Archive for Sidelong Glance

The Downfall of the Star Wars Film Universe


The Effects Wizards

The wonders of modern visual effects have brought some terrifically imaginative and amazingly realistic things to the screen in the past couple of decades. Ever since Jurassic Park and Terminator 2 let the computer genie out of the bottle, the limits to what can be portrayed on screen have shortened more and more each year. Since the turn of the millennium, technology has advanced to such a point where just about any world, creature or event can be created or re-created in lifelike detail, no matter how outrageous it is. It’s certainly hard to see how a good number of the modern blockbuster films most of us see each summer might have been made just twenty years earlier. They might have been made, certainly, but they would have looked a lot different.

As amazing as this has been for those who love movies, it has also had an unfortunate retroactive effect on films done before this time. » Read more..

Entertaining Insanity – A Review of Star Wars: Dark Disciple


darkdiscipleThe Clone Wars dominated the landscape of Star Wars media for a good ten years or so, from the release of Attack of the Clones onward. The once-mysterious conflict referred to by Obi-Wan was fleshed out to an almost absurd extent. Once the Disney era of Star Wars publishing began, though, that focus shifted back toward the original trilogy era, leaving fans used to the focus on the prequels feeling left out. Then Dark Disciple was announced, and the combination of author and subject matter made most fans throw up their hands in either jubilation or utter despair. Christie Golden’s only contributions to Star Wars before now were in the Fate of the Jedi series, which has a rather mixed reputation among many readers. Not having read them myself, I sought to go into this book with as open a mind toward Golden as possible, since I try not to assign blame to authors for elements in books that are, often, works by committee to some degree.

What I did not expect from Dark Disciple was how much it resembles its other major building block (and something I do have familiarity with): scripts from Star Wars: The Clone Wars that never made it through production due to the show’s cancellation. » Read more..

Vader’s Vilest Villainy: The Best of the Dark Lord


There is no point to underselling just how important Darth Vader has been and is to the Star Wars franchise. He gave fans someone to boo (or cheer for), an iconic villain who is instantly recognizable, formidable, effective and intimidating. Anakin Skywalker’s past gives him backstory and depth, but it is Vader, with his raspy automated breathing, melodramatic deeper-than-deep voice, and grotesque-like helmeted visage that is the face of a franchise and one of the most venerated film characters of a generation. He is the third greatest cinema villain of all time according to the American Film Institute, behind only Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates. It is small wonder that rumors about a film or project revolving around Vader have been swirling ever since Disney purchased Lucasfilm. When you have a character with that sort of impact, reputation and familiarity, not using them in some way would be far crazier than leaving them be.

While the prospect of a Vader-centric spin-off film is neither here nor there, using him in novels and comics is far from forbidden now and was hardly restricted before (unless you wanted to bring him back to life). Before the prequel trilogy, Vader was an indomitable force who could not be corrupted, turned aside or defeated in battle, the Empire’s foremost military commander. After his past as Skywalker came into better light, searching through his inner space and figuring out his thoughts and feelings became more of the norm, while still leaving him a formidable and deadly martial threat. But which of his appearances were the best (outside of those on film, of course)? » Read more..

A Cynical Response: The Possibilities of “Rogue One”


When the title of the first Star Wars spin-off film, Rogue One, was announced, the conclusions jumped to by many people were so astronomically large that they could be measured in parsecs. It’s the Star Wars version of Top Gun! It’s all about Rogue Squadron’s formation! Felicity Jones is Wedge’s daughter! Denis Lawson may be coming back! There had better be a dedication to Aaron Allston!

Let’s slow that roll down and reexamine what the announcement told us. Right now, we know nothing about Rogue One except for a title, its director, the writer, one actress, and the film’s production posse. Everything that is being inferred springs from established lore, books, video games and magazine articles, 99% of which do not exist in canon anymore. The only reason people even remember the name Rogue Squadron (aside from it sounding cool) is because of these materials, it certainly is not at all emphasized or fleshed out in the movies. » Read more..

Musings on the Nature of Fandom


Being a fan is a curious thing. It can bring people together, it can tear them apart. It can make someone shout, laugh and jump for joy, or it can be depressing, make them scream, cry tears of sorrow or rage. A fan does not merely like something or enjoy something, they make that something a part of who they are, a part of their personality, of their identity. Being a fan takes on all sorts of shapes and sizes and people become fans for a number of different reasons, almost always reasons that are very personal to them, reasons that can be hard to explain to someone who may not be a fan as well.

Being a fan of something is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Not all fans are created equal. People naturally experience things in different ways in all aspects of life, not only in being fans. Just as not all people are fans of the same thing, people who are fans may not be fans for the same reasons, or may not enjoy things the same way, or may have become fans at different stages of life, the list goes on. Someone may be a more critical, while another person is more accepting; one might be tightly wound, another may be more laid back. The size of a given fan group does not matter; no two fans will ever be exactly alike, no matter how big or small the fandom as a whole. » Read more..

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