Yeah, it’s corny – but sometimes being corny is the heart and soul of being a geek. I’m not often big on celebrating Star Wars Day, mostly because if you held a gun to my head and forced me to choose I’d have to pick Star Trek in the Star Series debate. The science just worked for me a little better than the mysticism.
As for me, I’m going to use this day to drag out something I wrote 13 years ago. I was sitting in the theater, not yet full disappointed in the new Star Wars prequel I was watching at the midnight showing, and there was a scene that sparked something in my brain. I went home that night and sketched out a quick idea. It took a few weeks to flesh it out, mostly because I needed the Internet to get the images from the movie I needed. I’m certain some were promotional while others were grabbed from pirated copies of the film. But I finally slapped it together and Card Wars: The Phantom Balance was born. Take a look. I’ll wait.
It’s funnier if you remember the Visa Card commercials that I’m parodying. Do versions of those even air anymore? I don’t watch enough commercials to know.
I remember at the time really being excited about that, because the movie had been a let down. It isn’t a bad movie, but the prequels represented a large series of broken promises to fans of the original. So many bits and pieces, and large plot elements, contradict things we were told in the 1977, 1980 and 1983 films. I’m not going to spend time pointing them out, just go Google “star wars inconsistencies” and you’ll get lots of results. Some are silly nitpicks, and still others can be explained away, but there are plenty that are slaps in the face. So, I was excited because I felt like, at least for myself, I had salvaged something. The movie was broken, but at least I was inspired to do something creative.
Over time, I’ve come to accept the movies in their imperfect forms. I can enjoy them, even if I still feel a twinge of sadness at how awesome it could have been if Lucas had simply accepted his own work as cannon and written within those constraints. We’ll never know…
In the meantime, if you haven’t seen it yet, there is an awesome fan made version of the original Star Wars film. Random groups of people signed up to make their own versions of 15 second segments of the movie which was then edited together. The result is worth watching.
If I were a fanboy of all things Star Wars, I might be inclined to proclaim that this movie, The Clone Wars, is the best thing since sliced bread. Since I am not, however, I maintain that when you consider it, sliced bread is in fact still pretty awesome. If you know you, you might have heard me say some form of that before, and basically it means that I feel the movie was a great attempt, but that it missed greatness.
The Clone Wars is set during… the Clone Wars. It happens between episodes II and III of the Star Wars Saga. Someone has kidnapped Jabba the Hut’s son, and since the Republic needs use of the outer rim space travel lanes to move troops, the Jedis agree to help find and rescue him. Of course, nothing is ever simple, and lots of things go awry.
The biggest problems I have with the film stem from the same place that the problems I had with the new trilogy came from: George Lucas is just making shit up. And I don’t mean that in a “he’s a creative genius” way… I mean that in a “he doesn’t even read his own work for consistency” way. So, despite it never being mentioned, not once in the three original films, or in the third new film (the most logical place for it to have appeared), Anakin gets his own paduan. Which despite its complete out-of-left-field nature, makes perfect sense given Lucas’ (and others) incessant need to manufacture adolescent characters for kids movies, because they clearly would never be interested in any movie that didn’t have a kid in it. (Note: The original trilogy of Star Wars films, which was wildly successful, contained no children, not even pre-teens.) The character of Ahsoka feels completely shoe-horned in. Dialog between her and other characters smacks of the “Oh yeah! Well, I may be young, but I’m no kid!” attitude Hollywood loves. Its just… annoying. And every time I hear the word “youngling” I want to punch George Lucas in the face.
Outside of issues with the characters and story, the film itself is beautiful. It sits in a place that I can only describe as a blend of computer graphics and painting. The textures and shading used adds a unique element to the film that lifts it from being an ordinary CGI affair.
I will say, though, if you go to see an animated movie this weekend, see this instead of Fly Me to the Moon.
Let’s start with ‘It was good.’ I enjoyed the movie. It ended right where I wanted it to end. It tied up nicely to lead into what we know to be true from the original trilogy. The battle scenes, particularly the lightsaber fights, were awesome. But…
Hold up. Need to do this. I’m about to ramble about the movie, and since I don’t censor myself, I might inadvertantly spoil something for you if you haven’t seen the film. So, if you are worried, stop reading now.
Again, there might be spoilers ahead, so stop if you don’t want to hear about the movie.
Third time… spoilers may be coming. That’s it, you read further, it’s your fault.
So, back to the ‘But…’ I think George Lucas messed up this movie. Like the two prior in this trilogy, there are a number of occasions where its appearant he couldn’t find a way to tell you important facts during the action, so he grinds the movie to a halt for a conversation, then puts it back in gear. Its moderately jarring when you think the movie is picking up speed, then it just stops again. Some of the early film is kinda boring, but the last 20-25 minutes of it are pretty damn good.
I enjoyed the special effects… however, and Jodi put this in to the right words for me, sometimes the special effects became the story, and that’s bad. In Empire, they ride Tuantuans (I’m sure some Star Wars geeks will correct me on the spelling, but I don’t care). They even wind up using one as a source of heat to survive the night cold. But at no point are we ever looking at the tuantuan… its Han riding the tuantuan, it Luke riding the tuantuan, its people handling the tuantuans. In Episode III, Obi Wan rides this lizard thing (which we never learn a name for) but it dominates the screen for 5 minutes in a crazy chase scene. Its so colorful and vibrant in its movements, the fact that Obi Wan is on its back is almost lost… we are watching a lizard run through and over the city, and sometimes we see something flail around on its back. Too much lizard, not enough Obi Wan, the scenes focus becomes the special effects, and in doing so becomes cool looking, but less thrilling. And this happens in a couple of places, the scenery upstaging the characters. Not good.