Category Archives: Movies

NOOOOOOOO!!!

This pretty much speaks for itself, but here’s how I feel: It’s been more than 12 years since someone was born BEFORE The Phantom Menace was released. It’s been more than 14 years since someone was born before the Special Editions came out. Fan who grew up with and desperately want a proper OT release will die first, and after they are gone things like Han shooting first, Sebastian Shaw’s ghost and a world where Episode I, II and III were wonderful “What if?” scenarios acted out in school yards and fan fiction will be but memories, kept alive in only the darkest, most paranoid corners of pop culture.

It’s been over 6 years since someone was born before Darth Vader yelled “NOOOOO!” in Revenge of the Sith.

As of September 17, 2011, no one else who is born will know a world where he didn’t yell it in Return of the Jedi.

 

 

RIP Irvin Kershner

So I’m really at a loss for words here. Odds are if you’re reading this that you know how I feel about Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in particular. This morning Irvin Kershner, the director of The Empire Strikes Back, passed away.

Kershner brought the best out of the characters and worlds that George had created. It was his directing, along with Kasdan’s script, that elevated this world above the realm of Kid’s Stuff. He showed us our heroes at their lowest points, and though they ended the film defeated, he saw brought them to a point of hope, though greatly diminished from where they left off in A New Hope. Kershner made these characters real, even giving life to a little green elf and a man in head-to-toe golden plastic. Good vs. Evil is universal, fairy tale conflict, but a crisis of faith (Luke), spirituality (Yoda), love (Han and Leia) and heartbreaking betrayal (Lando/Vader’s big reveal) are universal, real-world struggles that strike a chord in all of us one way or another. These were the things that made The Empire Strikes Back, despite all of it’s otherworldly spectacle, the most down-to-Earth of the films.

Star Wars’ legacy has already shown that, 30 years after The Empire Strikes Back was released, these films still prove to be just as powerful as ever. Kershner’s contribution both to that legacy and to fandom as whole, like the Force, will always be with us.

The Girlfriend Experience: Episode One–The Phantom Menace

This is a six-part (potentially longer if we get into The Clone Wars) series where I will sit through the Star Wars saga chronologically with my girlfriend who has, aside from snippets here and there and that one time I sat her down with A New Hope, never watched the original trilogy in its entirety. My purpose is to see how a person without the emotional attachment of having grown up with the originals will:

1) Respond to the prequel trilogy on their own and in light of their reputation

2) Respond to the original trilogy three decades after the fact, especially in light of their place in cinematic history

3)  View The Saga in its entirety as a single, over-arcing story

I also decided to use the title of porn star Sasha Grey’s non-porn film, The Girlfriend Experience, in a shameless attempt to bait dudes looking for spank material into clicking on my blog, thus bumping up my hit count. And to that end: Sasha Grey Sasha Grey porn nude tits vagina anal anal blow jobs pooper Sasha Grey. Sex.

1) Briefly summarize the plot of The Phantom Menace.
um. the republic was all corrupt and the jedi knights had to go fight to regain peace among the peoples for queen amidala. then by chance they found anakin and qui-gon thought he was the chosen one so they gambled to get him. the jedi leaders didn’t think anakin should be trained but qui-gon’s dying wish was to have him be trained by ob-wan. then there was like a war and sith lords and shit.

2) Which character(s) did you like the most and why?
i liked anakin best, he was smart and cute and i liked his whole back story. they did a great job building his character, i cried when he had to leave his mom. and i liked the connection between him and padme. also, qui-gon because he was a total hotty. duh.

3) Which character(s) did you like the least and why?
jarjar binks was gay. i HATED the way he talked. him/his species were an obvious cheap ploy to get kids into the movie.

4) What was your favorite scene(s) and why?
i liked when they were on anakin’s planet… meeting him, during the pod race and with his mom.

5) What would you have liked more of?
i would have liked more back story on queen amidala/padme and on qui-gon. i was sad he died because i liked him and wanted more of him.

6) What could you have done with less of?
too much cgi and computer animation… i like that they use it but everything looked too shiny and new. i would have liked if they kept it grittier and rustic feeling. it all felt too polished. also, some of the alien characters were just too out there, it took from the feel of movie.

7) What did you know about certain characters going into the movie/figure out as it went along?
i know ob-wan, he is a jedi. i think he is a good guy in the later movies. i know that anakin and luke are related in some way obviously, i kinda thought they were the same person but i guess not. ’cause you just said no. jabba the hut was there, he is fat. i kept asking why queen amidala and padme were both played by natalie portman, and i still don’t really get why but at least i know that i wasn’t imagining things.

8 ) What sticks in your mind most about The Phantom Menace?
i know tony must think im an idiot ’cause i kinda didn’t know what was going on the whole time.

9) What, if anything, surprised you about The Phantom Menace?
i was surprised that it was a little hokey almost… i remember the old movies feeling so much more important and this one just didn’t strike me in the same way. not that i’ve watched (empire strikes back and return of the jedi) in entirety or anything. the animated characters took way too much away from the whole star wars feel.

10) What were your general impressions of The Phantom Menace?
i know that i am slightly jaded by things you have said about the movie. i don’t think i am ready to say if it was good or bad or mediocre. i did enjoy watching it with you, of course, but i do think that the plot wasn’t as strong as it could have been (i obviously had some issues following) and i wasn’t really charmed by it.

I was surprised by how much Sondra enjoyed Jake Lloyd. While I never found him particularly awful (he’s a kid and they generally blow in movies) he seemed to be a pretty high ranking bone of contention for a lot of people. I also found it odd that she didn’t ever mention Darth Maul in our post-TPM discussion. He tends to be one of the few highlights for prequel haters. However, I was really blown away by just how little she knew of what was coming down the line. The fact that she asked me at one point of Luke and Anakin are the same person got me really excited to see what the uninitiated would consider to be big twists. Example: she was crushed when she over heard a casual Star Wars discussion at work and had Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader spoiled for her. Those are the sort of OMG moments this experiment is all about. Curious…

Celebration V recap!: or, Didn’t You Go to Some Star Wars con, like, a month ago?!

First the second part: No, I went to Comic Con International a month ago, DUH! I went to Star Wars Celebration V, like, a WEEK a go. So there!

Now the first bit. Recap! Why the hell has it taken me a whole week to get to writing about the closest thing to a religious experience (slight overstatement? you decide!) I will ever…uh…experience…

Well, the answer’s not a flattering one. I’m lazy. Pure and simple. Plus I felt no overwhelming rush since there’s lots of information about CV out there AND I was pretty consistently posting photos over the course of the four days. Yes, that’s right, if you or someone you love is unfortunate enough to follow me on twitter or are fans of My Best Friend is a Wookiee on Facebook then you were bombarded by photos at a rate usually reserved for tweenaged girls who stumble across a Jonas Brothers look-a-like bikini charity car wash.

But those photos cold have been faked! I could have just stolen other people’s memories of celebrating Star Wars and called them my own, even going as far as the photoshop myself in some of them! Just who the hell do I think I am?! I think I’m a swag hound whose idea of self restrain when it comes to buying Star Wars merch still proves to be more than I should have spent. I wore a Rebel flight suit, in public, despite it not being up to Rebel Legion par. I had the audacity to tell some dude who asked me for a cigarette in a parking lot that, despite his claims, he wasn’t Boba Fett only to find out that he was, in fact Daniel Logan, the actor who portrayed him in Episode II and The Clone Wars and I lived to tell the tale–no disintegration!

Moments before I pissed in this guy's gas tank...

The first day was a relative breeze. I wandered aimlessly, figured out where everything was and, most importantly, I spent all of my money on toys right off the bat. I figured it would be best to just get it out of my system early so that I could enjoy the panels and events unburdened by the fear that the last vintage-packaged Zuckuss and 4-Lom could be swept out from under me while I was listening to Ben Burtt discuss how he used an old audio clip of John Wayne for Garindan‘s voice.

Not Shown: IG-88 coffee mug, kick ass signed Ralph McQuarrie print and Princess Leia "hair bun" earmuffs.

I was also, for the first time ever, wearing a Star Wars costume. Growing up I was terrified of dressing up in costume outside of Halloween because I assumed it was a giant, self-imposed “Kick Me” sign. My costume, that of a Rebel X-Wing pilot, looked great. A lot of the thanks goes to my wonderful girlfriend, who upon realizing she’d have to make me nerdy costumes at a pretty early stage in our relationship,  decided not to run far, far away to the welcoming arms of some non-geek.

...So of course when I find the guy someone wants to get our picture! It took a lot for us not to kill one another. Clearly we were thinking of the children.

The next two days consisted of lots of panels. Ben Burtt gave a great talk about the origins of some classic Star Wars sound effects and the process by which he turned animal roars and the sounds of twanging tension wires into Wookiees and lightsabers. LucasArts had some awesome gameplay footage and cutscenes from The Force Unleashed II, then a hands on demo running on the show floor. It was still very much a pre-final demo, but it already feels a lot more intuitive than the original. Throw in a couple of very God of War inspired elements and I for one was pretty pleased with it.

The Clone Wars had a great showing, and it was a blast watching Supervising Director Dave Filoni squirm while trying his hardest to answer the questions of adorable young Star Wars fans while still maintaining his producer-mandated veil of secrecy. We did see the reveal of Darth Maul’s brother (zuh?), the Clone Wars debut of Delta Squad and the vague admission that we will see a connection to the classic trilogy.

I also got to meet fellow author and Star Wars nut, John Booth, whose Collect All 21! I wrote about in my last post. We only spoke for a few minutes, but he was a super nice guy. We have a lot in common, John and I, everything from our love of these films to our mutual, though short-lived jealousy over the other’s book. Back when I was writing My best Friend is a Wookiee (then under any number of working titles, from Fear and Loathing in Mos Eisley to You Don’t Ob-Wan Ke-know-me) I somehow came across John’s book. My immediate response was “Fuck! Someone beat me to it!” then I clicked out of the page, erased my browser’s history and shot crystal meth into my eyeballs until I forgot I ever discovered it. When I met John he confessed to initially feeling like I had written his book. Of course after we both sat down with them we realized that while our obsessions were mutual and our experiences similar, we were both of two very different ages of fandom and as such we learned from one another as opposed to having to throw down and battle each other to the replica-death with replica-lightsabers. I said it in my last post, but I’ll say it again, Collect All 21! was a lot of fun, and any fan should do themselves the service of giving it a read.

Of course the big reveal of the weekend was during Jon Stewart’s interview with George Lucas that the whole saga will be hitting Blu-Ray next year. No indication that the pre-special editions will be on the set, but at this point that’s a battle we fans should probably just throw the towel in on. Plus I really don’t know how much I want to see the old Vaseline blob job in high-definition. And for me, now, the prospect of getting deleted scenes from episodes IV, V and VI make up for it.

By the end of the third day I was pretty much wiped. After three days of soaking in all things Star Wars I was physically and mentally exhausted. I’m bummed that I missed out on Gary Kurtz talking about his role in the original trilogy and a Return of the Jedi that might have been, but the LA Times did a great piece with him here.

The highlight of my trip, however, was getting to give a copy of the book to Carrie Fisher. On the last day of the event I was just sort of wandering through the exhibit hall. There weren’t any panels left that i wanted to catch before I had to leave for the airport, so I just took it all in one last time. It was then, when I least expected it, that Princess Leia walked by, arm in arm with some dude, on the convention floor. She walked right. by. me. As if on autopilot I started to follow her. It felt like I was floating through some weird daydream, but I was quickly snapped out of it by the whispering masses.

“Oh my god…”

“Look who it is!”

“It’s her! I can’t believe it’s here!”

Realizing that the poor woman was about to get bum rushed I quickly slid up alongside her.

“Excuse me, Carrie?” Carrie?! Who the fuck am I to call her that!

“Yes?”

“Hi! IwrotethisbookandI’dbehonoredifyoutookacopy!”

“…Okay…?”

I handed her the book, thanked her and split. Fuckin’ ran away! Part of it was because I couldn’t believe I addressed her by her first name like we went way back or something. (We do go way back, she just doesn’t know it. Also, when I say we go way back I mean me and the image of her in her metal slave bikini on the cover of my Return of the Jedi VHS “go way back”). The other part of it was because I half expected George Lucas’ goon squad to crack down on me hard for disturbing her worshipleness.

And so on that note I went back to my hotel, the swankiest of the swank EconoLodge and waited impatiently to get on a plane that would take me away from this temporary holy land. I’m already looking forward to Celebration VI. With any luck it will be anywhere other than Orlando in August.

Star Wars in Concert

The traveling Star Wars concert graced our diminutive state last Wednesday night and in doing so not only re-affirmed the emotional link I have to the the sights and sounds of these films. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I admit that when the orchestra broke into the Main Theme I broke into tears. I can’t say I was surprised, but the degree to which I was moved immediately once the music started was a bit unexpected. Luckily I got it all out of my system early and sat, transfixed and with a giant, fanboy grin smeared across my stubbly mug, as the rest of the show unfolded.

And what a show it was. Having watched the trailer on the show’s website I had a general idea of what I was in store for, but to actually be there was something else entirely. The spectacle was equal parts planetarium laser show and arena rock inter-cut with narrative exposition by none other than Anthony friggin’ Daniels himself. The man behind C3P0 guided the audience chronologically through the Star Wars saga while a video montage played behind corresponding pieces from John Williams’ music, all serving as a cliff notes version of Episodes I through VI. It was neat to look at the films–or rather listen to them, I guess–as pieces of music with visual aids. Despite the power a lot of the music has, not to mention how ingrained in our pop consciousness it is, lots of it falls between the cracks either because it doesn’t have/need the same punch as say the asteroid chase music or because you won’t hear a complete piece in the film. To be perfectly honest, it would have been just as awesome a show without the video going on behind the performers because the music does conjure up such vivid images on its own. All in all, a must for anyone who would still be in a position to see it (not sure where the tour is now or how much longer it’s going).

In addition to the performance, some props, costumes and concept art were on display out in the lobby. Most of it was from the prequels, with the exception of a few blasters, helmets and one particular carbon-frozen smuggler.

An emotionally exhausting, sonic journey through the Star Wars Saga

So I just got back from seeing Star Wars in Concert. It was an emotional roller coaster and I’m too wiped to go into it now, but rest assured that it was totally awesome. I have a lot to say about it, but for now I’ll leave you with an all too appropriate photo of Chewbacca and me…

real chewie