Archive for movies

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Scene

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , , , on 5 August 2015 by Megan

Day 5 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

I mentioned yesterday that Episode II wasn’t even “in the running” for favorite Prequel film, so it seems appropriate that I grant it my favorite scene.

There are so many things about this scene to love. First of all, like its twin Episode V, Episode II is weak on a lot of things from dialogue to continuity–but, like its twin Episode V, it never fails to disappoint on a visual. The lines, colors, framing are all top-notch.

Ever since I read about Luke Skywalker standing on the roof of the palace drinking hot chocolate and watching the traffic below, I have longed to see Coruscant. As the most significant planet birthed in the EU and fleshed out on screen, it should hold a special place in any fan’s heart, and certainly mine. I remember there was a preview pack of Episode I cards in my Star Wars Trivial Pursuit game–the design on the back of the cards was the Coruscant skyline and I used to stare at it in rapt attention.

I pored with the same attention over McQuarrie’s concept art in The Illustrated Star Wars Universe. What was life like in this city-planet, so unlike anything in my experience, the teenage girl living in rural Ohio, the nearest town consisting of 11,000 people twelve miles away? The Episode I glimpses were so brief, they were little more than tantalizing. I didn’t get to really find out until Episode II in 2002, four years after my first piqued curiosity.

From the speeder chase that dives from the skyline to the nightclubs, to the shipping lanes, Senate hall, and corridors of the Jedi Temple, Episode II delivers Coruscant visuals like no other. And of all those scenes, the best, the most amazing is Dex’s Diner in the commerce district (CoCo Town).

I’ve mentioned this a time or two before (1)(2). I mean, come on, I even baked a cake in honor of this scene! So how could I answer any differently?

In a deleted scene (and in the book), we see the Temple archive droids let Obi-Wan down. They can’t give him the information he needs, so, like his mentor Qui-Gon, he turns to the streets, to the common folk outside the Temple who know what’s what. He has a long relationship with this place, as Qui-Gon used to come here for help when it was Didi’s diner. As Qui-Gon had a non-Jedi confidant and assistant in Didi, Obi-Wan has Dexter.

I really love Dexter (as the previously linked post indicates). He’s a great character who just radiates cool backstory. This scene is one of the rare places of Episode II where the dialogue shines: all showing, no telling. There’s the added bonus that Dexter reminds me of the first college professor I ever had, an amazing naturalist who died in 2005 but whose class Local Flora changed my life. I may be importing a lot of Jaworski’s personality onto Dex, but they both had encyclopedic knowledge of anything you could ask about and an interesting story  to go along with. They also both preferred a wardrobe of holey shirts and baggy pants, though Jaworski’s shirts were black — seriously, Dex, it hides the dirt better! Get a clue ;)

So, in short, while there’s a lot in E2 I’ll fast forward out of frustration or boredom, this is a scene I could watch several times in a row and undoubtedly find something new and interesting every time. I love it.

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Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Film

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , , on 4 August 2015 by Megan

Day 4 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Well, you know this. There’s only three of them. And as much as I love Episode I, Episode III still claims the title. (Sorry, II is not and has never been in the running.)

Kenobi_skywalker_duel

I don’t know what to say. It’s barely been over a year since I posted about “Favorite PT Movie.” What can I tell you?

Most anticipated film of my life, check.

Most epic lightsaber duel ever committed to film, check.

Most hilarious Chinese bootleg? Double check . . .

11a

I don’t love Episode III the most because it has the least sketchy material of the PT. Actually, it has some of the stuff I hate most — for having the most lightsaber duels of any of the six films, most of those don’t count because either people who should be stunning duelists get taken out like punks, or they’re visually absurd Yoda stupidity.

It’s all about subtext. Episode III is a great object lesson for why “show, don’t tell” is important, because an aging George Lucas became all about telling instead of showing. “We’re best friends,” says Obi-Wan. “The Sith are bad!” says the Council. “I don’t want you to die,” says Anakin. Nothing in the film backs up the statements; you have to import it on your own. But I like importing things on my own.

Episode III made A New Hope worth watching. Right before going to see E3 at midnight, I watched I and II back to back. The next day, I watched A New Hope and actually saw it for the first time. Episode III came out just over eight years since I first saw ANH, but with the context of III, I suddenly noticed every long look, every hesitant pause, every flicker in the eyes of Obi-Wan, Owen, Beru. I’m with Mark Hamill: I don’t know how Alec Guinness was able to do that, knowing less than we know now, but it was masterful.

ANH_still2

Visually stunning, Episode III is almost so beautiful, I can’t stand it. That sweeping view of the Battle of Coruscant is etched on my memory. The blaze of blue sabers against red lava was straight out of the dreams I’d been having for eight years. Anakin, matured and handsome after three years of war, is a tormented creature you want to pull out of the cage before he’s destroyed by people who only pretend to be friends so they can use him.

3ep3_01

And Obi-Wan is a warhorse, a general, but one so blinded and in thrall to the Jedi Council that he can’t see the big picture, can’t see the threads of deceit and betrayal from both Jedi and Sith.

The whole thing is heartbreakingly Greek tragedy. It’s the perfect center to the saga, and well deserves its place as my #2 favorite film of all time.

Review: The Original Storyboards

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 27 July 2014 by Megan
10:20 AM, not 12, Lilly! Get your head in the game!

10:20 AM, July 25!

Friday was my birthday! (*is quiet a moment to facilitate well-wishes*) Why, thank you! And I finally had a nice one, which is a nice change. Amongst the serious highlights of the weekend, though, were these Star Wars themed gifts:

Birthday the RebeLibrarian way

Birthday the RebeLibrarian way

That’s right, my very own Commadore Librarian mug and the original storyboards for the OT. You can’t have the mug, because it was made for me♪e♫e♪ — so it is the latter item that concerns us today. J. W. Rinzler, the man who gave us The Making of the Empire Strikes Back and The Sounds of Star Wars (just to name two of the veritable empire of coffee table books he’s been producing for grown-up Star Warriors), has absolutely done it again. With “unprecedented access” to the Lucasfilm archival vaults, and an impeccable taste for the sort of history we crave, Rinzler has given us the Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy.

And so color coordinated, too.

And so color coordinated, too.

This huge and hugely delightful book reproduces the original storyboards from the trilogy, interspersed with the reminiscences of the artists. It showcases alternative early versions as well as the earliest visions of scenes that have become iconic. Did you know in one early draft, Vader ripped Captain Antilles’ arm off instead of strangling him? There’s discussion of technique (they used tempera paint on toothbrushes to create starfields), materials, and crew, plus the artists’ memories of work and their hijnks — such as the time Mark Hamill wandered in and commented that Han in carbonite would make a great coffee table.

Some of these sketches have not been seen since 1977, and all of them are recreated in (presumably) faithful colors, expanded and enhanced so you can actually see the indentations on the paper from the pens and such. Just really impressive, high quality images expertly edited. As usual, the most detail is paid to ANH, particularly early and alternate versions (such as when Luke was a girl with a brother named Deak).

The history in this volume is just incredible, and it’s also just a really lovely book. Any film buff would love it, and a Star Wars fan must definitely treasure it. Good stuff.

Favorite Darth Vader Quotation

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , on 17 July 2014 by Megan

Well, this is awkward. My favorite Darth Vader quotation coincides with my favorite Episode V quotation.  Now what am I supposed to do?

No, I guess that’s okay. I have another Vader line that I like very much that I can use!

The original Anakin vs. Obi-Wan

The original Anakin vs. Obi-Wan

The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner — now I am the master.

And then in the style of the ancient webcomic Surf Rat and Spencer, I have to quip, “What circle?” “You and me, we make a circle.” “No, we don’t! Two points make a line, not a circle!” “Ugh, let’s just fight!” “Fine! You were always a terrible student!” Man, I miss Surf Rat. . . .

Not actually visually stunning

Not actually visually stunning

Anyway, while this is the least visually stimulating duel in the entire saga, there’s a lot of emotion that goes on with it. Vader’s “Your powers are weak, old man” is another great line. More than the emotional culmination of the encounter that has been brewing for 20 years, this duel always sparked off in my imagination as I used to watch it and wonder about their last encounter, the duel over a lava pit where Vader was so horribly damaged in the first place. Episode III fulfilling my mind’s vision hasn’t reduced the drama of this moment.

Favorite Yoda Quotation

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 10 July 2014 by Megan

I don’t think I can do this. Yoda is not my favorite zombified toad — he taints everything he comes in contact with. Sort of like Thomas Jefferson, he’s a hypocritical old bat with a few highly quotable catchphrases. People get caught up on the Yoda train without thinking about it: he’s cast as the wise mentor, Obi-Wan bounces out a recommendation his way, and our minds (trained by generations of fairytales) accept him in spite of the fact that he never demonstrates the wisdom that we supposedly admire him for.

An entire generation misled

An entire generation misled

In the prequels, Yoda is like the worst boss ever. It’s not noticeable in Episode I because he doesn’t do much at all, but in Episode II, he twice goads Obi-Wan into speaking before promptly rebuking him saying anything! He would have done well to take his own advice about the trap of arrogance, because in Episode III, after encouraging Anakin not to care when others die, he insists on keeping the more glorious mission to himself. Even though Obi-Wan is better matched against Palpatine and Yoda could kill Anakin in a heartbeat — Anakin, whom Obi-Wan is incapable of killing — Yoda insists on going against the Emperor himself. When he fails, he arrogantly decides that killing the Emperor is impossible, dusts the fate of the galaxy off his hands, and hops on the speed train to exile. This in spite of the fact that there is no conceivable reason why Obi-Wan couldn’t make another attempt himself, thus preventing Palpatine from saving Anakin in the first place!

(Also — not really against Yoda, but it drives me nuts at the end of E2 when he mutters, “Begun the Clone War has.” How can he possibly know the name of the war? This is like English Prime Minister Lloyd George reading about Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination and saying, “I guess that’s the start of World War I!”)

In the trilogy, Yoda is at his most tolerable in Empire as he amusingly harasses Luke. However, everything he does in that movie is pointless and dumb. I know, I thought it was mystical and cool, too, until I really thought about it. He wastes Luke’s time for about a week, berating him for not being able to use the Force to lift an X-wing fighter out of the swamp after a mere couple days’ training, and continually throwing his faults and failures back at him. I know I learn best when constantly being rubbed with, “Hey, remember how you didn’t do that right? Remember how you did it WRONG?” He even tries to recreate Vader by telling Luke he should sacrifice the lives of his friends for the sake of his training.

No, shut up, or shut up!

No, shut up, or shut up!

The famous

Do or do not. There is no try

is probably the most-quoted line from Star Wars, and probably what the majority of people answer this question with. But this line has troubled me since day one.

First of all, I know this looks good on a bumper sticker, but there’s a reason we say “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Repeated efforts increase the chance of success. If Yoda had simply answered “Okay” to Luke’s “I’ll give it a try,” Luke would have continued working at lifting the ship until he did it. But because Yoda said you can only succeed or fail, Luke couldn’t do it on the first try and opted for failure. Yoda then berates him and shows him up, resulting in obvious discouragement and huge setbacks in his training. Imagine if this is how your parents taught you to tie your shoes! This is a terrible way to teach anybody to do anything. (Honestly I think Yoda was less trying to produce a new line of Jedi and more trying to set Luke up for ultimate failure in order to prove that if he couldn’t defeat Palpatine, nobody could.)

Secondly, I proved in my high school logic class that this statement is itself a logical fallacy. I actually took this quote and used it as the basis of my final paper. I don’t have the paper anymore, or I’d quote it. Suffice it to say, it’s a fallacy.

I’m sorry, I tried to think of any line from him that could qualify as a favorite, but he just made me so mad, I can’t do it. See also: A Character Everybody Else Loves That You Hate.

Facts in Fiction: Conspiracy Theories for Star Wars

Posted in Announcements with tags , , , , on 9 July 2014 by Megan

Did you miss it? I had a guest blog on Star Wars Anonymous today, so be sure and check it out!

Star Wars Anonymous

Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? I do. With my site (www.rebelibrarian.com) focused on canon, I don’t often get to indulge myself with theorizing, so this chance to write about some delicious conspiracies is super exciting. Here are three conspiracy theories drawn from and proven by events from the films only. Please enjoy!

  • Jocasta Nu erased Kamino from the Archive for Count Dooku.

jedi_archives06This discarded subplot drives me insane — it’s the most interesting thing in Episode II, but it’s never mentioned again. Obi-Wan asks who could have deleted Kamino from the archives: he considers it so impossible, it didn’t even occur to him that it could have been done on purpose. Yoda calls the puzzle “dangerous and disturbing,” but never does anything about it. But the answer is obvious.

In a deleted scene, Jocasta Nu finds Obi-Wan ruminating on a bust of Count Dooku. After…

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Favorite Obi-Wan Quotation

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , on 3 July 2014 by Megan

Two of my all-time favorite quotations come from Obi-Wan (seen here), so I’m really working to avoid redundancy. I really love both of those lines.

I'd much rather dream about Ewan

I’d much rather dream about Ewan

Well, that’s a nice face for inspiration. When I first saw this question in the challenge, I had a brief but dim hope I might find an OT quot of his I like. But after realizing just how much I dislike old Ben, I knew that was never going to happen. Since I gave him a quot from E2 and E3 already, fairness should have me pick one from E1 — but surprisingly, one line did pop into my head here and keeps going around.

The sober Jedi master

The sober Jedi master

Dreams pass in time.

There’s something vaguely annoying about this line. Like the serenity is forced. Or it’s a brush off. But at the same time, I’ve always been drawn to this line.

Ewan said in an interview that George Lucas told him he was very Alec Guinness with that line. And there is a certain depth to it, where Obi-Wan is trying to offer his Padawan something, but Anakin’s problem is so far beyond the league of anything Obi-Wan has ever had to deal with that he can only offer this bit of Jedi insight. Anakin prefers to change the subject. And really, that’s the best his master can give him? The tautology that eventually he won’t have the dream because he’ll stop having the dream?

But there’s more to this fraction of a haiku than initially meets the ear. Ignoring the fact that these guys are tuned into an energy field connecting all life in the galaxy into a single organism, which means they should have trotted out to Tatooine as soon as Anakin started having extremely detailed visions about his mother’s death. Skipping that mumbo jumbo entirely and focusing on the truth of it — it’s one of those statements like This too shall pass, a statement that can’t be wrong.

One more for good measure

One more for good measure

You could also start thinking of dreams in their metaphorical sense, not the merely literal — Anakin told Qui-Gon he dreamed of being a Jedi who came back to free all the slaves. We all have aspirations of one sort or another, toward greatness of one definition or another. (Even the humblest life’s dream can be great to the one dreaming it.)

I know the kneejerk response when someone says “you’ll stop wanting it eventually” is to be defensive or depressed. After all, the only acceptable way to stop wanting something is to get it, so you don’t need to want it anymore. But this is myopic.

A New Hope focuses a lot on dreams, I came to notice as I listened to the radio drama. “You can’t begrudge him his dreams!” Aunt Beru flares at Owen. Luke’s dream was to go to the Imperial Academy and become a pilot — that dream was replaced by the dream to see his father avenged by killing Darth Vader, and that dream also passed when he began to dream of seeing his father, Vader, redeemed. At the end of the trilogy looking back, do you think even the slightest part of Luke wishes he hadn’t given up becoming an Academy-certified pilot? Of course not.

My own dreams have been on a roller coaster for the better part of a decade. And for awhile there, I was getting fairly apathetic about wanting anything, about dreaming anything at all because the more I wanted something, the more likely I was not to get it. First I wanted to be a novelist; then I wanted to be an English professor; then I wanted to go to school in Scotland; then I wanted to not be alive anymore; then I wanted to be a library director. Now I’m a cataloger. I’m dreaming of going to Washington DC now; although I feel I have only a slim chance, my sister observed to me that it’s not a one shot deal. If I don’t get it this time, I try again. Dreams pass in time, but they don’t leave a void behind them. They’re like hermit crab shells — as you grow, you get new dreams that better accommodate your maturing self.

Except if your dream is that your mother is getting tortured to death by a savage tribe on a remote desert planet — maybe don’t wait for that dream to pass. Maybe go ahead and call her right now and make sure she’s all right.