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Pakka

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5-Sep-2005
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3-Mar-2021
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Post
#1405661
Topic
Star Wars is Surrealism, not Science Fiction (essay)
Time

First, thanks for including me in that list - I really appreciate it! It was seeing ZkinandBonez and Rocknroll41 post their thoughtful, nuanced essays that gave me the push to finally write mine after having it bouncing around in my head for years, so being included with them is humbling.

Also, if I can paraphrase, you made me realize that, for me, everything from “I am your father” on feels like BS. Knowing that Vader wasn’t Luke’s dad when Star Wars was made makes that feel untrue for me; same with Leia not being Luke’s sister when Empire was made. Those were two of Lucas’s first retcons, and they diminish what the Star Wars Universe felt like to me as a kid. I will grant that the Vader thing works from a mythological POV, but I still feel like Lucas made that decision in part because it would be shocking, and in part because it would simplify the story for his purposes. The Leia decision was just doubling down on that - the OT was really hard on him (directing Star Wars was physically overwhelming), and it felt like RoTJ was made knowing that it would be successful, so he just wanted to tie up as many loose ends as possible so he could do something else with his life.

Along the same lines, I don’t think Lucas imagined the look and feel of the PT before the mid-90s (at the earliest). I know he likes to portray things as “I couldn’t make the movies I saw in my head before the technology was ready”, but I think that puts the cart before the horse. I think the look of those movies, and many of the events in them, came about because he saw that they might be technically possible, and modified his basic storyline to fit what he thought ILM could pull off.

For me, the historical events hinted at in Star Wars took place in a universe that fits (roughly) with the look and feel of what we saw in the first two movies. I’ve never fleshed that idea out beyond that thought - what would be the point? - but that’s my basic stance, and why nothing since has felt right to me.

Post
#1405274
Topic
Star Wars has felt "off" to me since 1980 (essay)
Time

KurganX said:

I actually bought the vintage books not too long ago (RPG, original source book, plus Rebel and Imperial source books), to get a glimpse of that “early EU” even before the Zahn novels, but haven’t actually played it yet with anyone. I also heard it was based on the Ghostbusters RPG, and that now what we used to think of the Star Wars RPG (the second one?) is now a generic sci-fi game system anybody can use for free (is that true?).

First, thanks so much for reading the essay, and for your comments. You really got at the root of some of what I was trying to say - that the “official” Star Wars has changed several times over the decades, leading to different generations of fans having radically different expectations of what Star Wars is, at its heart. This isn’t defined just by generations, of course - plenty of people my age loved the 90s revival and all of the original EU material, and there are younger fans who only like the OT (or a subset even of that). The key thing is, as it has changed over time, Star Wars has failed to remain something that a wide cross-section of fans can actually agree on.

Believe me, there have been many times when I have thought about just diving into the final version of the West End Games main book (the 2nd Edition, Revised and Expanded) with nothing else and seeing what kind of universe I could bash out of it, trying to maintain the feeling I had over 40 years ago now. Haven’t found the time or motivation yet, but who knows? I do know that I think the mechanics of the WEG version are much closer to what I think they should be than the later Wizards of the Coast system, or the current Fantasy Flight Games system.

In regards to the generic D6 game system, it’s not quite free, but the PDFs are available very cheap - you can find them at https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/3020/Nocturnal-Media/subcategory/5328_28740/OpenD6---West-End-Games- . There are other publishers who use the OpenD6 system, as well, but D6 Space is probably closest to the original Star Wars RPG in mechanics.

Post
#1404924
Topic
<em>The Mandalorian</em> Discussion Thread - * <em><strong>SPOILERS</strong></em> *
Time

rocknroll41 said:

I wrote a blog post a few days ago detailing why the Mando season finale disappointed me: https://henrynsilva.blogspot.com/2021/01/mandalorian-made-me-mad.html?m=1

On the subject of starwars, I also published another blog post today on why I dislike the character of Poe Dameron, in particular: https://henrynsilva.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-problem-with-poe-dameron.html?m=1

I really enjoyed your essays, particularly your big 4-parter from November. In fact, it was part of what spurred me to finally write my own essay (https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/star-wars-has-felt-off-to-me-since-1980-essay/id/82758), putting down my conflicted feelings about Star Wars as it has developed and changed over the last 40 years.

Post
#1404923
Topic
Star Wars has felt &quot;off&quot; to me since 1980 (essay)
Time

yotsuya said:

First, thank you very much for this. It is very insightful.

That said, having lived through the same time period, this is not how I see things. I too devoured everything I could get of Star Wars. To a point. I did not have a source for comics. I ended up getting lucky enough to get the next 9 (#7 to #15) comics after the movie adaption. I had the the 3 Han Solo books (love them and think Solo is an excellently done lead in to them) and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. All devoured and absorbed before Empire came out. But my real love was the action figures and vehicles. I and my friends collected everything we could. I expanded on it by customizing and making my own vehicles and characters. For me Empire was not a limiting factor. The characters and additional worlds expanded the universe even more.

I should also add that after Jedi, with no new Star Wars content, I became a fanatic Star Trek fan. It really started before Empire with Star Trek the motion Picture. But Franz Joseph’s tech manual and general plans really sparked my interest. This is where the West End Games really only added fuel to my imagination. I became the game master and got really creative. I ate up all the manuals and loved the detail, but could always imagine more. The sky was always the limit. I loved to mix things. Other books and movies were often fodder for both the older action figure play and later role playing adventures. I can see why for some all the detailed information might take some of the mystery out of it, but for me there was always more. It still is a never ending fountain of ideas.

I also found that when I went to see TLJ and TROS, that I was transported like I remember the movies doing when I was a kid. I was absorbed into the world and lost in the story.

And we differ on our feelings on the interconnections that now permeate the Disney Star Wars universe. I like what Filoni has done because I’ve seen that sort of odd connection myself. To me that is just one web of connections and I know there can be so many more.

So for me none of those things that you feel limit the world in any way limit the world for me. Rather the contrary, it makes it real for me and my imagination soars to think of all the unexplored corners we can yet get stories for. And Lucas continued with no explaining too much. In fact the PT suffers for lack of explanation. I have spent a lot of time looking at the deeper events surrounding Palpatine and Anakin and love the story that is revealed. I think the ST also follows that paradigm and I think that is one thing people dislike about it.

There is plenty of room for multiple opinions and I really enjoyed reading this and appreciate your point of view. Thank you again.

Thanks for taking the time to read the essay, and for your thoughtful comments. I also went through a Star Trek phase in the 80s, mostly around the FASA roleplaying game and, especially, their Starship Combat Simulator.

I’m certainly not out to tell anyone what they can and can’t enjoy, and I’m glad you’ve continued to get so much joy out of so many permutations of the Star Wars universe.

Post
#1404922
Topic
Star Wars has felt &quot;off&quot; to me since 1980 (essay)
Time

ZkinandBonez said:

Great essay, Pakka. Glad I could be of some help to verbalize some of your thoughts.

Yes, the WEG source-books, though delightfully geeky and partially responsible for keeping the franchise alive for a few years, really did transform it into something quite different from what it originally was. I personally don’t mind there being some connectivity, especially when it’s narrative based, so the “I am your father” element works well for me because it has such a mythic vibe to it. And it’s interesting how you pointed out the possibilities of the 77-80 years, and I agree that the comics did a great job to tell new stories without shackling it down with lore, because I’ve heard people make a similar argument that they feel that SW was always meant to be the mythological tale of the Skywalkers and they therefore ignore the side stories. As a franchise it’s a real tough nut to crack, and although Lucas definitely intended for it to be a fairy-tale without having to make logical sense of it all, I don’t think even he fully knew what the core of the franchise was. But then again stories do evolve over time, though the WEG interpretation definitely took a more Star Trek-type of approach to it. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the EU and all the sourcebooks coincided with the second Star Trek boom in the late 80’s and 90’s, not to mention the internet which has made it far easier for fans to share ideas and over analyse things.

There was a section of my essay that I ended up removing (it got a little bit off topic) where I talked about how loose canon was treated back in the 30’s and 40’s, using the Universal monster films as an example, arguing that it related not only to how pop culture was just starting to become a thing, but also how the lack of home media made it kind of pointless. Back then you saw a film once, maybe a few more times if you really liked it, and when it was no longer in the theater you simply couldn’t see it anymore. So if the sequel broke continuity you had no way to go back and check and as long as it felt right (by sticking to the core plot and themes of the previous story) no one really cared. It is completely possible that this modern fascination with lore and continuity is simply a natural development of how we consume media these days, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does put SW in this really weird place. My essay was an attempt to at least acknowledge this, but also to point out that even if a franchise evolves and starts to include a more rigid narrative, I would at least encourage creators to treat the setting with an appropriately surreal approach (and quite a few do this reasonably well IMO).

More great points there, especially how the Star Trek resurgence might have influenced the 1990s EU, and the historical treatment of canon over time due to the difficulty of repeat viewing. I agree that stories naturally evolve over time, and once one movie becomes three, then six, it’s hard not to start filling in more of the lore (but I do wish that “filling in” had been done better, or in a way that didn’t feel as at odds with where things started). I completely agree that Lucas never really understood exactly what it was that people responded to so strongly in the original (not that it was ever just one thing, of course).

I agree that “I am your father” fits the mythological nature of the saga, and Lucas certainly doesn’t owe us a universe that works for anything beyond the story he decided to tell. I do wonder, though, how Star Wars would be seen today had he left us with a universe that had more room for stories beyond the Skywalker Family Drama. It would also help if he didn’t act like so many things came down to him on stone tablets, rather than just being choices he made along the way.

Thanks again for your essay, and for reading mine!

Post
#1404919
Topic
Star Wars has felt &quot;off&quot; to me since 1980 (essay)
Time

NeverarGreat said:

A wonderful essay!

I totally agree with almost everything you say here, despite coming to the movies in the early 90’s. I have often wondered what a spiritual continuation of the original film would look like, and I think it would have to be unconnected from the original in time and space. Imagine a show or movie set in this vast galaxy but we are unaware of if Luke and his friends exist in the far future, the far past, or presently on the opposite side of the galaxy. That level of separation would be incredible.

Perhaps a group of colonists, stranded on a barren world for centuries, desperate to find some technology to let them escape while battling aliens from within the mysterious world.

Maybe a lone mystical warrior from time unknown who battles for peace and justice between two warring star systems.

Imagine an alien race mapping the stars in their dark nebula, encountering a monstrously large ship full of identical human soldiers in cryogenic stasis and their misadventures when these soldiers awaken.

Take it away from anything we can place and the imagination runs wild. Thank you for reminding me why I love this universe.

Thanks so much for reading my (lengthy) essay, and for your kind comments! I really couldn’t ask for anything more than that last sentence.

Post
#1404732
Topic
Star Wars is Surrealism, not Science Fiction (essay)
Time

This is a great essay, and really helped me to synthesize some thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain for a while. Along with rocknroll41’s essays, primarily his great 4-parter from last November (https://henrynsilva.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-real-reason-you-probably-dont-like.html?m=1), I was inspired to finally write my thoughts out and get them into a (hopefully) coherent form. I posted that late last night at https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/star-wars-has-felt-off-to-me-since-1980-essay/id/82758 .

Post
#1404700
Topic
Star Wars has felt &quot;off&quot; to me since 1980 (essay)
Time

If you combine ZkinandBonez’s excellent essay (https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/star-wars-is-surrealism-not-science-fiction-essay/id/82402/page/1) with some of the thoughts in rocknroll41’s essays on his blog, particularly the 4-parter that starts at https://henrynsilva.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-real-reason-you-probably-dont-like.html, you end up with a very solid version of where my head has been for several years, though I never took the time to get it all down with references the way that the two of them have. Thanks to both for doing the hard work that I think illuminates the underlying issues so well!

I think that the (generally) unsatisfying place some of us have found ourselves with Star Wars (in toto, as distinct from Star Wars the 1977 movie) can be traced back to two specific things:

  • I am your father” (much like rocknroll41, I’ve called this line the thing that gives the series true immortality, and also breaks the universe)
  • West End Games (if you weren’t into tabletop roleplaying games in the late 80s-late 90s, you might not understand how a little game company could be this important, but I’ll go into a lot of detail below)

Before I look at how those two relate, some personal history.

Like many kids who grew up in the 70s (I was born in '67), Star Wars occupies a massive place in my childhood. It set up shop in my brain months before I even saw it - my family bought a new house and moved in the summer of '77, and that stretched the family budget more than I realized at the time, because we didn’t see Star Wars until we were offered the choice of going out to dinner or going to the movies for my sister’s birthday in October. Months before that, my cousins saw it, and I asked them to tell me all about it, after which we played “Star Wars” while running around my great aunt’s yard in the fading light of a Michigan summer evening.

The move to the new town and school was rough on me. I went from having two great friends who lived across the street to having a bully who lived across the street - after I broke my arm on my birthday in '78, he knocked on the door and asked my mom if I could come out so he could break my other arm (he was a really damaged kid whose dad committed suicide in their garage shortly after we moved to the neighborhood). My old elementary school was pretty progressive for the '70s, with multi-grade classes and the option for kids who could do more advanced work to move between teachers for subjects they were moving ahead in (which I took advantage of) without the pressure of completely skipping grades. My new school had nothing like this, so I was just another 5th grader doing 5th grade work, some of which I’d already done the previous year.

Once I’d finally seen Star Wars in October, it offered a refuge from my day-to-day life, which wasn’t really that rough compared to what many have gone through - I was still a middle-class white kid in America, after all - but it was an unpleasant mix of 90% boredom/loneliness/missing my friends and 10% fear of my bully and his friends.

I’m not sure what I did before Star Wars, but after I saw it, my days were filled with:

  • reading Star Wars comic books (there was a time when I didn’t go anywhere without the oversize Marvel Star Wars adaptations)
  • collecting Star Wars trading cards
  • drawing Star Wars characters and spaceships (with trading cards for reference)
  • reading the novelization (Christmas '77 gift)
  • reading the Official Poster Monthly
  • reading Starlog and Fantastic Films magazines
  • poring over the Sketchbook and Portfolio (and later, the Art of Star Wars books, still favorites)
  • reading (and rereading) Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (1978), Han Solo at Stars’ End (1979), Han Solo’s Revenge (1980), and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy (1980)
  • playing with Star Wars action figures (the Early Bird set was another Christmas '77 gift; my mom actually opened it and sent the card in early, so I received, and still have, a Luke Skywalker with double-telescoping lightsaber)
  • watching brief snippets of the movie with the Star Wars Movie Viewer (I had all five cartridges; see https://toyinformer.com/mikes-closet/kenner-star-wars-movie-viewer-cartridges/ for details)

(It’s important to remember that we couldn’t just watch Star Wars whenever we wanted - videotapes barely existed for home viewing back then, and I didn’t realize that I could buy Star Wars until after I bought The Empire Strikes Back in 1984; I paid $90 each for lousy pan & scan versions.)

It recently occurred to me that, in modern terms, I grew up in a time of Star Wars scarcity - there literally wasn’t enough Star Wars to satiate our desire for it, so there was room for it to become a very personal thing. One of the key things about Star Wars for me, as it existed in 1977-80, was a feeling of almost limitless possibility. It wasn’t so much a story as a place that felt real and vast and open; a place where you could tell any kind of story as long as you got the overall feel right (Brian Daley mastered this in his Han Solo novels, which don’t even deal with the Empire; let’s just say that L. Neil Smith, in his Lando Calrissian novels, didn’t). This feeling was maintained right up until Darth Vader said those four little words, and while that decision works with the mythological underpinnings that Lucas was mining, it absolutely kills that limitless, open feeling that was in play previously. From that point on, Star Wars was the story of one guy and his problematic father (and now nephew), and everything revolves around serving that story. I was excited by the prospect of the “anthology” movies that Disney announced, with many younger directors attached, but even the might of Disney marketing couldn’t break the general public’s feeling, cultivated over four decades, that Star Wars movies = The Skywalker Saga, full stop. The Mandalorian offered some hope in parts of its first season, but after it was established as a hit, the marketing beast was awakened and it was, almost inevitably, tied back into the meta-narrative as quickly as possible.

What of West End Games? Well, that ties in more directly with ZkinandBonez’s excellent essay. As a tabletop RPG enthusiast since about 1980, I was as excited as anyone when West End Games announced The Star Wars Roleplaying Game in 1987. The first several releases in the line were excellent - the game system was perfect for the setting, The Star Wars Sourcebook gave just enough detail to flesh things out without going overboard, and several decent standalone adventures were released over the following year. However, one of the truisms of the RPG market by the late '80s was that “adventures don’t sell, sourcebooks do”. Gamemasters (and players) always wanted more general detail about the world, but GMs tended to want to make up their own adventures. West End might have hoped that the Star Wars name would change that, but I think that the sales numbers for The Star Wars Sourcebook and 1988’s Imperial Sourcebook made it clear where they should be concentrating their efforts going forward. While they continued to release adventures over the next several years, much more effort went into various sourcebooks, such as the various Galaxy Guides which included essays on many of the background characters, alien races, vehicles, and locales from each of the OT movies. Later sourcebooks went into excruciating detail on the organization of the Rebel Alliance, various smuggler havens, spaceports, planets, more aliens, various types of equipment and vehicles, criminal organizations - the list went on and on.

One of the key elements of the movies that ZkinandBonez highlighted (via Lovecraft) was “Never Explain Anything”. West End discovered that the easiest way to make money (and pay the LFL licensing fees) was to EXPLAIN EVERYTHING that was in the movies, and then make up more stuff so you can explain that, too. The success of the RPG helped get some other licensees interested in trying to resurrect the brand, and Lucas, completely uninterested in Star Wars at the time (and certainly never going to make anything beyond Episode VI), opened up the post-ROTJ era for use by Dark Horse Comics (with the prescient Dark Empire, where Luke fights clones of the Emperor) and Del Rey Books (with Zahn’s Heir to the Empire) in 1991. Crucially, Timothy Zahn was given several West End Games sourcebooks to use when writing his novels, thereby bringing their overly-detailed explanations for everything into general Star Wars canon. This led to an entire generation of fans seeing Star Wars not as a set of mythological stories with a sci-fi gloss, set in a vague but believable universe of limitless possibility, but as a science-fantasy set in an explainable, detailed world, with multiple companies working feverishly to fill in any gaps where your imagination used to do the job. Star Wars went from being a vast universe with a few simple rules to keep the feel right to an overly-defined place where it was expected that anything that didn’t already have a detailed entry in an encyclopedia, soon would.

The limitless universe that existed from 1977-1980 started to shrink as soon as Vader said “I am your father”, and just about everything that has happened since has continued to make it seem smaller. Even mainstream critics have started to notice that, while it’s supposedly set in an entire, sprawling galaxy far, far away, Star Wars feels very “small-town”. Everybody knows everybody, everything is too connected, and there are few real surprises. Disney, with all the money in the world and millions of fans ready to buy tickets for anything with the Star Wars name on it, initiated their ownership of the property by basically resetting everything back to the way it was in 1977 and changing some names.

Even The Mandalorian, which is a breath of fresh air in some ways (as ZkinandBonez points out), still stumbles frequently, sometimes by relying too heavily on existing aliens and other things we’ve seen before (Jon Favreau seems to think that fans like being able to recognize things, but I’d much rather see something new that feels right). At other times, I think it falls prey to Dave Filoni’s desire to re-canonize things from largely West End Games-based 1990s properties, which are the polar opposite of the mythological fairy tale that Star Wars originated as. So, for every Mudhorn or alien summoning speeders with a flute, we get Moff Gideon painfully quoting the “E-web heavy repeating blaster cannon” sales brochure and then brandishing the Darksaber from Filoni’s Clone Wars animated series, itself a repurposing of a (groan-worthy) name from a 1990s Kevin J. Anderson novel. We also get the reintroduction of the Darktroopers from the Dark Forces 1990s video game — an idea that works well enough in that context, where something more challenging than cannon-fodder Stormtroopers is needed as the game character advances and gets better weapons — but really doesn’t feel quite right in a dramatic context. Did Star Wars really need autonomous Iron Man suits introduced just so that they could be cut down by the existing in-universe super-hero?

Starting out as a mashup of Flash Gordon, pulp sci-fi and fairytale, Star Wars was a mythology for the Space Age, and it succeeded far beyond its creator’s wildest dreams. In the first years of its existence, it felt like the most amazing sandbox imaginable, a place where anything could happen and any story could be told. Unfortunately, Lucas made a decision during the writing of the first sequel (and it was absolutely a decision at that point, not something that was always intended) that kneecapped the storytelling potential of the universe he’d created. This transformed the Star Wars saga from one of many possible stories in this universe, to the only story that ever really mattered - it’s been wall-to-wall Sith vs. Jedi, “always there are two”, and “who are my parents?” ever since. Compounding that issue, when Lucas lost interest in the universe he’d created, the voluminous, ill-advised background material that was created out of economic necessity by a little game company in Pennsylvania became a sort of bible for a decade of Expanded Universe stories, fundamentally altering the nature of the Star Wars universe. All of the explanations added via the Prequel Trilogy do similar damage to the implied background of the original, ironically proving that Lucas did in fact choose correctly when he decided which part of his vague, expansive outline would make for the best single movie (in his hands, at least).

Star Wars was never really intended to depict an explainable world (as ZkinandBonez ably explains), but because of its production design and some vague bits of dialog, it had incredible implied scope and breadth - the “used universe” approach implies history for everything, but doesn’t spell any of it out. The vast majority of the detail added since the late '80s is completely at odds with the very nature of the original story, but there’s no way to go back. There are multiple generations of fans for whom the original Star Wars is just a quaint old movie, a bit of a footnote in an ever-expanding media empire that produces an endless supply of new information to deepen their knowledge of a universe that was never designed to have such depth, and for me, really can’t support it.

Post
#1403689
Topic
George Lucas: Unreliable Narrator &amp; Time Travelling Revisionist...
Time

Just a quick correction for section #7 - Brian Daley’s “Han Solo” novels were published in 1979 (Stars End) and 1980 (Revenge and Lost Legacy), not 1987. They remain some of my favorite bits of Star Wars lore, and George thought well enough of them to have Daley script the NPR radio dramas (which are also generally excellent). Daley had a great feel for the pre-ESB Star Wars universe - it’s a shame he died so young and didn’t have a chance to play with the universe a bit more.

Post
#377387
Topic
Our Fault, Not George's?
Time
xhonzi said:
Vaderisnothayden said:

And back in the old days I wanted new Star Wars films like most people. I didn't realize Lucas was going to (as I see it) go out of his way to make them bad movies. In retrospect I realize I should have been happy with just 3, but who knew? After the awfulnes of the SE we should have seen the writing on the wall, but before that?

As for ROTJ bashing, that will never fail to bewilder me. ROTJ is a great movie, the equal of the other two, and it has some of the best stuff in the trilogy.

 

 Some of the best of the trilogy and also some of the worst.  I don't need to go into detail here, but if the SE's were the writing on the wall, RotJ was George walking up to the wall, checking it for writability and considering just what he might put on it.

xhonzi - bravo on that last bit, very well-said.

ROTJ is not bad on the scale of the SEs or the PT, but you can see the beginnings of the infection beginning to fester.  Especially after the bleak, brutal ending of ESB, the way the whole Han/Jabba storyline is wrapped up in a very cartoonish fashion really grates.  Also, you can already see Lucas going back and redoing the bits of ANH that he was unsatisfied with, both with the "faster, more intense" space battle, and the overdone nature of Jabba's palace.  It just gets worse in the SEs and the PT.

VINH - you make a lot of good points in this thread, but I think you give ROTJ a pass it doesn't deserve.  It is, on balance, a decent movie, and it does wrap things up in a relatively satisfying (if too pat) way, but its flaws are major and definitely point the way to some of the major problems with the tone of the prequels.

A couple major issues:

1)  You've never noticed the belches and Tarzan yell? Really?  These are obvious precursors to JJB stepping in poodoo in TPM, and I honestly can't believe you didn't notice the obvious nods to what Lucas believes a 6-year-old will find funny, and his wrong-headed belief that they had any place in a Star Wars movie.

2)  Jabba's palace is not brilliant in any way beyond the design of the aliens and the environment.  It's supposed to feel threatening, but instead comes off as a big cartoon - the aliens (particularly the large ones - Ephant Mon, Hermi Odle) are nicely-designed, but they're totally anonymous in action, and never feel like a threat to the main characters.  Even though Luke's lightsaber mysteriously turns into a baseball bat when asked to slice through organic material, the denizens of Jabba's palace exist primarily so they can laugh cartoonishly and die in the explosion.

3)  The Ewoks - yes, they are more threatening than usually given credit for, but the character design (admittedly limited by the technology of the time) is clearly driven a bit too much by marketing considerations.  There's nothing about their physical appearance that denotes "fierceness" in any way, and again, the cartoonish nature of the combat in the movie undermines any impression of it, regardless.

It's been pretty firmly established that Lucas hated the lack of control he exercised over Kershner on ESB, going so far as to do a radical re-cut of the movie that everybody agreed was a major step backwards.  After ESB established "Star Wars" as a brand, however, and got Lucas out of the Hollywood wars, he did everything he could to control the brand in ROTJ and remove any potentially-objectionable elements that were allowed in the first two movies (more realistic violence, etc) in order to make the movie more palatable to the parents of younger children.

ROTJ may have had some of the successful elements of the earlier movies, but it also continues the "incredible shrinking galaxy" issue that began with "I am your father" in ESB, and cements it with its repeated lack of originality (back to Tatooine, redo the cantina, attack a new Death Star, etc).  More importantly for future developments, the way that Lucas chose to change the tone of the movie pointed to the further changes he would later make in the SEs, and the lamentable direction he would decide to go with the Prequels.  In my ranking of the episodes, it's clearly a poor third to ESB and ANH, but still far, far better than any of the prequels (the very definition of damning with faint praise, I'm afraid).

Post
#359444
Topic
Abrams is Destroying Star Trek like Lucas has Destroyed Star Wars
Time

Saw this yesterday with my fiancee, and we both loved it.  I never loved TOS - I was 10 when Star Wars came out, had never seen TOS at the time, and could just never get past the cheesiness of TOS (I was a kid, what can I say?).  Liked some of the movies (II, III, IV, VI), never a regular watcher of the other series, though I caught the occasional episode.

The beauty of a "reboot" is it allows them to utilize affection for the original characters and milieu, without being bound to them.  I loved the pause as Kirk came onto the bridge at the end of the movie - felt just like Shatner's character, but different at the same time, and free to go off in a different direction.  Would go see a sequel tomorrow, if possible.

Gads, I wish somebody had the ability to reboot Star Wars - it needs it desperately.

Post
#320871
Topic
Crystall Skull has GL's fingerprints all over it
Time
Personally, I enjoyed KotCS quite a bit, and didn't find it too jarringly different from the earlier movies (it's certainly better than ToD, which I re-watched a few days before seeing KotCS in the theater - that movie is just an abomination). While there is some CG in KotCS, I didn't find it too distracting. The only real disappointment for me is that we only saw a few cracks in Harrison's "made of stone" persona that's developed over the last 15 years, rather than a return to the lightness and humor he had when he was younger.

Also, I'd like to commend Octorox on his maturity, especially for his age - we could all learn a lot from his conciliatory, diplomatic, and well-reasoned reply to the rebuttals that followed his initial post in this thread. So, welcome to the board, Octorox - I look forward to seeing more posts from you.
Post
#316248
Topic
opinions - how the release of the original to theatres was different than the new three films.
Time
I was 10 years old in 1977, and my world was changing in many ways. In the summer of '77, my parents sold the house we'd lived in since before I learned to walk, and we moved a few miles to a different town (this was all in suburban Detroit). My paternal grandfather died that summer, and my parents were always occupied with the new house. I went to a new school in September, and it came equipped with My Own Personal Bully, so that was nice.

During this time, I kept hearing about this amazing movie that was in theaters called "Star Wars". Sometime during the summer, playing with my cousins at my great aunt and uncle's house, they told me the basic storyline, and we ran around playing "Star Wars" all evening. While it didn't feel like it at the time, the new house was really stretching our family budget, so we never went to the movies that summer. We actually waited until October, and my sister's birthday, when my parents offered her the option of dinner at a restaurant, or going to see "Star Wars". Thankfully, she chose the latter :)

Think about that for a minute - "Star Wars" was initially released on a few screens in late May, and I didn't see it until five months later. "Star Wars" was still playing in some theaters a year after it was first released. Five months after it was released, you still had to show up and get in a mammoth line to buy tickets, not knowing (in many cases) which showtime you'd get in for. Also, for almost a year after it was released, there just wasn't much *stuff* to buy if you were a "Star Wars"-mad kid. There were trading cards, and comic books, and the novelization, and cheap t-shirts, but there were NO TOYS. Nobody thought the movie would be anything special, so the toy license was sold, very late, to Kenner, and they weren't even able to get toys out for Christmas, leading to the famous "empty box" Early Bird kit, which had a display stand for the original 12 action figures, some stickers, and a certificate to send in for the first four figures (Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and Chewbacca - no bad guys!).

So, we finally saw "Star Wars" in October '77, and when the small ship and the REALLY, REALLY BIG ship passed overhead (nobody knew what they were called back then), the world changed again. Here was a fully-realized world, as big as my imagination, and it seemed so open and limitless. Given everything else that was going on in my life (taken away from school and friends, getting picked on at the new school, etc), I latched on hard to this galaxy "far, far away", and it remained a constant in my life for the next three decades.

When "Empire" came out in 1980, a group of friends and I were driven to the theater by somebody's parents, but we were unable to get in to the show we wanted, so we had to buy tickets for a later show. This happened again a couple weeks later! When "Jedi" came out in 1983, my mom actually called the school to say I was sick the day after it opened, and took me to see it on a Thursday morning, to avoid the crowds.

I won't dwell too much on the prequels. Like Anchorhead, I have very fond memories of being part of the original "Star Wars Generation", though my fondness for it extends a bit further, right up until Darth Vader reveals his identity in "Empire". From that point on, the limitless place that I fell in love with in '77 started to shrink, and has continued to do so ever since. What had seemed like a place that could contain unlimited stories has finally revealed itself to be unable to support the one story its creator decided to tell, and that's disappointing. However, there's no denying that the experience of being there 30 years ago was magical, and I'm glad I was there for it.
Post
#315758
Topic
Further proof GL has lost his mind... Clone Wars
Time
I could have been clearer, I suppose, and will admit that I'm not terribly current when it comes to games. On reflection, what I was trying to get at is the contrast between "The Force Unleashed" and something like "Dark Forces". The development of Force powers in this type of Star Wars game (either first person, or third) tracks very closely with the technological advancements in gaming.

In the original Dark Forces, the player isn't a Force user, so it's all running/shooting/solving puzzles. As that series progressed over the years, Force powers became more central to the game and story.

Now, with "The Force Unleashed", the Force powers are not only center-stage, but are exaggerated beyond anything seen before, even in the PT. I'm not saying that the story won't be compelling, but I think it's telling that the video that was released on the day that the game's release date was announced focuses overwhelmingly on how POWERFUL the player will feel, along with lots of video of the massively destructive powers the player will have.

I just think it's interesting that, much as with the Star Wars movies, the focus of the story shifts as the technology available to the creative team grows in capability. This also ties in with Zombie84's comment about "not being a Star Wars fan any more" because the feel of what is now considered "Star Wars" is so different from what we loved about the early days of the OT. I happen to agree very strongly with that viewpoint, and I have some additional thoughts on that, but need to chew on them a bit more before posting.


Post
#315466
Topic
Further proof GL has lost his mind... Clone Wars
Time
zombie84 said:


With the Clone Wars on Tatooine, and Anakin partaking in the mission, it seems he really does. Its not that its bad that its made up as they go, just that it never stays consistent or within the same series. As far as I'm concerned I'm not really a Star Wars fan anymore because what is currently considered "Star Wars" is an entirely different franchise from the one I fell in love with. Not in a metaphorica, philosophical sense, but in a literal sense, the story and characters are different and exist in this weird alternate universe that bears a vague resemblance to that older series but is really a seperate remake of sorts.


Just to expound on this them a bit more, has everybody seen the new "Force Unleashed" video from last week, where the developers talk about the different experiences on each "platform" (Wii, PS2, PS3, DS, PSP)? It's here:

http://www.gametrailers.com/player/32575.html

They talk a lot about recreating scenes from the OT, but with the "Unleashed" powers, which are WAY over the top, even compared to what we saw in the PT. There are also a number of mentions of how "powerful" the player will feel, wielding the "Unleashed" powers. Now, I realise that the main character in "The Force Unleashed" is supposed to be Vader's "secret apprentice" from sometime before the OT, but all this talk of how powerful the player will feel sounds EXACTLY like Vader/Palpatine trying to tempt Luke to the Dark Side in the OT, except its being used to sell a video game. Doesn't anybody at LFL see the irony in this?

I have to say, all of this feels like just one more instance where real-world technology has simply overwhelmed the original idea of Star Wars, and turned it into a completely different thing. Much as technology (and unlimited resources) took away the limitations that shaped the early OT (everything before ROTJ) and allowed GL to follow his every whim down the rabbit hole (or up his own posterior, depending on your point of view) in the pT, technology in the video game industry is pushing the "quaint" OT into the background, as well.

Much like the movie industry, technology allows for more over the top, showy effects, which are then used to hype the product to power-hungry teenage boys. Whatever story might be involved is completely overshadowed by the awesome powers and physics simulation in the game.

And, just to keep the self-referential streak going, Vader finds his "secret apprentice" on Kashyyyk. The player also gets to play one level as Vader, force-choking Wookiees and flinging them about the forested landscape with abandon................
Post
#284380
Topic
Splinter Of The Mind's Eye - review and thoughts.
Time
Glad everybody seems to like "Big Galaxy" - that's always been the thing that differentiates "Star Wars" before Vader says those four little words from what came after, I think, and it's the thing that I continue to miss the most about the early days. The wide-open-ness of "Star Wars" was one of its most appealing traits back in the day - I felt like I had seen one story from "A Galaxy Far, Far Away", but that there could be almost limitless other stories set against that backdrop.

After those four words in ESB, the galaxy started shrinking like mad, a process that continued with every new chapter. What we are left with is a galaxy barely big enough to contain the one story that Lucas eventually decided to tell. Even the misnamed "Expanded Universe" has failed to make the galaxy feel big in any meaningful way, with the same group of heroes constantly saving the day, and secondary characters being identified solely by their pipe tobacco (a particularly ridiculous example from "Heir to the Empire").
Post
#284178
Topic
Making of Star Wars (New Book) Discussion
Time
I broke down and ordered the hardcover from B&N today - I bought a B&N membership to take advantage of a ridiculous coupon on the "Sculpting a Galaxy" boxed edition with all the extras, and member price is ~$47, but there's a 25% off coupon out there (Google "Barnes and Noble Coupon", you'll find it), which brought it down to just over $35 with tax, and free shipping. That's over 50% off the cover price, and less than I'd pay locally for the paperback.
Post
#284177
Topic
Splinter Of The Mind's Eye - review and thoughts.
Time
Anchorhead - seeing as you liked SOTME and are enjoying the Radio Drama, you should probably give the original "Han Solo" trilogy a shot. It only features Han and Chewie from the "known" characters, all three books came out before ESB hit theaters and, like the Radio Drama, was written by Brian Daley. I think he really captures Han's voice and the feel of the "Big Galaxy" era that ended with Vader's revelation at the end of ESB.
Post
#282742
Topic
Anyone else totally disregard Leia being Luke's sister?
Time
It's funny - this whole discussion, along with Zombie's outstanding work on the book, has really changed some of my perceptions of the first few years of Star Wars and SW fandom.

I'm one of those "saw Star Wars in a theater when I was 10" fans - turning 40 tomorrow (yikes!) - and had long believed there was really just one "split" among fans: OT vs PT. While there was usually some debate among OT fans about the relative merits of each movie, with ROTJ usually seen as a lesser work (unless the fan was quite young when they saw it and/or it was the first of the trilogy that they saw in a theater), I had long assumed that everybody that liked "Star Wars" loved "Empire", without reservation.

As I've read this discussion, along with Anchorhead's "first step into a larger world" thread, I've realized it isn't that simple and, more surprisingly, that my own feelings about the movies are more complicated than I had believed. The points that really hit home for me were:

1) While it's considered a classic now, "Empire" was not universally-loved when it came out; in fact, I think David Gerrold wrote a very luke-warm review for Starlog back in 1980, primarily complaining that too much is handed to Luke in his training and that, in the end, he basically proves that Yoda was right about him being too impatient and angry.

2) Following on from the above, there has always been a group of people who felt that everything after the original film changed/perverted the original feel/story - it's only because there was no internet back then for like-minded people to find each other and realize that they weren't alone that we forget that whole body of opinion existed.

After realizing the above, it dawned on me that, while I'm not quite the "absolutist" that Anchorhead is, I definitely know where he's coming from, and I agree with him in a lot of ways.

The quality of ESB seems to be the real problem - I think it's clear that it's the movie that appeals to us the most as we get older, and it occupies the "golden era" when Lucas had enough money to really "swing for the seats", but it wasn't yet clear that Star Wars was a license to print money, regardless of the quality of the movies. As Zombie points out in his book, Lucas believed, very strongly, that Empire was better than it needed to be for his purposes - he believed that the extra headaches of the schedule/cost overruns weren't worth the incremental increase in box office receipts. I think a lot of us have held out the hope for 25+ years, that Lucas would somehow make another movie as good as "Empire", while, in his mind, he would never allow another movie like "Empire" to be made - it was too painful an experience for him.

So, we have an absolutely fantastic movie, with everybody - the cast, the director, the writer, the composer, the SPFX crew, everybody - doing their absolute best work, and it's all up there on the screen. There's just no getting around how technically and artistically rich "Empire" is, and I just love it. However, I now realize that I only love it up to a point - specifically, the point when Vader utters four of the most famous words in movie history: "I am your father."

Now, I've been complaining for years about "The Incredible Shrinking Star Wars Galaxy" - that the place depicted in the original movie felt big enough for any fan to find room for his/her own ideas to fit into the larger whole. With Vader's famous utterance, that changes, and we never get it back - in fact, the rest of the "Saga" is an exercise in taking a place that felt like it could hold almost limitless stories, and turning it into a place that can barely sustain the one story Lucas decided to tell.

So, I now consider myself a "Star Wars and 90% of Empire" fan, to cover the parts of ESB that expand the SW galaxy, rather than limiting it. After that, as Zombie makes clear, it literally becomes a different universe, one that I don't find nearly as compelling.