Posts tagged #Star Wars

Josh's Random Episode VII Trailer Speculation

We should have all seen the Episode VII trailer by now, right? You haven't? Well hurry up and get to it! I'll wait...

You're back? Good.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I thought I'd share with you guys some of my personal, and very random, thoughts about the trailer for a movie we have to wait an entire year to see. Read more after the jump!

The meat of what I want to talk about is actually the second to last scene, so I'll break the trailer down scene-by-scene with my thoughts for each.

The Desert

The first thing we see after a fade-in to a bunch of sand is new cast member, John Boyega. Here, he's dressed in stormtrooper armor and looks sweaty and freaked out. Based on some of the other imagery in the trailer, I think it's safe to assume he's being chased. The only real complaint I've got here is that it's an odd, J.J.-like shot, and doesn't really feel like something that belongs in a Star Wars movie. Not bad, just odd and different.


This is where I start being like, "Wait... what?" I know that we heard previously that there would be stormtroopers in the film, but even then it seemed odd from a story perspective. What I want to know is: how is it that the Empire is still around 30 years after Return of the Jedi? Maybe it's an Outer-rim faction that still exists or something? I'm sure there's a good explanation, it's just something that I really don't understand yet. I figured the rebellion - now armed with the morale boost from destroying the Death Star II - would have snuffed the rest of them out and started up a New Republic. That's something the Expanded Universe dealt with and, even though I think 98% of the EU is junk, it seemed like the natural progression from RotJ.
As far as the shot itself, I'm not really a fan of the lighting inside the drop ship/shuttle/whatever it is. That's super nitpicky, though.

Daisy Ridley on a Swoop Bike

Not a whole lot to say here except for... POD RACERS IN THE BACKGROUND!! Nice callback to the prequels there. IGN, in their Rewind Theater video, claimed to see what looked like a lightsaber hilt attached to her bike. Looks like it to me, too. Interesting. This and the last scene are the most Star Wars-like in the entire trailer.


Like with the stormtrooper clip, I was also confused with this one. So the Rebel Alliance is also still around? They could just be New Republic X-Wings, but there's no way to tell for sure.


We'll go back to this one in a minute.

The Falcon... with TIE Fighters!

This is the part of the trailer that made my heart swell up and almost get a little misty-eyed. Seeing the Millennium Falcon dog-fighting TIEs in the desert (I'd be surprised if it weren't Tattooine), set to the Star Wars main theme, pretty much sealed the deal for me. I'm pretty sure that was the purpose of putting this shot in the trailer, and it did its job well.

TIE Fighters, though? That goes back to my "does the Empire still exist" question.

Back to the Dark Side-guy

Like I said, this is the meat of the article - the part that will probably go on for many words. Also, beware of its disjointed nature. I'm going to be speculating as I write.

Get ready.

Here it comes...


A friend of mine, in response to a link I posted on Facebook of the trailer, said that he would be disappointed if this was a Sith character, as they were supposedly snuffed out in RotJ. That was what the prophecy was all about, right? Obi-Wan did say to an on-fire Anakin, "You were supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them.” Keyword: destroy.

Personally, I agree with my friend: I'll be disappointed if this guy is a Sith. If he is, that makes the first six movies pretty pointless in terms of an overarching story. But what if he's not a Sith at all? Through the Clone Wars TV show, we've seen that users of the Dark Side of the Force don't necessarily have to be Sith. Characters like Asajj Ventress and the Night Sisters are proof of this.  Most recently, in Rebels, we've seen another Dark Side user in The Inquisitor.

So if that's the case, what does it mean to be a Sith? I think the problem lies in the fact that we don't really know a whole lot about them from the films and the two TV series. We've only seen a total of five Sith - Darths Maul, Tyranus, Vader, Bane (in ghost form), and Sidious. We know the existence of at least one more, Darth Plagueis, so that's six Sith (try to say that five times fast!) we know of that exist in the official cannon.

However, we've only seen one character actually become a Sith: Darth Vader. For his "knighting," Anakin Skywalker was made to say that he gave himself to Palpatine and had to listen to the Emperor's creepy, demonic voice as he was given the Vader moniker. This is all we know of the process.

As for other facts related to the Sith, we know that 1) they hailed from a planet called Morriban (The Clone Wars) and 2) there can only be two at a time (Episode I). That's it. Two things.

So if Anakin destroyed the Sith, brought balance to the force, and brought peace to the galaxy, who the crap is the guy in the trailer with the broadsword-ish, red lightsaber?

We also know from the Rebels TV show that kids are still being born with Force sensitivity, and that the Order 66 Jedi Purge couldn't stop that. Maybe the new guy was one of those kids. There's only one problem with that, though: who taught him to use the Dark Side? With the Jedi, there was a whole culture and religion based around the Light Side. Knights would take apprentices who would eventually become Jedi Knights themselves to teach more apprentices, and the cycle would continue, all culminating with Knights becoming Masters. On the Dark Side of things, a master would take an apprentice, that apprentice would kill the master (becoming, himself, the master) and would take his/her own apprentice. Characters who were Dark Side users had (as far as we know, based on established cannon) been taught to use the Dark Side by one of the two Sith at the time. What I'm getting at here is that there seems to always have to be someone who can teach a Force-sensitive how to use the Force, whether it's for good or bad. It is assumed that anyone who - post-RotJ - was going to learn the Force in any kind of way, would have to learn it from Luke and anyone he taught. The Dark Side would no longer have anyone to teach its ways.


What if the Dark Side-guy was a former student of Luke's during the thirty years between Episodes VI and VII? To me, this is the only thing that really makes any sense whatsoever. At this point, it would seem that the only logical thing would be to have someone who knows how to use the Force simply "turn evil," as there's only one guy out there to teach it, and he's a Light Side user.

So again, who is this guy in the trailer? I have no idea, but I hope that whoever he is, the reason for his existence absolutely blows my mind. I want to have one of those "ooooooohhhhhhh, ok!!!" kind of moments when I find out during the new trilogy. I definitely don't want to have a "well that's lame" moment.

In conclusion, I like the trailer. I'm still not blown away, nor am I as excited as I should be that there is a brand new Star Wars movie coming out next year, but I'm reasonably excited. Hopefully, as new plot information is revealed, I'll start getting more excited. As of right now, I'm (as well as the rest of the internet) speculating on roughly two minutes of cut-together footage where there's not a whole lot to go on. None of us knows anything yet, other than the basic look of the film. As for that, I'm ok with it. There are some odd camera moves and lighting for a Star Wars film in some shots of the trailer, but I enjoyed it overall. Plus, the mystery of what all this stuff is makes the time leading up to the film that much more enjoyable, though quite scary at the same timea. We'll see how the finished product is in December!


Posted on December 6, 2014 .

Nic's Response to IGN's "A Newer Hope"

[Edit: This article was originally written in October 2013. On May 1, 2014 IGN decided to rerun the article that this article is responding to. So here we are again. I've made a few minor edits here and there to 'celebrate.']

Back in August, IGN posted an article entitled "Star Wars Episode VII: A Newer Hope." Its central thesis is that George Lucas never really understood Star Wars and its greatness. He created it, and presided over it. But he "never got what made it so special." However, the sequel trilogy there's a new hope that Star Wars films can be enjoyable again.

You know us. Here at The Inner Dorkdom we enjoy the Prequels. And we believe that although entertainment can educate and inspire us, it's something that should never cause us to despise other people, or treat them poorly.

But I must admit, when I read articles like this (even if they are written with more civility than normal) part of me wants to punch people (the authors in particular) right in the mouth.

Of course I would never do that. That’s taking things incredibly too far.

So instead I offer you, dear Inner Dorkdom readers, a point-by-point response to the article.

In the opening paragraph, the author says, "for too long the history of that galaxy far, far away was at the mercy of an incurable revisionist, someone who didn’t mind treading on the memories of others."

A couple of things here.

First, for too long? Star Wars was being presided over by the man who created it for too long? I must ask: According to what standard? Certainly not any objective standard. In fact this, like much in the article, is nothing more than a subjective preference stated as an objective fact.

There is no standard for how long the creator of Star Wars needs to be in control of Star Wars. It's just a matter of tastes. And since I like the stories George Lucas tells, and the way he tells them, I for one am glad he was involved with Star Wars for as long as he was.

Second, how much has Lucas revised over the years, really? I mean, I hear people make this charge from time to time. But the claims always seem larger than the actual facts of the matter. From a plot point standpoint, what has Lucas changed over years? (I'm not counting any decisions he made contrary to EU canon, because, well, we've been over that one.) Ep IV had the scene with Jabba added and changed it from Han to Greedo shooting first. Ep V changed the dialogue between Vader and the Emperor, gave Boba Fatt Jango's voice, and changed Vader's line after his confrontation with Luke. Ep VI changed the song Sy Snootles sang, gave Anakin a couple of "no"s, and made his Force-ghost reflective of his young mid-twenties self. And that's it. The rest of the changes were cosmetic. Fancier shots of ships flying around, some shots of the Wampa, and so on. Of course one can discuss how one enjoys (or doesn't) the changes. But to say they show Lucas to be an incurable revisionist is just silly.

Third, the memories of others bit. Though he says it with more tact and civility (which I thank him for), this is really akin to the old "George Lucas raped my childhood" chestnut. And, I'm sorry, I just don't understand that. He has done nothing to your memories. What you saw back in the day is still what you saw. That hasn't changed. Again, you don't have to like that he's made revisions. But just because he's made and released them doesn't mean your memories have been trampled. To think of it that way is, if I may, an awfully self-centered way of looking at an author modifying HIS work.

(And it is his work. If he wants to alter something, it’s his prerogative.)

Next up: "...hopefully we can now all admit this publicly, Episode I never felt like Star Wars."

I'm going to ignore the problem of taking a subjective opinion and stating it as a universal fact. Otherwise, we'd be here all day. (Just know that I noticed it.)

How can one say it didn't feel like Star Wars? It is Star Wars. Thus, by definition, it feels like Star Wars. It can't not feel like Star Wars.

What I assume our author really means is that it didn't feel like the Original Trilogy. What do I make of that?

First of all, I think we should ask, should it feel the same? Does a film set in a very different era, featuring characters with very different backgrounds, occupations, and goals need to feel the same? I argue that it shouldn't. At least, not in every respect. How else are we going to feel the impact of the Sith conquering the Galaxy and all the changes that brings?

Second, granting those differences, Phantom Menace still 'felt like Star Wars' to me. Jedi, lightsabers, Tatooine, hyperspace, Tusken Raiders, Jawas, Jabba, Palpatine (played by Ian McDiarmid), Yoda (played by Frank Oz), space battles, ground battles, a dialogue-free ending, wipes as transitions, all with John Williams music throughout.

I think it's worth asking: Is the reason for Mr. Krupa's feeling simply due to the fact that the elements The Phantom Menace didn't have (scoundrels, flirtatious banter, Vader choking people, etc.) are the things he likes most about Star Wars?

Next: "Exciting moments are scattered throughout the prequels, as are likeable characters and moments of intrigue,..."

Which, the negative connotation of the word "scattered" notwithstanding, is the best that could be said about any quality story. Not every moment is, or should, be exciting. Not every character should be likeable. And every event doesn't need to produce intrigue.

Next: "...but it’s all so haphazardly assembled that I’ve long suspected that these are little more than kind accidents."

How is it haphazardly assembled? Our author just plops that statement down as though it were a well established fact. But it's a rather large statement that could use some supporting evidence.

But here's the thing. So the Prequels have a slightly different tone than the Original Trilogy (just as each film in the Saga has its own distinct tone). Why conclude that the difference between the two trilogies is probably attributable to George Lucas' incompetence, and that anything good about the new films is purely accidental? Why be drawn to the conclusion that carries with it a critical, even derogatory, attitude toward an artist?

Given that Mr. Lucas was involved in all three original Star wars films (including ESB), as well as the Indiana Jones films, it just doesn't make sense to conclude that the guy doesn't understand how to create likeable characters, enjoyable action sequences, and so on.

Isn't it also a possibility, and more consistent with the facts, that the differences between the OT and PT were purposeful? That Lucas simply wanted to tell a different kind of story with Episodes I-III? Indeed, did he not tell us beforehand that such was going to be the case? Are the seeds of the different kind of story not clearly evident in the notes that he wrote back in the late 70's?

Next: "’s clear they’re [the Prequels - NW] deficient in so many of the qualities that the originals had in abundance – genuine warmth, wry humour, real charm..."

Slow down, man. Let's take them in turn.

genuine warmth - I think it's safe to say that for the most part the Jedi are the main characters of the Prequels. And I think it's also safe to say that the Jedi can come across as a little distant and cold at times. I loved Episode I, but that was one of the few things about it that disappointed me a little. But then I remember the first time I saw Episode II noticing and enjoying several of moments right in the opening minutes that almost felt like I direct attempt to reverse that trend (Yoda and Mace concerned about the Separatists, Yoda's warm feelings over Padme's surviving the terrorist attack, Obi-Wan and Anakin joking in the elevator). I realize that still might not be the sort of heart-on-sleeve wearing that people would prefer. I get that.

And, if I may, it seems like perhaps that's part of the point of the Prequels. The Jedi, out of fear of themselves going to the dark side and using their powers in vengeful or controlling ways, have decided not to have attachments. Better never to be close to anyone than to be close, get hurt, and have to fight the temptation to respond negatively. This philosophy, which, granted, many of them don't seem to always follow, helps get the order decimated. It's Luke's compassion and obvious warmth that brings Anakin back in the end, allowing him to destroy Vader and Sidious, bringing balance to the Force.

wry humor - Allow me to retort: "That's why I'm here." "Good job." "Not to worry, we're still flying half a ship." "Another happy landing." "Today you were the hero, and you deserve your glorious day with the politicians." "Alright, but you owe me. And not just for saving your skin for the tenth time." "Ninth time. That business on Kato Nemoidia doesn't...doesn't count." "I'll try not to destroy all the battle droids before you arrive." "So uncivilized." Etc. Yes, most of those quote are from Obi-Wan. But didn't most of the wry humor in the OT come from one or two people (Han, and to a lesser extent, Leia)? Also, the wry humor increases as you go from Ep I to Ep III. Just as darkness increases in the galaxy.

real charm - This one is really subjective. What one person finds charming another won't, and vice versa. When I watch the Prequels, I see what I feel to be be real charm. So now what? Neither one of us is objectively right or wrong.

Next: "Nothing in the prequels ever came close to drawing out this emotion." [i.e., "that less tangible property that made Star Wars so unique. It differs between viewers, but for me, it was always a hopeful sense of wonder, a secret knowledge that a greater destiny waits for us amidst the constellations. I think its at its most palpable when Luke watches the twin suns set on the desert planet of Tatooine."]

Again, this one is very subjective, and is a simple case of your mileage may vary. Indeed, our author acknowledges this by saying that what he's talking about differs between viewers. Yet he says it's nowhere to be found in the Prequels. That doesn't make sense to me. If it's a differing thing from person to person, how can you definitively say that it's absent from the Prequels?

But for sake of discussion, let's take what the author says is that quality for him--this sense of wonder / knowledge that a greater destiny awaits in space.

First, I'm not convinced that's what Luke was thinking when he looked at that sunset. I personally never read him that way. I've always figured he's thinking, "When's it going to be my time? Will it ever be my time? Cause, boy, I'd like to get off this rock. I think I would enjoy it. But who knows if I'll ever get to." I don't take it that he's also thinking, "Deep down inside I know that I will. Secretly, I know it is my destiny." I read him 100% yearning, 0% secret conviction.

Second, even if we granted for sake of discussion that Luke did have that secret knowledge, where's that quality in Episodes V and VI? This is, after all, something he argues the OT had (not just A New Hope) and the Prequels lack.

Third, do the Prequels actually lack it? Little Anakin looking up at the stars with Qui-Gon, the Jedi council testing Anakin, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon looking out over a Coruscant sunset, and Anakin kissing his mommy goodbye may not have been accompanied by swelling music from the excellent John Williams (except that last example), they may have been more subtly-stated, but story-wise they are dealing with the same thing. Characters wondering what their future holds.

It seems to me that much of the flack the Prequels get comes from the fact that with them Mr. Lucas wanted to tell a more complex story. In my experience, adding complexity to a story sometimes results in a sacrifice of archetypal and emotional resonance. "Farmboy dreams of leaving his family farm in the desert, and when his family is killed he follows an old warrior on a mission into the starts to rescue a princess, following in his late father's footsteps," is different from, "slave boy with a mysterious origin has no illusions of ever being free, but some religious knights show up due to a broken ship, and one of them wagers for his freedom, believing him to be a prophesied chosen one who's destiny is probably to do something good but there's debate about the prophecies' interpretation."

Next:  "...too bogged down in recounting the bureaucratic origins of the Empire to ever truly reach out to grab the stars."

Like I said, a more complex story that perhaps sacrifices some archetypal resonance. If you’re not interested in complexity, or don’t desire that type of complexity from Star Wars, you’re naturally going to be disappointed.

Also, how else does one tell the story of a republic collapsing from within (due to political machinations) and turning into an empire? How do you tell a story about politics without dealing with politics?

Next: "And ironically Lucas’s passion to innovate and use cutting-edge technology, which made the originals such landmarks in the history of cinema, actually undermine the prequels quite badly – so much is left looking synthetic, cold, and dated."

We're going with the 'CGI looks fake' argument, it would appear. I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but model work composited on an optical printer with visible matte lines/rectangles and occasionally awkward looking motion also looks fake and dated. A puppet whose mouth only opens and closes and occasionally suffers from extreme bouts of lazy eye looks fake and dated. It looks fake in a different way, granted, but it still looks fake.

If I may expand on that. I was talking about Star Wars with my father-in-law the other day, and he made basically the same point as Mr. Krupa. As we discussed the matter I developed a theory I'd like to share with you for your consideration Internet. Is this a generational thing? People like my father-in-law grew up on analog special effects. He'd been a full grown adult for some time when Jurassic Park came out. Non-digital matte paintings, miniatures and model photography, analog compositing, people in costumes, these look more real to him than CGI. On the other hand, kids today feel the exact opposite. The old tech looks bad to many of them. CGI looks more real. And then in the middle there are people like me. Born in 1978, I grew up with both types of technology. Analog visual effects were the norm when I saw a little boy. But I was only in early high school when Jurassic Park came out. To my eyes, both practical effects and CGI look fake. Or, I should say, they can look fake to varying degrees based on the quality of the work. Neither one has an inherent advantage in my eyes. They can both look fake, just in a different kind of way.

Point being, what looks synthetic, cold, and dated to one person looks perfectly fine to another. Thus the author's point, yet again, is actually a subjective preference.

Next: "Lucas mistakenly believed the magic of Star Wars resided in the Universe he had created, and that simply showing more of it would be enough to satisfy fans. He was wrong."

He didn't just simply show more of it. But anyway.

I was satisfied with the Prequels, and I'm a fan. Josh was satisfied, and he's a fan. Todd was satisfied and he's a fan. Thus your claim is shown to be factually inaccurate.

There's no arguing, many Star Wars fans didn't like the Prequels. Seeing the galaxy far far away again wasn't enough to outweigh their disappointments (one or more of the following: plot, scripting, casting, acting, art style, visual effects work). I don't deny that.

But many Star Wars fans did like the Prequels. Some in spite of those things, some because of them.

I don't understand why those who dislike the Prequel continue to act like they are the only ones who exist, or the only one whose opinions count.

Next: "Recently, I attended Star Wars Celebration Europe where I saw Kathleen Kennedy, the executive producer of Episode VII, talk about the approach of the new film. Character and story were being prioritised above everything else, she said; effects would be at the service of the story; CGI would work in tandem with more traditional forms of effects work – miniatures, set-building, shooting in exotic locations. As Kennedy presented this new creed, it was greeted with hungry applause by the congregation."

New creed? Is it really new?

I realize that people on the internet talk all the time as though it is. 'Lucas cared more about CGI than character development.' 'He cared more about CGI than analog forms of effects work.'

People say it, but they offer little support. From what I know of the Prequels, CGI got Lucas excited about making them because the technology allowed him to write almost whatever he could imagine. He could conjure characters and places freely. CGI was great, because it could serve the needs of character and story. And when it came to actual production, ILM used a combination of digital and analog technologies. Even in Episode III.

But about Ms. Kennedy's statements at Celebration Europe, yeah I remember hearing about that. It didn't send me over the moon with joy and excitement. The emotions it created in me were more subdued, because it seems to me this indicates one of two possibilities, neither one I'm overjoyed at.

First, it’s possible that perhaps this doesn't reflect Ms. Kennedy's views on the George Lucas and his work with the Prequels, and is just PR-driven Prequel-disliker baiting. You know, like click-baiting, but for people who didn't like the Prequels. I mean, come on. In that one presentation she dealt with all of the major over-arching complaints the stereotypical "Original Trilogy only" Star Wars fan has with Eps I-III. Disney/Lucasfilm is certainly going to want the enthusiasm (and money) of that portion of the fan base. Everyone already knows Lucas won't be scriptwriting or directing these new films. Thus, that crowd is already feeling some hope. Why not throw them a few bones, say some things they want to hear, to further excite them? My problem with this option is that Lucas and the Prequels are implicitly being thrown under the bus simply for marketing purposes.

Second, to me the more troubling possibility is that the new head of Lucasfilm might actually believe those criticisms herself. (Given the Lucas appointed her this possibility is doubtful, but you never know.) My problem with this option is that, again, I think those criticisms of the Prequels are unfair and unwarranted, and as such I'd rather the head of Lucasfilm not believe them. The Prequels had a story. A complex one. They had characters. Granted, most of them were stoic Jedi, awkward Jedi (I tend to think written and directed that way on purpose), and politicians. So, maybe not the kinds of characters some people wanted. But they had characters. I've watched the Prequels literally dozens of times. And I just don't see the argument that they are more about the visual CG spectacle than they are anything else. And as for special-effects techniques themselves, again I don't see the criticism as valid. All three Prequels had model work. They all had sets. They all shot on-location. So, in the Prequels the two approaches already were working in tandem. If we're just talking about what the ideal balance is between CG and practical, isn't that a function of individual tastes and, for the filmmakers themselves, budget considerations?

The common thread in both options is the possibility that throwing Lucas and the Prequels under the bus is going to be an on-going part of Lucasfilm's PR strategy. This is a possible trend that I'm not excited about, since I respect Lucas as a filmmaker and want to believe that he was sincerely trying to make the best films possible, and I like the Prequels.

Next: "The fallout from the prequels has made audiences realise that it wasn’t simply the universe they loved – it was the timeless approach to storytelling and the way it had been made, principles that had been forgotten at the turn of the millennium."

Except that a great many audiences enjoyed the Prequels and felt they still exemplified a "timeless approach to storytelling."

But, regarding the specific differences between the Original Trilogy and the Prequels, again the author here assumes that Lucas forgot certain storytelling tools, instead of entertaining the possibility that he simply chose to do some things differently. I'm personally really growing tired of the almost arrogance that seems to be at the heart of this oh-so-common assumption. Can't one just say that he/she didn't like the changes and leave it at that, instead of moving beyond that into things about which one doesn't know (i.e., Lucas' mind), and making personal criticisms?

Next:  "She was involved in the very first use of CG in cinema..."

Allow me to be annoying for a moment.

No she wasn't. Ep IV, which itself wasn't even the first use of computer graphics in film, had primitive CG for the Death Star trench run briefing. That was '77. Ms. Kennedy didn't get a producer credit on a movie until '81. And if we're talking CG used to represent something "real" within the film's story, then she still wasn't, since she didn't work on TRON or The Last Starfighter.

Next: "and produced Jurassic Park, a seminal film in the history of CG effects. At Star Wars Celebration, she spoke about the excitement she experienced when she first saw that wireframe model of a dinosaur sprint across a CRT monitor at ILM. She knew, using this technology, it was possible to make the impossible – that dinosaurs could return from extinction. The brilliance of Jurassic Park lies in the sparing use of CGI and how it’s deftly balanced with the use of more traditional special effects, like animatronics, and shooting in fantastically beautiful or strange real-world locations."

But it isn't like they had a choice. The state of CG work when Jurassic Park came out in '93, both in terms of raw technical ability and costs, precluded fully-digital photorealistic environments or the elimination of animatronics. They couldn’t have done those things even if they wanted to.

Next: "It was clear that Kennedy recognised the dangers of embracing CGI too openly, forgetting its limitations and the deadening effect it can have despite its inexorable march towards photorealism."

That may be. But the fact that Jurassic Park used CGI sparingly is no way proof of that.

Next: "But it’s the emphasis on writing that’s really reassuring. They’ve even called Lawrence Kasdan to attend daily script meetings."

That is indeed cool. I'm not complaining that Kasdan is involved. But, he did co-write Return of the Jedi, which many Star Wars fans dislike. So, there is that.

Next: "Kennedy, when she spoke about the film’s director, described J.J. Abrams primarily as a storyteller, with a background in screenwriting and television touted as his most impressive and valuable credentials."

People's mileage varies on this. But, for me, when one starts talking about J.J. Abrams, they run the very real risk of getting me started.

But for now, I'll just say that Abrams wasn't hired as a writer, but a director. So, even if he is a wonderful writer, that doesn't necessarily mean anything. There are many great writers who would make horrible directors, and vice-versa. Will he contribute to the story? Probably. But he isn’t writing it.

[UPDATE: Since the time this article was written, Disney/Lucasfilm announced that Arndt was out, and a writing team of Kasdan and Abrams would be penning the screenplay to Episode VII. So, well, it could be good. But, my gut feeling is, "oh poodoo." Hope that gut feeling is way off. No way to know until December 2015.]

Next: "His Star Trek reboot pulled off that most paradoxical feats: a canonical reboot."

I'm serious now. Don't get me started.

Next: "It didn’t ignore the disregard what came before..."


Next: "...but with one swift movement, it avoided forty years of densely-tangled continuity."

Uh oh, here comes the windmill....

Next: "And nobody’s delicate memories were trampled or even wrinkled in the process – every mission of the Starship Enterprise still took place but just in another timeline."

Of course no one’s memories are trampled on. (See above.) But things are messed with. Significantly. The reality is that for most practical purposes it did ignore and disregard much of what came before. And the notion that every mission of the starship Enterprise (and those of the Enterprise-D, Enterprise-E, Deep Space 9, Voyager, and everything else in the pre-Abrams world of Trek for that matter) still occurred just in a different timeline is one of the most inconsistent cop-outs in the history of quantum mechanics and inconsistent cop-outs.

(Incidentally, you don’t need the “many universes” quantum mechanics angle to create a canonical reboot. Just have Nero and Spock travel to the past and change the timeline as they would in any old Star Trek episode or movie, and then don’t have them try to fix it. Sure, everything that happened before would be erased from the timeline. But you would still have an in-universe canonical reboot.)

Next: "It had moments of sentimentality, but on the whole it was a remarkably forward-looking, assured film that decanted what made Star Trek special."

By...spoiler alert...destroying Vulcan? Having a Starfleet cadet become captain of the Federation flagship? Inventing a stable version of plot-eroding transwarp beaming? Hooking Spock and Uhura up? Having Deep Roy walk around a beer factory...I mean starship engine an alien suit? Not bothering to put "tripods" in the filming budget?

Don't get me wrong, despite the negative bias I had going in, I fairly well liked Star Trek 2009. But "remarkably forward thinking?" I don’t see it. It was yet another time-travel story.

Next: "(Incidentally, one of my biggest problems with the sequel, Into Darkness, was its decision to revisit old frontiers.)"


But, interestingly enough, my wife, who likes Trek but hasn’t watched that much of it (unlike Josh, Todd, and I), rather enjoyed the movie. The revisit didn’t feel like a revisit to her. And what many fans lamented as a departure from the style, tone, and substance that is at the very core of Trek, she wasn’t bothered by. Yes, Abrams and company changed things. But she was ok with the changes, because she liked the results and wasn’t tied to the original.

Next: "The reboot proved it’s better to be daring, than deferential."

That's exactly what the Prequels did! They changed some things up! Yet our author think they're a disappointing mess, for the very fact that they didn't adhere closely enough to what it was about the originals that he liked.

Next: "This desire to look back to the originals for inspiration..."

Uhhh....I'm getting whiplash. Now deferential is good again?

Next: "...seems to extend across other Star Wars projects now in the works. The new animated show Star Wars Rebels, for instance, is revisiting the legendary concept art of Ralph McQuarrie, which had such a profound influence on the look and feel of the Star Wars universe. The show’s producer Dave Filoni..."

Don't be too proud of the "Lucas-era is behind us" mentality when bringing up Dave Filoni

Next: "Filoni and his team have studied the film’s shooting itinerary, trying to replicate not only the exact camera movements and lens used in the space battles but also trying to recreate the grain of the original film."

I can't find any corroboration on this point.

Next: "There seems to be a newfound respect for the past, and a humble desire to learn from it, not rewrite it."

I refer back to the beginning of this article about rewriting.

Next: "The new creative talents involved have a reverence for the source material in a way that Lucas never could. And by looking backwards, Star Wars Episode VII may have inadvertently picked up its most potent weapon: nostalgia. As fans of Mad Men know all too well, nostalgia in Greek refers to the pain from an old wound – a nagging, dull sort of pain, tugging at your insides, making you remember the initial cut. And that’s how I feel about Star Wars – I remember the way it was, how it made me feel as a child, but those feelings have faded over time. Episode VII has re-opened those old wounds, and that twinge is the dormant pain you only get from a new hope."

Blah blah blah....

My translation: "I didn’t like the Prequels. People I talk to didn't like the Prequels. People on the internet didn't like the Prequels. In other words, no one liked the Prequels. They weren't what I and the aforementioned groups of people wanted them to be. Thus, they were bad. And they show that Lucas' success with the Original Trilogy was kind of an accident. He didn't understand what he was doing. But fortunately for us, a new generation of filmmakers, along with acceptable and approved remnants from the old guard, actually get Star Wars and thus can do a better job of making quality Star Wars films. And by that I mean films that, when compared to the Original Trilogy, keep the same that which I personally want kept the same, and change that which I personally am OK with being changed. So I'm still sad that the Prequels were such a mess. But I'm hopeful that finally Star Wars can be set right. And by that I mean "exactly the way I want it to be."

I guess I’m being a bit provocative there. In the end, the points are argued by Mr. Krupa with more tact than that. (And certainly with more tact than how many other folks dissatisfied with the prequels have approached the subject. See the article’s comments section.) But when it’s all boiled down, it seems to me to be a simple matter of a person not respecting the role of an author/creator, not liking three films in a franchise, not being able to see past the subjectivity of his own opinion, and ascribing deficiencies of skill on the part of the film’s creator rather than allowing that it might be a simple matter of differences in goals between the filmmaker and himself (thus engaging in what psychologists call the fundamental attribution error).

I’ll end with this:
No one has to like the Prequels.
No one has to dislike the Prequels.
No one has to like the Prequels more than the Original Trilogy.
No one has to like the Original Trilogy more than the Prequels.

And the Sequel Trilogy will be what it will be

 - Nic

Posted on May 1, 2014 .

Alternate Scotty on Star Wars, Lucas, and Abrams

Simon Pegg, who I enjoyed as Scotty in 2009's "Star Trek," has made some comments about JJ Abram's involvement in Star Wars Episode VII. They strike me as a bit gushy. Essentially, JJ will make all right with the world.

Here's the IGN article.

Just a few comments I'd like to make:

1.  Switching Star Trek from science-fiction to science-fantasy was not, in the opinion of many people, actually that great of a thing. Afterall, we already had a major science-fantasy franchise with "Star" in the title. It's not like we were lacking in that area. Why take the sci-fi out of Trek?

2. One man's "mire" is another man's favorite trilogy of films.

3. Just because Lucas made the prequels the way he did, that doesn't mean he misread anything. It might be that with the prequels his aim was to tell the story he wanted to tell, not to read the public and give them exactly what they expected/wanted.

4. I cared about the things the Prequels focused on.

5. Pegg's criticism of the Prequels seem to be primarily story-based. Thus it confuses me when he says Abrams will embrace the things Lucas didn't focus on, will bring back the fun, etc. I'm confused because, well, JJ Abrams isn't writing the script to Episode VII. He's just the director. The story won't be his and his writing cadre's the way the new Trek films have been.

 - Nic

Posted on May 9, 2013 .

Dear IGN: Millions of People Like the Prequels. Get Over It

At the beginning of the month, IGN published an article by "Sydney-based freelance copywriter and screenwriter" Robbie Boland entitled "8 Things Star Wars Episode VII Can Learn From Episodes I-III." Now, this will probably surprise you, but despite what you might be thinking from the title the article does not in fact discuss 8 positive things the Prequels brought to the world of Star Wars, things the new trilogy would do well to incorporate. No, this article engages in something that's quite rare on the Internet: it cracks on the prequel trilogy, and in a condescending "everyone knows this" manner.

As Inner Dorkdom Prime Directive 3 teaches us, Mr. Boland is free to like or dislike whatever he wants. But, at the same time, others (like myself) are free to like or dislike whatever we want.

And, personally, I'm kind of tired of all the bashing on the Prequels, especially when it's done (as it usually is) in that "it's not just that the films didn't meet with my expectations or preferences, it's that they are objectively bad" way. This article is no exception. Note one of the first sentences:

"Whether you think the Star Wars prequels were a cinematic marvel or a crime against humanity, we can all agree that they had their share of high and low points. Okay, more than their share of low points."

Seriously? Was that second sentence necessary?

Anyway, the purpose of this article is not merely to point out that someone is being completely awesome by acting like they're better than the Prequels. Rather, I want to look at Mr. Boland's points and respond to them. So, if you haven't read his article, please go check it out.

Back? Ok, let's go.

Lesson #1: Please Don’t Make it About Intergalactic Trade and Taxation Laws

He argues that such topics are boring, and that no one wants to see a Star Wars movie about them. He also offers what would have been better (in his opinion, though he doesn't acknowledge this point): Anakin’s quest to “Bring Balance to the Force” by finding and confronting Darth Sidious, a mysterious virus decimating the Jedi, an uprising staged by a malevolent sentient potted plant named Frank would have been more entertaining.

My responses:
1. The Prequels weren't actually about trade and taxation laws. At most they are part of the background to the events of Episode I. But even that film

2. George Lucas was entitled to make the Prequels about whatever he wanted to (ID Primary Directive #4). If he wanted them to have a political aspect to their story, then that was his prerogative. If he, Kathleen Kennedy, and whoever else in charge of Ep VII (incidentally, that list doesn't ultimately include Mr. Abrams) want it to also have a political angle, again, that's their right.

3. I actually enjoyed the political aspects of the Prequels. So, apparently, I'm no one.

4. The political aspects strike me as pretty essential to the story being told. A story that had similar mythic qualities to that of the Original Trilogy, but with added layers of content and meaning. The OT, it seems to me, is about good and evil on the individual level (Luke's journey from thrill-seeking farmboy to noble self-sacrificing Jedi Knight, Han's challenge of growing into a better person than the selfish smuggler he is when we first meet him, Darth Vader's redemption, etc.) The Prequels deal with this as well, but also deal with good and evil on the societal level. (how a free society becomes a dictatorship, the corrupting nature of evil on entire societies, etc.). It is partially these added levels of commentary and meaning that cause me to like the Prequels more than the Original Trilogy. So, far from being hindered by the political aspects, I think Eps I-III are improved by them.

5. I let Josh read the draft of this article, and he pointed out something very much to the point: how are you going to tell a story about a guy (Sidious) rising to power (from Senator to Chancellor to Emperor) without dealing with politics?

Lesson #2: The Comic Relief Should Actually Be, You Know, Comic

He says that the idea of including comic relief in the films for kids was a good idea, it's just that Jar Jar wasn't funny. Not just that he didn't find him funny, mind you. But that no one, including presumably the kids, found him funny. He says, "When every single person who watches The Phantom Menace for the first time wonders, “Why doesn’t Qui-Gon just stab him to death with a lightsaber?” you probably haven’t nailed the comedy sidekick bit."

My responses:
1. I didn't wonder why Qui-Gon didn't stab Jar Jar. So, clearly not every single person thought that.

2. Even if I'm not annoyingly taking his words literally, I just don't think his claim holds up. There were many people, not just me, who had no feelings of hatred, animosity, or contempt for Jar Jar on their initial viewing of Episode I.

3. Mr. Boland concedes that Jar Jar was included as comic relief for kids, yet refuses to acknowledge a rather relevant objective truth. That is, kids did find Jar Jar funny. So...yeah.

4. Jar Jar's goofiness is, it seems to me, essential to one of the messages or points of the Prequels, Episode I especially. That is, be careful about judging people superficially. The annoying, weird looking goofball who you might write off as just a pathetic lifeform that would be served well with a lightsaber to the back might turn out to be a loyal friend and just the person you need when the going gets rough. He's the Wicket, and the Gungans the Ewoks, of the PT.

Lesson #3: Sometimes Less (CGI) is more

He says there was too much CGI in the Prequels. CGI is good when "used somewhat sparingly, or to enhance practical effects and real world settings." But too much is bad. In particular he refers to the boredom brought about from watching two CGI armies featuring CGI characters you don't care about fight. CGI armies going at it can be found in all the Prequels, but his reference to CGI characters you don't care about suggests he's thinking of Episode I again.

My responses:
1. It's possible to have too much CGI for my tastes also. So I don't think this point is completely devoid of any merit.

2. The thing is, the "too much" line is going to vary from person to person, and will depend on a number of factors, including what their threshold of "realism" with CGI is.

3. Same goes for what constitutes "sparingly."

4. Enhancing practical effects and real world settings? I'm sorry, but this is Star Wars we're talking about. A franchise with exotic unrealistic locales populated by strange creatures and amazing machinery. Given that, I'm not sure his request is doable. Is he saying they should have built a real working General Greivous robot, and then just CGI'ed in some greebly bits or his beating heart or something? Should they have built actual droid factories, and used CGI to add in extra conveyor belts? Do you put a feathery-lizard suit on a horse, take it to your Utapau set, and tell Ewan McGregor to "just hold on tight"?

5. I'm glad the Prequels used CGI. Certainly some effects shots hold up better than others. But the pioneering work done by ILM on those films had led us to where we are today. And besides, without the extensive CGI work found in the PT we wouldn't have been able to see many of those new places, creatures, and vehicles.

Lesson #4: Do, or Do Not (Act). There is No Try.

Predictably, like many cool people before him, he criticizes the acting. He even calls it wooden. However, he does include a bit of a twist that I don't recall encountering before. He argues that part of the reason for the bad acting, besides George Lucas' directing, was due to poor casting. For example, he loves Samuel L. Jackson, and would loved to see him as a bounty hunter or rogue Jedi who swears a lot (I'm not kidding) and plays by his own rules. But he was dissappointed with Mr. Jackson as "a venerable Jedi Master who sits on a chair and offers sage wisdom." He contends that J.J. Abrams needs to "cast the right people in parts where he can get the most from them."

My responses:

1. Have you not seen Episodes II or III? You do realize that the Prequels consist of more than just Episode I, right? I say this because Ep I is the only film where Mace Windu does nothing but sit in a chair and offer advice. In Eps II and III he's involved in giving orders, conferring with Yoda, fighting droids and decapitating bounty hunters, leading armies, not trusting Anakin, and attempting to arrest Darth Sidious.

2. I liked Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu. He brought to the character a great mix of stoicism with quiet intensity just under he surface that I don't think we would have gotten with another actor. And, maybe this is just me, but everytime I see Mr. Jackson in a movie, I don't expect/demand him to just reprise his role of Jules in a different wardrobe. "What ain't no planet I ever heard of. They speak Bocce on What?"

3. In general I thought all the casting in the Prequels was great.

4. I really don't think JJ Abrams by virtue of directing Ep VII is going to be in charge of casting.

5. Just a point about the general claim of "wooden" acting. What I think people fail to see and/or acknowledge, is the possibility that the mannerism of these characters are purposeful decisions, not the results of bad acting. Perhaps the Jedi, being a peace-keeping spiritual order, don't talk and act like the Avengers. Perhaps people who have spent half of their lives in political office likewise don't act like our next-door neighbors.

6. Samuel L. would play a great bounty hunter, no doubt. But the Prequels weren't about bounty hunters. They were about the fall of the Republic, the extermination of the Jedi, and the fall of Anakin. Thus, if Mr. Jackson is going to have a prominent role in the Prequels, it's not going to be as a bounty hunter.

7. A swearing rogue Jedi? I figure this, as well as much of the rest of the article is embellished for [sic] comedic effect. But really? Do some people have no understanding of what the Jedi are supposed to be?

Lesson #5: Use the Force (Better), Luke!

Apparently so. He was disappointed that the Jedi in the Prequels didn't wow us with their amazing Force-powers. What we saw in the OT was supposed to be, "the tip of the iceberg." But the Jedi in the Prequels didn't do anything new or overwhelming. It was "the same old Force pushes or Force chokes." My suspicion is that he was expecting/hoping for something along the lines of the way Jedi are presented in the EU.

My response:
1. The EU has not portrayed Jedi in a manner consistent with what George Lucas envisioned them to be. In the EU they do indeed have these amazing powers, like superheroes. But that's an area where the EU simply got it wrong. It's unfortunate that people read the EU and then were disappointed that the Prequels didn't gel with it. But, it is what it is.

2. I'm glad that the Jedi aren't all Superman, or even the X-Men. The balance of their abilities and their limitations makes them interesting, and actually relatively unique among fiction.

Lesson #6: We Need Heroes We Can Invest In

He says the characters of the Prequels are not of the sort that audiences can invest in. Everyone has favorite characters from the Original Trilogy, but not from the Prequels. Nope. None of those characters were, "believable," with, "real problems and personalities." Also, he says that the Prequels didn't have a clear protagonist throughout all three films.

My responses:
1. Obi-Wan. Followed by R2-D2, Yoda, Anakin, Mace Windu. And, I know you can't see me, but coming up with that list did not involve me making poop faces.

2. "Believable" is apparently in the eye of the beholder, because I didn't find the characters of the Prequels any less believable than those of the OT.

3. As for the "no clear protagonist," 1) Just because you don't meet Anakin until 35 minutes into Episode I doesn't mean he can't be the protagonist of that film. 2) Just because Qui-Gonn dies at the end doesn't mean he can't be the primary protagonist of the film. 3) Even if it were the case that the Prequels have no clear protagonist, I would say to that, "....and?" I don't get how this is a criticism, per se. The story of the Prequels is a bit more nuanced and complex, and it ends with a major tragedy. That often doesn't lead to a film series with one clearly defined hero from the first scene to the last.

Lesson #7: And Bad Guys Who Actually Kick [Butt]

He complains that Maul was the only cool villain in the prequels (wow, I've never heard this before). The battle droids were too awkward, Dooku was too old, and the 4-armed cyborg (wait, that sounds kind of cool) had a tendency to cough (that's better, everything is fine now because coughing is so lame). Vader was so intimidating, which was cool in itself, plus it implied that the Emperor must be super bad-news. When Luke lost to Vader on Bespin, he was outmatched.

My responses:
1. What about Sidious? You know, the guy who later, when he was older (and British), would be Vader's boss? Yes, he didn't pull out a lightsaber until Ep III. But the guy was able to take over the entire Republic, convince the public that the Jedi were evil and their extermination a necessity, and manipulate Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, into severely injuring his wife and turning his back on her, his mentor and best friend, and the only life he'd known for 13 years. Maybe that's not butt-kicking in the literal sense. But I'd say that it is butt-kicking all the same.

2. Anakin was clearly outmatched on Geonosis. Dooku cut off his hand, just like Vader would do to Luke. So why doesn't that count? Why is he not a butt-kicker because he's old and has a British accent? I personally thought Dooku was a great villain.

3. I also thought Greivous was pretty impressive as a bad guy. In fact, that's one of my few disappointments about The Clone Wars. It showed us that Grievous wasn't as all-that as we initially thought.

4. As Josh read the draft of this article, he pointed out how the totally awesome Darth Vader was sometimes a little on the underwhelming side in the OT (case in point: the duel between him and Obi-Wan on the Death Star).

Lesson #8: I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This Dialogue

He says the dialogue was awkward, pointing to the Anakin and Padme "love scenes" as prime evidence. He says that the new films don't need to rehash the OT's Han/Leia, or the "same will-they won’t-they Luke/Han bromantic vibe" (again, I'm not kidding). But there needs to be more quotable banter, a believable love story, and a legitimate spark between the characters.

My responses:
1. I don't think anyone can deny that the style of dialogue that is predominate in the Prequels is of a different style than the OT. There's more formality and less snarkiness.

2. Again, I don't know why people chalk it up to 'George Lucas can't write dialogue' and don't even consider that the characters of the Prequels are of a much different sort than those of the OT. In the original films we had farm boys, smugglers, gangsters, bounty hunters, and a princess who was one by (adopted) birth, not choice. In the Prequels we had Jedi, lifelong politicians, reclusive aliens, and a couple of bounty hunters. Different characters speak in different ways. Maybe people don't like the way characters in the Prequels speak. But that doesn't make the dialogue bad.

3. I also don't know why people chalk it up to 'George Lucas can't write dialogue' when he wrote Episode IV.

And there it is. Eight supposedly horrid things about the Prequels and my take on each one. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time, I am,

 - Nic

Posted on March 18, 2013 .

Nic's New Roundup - March 1

March 2013 has arrived. Here are some new stories from the world of dorkiness over the past few days that I've found particularly interesting.

1. Tim Curry is the new Palpatine - Folks who keep up with the world of Star Wars: The Clone Wars know that the voice actor who first played Palpatine on the show, Ian Abercrombie, passed away last January. After lamenting his death, fans started wondering who Filoni, et. al. would choose to replace him as the voice of the most sinister politician and Sith Lord that galaxy far, far away ever knew. But episodes of The Clone Wars take a long time to produce. Tellingly so, the last episode Mr. Abercrombie worked on just aired a few weeks ago (having some great moments for the character). So now here we are, the last episode of season 5 is about to air--an episode that features an appearance by Palpatine. Via the Huffington Post Lucasfilm has revealed that the future Emperor will henceforth be voice by none other than Tim Curry. I won't try to summarize his career here, as that would take quite a while. Suffice it to say, the man has experience playing villains. Here's a preview clip of tomorrow's episode, which, incidentally, looks to be a great conclusion to what has been a great multi-part season finale.

There's no doubt, at least to my ears, that Mr. Abercrombie was a better voice double for Mr. MicDiarmid (the OG Palpatine) than Mr. Curry. The tonality is much closer. But, that having been said, I love his delivery in this scene. It's just a few quick lines, and Palpatine is the supposedly kind-hearted Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in this scene. But nonetheless, it makes me look forward to future episodes, episodes where Dath Sidious is able to be himself. I have a feeling that Tim Curry will knock it out of the park.

2. Transformers Prime coming to an end - IGN reports that, according to The HUB, the upcoming season 3 of Transformers Prime will be the last - I only recently finished watching season 1 of The HUB's flagship animated program. Prime, for those who don't know, is set in its own continuity, though it is clearly influenced by both the live action film series and the previous Transformers TV show, Transformers: Animated (which Josh and I really liked). I personally enjoy the show. It does lack the fun found in some (if not most) previous incarnations of Transformers, but it does have Peter Cullen and Frank Welker. In fact, here's a great Optimus Prime moment from the end of the premiere 5-parter.

I got chills just now watching it.

So, a three season run. That seems short, but for Transformers it's actually pretty good. The original show ran for three seasons. The "Unicron Trilogy" consisted technically of three separate shows, but they were all set in the same continuity, so it's reasonable to think of them as one show (one unenjoyable show from what I saw, which is all the more disappointing since apparently Takara's original idea for the show would have been a continuation of the G1 continuity, but it was the Americans at Hasbro who thought that a reboot to garbage was a better idea....ok, calling it garbage was a bit much...I apologize). And Animated ran for three seasons, although they weren't all full-length.

So I guess the big question is: what will the next series be?

3. Turtles on the march - IGN also reports that Nickelodeon has renewed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a third season -- and it's currently only in its first! While that might ultimately be a premature decision, at this point I say, "right on." I'm really enjoying the new incarnation of TMNT. It brings in some of the design sensibilities of the most recent Turtles film (the excellent animated one), the sense of fun from the original show, the original show's theme song, and it's own original charm. Booya-kashaa!!

I may post a few more later today. We'll see.

 - Nic

Posted on March 1, 2013 .

Star Wars Prequel Discontent?

IGN recently interviewed Lawrence Kasdan about his involvement in the new Star Wars trilogy. I'm excited that he's going to be a part of it, so I gladly read the interview. Over the course of the discussion, Mr. Kasdan had this to say:

I was pleased that there would be new ones, that there was a chance to capture some of the spirit of the original trilogy that I’d worked on. I thought there’s an audience out there -- my grandchildren, lots of original Star Wars people -- and there always will be. It’s only good that we try to do some more great ones.

Am I reading into things too much, or does it sound like Mr. Kasdan didn't like the prequels all that much?

A few days ago, Mark Hamill was being interviewed about his involvement with the new films. Among other things, he said this:

 "I said to George that I wanted to go back to the way it was, in the sense that ours was much more carefree and lighthearted and humorous – in my opinion, anyway....hope they find the right balance of CGI with practical effects. I love props, I love models, miniatures, matte paintings -- I'm sort of old school. I think if you go too far in the direction of CGI it winds up looking like just a giant a video game, and that's unfortunate. … If they listen to me at all, it'll be, 'Lighten up and go retro with the way it looks.'"

Now, I agree with his assessment about the differing tone of the two trilogies. But, now I can't help but wonder if the unstated part was, "and the tone of the originals was better."

Come on famous people who were heavily involved in the first Star Wars trilogy! Don't be haters!

What say y'all?

 - Nic

Posted on February 25, 2013 .

The Inner Dorkdom Podcast - Episode 9

Sorry for the lack of content this week. In order to make it up to you, we present you with this new episode of The Inner Dorkdom podcast! Listen in as Nic and Josh talk about the big news in Star Wars, the announcement of J.J. Abrams as the director of Episode VII. They also talk about Star Trek (big surprise).

Runtime: 2 hours, 24 minutes, 57 seconds
Posted on January 31, 2013 .

J.J. Abrams Is Directing Episode VII

And we have the first image from the first film in the Star Wars sequel triolgy....

 - Nic

Posted on January 24, 2013 .

New Star Wars Film News - Samurai Jedi

So today I was going to write a little article about different video game control schemes. But then I found myself busy with other things throughout the day, and now it's just too late in the evening.

So instead, I'll simply post this:

Today was the day we got our first information about a Star Wars film that won't be a part of the numbered saga. IGN is reporting (along with others, perhaps) that Zach Snyder of 300 and The Watchmen fame is working on a Seven Samurai inspired Star Wars film (but not Episode IV). It will be set post-RotJ, and might even occur during the events of the Sequel Trilogy.

This certainly is an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan.

Wondering what the future holds as a I lay my head on my pillow, I am,

 - Nic

Posted on January 14, 2013 .

Nic's News

Today I bring you this:

Disney's ABC Considering SW Live-Action Series - Oh yeah!

 - Nic

Posted on January 10, 2013 .

The Clone Wars Turns 100

Tomorrow's new episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the 100th episode of the show. So I thought I'd jot down a few words about it.

Around the time Episode III came out it was announced that the 2D Clone Wars micro-series was going to be modified and return to television as an ongoing show. I for one was excited.

First, it would be more Star Wars. This itself was good for at least two reasons. One, since back in 2005 we were all under the impression that there would be no more theatrical Star Wars ever, a new show meant Star Wars would be able to continue (yes, yes, I know there were still the books and videogames....don't get me started). And two, it would be Star Wars on, presumably, a weekly basis. Holy lightsabers Obi-Wan, new Star Wars every week!! Josh and I quickly did the math, and realized that in just one season, assuming it would be a half-hour, we'd get almost as much Star Wars content as the entire film saga had given us. So in just one season there'd be a doubling of Star Wars. And if the show went on longer, wow.

Second, I really enjoyed the Tartakovski micro-series. It felt Star Wars-ian to me. You might think, well, duh, it's Star Wars. But just because you slap the Star Wars name on something doesn't make it feel like George Lucas' galaxy far far away. I've found that many of the EU novels, while fine books in and of themselves, don't quite nail that Star Wars feeling. But even with minimal dialogue (especially in the first batch), this little show with a funky art style and anime influences felt right. So a continuation of that in particular was exciting.

As I recall, shortly after the announcement news about the show completely dried up. There was nothing said about it. I had confidence that the show was being worked on. But still, not hearing jack diddly about it was a bummer. But eventually the news started to flow again. The show was going to be CGI (that may have been announced originally, I'm not sure), each episode was going to be a half-hour, and they weren't sure what network would carry it. Rumors included everything from Cartoon Network (since they had broadcast the micro-series, and they're called Cartoon Network, it was certainly reasonable to include them in the list) to HBO (what would a Star Wars cartoon on HBO look like, we all wondered).

As time went on, news picked up and the hype train pulled out of the station. And then, one fateful day, an announcement was made. The series premier would not be shown on television, but in the movie theater. I got misty-eyes, I must admit. I was going to get to go to a movie theater again and say, "I'd like two tickets to Star Wars, please." I'd thought my days of doing that were over (little did I know, eh). Soon preview clips of the film and show found their way onto the Internet. I remember watching them, listening intensely in order to try and figure out whether the live-action actors were reprising their roles or not. At the time I was hoping for the original actors, although now it's quite obvious that, by in large, they (although great talents) weren't essential. Indeed, it's hard for me to imagine the Clone Wars show, and the fandom surrounding it, without folks like Matt Lanter and James Arnold Taylor. Their talent and their genuine enjoyment of their place in Star Wars has been an irreplacable aspect of it all, one that I just don't think would have been there without them (I guess that's what irreplacable means, huh). In any event, it is a testament to the talents of James and Matt that in listening to those preview clips I just couldn't quite tell whether I was hearing Ewan and Hayden or voice actors. I knew that Lucasfilm had a voice actor who did a phenomenal Obi-Wan, since he'd played the part in the micro-series. Kenobi was, and is, my favorite character, but James Arnold Taylor's Obi-Wan was so good that I wasn't really concerned that he might get the role and not Ewan McGreggor.

It turns out none of the original cast was returning, save Anthony Daniel, and, for the film, Christopher Lee and Samuel L. Jackson (who, incidentally, is the one film actor who I still wish was reprising his role on the show). But that didn't deter me, Josh, and my wife Liz from being in the theater opening day. (In fact, we observed that once the show got into its second season, all these new actors will have played these parts for more screen-time than their live action counterparts. James Arnold Taylor would have been Obi-Wan Kenobi longer than Sir Alec Guiness and Ewan McGreggor combined.) Reviews were already out, and, shocker, a lot of them were negative. This also didn't deter me, as reviews of the prequels had been less than stellar but I thoroughly enjoyed all three films. The lights darkened, the 20th Century Fox fanfare did not play, the Clone Wars version of the main theme hit, and we were on our way.

About 10-15 minutes in, the battle of Cristophsis was still going on, the projector in the theater locked up. While on the one hand a bummer, it did give the three of us the chance to share initial impressions. Liz isn't a huge Star Wars fan, but she was liking it well enough. As for Josh and I, we really liked what we'd seen so far. Soon the projector was fixed and the movie resumed. Our final feelings were the same as those initial ones. We just didn't see what all the hate was about. It felt exactly like Star Wars, just CGI instead of live action/CGI. Sure the animation had room for improvement. But it was by no means bad. The art style was very appealing, and the music, though definitely taking Star Wars music into more experimental territory...for Star Wars music, and though definitely not John Williams, was still very good, and fit perfectly with the film. The actors all nailed their parts, the story had that Star Wars version of swashbuckling fun, the new padawan seemed like she had potential to become an interesting character, and Obi-Wan was dry and snarky, yet warm-hearted, just as he should be. (I still consider the film to be one of the best 'episodes' of the show. The premier of the show, now confirmed to be on Cartoon Network, couldn't come soon enough.

And eventually it arrived. Ah, season one. Although I don't consider it to be my favorite season (that would be two), there's a certain magic associated with that season in my mind. It was Star Wars on TV. And it was airing in the Fall (my favorite time of the year). I have very fond memories of season 1. And there were some standout episodes in that first season: The Malevolence Trilogy, Ambush, Jedi Crash and the subsequent episode (which incidentally gave us our first Star Wars / Star Trek casting crossover, at least of a major character), Blue Shadow Virus and Mystery of a Thousand Moons. Reviews started off pretty harshly. It was apparently the cool thing to do to hate on the show. But slowly, people started to come around. Star Wars fandom started to embrace the show on a larger scale.

And here we are, years later, in the middle of season 5. (A show which covers three years of in-universe time is in its fifth season. Don't do the math.) I must admit, over the last season and a half my excitement for the show has waned just a bit. There are a few reasons I can identify, but I won't go into that here. (But if you're curious, check out the latest episode of our Clone Wars podcast, The Clone Cast.) Nevertheless, I'm glad the show is still on, as it gives me a chance to explore that galaxy far, far, away, and to see the exploits of what may be my favorite fictional character of all-time (yup, Obi-Wan Kenobi).

I don't think the show needs to run for another 100 episodes. But when it does end, I hope it is succeeded by another Star Wars animated show of some sort. We're getting more Star Wars films in the coming years (!), but that doesn't mean we don't need we don't also need Star Wars on TV. May they both continue for a long time. And years from now, I believe folks will look back to The Clone Wars and see that it set a firm foundation for the post-original saga era of Star Wars.

Still anti-clankers, I am,

- Nic


Posted on January 4, 2013 .

Clone Wars Interviews

News-A-Rama has three short video interviews with the three Jedi leads on The Clone Wars. Though there's nothing really revelatory here, it's good to see the three of them showing their enthusiasm for the about-to-start-its-fifth-season animated show.

Matt Lanter Interview

James Arnold Taylor Interview

Ashley Eckstein Interview

Less than three days to the premiere!

 - Nic
Posted on September 26, 2012 .

Quick Hits from Nic

Greetings from sunny Florida. We're on vacation celebrating my wife's 25th birthday. But I wanted to pop in with some quick news bits:

1. She and I saw Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection the other day. Funny movie, that as with all Tyler Perry films (the ones I've seen anyway) has a good message (without being preachy). This is the most overt comedy film of his that I've seen, with he and Eugene Levy both bringing the funny.

2. While we're talking Tyler Perry, did you all know he's going to be the new Alex Cross, taking over for the iconic Morgan Freeman, in the 'reboot' being helmed by Rob Cohen (who directed some favorites of mine, such as DragonHeart and the third Mummy film...and is also known for films like Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, and The Fast amd the Furious)? Check out the trailer on Youtube. Liz and I are excited about it.

3. While we're talking Rob Cohen, I just learned he was a producer on the this-is-in-no-way-connected-to-the-plot-of-the-franchise-and-even-conceptually-it's-only-barely-connected-but-let's-give-it-the-franchise-name-anyway TV movie Knight Rider 2010 (which aired in 1996).

4. Voltron Force season 1 is now on Netflix. Despite the word of the haters, I found it to be a great continuation (yes, continuation) of the original show. All the original lion pilots are back, along with some new cadets. Gone is the robeast-of-the-week format of the original (although robeasts do show up often), and in it's place is a show that nicely balances on-going story with weekly stand-alone adventuring. Oh, and it's got the original theme song. (The original American theme that is, not the oh-so-catchy Japanese theme.) I recommend it.

5. Transformers Animated, which Josh and I believe to be the best Transformers show ever made, at least at the time it was produced (since then we've been given Transformers Prime which is quite good, but only time will tell how good), is now showing on The Hub. This is a big deal since the show inexplicably is not completely available on DVD. The first two seasons were released (although now they're out of print and hard to find), but the third and final season wasn't. This way one can see the whole thing (including the Die Hard episode...yes...that's what I said).

6. On the official Star Trek website, Hasbro has shown a teaser of their KRE-O (similar to LEGO) Star Trek line. Not suprisingly it focuses on the new JJ Abrams timeline. Very few details have been given, but they have released an image of the KRE-O Enterprise. I shall preface my opinion with the following: I didn't think the Abrams redesign of the original Constitution-class Enterprise was horrible (I'm talking exteriors only...the interiors are another story entirely, what with all the Apple Store and beer factory everywhere). It's not my favorite design, but it still feels like something Federation ship designers would cook up. Ok, preface over. This KRE-O version is...ok. It's not horrible, but it's not mindblowingly child-Nic's-dream-fulfilling awesome either. Quite frankly, I'm suprised how boxy it is. That might sound weird, given we're talking about building blocks. But take a look at some LEGO Star Wars ship sets and compare that with KRE-O Enterprise and I think you'll see what I mean. ... But I'm still going to want to get it when it comes out.

7. I watched the extended Clone Wars season 5 trailer. They go to Alderaan, and I saw what appeared to me to be some Falleen criminals...perhaps Black Sun?

8. TRON Uprising has premiered on Disney XD. I've seen the first three episodes (the second two on the Disney XD website). If you like TRON and/or TRON Legacy, I highly recommend it. The art style is quite striking, the story has great potential, there are references to both films (including...well...I don't know if I should spoil it...yes?, the music is similar to that in Legacy, and Bruce Boxleitner himself does a voice on the show (I'll give you a hint as to what program he plays: his name rhymes with Ron).

And that's all I've got to say about that.

 - Nic

Posted on July 8, 2012 .

!!! Game Developers Are Going To Make Us Squeal Like Little Pigs !!!

Hey, video games, you sure do have a pretty mouth!?!

So E3 is over and we are left wholly underwhelmed. Not to say that there wasn't anything good at the great convention in the sky (or Los Angeles), but we saw less mind blowing new stuff and more things that (while good) we already knew about. The few outstanding titles shown were expected to be outstanding, so no surprise at all really. I am excited about "The Last of Us" and "Beyond: Two-Souls", "Alien: Colonial Marines", "Halo 4", and to some extent the "Wii U". For the most part, I am more excited about the prospect of the future than I am the reality of the present. Current Generation hardware is reaching it's limit and the time is coming closer for us to move forward to bigger and better things.

Let's Talk Graphics!!!

There are PC gamers out there (you know we love you), but I am not one of them. I much prefer playing on a console, because I like the simplicity and the lack of headaches that it provides. There is, however, a trade-off between playing on a PC versus playing on a console. The upgradability of PCs almost always assure that they will be better (in the graphics department) than consoles. That also means, PCs will always be more expensive to the consumer than their more limited cousins, the consoles (especially if you want the best and fastest machine to play the newest and biggest games to their fullest extent). I have always wondered if there would come a day when the two would be evenly matched. I don't foresee this happening and, if it did, it would only be for a very short span of time (think months not years). The shelf life of a console is about 4 to 5 years. The life of a PC (in the world of gaming) is maxing out at around 2 to 3 years, and that is if you can handle being behind the curve when it comes to the newest games on the market at the end of that cycle. Almost every year, the specs for PC versions of games jump higher and higher. Console game designers have a set ceiling of specs that they must conform their games to every time they produce content for the home market (these designers can improve the quality of their games as the life of a console progresses, but they still can't exceed the limitations of the hardware). Even though these statistics lean heavily in favor of PCs over consoles, I have neither the time nor the money to be apart of that particular demographic. So consoles it is (for me anyway). "But Todd, consoles are expensive too?" Yes, weird little third person voice inside my head, but in the long run the cost is less, especially if you can only devote so much time to video games as a whole. With consoles, I don't have to constantly tweak my settings so that I can run at optimal levels or spend large amounts of time installing the game to a specific location on a specific hard drive with the right settings so that my graphics card can handle the load between it's internal memory and the computer's ram, not to mention the need to constantly buy new and better hardware to stay ahead of the current game specs. Wow, see my point?... No?... Well kiss my backside, fanboys... wait, does that mean I have to kiss my own rear (you know, cause I'm a fanboy)? I just find consoles work better in the context of my life right now, so that's what I want news about.

I have already discussed my love of story over multiplayer (yes, we are all well aware of your lengthy written discussions on many topics), but that is not the only quality I look for in a game (really, pray tell what might another one be, because you ARE going to bore us with the answer, Yipee). I am also a sucker for great graphics. If a game looks great, I'll be the first to try it out. Oddly enough a game with great graphics and mediocre gameplay is better to me than grap graphics and great gameplay. So, I am ready for the next generation (not Star Trek) of video game systems. The interesting thing about E3 is that some of the most graphically impressive games shown were done so on PCs and not consoles, even though they have been presented as coming to consoles too. Some of these game companies have not specified which consoles their respective products will appear on (no mention of Xbox360, PS3, Wii regular or U, or Sega Saturn [just kidding], just that they will be on the "generic word": Consoles). Also, none of the games in question were presented at any of the keynote presentations, and Sony famously makes the developers show their games on Sony hardware during their keynotes. Kotaku, on their website (here), have speculated that we may be seeing some games, which are listed as being released in 2013 (the predicted year of the new consoles), that may be intended to debut on the new systems first, before all others (current gen.). The new Star Wars game, "1313" (have you seen this thing) and Ubisoft's "Watch Dogs" (way out of left field) were running on PC hardware, not consoles, at their respective booths and the representatives of Lucasarts and Ubisoft were non-committal when questioned about which consoles the two games would be seen on. Is this an indication of the impending new console releases, maybe, maybe not, the game developers aren't saying. But these very same people are winking and giving very sly smiles when the topic arises. They, however, are not going to out the products of their biggest partners (the big "N"eh, Spidey's pimp, and Officesoft), so we'll have to wait to be amazed. It is certainly fun to think about though.

While I'm on the subject of graphics, take a look at the new graphic engine demos that premiered at E3 this year. They all were impressive (some more than others), but it appears to be a bright future ahead. With Square Enix's Luminous engine, the Unreal Engine 4 by Epic, and the CryEngine 3 by Crytec, I can safely say that I am impressed (not a difficult thing to do I assure you). This means that our new games will be more like the "Mean Girls" Lindsey Lohan and not like the "I'm going to run over you with my car" meth head Lindsey Lohan, and that's always a plus. Stay tuned for my review of Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" that's in theaters today (can't wait). Until then, no sleep til' Brooklyn.

Todd "The Master of Unlocking" B.

Updated For Reference (1:15 AM Sat. 6/9/2012)!!!

"This" is Epic showing off the Unreal Engine 3 (and it still got a little juice left in the tank) at last years GDC 2011 with a demo called "Samaritan". They said at the time that this demo represented how the next generation games should look. Another (read not) subtle kick in the crotch that it's time to move on up to the top "where the Jeffersons live" (to that Deeeluxe apartment in the sky hi hi, with anti-aliasing and dynamic lighting effects). "Hey, Sony and Microsoft, quit living on the couch in PC's basement. And just because he's slow to the party, doesn't mean you two should always make little Nintendo go out and get you more smokes, he wants to play Halo too, sometimes."

[Kotaku,, and IGN]

1313 = Mature Star Wars

IGN has a brief story up about the new Star Wars game Star Wars: 1313.

Apparently it will be 3rd person action adventure set on Coruscant. The player takes the role of a bounty hunter working on the capital planet. The game promises to have "exotic weapons" and some sort of "criminal conspiracy." The one screenshot (or piece of promotional art, not sure) includes a Lambda-class shuttle. So a post-prequels time-frame looks likely. Perhaps a post-prequels pre-OT setting. Who knows, there may even be some connection with the long-in-development live action show.

More details to follow next week.

 - Nic


Thanks to Mr. X for the heads up on this one.

Posted on June 2, 2012 .