Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Star Wars Meme Trilogy Episode Three: Attack of the Memes

This is derived from a long meme I found on Becca's blog. She answered all 30 questions in one post; I think the original idea was to answer one a day for a month. I'm shooting for something in-between, breaking it down into three parts...which seemed appropriate.

This is part three.

21. Your favorite moment in Empire Strikes Back

22. Your favorite moment in Return of the Jedi

The Emperor tries and fails to corrupt Luke. As with the Yoda/Obi-Wan situation, it's very much a toss-up between this and the Sarlaac pit sequence.

23. Something you wished was different in the series

A. They wouldn't have replaced the animated Clone Wars with the CGI one.

B. Okay, the end of Return of the Jedi. Vader is watching the Emperor electrocute Luke and, we know, about to come back over to the light side of the force. Arguably, the whole series, including all the tie-ins, has been leading up to this. And it's played on an expressionless piece of dark plastic.

Every time I see this, I think the same thing: Why didn't they have Luke knock off part of Vader's helmet during their fight? Like, at least enough that we could see his eyes? That way, they would've been able to actually show Vader struggling with and overcoming his conflict.

Plus, think how dramatic an "unveiling" that would've been. Compared to the "Oh look, Darth Vader is really just a harmless-looking old man" unmasking that we did get. That's been bothering me for years.

C. Get rid of the stupid CGI character idea and cast a living actor as Jar-Jar Binks.

The actor? Jackie Chan.

D. Two words:
24. A character you didn’t like in the series

The George Lucas who thought it was a good idea for Greedo to get off the first shot.

25. Your favorite book/series from the Expanded Universe



Williams, Sean - The Force Unleashed (2008 BCE HB)

Funny thing is, both of these are spin-offs of other tie-ins (or vice versa) that don't appeal to me in the slightest.

26. Your favorite Obi-Wan Kenobi quote
Alec Guinness version:
"Mos Eisley spaceport: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."
He deserved the Academy Award nomination for being able to speak that line alone.

Ewan McGregor version:
"So uncivilized..."

BTW, least favorite:
"Not even the younglings survived!"
That's the worst line in a movie most of the dialogue of which makes me want to perform a self-lobotomy with a spoon.

27. Your favorite Yoda quote
See "Favorite Quote" in Episode 2 of this Meme.

28. Your favorite Darth Vader quote:

Darth Maul: "What could you hate enough to destroy me?"

Darth Vader: "Me."

BTW, an aside: I didn't realize until I was coming up with these posts how many of my favorite scenes were the light saber fights.

But it fits in with what I think is one of the weaknesses of the prequels. In the original trilogy, those fights usually took place in the third act. There'd be at least one scene earlier in the film to establish what a light saber was, but the big battles were almost always saved to the end. I think they had much greater dramatic power that way.

In the prequels, though, Lucas was basically trapped by having established that they were the "elegant weapons of a more civilized age." It's hard for scenes like the "Duel of the Fates" in Ep. 1 to have as much impact, at least on me, when it feels like we've been watching light sabers waggle around for most of the past two hours.

29. Best Star Wars related story/incident you’ve had

When I was in high school, my best friend and I were watching Star Wars either on TV or on tape one day. We got to the scene where they’re briefing the X-Wing pilots before the attack on the Death Star, and these lines:
General: The target area is only two meters wide. It's a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station. Only a precise hit will set off a chain reaction. The shaft is ray-shielded, so you'll have to use proton torpedoes.
Wedge Antilles (Red 2): That's impossible! Even for a computer.

Then in perfect unison with Luke, I said "It's not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters."

And then looked up to see the strangest look on my friends face...

30. Why you love Star Wars

These past three posts notwithstanding...I'm not always sure that I do. As a fully-grown (allegedly) man, I acknowledge that Star Wars is far, far from perfect: The dialogue in the prequels and the awful padding in Return of the Jedi being particular pet peeves. To say nothing of the writing of the female characters.

I also think Lucas's motive at this point is almost completely greed. One of my pet theories about Star Wars characters and stories is that they get much better the less Lucas has to do with them.

Other writers are much, much better than he is at crafting compelling stories and presenting believable characters. Even in the crukking video game tie-ins. But this also applies to the movies themselves.

Look at Empire. By my readings, it seems to have been the film with which Lucas had the least to do...and 99% of fans, I think, would say it's the best.

BTW, speaking of Empire: I don't care about this video game. Never played it, or the original. So I don't care if there's a second sequel to the game.

But if there isn't a novel, graphic or otherwise, to wrap up the Empire-like loose ends left at the end of this storyline...ooh, I'm gonna be pissed.

On the other hand, of courses I love it first and foremost because I'm of the generation for whom it was all, really and truly, new.

Like a lot of us, I tend to get very protective of my first experiences of it (hence, "I will never call it "A New Hope').

It's also a way in which I bond with my nephew (the Jedi Ewoks were his idea).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I believe the word I'm looking for is "Booyeah."

Keli Goff on Gwyneth Paltrow. Excerpted below.

In an interview with Popeater, Paltrow addressed just why she believes she has so many critics by saying:

"I think my work ethic is the reason why I'm successful. I think that a lot of people don't want to put in effort and it's easier to not change, not do something good for you... [They're just] pissed off at someone else doing that. Everything in my life that's good is because I worked my ass off to get it and to maintain it."

In an age in which America's class-divide is greater than it's ever been, our patience has simply waned for the George W. Bush's and Gwyneth Paltrow's of the world -- people who were born on third base and act like they hit a triple. America was founded on the idea that everyone has equal opportunity to carve out their piece of the American Dream, but increasingly that's becoming less and less of a reality. And there's something infuriating about listening to people born into the Dream -- silver rattle in one hand, silver spoon in the other -- lecture the rest of us on how easy it is to obtain -- if we're just willing to "work our asses off" like they do.

It seems like there used to be an unspoken pact between those who were born into privilege and the rest of us to keep all out class warfare from breaking out. They would quietly go about spending their money in respectable, socially beneficial ways -- philanthropies and such -- and we wouldn't publicly point out that the only way they got their job, record deal, book deal, political appointment etc. was because of the last name of their parent or their spouse. But not only have people begun riding their families' coattails more publicly (Donald Trump, Paris Hilton, Tori Spelling, Ben Quayle, Megan McCain, George W. Bush, Jenna Bush, Ms. Paltrow, the list goes on), but it's become par for the course for these same people to dismiss allegations of nepotism out of turn, which would be funny if most people weren't too busy trying to figure out how to pay for college to laugh.

Sunday, April 17, 2011