viernes, 31 de mayo de 2013

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones continues the story that was begun and established with Phantom Menace. George Lucas was determined to continue, regardless of what the critics and the public thought about it. 

The film takes place ten years after the events of Phantom Menace. It's drawn significantly closer to the inevitable events that will spell doom to several of our heroes. Palpatine, now having been Chancellor of the Republic for a decade, has every intention of furthering his quest for total and unlimited power. While the deeper implications of how the Sith Grand Plan is enacted are talked about in Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, we know that Sidious has taken at this point a new apprentice, Count Dooku, or known now as the Sith Lord Darth Tyranus. Tyranus was once a Jedi, none other than the master of Qui-Gon Jinn. The death of his apprentice, combined with a lack of faith in the Jedi Order and the ongoing corruption in the Senate convinced Dooku to join the dark side.

Dooku has every intention of ruling the galaxy with an iron fist along his master. Too bad for him that his fate was already sealed once he became the apprentice of Sidious. Palpatine only needed Dooku until Anakin was old enough to be turned to the dark side. Anakin was to be the ''Ultimate Sith''.

Palpatine has only one goal in the entire film: start the Clone Wars. Dooku has already become the leader of the Separatists and has seceded thousands of systems from the Republic. Sifo-Dyas had already created the Clone Army under the request of Hego Damask (Darth Plagueis) and had been assasinated by Dooku shortly after the creation. Dooku then went off to erase Kamino from the Jedi Archives, in order to keep the army a secret until the time was right.

As more and more Senators become aware of the army the Separatists are building and the threat they  pose to the Republic, the Military Creation Act starts to take strength, since the Jedi aren't enough in numbers to protect the Republic. Padme, now Senator of Naboo, goes to Coruscant to be against the act, when her ship is bombed after landing. This leads to a chain of events that make Obi-Wan go to Kamino and find out who is the mysterious bounty hunter sent to murder Amidala. He leaves his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, to escort Senator Amidala back to Naboo, in order to make him go in an assignment of his own.

What follows is a nice backdrop between a romantic, beautiful, almost dream-like scenes involving Anakin and Padme, and a more mysterious and dark tone to the story, as Obi-Wan seeks to unravel the mystery of the assasination attempt, which leads him to the clone army in Kamino and the discovery of the bounty hunter Jango Fett. He realizes that their is more going on that what can be perceived, and in a desperate chase to get some answers from Jango, he tracks him down all the way to the droid foundries of Geonosis. Obi-Wan gets confirmation of the creation of the droid army and every intention they have in attacking and overwhelming the Jedi. This is when Palpatine tricks Jar Jar into helping him, as he gains emergency powers and authorizes the use of the recently discovered clone army.

Anakin is still the only hope the galaxy has of being saved, but things only appear to get more complicated for him. His inability to save his mother from death makes him go through fear, anger, hatred and suffering. His love for Padme and his obligations to the Jedi Order only make him more conflicted in the inside.

As Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padme are about to be executed, a series of events to save them occur, all of them leading to the start of the Clone Wars. Dooku returns secretly to an abandoned warehouse in Coruscant and meets with his master. Palpatine has accomplished his goal. While Obi-Wan is happy that the Clone Army gave the Republic a victory, Yoda realizes that the shroud of the dark side keeps falling, and that the Sith have some involvement in these series of events. Anakin and Padme quietly get married next to a beautiful lake, looking at the sunset.

Attack of the Clones is a lot like it's predecessor, with the exception that this story is darker but at the same time, it's more hopeful. Another great Star Wars film that get's bashed more for emotional reasons than anything else. It's still remembered rather well, by folks like me how went to see it in theaters when they were 8.

Finest Moments of the Film:

1. Yoda and the Younglings. It's one of the most innocent parts of the film, and certainly a great one.

2. When Obi-Wan and Lama-Su see the clone army training, followed later by Jango's duel with Obi-Wan. One of the best fights in the saga.

3. When Anakin is on his speeder bike and Duel of the Fates plays. It makes you think of the conflict he feels himself.

4. The scene where Jar Jar gives emergency powers to Palpatine. The speech he gives is so inspiring, it makes you believe for a few seconds that he has good intentions. Almost.

5. The fight in the arena on Geonosis, followed by Yoda's fight with Count Dooku. I always imagined that Yoda was an excellent swordsman before I saw the film.

6. The marriage of Anakin and Padme. If you don't think that's romantic, I don't know what is.

Rating: 10/10

lunes, 20 de mayo de 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Star Wars Rebels, new animated show announced for 2014

I was literally jumping up and down when I heard this announcement. Dave Filoni will now be executive producer on the new series, STAR WARS REBELS!!! SET BETWEEN EPISODE III AND IV!!! DARK TIMES!!!! DARTH VADER HUNTS DOWN JEDI!!!! DARTH MAUL GOES OFF AND FIGHTS OBI-WAN ON TATOOINE!!!

Ok, that last thing was pure conjecture, but if Maul's fate isn't sealed by the time the bonus content is released, at least their is the possibility of settling major Clone Wars characters into this era. Aah...the dream of several folks has come true. 

On another note, I do have a few questions: will George Lucas be involved like he was in the Clone Wars, or is he only interested in Episode VII? Will this show manage to attract the attention of the hateboys? All of these and more, I hope are answered soon enough, and others, we will know by fan reaction. 

Watch Pablo and my boy Dave speak here: 

Top 100 Star Wars Characters 60-51

Folks, my promise of doing one of these every week didn't live up to be reality. For that, I apologize to anyone who has been eagerly waiting for the next 10 characters in my Top 100 list of best Star Wars characters since who knows when. As we move higher into the list, the characters that show up have more and more prominent roles in both the films and The Clone Wars.

To see the previous parts of the Top 100 Star Wars characters click here:

jueves, 16 de mayo de 2013

Simon Pegg and his annoying Star Wars bashing.

Notorious hateboy Simon Pegg has recently been interviewed about the film in which he appears, Star Trek: Into the Darkness. Of course in one of his interviews, he talked about how wonderful JJ Abrams is and how he was going to restore Star Wars to its ''former'' glory. Simon can maybe make himself more clear: 

“And I think if anyone can pull [Star Wars] out of the mire, it’s J.J. He’ll bring the fun back. Lucas seemed to misread what made the first ones great, and concentrate on things that people didn’t really care about, or wilfully ignore the things that people cared about. Whereas J.J. will embrace them all.
“We’re going to see the Millennium Falcon again. We’re going to see those characters again. All the things that we loved about the first three, we will see again."

So Simon, why is it that after getting a chance to voice Dengar in the Clone Wars, the only notorious hateboy to have done so in The Clone Wars, you bash the guy who hired you?  

Fortunately, The Bearded Trio had the guts to confront him on Twitter. This is his response:

"Please don't take it personally. I'm only angry because I care. Towing the party line would be hypocrisy.''

I don't get it. You are angry about what Simon? About the fact that Episodes I-III didn't live up to your expectations? If that's the case, you should have left Star Wars fandom a long time ago pal. Because even after you make an appearance as a voice actor in the Clone Wars, you continue to bash the creator  because ''you care'' simply doesn't make sense. If you are trying to influence the way you want Episode VII to be like, good luck pal. Millions have tried before you and they didn't succeed. Why should they now? And simply because the Millennium Falcon and the original cast are likely to return, it doesn't neccesarily mean that you are going to like it. 

The worst part of what he says is that it proves he doesn't understand Star Wars. Star Wars isn't in its mire, and you strangely didn't notice how energetic the fandom is after being part of the Clone Wars. Lucas NEVER misread what made the first ones great. Their is nothing wrong with the fact that he concentrated on topics like the midichlorians and on immortality. They were his films, after all. What did he willfully ignore? I'm sorry pal, their was no way the Millennium Falcon could have featured in any bigger role than a cameo in Sith. These episodes had to tell a different part of the story and as we know Lucas's involvement in the story of Episode VII and beyond, these ones will be different as well. 

On another note friends, we simply don't know enough about what JJ Abrams will do in the next film in order to know what his take on Star Wars will be. He apparently said in an interview that it was important that the film standed on it's own terms, and had to satisfy a bigger audience than the fans. For the most part he apparently has some respect for Episodes I-III (lets remember that his kids relate to Anakin, so he gets what the younger fanbase likes). 

Speaking about Star Trek, I will be seeing the next itineration of Into the Darkness tomorrow with my friends. I saw the first one from JJ, and I thought It was a good film. What I didn't like in particular was how fast the camera moved and you weren't very well introduced to the planets that were visited, contrary to how in Star Wars, their is a sense of setting and introduction. Overall, I don't understand why the tension between Star Trek and Star Wars fans exist. I prefer Star Wars obviously, for a series of reasons I won't go into detail right now. 

So for now, I will see the next Star Trek film in order to know more or less what can be expected from the next Star Wars film. Simon Pegg at the same time, has to stop being a basher, and a hateboy.

martes, 14 de mayo de 2013

Happy Birthday, George Lucas!

George Lucas, the greatest filmmaker of all time, turns 69 today. I want to take this time to say, Happy Birthday to George, I really hope that you enjoy your retirement and your marriage. 

George, you created two of my favorite film series, Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and certainly without those 2, our lives would be much harder to deal with. You have revolutionized the film industry in more than one way, and ultimately, you have been one of the most influential people in my life.

It's great to see that you stood up against the hateboys and did Episodes I-III the way you wanted them to be. It's also sad to think about how hard it must have been for you to have sold Lucasfilm, but I know that you made the best decision for Star Wars and for you and your family. 

So, at the end of the day, I simply want you to have a Happy Birthday George. May The Force Be With You.

domingo, 12 de mayo de 2013

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is an excellent film. Perhaps the best of the prequel trilogy. No really, it is. No apologies to the hateboys.
George Lucas decided to start writing the new Star Wars trilogy on November 1, 1994. The screenplay was adapted from a 15-page outline written in 1976. Ultimately he was aiming for a story set in the same universe as Episodes IV, V and VI, but he obviously needed to tell it from a different point of view. The same thing that inspired him to make the previous films helped make this one. 

We are introduced to the source of evil that manages to manipulate the events of the entire saga. Although explained in greater detail in Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, We learn that Palpatine secretly the evil Sith Lord Darth Sidious is instigating an evil, very evil plan that has been in the making for a millenia: To crown himself as ruler of the galaxy, and destroy democracy and the Jedi Order from within. This film makes it much more clear that the ''Wars'' in the ''Star Wars'' title is far more than simply droids vs Gungans, droids vs clone troopers and stormtroopers vs rebels: The real fight is between the cosmic forces of the dark side and light side of the force, more specifically, the most powerful users of each, the Jedi and the Sith.

The Jedi are at their height, but at the same time, they have little understanding of who or what is behind the Trade Federations motivation to invade Naboo. After a short, but intense confrontation between Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul, Qui-Gon comes to the unequivocal conclusion that the mysterious tattooed zabrak warrior is indeed a Sith Lord. The Jedi Council at that moment, realizes that this trade blockade, is much more serious than they had first thought. Ultimately, they know it's a Sith who was behind everything, they just don't know which Sith.

That's when we turn to Palpatine. He has only one goal in the entire film: to go from being Senator of Naboo to Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. Queen Amidala, as said by Sidious himself is ''young and naive'' and will do what it takes to save her people. Sadly, saving her people ended up making possible a scenario beyond the worst fears of any of the heroes.

Despite the mysterious dark forces that are conspiring against our heroes, hence the title ''The Phantom Menace'', the galaxy still has hope of being saved, by none other than the hands of a 9-year old slave  named Anakin Skywalker, whom lives with his mother in the backwater and hostile desert world of Tatooine.

Qui-Gon is the Jedi who realizes not only that the Sith are behind the entire blockade, but that this boy is the prophecied ''Chosen One''- an ancient Jedi prophecy that spoke of a being that would bring balance to the Force and destroy the Sith. The rest of the Jedi Council is nevertheless skeptical of Qui-Gon's claims, fearing instead the clouded future that is in store, and not realizing that they could have stopped this menace if their minds had been on the ''here and now''. It does bring to question what would have happened had Qui-Gon not died at the hands of Darth Maul. Would he have stopped young Anakin from becoming the fearsome Darth Vader? Would he have seen that Palpatine was a soul of irreparable evil that really didn't have the best interest of the people? The only thing that we know for sure is that Qui-Gon knew the outcome of the entire thing before it had even begun.

The beauty of Phantom Menace lies on the fact that it deals with an incredibly evil plot from the side of the villain, yet it tells a relatively straightforward and fun adventure. That is perhaps one of Lucas's greatest gifts: despite the fact that Star Wars deals with complex and dark themes, it ultimately is a story that is engulfed with a hopeful and positive message. Few other franchises manage to have that chemistry and in fact, most tend to slip towards the side of darkness too far in.

The story introduces us to great villains, Sidious and Maul, a wise and powerful mentor, Qui-Gon, a arrogant yet far more mature for his age Obi-Wan Kenobi, a beautiful and strong willed Queen Amidala, a young and nice Anakin and the stooge that is Jar Jar Binks. I do have to admit however, that Obi-Wan became my favorite Star Wars character when I first watched this film in 1999, primarily at that point because he defeated Darth Maul. Nowadays, my reasoning is more complex.

Ultimately, we all knew that Phantom Menace was going to be huge from the day it got announced, even if today a portion of Star Wars ''fans'' (hateboys), apparently have nothing better to do and continue to bash a film they should have moved on from a long time ago.

For the fans who actually liked this film, and to the new generation that was introduced to Star Wars by this film (including myself), Phantom Menace stands as proof that Star Wars is a multi-generational film saga, something that can't be said for other franchises.

Finest Moments of the Film:

1. The beginning of the film: When Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon talk about the Living Force, and Nute Gunray, petrified, talks to Sidious about the Jedi who have come as ambassadors. The action that follows sets the film to a great start.

2. The introduction to the underwater city of Otoh Gunga. Truly one of those Star Wars moments when you ''experience the wonder''.

3. The Podrace. One of the most memorable moments of the saga.

4. Anakin's farewell to his mother Shmi. It stands out as one of the saddest moments of the film, and also one of the most tragic in retrospect, if we know what happens later.

5. The Duel with Darth Maul, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. Probably the best lightsaber fight of all six films.

Rating: 10/10

domingo, 5 de mayo de 2013

Star Wars, the Road to Hell and Heaven

Friends, this past couple of weeks have been largely insane in terms of the amount of things I have to do in order to graduate (the reason why I haven't written since God-knows when), and the shockwaves that have hit the Star Wars community. They have been in a mix: some have been good others have been bad, and others ugly. Let's take a look folks at what has happened, now that I have the first day off since...well spring break.

For starters, Rumors went on and off about layoffs in Lucasfilm Animaton, Lucas Arts, and about how much ''bonus content'' of the Clone Wars might get released. The pessimistic Star Wars fans basically painted Disney like an evil corporation alla Koch Brothers, Exxon Mobil type of guys, whom we're going to destroy Star Wars and everything left in Lucasfilm. While they have been partially right about it for a couple of things, the ''I Told You So'' type of attitude doesn't really help, and it only fervents the anger of some folks. 

Disney did fire some folks at Lucasfilm Animation, how many we do not know, and well Lucas Arts is now for licensing only. Still that DOES NOT mean that Detours, the remaining Bonus Content of The Clone Wars and the videogame 1313 won't see the light of day. On the contrary, the possibility still remains for all of them to be released in some way, shape or form. 

On another note, Dave Filoni is going to helm the upcoming animated series coming from Lucasfilm Animation, so that should leave fans hopeful. Let's not forget that way back in Celebration VI, Dave Filoni said that he was being prepared in order to continue the creative part of Star Wars once George passes further into retirement. We will have to wait and see if the fate of Darth Maul, and that of other characters is sealed with the remaining bonus content. 

Let's also remember the good things that have come out of Star Wars recently... The original Star Wars story treatment from 1973 will be turned into a comic book, Return of the Jedi will celebrate 30 years on May 25, ''Kenobi'' the novel about Obi-Wan during the dark times recently got a blurb, and JJ Abrams plans on having John Williams score Episode 7!! Exciting friends. 

So, dear readers, please even if you are going through hell, do not loose hope on Star Wars. Because great things are coming right next door. 

And, another thing...a late May the 4th Be With You, and also Happy Revenge of the 5th. ;)