40 years of Star Wars

It has been officially 40 years since Star War, subsequently named, A New Hope and all the follows. I’ve been a fan of this film series for as long as I have been alive it seems. I don’t remember when I first watched it but me and my sisters would routinely watch a film, often Return of the Jedi, of the trilogy, while our parents went out for the evening. So much has come from this one film seven other feature films, those Ewok movies, a great cartoon series, as well as a horrible Holiday Special all set in the Star Wars Universe and then there is the space comedy Spaceballs, and the rumors of a Spaceballs sequel and even the Star Trek movies have a debt to pay to Star Wars.

Take some time this upcoming weekend and watch some Star Wars or even read some if that’s more your pace. I for one still have to get Rogue One before any marathon happens.

Star Wars Day 2017

This year it will be light in huge announcements for Star Wars today the trailer for Last Jedi came out at Celebration last month and I doubt that we’d have anything major from the Han Solo movie yet. Perhaps something about the post 2020 films or maybe the long gestating television series is going to be made. It seems like the right time for a live action series taking place in the Star Wars Universe, it is bound to be good and the timing is right. Look at the success that Marvel (The Defenders) has had on Netflix as well as all their other series and those other streaming services like Hulu who’s Handmaid’s Tale is getting great reviews and Amazon Prime with Transparent. There are a lot of way to explore the universe and it could be multiple shows, does it need a Jedi or Sith in it to work or could we just have the average people living in the Empire. Not sure what would make a great show, but it would be wonderful if there were something besides the animated shows that explored the world of Star Wars.

Star Wars

This is some interesting developments as Lucasfilm has stopped adding the episode number to films. Sure most everyone in the world already did this, look at the Special Edition when they were released on VHS back in the day as Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. It is a nice change of pace and it might indicate a further plan to make more Star Wars saga films after the Sequel Trilogy ends in 2019. I find it funny as in the article they state that “If you’re merely talking about them as titles, and not episode numbers, it’s harder to group them together as “Prequel,” “Original,” and “Sequel” trilogies.” but we all know which is which. They hope that this will cause fans to focus on the Saga rather than the three trilogies. It also ties in nicely with the animated series Rebels and Clone Wars as they do that already. I hope that if this moves over to the Star Wars Stories and they just drop that part of the title, since it’s what people are doing with Rogue One. However we will have to wait a while to find out if this part of it is true the Han Solo film comes out in 2018. The Last Jedi is only about 270 something days until it’s release and we should be seeing a teaser or trailer in April or May.

Star Trek and Wars begin production

CBS has released a video announcing the beginning of filming of Star Trek: Discovery. It’s a cool thing and hopefully CBS will realize that putting it only on their Watch CBS app might not be a smart idea. Air it on the network sometimes or place it on the CW, I for one is am not going to pay 6 dollars to watch a show. Now this show is going to have to do something to make people want to watch it as there hasn’t been a Star Trek television show since 2005 and that was Enterprise. Sure the rebooted film series has been a huge success but this is show is set a decade before the Original Series and isn’t connected with the film universe in any way as far as I know.

The other cool news is that the Han Solo movie has also begun production. This is that film about Han Solo that is being directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the minds behind Clone High, The Lego Movie and other such films. This movie will be about Han Solo and Lando hanging out, perhaps some Han being a smuggler (Kessel Run and Jabba) and will perhaps feature Han winning the Falcon off of Lando in a game of Sabacc. I like how this is the one thing that I really hope makes it into the Han Solo Movie. Perhaps this will lead to some set of cards coming out so I can own a deck.

Star Wars and Reverence

Over on First Things there is a post about Star Wars and religion. It talks about how in the original films the Force was a deeply religious thing which in the prequels was turned into a natural thing however with the new films that have come out we are going back to the religious overtones of the Force. This is an intersection of two of my favorite things. Spoilers to follow in the discussion

Sure in Episodes 4-6 we have Luke learning to trust in the Force. In A New Hope, Luke switches off his targeting computer and uses the Force to know when to shoot his torpedoes into the Death Star. In Empire Strikes Back, Luke goes through rigorous mental and physical training to lift his X-wing from the swamp of Dagobah. In the prequels, specifically A Phantom Menace, we have Qui-gon telling us about Midichlorians, which are microscopic life forms that reside within all living cells and can communicate with the Force. This makes it a physical thing and with the abundance of Jedi in the Prequels the Force becomes as common as a piece of technology, and no longer a spiritual discipline according to some individuals this lead to a secularization of the Force. Now with the newer Star Wars films, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, the Force has become more of the mysterious thing that it was in the originals and there is more reverence show toward it.

The Force has always been a major part of Star Wars and even in the era of the prequels take a look at several of the Clone Wars television series including the last two episodes where the religious nature of the Force is explored. Sure it even notes that the “science”  description of midichlorians is pretty vague. This idea is explored by the Church of the Force and the Guardians of the Whills in Rogue One “I am one with the Force, the Force is with me” these are faith filled people something akin to like tertiaries they are deeply invested in the Religious order but aren’t a member, as the Church of the Force and Guardians were just regular people who followed the way of the Jedi but weren’t necessarily Jedi.  It is nice to see the religious aspect of the Force becoming a part of the lore again, but it’s not like it was really gone. It might have just been with so many Jedi in the prequels it seemed like it was a common place thing and they used science to explain why they needed to take these young children to become Jedi (midichlorians) however with the Jedi Order all but wiped out in the Original films there is a reverence that is inherent in the Force, as there isn’t much talk about the Force I mean it been 20 years since there were real numbers of Jedi around. 20 years is a long time I mean Han in A New Hope calls it a hokey religion but over time and years with Luke and Leia, perhaps learning a little about the Force he becomes one that can say that “It’s all real” in The Force Awakens. Is this reverence or just acknowledging that there are Jedi still around? We will never really know.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rogue One marks the beginning of the deep probing of everything Star Wars to decide what essentially makes good movies and television shows. This film although not connected to the main series Episodes I-IX, it is pretty closely connected, expanding on things that we know are going to happen and elaborate a bit more on some lore.  Disney and Lucasfilm will be doing this over the next at least 4 years with a saga film (VIII) coming in 17, a Han Solo movie in 18, followed by IX in 19 and another new spinoff film in 2020 (Obi Wan, Ahsoka, Boba Fett, Yoda?) Spoilers to follow.

We all know where the story is going most is not all these characters will be dead by the end of this film and they are going to be getting the Death Star plans. As the end of the film has us on Tantive VI escaping just barely from Darth Vader. It ends like 10 minutes before A New Hope begins so it adds some urgency to the beginning of A New Hope.  The film begins fifteen years before the Battle of Yavin (BBY) this is how the Timeline of Star Wars works. We met the Erso family Galen, Lyra and Jyn as Krennic comes to being Galen back to work on the Death Star. Galen and Lyra tell Jyn to go off and hie and wait.  Lyra is killed and Galen agrees to come with Krennic. Jyn is rescued by Saw Gerrera ( a character from the animated Clone Wars series). Time shifts fifteen years Jyn (Felicity Jones) is broken out of an Imperial Prison camp by the Rebels, because there has been a message brought by a defecting pilot from her father to Saw Gerrera. Cassian Andor and his droid K-2SO go along to “help” Jyn, as they need her to talk with Saw Gerrera to get the pilot. On the moon Jedha, thought to be the location of first Jedi Temple due to the abundance of Kyber Crystals which are used in lightsabers and also in the Death Star, Jyn and Cassian meet up with guardians of the Wills Monks of the Church of the Force. They get brought to Saw and Jyn sees the hologram message where we learn that Galen has put in a hidden weakness into the Death Star and the plans are in the Imperial archives at Scarif.  This is a cool battle as it takes place on the beach.

There are a bunch of cool things in the movie from some Classic characters showing up,Jimmy Smits show up as Bail Organa, Chopper and The Ghost from Rebels are both in the film. Gizmodo/Io9 complied a whole list of these you might have missed it connections. If you like Star Wars this is something you will enjoy. It will tide you over until next year’s installment of the Saga film.

Jedi Junior High (2014)

Jedi Junior High has got to be the coolest movie I’ve seen this month. Jedi Junior High is a documentary about the production of a musicalized version of The Empire Strikes Back with kids in California. Back in 2009 at the Arts & Learning Center in Costa Mesa they came up with an audacious idea make a musical version of Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back. This is a clever thing as it is something that would attract boy and girls. The documentary talks about the importance of children exploring the world of theater and how it can turn awkward kid a bit less awkward. As far as the musical aspects they took already written Showtunes and changes the lyrics to make it more “Star Wars-y”. sort of like how The Simpsons had “Luck be a Lady” turn into “Luke be a Jedi tonight”. Now the sad part is that we don’t get to see the whole show which would have been awesome. If you are a fan of Star Wars and musical theater this is a must watch. A clever thing is at the end we go back to some of the kids featured in the movie and hear about how they have changed in the four years since doing the show.

News Roundup

Star Wars: This is something we already expected Rogue One will not have a crawl. This is the first of the Star Wars spin off movie that are being released under the Star Wars:Stories brand. We will get a couple more after Rogue One, in 2018 there is a Han Solo movie coming out as well as something else in 2020 and perhaps many more after these scheduled films. Since after the Saga films VIII and XI come out I think that they’ve said that is the end of the Skywalker story.

Politics: Here is a fun one currently 6 electors in the Electoral College have vowed to cast votes against Trump, and Michigan still hasn’t finished counting all the votes. This will match the most faithless electors since 1808, when six electors didn’t vote for James Madison. The number may rise or some electors might abstain from voting. We will have to wait until the middle of December for  this vote to happen. However it seems unlikely this will get Hillary Clinton elected.  On the other hand New Republic points out that Trump could just as easily be impeached from day one if congress wants to do something about it. According to the article Trump has run afoul of the “emolument clause” of the Constitution as Trump’s Hotel in Washington has some foreign diplomats are staying there to curry favor with the President-elect..

Beer: A Brewpub in Chicago was received a Michelin star. This is cool news as sure it is a recognition of the food prepared at the pub. Sure it’s a big honor but it’s based on the taste of a group of people. Who really cares although people put a great of emphasis on the Michelin star it really means nothing. The Michelin guide was made so people would drive out to a restaurant and wear down the treads on tires for they’d have to be replaced sooner.

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

The Hidden Fortress is one of the Kurosawa films that inspired George Lucas to make Star Wars. It’s a wonderful film that tells the story from the point of view of two peasants. These two peasants, Tahei and Matashichi (Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara), are just trying to make a better life for themselves, but continue to get in their own way. The film begin with them lamenting that they went to fight with the Yamana clan but arriving late so they are though of as survivors of the Akizuki clan, who lost and are told to bury the dead, after this they split up and are both captured. They then are brought to an Akizuki Castle with a bunch of other prisoners where they are going to dig until they find the hidden Akizuki treasure. After a prison uprising Tahei and Matashichi go in the opposite direction to try to get away from the army. While gathering firewood they stumble across some Akizuki gold and find a fellow traveler (Toshiro Mifune) who has also fond some gold he is in a Hidden Fortress as well as a mute girl (Misa Uehara). However this fellow traveler is more than he seems as he is General Makabe Rokurōta who is under the task to transport the Princess Yuki Akizuki and the gold to reestablish the Akizuki Throne. There are twists and turns in the story as well and has a nice bit of humor. At the core it is a story about the compassion of humans and greed. If those things interest you check it out.

Hidden Fortress is what inspired Lucas to have Star Wars be told from the droids (C-3PO and R2-D2, and perhaps BB-8) point of view. I haven’t watch The Force Awakens enough times to make a good judgement on this idea. Hidden Fortress has the magnificent Toshiro Mifune and it is one of Akira Kurosawa’s films so those are enough reasons to see the movie. It’s a classic film and there really isn’t much to knock it for, sure you’ve got to do a bit of reading but that’s about it.

Elstree 1976 (2015)

Elstree 1976 is an interesting Documentary about the lives of some of the lesser known Star Wars actors, It focuses on Paul Blake, Jeremy Bulloch, Garrick Hagon, Anthony Forrest, David Prowse, Angus MacInnes, Pam Rose, Derek Lyons, Laurie Goode and John Chapman and looks at the impact that being in Star Wars had on them. Sure everyone knows Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett and David Prowse was Darth Vader but it is interesting to see them without the masks on. The documentary is sort of interesting for the first three quarters of it and it is wonderful that these unrecognized actors from Star Wars are getting a time to shine. It has the built in audience of Star Wars fans and it seems that might be the only audience. It is a clever idea for a film and is something wonderful to come from kickstarter. If you’d like to know a little more about the unknown actors of Star Wars this is a fun film to check out.