Tag Archives: Star Wars VII

Star Wars: The Best is Yet to Come

WARNING: This essay includes an open discussion of spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this.

I have now seen The Force Awakens twice. I am relieved to say that this isn’t rebooted, dark and gritty Star Wars. This is Star Wars at its best. It’s the same feeling I get when watching the original trilogy AND the prequels. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s exciting. There’s humor and warmth as well as stirring emotional scenes and deep moral lessons to contemplate. The action sequences are high-flying and thrilling. It flows with the rest of the saga like a river…but that’s still partly pending resolution of how we got from the happily-ever-after in Return of the Jedi to something-is-very-wrong-and-needs-to-be-set-right on Jakku.

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Being Geeky and Gifted

I want to talk about scifif/fantasy and disability.  Unlike Jake, who wrote a great article on this topic, I want to focus specifically on the disabilities that aren’t usually seen on the outside–mental illness and social/emotional disorders.  And also, unlike Jake, I’m coming from the perspective of someone who has it.

When I was in eighth grade, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  And when I was a college sophomore, I went through a period of severe depression and found out that I also had OCD.  I have always been labeled as a creative, intelligent person, and I am an unabashed geek.  A lot of the friends that I had in high school and college (mostly college) fall into the same category.  In my own struggles with depression and OCD, I’ve found out that some of those same friends have struggled with some form of mental illness, mostly depression but also ADD. And maybe there’s stuff we don’t talk about.

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How do you like your Star Wars?

One of the scary things about moving to college was finding out that not everyone else likes Star Wars the way I do.  I once mentioned in passing to a geeky roommate that I loved “all six” Star Wars films, and she immediately went into a rant about how “lame” the prequels are. Time went on, and the more I got into online fandom, the more I realized that there were lots of other people with that point of view. It was frustrating because Star Wars was one of the parts of my life that I felt I at least had figured out.

One disturbing trend I have seen in fan culture is that fans judge each other based on which media in a franchise they enjoy the most: e.g. which books or comics you read or which storyline you accept, what video games, and so forth. And this is perfectly natural behavior. In Star Wars the media issue is only getting more complicated because the Lucasfilm Story Group has relabeled most of the old Expanded Universe as “Legends” to make way for new “canon” comics, novels, etc.,.  With so much to pick and choose from, why are we so upset that people choose differently from us?   The parts of the fandom we engage in are the parts that we understand: if another fan enjoys the same things as we do, then we’ll understand them too, right?  Well, I think that people–and fandoms–are far more complicated than that.

Would any of you believe me? Via memegenerator.net

Would any of you believe me?
Via memegenerator.net

The Star Wars prequels are an interesting case because people automatically tear them down.  They cite the same reasons–excessive use of CGI, poor acting, a terrible script and storyline, and so on–to argue that the prequels are inferior to the Original trilogy. Zod and the Star Wars Guru pointed out in an episode of Point It at the Deck that people have gotten so used to citing these reasons that they don’t even look into seeing what the problem actually is. And it doesn’t help that the Internet has no filters for bias or ignorance and no safety restraints for expressions of hate.  If you have watched the prequels at all, you should know that hate is not a good thing.

Jar-Jar Binks is the most popular scapegoat.  But meesa think that there’s nothing wrong with Jar-Jar.  When The Phantom Menace came out, I had a collectible cup lid with a Jar-Jar action figure on the top. I took him with me everywhere and he was best friends with one of my cousin’s toys.  Whereas he “ruined the childhood” of many original trilogy fans, he made one of my childhood summers very memorable.  You say I am biased because I was eight years old when The Phantom Menace came out, so the marketing ploy worked.  This might be true.  Does it matter that I am not bothered by Jar-Jar? No, because Jar-Jar made Star Wars a meaningful experience for me as a child the way Han Solo and Chewbacca made it for the older fans who look down on the prequels.  I see that what makes fandom important to the individual is the personal meaning.  If people think the meaning that they derive from a certain medium is being attacked by something else, they will retaliate.

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A Jar-Jar Binks cup lid made my childhood much sweeter. Via Pinterest

Now that I am older, I know that the prequels aren’t perfect films.  But guess what? neither are the originals!  Very few movies are perfect by whatever standard.  Point it at the Deck also noted that the complaints people make today about the Prequels as far as acting and critical value are the same that used to be levied at the Original Trilogy.

There is nothing wrong with the different technology used in the different trilogies.   My friends on Far Far Away Radio mention that both used the most state-of-the-art special effects for the time in which they were made.  Episode VII will be using the best of both, and frankly I am more excited for the eye candy than for the “practical effects” that J.J. Abrams keeps harping on about.

To be honest, I find the “special editions” of the original trilogy irritating and unnecessary. No, I don’t need a tour of Mos Eisley, and no, I don’t care for the bigger explosions, and no, I don’t want to see the entire galaxy partying after the Battle of Endor.  But if the “special editions” are canon and in the most circulation, it’s not worth getting upset over.

Also, did I mention I find all of the Star Wars films funny? My edit/captions

The prequels also make the story of the original trilogy funnier
My edit/captions

The fan likes Star Wars for different reasons than their peers.  I never really liked the original trilogy at the outset, to be honest.  When The Phantom Menace came out on VHS, I thought it was its own story and treated it as such.  When I was older and wiser I learned to appreciate the larger story.  I still prefer the visual style of the prequel trilogy: the architecture of Coruscant and Naboo and also Trisha Biggar’s luscious costume designs never fail to amaze me.  While other fans are gaga for Han and Chewie and Boba Fett, I was never attached to them. Ewan McGregor is a thousand times more my Obi-wan Kenobi than Sir Alec Guinness.  I know that Anakin and Padme had a flawed relationship, but I find hope in the fact that something good came out of it in the end.  It was “all six films” of Star Wars that brought me meaning and enjoyment when I was in middle school and high school.  That isn’t any different than a fan who enjoyed the original trilogy during the same phase of life.

In the end, I am glad that I had my “faith” in Star Wars tested because I learned some very valuable lessons. I learned that fandom is what you make it. I learned to put up with people of differing opinions while keeping my own. Being ashamed of something you love is a choice. You don’t need to be. I like the Star Wars prequels, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Go further:

Far Far Away Radio

Practical Effects

The Star Wars Prequels

The Resolute: Why are we still apologizing for the Prequels? 

Point it At the Deck

Order of the Star Wars Guru

This Week in Geek Ending August 16, 2014

Another week is in the books, and this is a brief wrap up of some of the things that have happened this week.

Robin Williams Passes Away on Monday, August 11

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In shocking news on Monday, we learned that Robin Williams had passed away.  He was an incredible talent who had the ability to make us feel the whole range of human emotion through his performances.  Yes, he was hilarious and probably best known for being funny, but he could act in any role, as evidenced by his winning the Oscar for best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting. Looking at his career, it is hard to find anything he couldn’t do on screen and it’s hard to find a time when he wasn’t relevant since bursting on the scene with Mork and Mindy.  One of the most important things I hope will come out of all of this is the awareness that depression is a real thing, and it’s very serious.  If you have loved ones who suffer from it, don’t judge, but love and be there to help and support them.  I have known people in my life who struggle with this disease, and it is debilitating and hard and very real.  All the news outlets have reported that Robin Williams took his own life, but the reality is that he finally lost his battle with a disease and the disease claimed his life.

Hopefully, we can all look back at Williams’ career and remember all the good times we had watching him perform.  On elf my favorite Robin Williams films is Dead Poets Society.  It inspired me when I was younger to want to be a teacher when I grew up and to want to make a difference in people’s lives.  It also taught me that sometimes that means stepping outside the norms.  In any case, here is one of my favorite scenes from the movie:

The Doctor Lands in NYC

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The Doctor Who World Tour stopped in New York City this week, Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman taking the Big Apple by storm.  The tour is a series of visits to cities around the globe, all leading up to the August 23  premier of “Deep Breath”, the opening episode of season 8 of the relaunched Doctor Who series.  This season will be Peter Capaldi’s first as everyone’s favorite Time Lord, and Whovians everywhere are anxious to see it.  This event consisted of a viewing of “Deep Breath” as well as a Q&A session with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Steven Moffat, moderated in New York by Chris Hardwick, who is a noted Doctor Who fan. Similar events have already happened in London and South Korea.  The final stop will be August 19, just less than a week before the episode airs on the TV.  The success of this event leaves me with 2 questions: 1. Will the expand it next time, maybe do just a a tour of the US, because sadly, I was not able to make it to New York? 2. When is the Sherlock world tour?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Dominates Box Office, Sequel Officially Announced

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Despite critics everywhere warning audiences to avoid this movie at all costs, Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles smashed it at the box office.  It brought in $65 million and beat out Guardians of the Galaxy for the number 1 spot.  On the heels of this success, Paramount officially announced that the Turtles would be getting a sequel.  For a lot of nostalgic reasons, this is pretty cool for me.  I loved Ninja Turtles as a kid, and the success of this movie means there is plenty of toys and things in the store for my son to obsess over now.  TMNT looks to do very well at the box office going forward as the summer blockbuster season is coming to a close, and there will be no major competition for them.

Han Solo Character Sketches Leak Online

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In news that just makes every Star Wars geek happy, images were leaked on the internet this week that look to be character sketches for Han Solo for Episode VII.  One looks like it could be right at home on Hoth, but there are other cold planets in the Star Wars Galaxy, I’m sure.  The other, I think, totally fits a space cowboy kind of look.  Both of them look like classic Han Solo, and makes me excited that maybe, just maybe we have a new Star Wars movie that is on track to match the originals.  One can only hope, or dream maybe.  In Any case, it always cool to see things “leaked” from the new movie.

Salt Lake Comic Con Promises 2 Major Marvel Announcements; One is Revealed, One is Yet to Come

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Toward the beginning of the week, Salt Lake Comic Con announced that there were two major Marvel related guest announcements coming up.  The first one was revealed on Thursday, when  SLCC announced that comic book legend, Stan Lee would be returning to Salt Lake City.  This time it appears that he will be spending more time here, two days instead of one.  They have also announced that he will be participating in a panel that will be open to all guests of the comic con.  This means there is one more major Marvel announcement coming in the next few days.  Also, as the con is drawing nearer, expect to see a slew of announcements from SLCC as more major guests are confirmed.  I am still keeping my fingers crossed for David Tenant or Matt Smith. (SLCC, if you’re reading this, notice that people go crazy for a Doctor-the second part of this post- and you haven’t had one yet.  FantasyCon had one, but not you yet, just saying’)

That’s it for This Week in Geek.  Come back next week for more news stories from the world of Geek.  Also, check back in with the blog on a daily basis for more Doctor Who, more Adventures of a Geeky Dad, and more just general geekery.

Star Wars VII: What I’m Really Looking for in the Next Star Wars Movie

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When Disney purchased Lucas Films a few years ago, all the old rumors began to circulate again.  The rumors probably started a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and they have persisted ever since.  I am of course talking about the rumors that there would be another trilogy of movies that continued the stories of Han, Luke, and Leia.  I remember hearing these rumors as a kid, before Jar-Jar was even a twinkle in George Lucas’ eye.  That was always the assumption, that there would be more story concerning what happened to our heroes after Return of the Jedi.  It was a rumor fueled by numerous books that came out that took place after Return of the Jedi.  There was the fact that George Lucas was very protective of his characters and what the authors could and could not do to them.  Fans believed this meant that  the movies were already written, just waiting to be made.

Then the prequels happened.  Little known fact about the word prequel, no one had ever heard of it before Phantom Menace.  Another little known fact, after Phantom Menace, many Star Wars fans never wanted to hear that term again.  I was patiently waiting for my sequel, and instead we got Episode I.  This began a whole new round of rumors.  George Lucas had originally written 9 episodes for Star Wars, we had seen the middle 3, and now the first 3 were coming out, and then it was only a matter of time before the last 3 would be produced.  I don’t even know how these rumors circulated so well.  This was way before Facebook, and the internet was still AOL dialup, but that was the rumor.  Part of me really believed it, until I saw the new prequel trilogy that created more plot questions than it answered, which didn’t make sense if Lucas had written all 9 episodes all in advance, if that were true then we would have seen Yoda and Obi Wan visiting the trade federation, Yoda as the Master and Obi Wan as the padowan (I’m sorry about the long run on sentence, but when you’re passionate about something, it can’t be avoided).  After Episode 3, the word was that the story was now finished.  That was it for Star Wars movies.  So much for this mysterious sequel trilogy.

Then the Rebel Alliance and its heroes got bought up by a different empire.  This one had big round ears.  Disney came in and bought Lucas Films, including Star Wars, and the rumor mill started right up again.  Why would Disney buy the rights to Star Wars if they weren’t planning on doing something with it? We all hoped that maybe a third trilogy might be in the works, and Disney did not keep us waiting long.  One of the biggest stories associated with it at first was who was going to write the script for the new movie, which meant it was not already written, which also means maybe the dialogue might be slightly better.  But now, Episode VII is not a rumor.  It’s happening.  There has been a lot of talk about what we should expect from this movie.  A lot of discussion about what the story will be about and who the bad guys will be and so on.  Will Luke turn to the dark side? (I hear they have cookies. Smart move, Luke)  Will Han and Leia be married with children? (Great idea for a sitcom, BTW) Is Chewie now forced to sleep in the dog house?  Are C3PO and R2D2 still together?  These are the burning questions.

I don’t care about any of them.  Not in the slightest.  I don’t care what the story is, as long as it doesn’t stink.  I don’t care what characters are in the film.  I’m not looking for any of that.  Let me tell you what I am looking for in Star Wars 7.  It’s just one thing.  One thing, that doesn’t really have a name so I am going to need about 500 more words to describe it, because that one thing is a feeling.

I was born in 1982.  Return of the Jedi came out in 1985.  Technically, that means I was alive when it came out, but chances are I either A. didn’t see it in the theaters, or B. wouldn’t remember if I had.  I am officially on the older end of what I like to call the VHS generation.  This is the generation of kids who never saw Star Wars on the big screen, but consumed it constantly on VHS.  To the point that I wore the tape out.  That was no good, because that happened when the  videos were not available to buy in stores, so we had to wait until it came on TV and record it to a blank tape.  Then, as I was in Jr. High, the trilogy came out on VHS, digitally remastered in THX.  This is the most perfect version of Star Wars that exists to own on home video.  The sound was remastered so it sounded great, but it was the last version that wasn’t the “Special Edition.”  The year this came out, it was the only thing I wanted for Christmas.  I told everybody I only wanted one thing.  That was it.  And I got it, and my life was complete.  No more bad recordings, this was it.  I think my parents still have that version at their house.  I have been tempted to steal it and take to Wal-Mart and have them convert it to DVD.  Let my kids grow up with the “Han Shot First” version.  But, I digress.  I never had the opportunity to see a Star Wars movie for the first time in the theater.  Huge screen, loud sound, crowded house filled with other Star Wars geeks just like me.  I tried to capture that feeling when the Special Edition was released in theaters, but it wasn’t the same as experiencing the story for the first time that way.

When Phantom Menace came out, I thought it would be my opportunity to finally experience it.  That feeling, and to a certain extent, I did.  It almost felt that way.  It was the same music, some of the same characters, the same light sabers.  It was almost right, but not quite.  Episode I was a snore, and it all looked too “new.”  This was supposed to be before A New Hope, yet everything looked newer and nicer.  Plus, CGI.  Everything was CGI.  No more shooting on location or scale models.  Computers were the future now, and didn’t look better?  No!  It looked like it was made in some computer world, and it didn’t feel real, like Star Wars should.  By the time Episode III came out, I went to the theater with zero expectation to ever get the feeling of seeing a Star Wars movie in the theater.  I just didn’t want it to suck.  It sucked less than the other prequel movies.

What I am looking for in this Episode VII is that Star Wars feeling.  I want the scale models and the on site filming and the real special effects.  No more computer stuff, or at least a minimal amount.  It sounds like our friend JJ is delivering on some of that.  There are supposedly scale and life-size models of ships and other things, plus muppet like creatures and people in costumes and so on.  If all of that is true, then it is on the right path, and maybe just maybe I will finally get to experience that Star Wars feeling.  Just try to keep the lens flares to a minimum.