Archive for Attack of the Clones

15 Years of Attack of the Clones

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 16 May 2017 by Megan

Even though E4 turns 40 this year, which is a more significant anniversary than 15, the E2 anniversary is really hitting me this year. Several reasons for this, probably, not least of which is that I have no memories of E4 as it predates me by almost a decade. I was 16 when E2 came out, I waited the full three years for it (as opposed to E1, which I only found out about six months before it came out–although I did have to wait a month to see it), and I remember every bit of the build up to it. I collected more stuff around the advent of E2 than any other Star Wars movie; I actually went to unrelated movies to see the trailers, which I never did for the others. And I saw it more times in the theater than any others.

There’s something about 2002 in my memory that really sticks. Metallic blue nail polish, hours playing Sims, waiting for Quicktime downloads of the E2 trailer over dial-up. I had an email newsletter called The EmJay Zone, which I began on August 8, 2000, and eventually racked up 43 subscribers at its peak, though I can’t imagine why as I look through its incoherent rambling for something to share today.

So I wanted to share with you my first review of Attack of the Clones, which I wrote exactly one week after its theatrical release. I apologize in advance if the formatting is a nightmare–a 16 year old wrote it in the early 2000s! Now, I wrote approximately once a week for almost eight years:

You are about to enter a different place, and yet one that isn't so different. It is a place of sight and sound, and of mind. It is a land of shadows, substance, and a lot of weirdness. You've just crossed over into... The EmJay Zone.

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Favorite E2 Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 8 May 2014 by Megan

There is a lot of great stuff in Episode II, even if it’s always been kind of the redheaded stepchild. This is, as I’ve said before, mostly because its brother Episode III refused to even associate with it. If Lucas had connected them more tautly the way ESB and ROTJ are, it would have been far stronger.

But anyway, even though there is an element of very plastic visuals, it’s also grandiose and there’s loads of visuals I just love. Ewan McGregor is always stellar. Literally, he is one of the heavenly bodies! (wink, wink.)

And while Hayden Christensen is awkward to watch, a struggling teenage actor with next to no help from the director, they do have some moments. And one moment is just before the arena battle.

Then we decided to come and rescue you.

Then we decided to come and rescue you.

Anakin grinds this line out between his perfect white teeth, much as he does every other line in the movie, and his utter resentment cracks me up. Mostly because Lucas’ writing makes his poor hero more split personality than Alan Tudyk on Dollhouse. In the very same breath, Anakin says Obi-Wan is like his father, and then adds that he won’t go rescue him. He claims this is because Mace Windu told him not to rescue Obi-Wan — but he was already told to stay on Naboo. In fact, if you pay attention, he was going to defy the Council’s order (“guard Padmé”) and leave her on Naboo to go after his mother; she just happened to insist on joining him. So when it comes to his “father,” why was defying the Council suddenly impossible? I have no idea. Because Star Wars was a better franchise when it was a collaborative effort and not a one-man word-explosion?

Anyway, Obi-Wan’s response is priceless. Who knows how long he’s been out chained to a post in the middle of the arena in the burning daylight in his 12, 13 layers of thick heavy clothing? And there’s grousing, grouchy Anakin. “We transmitted your message to Coruscant and then we decided to come and rescue you.”

Obi-Wan rolls his eyes upward, toward his bound wrists, and back to his Padawan now shackled to a stake himself. “Good job.”

49

“Good job.”

Absolutely. It’s one of those warm playful moments where you almost get to see the relationship between them, and then of course they proceed to do some happy fighting and whatnot. It’s the last good part of the movie before the vomit-inducing travesty of (shudder) Yoda lightsaber.

The more I sit here looking at this picture, the more infuriated I am that Lucas denied us a chance to see Obi-Wan’s fine biceps. Ugh, George, ugh.

Honorable mention: The map reader scene. Obi-Wan is hot and this map reader is cool; also, there’s a cameo of the name “Liam.” However, Obi-Wan’s question is stupid, unless he was deliberately testing these kids and not actually confused. Yoda’s response is stupid, the younglings would have been more lifelike portrayed by animatronic cardboard cutouts, and the kid’s tone of “Freaking duh, Master” sums up the whole thing well. Before E3 came out, though, I was pretty thrilled by this scene because of Yoda’s “dangerous and disturbing, this puzzle is” and “meditate on this, I will,” leading to the inevitable conclusion that there was a mole in the Jedi, some traitor whose nefarious deeds would no doubt come up in Episode III . . . but Lucas cut E2 off cold and none of this buildup went anywhere.

Simplest question ever

Simplest question ever

Party Planning 2

Posted in Questions with tags , , , , on 8 October 2013 by Megan

I’m a party planner and don’t have but a scratch of surface knowledge of Star Wars… I was hired to put together a child’s 6th birthday party with an adult room – Star Wars Theme. I have lots of ideas … but having trouble organizing them so that they make sense. I was hoping you could help. Please give me any ideas you think are an absolute must…. but also help me to locate the best “scene to recreate” for 4 party rooms… one bar scene, one training scene, one food scene, and one epic scene. My hopes is that the Adult Room would be similar and serve similar drinks to that of the Tatooine Bar Scene?? the Activity Room would resemble that of the Padawan or Jedi training scene?? The Epic Scene would create an entry way and general decor of the party house and that the food table would be set in a scene that included a banquet or food scene from the movie… Any help is more than welcome. The child happens to also be my Godson and I really wan the party to be awesome! Thanks so much. Glad I found you blog. — Amy

Hi, Amy, glad to hear from you! And I hope I can help you out with your ideas. You may have seen my earlier post, Party Planner, where I outline some ideas I have for upcoming Star Wars Parties and also link to some other blog entries I’ve done on Star Wars parties I’ve had with friends in the past. There’s also some other resources there from blogs I’m not affiliated with. I also collect ideas rigorously on my Pinterest board Star Wars parties — make sure to check it out! There are a lot of cake ideas there. I’m not going to go into cake in this post, first of all because people usually have ideas for that first, and also I’ve also done a few posts in the past about cakes. Other resources — Clean & Scentsible has a post all about the kinds of food and activities she did for a 6-year-old’s Star Wars party, so I’ll direct you to that as well (here). That includes invitations, printables for food labels and gift tags, and some food and decor ideas.

Love this idea! — Clean & Scentsible

You’re in luck with the children’s party because most Star Wars parties are geared for children. (I’ve never understood why because I think these movies are too adult for little kids.) Because it’s so easy to do the children’s party angle of things, I’ll concentrate a little more on the adult side of the party and also on your desire to make it into a cohesive whole. One of my favorite party ideas ever comes from At Second Street (here): she used black vinyl tablecloths from the dollar store to cover windows and doors and painted stars on them to look like space outside.

I regard this as brilliant — At Second Street

I think this really helps set the atmosphere and the tone. Something I’ve done for every Star Wars party I’ve had is gotten everyone involved to bring a variety of their own Star Wars collection for decoration: toys, trading cards, posters, action figures.

Star Wars fans love toys. This is scientific fact.

Star Wars fans love toys. This is scientific fact.

I love your idea of dividing it by room. Theme parties, in my opinion, can only be improved by adding more and more themes to them. I would suggest for the entryway imitating the classic “scroll” that kicks off each movie; this would be pretty easy with the blacked out windows/doors I link to from At Second Street, and having a big poster with a “scrolling text” intro of your own to the party . . . “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, partygoers assembled to celebrate the best birthday around,” etc., something like that. I’d also break out any cardboard standups anyone happens to have for this part (or you can get them for 25-35 from Amazon).

For the adult’s area, doing the Mos Eisley Cantina is a great idea, I think, though a challenge to decorate. Fun fact: the cantina is actually called Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina.

star_wars_cantina

A wretched hive of scum and villainy

There is a certain Middle Eastern flair to the Cantina — check out the tile, hookahs, and silver bowls of dates! Try making your own glow lamps (seen on the tables) using this tutorial from Gluesicks (here). A Cantina must is kickin’ tunes — the A New Hope soundtrack includes “Cantina Band” and “Cantina Band #2,” and the Return of the Jedi soundtrack has other songs for ambiance including “Source Music: Jabba’s Baroque Recital” (very quiet, good for background filler) and “Jedi Rocks,” the dance number from Jabba’s throne room. Amazon has some Star Wars party music tracks that include the original dance number from Jabba’s palace as well as the disco version of the Star Wars Main Theme.

ANH_stills8

You should be cautious.

Another bar suggestion would be the Outlander Club seen in Attack of the Clones.

Anthony Daniels' Outlander Club Cameo

Anthony Daniels’ Outlander Club Cameo

The setting here is a bit more sophisticated and less rugged. Modern clubs would be more of an inspiration for this one than, say, Moroccan and rugged influence for the cantina. There’s also a sports bar atmosphere to the Outlander Club, so Star Wars “sports” posters could help — things like podracing and smashball.

Food is hard in the Star Wars universe because characters just don’t eat that much. You could use Dex’s Diner for the dining room, but if you want to focus on a banquet or celebratory location, you could go for the Throne Room at the end of A New Hope.

epiv_throne_room

Celebration on Yavin IV

Of course, the finale room here is both easy and hard. All you need is to give a sense of space and some greenery.

celebration
Our heroes assemble

The party pinboard I linked to up there contains a lot of great ideas for food and drinks, and one think you can always do is have on hand the sort of drinks you would anyway and print Star Wars labels for them — “Corellian ale,” “Tatooine sunrise,” “Coruscant coffee.” You can be pretty creative with the names — anything with a dark tint can be “Sith,” “Emperor,” “Darth,” and if it’s light-colored, “Jedi” or “Rebel” will work just fine. For the kids, a drink mentioned in the films are “Jawa Juice” — most people just use punch —  and there’s always “Yoda Soda” — my favorite recipe for which is 7-Up with lime sherbert. Mmm. Here’s a link with some more food ideas including Yoda Soda (here).

Jedi Training is a great theme for kids, especially with all the Jedi training games that are out there. Here’s the youngling training room as seen in Attack of the Clones.

Yoda and the Younglings

Yoda and the Younglings

Jedi Temple scenes mostly convey space, greenery, and clean bright areas, sort of like a more interesting version of a yoga studio. The pool noodle lightsabers I linked to earlier are brilliant, and kids can have the fun of making their own lightsabers before moving on to “training exercises.” At Second Street includes how to make a quick youngling robe, and I’d think those helmets  would be easy to mock up with cheap plastic mixing bowls and a little spray paint.

Erikstormtrooper’s Engli-Besh font

As a final resource, if you want to give invites or printouts some extra flair, consider using Erikstromtrooper’s brilliant “Engli-Besh” font available free (here). “Aurebesh” is the alphabet seen in the movies, but it’s not English and so only your most hardcore guests could understand signs written in it! Engli-Besh gives a Star Wars flair to the everyday alphabet. Also vital for general signage is the “classic” Star Wars font, available from FontSpace (here). Both of these font sites are 100% safe; I download from them myself.

I notice I spent most of this post skipping back and forth between A New Hope and Attack of the Clones, when there are really six films to choose from. However, I think the visuals in these two suit your needs the best. I hope the resources I’ve provided for you will be inspirational; just remember that Star Wars fans are usually pretty easy to please. Just be imaginative and remember, for Jedi’s sake!, not to accidentally bring in a Star Trek reference! :) May the Force be with you and your godson’s party — and I’d love to see some pictures of what you come up with!

A Character Everybody Else Hates That You Love

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 18 April 2013 by Megan

And here is an answer that fell right into my lap.

I was expecting that I would have to do this post on Jar Jar Binks because even though I don’t love him, not even a little bit, I feel the hatred of him is unwarranted, even perplexing. Actually what frustrates me about Jar Jar is that the public outcry undoubtedly influenced E2 and E3 in a negative way, and his suddenly decreased and yet persistent presence is actually more troubling to me than his entire E1 appearance. Frankly, I think he’s quite funny. So George Lucas entirely misunderstands his entire audience, but all the hostility and hatred has to get taken out on Jar Jar? Get real.

He just wants to be your friend!

He just wants to be your friend!

To this day, I laugh when Obi-Wan has to duck Jar Jar’s ears. And I feel badly for Ahmed Best, too. This was not what he signed on for. I was a proud member of the Friends of Jar Jar back in 2000, and I continue that loyalty.

But I don’t love Jar Jar. The question clearly asks for a character everyone else hates that I love. “This is impossible!” I thought, channeling Nute Gunray. What character, universally hated, could possibly be loved by me? Me, to whom hatred comes so much easier? Braving corners of the internet I generally try to avoid, I sought out lists of “worst Star Wars characters ever” and was astonished that one name kept coming up over and over.

NOT YOU, DEX! NO!! Say it ain't so!

NOT YOU, DEX! NO!! Say it ain’t so!

Dexter Jettster is one of the 11 most hated/most annoying Star Wars characters ever?! How could this possibly be? As you have already taken note, I have a thing about loving Dex’s Diner. In fact, this entire scene in E2 is about my favorite, where Obi-Wan travels to CoCo Town to ask an old friend about the mysterious dart that killed bounty hunter Zam Wessel. I love the parts in Star Wars that hint at the common, “real life” of the people, and this diner in the sunny commerce district just captures my fancy every time.

The Diner

Like I said, I don’t love Jar Jar at all; I like him, I am defensive of him because he’s done nothing to deserve hate, but he’s like the myriad other characters I’m just indifferent to. But I actually love Dexter Jettster.

Hey, old buddy!

Hey, old buddy!

First of all, Obi-Wan’s warm relationship with this jack-of-all-trades (a former everything from prospector to restauranteur) emphasizes the influence that Qui-Gon had on him. Qui-Gon was always turning to Jedi unorthodox locations for leads and hints, and this diner was a common place for Obi-Wan and his mentor to visit even before Dex purchased it. Dex’s warm rolling Besalisk purr is probably meant to conjure up the vision of a tough ’49er, but that and his stained t-shirt and broad hairy arms remind me of someone else . . . Terry Jaworski, an adjunct professor at UU whom I took Local Flora from in the summer of 2004. I can’t find a picture of him anywhere to show you, but he was the manager of Cedar Bog Nature Preserve for almost thirty years until his death on March 28, 2005.

I didn’t have a drivers license that summer, and a lot of the class involved taking trips to various parks, preserves, even roadsides, so I usually rode with Jaworski (as I usually call him). I learned amazing things, not just about identifying plants — with which he had an incredible connection — but about the geology of the region, even animal behavior, history — it’s like there’s nothing he didn’t know about. He usually wore dirty blue jeans and a torn black t-shirt — managing a fen is no tidy business — and kept his watch pushed very high on his left arm. He’d stand with his five or six students in a semicircle, holding up some leaf or flower and telling us all about it in this gruff rolling voice. Dex will forever remind me of this man with the gray-threaded mustache, although Jaworski definitely did not have four arms.

So there’s my defense for how much I love Dexter Jettster. I can’t believe anyone would dislike him. I love the scenes in Dex’s Diner — and I love this scrapped backstory Lucas originally hinted at, that the waitress Hermione (whom I also love) was supposed to be older and married to Dex. Instead, when she was played by a younger actress, she became this young runaway taken in and given a place to stay and a job by the kindly retired miner.

Something You Wished Would Happen But Never Did

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , , , , on 21 March 2013 by Megan

What I really lament are all the missed opportunities for really integrating the films. They can really be extremely separate, and yet there’s no reason for this. Lucas put together a puzzle, but left off all the edge pieces. I wish, before writing the Prequels, that he had sat down with the Original Trilogy and a notebook, and written down everything everyone ever says about pre-ANH happenings, dates, ages, events, and then referenced or incorporated it in the scripts for E2 and E3. This is where the OT filmography is clearly more masterful, because there are moments in ANH that clearly wink at E3, which hadn’t even been made yet! It would be so easy for E3 to reference ANH, but it doesn’t! The absolute, bare bones, cement floor least Lucas could’ve done was establish a sensible timeline of minimum 22 years between E3 and ANH. As it is, he simply demonstrates he has no idea how aging works.

Missed opportunities between the prequel and original trilogy are rife, such as the relationship between Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi (“years ago you served with my father during the Clone Wars); the hint that Luke and Leia were born on Dagobah (“something familiar about this place — I feel like –” [I’ve been here before?]); and even Obi-Wan’s reputation, as Tarkin knows the name, and Vader’s hardly the reminisce-over-beers kind of guy. But they’re not the only missed opportunities I mourn.

The most glaring of all these missed opportunities is the relationship between Episode II and Episode III. E2 is universally accepted as the weak stepchild of the series, but so much of that is caused directly by things that never take place in E3! Attack of the Clones really didn’t unravel until the next film refused to pick up the threads. The weak places in both could have been negated if they had been approached as the same film split in two instead of as two separate films. Unfortunately, what we’re left with is a lot of untapped potential.

As the most obvious example, I present the huge mystery set up in E2 about who deleted Kamino from the Jedi Archives.

“Clear your minds” is Lucas’ mantra for a reason.

OBI-WAN: Master Yoda, who could delete information from the Jedi Archives? That’s impossible, isn’t it?

YODA: Dangerous and disturbing this puzzle is. Removed the data, someone must have, but who and why? Meditate upon this, I will.

— ten minutes earlier —

JOCOSTA NU: I hate to say it, but it appears that the system you’re looking for doesn’t exist. If an item does not appear in our records, it doesn’t exist!

Yes, who? The suspense is killing us! Ahem. I thought about and discussed this aspect of the movie for three years, only to find it was utterly forgotten and never addressed in Episode III, despite the enormous implications. Probably this forgotten plotline is one of my biggest regrets for things-that-didn’t-happen. Jocasta Nu’s over-quick denial, unhelpful demeanor, and (omitted) crush on Count Dooku all suggested that she was on the Separatist’s side. (While archivists are generally unhelpful even in real life — I learned that in library school — she’s over the top.) There is a lot to unpack in this whole thread, and I wish Lucas had taken it there. Even her name, Jocasta, after the wife-mother of Oedipus? There could have been so much more!

Episode III just starts too in medias res, you just can’t grasp what’s going on. I mean, I love the beginning of that movie, I really love it, but the prequels are so individualized, nothing draws them together or with the OT. The missed opportunities are pretty sad, things Lucas forgot, but I didn’t. George, I don’t forget. It makes for a lot of chaos, but the overall strength of the films make up for their obvious weaknesses — which is also true about the original trilogy, though that’s something the fanboys don’t like to notice.

Favorite Non-Human Female

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 10 March 2013 by Megan
Something called "C-level canon"

Something called “C-level canon”

This post was ridiculously hard to accomplish; I’ve been agonizing about this for days, which was weird because I was positive with all the scifi and stuff that I’m in to, the nonhuman character question would be the easiest. Then I realized every nonhuman I like is male. Pickings were slim and I nearly gave up altogether, and then I realized that Aayla Secura didn’t need more than her few seconds of screen time in two movies to count — I’ve been crazy about her for years!

Here’s the thing. I love Twi’leks. Twi’leks — their name comes from their twin lekku, or head-tails — are beautiful and fascinating and pretty. They hale from the planet Ryloth, and are memorable to most people because of Jabba’s dancers in Return of the Jedi. Now, if you haven’t heard me describe Star Wars as a “coloring book” before, you haven’t heard me discuss why Star Wars is like a coloring book. Lucas made six movies that give you the outlines of a battle against good and evil, the rise and fall and redemption of a slave boy, the end and beginning of a noble bunch of peacekeepers with light swords. He’s not much a one for character development, backstory, timelining, or any of those tedious little details that could really give the saga depth and meaning, and that’s where the very unique aspect of Star Wars comes to light — it’s boldly left up to each fan to fill in the lines using whatever he deems best. Maybe you want to use crayons, maybe she wants to use oil colors, maybe he wants to use wads of used gum. The great thing is that this is all okay because Lucas never put in enough of his own information to prevent fans from making it any color they want. So, like with all things Star Wars, I have elaborately fleshed out Ryloth and the Twi’leks according to my own imagination and logic, and done, I think, a considerably better job than the published EU writers, who are typically focused on one thing: “Heh, heh . . . boobs.”

It is hardly my fault women have boobs and this is a women-based challenge

It is hardly my fault women have boobs and this is a women-based challenge

So here’s the low-down on Aayla Secura, my favorite non-human character. She is also a type of character, which is why I paused to emphasize my love of Twi’leks. There’s very little to be known about Aayla Secura, but a lot to be inferred: she appears on screen in two scenes in Attack of the Clones — she is in the background as Obi-Wan goes to ask Yoda about the missing planet in the Jedi Archives, and again during the battle on Geonosis — and her death is seen in Revenge of the Sith on the planet Feluca. So she is a Jedi, one of the ones brought by Yoda to rescue Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Senator Amidala on Geonosis; she later fights in the Clone Wars and is stationed on the planet Feluca, where her clone troops turn on her and kill her. Really, not much more to know than that. Her death scene is a little weird, but then, all of them are . . . for example, how can Yoda on Kashyyk sense what’s happening to Jedi all over the galaxy, when the Jedi can’t sense the intent of their clone troops who are literally about to pull the trigger on them? Makes me think the Grand Egotist (Yoda) was doing a little long-distance brain-fuzzing.

Anyhow, while it’s not unusual for me to pick random background characters and obsess over them, how did an obscure blue Twi’lek with only a few seconds on screen manage to get a name, an action figure, and such a following? You might as well know there are lots of comic books about her. I don’t comic book. (I also don’t idiotic-cartoons-based-on-cinema-classics.) But she did come from the comic books. In fact, Jon Foster’s cover art painting of her was what caught George Lucas’ attention, so that he asked for her to be included in two of the films.

The painting that started it

The painting that started it

Actually I don’t see anything appealing about that picture at all and her head-tails make no sense. (I’m sure it annoys people how I take over at Star Wars and act like nobody else has any good thoughts about it except for myself, but the fact of the matter is, no one else will approach it with a modicum of logic!! They are thicker and more muscled than her arms! How does that make sense? And the shape has nothing to do with the established shape of lekku! Also, her left arm is gross.)

But I’ve had a background fixation on Aayla Secura since just before E2 came out, and I was one of the ones eagerly awaiting the release of the action figure. While it’s disappointing she still has to prance around in various stages of undress — what, is it illegal for female Twi’leks to wear clothes — it is nice to see a capable warrior female Jedi who is also a Twi’lek. (Soap box time! It’s not that the Empire was ever anti-nonhuman — another thing that makes absolutely no sense in an ancient universe where humans are freely mingled with nonhumans on every planet — but it’s that the 80s and 90s Star Wars authors themselves couldn’t cope with the not-human, and their own specisism colored what they wrote and created layers upon layers of nonsensical behavior that I have to compensate for! What am I, the only person who can think? Bah!)

So that’s why I like her and stuff. Twi’leks are cool.

She will mess you up.

She will mess you up.

Day 19: Favorite Non-Human Female Character via Hundredaire Socialite.

Episode II: The Tennthenniel

Posted in Fun with tags , , , , , , , on 25 May 2012 by Megan

Maybe I can shake off my depression enough to give you a post for May. This is the occupational hazard of having just about the best week of all freaking time, and then having it be over. As you should well know, May 16 was the tenth anniversary of the second Star Wars prequel, that much-abused Episode II: Attack of the Clones. After the giant Episode I party, I knew my friends and I had to do something of equal or greater grandeur to celebrate the next decadeversary of the franchise.

Michelle, Kristine, and I once again got together around a phenomenal cake to watch Star Wars, play games, and in all ways celebrate the starriest of all the wars. Follows are some pictures from our fun time.

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The next important thing after the cake is of course decorations to set the scene, and entertainments, so you’re actually doing something besides getting together for processed sweets.

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At last we were ready for celebration. The guests were assembled — all, uh, three of us — and everything was baked, decorated, prepared, and set. The order of the day included playing every Star Wars game we had, participating in some Mad Libs and coloring books, and finally watching Episode II over dinner — a fresh hot gristlewart sausage pizza (sorry, old Star Wars Haiku chatroom in joke there). We ended it over fresh slices of Dex’s Diner. (If it wasn’t abundantly clear what our cake was: it was Dex’s Diner from Episode II.)