Archive for the 'Star Wars' Category

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas created a franchise that would invade pop culture like no other.

Beantown Is Geektown

02-Nov-09 2:22 PM by
Filed under Potpourri, Star Trek, Star Wars; 4 comments.

The passing of Halloween means the holidays are nearly upon us — but if you're a geek in Boston, then there are far more significant festivities headed your way. The biggest and best celebrities of science fiction will be coming to Massachusetts for three different events this month:

• On Saturday, November 14th, the touring "Star Wars In Concert" comes to the TD Garden for both a 3:00 PM matinee and an 8:00 PM performance. The concert is described as "John Williams' breathtaking score from the epic Star Wars saga … performed by a live symphony orchestra and chorus, accompanied by a stunning video montage on an enormous LED screen." Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) has been narrating this concert, though it's unclear if that's only at specific venues. Us Bostonians are no stranger to hearing Mr. Williams' soundtracks performed live, as the composer is also the director emeritus of the renowned Boston Pops Orchestra and often serves as guest conductor, but a dedicated concert to this particular score is a rare treat. Tickets are $32.50, $52.50, or $72.50, plus applicable taxes and fees.

• That same weekend is the New England Fan Experience (NEFX) sci-fi convention. Star Trek headliners include Bostonian Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime) as well as John de Lancie (Q), though the former will be available only on Saturday, competing with the aforementioned Star Wars concert. Online tickets (via a Web site that is remarkably reminiscent of a GeoCities page) are available through November 6th for $45 each, or for $50 at the door.

• NEFX 2009 is held a week earlier than in 2008, avoiding the conflict that occurred last year with the annual Super Megafest, traditionally held the weekend before Thanksgiving. That means this year, you can attend NEFX one week and Super Megafest the next! The latter is held in Framingham, less than a half-hour west of Boston. The expo — which features an unusual amalgam of sci-fi actors, comic book artists, TV show stars, and pro wrestlers — will this year present Brent Spiner (Star Trek's Data), Ray Park (Star Wars' Darth Maul and, more recently, G.I. Joe's Snake Eyes), and James Marsters (Buffy's Spike). In addition to signings, each star also has a half-hour Q&A session, though the schedule is unknowable prior to the event: an email from its coordinator informed me, "No, panels will not be posted on the site. Most celebs will do Q&A sessions both days. However sat is probably the better day to see more Q&A sessions." Last year I happened to show up just in time to see Jonathan Frakes; otherwise I would've been out of luck. The actual show floor is quite small but packs a lot into it. Tickets for the entire November 21-22 weekend are only $20.

Though the two conventions offer cheaper admittance than the orchestral concert, they also have the most potential to drain your allowance, based on how many celebrity autographs you want to go home with; typical fees range from $20 to $50 or more per signing. This will be my third Super Megafest, and I usually budget $100 for at least three autographs.

If you'll be attending either the Star Wars matinee or the Super Megafest, be sure to say hello to Showbits!

A New Sith; or, Revenge of the Hope

09-Jul-09 10:01 PM by
Filed under Star Wars; 2 comments.

Star Wars is a universe divided: an excellent trilogy followed by three awful prequels. Yet this division is something that unites the fans, as rarely will you find a Jedi wannabe who favors Jar-Jar Binks over Master Yoda. I'm not of a very different mind on this matter, though I have previously argued that even the prequel trilogy has its redeeming moments. If I have to choose sides, I just can't help but root for the underdog.

What is less often considered is the six series as a united whole, and the impact the prequels have on the original trilogy. Have you ever watched all six movies not in release order, but in chronological order? If so, did you notice some things that didn't make sense before suddenly take on a whole new meaning?

One creative author has organized all those threads into a logical supposition. In Keith Martin's reconsideration of Star Wars IV in the light of I-III, two characters that have always been fan favorites are cast in unexpectedly prominent yet subtle roles. Think the heroes of this film were Luke Skywalker and Han Solo? Think again. As unlikely as this casting is to be canon, it's an imaginative — and seemingly plausible — interpretation that gives George Lucas' galaxy more depth than even he intended. If you have time to read this 2,299-word dissertation, you won't be disappointed.

One point in the above essay that I had to question: was the Millennium Falcon anywhere in the prequel trilogy? I don't remember. I know it defended Earth from the Borg, roughly a century after R2-D2 went up against the Romulans. So it's entirely possible these characters would show up unexpectedly in their own franchise.

(Hat tip to Rotten Tomatoes)

Kiss a Wookie for George

14-May-09 5:55 PM by
Filed under Star Wars; Comments Off on Kiss a Wookie for George

Happy birthday, George Lucas! (And just a week after Star Wars Day, too!)

Whether or not you approve of his coda to the Star Wars movie series (the tenth anniversary of Episode I's release being this coming Tuesday, May 19th), Mr. Lucas is still the man who introduced us all to a galaxy far, far away, leaving an undeniable impact on pop culture and the imaginations of millions.

In tribute, I offer this a cappella rendition of Star Wars lyrics, set to the various tunes of John Williams:

It's worth noting that the above video is not a live performance, but is actually a lip-sync of a song by a quartet called Moosebutter. I'm not sure why this one-man version was the one that became popular, but to his credit, he never claimed the song as his own, giving full attribution to Moosebutter.

Beyond Star Wars, other singers have also proven their versatility in playing multiple roles. For more such fun, turn your attention to Beaker and one Zelda video game fan.

Star Wars Meets MacGuyver, Airwolf, Dallas

24-Apr-09 1:22 PM by
Filed under Humor, Star Wars; Comments Off on Star Wars Meets MacGuyver, Airwolf, Dallas

Contests are often made of Star Trek vs. Star Wars: could a phaser beat a lightsaber? The Enterprise outgun an Imperial Star Destroyer? But the rivalry seems to be less heated than friendly, as both franchises appeal to mostly the same audience.

Nonetheless, I'm aware that Showbits offers more coverage of Gene Roddenberry's universe than George Lucas's. So, in an effort to balance last week's variations on Star Trek openings, I've compiled a similar lineup of Star Wars parodies. These are potentially more amusing, as Star Wars, being a movie, not television, series has no "opening", per se, other than the trademark scrolling text … which doesn't really lend itself to remixing.

The Rebel Alliance goes up against the infinitely better equipped Empire. Who else often makes the best of minimal resources? MacGyver, of course! (Compare with the original)

Star Wars lives up to its name with some memorable dogfights. Add some atmosphere, and you might get Airwolf (original):

And finally, like Star Trek, this series has also been remade to look like Dallas, rife with familial drama and intrigue (original):

This collection the question: what is it with all the 1980s TV show openings? Where are Buffy or Friends — or even Star Trek? Now that would be cool: Star Wars: Enterprise!

Star Wars Sounds Around the House

11-Feb-09 11:47 AM by
Filed under Star Wars; 5 comments.

I was recently editing an article about how to convert one format of digitized sound effect (rSound) to another (WAV). It's a pretty geeky topic, but one I think will appeal to the right audience.

Despite that esoteric pastime, even I have to say that some people have way too much time on their hands. Translating sound effects via digital means, I can understand — but reproducing Star Wars theme music "on the metal"?

At least this second example was mere happenstance and involved no real work… unless you count the unlikelihood of a Wookie amicably squeezing himself into a cabinet.


(Hat tips to Blake Patterson and TheForce.net)

Rock the Galactic Vote

04-Nov-08 10:05 AM by
Filed under Humor, Star Wars; Comments Off on Rock the Galactic Vote

Today, the United States will elect its next president. For months, if not years, we've been subjected to the back-and-forth attacks between two opposing parties. If you haven't yet cast your vote and are still feeling indecisive, Showbits, in a bipartisan fashion, offers this last-minute roundup of campaign pleas:



And to anyone who tells you not to vote today… it's a trap!

(Hat tip to TheForce.net)

Fanboys' Rebellion

03-Nov-08 10:35 PM by
Filed under Star Wars, Trailers; 4 comments.

Star Wars has inspired some fantastic fan films, from Chad Vader to Ryan vs. Dorkman. As artistic and engaging as these creations are, they are usually limited in their budget and scope; few are more than a few minutes in length. Meanwhile, more ambitious projects, such as Heart of an Empire or 5/25/77, never see the light of day.

Finally, a feature-length film inspired by Star Wars will get a nationwide theatrical release — thanks in no small part to a cast that includes Kevin Smith, William Shatner, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Kristen Bell, Seth Rogen, Ray Park, and Superman Returns' Jimmy Olsen, with Kevin Spacey producing. The first trailer for Fanboys brings to life every geek's hopes and dreams:

Although I'm not always a fan of either Seth Rogen or Kristen Bell, this star-studded film looks like a ton of fun for anyone who knows Star Wars and Star Trek as well as the typical Showbits reader. A healthy dork is one who can laugh at himself, and I suspect I won't be alone in counting myself among that crowd come Fanboys' opening night of February 6, 2009.

(Hat tip to ComingSoon.net)

Casualties of the Clone War

03-Sep-08 11:00 AM by
Filed under Star Wars; 2 comments.

A new Star Wars movie used to be a thrice-in-a-generation event. This summer's The Clone Wars has broken that tradition, and no one seems too happy about it. With only a 20% rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes. It continues a trend of anti-Star Wars sentiment that began in 1999 when young Anakin Skywalker first debuted as a podracing slave who, with a battle cry of "Yahoo!", miraculously saved the day.

I've not seen George Lucas' new animated entry into this storied series, but I do wish to take exception with those who suggest it's the fourth consecutive instance of the distant galaxy's creator flushing the franchise down the drain. Sure, the bar was set high, with Episodes IV and V earning an average rating of 96%, again on Rotten Tomatoes. But Return of the Jedi sunk to 74%, which provides good company for the three prequels, which garnered 63%, 66%, and 79%, respectively.

Even without comparing the prequels to their older siblings, there's still much to like. I won't dispute the obvious, like Jar-Jar's presence making light of a trilogy that, by its very subject matter, should be dark. But too often, the hate that is harped on these brilliant examples of all that is wrong with Star Wars overpowers the moments that truly shine.

Take Attack of the Clones which ends with a battle that's worth the previous two hours. Before then, we'd only ever known the galaxy's oldest Jedi as a shriveled Muppet on his death bed. Here, we learn Yoda is a force (no pun intended) to be reckoned with on so many levels.

That is one of only several jaw-dropping lightsaber battles to grace the trilogy. Whereas Jedi were scarce in the original films, Episodes I-III brought them out en masse. The Phantom Menace gave us the excellent music and choreography of "Duel of the Fates". Not only was the battle set to a song I always wished to be in the choir for, but it was the first battle against a prequel-exclusive Sith lord — and one equipped with a heretofore-unknown variation on the light saber! Now that's how to kick it up a notch.

Revenge of the Sith

Remember this? I thought so.

Compared to that single struggle, Revenge of the Sith was a smorgasbord of skirmishes, with at least five lightsaber battles among the greatest heroes and villains of the entire six-episode epic. In the prequel's conclusion, not only had Anakin Skywalker grown up, but so had Hayden Christensen, with a portrayal of young Vader that was less whiny and more ambitious than we'd previously seen. It makes his perfect manipulation at the hands of Darth Sidious all the more painful to watch. Watching Revenge of the Sith was like watching Titanic: a tragedy that you knew couldn't be averted, but you hoped would nonetheless be derailed and fail to play out. I took me days to realize the extent of Palpatine's machinations, and at least a week to recover from my depression over his success. I mentioned this to a friend of mine, who laughed, saying he'd never considered the possibility that someone could be depressed over a movie. But taken in the larger context of what these three movies did to the Star Wars universe and the stage they set for Episodes IV-VI, I can conceive of no other response. To this day, I can't bring myself to endure that experience again.

We've already commemorated the impact made by the original trilogy's simple yet stellar tale of good vs. evil. The prequels are more complex, in where they were coming from, where they had to get to, and audience reception and interpretation. I submit that among those variables are many kernels of quality. Another site offers 11 concrete reasons for that supposition; I encourage you to rewatch the films and come up with your own.

(Hat tip to TheForce.net)