Archive for May, 2014

Darth Maul: Son Of Dathomir #1 Out Today

May 21, 2014

The first issue of Dark Horse’s adaptation of an unproduced Clone Wars story arc involving Darth Maul hits stands today. I picked up a copy but haven’t read it yet. Review forthcoming!

Can You Stand One More Tribute To TPM?

May 20, 2014

Bryan at Big Shiny Robot weighs in with his tribute to TPM. Plus there’s TPM talk on the latest episode of his podcast Full of Sith.

It holds a special place in my heart. I love the film dearly. I know every line by heart (just like all the other “Star Wars” movies) and I feel like it’s earned its place in the lexicon of “Star Wars.” It’s hard to believe 15 years have passed since it was released. I was fresh out of high school back then, managing a movie theatre, and hoping to get my start in the creative fields of filmmaking, journalism, and writing. “Phantom Menace” inspired me, inverting aspects of the hero’s journey, and I wouldn’t be any where I am today without it.

Okay, So What’s Going On Here?

May 20, 2014

A source of angst among saga fans is how the castle keepers perceive the prequels and whether Eps I-III will receive the same TLC and respect the other Star Wars films get with new management. Here are the facts that only serve to increase that unease and anxiety:

*2013 3D re-releases of AOTC and ROTS canceled with a lame, vague excuse even though AOTC was already completed.

*Clone Wars abruptly canceled March 2013.

*Many of the new folks associated with new material are known as fans of only Eps IV-VI; none appear to be serious fans of all six movies.

*Hasbro revealed that it was ordered to draw down the number of prequel-era product.

*New Disney Store exclusives only focus on the first three SW films.

Adding to that is an e-mail I got from Linda about her conversation with artist Joe Corroney at Motor City Comic Con over the weekend. She posted it in the comments for the History Fail post from 5/16 (scroll down to almost the end). I don’t know how much Corroney knows or if he’s just assuming something based on what he’s heard. But Yancy noted it seems to dovetail with what he’s been told by suppliers and the like, and it’s really disturbing. Especially when it’s assumed these movies don’t have fans–they do–and if Disney thinks Eps I-III weren’t as successful, I don’t know what they’re smoking because it’s not true! It’s extremely disturbing when a big conglomerate doesn’t know very much about something it now owns!

Worse yet are unconfirmed, unsubstantiated rumors on various nerdman sites about things like the Boba Fett film attempting to overwrite the prequels or the 5/15 post on BleedingCool.com about Disney secretly plotting to throw the prequels into the dustbin and “reboot” them with spinoff movies that give different origin stories.

I don’t believe the Bleeding Cool story at all. That’s a bridge way, way too far especially with George Lucas still alive. The same rumor claims pre-Special Edition versions of the films are coming out this year, which seems pretty unlikely. But it’s also difficult to convince fans that these rumors are flat out impossible either. It doesn’t help Disney or Lucasfilm when they are goofing up things like release dates and forgetting the birthdays of stars of the prequels.

To further confuse fans, there are times when the prequels are treated as part of the family:

*Jedi News recently reported that British Disney Store employees were recently gifted DVDs of all six SW films.

*On May 4, I wandered into my local Disney Store to see what was going on and while picking up a bantha–only $20 and really cute–I noticed some store “cast members” doing a presentation with a bunch of kids about the Star Wars saga, showing clips and stuff, and all of the movies were mentioned. Heck, when I walked into the store I heard “Across the Stars” on the PA. No word if those employees are still working at the Fashion Valley store. (I kid, I kid.)

*As previously reported, PT and Clone Wars cast members have been or are going to be guests at Star Wars Weekends. Attendees have let me know that prequel characters are as much a part of the festivities as anyone else. It’s true the merch is not very prequel-oriented but that’s been the case over the past few years.

If I ever come across a smoking gun, such as a memo, audio, or video that clearly indicates where Disney is on the prequels, you can bet I will post it here. In the meantime, those of us who love the prequels aren’t getting anything if we don’t ask for it and that might mean really leaning on these guys for the next several years.

If it’s true that Disney wants to sweep the prequels under the rug, it’s a stupid and short-sighted decision. Not only is it losing out on money, not only is it horribly disrespectful to fans and to Lucas, it’s setting itself up for a future of embarrassing damage control campaigns, walk-backs, and apologies. It’s already going to have to do that for Clone Wars.

We’re watching.

Last Batch of Ask SWPAS Questions

May 20, 2014

From Andrew:

Do you think they’ll ever make extended editions to the prequels with the added in deleted scenes? Some of them are super amazing, especially the ones from episodes II and III.

No. Even though I’d love to see a cut of AOTC with the scenes of Padme and Anakin with her family, I doubt anything like that will happen any time soon. After all it’s been 37 years and they still haven’t added Luke chatting with Biggs back to ANH.

And here’s an old one from Tarrlok that I never got around to answering:

You mentioned that you think Lucasfilm Licensing did not properly support the PT after 2005. Do you think Lucasfilm companies perhaps also underpromoted TCW as the series progressed from 2008, at least relative to the outset or what it could have done?

There were a few areas where they didn’t tap into CW’s popularity, such as with games and with novels aimed at older fans. There was that one novelization of the pilot plus a couple of other books that took place in the same time period and had some CW characters but weren’t directly based on the show. An Ahsoka novel would have been awesome. A novel about Domino Squad would’ve been awesome. Or about Maul and Savage Opress. But for some reason, it didn’t happen.

Brent Friedman Dishes On Clone Wars S7 & S8

May 20, 2014

Feel like putting your head through your desk and throwing a brick at your monitor at what could have been for two more seasons of Clone Wars, because there were complete scripts for those seasons? Well, look no further than this collection of tweets from former writer Brent Friedman where he teases fans with some details about what was planned before the plug was pulled. And I totally agree with what MakingStarWars.net had to say about it!

By the way the first issue of that Darth Maul comic based on the Clone Wars scripts drops tomorrow!

More Love For TPM

May 20, 2014

Last night I shared a link on Twitter and Facebook to this amazing love letter to TPM from Jason Ward at MakingStarWars.net. It really captures what I thought was great about that film and about the prequels in general:

The movie thought outside the box, experimented with storytelling structure (think four battles converging), propelled visual effects, and did not give us the same Star Wars film we already owned. It was completely original and to this day, I can’t think of a blockbuster film as original as The Phantom Menace.

The Phantom Menace didn’t follow the rules. It made up its own rules. You don’t become George Lucas on accident. People have called him lazy. If he was lazy, Anakin would have been fifteen in Episode I. He wouldn’t have been pure of heart, he would have been born a bad seed. He wasn’t. Anakin was good. I deeply respect George Lucas for thinking outside the box and always doing the unexpected and giving his characters a trajectory.

Thanks Everyone!

May 20, 2014

Thanks for another successful Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Day. Just yesterday the Facebook page picked up hundreds of likes, bringing it now to over 2400. Not bad given I hardly pimped the page anywhere, heh heh. I do think though it is a sign that prequel fans on social media are finding each other.

Which gets to my next point. I believe this is the first time that I’ve seen many other fan sites, Twitter accounts, and pages celebrate Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Day: Jedi News, Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy, Star Wars Underworld, and Hayden Fan News for starters. Also it helped that it was the 15th anniversary of TPM’s release as well as ROTS’s 9th anniversary. Lots of nice things were posted, many of which I retweeted on @lazypadawan.

Next year marks ROTS’s 10th anniversary and there will be much rejoicing.

I was going to do a graphics contest but didn’t have time to set it up yet. So, I’ll have the contest sometime in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled!

Great Scenes of the Prequel Trilogy: Anakin Leaves Shmi

May 19, 2014

I wasn’t really sure which TPM scene I was going to write about today until it was brought up in the Ask SWPAS section.

When Anakin wins his freedom in the pod race, he gets to leave Tatooine with Qui-Gon for a new life as a Jedi. But he must leave his mother, the only family he’s known, behind. Being nine at the time, he’s not really psychologically ready to be separated from his mother and making matters worse, he’s too young and not informed enough about what the Jedi life entails to fully comprehend the implication of what he’s about to do.

Shmi Skywalker might not be a mean shot with a blaster or mistress of a lethal lightsaber but what she does here is incredibly brave and utterly selfless. Anakin is all she has and she must realize that giving him over to the Jedi means, in spite of what she tells Anakin, she will probably never see or hear from him again. But she does it because it means a life other than slavery and poverty on a crummy backwater planet. It means a life where Anakin can really fulfill the potential she knows he possesses, in a way that’s honorable and befits his own selflessness.

You know it’s a momentous scene because of the dramatic way it’s played out, complete with the Force Theme swelling in the background. It’s a scene that is one of the most important in the entire prequel trilogy because not only it marks the beginning of Anakin’s journey to the Dark Side, it’s the root cause of his fall. Separation from Shmi becomes a unacknowledged wound that never heals and Anakin, who still needs an anchor and someone to love, will continue to look for that the rest of his life with disastrous results. He loses Shmi to a violent, undignified death soon after finding her again, causing him to cling even more to the other woman in his life, Padme. His need for a parental figure brings him to Palpatine, who promises to save Padme with the power of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan is completely unable to understand or help him. If TPM was a book and this was English class, your teacher would tell you this is a “highlighter moment.”

The scene is shot with Shmi at one end of the screen and Qui-Gon at the other, with Anakin having to walk across a great gulf between them. His inability to fully let go and “not look back” as Shmi warns him is shown when he stops and runs back to his mother. Then he reluctantly walks away from her and of course, looks back.

Personally I think this was Jake’s best scene and Pernilla August kills it. Liam Neeson didn’t say anything but his compassion for Anakin shows. One must wonder how things would’ve turned out had Qui-Gon not been killed by Darth Maul.

Ask SWPAS 5/19/14

May 19, 2014

First from Prince of Naboo:

1.) Could you roughly describe the years (let’s say 1994 – 1999) leading up to the release of Episode I?
2.) How would you compare that time with today (pre-Episode VII)?

I’m going to answer these together. The lead up to TPM was interesting; the big SW revival of the ’90s was occurring at the same time, in big part because there were more movies coming. First the movie was rumored to come out in 1996, then 1998, then they set a date of May 1999. Rumors started almost right from the time Lucas confirmed he was going to do more films in 1994. I’d started hearing there were going to be trailers as far back as 1995! At first, rumors were traded at cons, in magazines, and comic book stores. Then with the internet, rumors started getting around online. Few fans remember that TheForce.net started in the mid ’90s as The Star Wars Page at Texas A&M. That site totally built itself on news and gossip about TPM. I remember being amazed at the time that they could update several times a day! AICN is another site that benefited greatly from TPM’s production. The rumors about casting started summer ’96. In the fall of ’96, a fan I knew sent me a PM on AOL asking me what my opinion was on Natalie Portman, which was the first time I’d ever heard about her being associated with the film. By December, I’d heard about Ewan McGregor possibly being involved. Of course there were a ton of wild rumors about casting that never came true. The build up just continued after the success of the Special Editions, the official beginning of production of TPM that summer, and weirdly enough, “Titanic”‘s success late ’97-early ’98. I think it all just jacked up everyone’s expectations that much higher. Then came all of the wacko rumors about what was actually in the film. The first time I saw any backlash was when they announced the title September 1998. The haters thought it was “stupid” and “sounded like a Scooby Doo episode.” But that was overtaken by the positive reaction to the first trailer, released in November 1998. It was one of the first major trailers released on the internet. Again, expectations went through the roof. Fans who had been too young to experience the pre-release campouts of the past started planning theirs way in advance. Some spent as long as month in line, complete with internet access, t.v. sets, tents, and what-have-you, something that wasn’t done back in the day. I missed Celebration I, but I did go to Midnight Madness. I saw “Duel of the Fates” debut on VH-1. It really had built to a crescendo and while it was exciting in one sense, in another, I kind of knew it was going to be really difficult for anything to live up to the hype. Sure enough…

Compared to 2014, I’d have to say the anticipation for Ep VII right now is far more muted than it had been for TPM. Part of it is wariness, whether it’s from people like me who loved all of the films or from basherific nerdmen. This is in totally new hands and nobody wants to invest too much for fear of getting “burned.” We have no idea what “they” are going to do with this movie. Also, everyone knew what the prequels were fundamentally about, while nobody has any idea what this trilogy is going to be about. We’re all kind of in a dark tunnel. Lucas and McCallum knew fans wanted to come along for the ride and they took advantage of emerging technology to do just that, all of the while still keeping the meat of the film secret (though that didn’t stop gossip mags and paparazzi). We’ll see if there are videos from the set, live chats, photo selects, and other things that were done during the prequel era or if they’ll continue to keep us in the dark. Given Abrams’s penchant for secrecy, he probably thinks they’ve given away too much already. The other significant reason is that the pop culture landscape has changed a great deal since the late ’90s. The biggest series of the decade was the Batman movies and the last couple hadn’t done as well as the first two. TPM was the first of a huge wave of “tentpoles” or “franchises” or whatever you want to call them that appeared in the years since then: LOTR and The Hobbit, superhero movies, Harry Potter, Twilight, Star Trek, Hunger Games, etc.. Plus t.v. has taken a big share of attention from blockbusters. Episode VII is coming out in a year lousy with popular series films, making it a lot harder to stand out and be a big deal than it once had been. That said, the minute the Episode VII cast photo dropped a few weeks ago, both Twitter and Facebook crashed.

3.) What was/is (in case it has changed) your opinion – as a female long-time fan – on the Anakin/Shmi mother/son relationship and the “the was no father” decision in Episode I?

I liked the relationship between Shmi and Anakin. I knew something significant had to come out of it because of how it played out in the movie. You don’t do an extended farewell scene with Williams’s swelling score if it’s not significant in some way. I had no problem with Anakin’s lack of a biological father. If nothing else, I was annoyed with myself for not taking Joseph Campbell’s chapter on The Virgin Birth in “Hero Of A Thousand Faces” into greater consideration ;). It turned out to be very important and it wasn’t a cheap attempt to throw religion into Star Wars or whatever else people complained about.

4.) Now, this is probably a bit of speculation: Do you think the public opinion on Episode I has changed over the years?

It’s hard to know what public opinion is because no one’s done a scientific poll since then. I do think that most people accept it as part of Star Wars. Everybody knows who Darth Maul and Jar Jar are. The 3D re-release had come out before anyone knew there would be more Star Wars films, it wasn’t that well promoted, and I think that audiences by that time had tired of 3D retoolings of older films, which were done in the wake of “Avatar”‘s success. Disney had tried to do the same thing with its classic animated and Pixar flicks to lesser success than TPM after it did pretty well with “The Lion King.”

From Adam:

When did you first start to notice the unfortunate backlash against the film, and how confused were you when you found out?

Right before the film came out, if you can believe it. It wasn’t so much from fans who got to see charity or preview screenings, it came from the media. Critics broke their agreement not to publish their reviews until opening day just so they could take a chainsaw to it. USA Today’s front page story on opening day was, “Mixed reactions from fans” with emphasis on the haters. Columnists and reporters were calling the movie a disappointment, a flop, the worst of the year, etc.. They started claiming the movie was racist too. I knew what was going on: the press built up that movie just so they could kick out the chair from under it. I don’t remember when I started seeing the backlash on the Jedi Council boards. Maybe it was when I decided to venture back in there not long after the movie came out. What really upset me was how people I’d known who did the campout, saw the movie several times, and didn’t complain about it started beating up on it months later.

From jarjarbacktattooguy:

How different do you think the prequel trilogy would have been had they all been shot at once (released a year apart)?

I don’t know. Lucas came up with a lot of his best ideas after principal photography and filmed them later, something he wouldn’t have had a lot of time to do had he been on a schedule where everything was shot in one fell swoop and had to be released a year apart. It also would’ve been difficult if not impossible for Natalie to participate since she was adamant filming would not interfere with her going to college. Casting might have been different because I doubt they’d have gone to Australia and some people weren’t on the scene yet, so to speak. Lucas was finessing his story as he went along; it wasn’t as though he was adapting a book or comic that’s already been written. The last two Matrix films were shot at once and I don’t think it was a big advantage for them.

From Tarrlok:

What’s your favorite (non-DOTF) piece of the TPM soundtrack?

“Augie’s Great Municipal Band.” It’s easily the most joyous, goofy track written for a Star Wars film, yet it is a reworking of “The Emperor’s Theme,” or so they say.

From Adam:

Who was your favorite of the new characters when you first saw the film, and has that changed in hindsight?

I thought Queen Amidala was a great character even though personality-wise she’s different from her daughter. I knew from the get-go she was iconic in her own way. Anakin is my favorite prequel character and ties with Leia as my favorite overall character.

From Kenny:

How come their was a complete Soundtrack released for Episode 1 but not for both Episodes 2 and 3?

I don’t know. Maybe the TPM one, released well into 2000, didn’t sell well enough to justify doing the same thing for the latter two prequels. I remember a lot of complaints about it because it wasn’t complete enough.

From peacetrainjedi:

As a side question, was there any one quote from TPM that stood out to you when you saw it? Either humorous or otherwise. And as much the Internet abuses the term now, were/are there any Laugh out Loud moments for you in Phantom?

There are a lot of great lines in TPM, but I’ve especially loved “are you an angel” and “there’s always a bigger fish.” The part that made me laugh the most was Jar Jar getting his tongue zapped by the pod racer thingie.

Happy Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Day

May 18, 2014

SWPAS 2014