As season three of Star Wars Rebels reached its finale, it was once again plagued by the criticism that it had contained too many “filler” episodes. This usually referred to any episode of a vaguely comedic nature, or more broadly, any which did not focus on its two central story arcs – Thrawn vs. the Rebellion, or Maul vs. Ezra.
The argument implies that these episodes, whether it be the adventures of Iron Squadron or AP-5’s musical number in space, are somehow of lesser status, and are written only to fill in a gap in the schedule while we wait for the “real” story to continue. It’s a criticism that has been leveled at the series since the beginning. It is also entirely misplaced.
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I’m going to shout it from the hills: I love the Bantam era. I love warlord and superweapon of the week. I love silly, disjointed things that years later, make us wonder what exactly we were thinking when we first read this. I love the things that don’t neatly fit into the greater Star Wars puzzle, and there is much to be said in defense of embracing the weird. We’re in a new era of Star Wars now, and with that comes all the unexplored territory. We don’t have to avoid the mistakes of Legends; in fact, I could happily argue that many of those mistakes are better in the long term.
One of the things that Star Wars fandom had run into, in the twilight of the Legends years, was quality issues. Ask a group of Star Wars fans about Fate of the Jedi and Crucible, and you’ll get a wide variety of (frequently negative) reactions. Sometimes people ask me about how I feel about Fate of the Jedi, and my response is usually along the lines of “I remember the hilarious Abeloth illustration that’s on Wookieepedia, that Daala is the worst politician alive, and that Luke and Ben went on a father-son trip that proved that Ben’s taste in women is no better than Luke’s had been.” That is possibly one of the sillier sentences I’ve written in a while, but let’s deconstruct that. What if we didn’t worry so much about things being silly or not making sense? What if wild plots could be the basis for a good story? Because there was a time when we really were thinking that way.
Many of the earliest Star Wars books are from a time when we had no idea about longer-term galactic history. Big chunks of galactic history were a complete blank, and the authors really couldn’t do much filling-in. We didn’t know exactly how the Old Republic fell until the Dark Nest trilogy was released, and of course now that we knew galactic history out-of-universe, it worked its way into Legacy of the Force. But we did fill in about twenty years of galactic history with no good references about what came before. And that led to things that just didn’t make sense in the longer run. » Read more..
As I’ve probably mentioned before, I don’t really follow The Force Awakens spoilers. I recognize that in this line of work it’s inevitable that certain things will get around to me, and some have, but by and large I don’t know if what I’m going to talk about in this piece is already confirmed, debunked, or neither—these are just my impressions, as an educated guesser who’s seen more than his share of Star Wars stories. When the new teaser was revealed last Thursday, a lot of stuff was pretty much what you’d expect—X-wing pilots in orange, TIEs chasing the Millennium Falcon, a masked villain with a red lightsaber.
But if you looked closely, not everything was so easy to contextualize—especially one shot of stormtroopers fighting against a rogue TIE fighter in some sort of hangar, immediately following a distraught-looking Finn removing his own helmet. If there’s one plot point we can safely rely on at this stage, it’s that John Boyega’s stormtrooper character defects or deserts early on. The stormtroopers in the original trilogy were nothing if not anonymous and interchangeable, so choosing to begin the story of the sequel trilogy with the face of the Empire going AWOL is an effective way to demonstrate that things aren’t quite as clear-cut now as they were with Palpatine in charge. » Read more..
We all have fond memories of the time when Bantam held the Star Wars publishing license- a time that brought us everything from the Thrawn trilogy to The Crystal Star. It’s a universe rife with opportunities and new ideas, full of unexplored territory and possibilities. The sense of wonder and exploration is one vital to the Star Wars universe, and the first authors to set pen into a much wider universe established many precedents. Some of this era has been retconned, some is known well as the strangest things of the EU, and some is lauded as the best of the best. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see why Bantam’s contributions to the EU are so vital, warlord of the week notwithstanding.
First of all, let’s make fun of Bantam. I think we have to start with Waru, the entirety of The Crystal Star, and the very fact that some extremely silly things happened in this era of Star Wars publishing. There are so many odd plot holes, confusing references to whatever may have happened in the Galactic Civil War, and myriad kidnappings of the Solo kids. There’s the ghost in the computer who possesses someone else’s body and falls in love with Luke Skywalker. Han Solo wins a planet in a card game, and no one seems to think this is weird. However, this era does establish some good precedents. Seeing the Solo kids in danger all the time really establishes just how high-profile the New Republic’s First Family really are, even though the kids really just are trying to be normal kids. We don’t know what we’re going to find in backwater planets that haven’t really had much contact with the New Republic, and it could be extradimensional beings, unusual aliens, or stray Imperials. Having such a big galaxy and so few precedents set for just how it would all work gave the plotlines enormous creative freedom. » Read more..
Computer Generated Imagery or, as it’s better known, CGI gets a huge amount of flak from just about everyone. It may have revolutionized filmmaking, it may have opened the doors to unrealized dreams for directors but none of that stops it from getting a regular royal kicking! Now why is that? I am inclined to suggest it is a combination of factors – lazy thinking and fool filmmakers. Together, these two factors form an unholy alchemy into a destructive firestorm of criticism that never fails to repeatedly roast CGI.
First then: Lazy thinking. The charge made against CGI is that it is lazy and unimaginative. This is the sort of charge anyone could come up, no matter their state of being. Drunk as a skunk? You can still slur that CGI is lazy. High as a kite? Hey man, I may be lazing here stoned but it takes a laze to know a laze and that CGI is a laze! This charge falls apart the instant it hits reality. Here’s the world of CGI as the accusers would like it:
CGI Data Monkey hits Run on his computer panel, goes down the pub for a swift couple of pints, comes back a couple of hours later and blam! Work’s done. » Read more..