Archive for Revenge of the Sith

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Planet

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , , on 6 August 2015 by Megan

Day 6 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Well, I sort of said Coruscant yesterday, so I’ll try to come up with something else. I’ll confess that I have never liked Naboo. Yeah, never liked it. Tatooine isn’t a PT planet. Kamino or Geonosis? Nope, I’ve got it.

Utapau and Kamino are certainly unique among the offerings of the PT: Naboo is just Italy in space; Tatooine we’ve seen before, and Geonosis is just red Tatooine. But these two offered the kind of CGI-enhanced vistas we long for in science fiction–vistas you won’t see from earth. One planet is nothing but ocean and the other is nothing but savanna. And while I love the Kaminoans as a race far more than I like either of the sentient species on Utapau, the planet Utapau really attracts me.

Even as I sat in the theater for the midnight showing of Episode III the first time, my first thought on seeing the savage beauty of Utapau was, This is a science fiction planet. This epitomizes what an imaginary scifi world should be.

An Outer Rim world with water making up only .9% of the planet’s surface, Utapau has nine moons, an arid temperate climate, and a 27-hour day. This planet covered with cave networks and sinkholes made an attractive hiding place for the Separatist General Grevious–and in 2005, I know I wasn’t the only one reminded of the ongoing search for Osama bin Ladin in the caves of Afghanistan. I’m sure this wasn’t accidental on Lucas’ part, either, though I can’t give you a citation of him saying Obi-Wan’s triumph over Grevious was meant to inspire Americans in the midst of a decade-long wait for justice.

The Utapauan visuals are dazzling, and I’m never going to forgive Disney for denying me the chance to see it in the retro-3D that made Episode I a fresh thrill. I felt as giddy as on a roller coaster watching Boga dive over the edge of the cliff just on a normal cinema screen! How much more incredible would it have been? (sad sigh)

Speaking of Boga, where would any discussion of this awesome planet be if I didn’t mention the amazingness that is the varactyl?

 

Not only does this hero remind me of a floppy Newfoundland dog we had when I was a teen — which we lost to cancer the same year as Episode III, actually — but she helps show us a side of the Jedi that is under-represented: connection with all life. Obi-Wan says in E4 that the Force binds all living things together and Luke repeatedly uses this power to dispel predators from flesh-eating grubs to mutant cthons and one yeti-like creature in The New Rebellion. Obi-Wan’s preference for a live animal mount over a mechanical speeder recalls Tolkien’s emphasis on nature over industry, and the book and a deleted scene further emphasize that Obi-Wan chose Boga specifically because of the connection between them.

Also, the cooing and yipping is another Ben Burtt masterpiece and I’m kind of really super excited to get a varactyl mount of my own in The Old Republic!

So, yes, all that cool stuff combined makes Utapau my favorite planet of the prequels, though Kamino is a narrow contender because I like Kaminoans and they also have flying giant manta rays.

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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 . . .

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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.

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 PT Movie

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , on 6 March 2014 by Megan

September, 1998: the lobby of a hotel somewhere in South Dakota or Wyoming. I’m 13 and with my family on the return trip to Ohio from our last trip to Yellowstone National Park, my favorite place on the planet at that date. I’m carrying a plate of food back to the table when Mom hands me an article from USA Today that announces a release date for the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Sure, Lucas began writing those in 1995 and I suppose the fan community was well-informed during the three years of filming that they were coming out, but my older brother had only told me back in February that “earlier ones like when they were kids” were in talks.

It was nine months after getting this article that I finally sat down in the theater to breathlessly see the first of the new prequel  trilogy, a major step up from the last wait. I didn’t even have to wait 24 hours to see ROTJ after ESB, and ESB had followed ANH after only a couple of weeks. Nine months was a torture, especially since it came out on May 19 and my dad wouldn’t let me go to the theater until June 19. But if you count that September day as when my wait began, I waited more than six and a half years to see Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (the last Star Wars movie ever). Maybe I just like to wait for things, because E3 is my favorite movie of the prequel trilogy.

In the theater just before the midnight showing

In the theater just before the midnight showing

May 19, 2005 was actually a really lackluster day in an awful year, but I did dress up like Luke Skywalker to see the movie about his father’s fall to the Dark Side. This movie has my favorite soundtrack, favorite climax, favorite animal . . . I love Episode III, you guys.

ep3_ia_91910

Robot death match on American Gladiators!

Let’s talk about sounds. I love the sounds in Episode III. One of the reasons I had any disappointment with Ben Burtt’s fabulous sound effect book was that he didn’t talk about the E3 effects very much, and they’re some of my favorites. After the opening shot — one of the greatest opening shots in history and one I’m beginning to despair of ever getting to see in 3D — we’re introduced to the electrostaff, the preferred weapon of Grevious’ Magna guards. The sound that these things make is incredible, this whirring crackling — plus they’re purple, which is epic in my book.

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Awkward dialogue aside —

We’ll skip George Lucas’ premature senility demonstrated by his absolutely lifeless writing and focus on the positive: Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship and haircuts. First of all, Hayden Christensen looks good. I love Anakin in this movie. For the first time, I love Anakin! I understand his motivations and frustrations, I feel sorry for him. And I think he looks pretty good. Obi-Wan, as ever, doesn’t have to look good because he is good. Good-looking, I mean. Ah. But anyway, their dialogue is worse than a toolbox falling down the stairs — nothing but telling me what good friends they are without ever showing it to be true — but I get it.

normal_still10

So mature-y

I’m not saying Episode III is lacking in flaws. This is why it’s not my favorite of all time, that’s ROTJ, you know that, but this movie still thrills me on so many levels. I like tragedies, you see. The prequel trilogy is a tragedy in the Greek tradition, the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, ending with his fiery death on Mustafar, and the original trilogy is a comedy, ending with the triumphant celebration of “peace and justice” (open for debate). And I love to watch a good tragedy.

starfighter4

Plans for the cake next year

Back to the space battle. Seriously, this is one of the greatest things ever. Watching Anakin and Obi-Wan fight together is great, the only glimpse we get of them as a team, where we can finally understand when Ben tells Luke what a cunning warrior and great pilot his friend was. I love these Jedi star fighters, for real. Which is why I’ve decided to make the cake for the E3 celebration the wing of a Jedi fighter with R4’s head.

Yes, you can imagine I’m working on quite a shindig for Episode III because it is my favorite and its tenth birthday is tomorrow. Yes, I’m a little worried because my joblessness and homelessness has persisted longer than I thought, but I have some confidence, anyway.

In conclusion, the reason Episode III is the greatest thing ever is that final battle scene. I dreamed about that scene ever since I learned that Obi-Wan and Anakin had their final confrontation over a lava pit. And around 2 AM on May 19, 2005, I saw my imagination come to life, to the exact detail, right there on that screen. And it was good. You can read my full thoughts on that battle scene (here).

Favorite Climax

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 11 July 2013 by Megan

Weird question. But I have an answer, and it doesn’t even involve Return of the Jedi!

Come on, admit it, you can hear the soundtrack!

Come on, admit it, you can hear the soundtrack!

I mean, come on. As most of the internet seemed to agree as I was searching for images for this, no matter what your opinion is of the prequels, you have to agree that this is epic. One of the reasons this is one of my favorites is I had looked forward to it for so long: I remember borrowing a “Star Wars Scrapbook” from my Star Wars friend when I was about 13 and discovering that Darth Vader’s suit was necessitated by his falling into lava during his and Obi-Wan’s final climactic showdown. And at that moment, even though Obi-Wan was just this boring old guy and Vader was Vader, I wanted to see that fight.

May 19, 2005, a day I waited for for six years, was full of disappointments just like every other day of a person’s life, and the higher the anticipation, the greater the need to not have disappointments, the more disappointments flock in. This is so true that when the film broke just as it was about to start, I almost started laughing in the theater. Yes, no joke: two theaters, midnight showing, rabid Star Wars fans, movie anticipated for minimum six years, and the film broke just as it started. I kept quoting the line from Galaxy Quest, “I mean, this is unreal! They’re going to start eating each other out there!”

Anyway, as we got close to 3 AM, as the camera swept in to Mustafer, I began easing closer and closer to the edge of my seat. This was it. This was the moment I had wanted to see since I was thirteen. I had imaged it,  pictured it, satirized it: the fight over lava. And it was an entire planet (moon) of lava! Awesome! “You will try,” Anakin intoned like a death demon,  and suddenly the soundtrack burst into life. To this day, “Anakin vs. Obi-Wan” is my favorite track on a soundtrack, ever. It’s just thrilling. And the fight was thrilling.

That was one thing that did not disappoint me that night. The lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan was exactly how I had imagined it. (Even, frighteningly enough, including a sequence of rope-swinging, which I had put into a song parody about the fight two years before.) And that crash of sabers in front of the volcanic geyser — I’m almost convinced that’s exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye the first time I read about their final confrontation. Obi-Wan’s final monologue and picking up of Anakin’s saber just completes it. This is a fight I can never watch without my pulse racing, without leaning closer to the screen. Which makes it all the more irritating how they spliced in fights of Palpatine and gross Yoda fighting! So enjoy this masterful YouTube cut that has the entire Obi-Wan/Anakin scene without any green trolls to bother you.

Party Planner

Posted in Fun with tags , , , , , , , , , on 10 May 2013 by Megan

Because May is Star Wars parties month, I’d like to call your attention back to the last two parties I’ve done by pointing you in the direction of the posts done on them, and also to reblog this post from HS that I did on some parties I’d like to have in the future.

2009: The 10th Anniversary of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and the first time Michelle came out to visit in Ohio. She and Kristine and I threw the first of several Parties of the Century. Read more (here).

2012: The 10th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and the first time Michelle came to visit in Indiana. She and Kristine and I threw the second Party of the Century. Read about it (here).

The third Party of the Century hasn’t occurred yet. That’s because the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith doesn’t happen until May of 2015. But in the meantime, these sorts of things take awhile to plan, especially since I mean for the third party to the best one yet, since, after all, E3 was the best prequel. The guest list includes Kristine, Michelle, and Allison, as well as myself, and even though it’s a couple years away, I’m enjoying the planning process. Besides which, there are other Star Wars milestones coming up. Return of the Jedi, which is my favorite of the original trilogy, celebrates its 30th birthday this May . . . which is why it’s kind of frustrating that my biggest theme party I’ve come up with so far is for Empire Strikes Back! But regardless: these are the next two Star Wars parties I’m working on.

Star Wars Party 3: The Third Gathers

If you count the tauntaun, there will be exactly this many guests at my "party of the century"!

If you count the tauntaun, there will be exactly this many guests at my “party of the century”!

Winter parties are cute. So it must follow that a Star Wars winter party must be freaking adorable; plus there’s so much material to work with! I originally meant this Hoth/Empire Strikes Back-styled party to circle around the release of one of the films to 3D, so that the party could relocate to the tridimensional theater of our choice and then reconvene for the rest of the party on a buzz of lightsabers in 3D. However, the first dampener was that ESB wasn’t due out in theaters again until 2017, followed by the fact that now I have no idea when its 3D release is scheduled. But let that not stand in my way! This party will take place in some wintery month in the near future, and it will be awesome.

Each one a unique work of art!

First of all, let’s hear about the decorations, because every party requires decorations. Your Episode V locales include Hoth, Dagobah, Cloud City, and interiors of the Executor and Millennium Falcon, so action figures and toys from those settings will be the most appropriate. Also, check this out . . . awesome Star Wars snowflakes via Matters of Gray. Remember spending hours folding paper and cutting them into patterns that would vaguely resemble snow crystals? Now they can vaguely resemble iconic Star Wars characters and objects as well! Yes!

Enough with decor. Let’s get on to the food. Food is why we party is it not? I found this great inspiration: if you’re going to have a wintery party, you need to have hot refreshments, and what’s hotter than chocolate? I found this adorable inspiration for a hot chocolate bar on Pinterest (via), and figured with minimal effort, it could be Star Warsdized into a Hoth Chocolate bar. You have all your fixins’ for good cocoa, but I also have a recipe for real hot chocolate (not cocoa: that is, a block of chocolate melted with milk), and we could have a good old crock pot of that. Mostly it’s the fixin’s I’m in to — marshies, cinnamon, peppermint. Need cutesy Star Wars names for them, like “gimer sticks” and “Ugnaught brains,” etc. Also, maybe frozen hot chocolate.

“Hoth” Chocolate Bar

The real piece d’ resistance is, as usual, the cake. Oho! And what a cake I’ve got for you. The most iconic moment in Empire Strikes Back is, you guessed it! The part where Luke hacks off the wampa’s arm. (What do you mean, you thought it was ‘Luke, I am your father’? Who is Luke’s father? WHAT? OH MY GOSH . . . !!) Anyway, I perused the internet until I found a cake worthy of my wintery party, and it’s a gruesomely great severed wampa arm cake (via):

If Luke cutting off the wampa’s arm is foreshadowing Vader cutting off his hand, is the wampa somehow related to Luke?

Now, everyone goes on about how gross this cake looks, but I assure you, I intend to improve it by not using coconut. I know, I know, coconut is disgusting, and besides that, a full third of my guests are allergic. That isn’t why you thought it was gross? What? But . . . but it’s orange. Why is that gross?! The original blogger said one person ate the cake with eyes closed because it was too gross to look at, and I gotta tell you, I’m flummoxed. I may have closed my eyes every time Han cuts the tauntaun open until I was about 25 years old, but even I’m not squeamish enough to have my gag reflex tripped by . . . orange blood. *eyebrow* I don’t even know what guava jelly is. (Incidentally the wampa obviously didn’t bleed, but whatevs.) I intend to make it a red velvet with raspberry jelly, because when you’re making severed arms, it’s only reasonable that you use red velvet. Everyone knows this. And then I’m going to make white cotton candy to use for the fur. I think that’s a great cake.

cloudpops

Like twins separated at birth!

Also up for grabs on the dessert table, Boba Fett ice cream sandwiches, chocolate Han in Carbonite, pretzel lightsabers, and Cloud City cake pops. Because Cloud City looks like a cake pop, see? It’s abstract, okay! Because of the nature of the party is to be mainly hot chocolatey, I’m not worried about there being any sort of a main course, just desserts.

Naturally for entertainment — you have to ask? — there will be the watching of Empire Strikes Back and possibly lightsaber dueling it up with pool noodles decked with duck tape. You never know. Sabacc? Who here knows how to play Sabacc? We could use the deeds/money from Star Wars Monopoly for stakes. I know I wanna con somebody out of a Tibanna gas mine. Maybe weeding out all the Episode V questions from the Trivial Pursuit game is a thing.

Star Wars Party 4: Thirdenniel Extravagenza

That’s Right!

Episode III comes out in three-dee this September, but my party’s not slated until 2015, which is ten years since its release. That gives me plenty of time to really make this a party of epic proportions. It’s in very preliminary stages, but here’s a quick overview of some things taking shape.

Courtesy At Second Street

I found a really inspiring post on At Second Street, which pointed me to some inspiring murals on Painted Daisies; the idea is to cover the windows, etc. to make it feel like you’re inside a spaceship. Black plastic tablecloths, paint, stickers to complete the effect. “Coolglow.com” sells glowing paint for $10 a bottle, which looks like regular paint until you turn out the lights, and then it glows; the paint can then be used for stars and to recreate the crawl and opening titles. (They also sell glowing drink-ware and mini glowing lightsabers, so this is a site to hang on to for any kind of Star Wars party supply. Glow gives it that extra kick.) Another fun decor idea, courtesy of At Second Street, is to stick toothpicks in those little holes in action figures’ feet and use them for decorations. I also have my entire collection of Episode III merch, including posters and action figures like my enormous boga figure.

On to food! Drumroll, please, as I officially unveil the topic for the cake your friends will all be talking about for decades to come, the Episode III birthday cake:

"Why don't you try something more difficult next time?"

“Why don’t you try something more difficult next time?”

Obi-Wan’s starfighter being attacked by buzz droids! No, I don’t have the mechanics of how to make all of the buzz droids, but I’m going to use the cake balls for the domes. Anyway, there’s the cake. I have a recipe for a delicious-sounding lava juice, because naturally there’s got to be lava somewhere at an E3 party. I also want to give some more thought to main courses — “Han-burgers” are extremely over-done, I think, but I want to do something clever.

Entertainment obviously focuses around watching Episode III. There’s always Mad Libs and Obsessed With Star Wars to play, too. Plenty of time to work that out.
Party Planner via Hundredaire Socialite.

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.