Archive for Opinion

Yoda’s Story: The True Burden of All Masters

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Of the Star Wars characters who have been fortunate enough to appear in all three trilogies of the Skywalker saga, Yoda’s is perhaps one of the most patchwork – largely a supporting role, an invention to fill the void after Obi-Wan Kenobi’s not-entirely-planned demise in the original Star Wars. Yoda briefly took center stage as a major character in the operatic, apocalyptic Revenge of the Sith, and made a somewhat unexpected return to the series as a ghost in The Last Jedi. He may return yet again for The Rise of Skywalker, but even without that final installment Yoda’s story has perhaps by accident become one of the most poignant and illuminating that the cornucopia of Star Wars has to offer. It sees him on both ends of the spectrum of galactic power, but beyond that it tells a story of an individual’s battle with dogma and orthodoxy, and ultimately the selflessness to be surpassed by his greatest pupil.

Enter the bureaucrat

Contrary perhaps to expectations prior to the 1999 release of The Phantom Menace, when Yoda’s backstory during the time of Anakin Skywalker was unveiled he was shown to be in a drastically different milieu to that of his humble existence of Dagobah. We see that he was in fact a member of the Jedi High Council, residing on Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, in a gleaming, imposing temple with his fellow masters. He is, quite notably, not a very fun character in this environment – a naysayer in The Phantom Menace, like his colleague Mace Windu he urges caution against training Anakin.

This is not the limit of Yoda’s influence in his first chronological appearance, however – he is involved in the politics that underpin the film. This, ultimately, is of more relevance to Yoda’s story in the prequel trilogy, which escalates in the second film, Attack of the Clones. Perhaps one of the most pivotal scenes of the trilogy occurs when Obi-Wan Kenobi contacts Yoda and Mace to inform them of his discovery on Kamino of a clone army for the Republic. Processing this information, Yoda despairs that the ascendancy of the dark side has effectively rendered the Jedi blind, if they could have been so easily and completely deceived for a decade. Mace suggests that they inform the Senate that they are unable to operate to the best of their ability, but Yoda vetoes this decision. It is perhaps a throwaway hypothetical, but one can imagine that Yoda does not trust the system within which he works enough to be transparent. This plays into the hands of the Sith, creating a hermetic culture of secrets and ignored incompetence. There is a vital arrogance too: the Jedi do not humor the idea that Count Dooku has fallen to the dark side until it is far too late. » Read more..

“Your Focus Determines Your Reality” – The Phantom Menace Turns Twenty

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For years, it was a commonly accepted truth in Star Wars fandom that the prequel trilogy was unequivocally a blight on the franchise and perhaps even the worst set of movies unleashed on mankind. In fact, I’m sure in many areas of the fandom that sentiment still holds true. Liking the prequels was not something one admitted to, and especially not The Phantom Menace. A Star Wars movie about trade disputes? Ridiculous.

However as the years have gone on and social media has become a much bigger force in fandom, that sentiment is slowly changing. Far from being universally derided, the prequels have quite a large and devoted fanbase and the era itself is enjoying something of a renaissance these days through books, comics, and television. As we approach the twenty-year mark of the start of this trilogy, it’s worth looking back on the prequels and acknowledging that there’s quite a lot to enjoy…and quite a lot done well.

The Phantom Menace in particular has received the brunt of anti-prequel sentiment, and unfairly so. Not only is it a genuinely fun movie on its own, but it’s vital to the overall Star Wars saga and to the Skywalker mythos. It introduced key characters who are still important to the story years later (hello Darth Maul), brought depth to the franchise as we knew it then, and added key ideas, themes, and concepts that we now take for granted. While the prequels as a whole have experienced a resurgence in public favor lately, so too has TPM finally been getting the respect and appreciation it deserves.

And so in honor of its twentieth anniversary it’s time to take a look back at The Phantom Menace and see what makes it so great. In both its characters and its story, it’s worth appreciating all that it adds to the Star Wars universe.

» Read more..

There is No Precedent, There is Peace – Expectations for The Clone Wars Season Seven

Ahsoka in the promotional image for season 7

The Siege of Mandalore is upon us at last!

Canon’s first reference to it was back in 2005, though Mandalore may not have been the intent at the time. In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin refers to “the Outer Rim sieges” from which he and Obi-Wan had been recalled to rescue Palpatine. Ahsoka and Rex would later tie this reference to Mandalore in Star Wars Rebels. Rex mentions the siege by name, and Ahsoka speaks of the last time she saw Anakin before he rushed off to rescue the Chancellor. Maul is added to the mix with the familiarity of his “Lady Tano” nickname, a connection made explicit in E.K. Johnston’s novel Ahsoka.

In 2016, Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo gave us an unprecedented level of detail in the “Ahsoka’s Untold Tales” panel at Star Wars Celebration, revealing that the Siege of Mandalore had been planned to be the true finale of The Clone Wars. We have had long years of references and teases, with the major beats of the story established in a piecemeal way that we usually don’t get from Star Wars.

As such, I admit that I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the Siege of Mandalore would have in store for us. I was eager to see it, but I’d given up on the idea of being surprised by it. Then Celebration Chicago happened, and in one panel, I was forced to reconsider everything I thought I knew about the resurrected Season Seven:

“When I got the script for this stuff and finally could read what the Siege of Mandalore was all about, I was shocked. And I mean shocked. I don’t mean, ‘You guys are gonna really like it.’ No, I mean like I was shocked. I’m glad I’m sitting down. Are you sitting down?” – Sam Witwer1

» Read more..

  1. Star Wars: The Clone Wars Sneak Peek Panel 2019. []

What Star Wars Resistance Has Learned From Robotech — and What Might Be Left to Learn

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During the Star Wars Resistance Season Two Sneak Peek panel at Celebration Chicago, the show’s lead director, Justin Ridge, mentioned that they had drawn influence for the show from anime (or ahnimay as he pronounced it), which is something that had been mentioned before and we’ve discussed in our coverage previously. However, when he did, he namechecked one show specifically: Robotech. I would imagine that there are not many people reading this who know or remember what Robotech is or how it at all relates to Resistance, but don’t worry. Let me begin with a quick synopsis of Robotech and then we’ll discuss the ways that the show influenced Resistance, a show almost forty years its junior. There are some similarities between it and Resistance, as well as a number of differences both subtle and obvious that keep Resistance from being a one-to-one translation or adaptation. And we will also see how Robotech might help inform us of what’s still to come with Resistance’s second season and beyond.

First, a history lesson and some context are important. In the mid-eighties, American media companies were starting to hit their stride in localizing media produced in Japan for Western audiences. One of those companies, Harmony Gold, wanted to license a space opera-style show to help capitalize on the success of franchises like Star Wars, but there wasn’t a single Japanese show meeting their criteria that had the number of episodes they needed to be able to license it for syndication in the United States (which is sixty-five for the curious). So, Harmony Gold decided their next-best option was to license three shows, edit them together into a single Frankenstein’s monster show, then distribute it collectively. This collected show is known as Robotech. » Read more..

Why Darth Sidious is Exactly What the Sequel Trilogy Needed

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For all that it is an apocryphal line wrongly attributed to John Maynard Keynes, it is particularly apt for this article:

When my information changes, I alter my conclusions.

For the recent revelation that the Emperor will feature in Episode IX, along with the title being The Rise of Skywalker, changes things greatly. Now, of course, they could be playing games. Episode IX’s predecessor has become infamous for doing exactly that but this time? This time, I think not. They have put these two pieces out as a PR vanguard for the film. Each would be stunning by itself, but together? Well, gives new meaning to the old line of “always two, there are.” Combined they are a seismic bomb that could re-spin the entire trilogy, while also enabling it to take its place in the wider story.

I haven’t written for this site in a while, due to the destructive aspects of The Last Jedi. It was not just a case of killing Luke off, which has come to feel nastier as time has gone on, but that the film overall was highly destructive across the board. Speculate as to what will happen in the next film other than offing old characters? Er, with what? What is there to speculate with? As of the end of TLJ there’s twenty beings crammed into the Falcon against the entire First Order, with only Leia of the original trio left alive and the new trio comprehensively trashed to a far greater degree than anything ESB ever did. There is very little to work with here.

The new teaser trailer starts to supply the material to speculate with and the killer move in it is the final seconds – Death Star wreckage and a very ominous, very familiar laugh. Before I suspect they might have gone with a is-it-or-isn’t-it card but this time? Nah, they’ve gone: Fuck it, it’s the last film, we’ve no time for games, it’s the Emperor, ‘kay? » Read more..

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