Archive for the ‘Saga’ Category

Filoni: Prequels Important To Today’s SW

February 18, 2017

Comic Book.com has a short interview with Dave Filoni where he discusses why the prequels are relevant to today’s Star Wars stories:

“I think it works into what the struggle is. You want to achieve this balance or you want to become … I think it’s a natural part of it, and really the introduction of this idea of balance comes from the prequels,” Filoni told ComicBook.com. “That’s where the prophecy of the chosen one and ‘the one who will bring balance,’ as quoted by Mace Windu, really comes from. So, I find that very interesting because the prequels add a tremendous amount of depth to all these things, especially ways of the Force. The people, I don’t think realize that that’s where it comes from, but it’s not something that’s natural to the original trilogy. It’s something that stems from the prequels, which added a tremendous amount to what we know about Star Wars.”

20 Years Of The Star Wars Special Editions: A Commentary

February 4, 2017

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January 31, 2017 marked an important but often overlooked anniversary in the long pop culture history of Star Wars. It’s the 20th anniversary of the Star Wars Special Editions, the first of which (ANH) was released in theaters January 31, 1997. TESB followed on February 21 and ROTJ on March 14. As is often the case with anything having to do with modern fandom and “geek” media, too much attention has been paid to the controversies and not enough on how really important those three months were in 1997. (For the record, I take the Harrison Ford position on the “who shot first” issue: I don’t care. I happen to think the 2004 DVD cut had the best version of the scene.)

1996’s “multimedia event” “Shadows Of The Empire” was a dress rehearsal for the Special Editions which in turn were a dress rehearsal for the prequels. Lucasfilm was riding a wave of resurgent popularity and this was to keep the momentum going while at the same time stretching muscles at everywhere from PR to licensing to ILM’s visual effects department that hadn’t been used for a long time, or at least not coordinated together since ROTJ’s release in 1983. But let me be clear: this wasn’t top-down manipulation.  There had been a renaissance of interest in Star Wars beginning in the early ’90s.  Moviegoers missed Star Wars. They missed the excitement those movies brought.  Meanwhile, there was a younger generation of fans whose only experience with Star Wars was on the boob tube. They yearned to see Star Wars the way God and Lucas intended them, on the big screen. They wanted to camp out on the sidewalk like fans did in the early ‘80s and dress up in costumes. They wanted to cheer with a big audience. Some of the most memorable ads for the Special Editions were aimed directly at that audience. Remember the one that started with the tinny sound and the X-wings on a little t.v. before it burst out onto the screen? It was genius.

This is why I had no doubts at all about the Special Editions succeeding. To a lot of the media, it seemed “risky” and a “gamble.” Why would people go to the theaters to pay to see movies that had been out on cable, network television, and home video for years? It seemed absurd. But Star Wars was different and at that time in 1997, there was a perfect storm ready to break out and astonish the world.

ANH:  SE had a shocking $35 million opening weekend, which set a record for a January opening and remains one of the biggest January openings even 20 years later.  It sat at the top of the box office for three weeks, racking up $138.6 million in its entire run and passing “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” to become the top-grossing film of all time (domestic) until James Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio ruined everything a year later.  The three existing Star Wars film grossed a total of $447 million worldwide during their combined run.  That’s right…movies that were 14-20 years old made as much money if not more than just about every newly made hit released in 1997.

As per usual, complaining fans didn’t see the trees for the forest, preferring to dither on what was changed and how that made Lucas a horrible person.  It’s like your team wins the Super Bowl or the World Series and all you could do is complain about your team’s ugly uniforms and how much you hate the coach while everyone else around you is celebrating.  It probably indicated what was coming with the prequels.

But the Special Editions were a triumph for Star Wars and for George Lucas.  They proved that Star Wars was a permanent part of the cultural landscape and they introduced the theatrical experience to a new generation of fans.  In fact, the experience of seeing the films on the big screen after so many years and noticing how much was lost watching them on a t.v. influenced this fan to see the prequels as many times in the theater as possible when they were released.  The hype for new Star Wars films went into overdrive.  In fact, one could say this was the beginning of the prequel era.  I think TPM would’ve been a success even without the Special Editions but they probably would’ve had to have worked a lot harder to make the film an event.  The Special Editions pre-sold that audience two years in advance and built the excitement to make TPM the movie event of the decade.

This article has all of the info on how the Special Editions performed, making the process of writing this a lot easier and faster.  

 

 

 

Essay: “Star Wars Mysteries”

January 16, 2017

Power To The Prequels at Retrozap is back with a new piece, “The Wonder of Wondering:  Star Wars Mysteries In The Prequels.”  It’s a look at the answers and many questions the prequels presented:

As fans we should be able to make up our own minds about these things. Lucas created Star Wars in part to teach children about empathy and values, but also to encourage their imaginations and inspire them. We must be willing to at least tolerate different interpretations of the saga and different theories on the parts of our fellow fans. Doggedly pursuing one incontrovertible record about the sequence of events and history of the Star Wars galaxy misses the larger point of these stories and the lessons they are trying to impart.

The fun of Star Wars is ultimately the opportunity to use our own imaginations to fill in the blanks. But what happens when there are no more blanks to fill in, when there is no room in the galaxy for our imagination because all these stories have been told?

In Case You Haven’t Seen It…

January 5, 2017

Sure, you’ve probably seen it already if you halfway care about “Rebels” but the mid-season trailer promises some PT/CW-era familiar faces…first of which is Saw Gererra this Saturday.

A Video On Prequel References In Rogue One

January 2, 2017

“Rogue One” Easter eggs and references are like Pokemon…you gotta catch ’em all.  This video lays out all of the prequel references in the film, courtesy of The Star Wars Prequels Channel :

Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

December 28, 2016

Admittedly, this is close to the last piece I’d ever want to write and I don’t think I would be doing it this soon.  Sixty years and two months is too young.  Given that Fisher’s exploits are well-known (heck, she always talked about them) it shouldn’t be so surprising and shocking, yet for all of us, it is.  She seemed almost indestructible no matter what she did to herself or what life threw at her.  If there was anyone would could’ve bounced back from  this, it would’ve been her.  But alas, 2016 has given no quarter to the famous, no matter how much we wished for different.

Fisher was of course far more accomplished than playing a beloved character or a pop culture icon.  She’d started performing as a singer she was 13.  She had her first bestselling novel at 30 and launched a second career as a successful novelist and script doctor.  She appeared in a number of well-regarded hit films like “Shampoo,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “The Blues Brothers,” and “Hannah and Her Sisters.”  She spent the last 15 years or so being a public advocate for mental health; no doubt her busy schedule and return to the saga showed those with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses they too can survive and even thrive.

But let’s face it.  We love her because she brought Princess Leia to life, and we love Leia.  Leia was of course George Lucas’s creation but it was Carrie’s personality who helped make Leia who she is:  snarky, brash, sophisticated and feminine yet with an edge, a tiny body that hid a tough-as-nails strength.  It’s easy to forget now in an age where “girl power” is fashionable in film and t.v., but in the ’70s, Leia turned heads because she was an entirely new kind of fantasy heroine.  As Fisher put it, she wasn’t a damsel in distress, she was a distressing damsel.  Absolutely no one in mainstream Hollywood would’ve written a character like Leia; part of the reason why Fisher took the part was that her mother Debbie Reynolds read the script in tears because she’d wished somebody would’ve written a part like that for her.  And absolutely no one in mainstream Hollywood would’ve picked Fisher to play a princess; somebody blonder, more ethereal, “sweeter” would’ve been a more likely choice.  But Lucas wasn’t exactly mainstream and casting director Fred Roos had a good eye for who was going to be memorable in these roles.

At the time ANH came out, Leia was heralded as a “liberated woman” which was the hip ’70s way of saying “feminist.”  But I didn’t care about those labels; I just thought she was the coolest.  She was a competent fighter and she was smart but she was also funny and not always all sugar and spice.  One thing about Leia I still love about her til this day is how she was always free to be herself warts and all.   A lot of studios would’ve been nervous about that kind of character and would’ve demanded somebody “tone” her down.  Or that she got some kind of comeuppance.  But Lucas never sought to punish Leia for being Leia.  And for a 7-year-old in the mid-to-late ’70s, that was extraordinary.  The only  other significant heroine of my childhood was Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman.  My teen years brought Leia-inspired characters like Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor (trust me, James Cameron wishes he’d thought of Leia first).  I gravitated toward larger-than-life rock goddesses like Siouxsie Sioux, a real-life gothy punk version of Leia.  She instilled a type in me and that’s what I wanted to be like:  take no prisoners, take no baloney, and speak what’s on your mind.  Oh and stick up for those who can’t stick up for themselves.  Which is ultimately the best thing about Leia.

As for Carrie the person, I have to be honest.  There’s a part of me who absolutely admired her.  It’s impossible to love a character so dearly–Leia is probably tied with Anakin for my absolutely favorite character–and not have that affection bleed onto the real person.  But there were times when we weren’t cool.  Sometimes she made me laugh, sometimes she made me cringe.  The drug stuff disappointed me greatly as a teenager; for a period of time I couldn’t stand her.  Even now there’s a part of me that’s saying, “Dammit, why didn’t you take better care of yourself?”  All of that said, in the end she had been a big influence on a character who had a big influence on me and that means something.  There are people who are examples of what to do and examples of what not to do, and in her case, she was was a little bit of both.

I’d seen in her person a few times, the first time actually in a Georgetown parking lot in 1987.  I was too chicken to approach her.  She came off as a little intimidating.  The next time I saw her was at Celebration II in 2002.  At one point, she and her entourage had to cross a line I was in to get somewhere and fans respectfully parted like the Red Sea.  Nobody bugged her or mobbed her.  She still seemed a little intimidating.  I never did meet her in person although most of the people I know who did meet her at various cons had great things to say about her, that is if they didn’t mind getting glitter cast upon them or something.  I know that at Celebration II some fan had been in line for hours to meet her and she felt so bad for this guy who hadn’t eaten all day, she had her assistants bring him something to eat.  I have seen her speak a couple of times, once at a Celebration and again at SDCC in 2004.  I think she was very intelligent.  She was also funny as hell.  Her kind of humor was always just beyond appropriate with a big dash of “that’s so wrong.”  She loved writing naughty messages on some of her autographs but I think she had a pretty good gauge as to who was up for that sort of thing and who wasn’t.  I also remember seeing this at a past SDCC; she was signing autographs next to Jake Lloyd, who was signing for the first time at that particular show.  Before she left, she made it a point to go over to Lloyd and talk to him and shook his hand.  I know that she made it a point to make the Star Wars  stars who came after her feel like they were part of the family so to speak, even if she had a touch of a competitive streak.   That includes the cast of Clone Wars and of course TFA and Episode VIII.

Fisher completed filming Episode VIII and voiced her digital doppelgänger in Rogue One.  What ultimately happens to Leia is still up in the air; Fisher had said she was going to return in IX.  This will have to be sorted by Lucasfilm over the coming weeks and months.  But Leia is forever, a part of the mythology of our time.  She lives beyond her portrayer and  likely beyond any of us.

Fisher had become the First Lady of Star Wars so to speak.  I think she finally realized it within the last decade or so of her life.  Of course she can never be replaced.  But there are great ladies of Star Wars still with us–Natalie Portman, Daisy Ridley, Felicity Jones, Ashley Eckstein, Vanessa Marshall, just to name a few–and now what they bring to future generations is that much more important.  Some are already wonderful ambassadors for the saga, others have yet to step into that role but likely will over time.

My sincerest sympathies go to Fisher’s friends, former co-stars, and family, especially her daughter Billie Lourd, mother Debbie Reynolds, brother Todd Fisher, and beloved dog Gary.  I hope they will find some comfort from the outpouring of love, respect, and appreciation not only from Star Wars fans but also from people who loved her other films, people who loved her books, fellow writers, the entertainment industry, mental health advocates, among many others.

Update:  Reynolds has passed away just over 24 hours after her daughter from a stroke.  Damn.

 

 

 

 

Open Thread: A Sad Day For Fandom

December 27, 2016

Even though Carrie Fisher wasn’t part of the prequels, she was easily one of the most important players in the saga.   I will post a separate piece with my full thoughts.  Here, feel free to vent, mourn, react.

Open Thread: Rogue One Reax

December 16, 2016

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What did Maximus think?  What did you think?

Note:  I will not see the film until Sunday afternoon.  My comments will go up Sunday evening or Monday, depending.  So if you guys are posting your reviews/reactions keep them light on spoilers since I still have to moderate unapproved comments ;).

Again:  No flaming, no bashing, no trolling, no baiting, etc. or the ban hammer will be applied.  If the thread goes off the rails, I will have to shut it down.  Thank you.

 

A Couple Of Things To Brighten Your Day

December 13, 2016

Well, a smidge anyway.

Clickbait site Screen Crush interviewed Rogue One star Riz Ahmed and the topic of the prequels came up.  He’s not real fond of Jar Jar but had good things overall to say about the films.  Because I don’t want to give the clicks to a clickbait site, Star Wars The Prequel Trilogy has the relevant parts screencapped.

Meanwhile, Kathleen Kennedy tells the New York Daily news that:

“We certainly look at the prequels and there are a lot of ideas inherent in the prequels that will probably — undoubtedly — find their way into future ‘Star Wars’ movies,” she notes.

“So yeah, it’s all part of the mythology.”

H/T Furious Fanboys

Movie Score Video & More About HU’s “Naboo Collection”

November 30, 2016

Pedro passed along this video from about a year ago about Sony’s “Star Wars: The Ultimate Vinyl Collection” of scores from Eps I-VI. It was an unboxing and Q&A session with movie score professionals:

The current episode (18) of the Galactic Fashion podcast features a long interview with Ashley Eckstein about Her Universe.  In it, she mentions the so-called Naboo collection we might see late next spring/summer.  It’s part of a vintage-themed planets line (she mentions Tatooine and Endor as other lines planned) and she discusses a Naboo dress design that features all kinds of stuff associated with it, including Anakin and Padmé.  I gotta have it!