domingo, 28 de julio de 2013

Top 100 Star Wars Characters 10-1

As I said way back in February when I was starting this list, their would be characters you think deserved to show up that never made it, and characters you thought didn't deserve to be in it. However, as a very wise man once said, all good things must come to an end. So with you, the Top 10 Star Wars Characters. At least, for now. 

domingo, 21 de julio de 2013

Top Star Wars Characters 20-11

These are the secondary most important characters of the Star Wars saga.

Episode VII: Five Burning Questions

These are the burning questions that have been raised due to the fact that Episode VII is getting released  in 2015. Mind you, for anyone who isn't a die-hard Star Wars fan, that this film release is a paradigm-shifting act. It will potentially change the way we see Star Wars, forever. 

1. Is their any story worth telling? 

The truth is, the biggest question we all have as Star Wars fans, is, what more can be left to tell after the ending of Return of the Jedi? Anakin was redeemed, Luke had become a Jedi, The Empire was gone, The Sith were destroyed, Han and Leia were in love and the Ewoks were happy. One of the few ties that were left unanswered is how Yoda told Luke ''to pass on what he had learned''. Which brings to the next question...

2. How will Luke's New Jedi Order be? 

Essentially, one of the few things we can be almost certain about Episode VII, is that in the 30-40 years since ROTJ, Luke must have founded a New Jedi Order. He probably restored it at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, and went off to train Jedi, possibly Leia being the first. Obviously a couple of questions related to this do come up: How many Jedi will the new Order have? My guess would be that if Luke trains his students the ''rushed'' way he was trained, we might have anywhere from 20-30 Jedi. But who knows? Another question that remains is, how will the new Order be in comparison with the old one, and how will it act in relation with the Republic? Which leads us to...

3. Will Leia be a Jedi or a Senator? 

Luke told Leia in Episode VI that in time she would learn to use the Force like him. One would think that the first student Luke would have trained would have been Leia. At the same time, it raises question to the whole Attachment issue of the Jedi Order, and whether or not it will exist in this New Order. A primal assumption everyone has made is that Leia and Han Solo will be married in Episode VII. If the Celibacy part of the Order is kept, you can guarantee that Leia will be portrayed as a politician. Though if she is a senator, it does raise the question: Senator of what planet? 

4. Will Luke be Married? 

George Lucas stated back in an interview in 2008 that in his vision, Luke never got married. If Lucas didn't change his mind since then, we can assume that the Celibacy part of the Jedi Order was maintained. If however, Lucas changed his mind at some point, then it raises the question: Who will be Miss Skywalker? Will it be Mara Jade, or someone else? And if it is Mara Jade, who will portray her? One thing I know for sure is that, it would be a pretty big change if a Skywalker isn't the protagonist of the next trilogy. 

5. Who Will Be The Main Villain? 

The success or failure of this trilogy rests primarily on this main crux, primarily because if handled wrongly it can lead to horrible decisions. We can't have the Sith back as the villains of the next trilogy: It's too problematic on several fronts. And besides, we already saw them take over the galaxy and be destroyed, so their is little purpose in seeing them again. As I have said before, a third faction of force-users is needed. The spiritual and religious part of Star Wars needs to be respected above all else, and it would be excruciatingly painful to see it slip by. 

These, folks, are perhaps the most important questions I have, and several of you might have, as we move forward. 

domingo, 14 de julio de 2013

American Graffiti

American Graffiti is a coming of age film made by George Lucas after he had a bet with friend and mentor, Francis Ford Coppola. The film was released on August 11th, 1973 and was based on George Lucas's life as a teenager growing up in Modesto, California in the early 60's. 
The film stars Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Paul Le Mat, Cindy Williams, Charles Martin Smith, Wolfman Jack and Harrison Ford in a cameo. The main characters are all friends who live in Modesto, as the film details their lives during an entire night, as they party, have fights, and cruise in their cars, the way life was for young folks back in the 60's. 

It's curious to note that three of the main characters in the film where all based on George Lucas at different points throughout his early teenager/young adult life. George may not have been the most popular kid back in the day, but he later went off to become a hell of a car racer. His passion was at one point so big that he wanted to go into car racing professionally, but a terrible accident at some point in his life ended his dream. Some of that passion must have lived with him, since in all of his films, some type of race occurs, be it a normal car race, a Podrace or a Trench Run. It's even known that Lucas went recently to a Formula 1 race in Monaco. 

The importance of American Graffiti, looking back on it in retrospect, is to show that whoever you were in High School: be the popular kid, the normal boy, or the underdog, won't determine your success later in life. If you need anymore evidence, simply look at the maker himself. This theme is also evident in the Star Wars films, as both Luke and Anakin came from humble origins, and were underdog's that became heroes once they embarked in an adventure. 

I personally think that the film is a fun one to watch, that also has a message of ''simplicity'': Life was better in the old days, when it revolved around small towns and everyone knew each other, and when young folks would listen to rock and roll and cruise in their cars because their was nothing better to do. Nowadays the world is a much more complex place, where popular culture has enforced a ''mono-culture'' in film, music and other media that seeks to get young people to identify with vice, misogyny and materialism over their traditional values. 

George Lucas had proven to the world that he could make a successful film that the public would love. He had the vision and the capacity to make Star Wars. The rest, you could say, is history.

Rating: 8.5/10

viernes, 5 de julio de 2013

Possible Planets and Locations for Episode VII

It seems that it has been forever since I have made any speculation post regarding Episode VII. An important one of course, and one I seem to have missed at some point, is the speculation regarding what planets and locations we will see in the next Star Wars films. Here are some possible places we might see:
1. Coruscant
If their is one planet that must return in the next films, it's Coruscant. The capital of the Republic and the Empire, which was encompassed of one big city, was very prominent in Episodes I,II and III. In Episodes IV and V it's completely absent and in Episode VI we only see it at the very end, when everybody is cheering over the destruction of the Empire, statues of Palpatine are torn down and stormtroopers are incapable of stopping the masses of happy people. We barely saw it in the later films, due to the fact that most of the action took place in the Outer Rim, where the Rebels where building up their armies and recruiting star systems to support their cause. However, assuming that the Republic has been restored and fully functional in Episode VII, we will likely see Coruscant again. It would be nice to see some changes to the city compared to what we saw previously, as well as bring back major points of importance, like the Jedi Temple and the Galactic Senate. So, if anything, Coruscant is a given in the next trilogy. And to all the haters who can't stand CGI: If you don't think the picture above looks realistic, their is something wrong with your eyes and you better go see a doctor. 
2. Tatooine
Despite the fact that Tatooine is a backwater planet located in the Outer Rim, it's by far, the single most important planet in the Star Wars saga, due to the fact that it's where Anakin and Luke Skywalker were raised and the place where the Jabba the Hutt lives and appears in 5 of the 6 films. It's hard to see how Tatooine could be involved in the next trilogy in particular if Luke's kids are raised in Coruscant. But, you never know. The only requirement would be to go to Tunisia. 
3. Naboo
Coruscant, Tatooine and Naboo are the 3 most important planets in the six films. Naboo would be the third in that ranking, since it's the home planet of Padme Amidala, mother of Luke and Leia and wife to Anakin. Naboo features prominently in Episodes I and II and briefly in III and VI. Whether or not we see it again in Episode VII and beyond is anyone's guess. The same problem exists here as it does with  Tatooine in the sense that it's difficult to see how it could be involved. I would imagine however, that Luke and Leia might have visited the planet at one point, in order to find out more about their mother. 
4. Dathomir
I'm simply throwing in a wild guess here, but if the Nightsisters do turn out to be the villains of Episode VII, then I guarantee you we will see the red planet Dathomir once again, as seen in The Clone Wars. 
5. New and Unknown Planets
In every Star Wars film we are always introduced to at least one new and exciting planet. My bet on Episode VII is that we will likely see more than one new planet. We may likely also see some familiar places from either TCW or the films, planets like Mandalore, Bespin and Felucia. Some rumors have indicated that partial filming may take place in Ireland, which would allow for us to see a new and distinct planet. At the same time, I am 99.99999999% certain that Coruscant WILL appear in the next film. 

miércoles, 3 de julio de 2013

On JJ Abrams and Episode VII: Take 2

The last time I talked about JJ Abrams as director of Episode VII, I was quite optimistic in his delivery of the film, saying that he understood that their children related to the newer Star Wars films, and even if he didn't like everything about them, he at least respected the films and George himself. I forgot to mention that time about how Abrams probably had not that much saying as far as the film went, since George and Michael Arndt probably figured out how most of the film would turn out long before he came on board. 
Since the picture above pretty much shows we shouldn't worry too much about him, at the same time, it's important to take notice that until very recently, George Lucas hadn't really commented that much on JJ being on board as director. Some of the news of last month point out that he is optimistic: 

“Yeah, J.J.’s a great director and we’re friends. I think he understands the whole thing and how it works.
“And if he doesn’t, Kathy [Kennedy] will keep it straight.” he added with a laugh.
As for his own involvement in the next three films, George said he won’t be doing “much.”
“If they need help or anything, they’ll give me a call,” he said. “Otherwise, I’m off on my own.”
Additionally, the legendary director said that no matter how good “Episode VII” is, there will always be critics.
“No matter how you do it, it’s a complicated cultural icon. Therefore you’re always going to be in trouble no matter what you do,” he said. “So, the best thing you can do is just plow forward and try to do the best story you can.”

What this reveals is that George's involvement in the next film will be somewhere around his involvement in Clone Wars in the sense that he gave the basic layout of the story and the rest of the crew figured it out on their own. 

It still however begs for the question of how the film will be. It would certainly anger a lot of fans if the hateboy of Simon Pegg lands his way in a role in this film. And I'm not sure about other Star Trek actors landing roles in Star Wars. As much as several of them are good, they wouldn't really work for this type of film (not to mention that JJ has to really lower down the pacing of his films). 

Besides the point it's important to note that the most notorious hateboys in the Internet, including Simon Pegg, Damon Lindelof, Mike Stoklasa (the guy behind Red Letter Media) and Mike Ryan from the Huffington Post have all been lauding about how JJ will bring back Star Wars and other BS, when these guys will likely hate this film like they hated their predecessors. As George said it before, no matter how good Episode VII is, their will always be a bunch of moronic trolls over in the Internet nitpicking over every freakin' second of the film. So I wouldn't be surprised if by 2015, these guys turn their backs on JJ and hopefully leave Star Wars for good. 

As far as what JJ brings to the table in the next Star Wars film, it's difficult to predict at this point. Not enough news has leaked about Episode VII since January when Abrams was hired as director. But now that were getting closer to shooting, I believe that we may find out more about the film, and what exactly JJ intends to do as a director. 

martes, 2 de julio de 2013

THX 1138

THX 1138 was the directorial debut of one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, George Lucas. His mentor and friend Francis Ford Coppola helped produce the film, which was developed from Lucas' student film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 43B which he made in 1967 while attending University of Southern California's film school. The film was the first view to the world to what George Lucas was capable of. The film was released on March 11, 1971.
The film itself is set in a dystopian world, in which the population is controlled by android police officers and mandatory use of drugs that suppress emotions and sexual desire. The main character of the film, THX 1138, stops using his medication for some time, and has intimate relations with her roommate. He is eventually imprisoned as the government discovers this, in an area that resembles a white limbo world. He escapes with the help of SRT, and the android police goes off in an all out chase against them.

George Lucas is very clearly influenced in this film by none other than Arthur Lipsett's short 1963 abstract film, 21-87 (shown below). The meticulous editing and combination of audio and visual montage was both groundbreaking and influential, in particular when it comes to this film, and many of Lucas's future projects. An echo of a phrase in this film even inspired George Lucas in the creation of the Force in the Star Wars films:
"Many people feel that in the contemplation of nature and in communication with other living things, they become aware of some kind of force, or something, behind this apparent mask which we see in front of us, and they call it God."
It's also important to note that other things that show up in THX 1138 are clearly seen in the Star Wars films, in particular the vehicle chases. The end sequence of THX 1138 has a car chase, which clearly shows George's passion for automobile racing. The oppressive stance of the government shown in the film is in a lot of ways similar to the Galactic Empire in Star Wars, showing George's views of fighting the system that treats us like machines and threatens to destroy our humanity. And perhaps most notorious of all the similarities, is the sunset the main character sees at the end of the film, much like the sunset Luke Skywalker sees at the beginning of A New Hope. It wasn't until several years later when Seth MacFarlane interviewed George Lucas that it was revealed that the sun represents being outside the box. The sunset is the essence of change, and the people who are staring at the sunset are going from a life of inside the box which is basically, the same every day, to the unknown. Their running either to a nightmare or to a new dawn and they get a second chance.

George Lucas with THX 1138 showed the world that he was a guy with a wild imagination, a brilliant storyteller and an original thinker who seeked to defy the status quo and change the world. While the film suffers by being boring at parts and being somewhat difficult to follow through, it's still an innovative breakthrough. He wasn't George Lucas yet; he was discovering himself and seeing what worked and what didn't. But it was still the first time he made himself known to the world.

Rating: 8/10

Top 100 Star Wars Characters 40-31

These characters, as we move forward, have more and more influence to the events of the saga as a whole. 
To see previous parts of the list, click here: