Tag Archives: star wars

Expanded Universes

For a long time, Star Wars was dead. There wasn’t anything new for fans after Return of the Jedi until the Phantom Menace, unless you count a couple of Ewok movies or the cartoons. The only place the story actually continued was in the novels and the comic books. The same can now be said for Star Trek. But, are those stories worth the paper they’re printed on? Are they little more than expensive fan fiction? I guess the answer to those questions is at least partly based on how you feel about fan fiction. (more…)

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The High Midichlorian Count of Star Wars #1

I’m a pretty big Star Wars fan. Not huge, exactly. I mean, I haven’t read many of the novels. I don’t really know who Mara Jade is. I couldn’t tell you what species Darth Maul is. But, if we’re sticking to just the movies, I know my stuff. Another area of Star Wars lore that I’m pretty deficient in is the comic books. I’m sure some have been great over the years, but at this point they all seem to be kind of filler. (more…)

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Oh, What a Movie…

Once again, I’m a little late with this post. Normally, I post on Tuesday, but I saw Avengers 2 again yesterday and as much as I’d like to write more about that delightful film I’m sure you’d rather read something new. Luckily, I saw something today that’s much newer. Mad Max: Fury Road!

Let’s start with the negative: It felt to me a touch, a smidge, a wee bit long.

The positive: Everything else. (more…)

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San Diego Con Announcements

As I am sure you are all aware, this past weekend was San Diego Comic Con 2014. To all the people who were lucky enough to attend, I’d like to say on behalf of the rest of us “Screw you guys.” This sentiment definitely includes the Co-Uberfriend in Chief. Unless he brings me something back. In which case, “Screw you guys except for the Co-Uberfriend in Chief who is a hero to us all.” (more…)

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Them crazy jumping twisty tricks in the air

When I was much younger, I used to think that Darth Maul doing a butterfly twist in Star Wars Episode 1 was the coolest thing in the world.


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New Star Wars or Old?

The Beatles seem to be the only musicians that everyone likes. Everyone’s heard of them and even if you hate everything about them you still grudgingly like Yellow Submarine. I think the closest equivalent to that in the movie world is Star Wars. Even if you haven’t seen a full movie, you know who Darth Vader is. You know what the Force is. You probably hate Jar Jar Binks on principle.

While the preceding paragraph might be a bit of an exaggeration, it won’t be for long. A couple of years ago now, Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise from Mr. George Lucas so it’s about to become a whole lot more ubiquitous. They’ve announced that they eventually want to release 1 Star Wars movie a year. Maybe a Chewbacca movie. Maybe a Boba Fett movie. Maybe Jabba The Hutt’s high school years. But the main focus is always going to be on the trilogy. Specifically, completing the trilogy of trilogies.

The first step was poaching Mr. J.J. Abrams from the Star Trek film series and giving him the director’s hat for episode 7. Now, they have to work out a story. They’ve already fired one writer, and now Mr. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (the writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Arc) are working on a new script. There are tons of rumours floating around as to what this movie could be about, and who could be in it. In fact, they’ve all but confirmed that Luke, Han and Leia will be back. What they haven’t confirmed is how big a part they will play.

The latest that I’ve heard is that they will be main characters. I can’t think of a bigger mistake than that. Look, I love those actors. They brought to life a rip roaring adventure that has captured imaginations for decades. But, that adventure ended 30 years ago. Those people have lived extensively, and have changed a lot in appearance. The audience is going to see them on screen and have to mentally fill in those last thirty years.

Harrison Ford got his ear pierced at some point in that time. Am I going to think, ‘Han must have had a midlife crisis at some point and decided to try to look cool.’ Mark Hamill has spent much of the last three decades sitting behind a microphone doing voice over work. Will the audience assume that Luke gave up on being a Jedi to sit around and levitate Twinkies into his mouth? Carrie Fisher’s drug and alcohol problems are pretty well documented- are we going to be wondering if the force Leia’s talking about is cocaine?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not terribly interested in the Skywalker’s adventures in the senior’s home. Maybe that makes me ageist, but I’d be surprised of Disney didn’t also share my concerns. I think the Star Wars movies need to be about the next generation. Sure, a cameo here and there is fine, but starring roles? I think that’s better left to the Zac Efron’s of the world. (Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of Zac Efron being in a Star Wars movie.)

Graham Becksted is your father. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 93rd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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The Dark Future Of Star Wars

In the last few months we have learned that there will be more Star Wars movies, and that the first one will be directed by Mr. J. J. Abrams. We know that these ones will take place after the original trilogy, and that it will be the first of many. I’m pretty sure Disney has said that they would like to put out at least one a year. That’s all well and good, and totally within their rights to do. I’m not going to act surprised or disappointed that a huge corporation is going to try and milk as much money as they can out of one of the most lucrative franchises in the world. I do think, though, that these movies are going to do a disservice to the most loyal Star Wars fans.

Those fans are the ones who have eaten up everything and anything branded with the Star Wars logo over the past 35 years. They bought the comics, toys, novels, video games, and t-shirts. They have kept this franchise alive as much, if not more so, than George Lucas himself. They know the characters better than their creator.

If the prequel trilogy is any indication, everything that they know about the future of the Star Wars universe is going to be ignored and disregarded. For example, the creators who worked on the novels and comic books took Boba Fett, a bounty hunter who was in less than ten minutes of the original trilogy, and turned him into the biggest bad ass in the universe. They created an interesting origin for him, and made him an integral part of the continuing story. The prequel trilogy completely disregarded everything that had already been written about him and turned him into a lame clone baby.

Now, sure, there’s definitely stuff in the expanded universe that might be best forgotten. For instance, Chewbacca getting crushed to death by a moon. But, there is also cool stuff like Grand Admiral Thrawn and the continuing adventures of Wedge Antilles and Rogue Squadron that shouldn’t just be swept away. If it is, that stuff just becomes expensive fan fiction.

What keeps me somewhat hopeful that all of that stuff doesn’t get completely forgotten is Mr. Abrams himself. In taking over the Star Trek franchise, he wanted to do his own thing. His mandate was to take the most iconic characters and make them cool again. Thanks to time travel, he managed to do that without invalidating all of the spinoffs that came before. Maybe he can do something similar with Star Wars.

I’m not suggesting he do time travel again, all I’m asking is he acknowledge all of the established continuity even if it’s just in passing. We know that the stars of the original trilogy will be popping up in some capacity, but maybe make them background characters or cameos. Let the expanded universe be their story, and have these movies be about someone new. If there are some renegade Imperials about, make one of them blue. When Luke Skywalker pops up, have him be married to a woman named Mara Jade. Little things like that could keep old fans happy while creating new content for the universe.

That’s what I think, anyway. I’m sure Star Wars will do just fine whether they take my advice or not. But, the prequel trilogy has already chiseled away a lot of the hardcore fanbase, and I think this would be a good way to avoid alienating the rest.

Graham Becksted will probably still buy a ticket no matter what. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 81st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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Disney buys Lucasfilm?!

… and it plans to make new Star Wars movies every 2 to 3 years.

Here’s what I think will happen.  Sequels are rarely as good as the original when the original is unusually good.  It’s hard to hit a home run twice in a row.  Films like Terminator 2 and Godfather 2 are the exceptions rather than the rule.  On that basis, the new Star Wars films will likely suck compared to the original.  But many people will still go see it anyways and Disney will keep milking the franchise until it dies a Rock Band death.

On the other hand, maybe the new Star Wars movies won’t be so bad.  Maybe Disney will be smart enough to not let the director write the entire script on his/her own.  The Star Wars prequels were atrocious:

I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft… and smooth.

Have you seen Matrix 2?  Prometheus?  Some directors just need help from professional writers.  The new Star Wars movies might… just maybe… turn out to be half-decent.

Here’s an interview with George Lucas where he talks about the sale:

To me, it seems that George Lucas is a little tired of making movies.

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A TV Revolution!

Every year around this time, change is in the air.  The leaves turn.  Students start new classes.  Summer blockbusters become autumn dramas.  And, perhaps most noticeably, a new crop of TV shows hit the air.  And every year, a few of them are singled out for complete media saturation.  Banner ads, TV ads, movie ads, subway ads, bus ads, human ads.  They scream – if you’re just going to watch one new show this year make it this one!  Last year it was Terra Nova.  In 2010, it was The Event.

This year, I can’t think of a single show that’s been overhyped.  And maybe that’s for the best.  Considering the fact that both of the shows mentioned above barely made it through a season, it’s kind of sad to think of all the money that was wasted promoting them.  (Just for the record, I fully acknowledge that I could be totally wrong about this. Maybe there is a show that’s being overhyped and I’m just not being exposed to it.  If so, please let me know.)

Of all of the shows that are starting up right now, there is one in particular that I think fits the mold of those overhyped shows: Revolution.  It’s similar in that it has an all-star creative team (J.J. Abrams, Jon Favreau and Eric Kripke) and series defining mystery.  But, it was allowed to premiere without tons of ads and magazine cover stories.  Very little was revealed about it, and even less was spoiled.

By the time The Event and Terra Nova finally hit the air, most people had seen or heard enough to decide if they liked it or not.  It also rendered the first episode unnecessary as you already knew exactly what was going to happen.  Revolution, on the other hand, has managed to fly relatively under the radar.  I watched the first episode last night and there were quite a few surprises for me.

I’m far more interested than I thought I would be in the how and why of the power going out.  The western in modern times feel of it stirs up my old Firefly yearnings.  And I also like the use of Star Wars character archetypes.  This was mentioned by Eric Kripke in an interview in Entertainment Weekly.  He made it clear that Charlie, the naive but brave protagonist, is modeled on Luke Skywalker, and Miles, her jaded uncle, is based on Han Solo.  Knowing this, I spent a good chunk of the episode trying to guess who the other characters reference.

So far, I know I’ve nailed two more.  Aaron is a chubby, bearded gentleman who tags along with the group.  Based on that description alone you might think he’s an obvious Chewbacca.  But, you’d be wrong.  He’s a dead-on C-3PO!  He worries and whines, but he’s loyal and follows orders.  The other one is Nate.  He helps them, and then turns on them, and then may end up helping them again.  Sounds familiar?  He’s a definite Lando.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got for now.  I hope the less bombastic approach to the promotion of this show means that it will stand a decent chance of staying on the air.  Like almost all shows in their first season, it’s got some rough patches.  I want to see what it’s like once those get worn down and it starts running like a well-oiled machine.

Are there any other new shows that you think I should check out?

Graham Becksted is a revolution himself. At least, that’s what he thinks people mean when they say he’s revolting.  BADUM CHING! He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles.  If you would like to be his 70th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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10 Movies For Beginners

The other day at work, I discovered something horrifying.  It all started last week during a lunch break.  Somehow Ewan McGregor came up, and one of my coworkers didn’t seem to have any idea who that was.  I figured she had to know him, but just didn’t know his name.  I started rattling off the titles of movies he had been in that I figured she must have seen.  Moulin Rouge, Trainspotting, Ghost Writer.  But no, she hadn’t seen any of them.  Then, the revelation that blew my mind out through the back of my head.  “Star Wars?” I asked.  “No,” she said.  “None of them?”  “No.”

When I finally stopped screaming, I decided that this woman’s movie knowledge was frighteningly deficient.  In an effort to appease me, she suggested that I make a list of ten movies that she must see.  I wholeheartedly accepted this challenge.  But, as I devoted more and more time and energy to make this list, I realized that I was actually just making a list of ten movies I would show myself if I completely lost my memory and I needed to be re-educated.

I came up with a new plan.  On Twitter, Facebook, and amongst my co-workers I proposed a simple hypothetical scenario: You meet an English speaking, Canadian adult who tells you they’ve never seen a movie before. They ask you to pick the first movie they’ll ever see. What do you choose?

I think some of the earnestness I used in person was lost online so some of the answers are probably less realistic than others.  But, the full, unadulterated list will appear at the end of the column.

For now, I’m going to list the ten that I’m going to actually suggest with a brief explanation of why.

  1. Star Wars – Just the original trilogy.  But, the whole trilogy, because that is such a part of the world now that it’s just about stopped being “pop” culture, and just regular old culture.  On top of that it’s a great, imagination capturing group of movies.
  2. The Wizard Of Oz – Of the 29 replies I got, this is the only one that got 3 votes.  That’s over 10% of the vote.  How can I not include it?  It’s also a charming movie that is beloved by all and, in a lot of ways, redefined what movies could be.  The special effects still work really well, and the songs are catchy as hell.
  3. Casablanca – Often listed as one of the top movies ever made, it’s an epic romance that also has the intrigue and action of World War 2.  It’s one of the few movies that everyone likes when they see it.  Even Citizen Kane can’t claim that.
  4. The Sound Of Music – I haven’t seen it myself (gasp, shock) but it got two votes in my poll, so that’s good enough for me.  At almost three hours, it’s a little long, but I’m hoping the singing nuns and Nazis can keep her attention.
  5. The Shawshank Redemption – Who am I to argue with the number 1 movie on the IMDB top 250?  Also, it’s a great movie.  It’s got triumph, tragedy, lols, and wtfs.  In other words, something for everyone.
  6. The Princess Bride – A modern (well, 1987-era modern) take on the fairytale.  A heartwarming and utterly delightful movie about love, and giants, and things that are practically inconceivable.
  7. Ocean’s 11 – The Soderbergh one, not the far less entertaining rat pack one.  This movie takes the typical heist formula and injects a ton of razzle dazzle and pizzazz.  A lot of which is delivered by an incredible all-star cast.  If movie casts were an Olympic event, this movie would take the gold.
  8. Iron Man – I’ll concede that this is a bit of an odd ball choice, but it’s the most fun superhero movie made to date.  Other films in that genre are certainly smarter, or more profound, but this one is hands down the best time you’ll have in the theatre.
  9. Ghost – Another movie I haven’t seen, but I want to make sure I’ve got enough stuff on here that will appeal to a more feminine audience, as that’s the audience I’m going for.  I’m pretty sure it’s about Patrick Swayze’s ghost possessing Whoopi Goldberg and seducing Demi Moore.  Oh, and pottery.
  10. Wall-E – Finally, in order to cover as many bases as I can, a film by the universally beloved Pixar studio.  This is my favorite of their movies because it does what the best sci-fi movies do.  It takes a modern day problem and hides it in robots, spaceships, and special effects to make it more digestible.  It’s also, and I may have used this descriptor before but I can’t help it, completely and unabashedly charming.

All right, so that’s my list.  Assuming she actually watches any of these, I’ll post her thoughts here in future columns.   In the meantime, here is the full list of answers I got from the people I polled.  Thoughts?

–          Casablanca

–          Brazil

–          Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

–          Back To The Future

–          The Princess Bride

–          Ocean’s 11 (2)

–          The Fugitive

–          The Room

–          Jurassic Park

–          A Walk In The Clouds

–          Titanic

–          Catch Me If You Can

–          Ghost

–          The Sound Of Music (2)

–          The Neverending Story

–          Wizard of Oz (3)

–          First Blood

–          Return of the Jedi

–          Three Amigos

–          Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

–          A New Hope

–          Step Up 4

–          Airplane

–          Cannibal Holocaust

–          The Great Dictator

–          Cast Away

–          Big Butt Sluts 3

Graham Becksted thinks my coworker better watch all of these after I’ve gone to all of this trouble.  He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles.  If you would like to be his 69th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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