Though the Star Wars saga is only forty-plus years old, it feels as if it has been part of our collective culture for eternity.
The Fans Strike Back recently opened in New York City. This nearly 25,000 feet exhibition is by and for the fans. Containing numerous figurines, lightsabers, life-size figures, vehicles, etc, it is a trip through the world of Star Wars and the fandom that has given rise to a universe that we all love. Starting with Episode One: The Phantom Menance, we walk through the narrative, hitting all of the major plot points and feeling this delicious energy that is nothing short of infectious.
One thing I do have to point out is that the pieces with the exhibit strictly come from the fans. Nothing has come from either Lucasfilm or Disney. That being said, it is wonderful. I walked in with a smile on my face and walked out with a smile on my face. Perfect for both children and adults, it is an absolutely wonderful experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
The Fans Strike Back is located at 526 6th Ave in New York City. It is open until July 26th. Check the website for ticket times and prices.
The thing that hooked me with this podcast and keeps me hooked is the intelligent (and sometimes eye-opening) conversations between the hosts and the guests. The most recent episode talked about The Phantom Menace. Though I love the franchise as a whole, I loathe the prequels and The Phantom Menace in particular. As both a writer and a fan, these movies fall short of the reputation that was crafted by their predecessors.
One of the topics that were brought up during the most recent episode was the glossing over of midi-chlorians. In laymen’s terms, midi-chlorians are the microscopic-sized life forms that if exist in significant numbers in an individual, give that individual Force abilities.
Writing-wise, the question asked was why midi-chlorian and the role they played in the conception of Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) was not given it’s due. Instead of being a major part of the narrative, it was a throw-away line that only the most ardent Star Wars fan would have noticed.
With most of us locked in our homes nearly 24/7, intelligent conversation seems to be one of those things that we are relying on to keep us sane. I will take any intelligent conversation about Stars Wars, especially these days.
That, dear reader is why Thank the Maker: A Star Wars Podcast is my new favorite podcast and it should be yours as well.
Everything that is wrong with this movie can be summed up in three words: Jar-Jar Binks. George Lucas nearly turned what was a respected and beloved film series into just another overblown, special effects driven, weak on plot and character science fiction film. Even with the likes of respected actors Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor could not save this film from being just plain awful.
In attempting to placate fans and make up for the awfulness that is The Phantom Menace, George Lucas moved the story forward. Replacing Jake Lloyd as a young Anakin with Hayden Christensen as a teenage Anakin did nothing for this film. It continued to be just another overblown, special effects driven, weak on plot and character science fiction film. Thank you, George Lucas for nearly killing what was good and pure and true in Star Wars.
In the final prequel of the Star Wars Series, George Lucas makes the second attempt to placate fans, again making up for the awfulness that is Episode I and II, while tying up the story lines that will lead to the Episodes 4, 5 and 6. While this film was the best of the prequels, it still does not hold up to the first three films.
This movie is an icon by itself. Without it, the movies today would not be what they are. In a sense, the story is a copy of the science fiction novels and books of the past, but it is so much more. It is entertaining, it is fun and it takes the audience out of their world and into a new one for a couple of hours. In short, it is perfect.
Finally, Star Wars fans have a worthy successor to the first three films. Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams took out what did not work in the prequels and returned Star Wars to what it was. Practical effects, a nice mix of older cast members and newbies and a plot that feels true to the Star Wars universe makes for a dam good film.
The final film of the first three in the series begins with the rescue of Han from Jabba’s lair. It ends with a satisfying conclusion. The empire is defeated, Darth Vader has returned to the light side and our heroes have won. All of the strings are tied together perfectly. But that did not keep fans from wanting more.
Empire is the best of all of the films for a reason. Expanding the universe and the plot lines, the characters feel less 2-D and more 3-D. Breaking from their 1940’s science fiction molds, each character is given the chance to grow and change in new ways. And of course, there is one of the most famous revelations in film history:
Here’s hoping episodes 8 & 9 are just as good as 4-7 and nota repeat of 1-3.
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