Lucas, who wanted something happier, and more conclusive. That seems reasonable to me, because it was Lucas’ gig after all. Kurtz’s ending might have been better from a storytelling perspective, but not in the context of the greater saga.

Abrams may be taking a cue from Kurtz though. It’s possible that Luke went into self-imposed exile soon after the events of episode six. He hoped, in vain it seems, that the Force would be forgotten. Han Solo’s words, during the most recent trailer, “It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re real,” seems to reaffirm that. Talk of the Force had become taboo, off limits.

For a time anyway, and not that it appears to helped much either. But then there might not be an episode seven, and a new story to tell, otherwise. Just my take anyway. I may be wrong. Luke Skywalker may be the new Darth Vader after all. Time will tell. Five a bit weeks to go. Whatever happens though, I hope it’s good. Please, don’t pull another Phantom Menace on us.

Update: and for added Star Wars hype, check out this latest of latest trailer for episode seven.

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No wonder the Empire was defeated, they used TIE fighters

Thursday, 22 October, 2015

And with just eight weeks, exactly, until the new Star Wars movie opens in Australia…

TIE fighters are the go-to single seat fighter craft of choice for Imperial/First Order/general bad guys forces, through much of the Star Wars saga. Despite their apparent effectiveness and formidability though, they really aren’t all that great a spacecraft, writes Jason Torchinsky.

Even if we assume that the TIE fighter is short-range, relies on a pilot’s spacesuit for life support, and has minimal equipment inside, the little ball that makes up the TIE fighter’s body is way, way too small to be anything other than a short-use travel pod thing, handy for scooting around between Star Destroyers so Storm Troopers in committed relationships can meet for dinner even if they’re stationed on different ships. That’s about all they’re good for.

The thing is though, they must be doing something right, as they’ve been in service for well over thirty years. Maybe there’s another aspect to them, concealed in some hidden space-time dimension. This science fiction, so anything’s possible.

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