As you may have noticed, I'm not keeping this blog up any more. But I was recently a guest on Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt's podcast The Docket. While that is generally a podcast about Canadian legal issues, this episode was all about Star Wars, and especially The Force Awakens. You can listen above or here.
My daughter wants Sabine and Hera action figures from Star Wars Rebels, and other female Star Wars figures, too. I can't blame her. (And yes that is an original Kenner carrying case. Why doesn't Hasbro make some of those while they're at it?)
Vol. 3 no. 3 of Space Wars magazine (July 1979) contained more than a few groan-provoking articles, including "How to Travel to a Star War" by Professor Irwin B. Smug and "You Can Build Muffy: Battlestar Galactica's Robot Daggit". But the worst entry in this already dreadful little magazine--in which the articles were clearly nothing more than weak excuses for reprinting photographs from Star Wars and a few other films--must be "Interview With Chewbacca" by Mike Moore.
Here it is, for your reading discomfort. If you liked The Phantom Menace, you'll probably think this is alright.
I finally showed Beatrice The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. If you've read my book you'll know a little about Beatrice, and about my anxiety that she not be exposed to the World's Biggest Spoiler. Despite the odds (which worsened considerably after her cousin Rory learned about Darth Vader without ever having seen ESB), I somehow managed to keep the secret from her and her brother Zachary. But I felt I was pushing my luck. Now was the time for the big reveal.
Once "I am your father" is out of the bag, there's no reason not to go on and see ROTJ. We watched it together a week later. Above is a video of Beatrice's thoughts on the two films.
I decided to set aside my skepticism of all things Star Wars produced after 1983 and give Star Wars Rebels a try. I had watched the trailer and a few other previews online and was attracted to the Ralph-McQuarrie-inspired art and the apparent lack of any references to the dreaded (and dreadful) prequels. So I signed up for a season's pass on iTunes and watched the first episode with the kids (Beatrice and Zach, six-and-a-half and four). We've been watching one episode a week ever since.
I'm amazed at how right Star Wars Rebels is. The characters are terrific. Zeb is a wonderful mix of strong and smart, gruff and gentle. He's possibly my favourite character. Sabine and Hera, while a little underdeveloped so far, are promising female leads in a universe that has always been too short on them--something that bothers me a lot more now that I have a daughter than it did seven+ years ago. Chopper is a genuinely new take on a droid (unless he's not--I've never watched Clone Wars so I don't know what I've missed, but he seems fresh and original to me).
But most intriguing to me are Kanan, billed as the cowboy Jedi, and Ezra, his accidental protegé. Watching how the show's writers have drawn these two characters, I feel like I'm finally seeing what I had hoped for from the prequels: a coming-of-age story mixed with a Jedi take on the buddy flick. Kanan and Ezra's complex relationship, in which annoyance and admiration are mutual and frequently simultaneous, is what Obi-Wan and Anakin's could and should have been. Utterly unlike the prequels, the age difference here is perfect: Ezra is old enough to be interesting and young enough to be forgivable, while Kanan is old enough to be authoritative and young enough to be in over his head in training a would-be Jedi. Isn't this exactly what the original trilogy led us to believe about Kenobi and Skywalker? It's hard for me not to see the Kanan-Ezra relationship as a gentle rebuke of the prequels, as though the Star Wars Rebels writers are saying to old-time Star Wars fans like me, "This is what could have been".
Perhaps my favourite thing about Star Wars Rebels so far is that it actually feels like Star Wars, by which I of course mean the original trilogy. The stormtroopers look like stormtroopers. The vehicles are familiar, even when they are given novel twists. The settings have the eerily organic quality of McQuarrie's paintings. I feel delightfully at home in this world.
Hanging over the entire series is the knowledge that, by the time of the Episode IV era (said to be five years in the future) the only Jedi left in the galaxy are Obi-Wan and Yoda. What this means for the arc of Star Wars Rebels is brutally clear: Kanan and Ezra must die. The grim inevitability of their deaths brings an unexpected poignancy to the show. For the moment, I want Star Wars Rebels to go on and on. But eventually it has to end, and the ending must be harsh. I pray the show doesn't flinch from the impending tragedy. Judging by the perfect-pitch storytelling we've seen so far, it won't. In that case the best of Star Wars Rebels is yet to come.
Pretty good for a six year old. Writing books about Star Wars seems to run in the family.
Whoops, I meant to say "nephew" not cousin...
This video shows how a new, fan-made "Despecialized Edition" of Star Wars was created. It's an astonishing amount of work. As CinemaBlend explains,
The video you see above is dedicated to the creation of Star Wars: Despecialized - an amazing, fan-made, high definition cut of the originally theatrically released Star Wars trilogy, constructed using a number of different versions of the movie that have been released over the years. Credit for the creation of restoration goes to a user named Harmy from the OriginalTrilogy.com message boards, who has really put together something magnificent here. As you'll learn watching the featurette, the greatest resource for the project was the Star Wars Blu-ray box set that was released back in 2011 - but Harmy's version actually goes beyond that flawed professionally-made cut and creates something that's in many ways superior.
I'm really enjoying Brett White's "Touring Marvel's Star Wars" series on ComicBook.com. White (@brettwhite) is reviewing the old Marvel Star Wars comics, starting at number one. He does it with a lot of humour and also a lot of knowledge of the artists that drew, wrote and coloured those first comics. If you're an old-time Star Wars fan--and if you're not, why are you here?--you'll enjoy this.
Here's a sample from White's recent review of Star Wars #4:
The middle panel features a line from Han that was presumably added in by Thomas: "Y'know kid—getting back to the Falcon's going to be like flying thru the Five Fire Rings of Fornax!" Doesn't sound like Star Wars, does it? It sounds a lot like something out of a Flash Gordon serial or a pulp sci-fi novel, right? "Star Wars" is weird in that it both took heavy inspiration from that type of science fiction, but it also grounded it in reality—a reality set in a galaxy far, far away, but still a reality. You don't hear words with a lot of gratuitous Xs and Zs in "Star Wars." You get words like "Jedi" and "Wookiee," words that sound alien but lack any of the alien signifiers usually used. For example, George Lucas came up with "Kessel Run" and Roy Thomas came up with "Five Fire Rings of Fornax." Both are made up, but man, they really sound different.
It's great stuff. My only complaint is the ComicBook.com needs to put up a page with all White's "Touring" posts in one place. If you want to start from the beginning and read them all (as I suggest you do), it's a bit of a hassle right now.
Kevin Smith's account of his recent visit to the set of Episode VII at San Diego Comic-Con. Not safe for work. In fact I'm really not sure how it was appropriate for Comic-Con--children do go to this event, don't they? But it's spoiler-free.
From the Facebook feed of my colleague Greg Allen. His comment: "Deeth Starr Valley, NV. The place to be for functionally illiterate Star Wars fans."