Tagged: Darth Vader

Tweeks Halloween Ideas & SDCC Cosplay featuring Rubies Costume Co

We’re about a month out from Halloween and way past time to start planning! While Anya still doesn’t know if she’s going to be a Ghostbuster or not, Maddy is determined to be Harley Quinn — even if every other girl in their high school is too.

In this week’s episode, we talk to the Executive VP of Rubie’s costumes about what’s hot this year (& get a little background on their really cool store & website) and then we look back at some of our favorite cosplay from SDCC to see if anything sparks a Halloween costume idea.

Let us know what you’re being for Halloween…and maybe help Anya out.

John Ostrander: Star Wars – The Trouble with Quibbles

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Spoiler Alert: This column will deal with some plot points in Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens. It’s possible that you may not have seen it yet although I think just about anyone who has any real interest in seeing it has seen it. If you are one of those who haven’t seen it and want to avoid plot revelations, avoid this column. Likewise, if you just don’t give a hang about Star Wars, you might want to avoid it as well. It’ll just bore the life out of you. Fan geek stuff. You know.

I’ve seen the new Star Wars film, Episode VII The Force Awakens a couple of times. Twice at least in the IMAX theater and now on Blu-Ray. Basically, I really enjoyed it. It makes up for the prequels and does what I always wanted in the next Star Wars film – it tells me what happened next.

That said, I do have some quibbles. I don’t mind, as some fans do, that the movie seems to replicate plot points from the first SW film, a.k.a. Episode IV. They had the Death Star, Episode VII has the Starkiller Base. The planet Alderaan gets blowed up real good in Episode IV; the planetary system that included Coruscant got blowed up real good in Episode VII (which, by the way, I think was a mistake). Both films have the mentor figure killed off by the villain dressed in black who wears a helmet. Skywalker males are whiners in all the trilogies. Anakin was a big time whiner in the prequels, Luke whined at least at the start, and now Kylo Ren whines just before he commits patricide. Leia never whines. Han doesn’t whine. Just the Skywalker boys.

Some of the similarities annoy me. Why is it, when the Jedi suffer a set-back, they go off somewhere to pout… excuse me, “meditate”… while the galaxy falls apart? Yoda and Obi-Wan could have found and rallied the remaining Jedi (or created new ones) to go after Darth Vader and Darth Sidious. But no. The remaining Jedi lie in hiding while terrible things happen to the galaxy and the planet Alderaan gets blowed up real good while the remaining Jedi pout. I mean meditate. In the new film, it’s a big plot point that the galaxy is waiting for Luke to come back and save it. The bad guys are hunting for his location so they can kill him and wipe out any possibility of the Jedi really returning. That’s a given. Where’s Luke? Off pouting. I mean meditating. And the flaming Coruscant system gets blowed up real good.

I suppose it could be argued that Luke, after his first attempt to make more Jedi goes spectacularly bad, decides to go look for the first Jedi Temple since he doesn’t really know what he’s doing. However, that’s speculating without any real proof.

In the earlier Star Wars films, it is said that Darth Vader, a.k.a. Anakin Skywalker, still had some good in him. I’ve argued this before: I don’t see it. He killed children, he betrayed the Jedi Order, he helped hunt down remaining Jedi, he was complicit in the destruction of the planet Alderaan but it’s okay because, at the end, he turns on the evil Emperor because the latter is electrocuting Vader’s son.

Now, in the latest film, the new Man In Black, Kylo Ren, a.k.a. the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, kills people, wrecks Luke’s nascent new Jedi Club, orders the destruction of a village, is complicit in the destruction of a whole planetary system and he commits patricide. Yes, this a-hole kills off his Dad, Han Solo, who is one of the favorite characters in Star Wars, who is trying to help him at the time. Kylo does lots of other nasty stuff but we know he will be around for the next film and probably the one after that. If the other films follow the pattern of the earlier films, we may see a desire to redeem the little bugger as Vader was redeemed.

Let me repeat. Kylo (Ben Solo) Ren commits patricide. Throughout history in Western Civilization, that is considered an unspeakable crime, an unforgivable sin. I loved Han Solo and, before he buys it in this film, we’re given some great moments that reminds us all why he’s such a favorite character. And his little snot of a son kills him.

I suppose in the next film or so we’ll get some of Ren’s backstory and maybe understand him better. As it is, I feel no sympathy, no empathy for him. I don’t think he is redeemable any more than I think Vader/Anakin was redeemed. IMO, he needs to die as soon as the plot can arrange it.

However, as I said before, these are quibbles. I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t like the new Star Wars because I enjoyed it immensely. I found it satisfying and a great return to a galaxy far, far away. I think the female lead, Daisy Ridley playing Rey, is a wonderful addition to the saga. At recent conventions I’ve attended, I’ve seen a lot of young girls cos-playing Rey and I think that’s great. It invigorates Star Wars with new energy.

But they can shoot Kylo Ren any time.

Review: Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume: The Exhibition

Gallery of Padme's Costumes

Gallery of Padme’s Costumes

“Sometimes creating an entire galaxy begins with a single stitch.” So begins the narration at a spectacular new exhibit in New York City about Star Wars costumes and artifacts. Coinciding with the release of the new movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the show Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume: The Exhibition, is on display now at Discovery Times Square through September 5, 2016.

The exhibition is the result of a partnership between Discovery Times Square, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Lucasfilm. It features 15 galleries with over 70 pieces taken from the collection of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The show includes costumes, props and other items from the three original movies, the prequels, and even several ensembles from The Force Awakens.

 As a lifelong Star Wars fan (old enough to have seen A New Hope when it was first released in theaters) I warmly welcomed the opportunity to see this exhibition. It holds particular interest for me because I am a seamstress and cosplayer who has over the years enjoyed re-creating Star Wars costumes for such occasions as Halloween and convention masquerades.

This was actually my third Star Wars exhibit. I saw Star Wars and The Magic of Myth (which originated at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum) when it came to the Brooklyn Museum in 2002. In 2005 I traveled to Los Angeles (from my home in New York) to see Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Even if you’ve seen one or both of the former, I highly recommend visiting the current show at Times Square, if you can. You’ll see many old favorites as well as new classics, and you will discover quite a bit about what went on behind the scenes to create them.

The exhibit begins in a small anteroom, where a short film introduces you to key players, including costume designers Ralph McQuarrie and Tricia Biggar; the film also has an amusing 3D shout-out that I won’t spoil – but it made me smile. Then a space-station style door slides open, revealing a glass case contrasting two generations of Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi’s costume from 1977’s A New Hope (a.k.a. the first Star Wars movie release, or Episode 4), and the well-known red light-up throne room costume worn by Queen Amidala in 1999’s The Phantom Menace (the prequel Episode 1). I soon found out that the lights around this gown’s hem were powered by a car battery.

Two Star Wars Genearations: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Queen Amidala

Two Star Wars Generations: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Queen Amidala

From there, you can wander at your leisure through the worlds of The Galaxy Far, Far Away. There are rooms with Jedi Knights and Sith; Amidala and other queens of Naboo with their handmaids; the shiny exoskeletons of droids; and a sinister hall of mirrors that duplicates Stormtrooper helmets and armor into an infinite legion. You can compare the shiny, pristine armor of bounty hunter Jango Fett to the “second generation knockoff” of his “son,” Boba. (The quote comes from the exhibit captions, not me!)

A Virtual Legion of Stormtroopers

A Virtual Legion of Stormtroopers

There are also rooms comparing Rebel and Imperial soldiers; a display with the sumptuous robes of various background Imperial Senators and Chancellor Palpatine; the luxurious clothing worn by Padme Amidala in her days as a Senator (and as Mrs. Anakin Skywalker), and of course, the black leather suit of Darth Vader. You will also see some classics: Luke Skywalker’s Jedi garments, Han Solo’s outfit, Chewbacca’s furry exterior, and the infamous slave girl “bikini” worn by Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi (Displayed with choice remarks about the outfit from Carrie Fisher).

The Infamous Slave Girl Costume

The Infamous Slave Girl Costume

The exhibit has some very cool interactive features. In the Jedi room, you can push a button and light up the light sabers (with accompanying sound effects). You’ll learn a lot from numerous touch panels installed throughout the galleries that show you sketches, photographs, and audio and video clips with greater detail about the production process. I was particularly moved by an audio clip of Anthony Daniels, who was inspired in his performance of C-3P0 by a preliminary painting he saw of the robot that was done by Ralph McQuarrie. (“Clearly, the figure wasn’t human, but it was so humanoid…Our eyes met, and it seemed to speak to me.”) From other panels you will discover that it takes over 14 distinctive steps to get an actor into the Darth Vader costume.

What I found most interesting about this show was its emphasis on the symbolism and meaning of the costume designs, and how they were used to illustrate the characters who wore them. There are extensive explanatory texts that describe the thought processes behind the costumes, and what particular inspirations from Earth culture were used in the designs. You get not only quotes from Star Wars production teams but also wider cultural analysis from curators at the Smithsonian.

Queen Amidala's Mongolian-Inspired Headdress

Queen Amidala’s Mongolian-Inspired Headdress

For example, we learn how the Jedi costumes were inspired by the Japanese Samurai (and how, since the Sith started with renegade Jedi, their costumes, particularly that of Darth Maul, are similar in design). The East Asian influence continues in many of the kimono-like outfits of the Queens of Naboo, and one of Amidala’s royal headdresses is based on a Mongolian design.

Similarly, there is much discussion about how the costumes portray the essential nature of the character. Colors, for example, denote whether a character is good or evil. (The good Jedi wear earth tones vs. the Sith, who dress in black.) The rebels wear uniforms inspired by American fighter pilots and war heroes; the Imperial officers’ costumes come from German uniforms in World War I and II. (Lucas said he wanted them to look “efficient, totalitarian, fascist.”) Han Solo’s costume is essentially that of an American cowboy. The masks of the Stormtroopers and Darth Vader dehumanize them and thus contribute to their aura of malevolence. Even the sumptuous robes of Chancellor (later Emperor) illustrate his decline into greater and greater evil.

Imperial Officer (Evil), Rebel Pilot (Good), TIE Fighter Pilot (Evil)

Imperial Officer (Evil), Rebel Pilot (Good), TIE Fighter Pilot (Evil)

The hard-core costuming geek can find out a lot about the nitty-gritty details regarding how the costumes were made: what materials they used (and why), and in some cases even how much they cost. For example, the original Stormtrooper costumes were made of a mixture of light polyester resin and a glass fiber that was cured in a mold under a vacuum. Of the entire 1977 costume budget of Star Wars: A New Hope, the Stormtrooper costumes alone consumed almost half the money.

My personal favorite costumes from the films are the amazing outfits worn by Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala/Senator Padme, whose elaborate design and craftsmanship have long impressed me. Of the 37 different outfits from all 3 prequels that she wore, there are at least a dozen of the in this exhibit. The costume designers demonstrated great ingenuity in creating these ensembles. In some cases they used vintage fabrics and repurposed found items (especially in the headdresses). In other cases they tracked down exotic fabrics from all over the world, and enhanced them with embroidery, hand-dyeing and other processes. In the introductory film, Biggar says, “Everything we can do to fabric, we have done it.” For a literally “hands-on experience,” many of the costumes in the exhibit feature sample fabric swatches mounted nearby that visitors can actually touch.

As a costumer who has a tendency to work until the last possible minute, I could relate to one of the anecdotes about the lace wedding dress (made partly from a vintage Italian tablecloth) that Padme wears for her marriage to Anakin at the end of Attack of the Clones. The night before the scene was to shoot, Tricia Biggar decided the dress needed further embellishment, so she stayed up all night sewing pearls onto it.

Padme's Wedding Gown, detail (Photo by K. Cadena)

Padme’s Wedding Gown, detail (Photo by K. Cadena)

The entire presentation of the costumes was, for the most part, excellent. Most of them are not under glass, allowing you to get a really good look at the details. (The level of workmanship for characters that sometimes appear for only seconds on screen is amazing.) Visitors are allowed to take non-flash photos, and the lighting is generally quite good. However, I did have one disappointment. The Chewbacca and Han Solo costumes are displayed in front of a very brightly-lit panel that imitates the hyperspace effect. Though it looks very dramatic from a distance, the backlighting of the costumes leaves them in relative darkness and makes them relatively hard to see. However, this is one minor misstep in what is otherwise a first-rate show.

As you leave the show, you’ll see a figure of Yoda, and the costumes from The Force Awakens. For final interactive fun, you can pose in front of mirrors which capture your motions and render you as one of the SW characters in 3D.

When I first arrived at the show, by way of introduction one of the museum guides said “The exhibit takes about an hour to go through – four or five hours if you’re a Star Wars fan.” I laughed, thinking it was a joke. Well, I entered the exhibit at about 3 pm. After a thoroughly enjoyable time experiencing it in great detail, I checked the time when I reached the end. It was almost 7. Four hours just FLEW by. I felt as if I had been transported through time and space.

 

Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star WarsTM and the Power of Costume was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in partnership with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and in consultation with Lucasfilm Ltd. Lucasfilm Ltd., the Lucasfilm logo, Star Wars™ and all related characters, names and indicia are trademarks of & copyright © & ™ 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.
©2015 &™ Discovery Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

John Ostrander: Redeeming Vader

anakin-skywalker_311439_mBy its nature, a trilogy connects. In movies, it becomes a single story united by narrative and/or theme. Each component film should stand on its own but they should come together as a single narrative.

Star Wars, especially the Original Trilogy (now known as Episodes IV, V, and VI), is a good example of this. In it, Luke Skywalker follows the Hero’s Journey (as defined by Joseph Campbell ), working with and through classic archetypes as he becomes not only a Jedi but a true hero. It is Luke’s story.

A funny thing happened when Lucas brought out the Prequel Trilogy (also known as Episodes I, II, and III). The story shifted from its focus on Luke Skywalker to his father, Anakin Skywalker, who was the villain of the Original Trilogy – Darth Vader. The overall story is now the fall of Anakin and the final redemption of Darth Vader. It completely changes the focus of all six movies. We are asked to accept this. At the end of Episode VI, Anakin’s Force Ghost takes its place with the Force Ghosts of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, the two Jedi who represent the wise mentors and forces for good.

I have serious reservations about this. I don’t know if Anakin/Vader deserves or achieves redemption. Anakin, as he turns to the Dark Side, betrays all his friends. He kills children. Let me repeat that – he kills children. Episode III makes it clear even if it doesn’t show it. Anakin/Vader leads a cadre of Clone Troopers into the Jedi Temple and we see him confront children, the young students, some of which look to be six to eight. They know him only as a Jedi and trust him. We are later told that some of their corpses had lightsaber marks on them and Anakin is the only one who has a lightsaber in that attack. Anakin killed the children. How is that redeemable?

Why does Anakin turn to the Dark Side? Partly because he feels his fellow Jedi aren’t treating him with enough respect; as tragic flaws go, this is rather petty. Also, Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine, Anakin’s mentor, convinced Anakin that he could prevent Anakin’s wife, Padme, from dying. Ever.

Anakin had Separation Anxieties. He couldn’t save his mother from death at the hands of the Tusken Raiders so, once again, he slaughtered every Tusken man, woman, and – once again – child in the tribe. But Sidious tells Anakin he can keep Padme from ever dying and the chump believes him. It’s enough to send him careening down the path of the Dark side, becoming Darth Vader in the process.

And yet both Padme and, later on, Luke insist that there is good in him. Damned if I could see it.

How is Vader redeemed? When he decides he can’t turn Luke to the Dark Side, he decides to turn Luke’s sister. He tries to kill Luke. Instead, Luke defeats him, literally disarming him. Palpatine wanders in and tells Luke to kill Vader and take his place. Luke refuses, tossing away his lightsaber … a rather boneheaded move. Sidious then shoots lightning from his hands and starts to slowly turn Luke into a Crispy Critter. Vader, despite his son’s pleas, just watches for a few moments before finally turning on Sidious and tossing the Emperor to his doom, getting mortally wounded himself along the way. And this act supposedly redeems Anakin.

What exactly did Anakin/Vader do? Did he renounce the Dark Side? No. Did he regret his betrayal of his fellow Jedi? No. Did he feel bad about slaughtering the innocent children? Nope. He turned on his former Master because Sidious was killing Anakin’s son whom Vader himself had been trying to kill only a few moments earlier.

I admit to being an agnostic but I’m specifically a Roman Catholic agnostic. I was raised and steeped in the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and the notion of redemption was a strong part of that. The concept is that suffering expiates past sin or sins. Anakin/Vader sacrifices his own life to destroy Sidious. Why does he do it? To save his own child. Motivations matter and, it seems to me, this one is private, personal, and rather selfish. I don’t see the act as redemptive.

If Anakin isn’t redeemed, then the story for all six movies falls apart since it has become Anakin’s story. He’s not heroic, he’s not tragic, he becomes a monster. He massacres whole groups of beings, he betrays his friends, he kills children. Making the first six episodes retroactively about him just undermines the whole series.

Disney could actually fix some of this. Lucas kept on tinkering with “Did Han Solo shoot first?” (Yes, Han shot first.) Disney could remove the scenes and lines that indicate Anakin killed children if they want. Otherwise, we can just look forward to Episode VII. No Anakin, no Vader to morally compromise the story.

Or so we can hope.

 

Marc Alan Fishman: Star Wars Sucks – For Now

Marc Alan Fishman: Star Wars Sucks – For Now

Fishman Art 130601Yup. I said it. I’ll say it again. Star Wars? It sucks. Of course I should clarify: I respect the Intellectual Property. I admire George Lucas for spinning a billion dollar franchise out of a single movie – appropriated from so many better films, novels, and concepts. And hell, I own a fair share of Star Wars merchandise (a run of John Ostrander’s Way Better Than Anything On Film comics, a lightsaber, and a handful of vintage videogames). But this past weekend, whilst looking for something to keep on in the background of yet-another drawing marathon, my dial ended up on Episodes I, II, and III.

Given that I recall astutely not liking them in theater, on DVD, or rebroadcast in any incarnation, I’ll freely admit I let them play because I was jonesing for a one-sided fight. And you, my dear readers (who I can plainly see unlocking the safety on your blasters under the table, and preparing to force-pull the ceiling down on top of my head…) get to listen to me rant a wee-bit.

First off, let me parry the obvious incoming attack. Episodes I, II, and III are canon. One is simply not allowed to pretend they didn’t happen. Midichlorians? Happened. Anakin acting like a whiny bitch? Happened. Padme acting worse than a CGI droid? Happened. And no amount of jamming ones fingers in their ears and screaming will make them disappear. Therein lies why I am so adamant at being so blunt in my opinion. By their very nature, this new trilogy drags down the series for me. I think I might be safe to say for many others… this may also be the case.

No matter how good the Clone Wars cartoon may have been… when it ends, you still end up with Episode III. Yes, John Ostrander and a plethora of other amazing writers have contributed to beautifully written comics, novels, and other in-canon fiction. Either way? Episode I, and II are there in living-breathing-CGI. Jar Jar exists, and no comic, video game, or brilliant fanzine will remove him from my mind.

Let me also sidestep your obvious escalation attempt. What about The Matrix, Star Trek, or any number of other brilliant-at-one-point-but-obviously-tainted-by-my-asshat-logic franchises? Perhaps I’m just being a dick, but somehow? I forgive them both. For what it’s worth… the least successful jaunts in each of those large franchises had a given quality to them that still made their respective parent properties still feel valuable. Sure Neo is Jesus, but at least he’s a badass Jesus, right?

The key to my argument comes from Lucas’ own love of technology. In every aspect, those episodes embody what can be so wrong with modern movies and our culture. Lucas opted to slight the artisans who once took his black and white screenplay and made a visceral universe in lieu of videogame artists. Not to slight those who make pixel-art mind you… but even with all the advances of computer-aided movie-making, there’s nary a person I know who doesn’t look at the The Phantom Menace, The Clone Wars, or Revenge of the Sith and not make a fleeting comment on how “it looks like a video game” in a very negative way. Combine with with absolutely wooden performances (from Oscar nominated actors and actresses mind you!), and the new trilogy clearly chose spectacle over heart.

The best examples of Star Wars all share a commonality; they present the fantastic grounded in very human emotions. Lightsabers are cool. X-Wings are too. But find me one person (over the age of 13, to be fair) who prefers Yoda backflipping like a crack-addled spider-monkey to the soul-filled voice and puppet work of Frank Oz? I’ll gladly argue them into submission. The crapulence of I, II, and III degrade IV, V, and VI in ways I wish weren’t true. As I said: you can’t ‘unmake’ them, and therefore everything they set up feels tainted to me.

The fact that they were the product of Lucas, and his team of yes-man make it feel all the worse. It wasn’t as if he’d handed the reigns to a new writer and director, wiped his hands of it, and shrugged off three profitable but largely uncelebrated films. Here, he presented what set up an amazing series of adventures, and pulled back the veil of mystery to uncover a story so dull, it actually weakened existing canon! How I wish I could fear Darth Vader, but now all I see is a whiny douche who had sand in his boots.

Well, they say time heals all wounds. So now, we sit at the event horizon. J.J. Abrams has been given the keys to the castle. While some find his new take on Trek to be more boom-boom than think-bam… it may very well be what Star Wars needs to really move on. A mix of practical effects and CGI (perhaps light on the lens-flares, mmm kay?), blended with original and new casts that take time to put themselves into their roles, and a story that dares to challenge its audience with more than trade politics and council debates could very well be the blaster-shot in the pants the franchise needs to be back on top. For the sake of all who are presently seething at me? I sure hope so.

May the force be with you… ‘cause it certainly ain’t with me.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

 

Win a Copy of LEGO STAR WARS: The Empire Strikes Out

EmpireDomesticFilled with charm, action and irreverent humor this original story features characters, locations and vehicles across the entire LEGO Star Wars universe including Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, C-3P0, R2-D2, Darth Maul, and more.   When the premiere of LEGO Star WarsThe Empire Strikes Out aired on Cartoon Network, it became the number-one telecast of the day with kids ages 6-11 and boys ages 2-17. Written by Emmy Award winner Michael Price (The Simpsons), the show features many of the beloved Star Wars voice-actors fans know and love including Anthony Daniels, Sam Witwer, Ahmed Best and more.

Thanks to our friends at Lucasfilm we have two copies of the DVD to give away.

SYNOPSIS:

HOLD ON TO YOUR BRICKS….FOR AN ALL-NEW ANIMATED ADVENTURE!

Your favorite characters are back to save the galaxy in LEGO® Star Wars®: The Empire Strikes Out™. The heroes of the Rebel Alliance including heroic Luke Skywalker, swaggering Han Solo and steadfast Princess Leia have no time to celebrate their victory over the Empire as a new Imperial threat arises. But as Jedi-in training Luke embarks on this next mission, he discovers that his celebrity status as a “Death-Star-Blower-Upper” can be a double-edged lightsaber when he’s constantly mobbed by crazed fans. So much for secret missions! Meanwhile, Darth Vader and Darth Maul are locked in a hilarious “Sith-ling” rivalry as they compete for the Emperor’s approval. It’s an action-packed comic adventure that’s out of this world!

In order to win your very own copy of LEGO Star WarsThe Empire Strikes Out on DVD, simply answer the following question. Your answer must be submitted by 11:59 p.m., Thursday, March 28, 2013. The judgement of ComicMix will be final.

What television network did LEGO Star WarsThe Empire Strikes Out premiere on? 

  • Cartoon Network
  • Nickelodeon
  • ABC Family
  • The Disney Channel
Top 25 Expected Changes In “Star Wars” Blu-Ray Release

Top 25 Expected Changes In “Star Wars” Blu-Ray Release

Opening logo to the Star Wars films

Image via Wikipedia

You’ve probably already heard that all six Star Wars films will be released on Blu-Ray on September 16, and that the Blu-ray set will feature over 40 hours of bonus material. Three of the discs in the nine-disc saga are full of deleted scenes, props, interviews, paintings, and so on.

But you’ve probably also heard that there are a few changes to the films. Again. And some of the changes are bound to be a tad controversial. Here’s what we expect:

  • Han shoots Greedo, but only after a judo match, scrabble tournament, and seven rounds of rock, paper, scissors.
  • A small percentage of Ewoks have taken to waxing.
  • Darth Vader’s cape is tapered to show off his manly shoulders and narrow waist.
  • New footage added to feature Seth Rogan as object of Luke Skywalker’s bromance.
  • Yoda replaced with all-knowing Labradoodle.
  • Members of the band entertaining Jabba the Hut include the kids from Glee and a few members of Twisted Sister.
  • (more…)

The Star Wars Character Encyclopedia

Star Wars Character Encyclopedia
By Simon Beecroft
208 pages, DK Publishing, $16.99

 

The Star Wars Universe spans thousands of years and multiple galaxies, telling the eternal story of good versus evil time and again. The saga has expanded to such a degree that you really cannot tell the players apart without a scorecard. For those who dislike clicking their way through a dizzying array of droids, Jedi and colorful aliens, there are now a series of guidebooks to help you. Last year there was DK Publishing’s The Star Wars: Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia or their Complete Visual Dictionary or even the incredibly useful Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle.

DK Publishing knows how to recycle information in all manner of sizes and shapes, synthesizing the data in new ways for its eager audience of readers of all ages. Editor Simon Beecroft has honed those skills as an author, having previously written Inside the Worlds of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones among other titles. He’s back with this breezy look at George Lucas’ sprawling universe in the Star Wars Character Encyclopedia.

Despite telling us the comic books, RPGs, and novels are part of the greater canon, this book only focused on characters from the six feature films and the CGI-animated Clone Wars television series. Also, given the trim size of 7.25” x 9.25”, DK’s designers had to rein in their normal frenetic design. While that can be seen as a plus, the smaller size also means the amount of detail provided for each character is little more than can be found on a trading card.

You read a page and know from repeated viewings of the movies that there are vital details missing. The Obi-Wan Kenobi page, for example, ignores his guidance and counsel provided to Luke Skywalker after his corporeal form was struck down by Darth Vader. Anakin Skywalker’s page ignores the term “midichlorian” and omits his transition to the dreaded Sith lord. Similarly, Vader’s page refers to him as being Luke’s dad but his given name is missing. I guess there’s only so much information you can give when you present each character with equal weight despite having much more to say about Luke, Leia, Han and Darth Vader than you have to a Hoth Rebel Trooper, a Rancor, Coleman Trebor, or a Colo Claw Fish. Popular players, such as Wedge Antilles, don’t even get a page but is crammed into a page about the X-Wing pilots. From what I can tell, the facts here are only what has been presented on screen, nothing new is provided.

Beecroft writes in a clear, alert style that is easily comprehensible for those only casually familiar with these people and does a nice job condensing things down to their basics. But Star Wars fandom tends to prefer depth and detail so may come away from this disappointed.

As a result, the book feels incredibly lightweight and incomplete so despite DK proclaiming this a must-have book for all ages, this is more a primer for younger readers less familiar with the mythos. If you want a true encyclopedia, DelRey’s more authoritative three-volume offering is for you.

Mike Huckabee Scolds Natalie Portman

Mike Huckabee Scolds Natalie Portman

Mike Huckabee's gonna regret his comment about...

Amidala's sweet babboo finds Mike Huckabee's lack of faith "disturbing". Image by Doc_Brown via Flickr

Apparently Mike Huckabee, Fox News host and theoretical presidential candidate, thinks that Natalie Portman, star of Thor, Black Swan, V for Vendetta and the Star Wars prequels is actually Murphy Brown.

Here’s Mike Huckabee, in 2011, on Natalie Portman having a child with her fiancee before they’re actually married:

“One of the most troubling things is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet that boasts of, hey look, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having children and they’re doing just fine.”

“There aren’t really a lot of single moms out there that are making millions of dollars each year by being in a movie.”

“I think it gives a distorted image that not everybody hires nannies and caretakers and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and would not get healthcare.”

However, it seems that Gov. Huckabee has a short and/or selective memory.

Here’s Mike Huckabee, in 2008, on Bristol Palin having a child with her fiancee before they’re actually married:

“It ought to be a reminder that here is a family that loves one another. They stuck with each other though the tough times and that’s what families do.” … Huckabee said the surprise pregnancy announcement should not affect vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s support in the conservative and religious right communities. … “I’m grateful for the way she’s being supported by her family.”

I presume the difference here is that Natalie Portman is Jewish, or Huckabee thinks the father of Portman’s child really is Darth Vader. It makes as much sense as any other reason he can come up with for his double standard.

Hat tip: Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic.

Star Wars’ Yoda is now a GPS Celebrity

Star Wars’ Yoda is now a GPS Celebrity

Just in case your Darth Vader antenna topper, storm trooper air freshener, lightsaber gearshift, and Leia hairbun volume and tone knobs are lonely in your 1989 Plymouth Laser.. you can now download Yoda’s voice onto your Tom Tom GPS. As reported by ABC News, the company that helps you find your way around those terrestrial streets you have to use, now allows you to download the gentle rasp of that backwards talking sock puppet Jedi Master into your GPS Device. Far better than your ‘Burt Reynolds’ voice-prompts, the Yoda voice pack will turn your Tom Tom into that inner voice you wish you heard every time you get lost trying to find that new Italian place uptown.

Barking nearly-understandable prompts like “After 700 hundred yards hmm, keep to the right then take a sharp left. Control, control, if a Jedi you wish to be.”, the Yoda voice pack will no doubt help you find that inner peace, when that jerk in the Cutlass Supreme cuts you off before you attempt to merge onto the highway.

Yoda joins Darth Vader, C-3PO, and Han Solo in the GPS voice game. While Tom Tom assured us that “Users really want the Yoda voice”… we can’t help but ask where Ben Kenobi is in all of this. Frankly, we don’t trust Darth not to choke us if we miss a turn. C-3PO is a language droid, not a map droid. And Han Solo? He’s more likely to tell us to “punch it!” if we’re gonna be late… and that’s not safe driving. We trust Yoda will keep us on the Light Side… we’re just not sure we’ll understand what we means when he says “Fear is the path to your destination. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. And suffering is 300 yards to the left, then stay on your right.”

TomTom was even nice enough to provide video of the recording session: