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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Star Wars

Star Wars.

Those two words bring forth a plethora of images, people, faces, names, places, and more. This huge, sprawling science fiction/fantasy saga spans across tens of thousands of fictional years, and has ran on for over thirty real life years, ranging from the famous movies and television shows to the more obscure books and comics, not to mention the video and computer games and table top RPGs, which I play.

The main narrative of the Star Wars saga is the six films, which chronicle the tragedy of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker and his children, friends, mentors, allies, and enemies. The main villain of the original trilogy (episodes 4-6), and the tragic hero of the prequel trilogy (episodes 1-3), the story tells of Anakin Skywalker's humble beginnings on the backwater planet of Tatooine, his ascension as the prophesied Chosen One and a Jedi Knight, to his descent into the Dark Side of the Force as a galaxy's most feared Sith Lord, Darth Vader, and his eventual return to the side of good.

My favorite of the movies is Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. It's the perfect succession to the phenomenal Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope, featuring fully developed characters, a great grand battle scene, a seriously awesome lightsabre fight, and a whole lot more which I will probably cover in a review some day. I actually hope to review each individual movie in what is truly a six act play detailing the story of the Skywalker family. It's been a while since I've watched the prequel trilogy, but from what I understand, these movies that I grew up with aren't universally well loved, though in the past I would have said that Episode 2 was my favorite of the six (I've recently discovered that it is in fact the worst of the six). I intend to watch Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope for Star Wars Day on May fourth, in celebration of the film's release in 1977. It is common to greet others with the phrase, "May the fourth be with you."

My favorite Star Wars character is Kit Fisto, a Jedi Master. You may remember him as the green alien guy who was smiling during the Battle of Geonosis in Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, as well as the green alien guy who stood out against Palpatine for a little longer than the other Jedi did. Other favorites of mine include Boba Fett, Jango Fett, Mace Windu, Qui-Gon Jinn, IG-88, Dengar, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO, Barris Offee, Aayla Secura, Commander Cody, Jax Pavan, Revan, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and, of course, Luke Skywalker.

You can keep Star Wars: The Clone Wars, with it's stupid plots and half baked characterization, not to mention depressingly average voice acting. Oh, the animation's okay, but I can barely stand anything else about it. I'd expect better from the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but at least the show finally got cancelled. What really kills it though is that the trailers make it look awesome, but I've seen the show and I know it blows.

I'm currently reading The Thrawn Trilogy of Star Wars books, which intend to review as soon as I'm done with The Last Command. After that I'll be reading Knight Errant, The X-Wing Series, and The Truce at Bakura. Sometime after that I'll read The Last Jedi, the standalone followup to the Coruscant Nights trilogy, which was pretty good. Tatooine Ghost was also good, chronicling Han and Leia's exploration of the character of Anakin Skywalker. The most recent book series, Fate of the Jedi, on the other hand... ugh. I mean, the first book was okay, but the Force psychosis plot got old fast, the main thrust of the storyline was changed from the interesting finding-out-what-made-Jacen-Solo-become-Darth-Caedus, to stop-evil-space-monster-from-destroying-the-galaxy. Also, Lost Tribe of Sith. The characterization of Vestara Khai didn't make any sense at all, and the series' portrayal of Ben Skywalker was just plain unflattering. There are more subplots than the book itself seems to know what to do with, with far to many characters to keep track of to the point of just being irritating. The main source of the series' problems, I believe, is probably the fact that this series had three different rotating authors writing it, so good luck if you're looking for any kind of cohesiveness. In sum, avoid Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi at all costs.

In spite of all this, Star Wars is one of the main influences in my writing, and appropriately, it's creator George Lucas had plenty of his own inspirations. Joseph Campbell? Yes. Kurosawa? Natch. Flash Gordon? Oh yeah. Unfortunately, Mr. Lucas is, at heart, a tinker and a technician, and he has let his propensity for the spectacle of visual effects get in the way of telling a good story. It was probably for the best that he stepped away from the saga and sold it to Disney. I'm sure it's in good hands over there. I mean, look what they did with Marvel! And from what I understand, J. J. Abrams is as good a director as they come.

In short, I really, really like Star Wars, even if I couldn't get Star Wars: The Old Republic to load on my laptop. It's a thrilling science fiction/fantasy saga (it contains all the trappings of science fiction but plays out like a fantasy story) which I will not cease to like, unless Episode VII is messed up bad. I also encourage everybody out there to please, watch the special features and documentaries. They're really interesting, especially the special edition set that I got with my purchase of the original trilogy boxed set. Empire of Dreams is a great documentary, and I recommend it to everyone. I also recommend the fan-made screen-cap webcomic Darths and Droids, which parodies the movies by starring it as a tabletop RPG, and the characters are the players. Fantastic stuff, really.

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