Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Clone Wars Characters

It occurs to me that The Clone Wars, now in its fourth season, has a rich cast of original characters that have really shined. I figured I'd run down my favorites.

From least-to-most-favorite.

Pre Vizsla
Truth be told, I don't like this character that much. But the fact that he's a Mandalorian who wears the actual armor and does the kinds of things we'd expect from a Mandalorian gets him points.

Cad Bane

He actually gets on my nerves a lot, what with his constantly repetitive plots. (Cad Bane goes somewhere to steal/kidnap something/someone and narrowly escapes Jedi capture. Rinse & repeat.) But at the same time, he's a credible non-Force user threat that evokes the gunslinging nature of the Original Trilogy.

Asajj Ventress
Technically she was around before TCW (being in the previous Clone Wars animated series), but she's really been treated with respect here, mostly in the 3-part Nightsisters trilogy of Season 3. Her connection to the Dathomiri witches (previously only seen in the Expanded Universe) is very cool, and she's given a ton of focus as a developing character. It's also just great to see more dark Jedi than Dooku and Sidious, neither of whom are very cool.

Savage Oppress
Dumb name; serious Sith apprentice. Savage might be a little shallow, but he's got a ton of potential, and his connection both to the Dathomiri and to Darth Maul are really great.

Commander Wolffe
His no-nonsense attitude is entertaining and his cybernetic eye is really cool, but the real reason he's on this list is his awesome new Season 4 armor. Yeah, it's that awesome.

Captain Rex
Rex is a character that hasn't gotten much to do in the show other than follow orders inside his cool custom-painted helmet, but in a few episodes (Season 2's "The Deserter" and Season 4's "Darkness on Umbara") Rex showed some real unique character, breaking from the static clone programming. It makes me wonder how Order 66 will play out with these new character developments. Will he resist the order? Can he? Can any clone? We'll just have to find out.

Domino Squad
We've seen Domino Squad go all the way from training simulations to being on the frontlines of the war. We've seen two of them die tragically, one die heroically, two become ARC Troopers in the 501st Legion, and only one survive thus far. Like Rex, these heroes break from the norm. Fives in particular seems to be a bit of a rebel within the army, befitting of an ARC trooper.

Plo Koon
So Plo Koon was already in every one of the prequel films. But he never spoke or did anything important other than apparently die, so I count him more as a Clone Wars character than anything else.
He's a very, very OT-style character. He seems wiser than just about anyone else, and is skilled enough with a blade and a starfighter that he gets a billion cool points. I actually like the duo of Plo and Ahsoka better than the Ahsoka/Anakin pairing.

Ahsoka may be the most unlikely fan favorite ever. In spite of her rough start, she's grown into a mature, relatable, and amazing character. She's a perspective character, like Luke in the OT—a type of character sorely lacking in the prequels. She's the closest thing The Clone Wars has to a central character, and is much of the reason why the show has been as well-received by fans as it has been. Ahsoka is easily one of my top five favorite Star Wars characters.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Star Wars Fan Days IV

This past Saturday, I went to Star Wars Fan Days IV in Irving, TX. Fan Days is basically a miniature SW convention. It was pretty cool.

Here were my highlights:

Stepping out into the main room. Since I'd never been to a convention of any kind before, I was a little unprepared for just how awesome the sight of thousands of geek collectibles at bargain prices was. I didn't actually end up picking up anything (needed to save money for Batman: Arkham City coming out next week), but I was sorely tempted.

Getting to see The ForceCast do a live show. Because of the weird echoey acoustics in the room, I couldn't hear much and ended up leaving early, but it was still great to actually see the people that I'd been listening to on my iPod for about 4 years now.

Seeing movie-quality Boba and Jango Fett costumes in-person. Just so cool.

Seeing this little five-year-old Princess Leia nervous about meeting a real-life R2-D2. Oh, by the way, I MET AN ACTUAL R2 UNIT THAT MOVED AND SPUN ITS HEAD AND BLINKED ITS LIGHTS AND WHISTLED AND yeah it was pretty awesome.

The above is a photo of Timothy Zahn (right) and Aaron Allston (left) answering a question that I got to ask them at their Q&A panel. For those unaware, Timothy Zahn is pretty much the creator of the modern Star Wars Expanded Universe. He's known as the great writer by which all other Star Wars writers are judged. And I got to be in the same room with him and ask him a question. That is so cool.
My question was a bit of a softball ("what Star Wars films are you guys' favorites, and why?"), but it was purposely done to lead into my friend's follow-up question ("If you could go back and rewrite anything from any of the films, what would you change?"). Those questions sparked some really interesting answers and insights into Star Wars that I hadn't ever thought of before.

I saw an actual DeLorean in-person. It was from about 4 stories up (I forgot to go down and take a picture at ground-level), but still. I saw a DeLorean!

The Clone Wars cast panel. I got to see Steven Stanton (Tarkin), Catherine Taber (Padmé), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka), Meredith Salenger (Bariss Offee), and Tom Kane (Yoda, Admiral Yularen, the announcer) up on a stage. It was awesome.

Finally, I got Tom Kane's autograph. It was actually my first time getting anything signed by anyone. And it's just so cool! I kinda think that I'm gonna go around and "collect" these 8x10 signed photos; put 'em in an album.

So yeah. That was Fan Days. It was fun. Totally going again next year, with WAY more spending money in my pocket.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


As much as I love Star Wars, there's one major aspect of it that's always bothered me. One thing that's never sat right; one thing that seems to not only not make sense within the Star Wars story itself, but to contradict the very truths of both mythology and reality.

I'm talking about the highly negative view the Star Wars films have of romantic love. Let's look at every instance of it that we see in the Star Wars saga:

Luke and Leia.
Well, that turns out weird. A New Hope pushes the idea that Luke is the young hero who rescues the princess, complete with googly-eyes and romantic swings across Death Star chasms. While Leia never directly acknowledges that she has feelings for Luke, it seems pretty open. Even if it is just to stick it to Han Solo, she full-on kisses Luke in The Empire Strikes Back. And then she turns out to be his sister. What?!
The only real justification for this sudden plot twist is the fact that Leia then becomes a familial connection for Luke, and thus an emotional weakness/strength in his final battle with Vader. Otherwise, the only reason seems to be that Jedi are simply not supposed to fall in love.

Han and Leia.
This is the only romantic connection that seems to work in the saga, but it's not taken to the end. We get the vague idea that Leia and Han are together at the end, but there's no sense that things will stay that way.

Anakin and Padmé.
This is, by far, the most closely-examined romantic relationship in the saga. Anakin is a possessive, selfish psycho. That's it. Interestingly, however, this is seemingly taken to be the example of why all Jedi cannot be romantically involved. As though every Jedi, no matter whom, will eventually fall to the Dark Side simply because of their fear of losing the one they cherish. This is very disturbing. It seems to imply that for Jedi, that fear of loss is far more powerful than any positive love ever could be.

Now, aside from romantic relationships, there seem to be varying effects of platonic or familial love. As I said, Luke's brotherly love for Leia gives him the strength to defeat Vader, but is he truly motivated by compassion for Leia, or by anger against Vader for threatening her? It seems to be the latter, as Luke is only barely able to pull himself back from the Dark Side at this point.
On the other hand, Vader's fatherly love for Luke is what drives him to make the right choice in the end, effectively redeeming himself and coming back to the Light Side.

In 2002, George Lucas made this comment:
"Jedi Knights aren't celibate - the thing that is forbidden is attachments - and possessive relationships."

So, basically, Jedi can have all the one-night stands they want, but if they become emotionally involved, it's all over? Jedi can have children—and, seemingly, the parent/child relationship is a very positive one for Jedi—but spouses just can't work? How is that?

I don't often like to write about peoples' personal lives, especially people I don't know, but I think it's worth mentioning that much of the original trilogy films were edited and otherwise influenced by Marcia Lucas, George Lucas' former wife. They divorced the year Return of the Jedi was released, though Lucas adopted two children afterward. George has not remarried since.

George's seeming rejection of romance and embracing of parental love seems to mirror what's seen in the Star Wars saga: romantic love brings about only pain and destruction, while parental love is the only power strong enough to heal those wounds.

Although Star Wars is based on truths from a thousand different mythologies and quite a bit of real, honest truth, the saga's view on romance seems to be based more on Lucas's bad past experiences than on any reality.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Saga on Blu-Ray

So. The entire Star Wars film saga is coming to Blu-ray this Fall, and the details of its content were just announced today. You can check out the full details here.

The basic gist of it is this:

#1: The films will be the Special/DVD Editions, not the theatrical releases. This doesn't bother me so much, since we already have the theatricals on DVD, and Lucasfilm apparently never remastered the theatricals in HD, so a blu-ray release doesn't make sense. Still, though, it would have been nice.
#2: We still don't know any of the details about new content from the films, other than the one revealed deleted scene from Return of the Jedi. Which is pretty lame. I wanna hear what else we'll see.
#3: Most of the big stuff we're getting is in the form of documentaries (that are actually pretty long). A few of them seem really cool. For instance, an 84-minute doc on the 501st Legion?! Awesome!

One semi-minor gripe I have with the box set, though: the box art.
Now, the art for the individual trilogy sets (which I assume are inside the larger box's case) are amazing.

I love those. But the combined box set (pictured at top)? Eh. It's a great art piece, and it's true that the Tatooine horizon is one of the most iconic Star Wars images, but I don't really like the overall sandy look of it. It seems a little messy, like it needs to be more neutral somehow. It's distractingly abnormal.

Oh well. Still buying the thing when it comes out this Fall. Yay.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Prequel Judgment

So I'm getting tired of people "looking down" on prequel fandom.  I totally sympathize with peoples' concerns over the prequel films' faults, but it's just too much sometimes.

It's not so much the judgment on the prequel films themselves; it's the judgment on the fans of the prequels. Sometimes I feel like my opinions are taken less seriously when I try to refer to anything prequel- or Clone Wars-related.  It's just frustrating.