Darth Santa

24-Dec-15 9:30 AM by
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Tis the season to believe in the Force. Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived in theaters last week and smashed all opening weekend box office records. I knew it was a cultural phenomenon, but it was a small thing that made me realize how deeply it had penetrated into our awareness: this sign on my state's highway.

The Force Awakens is a fantastic movie that made me have all the feels: I was exuberant, joyful, angry, anguished, and excited. I loved every moment I spent watching it. After having some time to absorb and reflect on the experience, I am a little disappointed in the direction they took the script. But that does nothing to diminish what a stellar film it is, and it leaves me eager to see if those decisions are followed through in the pending sequels.

Episode VII is the first Star Wars movie to be released in a month other than May. Does that make it a Christmas movie? Probably not, but certainly it's a holiday season movie, with families gathering to enjoy time away from work and school at the movie theater.

But the characters of Star Wars aren't necessarily people you want to be with on Christmas morning. In fact, I might rather a visit from Krampus than Darth Vader:

By the time of Episode VII, Darth Vader is well and truly dead — but true villainy is timeless, and no matter what comes of this new trilogy, we'll always remember our first Sith.

(Full disclosure: I support Corridor Digital on Patreon.)

Gandalf vs. Darth Vader

08-Dec-12 11:10 AM by
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It's less than a week to The Hobbit's premiere, wherein we see the One Ring fall into the hands of the unlikeliest person, setting into motion the last battle to come from the War of the Ring. These many evils were perpetuated by Sauron, the power-hungry lord of the rings who was defeated only through the combined forces of the good races of Middle-Earth, many of them led by the wizard Gandalf.

But what if Sauron was not the greatest foe Gandalf ever faced? Surely there is no more powerful evil on Middle-Earth — but what if we were to look to the stars? What if the Dark Lord that Gandalf the Grey faced was not Sauron — but Darth Vader?

The battle's outcome was decided by a popular vote, though I can't say I agree with the result. I feel we've witnessed more powerful users of the Force in the Star Wars universe, and even they were defeated. Of course, leaving Darth Vader as the ringbearer presents a far more interesting scenario: what now?

This video is, surprisingly, not from the same team that brought us Batman vs. Captain America. It seems celebrity superhero mashups are all the rage on YouTube. Which two powers do you want to see clash next?

Darth Vader's License to Intimidate

20-May-11 12:00 PM by
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Go to any science fiction convention and you'll see geeks sporting their hearts on their sleeves — or, more accurately, their license plates. Vanity plates reading everything from "X-WING" to "FIREFLY" are not uncommon sightings.

However, such a display was not something I expected to see in my own workplace's parking lot:

(Note that clicking on the thumbnails will result in loading some very large files!)

I eventually tracked down the Jeep Wrangler's owner to Computerworld's COO, whom I quizzed: "So are you a big Star Wars nut? Or were you just looking to intimidate folks?" His response:

My family has a tradition of having grandchildren call their grandparents some name other than grandpa or grandma. Nana, papa, grandma, granddad, etc. are some of names selected over time by various grandparents. I chose Vader pretty much just to bug my mother. So my three grandchildren are going to call me Vader — as soon as they can talk; all are under six months old at this point.

Courtesy this gentleman's vivid imagination, an entire generation will grow up unafraid of the Dark Lord of the Sith. How will they feel when they learn his true origin? Will they rebel against their seemingly loving grandfather? Will the Star Wars saga play out once again, pitting blood against blood? Only time will tell… Until then, he can at least be counted on for a lollipop or two.

Casualties of the Clone War

03-Sep-08 11:00 AM by
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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)

A Long Time Ago…

14-Mar-07 12:33 PM by
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Today, March 14th, marks the tenth anniversary of the theatrical release of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Special Edition, the last in a series of re-releases that cleaned up the presentation of the twenty-year-old trilogy. The Special Edition did more than just modernize the three films' special effects, though (and I don't mean making Greedo shoot first). Before 1997, an entire generation had experienced Star Wars the only way it'd been possible: on the TV screen. Reinstating the story to the medium in which it was meant to be delivered — the big screen — gave millions of fans the opportunity to be reminded why they were drawn to this saga in the first place.

Read the rest of this entry at Computerworld.com »