"B4 · STAR WARS VII"    [ 12 ]   
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Dec 2015
   STAR WARS  

This is not a review of the new Star Wars movie!

As I write this, "STAR WARS VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS" will open all around the world in just one week! You know I can't just let this slide without some kind of commemoration, but what can be said about Star Wars that hasn't already been broadcast about a million times over? Nearly 40 years after its original release, people still find it fascinating and worthy of passionate debate, fanfare, and celebration. That is really saying something. George Lucas did not just make a movie; he crafted a modern fairy tale complete with a rich visual universe to explore! So for what it's worth, here are some of my particular memories growing up with these films, along with a few interesting tidbits you may have never heard about during your own Star Wars adventures . . .

 spoiler alert
WARNING: There will be spoilers! On the off chance that you have not yet seen STAR WARS at all —( I suppose there might be one or two souls still drifting about out there )— stop reading this now and go watch them in the order they were released:
  (1)   Star Wars IV: A New Hope  
  (2)   Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back  
  (3)   Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi  
  (4)   Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace  
  (5)   Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones  
  (6)   Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith  
THERE IS A MAJOR REASON FOR THIS!

OK. With that out of the way, let's jump into all this magic with the first trailer for the New STAR WARS movie "The Force Awakens"! ~ Who is that stormtrooper dude? (And is that Benedict Cumberbatch narrating? What's he doing here, Mr. Pseudo-Stand-in-for-Khan from Star Trek?) And what's with that freakish, orange, basketball-rolling droid thing? The new 'princess-leia-apparent' gets to zip around on an oversized thumb-drive speeder..? Kinda cool ... X-wings tearing across a lake = FANTASTIC! Super-weird (but again, cool) this rough-edged lightsaber, now with a hilt (makes sense), wielded by some Darth Vader wanna-be — and then... Our Millennium Falcon ripping across the sky with vapor trails ~ the camera going all swoopy-crazy to follow after it (oh, and it's sporting a new rectangular radar dish to replace the old one Lando popped off during the Battle of Endor) -- and what? WHITE TIE fighters..?? ~ This is either going to be MEGA super-cool .. or J. J. Abrams might just 'jump the shark' with his overreaching creativity this time around. But I kinda doubt it. Given his track record, I am pretty sure he is going to NAIL this! Especially after seeing how he 'Star-Wars'ified the Trek franchise over the last few years.  :-)

Do you remember the late 90's when the first trailer for "The Phantom Menace" arrived in the world? How those mysterious-looking creatures moving through the fog, accompanied by John Williams' unmistakable score, set our little sci-fi hearts a'flutter? Well THIS trailer definitely hits that same vibe for me. And sure enough, it wasn't long before someone released this little beauty: Star Wars: Episode VII Trailer - George Lucas' Special Edition ◄— If you have not seen this, do yourself a favor and check it out. It is pretty hilarious!  :-)

Subsequent SW·7 trailers reveal a crashed star destroyer filling the horizon, so very EPIC (as it must be), an old forsaken X-wing half buried in the foreground .. . the Millennium Falcon again, this time rushing full-on right into that crashed destroyer, and then Han Solo and Chewbacca clearly standing inside the most famousest of space ships saying, "We're home..." ~ Oh how we hope!

Due to the lonely sounding solo piano music, this trailer took me a few moments to understand it was even STAR WARS at all .. Rey scavenging inside that derelict star destroyer, a roughed-up TIE fighter tumbling out of orbit, the Falcon once again making the jump to hyperspace like a boss, a kickin' X-wing & TIE skirmish over a frozen landscape, and a not-out-of-place Miyazaki moment with a tall, lumbering robot — oh, and now even Leia?!  Luke's gonna be in this as well?!

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATES (and directors):
SW =  May 25, 1977  (George Lucas)
ESB =  May 21, 1980  (Irvin Kershner)
RotJ =  May 25, 1983  (Richard Marquand)
PM =  May 19, 1999  (George Lucas)
AotC =  May 16, 2002  (George Lucas)
RotS =  May 19, 2005  (George Lucas)

The last trailers I dared view show an iconic, heart-stopping moment where a clutch of TIE fighters are making an attack approach with the sun silhouetted by two moons behind them, reminding us of the alien locales featured in these stories; Chewie apparently detonating some massive explosion; the Falcon exploding through a thicket of snow-covered pine trees in an escape from God-knows-what this time . . !

OK! I need to stay away from exploring any more! I want to be surprised and see this new potentially excellent STAR WARS movie For The First Time with no spoilers going in! How exciting to buy a ticket and hit a big ol' theater filled with rabid fans to see a cool New STAR WARS movie on the big screen!! Curiously, this is the first one ever to be released outside of May. (See stats at right) This break with tradition may signal a fresh new start... but * nothing * can compare with the first time you experienced THIS in a big gnarly theater:

 
 Star Wars!

          I was 10 years old.

 

 Star Wars IV: A New Hope
The original Ciné Capri (1966-1998) day/night — [ ROLLOVER ]
 Ciné Capri

1976 was a crazy sort of a year, all full of red, white, and blue curvy-style 70's decorations and banners celebrating America's Bicentennial (1776-1976). After all that, things were just beginning to settle down again when commercials started appearing on TV for some crazy-looking movie called "Star Wars". Being a Good Parent, my Mom took me to stand in a line outside in the summer heat, which wrapped around the right side of the original Ciné Capri, as pictured here. This is important, because the Ciné Capri was one of the very few theaters in America that seemed tailor-made to show This Very Film. With its golden curtains drawing open across that wrap-around curved silver screen. That historic giant outlined title "STAR WARS" blasted into being with that matching epic fanfare, drifting away to lead in the opening crawl . . . and then . . .

Well, everyone knows.

There was just nothing else like it.

No movie theater experience has ever captured that same perfect blend of spectacle, scope, size, and power that the original Ciné Capri could offer, especially in regards to Star Wars. This unique alchemy is described in a few old articles, as well as a little museum commemorating the old theater. I would of course go on to see many other films here, like ALIEN, other Star Wars movies, lots of Trek films, "The Abyss" (also particularly impressive here), and all manner of blockbusters. But there was nothing like that mind-crushing opening sequence of that first star destroyer lumbering overhead, heralding the incredible adventures to come...

I will not belabor the point by detailing what countless reviewers have already cited over the years. Every lead character was fun and captivating in their own right: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan, and yes, even Greedo in his own skeevy way. Living here in the desert (Phoenix, AZ) Tatooine did not enthrall so much as provide a relatable backdrop for the story. But then all those aliens showed up in the Cantina, and Ben Kenobi sliced a dude's arm off with his lightsaber, and Han Solo introduced our heroes to his ship the Millennium Falcon, and the Death Star was so phenomenally massive it could destroy an entire planet! Laser blasters, force fields, TIE fighters and X-wings, oh my . . .

George Lucas and 20th Century Fox quickly realized what riches could be mined from this treasure chest and thus began a series of re-releases, with the cryptic "Episode IV: A New Hope" quickly tacked upon the opening title crawl. Repeated viewings at the Ciné Capri (and lesser theaters) only revealed more fascinating details, enriching the entire experience. A new cultural mythology was born, and we were all witness to it through the wonderful medium of film. :-) But it would not remain limited in this fashion for long, as an avalanche of toys, Star Wars labeled goods, and all manner of knock-off products (including imitation films) started pouring into the market. I can only imagine how much equipment my own dollars have paid for at Lucas's Skywalker Ranch and/or ILM. Besides ticket sales, my first Star Wars purchase was not a toy but rather a vinyl LP of arguably one of the best film scores ever composed:


 Star Wars OST
That SOUNDTRACK! Racing through my house with a hefty X-wing fighter in hand, chasing after the equally as hefty TIE fighter (until some mishap during battle made one of the wings pop off with a thumb press on a plastic button - genius!), I analyzed the music even while playing with my Star Wars toys, or reading, or just hanging out with friends. I loved this music, as many others have. At age 7 or 8, I had discovered side one of The Beatles: 1967-1970 album (check it out here) and so the Dawning of Music began to take real shape in my young psyche. And here just a couple years later, these compositions by John Williams opened up entirely new vistas both sonically and creatively. Virtually every track offers some new intrigue of sound, arrangement, and/or dynamic ~ and they all tell stories. I was fascinated with how that could be, how instrumental music could phrase feelings like a narrative straight to the heart. And in this case, it was all wrapped up in the Star Wars ethos linked to visions of impossible possibilities! This score helped frame how I approach life as a creative being.

To say that Star Wars would not — and could not — be Star Wars without the music of John Williams is doing neither a disservice. It's just the truth. Even the old TV spot referenced above features none of John Williams' music (or half the sound effects for that matter) which renders an oddly dissatisfying atmosphere to its scenes. Yet audiences still flocked to see it, in no small part due to those who caught it early and were raving about it! To illustrate the impact of music in a motion picture, I give you the Auralnauts' Throne Room Scene (minus the music) — It changes everything if you remove John Williams' music, making this once triumphant scene something that becomes awkward, even kind of creepy, Chewie's great dubbed vocals notwithstanding.  :-)  (best with headphones)

Music and sound effects are so essentially important, so critically invaluable, in a finished presentation of any kind. I would love to hang out with some of the sound designers from those days and just listen to their exploratory tales from the days and ways they created what a galaxy far, far away sounds like . . . I recreated some of those sound effects in our garage as a kid, figuring out that by 'pinging' the garage door springs just right, it sounded almost exactly like a laser blast from the STAR WARS universe! Turns out that my experiments were pretty spot-on, as striking taught power cables did provide the foundation for most of their laser sound effects. I spent a good many weekends with a portable tape deck and a couple of patient friends crafting original Star-Wars-esque audio adventures, heavy with carefully timed sound FX cues and even background music . .. ( Is it any wonder I grew up to be a multimedia developer? )


──  OH THE TOYS   ──

I * HAD * to have a Millennium Falcon of my very own! Before Star Wars even showed up I was a collector of space ships. Not much into plastic glue-based models, as such... no, I required durable spacecraft that could survive one harrowing ordeal after another. Hard-press plastic was OK, but diecast metal was the best! So along with my diecast metal (dcm) Space 1999 'Eagle' and disc-firing Enterprise (just to name two), I began my Quest for the best 'hunk of junk' on the market. This was back before the internet or computers in any home. I trolled through the Yellow Pages calling all manner of toy stores, and can still remember taking the bus to a distant mall: once for a Star Destroyer (diecast metal with sliding bay door in its underbelly to capture Princess Leia's Corellian corvette [also included]), and then another time for one of my most prized acquisitions, my most-played-with toy, of all time:

Millennium Falcon toy (circa 1978) ready for new action on a green screen!
 Millennium Falcon (toy)

It still sits beside my computer at home all these years later ready to go! I also collected quite a few action figures from the original design run where Darth Vader, Ben Kenobi, and Luke all had their lightsabers built right into their arms. A slight finger slide easily 'buzzed' their plastic colored lightsabers out to meet all challenges! But out of the vast menagerie of characters introduced in the first movie, my favorite had to be 'Hammerhead' who could be found in the Mos Eisley cantina. He didn't say much, just kind of grumbled and ground his teeth (or whatever). Just the 'alienness' of his persona intrigued me. That he looked kind of like an overgrown mutated snail didn't bother me ~ that was a bonus. He was just so freaking weird! I honestly wondered how such a creature, representing an entire planetary race, might live. How would he act just going about his day? What was he into? What would an alien like this do with his free time? Was he a "good guy"? Or did he clandestinely work for the Empire? What kind of person would he be like to just chill out with? These were really compelling questions for a 10-year-old. Turns out this guy does have a name: it is "Momaw Nadon" who, according to (seriously) Wookieepedia:

Momaw Nadon, a male Ithorian (also known as 'Hammerhead'), was exiled from his homeworld of Ithor as punishment for revealing the agricultural secrets of his species to the Galactic Empire in order to save the planet. Spending his exile on the desert world of Tatooine, Nadon maintained a small secret garden in the mountains south of the planet's Mos Eisley spaceport. During the Galactic Civil War he sympathised with the Alliance to Restore the Republic who opposed the Empire, and would hide Rebel operatives in his garden. Nadon was present in the Mos Eisley Cantina when the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and the local farm boy Luke Skywalker arrived in search of a pilot to take them to the planet Alderaan. He witnessed the pair enter into an altercation with Doctor Cornelius Evazan and his companion Ponda Baba, which ended with Kenobi dismembering Baba and killing Evazan with his lightsaber.

So he was a Good Guy! And a botanist..(?) Now you know!  :-)  Aside from their initial charm, Star Wars action figures from the 70's left a lot to be desired. Pictured below is the original Momaw Nadon (left) and a more recent updated model (right). Guess which one skulks around my work computer every so often, especially hefting that massive laser rifle/bazooka (dude must be pretty buff to haul that thing around) . . .

   Momaw Nadon (retro)    Momaw Nadon (new)  

Virtually every character in the entire Star Wars canon, great or small, primary or background, has gone on to claim fame and followers in their own right. I am totally not kidding. Entire books and comic series are devoted to monsters, robots, new heroes, or anti-heroes barely glimpsed on film — you wouldn't believe the copious glut. ( I can hardly believe it ) Nowadays, a much larger super-detailed version of Momaw Nadon by Sideshow Collectibles is available, but I would rather use that money to, you know, buy a car or something...

At some point I received the premiere play set of its time. Kenner's Millennium Falcon could accommodate any standard-sized SW action figure. This was perfect, as the Millennium Falcon has the feel of an armored and weaponized pirate-ship/living-room/hotrod tearing through space, and ought to be enjoyed as such. This oversized toy allowed for that kind of play. Here is an old TV commercial for it after the success of 'Empire', complete with the annoying buzzer designed to somehow simulate hyperspace travel or something .. nothing some focused vocal sound effects couldn't remedy! (If memory serves, I used that buzzer to indicate shield activations) Also note that this is the original vintage toy, not the new redesign that [rightly] relocates the internal play area to the front of the craft (and currently costs well over $700 on Amazon) . .

Top view — [ ROLLOVER ]
 Millennium Falcon (retro toy)
 

 
Inside the Millennium Falcon (kind of)
 Millennium Falcon (interior)
 

Even though this thing provided no actual corridor from the cockpit to the main hold (here is the Millennium Falcon floorplan in this printer-friendly 1-pg blueprint PDF), this was still a great and versatile toy! My Star Wars guys successfully bounced from one exciting ordeal to the next in this thing. And ok, for you diehards out there, here is a 19:00 minute video by some guy suffering from "Toy Room Insanity" who really goes through it in opinionated detail. (You can click about 1½ minutes into it and skip all the noisy intro, but just after the 15:00 mark, a hilarious lite-jazz muzak rendition of "The Asteroid Field" from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK starts playing, complete with trumpet solo! I gotta find this piece!) Decades ago I gave this away, along with a good number of my collected space ships, to my god-son when he was too young to appreciate it and I was too young to realize the long-term ramifications... So for this post, I have gathered together my surviving SW toys for a quick, disorganized photo. I probably have a few more stashed in a journal trunk here, or a box in the attic there, but this is the best I can drum up on short notice:

 Star Wars toys

You can sort of play "Where's Waldo" in this mess, trying to find Han Solo, spot a mini cloud car, locate an old-school 'dark-wing' TIE fighter, and even a mynock. Zam Wesell's "Koro-2 all-environment exodrive airspeeder" (with crushable front-prongs) is featured prominently —( it's green )— as is the sleek (dcm) Naboo N-1 starfighter with a plucky young Anakin still chillin' in the cockpit. That blocky thing next to it is a 'Star Tours' transport from Disneyland. :-) And in the back, standing on either side of the viper probe droid, is the * greatest * R2-D2 toy ever created, and .. I don't even know who that green dude is...  Ah. The internet claims he is 'Ketwol the Pacithhip'. OK. I don't know why he's here, as he was apparently inserted in the 'special edition' Mos Eisley cantina to replace Lak Sivrak (the wolfman). I will get to that fiasco in a little while . . I have already written more about Ketwol than I ever dreamed possible in my life.

My original vintage Star Wars figurines all met a collective and untimely doom on the side of a pine-shaded arroyo somewhere in Diamond Valley, near Prescott, AZ. Caught unawares scaling those rough and tumble cliffs, they all suffered a freak meteorite strike in the form of rocks and dirt clods. Not one of them escaped in one piece . . . ( Oh wait.. somewhere I know I still have a diminutive little Yoda with a tiny cloth robe, holding a grizzly brown plastic staff, with an orange Degobah snake curled around his shoulders... wonder where that ended up..? )

A droideka guards my computer at work
 Droideka (toy)
I never scored General Grievous's fighter, though I should have . .
 General Grievous fighter
 

 

Metal Earth pop-out sheets to build a desktop AT-AT walker
 ATAT metal kit
 
( Ready for the next boring conference call at work )
 
 
 
AT-AT Walker (Metal Earth) — [ ROLLOVER ]
 ATAT walker
 

And this is just plain nuts but also so * crazy-cool * I had to share it with you:

The ultimate LEGO Millennium Falcon scaled to fit mini-figs — read about it here (includes a 1-min video for maximum geek-out power)
 LEGO Millennium Falcon


book: "Splinter of the Mind's Eye"
After the original STAR WARS dropped into the world, nobody knew quite what to expect next. A sequel was obvious, even back in those days when sequels were something of a rarity. So while production began for a mysterious follow-up movie, Lucas hinted at a full nine episodes necessary to convey his entire story arc! Wild conjecture for more incredible goodness permeated the pop culture of the late 1970's. Cartoons, holiday (infamous) specials, and a whole gamut of comix met the public outcry for more Star Wars please, including the first official SW sequel novel, "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" written by Alan Dean Foster. I jumped on this like a Jedi discovering an unclaimed lightsaber. Keep in mind, all of this happened before any reveals of heritage, relations, or anything was even hinted about... Every character in STAR WARS at that time was an archetype in their own right, "up for grabs" in a creative sense, so really anything could happen! Nobody knew anything about them yet! Though this particular novel strays far from the paths taken in "The Empire Strikes Back", nobody knew any such stuff back then when it was first published. Even so, it is curious to see how certain characters, themes, and set pieces from this book appeared in some guise in the subsequent film sequels: the swampy jungles of Degobah, the wandrella (possible precursor to the exogorth [space slug] that nearly devours the Millennium Falcon in 'Empire'), and the Coway, which seem like possible galactic cousins of Ewoks. A cave monster is encountered (like the rancor beast in 'Jedi'?), a lightsaber battle results in one main character losing an arm, and Leia makes a surprising attempt to wield a lightsaber in one confrontation, hinting at her connection to a family "strong with the Force" .. . This book also reminds me of crossing paths with its author in Prescott every now and then; always a particular thrill for me as a young writer.  :-)

All kindza hype sprang up around the Star Wars sequel like bounty hunters pursuing Han — In fact, I got my hands on one of them (bounty hunters) right around the time 'Empire' came out - some guy named "Boba Fett". I had to special order him by mail. I think it was a limited release action figure that could actually shoot a missile from his futuristic backpack, although I can't rightly recall, as he became trapped in our microwave oven soon after acquisition and suffered a really bad reactor accident. This melted his lower half into a bubbling, pock-marked spread of goo, which I dutifully painted to look like exploding flesh and all manner of icky aftermath. It was the centerpiece of my collection for years.


 Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK  hit the world in the summer of 1980. While the first movie established a whole new standard in cinema, this one launched it into orbit! The awe of the first star destroyer looming overhead in the original film was matched this time by the jaw-dropping appearance of Imperial Walkers, or AT-AT's (All Terrain Armored Transports). There is nothing quite like gazing up at one of those towering, hulking creations as it tromps upon you across a giant movie screen! And our heroes' desperate flight through the asteroid field is still just as spine-tingling as the first time I viewed it! Luke crash-lands more than once in this movie: first in the snow, and then in a jungle-planet swamp, soon to meet one of the most iconic characters of all time: Yoda ~ who is a muppet! But he's Awesome! And we were introduced to new planets in that galaxy far, far away: Hoth, Degobah, and Bespin. Another lovable scoundrel, Lando Calrissian, joined our gang from Han's past, while C-3PO got blasted to bits somewhere in the bowels of Cloud City... itself perpetually orbited by those sleek, bright orange, buzzing 'Storm IV Twin-Pod' cloud cars. Snow Speeders and tauntauns, bounty hunters and deceptions, Yoda teaching the Force, Han frozen in carbonite and whisked away by Boba Fett (whose spaceship Slave 1 looks like the detached head of an elephant), and that incredible lightsaber duel between father and son which culminates in Luke's death-embracing plunge down the hollow core of the floating city ~ before he gets sucked into a ventilation tube, and then nearly dropped again into Bespin's fathomless atmosphere! And of course, there are those four chilling words: " I  Am Your Father!"

There is just nothing NOT to love in this movie!

Well, some of the banter between our heroes can seem a bit sophomoric as one views this after the age of 13, but that is easily overlooked given the weight of glory dripping from this film. The sound effects alone could be studied for months as an encyclopedia of How To Do Sound Effects Right! — And That Music! John Williams bettered himself, if that could even be possible, by unleashing "The Imperial March" into the world, along with the beautiful "Yoda's Theme", the theme for Han Solo and the Princess, and a host of fantastic imaginative scherzos heard during their escape from Hoth and while running around in Cloud City. Even the pounding representation of the advancing AT-AT walkers was completely innovative and unique, and "The Asteroid Field" is hands-down one of the most melodic and frenetic tracks ever composed for a movie . . .

To date, this is my favorite Star Wars movie of all.

I am not alone — many other souls across the galaxy feel the same way.


 Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
RETURN OF THE JEDI  arrived three years later to permanently cement Star Wars in the global zeitgeist. Jabba the Hutt finally made his appearance as one of the foulest villains ever captured on film ..but his 'pets' were arguably worse. The scariest of them was the 16-foot tall rancor beast kept in a dungeon directly below Jabba's sliding dais. Unlucky guests (along with disappointing dancers) were routinely dropped straight from his palace court room right down in there to feed the rancor. Very cool. However, wiry little Salacious B. Crumb, nestled snugly in Jabba's fat folds and cackling at everyone's misfortune, outgrew his welcome almost instantly ~ but hey, even muppeteers gotta make a living, right? Max Rebo's alien band with Sy Snootles knocking out the cringe-worthy "Lapti Nek" never really worked for me, but the puppeteering skills necessary to sell this number were pretty impressive. And since Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes maintained their residency at the Mos Eisley cantina, it only makes sense that this band would end up playing Jabba's palace. Just thinking out loud, here . . .

Luke got all Jedi'ed out in this flick. Lando Calrissian started in disguise but ended up a certified hero: a general, no less, in the Rebel Alliance! Same for Han Solo, after he got thawed out, of course. Princess Leia, Chewie, C-3PO and R2-D2 were also all back to do their things. But something seemed amiss when Boba Fett, one of the most fearsome bounty hunters in the galaxy, basically got bumped into a hole and died. The end. — Why didn't he just blast directly out of the Sarlacc pit with the rocket pack strapped to his back?  Honestly, Lucas...

Later in the film, despite astonishing speeder bike chases through the forest of Endor, the first real bane of the SW universe (for me at least) arrived in the form of midget teddy bears shooting arrows with all the heft of paperclips and rubber bands, yet they supposedly overpower the Galactic Empire. They threw a lot of rocks which, in this scenario, seem more effective than blasters and AT-ST cannons. Umm.. OK. Debates raged about how the word 'Ewok' is kind of like 'Wookiee' backward. They're opposites, you see. Ewoks are short, Wookiees are tall .. I dunno. (both are furry) And while their inexplicable worship of C-3PO seems pretty odd, given their rustic nature-centric ways, I must admit that listening to C-3PO's sound-FX riddled account of the story/history thus far was kind of nostalgic and cool.

One of my very favorite scenes of the entire series occurs in the loading bay of the shield generator complex on Endor when Luke, led captive from an AT-AT walker, confronts Vader all impromptu-like right there in the corridor. The urgency is evident in his appeal to his father, and you can sense how the fate of the entire galaxy hangs in their poignant exchange. Of course, this sort of moment is countered later by the sheer zeal of Admiral Ackbar yelling, "It's a trap!" from his command chair while leading the Rebel fleet against the Empire's fortified armada. Oh, and the dignified B-wing fighter is also introduced in this movie, another favored fighter design of mine, though I have yet to find a truly decent toy/model of the thing...

Strangely, a lot of the effects struck me as particularly fake-looking during the ground assault scenes, like nearly every time some AT-ST walker gets pummeled by those pesky Ewoks. And when the most gargantuan star destroyer of them all, the Executor, takes a completely unnecessary nosedive straight into the Death Star II. Even surrounded with other onscreen effects, it looks precisely like some bro's just dropped a big model onto a plastic & plywood platform, complete with the requisite explosion recoiling on a ceiling overhead just out of frame. A big honkin' model, sure, but the whole presentation just lacked the grandeur one expects from Star Wars. However, zooming with the Millennium Falcon right into the Death Star's infrastructure got pretty heart-stopping at times. (Imagine what it must have taken to create this action sequence long before CGI tech could ease their pain) And, of course, Luke's final impassioned duel with his father, with sister Leia at risk, is just a powerful and well-choreographed moment ~ again in no small part due to the music at play . . Although, being familiar with the original soundtrack as I was, I recognized substantial re-use of "The TIE Fighter Attack" and "The Last Battle" music from the first film.  :-|  Well, it is great music, so I suppose Lucas just figured they needed something just as good as that for the final assault .. on the Death Star . . again . . . .

Weird Trivia: 'Endor' is the name of a village in Israel where King Saul compelled a witch to summon the spirit of Samuel to gain a bit of post-mortem counsel. When her shyster incantations 'worked' and Samuel actually appeared to converse with Saul —( it was not good news )— she completely flipped out. (Go figure) This account is found in 1 Samuel 28:3-25.


The Star Wars universe rested for a while after this, in film form anyway. Books began popping up in earnest to fill the void. (Get it? Space? Void..? ~ yes! ) Entire generations of stories can be found within the pages of authorized Star Wars books and series, all under a far-reaching banner known as the "Star Wars expanded universe". Here is a list of Star Wars books · ·  It be vast  · · I never got into them, but did pick up a few Dark Horse comics along the way entitled "Tales of the Jedi", set a few thousand years before the movies. Even this has since branched off into 80 different directions... Then in 1993, George Lucas saw what his old buddy Steven Spielberg created in "Jurassic Park" — namely photo-realistic, living, breathing, dinosaurs — and concluded that special-FX technology had finally caught up with his vision for three prequel Star Wars movies! But first he would spruce up the three originals for another world-conquering re-release...

THE "SPECIAL" EDITIONS  were revealed one after another in early 1997, and it nearly dissolved the entire SW fan base in one swipe, all because of what George Lucas decided to do to these hallowed films. Color-correction and sound improvements were all fine and dandy, even cleaning up rough matt edges - very welcome indeed. But George didn't stop there. Oh no... He decided he had to Change Things, in some cases so drastically that entire character arcs were irreparably compromised. It would take a whole new web page to list them all, how and why so much of it is so very wrong, but I won't bother for all the material already available addressing these issues head-on. I will not discuss Jabba's ludicrous insertion at docking bay 94, along with Boba Fett just sauntering about because, well, you know, just cuz... or Ben-Kenobi's ridiculously over-studio-mixed Krayt Dragon wanna-be scream. (All three versions · 1977 · 2004 · 2011 · can be heard in the first 30 seconds of this YouTube clip, all of which are supposedly made by a human)

I'm not gonna talk about how Boba Fett's excellent voice (Jason Wingreen) eventually got dubbed over with the guy who played Jango Fett in the prequels (Temuera Morrison). Boba Fett now sounds about as menacing as a yogurt bar. Lucas's continuity reasoning behind this goes like this: since Boba Fett is a clone made from Jango Fett, his voice has to be the same... must be ... right? There couldn't have been some cryptic occasion in Boba's checkered past that, you know, might have changed his voice in some way... like maybe damage due to flame inhalation, or some blaster reconstruction surgery .. anything . .. which could account for his different, more intimidating tone than his predecessor. And here I am just making this up off the top of my head. It's not hard to do and to present properly in a broad mythology like this.. . Lucas was * FABULOUS * at making all of this stuff up in the first place, but horrible at managing it. So once again, another great characterization gets compromised right into wallpaper paste.

I'm not going into alla that.

Some good changes did occur, such as the fiery rings enhancing the explosions of Alderaan and the Death Star ... unnecessary, but nice. As was the scene overlooking Mos Eisley, especially with Dash Rendar's Outrider blasting away in the distance. Luke's quick reunion with Biggs Darklighter and the greatly improved X-wing approach to the Death Star (not to mention the Final Battle) were all wonderful. But other bits were removed over time as George continued to tweak with the sacred originals, like the Falcon's laser cannon firing upon stormtroopers as they escape from Mos Eisley. It is gone now, along with a number of laser hits that flavored the original with so much swashbuckling adventure. Oh.. so much more . .. [ Continuity diehards can check out any number of comparison videos online ~ here is one I plucked at random ]

 Han Shot First
 Han faces Greedo

◄ ! This ! ► is the crown jewel of George's many attempts to rewrite history. Do you know who else regularly practiced this sort of thing? NAZI GERMANY that's who! (just sayin')

For those wondering what this is all about, it involves a critical scene in STAR WARS IV: A NEW HOPE when alien bounty hunter Greedo intercepts Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina. Pointing his blaster directly at Han's chest the entire time, a tense exchange ensues that ends abruptly when Han sneaks out his own blaster beneath the table and °*BLASTS*° Greedo stone dead! He topples to the table with a distinctive 'thud'. Bam. Done. Han then casually strolls out of the cantina, saying "Sorry about the mess" as he flips a coin to the bartender.

That is what happened.

I was there.  —  I saw it.

As did millions of others ~ for many many years.

In Lucas's revised "special" edition he altered the scene so that a laser blast from Greedo's weapon fires seriously-off-kilter to hit the wall to the right of Han's head [?? ~ Greedo's gun was pointing directly at the man's chest]. In the same instant, Han lurches his head unrealistically about eight inches straight to the side and then zaps an equally as horridly animated laser shot at Greedo, who slumps over dead.

When I saw this in-theater in 1997, I shouted out loud: "WHAT?"

I was not alone.

The myriad reasons why this is a Major Problem are better explained elsewhere, and in infinite abundance. Suffice it to say that not only did Lucas * * HACK * * this onscreen moment in Star Wars history, he also instantly stripped Han Solo of his cunning edge and the arc of his character's path to nobility by the end of the film. I have both the VHS tape and DVD to prove this. Lucas has gone on record many times since then to defend his decision, yet subsequent releases of this movie keep editing down questionable seconds in this scene. The FACT is, Han * never * shot second in virtually every circumstance he ever faced. Run across some stormtroopers? He shot first! Mynocks munching on the power cables? He shot first. Worried about a space slug? Shot first. He shot Darth Vader right out of the Death Star trenches in the first movie, then again in Cloud City the instant he laid eyes on the him! He didn't ask permission ~ he always shot first. He didn't fuss around waiting for some strategic advantage. He just charged in with guns a'blazing, maybe asking questions once the smoke cleared, if anyone was left standing to bother with it. He might even flip a coin tip to help clean up the mess. But you see, that's just who he is, Mister "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid!" This man's priorities are crystal clear. Or were.. unless you are confused about it, as some directors seem to have become . . .

We have a standing rule in our house. No matter what variant of Episode IV we have ever watched, after Luke and Ben Kenobi slip past the stormtrooper checkpoint in Mos Eisley, I stop the film and switch to the genuine cantina scene on our old DVD. I am a responsible father. My children will not misled through evil, unethical propaganda. And by the way, if you have never witnessed the original scene in question, here it is on YouTube —— PLEASE NOTE: these are the original cantina aliens (not the 'Replacements') and see it for yourself as Han gets the drop on Greedo. Definitively. Completely. There is no question about it. ~ In fact, Greedo never even discharges his weapon: it was all Han! ~ Watch Responsibly, kids!

As a final note, consider the original sound mix of this scene. Under the HISTORY section of this Wikipedia page, it is written:

In the original 1977 theatrical release of the scene, the film cuts to a closeup of Greedo's face, followed quickly by a cloud of smoke and the sound effect of a blaster firing. This is followed by a reverse shot of Greedo from behind, slumping over the table.

How many blaster shots are heard? One. If Lucas had really wanted it the way he later claimed, then why did he not film it that way in the first place?!

——  It is written, Lenny ——

However, in all fairness, this 2-minute video clip may offer a compelling counterpoint, claiming that "Han Shot LAST".

And then, shortly thereafter ~ this from Lucas:

Jabba the Mess (original footage vs. new 'special edition' appearance) — [ ROLLOVER ]
 Jabba mess

Fortunately, EMPIRE received little of George's attention, as he was in a hurry, I think, to corrupt whatever he could in JEDI. That's right, it's packed full of 'revisions' almost as infuriating as 'HSF' . . .

I have never been a fan of "Lapti Nek", the number performed by Sy Snootle and the Max Rebo band in Jabba's palace. ~ But what George did . . . ( ~ sigh ~ )  Not only did he change the song entirely to something winkingly called "Jedi Rocks", he introduced an entirely new -·- horrible -·- CGI dance number, complete with puckered alien lips and a spit-flinging, deep-throated view of some fuzzy, raunchy, singing, alien cockroach. I don't even care what his name was! This is arguably the most eye-gouging minute and a half of film ever produced.

Ah, then there is a New And Improved Sarlacc Pit, now packed full of writhing tentacles and a yawning beak that squawks and squeals like a pig. Just like a pig. For real. And again, this also looks assaultingly horrible.

In the pivotal scene where the Emperor is deep-frying Luke with his Force lightning attack, Darth Vader now declares, "Nooo.. Nooooooooo! NOOOOOOOOOOO!" as he grabs his master and flings him to his doom. It is so hokey, so unnecessary, so 'tacked-on' feeling . .. a little part of my soul dies every time I hear it .. .

Finally, there is "Yub Nub", the Ewok celebration song at the end of the movie. I am no defender of "Yub Nub" as such, as it always struck me as a ridiculously goofy way to conclude such a rock-solid adventurous, and sometimes dark, series. But at least the bass drum struck by a percussionist Ewok is heard, as is a clanking row of stormtrooper helmets. In the new "Victory Celebration" song which completely replaces "Yub Nub", all of these visuals have * zero * to do with what you hear. They aren't even addressed in the soundtrack. It is just new generic-sounding tribal music overlaid atop the silent film with no regard whatever to visual cues onscreen. It's as if the director determined that his audience is just too flamingly stupid to notice any such disturbance in the film . . .

Which leads to my last but very passionate grievance: the inclusion of a young spirit version of Anakin Skywalker with his Force buddies, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, at the movie's conclusion. Lucas took it upon himself to digitally replace the head of Sebastian Shaw (who played Darth Vader all those years) with Hayden Christensen, who looks like a total demented goob next to his elderly companions. ~ This makes absolutely no sense. ~ If Yoda and Obi-Wan appear as they did when they "passed into the Force", why wouldn't Anakin? Or, if their Force ghosts represent them at their 'best', how come Obi-Wan is not the dashing general (Ewan McGregor) in the prime of his life during the Clone War years?  :-|  This change makes as much sense as running a bunch of toasters through a car wash. — Here is the original ending of "Return of the Jedi" with the right and proper version of Anakin Skywalker taking his place in the spirit realm alongside his equally-as-aged Force Friends.

There is * A * LOT * more to be shared on this topic, and plenty of videos and write-ups about the atrocities Mr. Lucas inflicted upon a once-trusting public. Here's WatchMojo's "Top 10 Worst Star Wars Special Edition Changes" just for a taste of it. And here's another by Star Geek I just discovered that really does justice to the entire subject. ~ At the end of the binary sun day, all you can do is shake your head and wonder why, George.. why..? ~ I conclude this section by quoting directly from the 'chief barbarian' himself:

 George Lucas

“People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power, are barbarians.”

— George Lucas (1988)
 
 
 Lucas notes for PM
What many had in mind for George Lucas after all of this
 George in Carbonite

 Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace
THE PHANTOM MENACE  ◄  Then this happened.

One of the most tantalizing lines from the original trilogy was uttered by Ben Kenobi who, when introducing Luke to his father's lightsaber, described it regally as "an elegant weapon for a more civilized age." Even as a kid, I wondered what that older, more elegant, more civilized era might look like in the Star Wars universe... Now we would finally see what "the good old days" Ben was recalling with fondness were actually like! We could literally go back in time in STAR WARS!! So many people around the world were SO EXCITED for this movie, despite that dubious title... To call this experience 'a disappointment' is like saying the TITANIC suffered a bit of a mishap one night in the North Atlantic.

The soundtrack was released well before the film; another brilliant marketing move. But how could this be wrong?! A whole new STAR WARS soundtrack composed by JOHN WILLIAMS himself! AAAAAAA!!  I must have snatched up the first copy only to find music titles on the back like "Anakin Defeats Sebulba", "Qui-Gon's Noble End", and "Qui-Gon's Funeral". Hmmm, I wonder how things were going to turn out for this Qui-Gon character? Everyone who sprang for the soundtrack before seeing the movie knew that [A] Anakin would beat Sebulba somehow, and [B] Qui-Gon Jinn was toast. That said, "Anakin's Theme" and the choral-tastic "Duel of the Fates" are haunting, beautiful, and glorious compositions!

So, after inflicting maniacal experiments upon the original trilogy, George the mad scientist abandoned any last shred of restraint and gave full vent to his compulsion to fill * any * empty screen space with all manner of wonky CGI (Computer Generated Imagery). On one hand, the battle between the Gungans and the Federation droid army on the Great Grass Plains of Naboo truly was a fresh new vision. And yet, it looks more fake than the models and props used in the original trilogy.  :-|

In truth, there were some good elements in this and his other prequels, but the best of it got mired down by so much exposition and disconnected plot threads, I still can't exactly say who was fighting whom, and for what political reasons. I have a vague idea... and if you think I'm just a moron, I dare you to read Wookieepedia's official four-paragraph account of the Battle of Naboo and explain how this qualifies as "a movie for six-year olds," as George Lucas frequently has to remind everyone. And this kind of double-edge political intrigue only gets crazier in the other two prequels as the Galactic Senate grows more corrupt, the Separatist Army (representing the CIS) clash with the Clone Army, which in turn flip sides upon the broadcast of secret 'Order 66', and don't forget the Secessionist Movement ... ( a movie for six-year olds.. )

Ah ~ but those rolling destroyer droids (droidekas) were truly frightening! (Again with the fabulous sound design!) However, there were also swarms of those skinny, worthless battle droids (?) whose main purpose was to stand around saying "Roger Roger" until someone sliced them in half with a lightsaber. That got annoying pretty much instantly. Yes, I have heard the argument that their ineptitude begged the creation of an army of sentient clones. But if they were so dead-obvious ineffectual to begin with, why produce them by the millions in a galactic commonwealth able to forge lightsabers and hyperdrives? If I were part of the Trade Federation or the Empire (or whomever paid for their construction and use) I would have shipped those so-called 'battle' droids back for a full refund in nothing but rank-and-file droidekas! They would have gotten the job done! But in truth, another fantastic design was seen in those vulture droids. They were the tall brown ones clinking around on four stilted legs, looking plenty dangerous in their own right. But then they could also jump up and TRANSFORM into flying fighter droids! Brilliant! Now that is good military-droid design!

Speaking of droids, R2-D2's heroics reached nearly Jedi-level status in this and the following two films. (For a quick write-up of R2's many heroics, check out this fun article [with more options in hard-to-see numbers below it]) This cleverest of hobbits, I mean astromech droids, repairs Queen Amidala's spaceship while they're running the Trade Federation blockade. Thus begins a long history (both on and off screen) of R2-D2 pulling amazing victories from the jaws of certain defeat! It worked better, I think, in episodes IV, V, and VI, giving the impression of inventiveness and, more often than not, just plain dumb luck (or the Force ~ whatevs). But now R2 has become the droid ex machina 'Mr. Fixit' for virtually any tight scrape our brave heroes may encounter. He will later go on to shut down an entire droid factory to save Padmé from molten death, single-handedly destroy two super battle droids, routinely hack into mainframe computers (the Death Star and Cloud City), sneak Luke's lightsaber to him through Jabba's palace, fix the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive, and even repair C-3PO on numerous occasions. There are even more feats of 'derring-do' in this little droid's dossier... and this doesn't even touch his years of wild adventures and saves carried out during the Clone Wars! Just hand that droid a lightsaber and roll him at Darth-Fill-in-the-Blank already!  :-)  By the time R2-D2 (of all the droids in the entire galaxy, mind you) was tasked with transporting the Death Star plans to the Rebels' HQ in "A New Hope" he should have been decked out with seven or eight General stars on his blue plating! Check out this massive biography if you think I reach too far. My list is honestly too modest! R2-D2 is who the Empire should have been chasing all this time ~ Who Knew?

C-3PO on the other hand, was naked. Oh, and he was also constructed from a Radio Shack starter-kit by young Darth Vader himself. Naturally. (Small Galaxy, ain't it Mr. Lucas?)

 
OK, some other things George [miraculously] GOT RIGHT in this movie:
 
Casting Ewan McGregor as young Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fantastic!  McGregor 100% NAILED it in every way. Major cred to him, man!
Theed (the capital city on Naboo) and the recondite Otoh Gunga (underwater Gungan city)
The regal & stately tech design of those fantastic sleek Naboo N-1 starfighters, as well as Queen Amidala's cruiser
Really seeing Coruscant for the first time. Imagine... an entire planet nothing but one endless city!
The Pod Race, but I do wish someone would knit together all the extra bits from the various DVD & blu-ray releases for a COMPLETE definitive podrace sequence. Bonus Points for Jabba flicking that little chicken-beastie from his private balcony and its crazy little scream as it falls. :-)
and Darth Maul!
 
Things Lucas totally bungled up:
 Jar Jar frozen in Carbonite
  Casting Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker ~ the poor kid couldn't act his way out of a sneeze
  Darth Vader = Little Orphan "Annie" (oy)
  Introducing "midi-chlorians" to the franchise (double-oy)
  Presenting the legendary Jedi Council as a bunch of sour farts...
  Including the smallest fart of all: a discomfiting CGI version of Yoda
  And 1,000%.. no, One MILLION Percent = Jar Jar Binks  ►
I must admit that Watto and his ever-present flies did come to grow on me over time ...but Sebulba, not so much.

And although Darth Maul appeared to be one of the coolest Star Wars villains ever conceived, that is precisely the problem. He simply appears, engages in a single (fantastic) lightsaber battle, and croaks. He says maybe a dozen words in the entire movie, chest-thumps Qui-Gon Jinn just to be nasty, and gets chopped in half for his troubles. That is the sum of Darth Maul's involvement as some supposed 'Phantom Menace': the coolest-looking missed opportunity ever.

Oh, and about conceiving something... . Shmi Skywalker calmly tells Qui-Gon that little Anakin was a result of, no kidding, Immaculate Conception. " It just happened," she tells him, straight-faced.  So... we are to believe that Darth Vader is like Jesus Christ now? ~ And Qui-Gon is just OK with this, attributing it to the rampant midi-chlorians with which Annie is apparently riddled. (Sounds like a parasitic infestation to me) I don't buy Shmi's story for a second. Mos Eisley is widely known as "a hive of scum and villainy". As a slave, she couldn't get far. I think she fooled around with the wrong kind of prequel alien and now invokes that ambiguous excuse women have employed for centuries: "It just happened." She's not fooling anyone ~ except for this easy-going Jedi Master, it seems. For all his Forceliness, Qui-Gon is one gullible dork.

But even single-minded Qui-Gon Jinn has more personality than Queen Amidala. When I first heard that Natalie Portman accepted the role of Luke & Leia's Queen mother, I was thrilled! What a great casting choice! What a boon for Ms. Portman! Since "The Professional" (©1994) she has consistently been a great actress. How could you possibly make Natalie Portman boring? —— * ! George Lucas found a way ! * —— By zapping her with the anti-Force or something... Honestly, George .. .

Ah, but all of this is OK! Because young Anakin Skywalker beats 17 seasoned world-class career racers in the Boonta Eve Classic Podrace all on his little Forcey own, followed a few days later with this nifty trick: he blows up the entire Trade Federation Control Ship with a single shot after his fighter (which he is neither trained nor authorized to fly) just happens to slide to a halt facing the exact center of their completely exposed reactor core! The Force is indeed strong in this one... — "Take this!" he shouts, "And this! WHOA! OOPS!" — Cinema at its finest. (GL's challenges in drafting credible dialogue is so widely documented I won't even bother) ~ But of course, R2-D2 is also along for the ride because This Heroic Moment just wouldn't work without this particular astromech's personal assent . . . That's right: R2-D2 flew with Darth Vader, as a kid, in a fighter attack to Save The World. And R2 also flew with this same guy's son 30 years later in a fighter attack to Save The World some more later on. ... man . . .

And to wrap up this whole mess, the celebration parade held on Naboo at movie's end was lifted directly from the cover of James Gurney's original book "Dinotopia" (along with Theed ≈ Waterfall City, for that matter) which predated 'Episode I' by about a decade. Here, look... this is Dinotopia, not the end of "Star Wars Episode I":

 Dinotopia Parade


 Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
ATTACK OF THE CLONES  at least started with a more promising title than that last fiasco. Again hopes ran high, albeit with some well-earned doubts this time... And by George that man did not disappoint..!

First, some good news: the new John Williams soundtrack rolled out a month before the movie, and they finally toned down the expository titles. "Jango's Escape" is more enigmatic than "Qui-Gon's Funeral". And while "Love Theme from Attack of the Clones" is in equal measures awkwardly-titled and sweepingly romantic, its main motif is repeated liberally throughout this soundtrack. It is beautiful, though, reminiscent of "Princess Leia's Theme" from SW·IV. "Zam the Assassin and the Chase Through Coruscant" is probably the liveliest of the set, featuring snappy percussion and... electric guitar?  Hmmmm... I appreciate the brilliance of Maestro Williams' unequivocal career and his obvious desire to 'spice up' the music for this scene, but ... I dunno. A squealing electric guitar just sounds weird and misplaced in a classic Star Wars soundtrack, you know?

But about that Zam Wesell and her failed assassination attempt... Yes, Zam is a "she", a female shapeshifter from a race known as Clawdites. Her shape-shiftiness is noticeable in a couple of key moments during her brief time onscreen, but it was her green airspeeder that caught my attention. Yet another great design made to order! (See TOYS above) It naturally fit in with the diverse airborne Coruscant traffic, but still looked cool enough to cruise Central Avenue on the weekends. I for one still enjoy that entire sequence when, after dispatching a pair of poisonous kouhuns planted in Padme's royal quarters by Zam, Obi-Wan launches himself through a window to grab the courier droid that delivered them, hoping to hitch a ride back to its source. But Zam shoots at Kenobi with a laser rifle, and thus begins another grand Star Wars set piece with lots of action and grand effects!  :-)  And that is ultimately what you want to see in a Star Wars movie .. am I right?

Dex the Besalisk and his 1950's (earth-)style diner reminded me a lot of that old 70's TV show "Mel's Diner", Dex being an alien version of some kind of four-armed Mel. His one-wheel waitress reminded me of a cross between Flo from that show, and a Segway. It was kinda cool, though, how Dex and Kenobi met like old-time war buddies to consider the manufacturer of the dart that killed Zam. This then leads to a brand new location for us: the imposing water world of Kamino! We meet the main scientists in residence, Lama Su and Taun We, and see the germinal clone army in the making. This is all good stuff! And we get to meet their prime source as well, Jango Fett, with his very own little lispy keeper-clone, young Boba Fett. (Awwwww)

The ensuing battle in the rain between Jango Fett and Obi-Wan is short but sublime! Jango wipes the walls with this Jedi, even deploying the long-awaited rocket from his backpack! YES! Their mutual hostility leads them both to yet another new planet, Geonosis, which is ringed by asteroids! Oh yeah! Now, I remember being taken a little aback by how they both just casually plunged straight into these tumbling asteroids. The last time we saw something like this came about during the brilliant EMPIRE sequence. C-3PO, who is essentially a sentient translator/calculator, tallied the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field and basically lost it in the Millennium Falcon cockpit crying, "Oh, this is suicide!" But hey, Fett and Kenobi just boogie right in without a second thought.  :-|  Either they are just that much more self-confident than Han Solo (extremely doubtful), or their ships are simply better equipped to navigate in such circumstances (much more likely, this being a more elegant and civilized age & all). Anyway, I * love * young Boba's little snicker in anticipation of dusting off this persistent Jedi while his 'father' prepares their weapons array. And what weapons they are! Seismic charges! Laser cannons! Heat-seeking missiles! "Get him, Dad! Get him!" shouts Boba like they're just off-roading through the galaxy together... which I guess they kind of are. (Technical Note: those seismic charges are Truly Inspired) Yet for all this, they made no use of the ominous cannons mounted at the very tip of Slave 1's prominent 'snout'. ~ I wonder why? This was one of the first features of this ship that caught my eye way back in Cloud City (1980). Perhaps Slave 1 is just bristling with so much secret armament, Jango flipping through options just had not gotten to them yet. I dunno.. . Kind of a let down, though, to not see those guns in action... ever... But this sequence is still hands-down one of the most euphoric in the entire prequel series.

Come to think of it, tagging along with Obi-Wan Kenobi when he's doing virtually anything in this movie is good Star Wars cinema, except of course his requisite interaction with the "no-fun-allowed" Jedi Council. ~ meh

Meanwhile, as "Attack of the Clones" progresses, instead of being treated to, you know, clones attacking someone or something, we are offered a bucolic meadow scene where Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen pretend to like each other, which doesn't work. They generate about as much chemistry as a shoe full of Tatooine sand. But even this is upstaged by the oversized shaaks trundling about them in the fields, with their sheep-like ways and enormous rotund butts. Their ample rear-ends are obviously much too hefty to be supported on such spindly little legs, so maybe their back quarters are filled with some kind of evil Sith gas or something ... ( sorry )  I honestly thought this was meant to be some sort of visual joke at first and laughed out loud. Then I realized, with my heart sinking, that no, these were meant to be taken for real in the Star Wars universe. .. . Wow... Anakin even jumps atop one and bucks around on it for a bit. ~ Ha ha.. isn't this fun..?! .. Oh man . . Wincing at the screen, I kept hoping one of them might stumble or trip, causing it to bounce up and start floating away, caboose-end up, wiggling its stubby little feet and bleating in futile protest. I'm talking about the shaaks here, not Anakin and Padmé who are busy rolling around in the grass and being embarrassingly hard to watch as a couple. Hey you two, better keep an eye out for great globs of shaak poop in the grass, there...

So, she is 'Senator Amidala' now, as Padmé has finished serving her term as Naboo's Queen. So Anakin can get busy setting his dead-soul gaze upon her, offering what may be the creepiest 'amorous advances' ever filmed. She visibly squirms like a snake on a skewer whenever he closes in. But it's no wonder, as he exudes all the sex appeal of a menacing corpse. Look, I don't know Hayden Christensen from anybody, and I wish the dude all the best in this life. But holy womp rats, man... His flaccid performance in this move set a new standard for 'insipid'. (Look it up - it fits) Late in the film, Padmé turns to him and mutters, "I truly, deeply love you." NO you don't! I literally laughed out loud again right there in the theater, and I was not the only one to do so. Even Ms. Portman could not act her way out of this travesty. It seems completely appropriate that, immediately following her declaration, they are led into a vast arena to face Certain Death. ... you had it coming to you . . .

Lucas didn't know whether to handle this chapter of Star Wars with dead seriousness or fanatical action. Oh, and he had to start linking it to the original series, so guess where they went between Naboo and Geonosis? That's right! Tatooine! Again! This little backwater planet hosts more intergalactic plot threads than Coruscant's Galactic Senate and the Jedi Council combined. I can't be the only person to notice this... We even get to meet Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru when they're all young and puppy-face fresh. :-) And do you remember back in the very first Star Wars movie, when Luke had to clean up the droids they just bought from the Jawa traders? He's grumbling through his chores in this dumpy garage filled with fascinating little lights and futuristic shapes and hints of grimy wonder in every corner. C-3PO is prattling on in his oil bath, and R2-D2 is about to spill the beans. Well, Lucas & co. recreated that entire set for this movie just so Anakin Skywalker could pitch a little school-girl fit about how It's Not Fair! Wah..! —— What A Waste .. . It made me feel embarrassed for Luke somehow... even for Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen, and I barely know them.

And OK, look .. a lot has been made of Shmi's death in Anakin's arms, but her final demise always seemed over-acted to me, waaaay over the top. (Again, this is Lucas's doing, not Pernilla August's who played Shmi squarely enough) While this particular moment is tastefully framed, lit, and directed, she offers a stilted "I love — ... I love — ..." and then throws her head back in an over-exaggerated I AM NOW DEAD manner. I guess Anakin used the Force to find her in that one tiny tent in all of Tatooine's vast Jundland wastes... and I suppose his Immaculate Mother probably also used the Force to decide to die immediately after he finally bothered to come for a visit after all these years. I hear that some folks are genuinely moved by this scene, but I cringe every time I see it, and not for the reasons Lucas would want. OK, so well anyway, after this, Annie slaughters the entire Sand People village ~ but this happens off-screen, robbing us, the paying audience, of seeing him really give into - Full - Rage - Mode - which would have * shown * some of his progress toward the Dark Side rather than just outlining it later in yet more narrative exposition... * sigh *

R2-D2 continues to save the universe one movie at a time, jetting around all of a sudden with surprise pop-out shoulder rockets which he has never employed before or since. Yes, a flying R2-D2 . . Is there * nothing * this droid can't do..?! As for the other robots in this film, the B2 Super Battle Droids were a marked improvement over those pathetic, slight 'battle' droids, who still get massacred every time they find themselves onscreen. And somehow . .. somehow (it boggles the mind) Lucas decided to pass the 'Jar Jar torch' to one of the most beloved characters in the entire franchise. During the harrowing final battle in the arena, C-3PO literally loses his head. This suddenly turns him into a blathering gold-plated comic who starts snapping out one-liners every time the camera checks back on him. "How ya doin' tonight, folks? Great to see ya! You know, I just flew in aaaaallll the way from Tatooine, AND BOY ARE MY ARMS TIRED!" It is so [additionally] tedious to see this once reliably fun, bumbling character reduced to such pablum. It hurts, man ... make it stop, Mr. Lucas! We're begging you!

I will say this, however: the monsters in the Petranaki arena were a BLAST: the 'reek' (rhino-beast), the 'nexu' (cat-beast), and that spikey-limbed 'acklay' (apparently named in Pig Latin due to a perceived lack of new creature names ~ yes, I went there). I distinctly remember feeling genuinely thrilled as Anakin, Padmé, and Obi-Wan were shackled to those large stone pillars facing Certain Death, thinking, Wow! How will our heroes ever manage to get out of this!? (R2 was nowhere in sight) For a moment, Star Wars was * fun * again rather than embarrassing and disappointing. I particularly appreciated the nice homage made to Ray Harryhausen as Obi-Wan would soon be warding off the aklay with a ridiculously long spear. And then the Jedi finally get their chance to shine! Mace Windu levels his purple lightsaber and whips Jango Fett's head clean off in one decisive swipe! The insectoid Geonosians are "B'B'BLARB'L"ing enemies left and right with their sonic cannons and blasters! The action is looking good and then .. . and then Padmé just pitches out of a speeding military transport for no good reason, rolls atop the sand dunes, shuffles to her feet, and waves them on like "I'm OK!" In any semblance of reality she would have been mulched, but hey - what is reality anymore in Lucasland, eh? So she gets left behind for the moment as the sky thickens with allies, and Anakin just starts Freaking Out, man! because . . his girlfriend is safely positioned miles and miles away from all enemy threats..?  ~  aaargh!  ~

Another potential fracture in this new helping of Star Wars magic could possibly be the duel between Yoda and Count Dooku ..that is, after Dooku smears young Anakin and Obi-Wan all over the floor. Though Yoda is still regrettably CG —( but in all honesty, how could anyone pull this scene off with practical puppetry? )— he dishes right back at Dooku whatever the Count flings his way, then fires up his own diminutive green lightsaber and starts leaping about like a jackalope on speed! "Judge me by my size, do you? Hmmm?" I know that's from EMPIRE, but here and now Yoda finally gets the chance to flex some of his 900-years of Jedi mastery in battle. And I dug this bizarre confrontation between two of the most powerful masters of the Force! When Yoda reprimands Dooku, referring to him as his "old padawan" .. that is just awesome!  But in all seriousness, so much future mayhem could have been avoided if Yoda would have just swung the power column that Dooku dislodged right into the Count's solar-sail yacht before he could make good his escape! ...right..?

OK. You would think a movie entitled ATTACK OF THE CLONES would feature all the countless ranks of clones, who are shown amassing at the end of the film, occurring more in the middle of the movie as some kind of tent pole event around which the rest of the entire rest of the film would revolve. This would naturally lead to a whole mess of clones going after somebody or something in an aggressive Clone Attacking type manner. Instead, they blast a few robots at the very end, run around blurting "It will be done!" and then wait in line to march into blocky star destroyer prototypes while the music indicates that this is supposed to be really exciting. I dunno.. maybe it's just me, but this movie should have been called something like "Star Wars II: Stuff That Happened Just Before The Clone Wars Actually Got Going" .. seeing how Yoda basically says this exact same thing precisely two minutes before the end credits roll....

At least the dead-fish 'romance' supposedly blossoming between Anakin and Padmé culminates in a blessedly brief wedding scene which concludes this whole basket of Crazy. They attempt kissing one another with all the combined passion of a 5-day-old sack of donuts .. . but I guess everything is as it should be, because R2-D2 is also there in attendance.


 Star Wars III: Reveng of the Sith
REVENGE OF THE SITH  FINALLY!  We will all get to see how Darth Vader becomes Darth Vader! This being the first Star Wars movie ever rated PG-13, you KNOW there's going to be some pretty nutzo stuff going down!

Right after the opening crawl, a massive space battle over Coruscant is laid out before us in all its CGI glory! I do miss the days of practical models with a tactile realism found in such techniques, but this sequence still holds up pretty well today and remains a thrill to watch.  :-)  Why exactly is this battle happening? Who knows!? Who cares!! It is never fully explained in any way that I could cipher. Simple Movie Goer says: Anakin's compact yellow starfighter gets added to my list of favorite SW ships. There are vulture droids a'plenty, nettlesome buzz droids, new fighters galore (precursors to X-wings and the like) ~ and oh! Anakin and Obi-Wan get a second chance at Dooku — and Anakin decapitates him! (Some of your PG-13 in action)

General Grievous is another great character invention, but like Darth Maul before him, he sadly does not last long in the Star Wars universe with peeved Jedi Knights sneaking about. But he is a formidable foe while he lasts. The dude is not much more than part of a face, a brain, and some essential organs (leftovers from previous battle scrapes, I assume) housed in an oversized droid mech body. His two arms can split into four, and he can skillfully wield as many lightsabers all at once! Instead of getting cornered by the pesky Jedi, this rascal just wings an electrostaff at the bridge's viewport, which shatters it, and escapes right out into space Just Because He Can ~ all while sporting a ragged smoker's cough and a laugh! Very rad!

We have some fun on Coruscant, first by crashing this same space battleship (or half of it) down onto some luckless airstrip, fire support ships desperately attending it all the way down. Good ol' R2-D2 is along for this ride as well, so you know they're going to be just fine. (He is like this galaxy's ultimate good luck charm) And if you watch very closely in the next scene, you might spot the Millennium Falcon cruising in for a landing on the lower level of an industrial landing platform.  :-D  

I had given up all hope of George Lucas ever crafting anything beyond occasional Star Wars flavored eye candy anymore. My expectations for this movie were low to say the least. What I have shared so far really surprised me in good ways. Lessons learned by now also found some traction in the soundtrack, which lists one climactic cue as "Padmé's Destiny" rather than "Padmé Has Twins And Then Dies".

Three cool new planets are also introduced in this movie: Utapau with its immense sinkhole cities, the scorching lava world of Mustafar, and at long last, a respectable few moments are spent on Chewbacca's home world of Kashyyyk, so gloriously packed full of growling Wookiees! This make sense, of course, but it's still nice to finally see it 'for real'.

Anyway, Anakin gets dragged into Senator Palpatine's double-crossing The Dark Force RULES! fraternity, and for reasons I just don't even care enough anymore to bother writing about, he is lured deeper to the Dark Side as the movie lumbers on. Yes, Anakin and Padmé are married and living as openly in Coruscant as you or I might —( how the Jedi Council remain blind to this arrangement, which is verboten for Jedi, is a topic for somebody else's website )— and now with babies on the way! Yay! Anakin is thrilled! ~ Not.  He just kind of broods and gets extra angsty about it... well, about everything else too, it seems... For the record, Padmé is one patient young Nabooian.. but she willingly married into this joker's world, so whaddaya gonna do?

Back to the good stuff: Obi-Wan catches up with General Grievous on Utapau and they engage in a searing lightsaber duel! When Kenobi's backup arrives, Grievous jumps aboard his armored wheel-bike (also equipped with clawed legs!) to escape, followed closely by Obi-Wan who is riding a seriously keyed-up varactyl named 'Boga'. This all ends with Obi-Wan blasting the meaty parts housed in General Grievous's armor plating, killing him in sizzling flames! BOOYAH!

Meanwhile back on Coruscant, Palpatine succeeds in finally luring Anakin to the Dark Side. Mace Windu tries to thwart his evil plans, but Palpatine attacks him which sort of backfires and cooks the Emperor's face into .. well . . . Wookieepedia states that "Palpatine's face gets distorted by his backfired Force lightning." Something goes painfully wrong, that much is certain ——

   Biff's observation  the Emperor  

No wonder he was so grumpy in the original trilogy. OK, so Anakin then embraces his inner moron to defend his new BFF Mr. Nasty Emperor, resulting in Mace Windu's immediate death. ~ Way to go, Annie! ~ "What have I done?!" he laments, but nobody really cares anymore because he's such a friggin' idiot. The Emperor, who is ugly as a troll's butt now, closes in on him spewing, "Gooooood! GOOOOOoood!! GOOOOOOOOOOD!!" This is quite a disturbing moment for a good many reasons. And the Emperor is not so much creepy as he is full-on MENTAL ~ and not in a good-for-the-movie sort of way. He labels Anakin with a new secret-buddy code name, 'Darth Vader', flips up his hoodie, and orders him to go out and kill everyone who will not acknowledge the beauty of the Dark Side. This includes youngling Jedi kids in training, along with his old pal Obi-Wan wherever he is. So Annie just goes for it . .. ~ all because he got hung up on a girl. That's all I'm sayin'...

The Emperor immediately broadcasts infamous "Order 66" which turns all the clone troops everywhere, all at once, against the Jedi. Fantastic otherworldly settings appear onscreen now for seconds at a time showing how the troops carry out this implanted command across the galaxy. I couldn't help but wonder: what were all these different Jedi Knights doing all over the place? What were they up to? What specific, secret and wondrous missions were they engaged in? I would ♥ love ♥ to see more of this, as their all-to-brief appearances seemed a thousand times more interesting than watching Anakin stalk Padmé and brood about Jedi life. At day's end, lots of new Force ghosts joined the Cool Dead Guys club that day. But some got away, including Obi-Wan, Yoda... and I don't even really care anymore at this point.

 E.T.s in Star Wars

On Kashyyyk, Yoda bids a sad farewell to Chewbacca as if they just graduated high school together (?? ~ why not. "Stay cool, man!") and launches off in some home-made escape pod to go settle a score back on Coruscant. Now, I just wanna say this... Yoda's shuttle looks suspiciously similar to E.T.'s spaceship. This might have been an 'egg shuttle' left behind by an early E.T. visit to Kashyyyk. Those squishy little E.T. guys were active members in the Galactic Senate in 'The Phantom Menace' you know. They are Asogians, and seem like a friendly enough bunch, but still rock their unsettling aversion to clothing. ►

Right, so Yoda confronts the Emperor / Palpatine / Lord Sidious, announcing his presence by flooring the guards with a Force-elbow-jab. Very slick. He and SidiPalpEmp fight like crazy, tearing the old Senate chambers to pieces. Though Yoda is a FORCE to be reckoned with (it's been a long blog post) Palapatine actually wins! It's like he is a Sith who wants Revenge, or something .. . He drops Yoda like an abandoned build-a-bear and goes on his evil way to conquer, well, everything! Mwu-huh-ha-ha-ha-haaa!! ~ Yoda slips away to consider 'Plan B' . . .

Obi-Wan has no luck in trying to convince Padmé that Anakin is now a supreme wonk-rat, so he takes her with him to Mustafar so they can deal with the hoser themselves. Big surprise: Padmé and Anakin/Vader have a falling-out of sorts... I guess this flips Padmé's heart switch to "DIE" mode, because that is what she starts doing at once. It's weird, but that's what happens. (She is, after all, an alien) AnnieVader and Obi-Wan exchange a few tense words of broken expectations and lost brotherhood, then cut to the chase and HAVE AT THEE in the most ambitious lightsaber duel ever filmed. They fight through the Mustafar mining complex, dodging hunks of flying lava when their combat draws them back outside, and they actually end up floating around over the surface of a vast river of lava, balancing carefully atop put-upon worker droids. They almost go over an immense lava-fall at one point. All of this looks really incredibly impressive, but I'm sorry. Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for 2,000° of raw molten lava roiling just a meter or two underfoot! They would have snuffed right out like two gnats on a lightbulb! But hey at this point who cares anymore...

So Annie truly becomes Vader by losing his ambitious battle against Obi-Wan, and by losing both legs, and by burning alive .. he already lost an arm to Count Dooku .. kid gets messed up pretty fierce. But hey! His BFF shows up a little while later to scrape him up what's left of him from the lava shoals and reconstructs him à la Grievous-style but * without * any anesthesia because, really.. what are friends for..?

Padmé gives birth to twins and then dies because she is no longer integral to the plot. Obi-Wan takes the baby boy, Luke, back to good ol' Tatooine and dumps him on Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. The baby girl gets a much better deal, cruising home with Alderaan's royal family member, Senator Bail Organa, to be raised with his wife and royal kin. The Clone Wars have ended and the shifty Empire now rules the galaxy. Any remaining members of the Jedi Order have vanished into hiding. Yoda scurries off to Degobah. Obi-Wan Kenobi opts to rough it out on Tatooine to keep a watch over Luke in years to come. C-3PO gets assigned for a memory wipe [!!] and R2-D2 watches over him as they adapt to routine service aboard Captain Antilles' CR90 Corvettes (including the Tantive IV, which is the first space ship seen in A NEW HOPE). R2-D2 Knows The Whole Story ... but apparently never considers telling anyone.  :-|  That little astromech droid keeps the galaxy more interesting that way, I guess.

Finally, Anakin gets all sealed up in his brand new black Darth Vader gear, breaks free from his Frankenstein operating table, and inexplicably sounds like James Earl Jones. The Emperor tells him that, in his blind rage back on Mustafar, he killed his young wife Padmé .. which is clearly a Dark-Side-of-the-Force kind of thing to tell a guy, or even actually do, so.. wouldn't all of this be 'good' in their twisted way of thinking? But AnnieVaderJones responds by using the Force to crush a bunch of lab equipment in their coolio Dark Force recovery room, clutches at the air with upturned fingers, and bellows out Lucas's most Favorite Dramatic Line of all time: "NOoOooooooooo!!!"

   R4-P17
 R4-P17

This is widely regarded as the best of the three prequels. I don't know why. This film drips with cheese like fondue. I suppose if I were obliged to select a 'favorite' out of the prequels, I would have to choose #2 just because the actiony parts are really pretty good, not as goofy as PM, nor as pre-determined-feeling as RotS.

One last point just for kicks... In A NEW HOPE, an older Obi-Wan Kenobi finds Luke and R2-D2 after their unfortunate encounter with some Sand People. R2-D2 insists that he once belonged to Kenobi, who declares, "I can't seem to remember ever owning a droid..." This is true, technically speaking, as R2-D2 belonged to Anakin Skywalker. In fact, Obi-Wan dragged R4-P17 around with him during "Attack of the Clones" and again during the Battle of Coruscant in the opening sequence of RotS. As proof, here's a selfie R4-P17 snapped while they were on Geonosis. ►

Obi-Wan regularly conversed with this droid during their travels, affectionately calling her 'Arfour' just as virtually everyone called R2-D2 'Artoo'. As everyone knows, any members of the Jedi Order sent out to conduct Official Jedi Business may utilize Jedi Temple equipment, but no one Jedi owns any bit of it . .

The fate of R4 is well known, and is recounted in this internet thread entitled "The short, tragic life of R4-P17": "She had her head ripped off by a buzz droid while helping Obi-Wan try to rescue Palpatine. This is one of the most gruesome 'deaths' in the whole saga." After losing R4, Kenobi acquired a copper-plated astromech droid, ID'ed as R4-G9, seen accompanying him during his travels in "Revenge of the Sith".

   R4-G9
 R4-G9

According to Wookieepedia: "R4-P17 was an astromech droid that belonged to Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi prior to and throughout the Clone Wars." [ref] // Then this bombshell: "R4-G9 was an astromech droid owned by Obi-Wan Kenobi." [ref]  :-|

Could there have been some sort of rent-to-own program for Jedi Council members? Or were these droids part of some kind of loan package for senior Jedi Knights who could rightfully claim to 'own' them for the duration of their service?

Obi-Wan Kenobi was wily and crafty, skilled and cunning. I would not call him a liar, necessarily, but he sure did weave a pretty glazed-over double-speak tale for Luke when he originally asked Ben what happened to his father. Ben told the truth, but it was veiled in folded-over statements unquestionably intended to mislead young Luke. You can even see it on his face as he quickly decides how best to answer this susceptible farm boy . .. So I wonder .. . was old Ben Kenobi employing that same tactic after R2-D2 clearly recognized from his days running all over the galaxy with Luke's Dad? Talk about troubled memories of yore..! ~ Just wondering about these things, you know?

More Weird Trivia: Actresses Keira Knightley, Rose Byrne, and Sofia Coppola were all in the Star Wars prequels: two were wasted opportunities, while one was merely a fun favor made to George's 'apocalyptic' director buddy so that forever after his daughter could boast, "I was in the 'Godfather' series AND also in Star Wars!"  Huzzah.


 no cheese
One dedicated fan took it upon himself to edit up self-described "anti-cheese editions" of these three films, currently available for viewing on YouTube. I have not watched them yet, but I trust anybody's directorial sensibilities over Lucas anymore, so I'll wager they are worth your while next time you get a hankering for some SW prequel action. Oh yeah, I just checked out the first 8 minutes of PM .. dig it a lot .. and want to watch more of it (which is more than I can say of the original theatrical release)!  :-)  So pop up some corn, click off those annotations, and resize that baby up to full-screen ~ and enjoy!
"The Phantom Menace" "Attack of the Clones" "Revenge of the Sith"
YouTube's 'Annotation' toggle button
 YouTube Annotations button
 
 YouTube full screen button YouTube's 'Resize Screen' button
 
And here: rumors of the original 1977 version of STAR WARS being cobbled together as the "De-Specialized Edition"

After Episode III, Star Wars was all about filling in the back-history of (and capitalizing on) THE CLONE WARS, managing the Force through books, graphic novels, TV shows, and a wide spectrum of themed games like "Knights of the Old Republic", "The Force Unleashed" and of course the "Battlefront" series . . . all leading up to the once unimaginable (but now seemingly inevitable) promise of a STAR WARS: EPISODE VII — and beyond!

For all that I have thrown at George Lucas and his many years of absolutely boogering up this most sacred of sci-fi/fantasy franchises, he has made some excellent choices along the way. And at the end of the day, one solid fact remains: The man dreamt it all up in the first place! And THAT is a full-on Unique Genius no one else can claim! He has become the 'Grandfather of Star Wars' now, the original troubadour of the Force and a very special galaxy far, far away... He invented a new but well-worn universe where everyone wanted to live, or at least visit and explore for a while ... The next time another earthling even came close to orchestrating such widespread creative effect through a motion picture was James Cameron's AVATAR (December 2009). ~ But George easily beat him to the punch by three decades plus change!  :-)

Passing the Star Wars property off to  Disney in toto sounded like a Terrifying Prospect at first glance. Then again, a large portion of the best STAR WARS ever made came from the minds other people. ~ But I dunno... it is going to be pretty weird seeing Darth Vader pose next to Aurora from Sleeping Beauty at Disneyland for fan photos... Oh, and this did not help anything:

 ATAT & Olaf

Olaf from "Frozen" chases after an AT-AT walker shouting, "How about a hug! Ha ha ha! I like you!"  ~  This genuinely hurts my sci-fi soul.

I know, I know — I must 'Jedi up' and face the facts. I represent no part of their new target audience, those wide-eyed kids clutching XBOX ONE controllers reveling in senseless mashups like this with money-flinging enthusiasm. No, I am that surly old I-was-there-in-1977 veteran from the Original Galactic Wars who cannot help but shed a silent tear as Stitch and R2-D2 begin palling around together, and X-wings share the same imaginary space as Dumbo's Flying Elephants. So begins the inescapable merging of once (and rightfully) dissimilar properties.  ( · ~ sigh ~ · )

Aside from the sting of Disney Infinity 3.0 game commercials, I do indeed sense an Awakening in the Force. ◄─(Come on.. it was inevitable) They seem to be aiming to infuse the FUN back into STAR WARS again and break free from all of that bleak, anti-entertaining seriousness Lucas dumped all over us with his prequels. To that end, no sooner had the ink dried on the 2012 Lucasfilm deal than Disney's Imagineers set to work on how to create a BRAND NEW LAND for Disney parks in the tradition of Tomorrowland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland ... but this one would provide a full-sized, living, breathing, STAR WARS world to experience In Real Life! ~ Oh man!!! ~ Including the Millennium Falcon FOR REAL . . .

 The Millennium Falcon

Touring the Millennium Falcon?! This is every sci-fi geek's dream come true! Forget about all the rest: THIS is all I have to see!  Disney 'Constructioneers' are scheduled to break ground sometime in 2017. Of course, I will be around 90 years old before this is ready for any sort of public interaction, but I will still gladly fork over a fistful of galactic credits to have my great-great-grandkids wheel me through those hallowed corridors . .. In the meantime, it is super great to be able to WONDER again .. . "Disney announces 'Star Wars Land' Coming to Disneyland, Disney World" (8/15/15) // "8 Unanswered Questions About Disneyland's Star Wars Land" (8/17/15)

STAR WARS is red hot again!  Episode VII opens in just days... hours..!!  :-D  Episode VIII is scheduled to open May 26, 2017, and Episode IX sometime in 2019 . Both are already in the works. Another spin-off film, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", is in production and should be released worldwide next December. An as-yet-unnamed Han Solo anthology film is tentatively scheduled for a May 25, 2018, release, followed possibly by a Boba Fett spin-off! And there's even talk of a potential Han Solo television series, given Marvel & DC's current success with their own TV hero shows these days. No need to worry about running out of SW material while awaiting the next movie(s), as there are also more games available than you can count, along with the traditional hand-animated "Star Wars: Clone Wars" (©2003/Genndy Tartakovsky) and the CGI "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (©2008/Lucasfilm) . . . and Star Wars Rebels which is currently being aired (season 2).

The original "STAR WARS" opened in 32 theaters across the nation, getting a slight bump up to 40 by the end of the week. "STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS" opens in over a hundred times as many (4,100).. Oh yeah!!  Let us see what the estimable J. J. Abrams can do with this new universe for which he is so eminently qualified to explore...

 TIE sunset
   
The Force Awakens
 the Force awakens
 SW·VII tickets!
Our tickets for Star Wars VII at the new Ciné Capri!  We would have caught this opening night, obviously, but were scheduled to travel to San Diego that weekend. It turns out we didn't go, so I must avoid ALL MEDIA for a few days!  :-)

 ATAT icon
A few choice clips from
Lego AT-AT
 Lego AT-AT
my AT-AT meme gallery
 ATAT icon
 
Rainy Day
 AT-AT NYC
Historical/archival photos
 AT-AT WWII
Festive AT-AT
 AT-AT yuletide
 
 ATAT playing 'fetch'  ATAT wants out
 
 ATAT cat nap  ATAT on-a-leash
 
 ATAT MTV   ATAT stroller
 
"9 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About the Millennium Falcon" (4¾ min)
Some really great fan art here on DevianArt
  BAD LIP-READING VIDEOS:
    • "A New Hope" (7½ min)
    • "The Empire Strikes Back" (6¾ min)
    • "Return of the Jedi" (7½ min)
  Which is Nerdier? Star Wars or Star Trek? (3 min)
 ATAT Tshirt  
Besides watching funny cat videos with my Lion♥Heart daughter, my latest YouTube diversion of choice these days is Chris Stuckmann's movie reviews. So if after reading alla this (thanks Mom!) you still can't get enough STAR WARS ... well, neither can Chris Stuckmann. Wearing great T-shirts (some of which I already own.. not sure what that says about me), he gives a fair and usually quite entertaining assessment of high-profile films that drift down the pike each month. In eager anticipation of STAR WARS VII, he took the time to review all six movies, and then some.. [ WARNING: Language Alert! ] I will include his review(s) of the new movie as well, once he posts them...
 
 SW montage
 
 
Episode IV
"A New Hope"
Episode V
"The Empire Strikes Back"
Episode VI
"Return of the Jedi"
Shadows of the Empire  Info on Wookieepedia  *
Episode I
"The Phantom Menace"
Episode II
"Attack of the Clones"
Clone Wars
"The Clone Wars"  [TV]
Episode III
"Revenge of the Sith"
Episode VII
"The Force Awakens"  [no spoilers]
"The Force Awakens" [FULL review]
*   Not Chris Stuckmann  —  'SotE' was a sprawling multimedia
project featuring books, comics, toys, video games, and even its
own soundtrack (not John Williams) set between TESB and RotJ.
 Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
 

 "Use the Force, Harry!"

 

 Han Shot First
 
12
(2015)  13