Archive for prequel trilogy

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.)

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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 . . .

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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.

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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.

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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.

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Side Character

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , on 3 August 2015 by Megan

Day 3 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Which has immediately launched me into trying to determine what constitutes main characters, side characters, and background characters . . . I am instantly thinking of a lot of background characters I love. Aayla Secura, Eeth Koth, Twi’leks, people with no lines. Those have to be background and they can’t possibly count.

So a side character is a non-protagonist who has lines. That narrows it down. I love Dexter Jettster so much, but I’m really not wanting to do another post about him. I know it’s been like three years and I said it’s not redundant but there are so many characters . . . surely there’s someone else.

You know who is cool? Captain Panaka is cool.

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I tend to forget how much I like him because I get distracted by how much I dislike his stupid nephew Typho. But Panaka is great. Out of place, an oddity, he is a real warrior and a patriot on a pacifist planet. He understands that pacifism is all well and good, but it can’t be practiced without soldiers — a contradiction his contradictory soul can be at peace with.

He wants what’s best for Naboo and is willing to do anything for the Queen. I don’t know what kind of seedy underbelly stuff is going on where pacifist Naboo trains body double guards for its ruler and keeps handguns in the throne, but Panaka is definitely no rent-a-cop. He’s one of the few people in the movie who has a backbone, and he’s not awed by Jedi reputation into accepting their word as law. Hugh Quarshie, who played Panaka, gave this telling insight into his character portrayal:

“I figured the tougher I was, the tougher it would make the Jedi seem to be. Obviously nobody out-toughed the Jedi, but Captain Panaka was going to give them a run for their money!”

Qui-Gon earns his respect, or he never would have let his charge wander off with him alone into a gangster-controlled slaver world.

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In a lot of ways, he reminds me of General Veers. He lost his sister and became dedicated to soldiering as a result. He later turned more to politics, becoming a sector Moff. His loyalty and dedication to Palpatine never wavered, and he considered that his compatriot held the galaxy together and brought order from Separatist chaos.

So you see, in the end, while he was wrong about Palpatine, Panaka becomes one of those near and dear to my heart — EMPIRE FOREVER!

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Main Character

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , , on 2 August 2015 by Megan

Day 2 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Let’s just accept that 1) favorites generally don’t fluctuate; 2) challenges focus on favorites; 3) there is going to be a certain degree of redundancy; 4) it is OK to talk about the same person more than once; 5) when it’s been two years since I posted about something, it’s not redundant, not really.

That’s more for my benefit than yours because I guarantee you don’t care. My apology stated, let’s move on to the fun stuff.

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And what could be more fun than the legendary Qui-Gon Jinn? I listed some points in this post from 2013 — mostly, that I was entraced by this guy the moment I first saw him on the movie poster and was not disappointed by his appearance. Liam Neeson’s own personal core of awesomeness helps keep Qui-Gon a sustainable favorite even as we near the two decade mark.

Yes, he’s only in one of the three prequel films, but his shadow is over them all. Qui-Gon Jinn, like another favorite of mine, Cadfael, is a warrior/monk/teacher/detective/all around amazing and awesome guy. He’s been a role model to me since I was 14, which was made even cooler by the fact that Obi-Wan was 14 as his apprentice. I could basically step into Obi-Wan’s shoes and be mentored by this great man.

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It’s because of Qui-Gon Jinn that I think stubbornness is a virtue. He never accepts what authority tells him because, even if Yoda is 800 years old, Qui-Gon is confident enough in his own experience and knowledge to believe he just might know better than the little goblin. He tests each situation for himself and draws his own conclusions. Nothing shakes him from his beliefs. He’ll take rebuke, shame, even physical assault, but he will not change his position and he will not compromise on what he knows is right: “I will do what I must.”

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Which is not to say he’s never known failure, even deep, biting failure. He never stopped blaming himself for the fall of his second apprentice, Xanatos; nor did he ever recover from the death of the love of his life, Tahl. He held himself responsible for that, too. But he was tough in the face of his mistakes; they never introduced self-doubt, and he carries the entire plot of Episode I, and, arguably, the prequel trilogy, on his shoulder as he charges ahead. The Force could not be clearer: he has found the “Chosen One” and the Jedi must train him.

While some of his in-film behavior is inexplicable — I simply can’t believe a man who has been betrayed in the past, even betrayed by Obi-Wan, would ever backstab his apprentice before the Council the way Lucas’ Qui-Gon does. But there are times I genuinely believe George Lucas doesn’t know as much about his own characters as I do.

Qui-Gon is proud and stubborn but also gentle. He has an innate knowledge of what people need, what people will respond to, what will cause them to stretch and grow. Obstacles don’t ruffle him as long as he knows he’s in control — watch his temper flare when Watto shoos him out of the shop, for example — and while he doesn’t believe the Council could find the will of the Force with both hands and a flashlight, his trust in what he calls “the Living Force” (the Force of right now, this minute, not the dusty past or the shifting future) doesn’t waver at any point.

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In 1999, when I carried the Visual Dictionary everywhere for months because I couldn’t see the movie until a month after it came out, I drew the inevitable conclusion that Qui-Gon had to die in Episode I. There was no getting around it. I still cried when it happened. Actually, it just made me like him more; I was really infatuated with dead people back then. Sometimes I still am, as long as the death is pointful (not profitable), in character, and, most important of all, not Pyrrhic. Sidebar.

Qui-Gon’s life and background remains shrouded in mystery to me; honestly I have never been able to bring myself to believe that Dooku was his master. His death also has some mystery, in my opinion, because I find it a little overly convenient that when he falls in love a second time, he instantly dies. I’m inclined to think he faked his death so he could run away with Shmi, not allowing the Jedi to derail his heart a second time; but that’s a conspiracy for a different day (1)(2). He’s cool and he’s awesome and that’s all there is to say.

Prequel Appreciation Week

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , , , , on 1 August 2015 by Megan

Turns out somebody out there decided to have a Prequel Appreciation Week! I found out via somebody in “the” Star Wars group, and with a bit of searching found the information from the friends over at SWPAS. The original idea, though, belongs to this Tumblr, and you’ll be able to find more posts and, as Tumblr-always, gifs by checking them out.

This sounded like something I should seriously get in on and do, so here we go, amid all the new construction sawdust etc., it’s time to talk Prequels!

Day 1 of the Prequel Appreciation Week. Your favorite prequels actor.

All too easy, as Darth Vader once said.

There is almost no other way to answer this question than by saying Ewan McGregor. In many respects, Ewan McGregor made the Prequel Trilogy.

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I mean, yeah, the first time I saw the Episode I poster, I didn’t care about Obi-Wan. I didn’t like Ben Kenobi, and didn’t care about who he was going to be in the movies. He was the guy who ruined Vader and who was old and annoying — “Where did you dig up that old fossil?” So all I cared about as Episode I rolled around was Qui-Gon. Man, that guy looked cool!

I don’t remember when exactly I first noticed that young Obi-Wan was hot. I was 14, so it probably didn’t take long. It did take me a long time to think Ewan was hot in non-Obi-Wan roles, and I signed a petition in 2000 begging George Lucas to put off the beard until distant “Episode III.”

But as it gets toward 17 years since I first watched The Phantom Menace, as I mature and my relationship with Star Wars matures, . . . oh, do I see stuff in his performance that justifies my opinion that Ewan makes the prequel trilogy worth watching.

He isn’t given much to work with in Episode I, I’ll grant you that. I remember a ’99 interview where he said he just stands around and scowls. But Ewan still manages to express Obi-Wan’s fundamental personality, the dazzling skills and rule-bound hesitations of a man destined to become one of the Order’s greatest generals.

Hey, old buddy!

Like everything else in the Prequel Trilogy, Obi-Wan gets the short stick in Attack of the Clones, and some of his best moments are in Revenge of the Sith. Pause for a shout-out to my beloved Dex and the Dex’s diner scene — Obi-Wan is a man who cultivates relationships, friendships, and allies anywhere and everywhere, because you never know. Surely this is something he learned from his master, whose unusual liaisons  throughout the Jedi Apprentice books showed Obi-Wan that support could always be found somewhere outside the Temple if not in it.

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But for emotional roller coasting, Ewan gets the full gamut in E3, from pride to disappointment, shock and betrayal, self-assurance, victory and defeat. It’s all in there. If “You were the chosen one!” doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you might not be human. And if I’m being honest, it was Ewan’s performance in Revenge of the Sith that finally made me enjoy A New Hope. He flawlessly channeled Alec Guinness and made a character I never cared much about (cf.) into someone I’m essentially in love with.

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There is no disconnect whatsoever, I really believe the guy in Episode I is the same as the guy in Episode IV, and no matter how frustrating, no matter what shortcomings, that’s pure acting genius right there. Ewan McGregor  has it. And holds it. He’s the man.

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 E3 Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 15 May 2014 by Megan

For the sake of the fact that I already said the Mustafar Battle is my favorite climax, I will not rehash it, even though it is pretty obvious a favorite is a favorite.

But there is another battle scene in Episode III that made me sit up straight the first time, that I thought about repeatedly because it just came out of nowhere and smacked me with how awesome it was.

Your move!

Your move!

Yeah, this is the fight with Obi-Wan and Grevious, one of the only times in the prequels Lucas let us see that Obi-Wan is a master duellist. It’s frustrating how little George lets us see Obi-Wan own with a saber!

Anyway, Obi-Wan has been sent to Utapau to neutralize Grevious. Sidious doesn’t need him anymore and the Jedi play predictably right into his plans. He rents a giant bird lizard and goes off cyborg hunting.

Hmm, what should I do? I know, go in alone!

Hmm, what should I do? I know, go in alone!

The first time, I was curious about how Obi-Wan would handle the situation as soon as he found Grevious and the council of traitors. I was afraid of Boga sneezing and giving away his position — but no! Obi-Wan leaps down into the thick of his enemies. He instantly neutralizes Grevious’ guards, and Grevious reveals his ace in the hole — he knows how to saber fight, too.

YOU FOOL!

YOU FOOL!

I gasped out loud in the theater when Grevious’ arms separated and he flashed out four sabers. I was terrified when he scuttled like a spider over the floor, and I was thrilled at Obi-Wan’s pursuit that involved that dizzying fall down the Utapauan crater.

Miles of green screen....

Miles of green screen….

I loved Obi-Wan’s final encounter with him, Ewan’s working in his trademark scream, and his grimly displeased use of a blaster. “So uncivilized!” Just everything about this fight is awesome.

Honorable mention: the first shot of the movie. Episode III’s crawl is by far the weakest and dumbest of the six, and the battle quickly becomes improbable and tiresome with squeaky voiced battle droids fresh from a helium bar, but that first shot is one of the most amazing things ever, especially when combined with the soundtrack. That is just awesome, and I will never stop wanting to see it in 3D. (Screw you, Lucas!!)

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

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.”

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“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