Tag Archives: Star Wars

J. J. Abrams Destroyed My Life

Français : Logo de star wars crée à partir du ...
Français : Logo de star wars crée à partir du logo de la trilogie (gris) et de la prélogie (doré). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the summer of 1977 I turned 9 years old. A bit before that event, another one hit the country and started a frenzy. That is the year Star Wars hits the theaters and lines to see the movie were phenomenal. Though my mother did not let me see the movie then, I could not get enough of it and the toys. Some action figures I got as gifts while others, including the Land Speeder, I bought with saved allowance money.

I was hooked. I saw 8mm shorts without sound. I listened to the multi-record set that the library had many times. I even ran to the car after church to listen to a portion of the NPR Star Wars radio drama.

Three years later, The Empire Strike Back hit theaters and my mother had started to have a change of heart about seeing the movies. Empire was the first one I saw and next week we saw the re-released Star Wars movie at the Fort Belvoir (South Post) theater. I had finally realized a dream.

Being 12 at the time, it would take years before I would see Empire as the best of the three movies. I thought it too dark and didn’t understand it was the third act of a play. By the time of Jedi, I was 15 and the eyes of the 9 year old were nearing forgotten. I liked how the story ended, but the Ewoks were a bit ridiculous, even if they were cannibals.

There was all manner of buzz of a prequel movie and possible sequels. Apart from the books for the first three movies, I also read Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and the trilogies for Han Solo and Landon Calrissian. They were all a bit different than Star Wars and even felt like more general sci-fi. I was a bit of a Tolkien fan as well, so the weak pop novels were not something I kept pursuing. The EU expanded well beyond those books, but not for me.

In the mid-90’s my love for Star Wars came back around. George Lucas had the originals remastered in THX and available on video cassette. They were also released again in theaters, though with a few changes. I only went to see Empire as it was my favorite, though I knew all the changes because of websites. Other than changing Luke’s dialog to R2D2 when the swap monster spat him out, I liked what Lucas had done.

The buzz started about a prequel trilogy and the closer 1999 came, the more I wanted to see them. I waited a few weeks after the release before venturing to the movie theater. By this time I was married and living in Marion, Ohio. The local mall theater was good, but it didn’t have the advanced sound system I knew the movie deserved. Having a surround BOSE system at home, I also knew where to sit when my wife and I arrived at a theater in Delaware that had Dolby Digital.

I was soon dismayed as the teenagers running the place had no clue. All it was was loud, no surround effects and no audio immersion. The poor movie with Jar Jar Binks and a whiny Anakin Skywalker didn’t help. I also thought the movie had too many callbacks to the original trilogy. I didn’t mind so setup, but having Anakin build C3PO was too much. The suspension of disbelief was too great to have this twerp become Dark Vader.

Wait for the other movies, they said. The Phantom Menace is great, you are just too critical they said. But the whininess never stopped. Anakin never developed in to the villain of Vader. Ironically though, Darth Maul was one of the best characters of Star Wars, good or bad, and they killed him in the first movie.

Eventually, more and more people started to agree with me: the Prequels were horrible. Not only were they poor movies, Lucas changed his story so much that he had to redo the conversation in Empire between Vader and the Emperor. Yeah sure, George, we believed you planned that all along. Sure thing.

Years passed and Lucas produced more and more versions of his movies. I soon lost track and interest in what he was changing and why. All I wanted was the originals on Blu Ray, but apparently that is too much to ask. I went on to other things like the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Battlestar Galactica. Then Lucas sold his children to Disney and talk of another trilogy started.

Due to the fanboi whining about the prequels and CGI, Disney and J. J. Abrams made a big deal about using real sets and film for the new movie. The hype machine started before filming and they totally misrepresented the techniques Lucas and company had used. They completely ignored the real problem: the horrible script and acting.

After two years of complete hyperbole, The Force Awakens finally came out. The trailers promised a great movie. J. J. Abrams promised a great movie. The third official trailer even made my get very emotional and shed a few tears. Then it was on the screen and the truth became known. It was not only a J. J. Abrams hack reboot, it shredded George Lucas up one side and down the other. It was a complete hatchet job on the originals with heavy handed feminism themes thrown in the good measure.

The Internet became alight immediately. The fanbois followed in locked goose step with the paid reviewers. They said how great the movie was. They are blind. They are asleep. Max Landis finally called it stating Rey was a complete Mary Sue. He was attacked. It was merciless. But he was 100% correct.

All things being fair, the movie is about a C. The script isn’t quite as bad as the prequels and the acting is ok. Harrison Ford gives winks and nods to the audience as if he knows how bad the script is. The CGI, yes this movie is full of it, are good and the physical sets are adequate. The effects and score however are horrible. Where is John Williams musical genius? Gone. That’s where. After all, he’s a man and Mary Sue doesn’t need men.

The fans started to speak out. A little at first, but now as a torrent. As people see it more and more, they are starting to see all of the serious flaws. Over the past week I’ve had several people who had previously be energetically apologetic to the movie saw they were wrong. Sure, it will make Disney a ton a money, but the party is starting to wind down. The one movie a year is in serious jeopardy of not having people burn out. The main villain is now known as Darth Emo and J. J. has become Jar Jar. Time will tell just how damaging the backlash is.

Thank you Jar Jar Abrams. You have shown all of us that you cannot direct and your best motive is to destroy the works of others. You destroyed both Star Trek and Star Wars. Go back inside your mystery box. We don’t need you anymore.

 

There’s An X-Wing In That Scene

The second teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is out and all over YouTube. There are many reaction videos and even compilations of these reactions. People have even rated the some of these reactions. To a person, they all really, really loose at the end with Han Solo and Chewbacca: “Chewy. We’re home.” It almost feels like 1977 all over again.

As people watch the trailer, it is interesting what they either miss or do not comment upon. The opening scene pulls back and pans to reveal a fallen Star Destroyer. Some comment it is Tatooine, others that it is Jakku. The latter planet was the site of a battle after the Battle of Endor. As the Millennium Falcon is shown later flying through the engine of a downed Star Destroyer, could this be where Lando Calrissian dies and where Han and Chewy find the ship? Could this be where they are when Han says “Chewy. We’re home.”?

Look closely at the opening scene again. In the foreground, between the speeder going from camera left to right, is a crashed X-Wing Fighter. This is no planet where old ships of the Empire are mothballed. This is a place where a battle did take place. Those who are saying this is Jakku are most likely very correct. Of all the reaction videos and comments I’ve seen, only one person has noted the X-Wing. Yes, there’s an X-Wing in that scene. Very powerful clue as to the meaning.

Later there is a scene with the new soccer ball BB-8 pearing around the corner. The Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim also had this robot moving around on stage, with the head staying on the top. This machine is more than just a CG creation, it actually exists. Could this be the replacement for R2D2 in future movies? In the first 6 movies, R2D2 is the real hero, sacrificing himself at least twice. They did give him props in The Phantom Menace, so perhaps that movie has a redeeming quality after all.

The new characters are introduced, and yes Virginia, John Boyega is in a Stormtrooper uniform. While many are making hay with that realization, there is another scene in the trailer that may give more insight as to what he is doing. There is a hanger scene where Stormtroopers are running about and a Tie Fighter is shooting up the place, including other Fighters. It may very well be this is how Finn escapes from the Empire’s clutches and crash lands on Jakku. He is first to be seen in the first teaser trailer and where he is fleeing something. Time will tell, but it is also something people miss.

During the voice over by Mark Hamill, someone is seen giving Anakin’s lightsaber to a younger person, perhaps a woman. Some have commented it is Darth Vader’s, but that is not correct. This is the saber taken off of Anakin by Obi Wan, given to Luke Skywalker on Tatooine when they meet, and then lost during the dual on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke loses his hand. Who found it? How did they find it? When?

Oh the questions. Oh the excitement. This movie had better be good or the fans just might revolt. Expectations are high.

 

The Man In The Woods

The teaser trailer for the new Star Wars movie has been out for a bit and there is much speculation for each scene. The name of the movie is no known: The Force Awakens. Disney’s love of stupid and silly robots is in full swing with the soccer ball robot. And the Empire is still around.

Set 30 years after the end of Return of the Jedi, the new movie is put to continue the story. Some, but not all, of the old favorites are in it. No Lando, that sucks. From the trailer, we see not only is the Empire still around, they use the same uniforms and craft for all this time. Even the Rebels are still using X-Wing fighters and the Millennium Falcon is flying around, though it looks to be at the hands of someone who cannot fly it well.

At the end of the trailer, there is a dark figure seen walking through the woods brandishing a red light saber. Most believe it is a Sith. Here’s my guess, it is Luke.

In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda tells look that the dark side is a shorter way to power and that once one starts down that path, it will forever control one’s destiny. Luke doesn’t listen. Yoda tells look not to take his weapons into the cave that is strong with the Dark Side of the Force, Luke doesn’t listen. When Luke has a vision of his friends being tortured, Yoda tells him to stay and complete his training, Luke doesn’t listen.

During his encounter with Vader on Bespin, Luke stays calm and tries his best to resist. In the beginning, his is full of energy and does well. As time goes on, Vader becomes quite annoyed that fighting Luke is not so simple and starts to turn up the wick. It is not long before he has pushed Luke out to the end of his rope, cut of his hand, and told him who his real father was. Luke cannot believe it and will not accept it. He also cannot surrenders and chooses to fall to what he believes will be his death. Instead, he gets sucked into a ventilation shaft and ends up hanging from a weather vane.

After his rescue by Lando and Chewbacca, he is tended to by Leia and starts to mumble amongst himself. Here he begins to question everything both Ben and Yoda have told him. He realizes what he believes and knows have been based on lies. This line of disbelief continues in Return of the Jedi when be confronts Yoda and talks to Ben’s ghost. His trip down the dark path is also seen at several moments early in the film.

As Luke enters Yabba’s lair, he is dressed in black and uses a force choke on the guards. When he later surrenders to the Empire and talks to Vader, he again uses dark side techniques trying to persuade Vader to leave the Emperor and go with Luke. Vader feels the powers being used against him and states he cannot disobey his Master.

The fight with Darth Vader on the new Death Star shows Luke using more powers from the Dark Side. The Emperor pushes Luke to anger to get Luke to pick up his Light Saber. Once started, Luke fights Vader with the speed of anger. The only thing that saves Luke is his desire to see his father saved and will not fight him. Luke hides and Vader plays a bit of cat and mouse with him.

In The Phantom Menace, Ben Kenobi has a similar cat and mouse with Darth Maul. Instead of going into a rage to defeat Maul, Kenobi meditates while hanging by only his hands, uses the calm to power himself out of the hole, and cuts down Maul rather quickly. Contrast that against Luke’s scream from under the steps and his lunge of fury at Vader. Once he cuts Vader’s hand off and sees the wires, he realizes where he is headed and tells the Emperor he has failed. Luke is not correct. At the end of the movie when he sees the ghost of his father, he is reserved and quiet. He does not celebrate with everyone else as he fully knows the true cost. Luke knows he will become a Sith eventually. He can feel it.

 

A Return To Harbin Park

Path in Harbin Park
Path in Harbin Park (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)

Harbin Park in Fairfield, Ohio is an interesting place. It is a city park, yet doesn’t feel like one as it is bigger than most. While it contains the typical basket ball and volleyball courts and covered picnic pavilions, it is also a target rich environment for Geocaches. It was this outdoor past-time that first lead me to Harbin Park on a regular basis. It is photography that brings me back.

Star Wars and Home Brewing Day (May, 4th) beckoned many to the outdoors as it was the first warm Saturday of the year. The passing clouds and wind kept one from being too warm and many took advantage. It was time to take advantage and shoot some video. Several people had been sending questions via YouTube and it was time to answer some.

Many ideas flowed through the brain: depth of field, rear curtain flash, HDRI. Which would survive the truth of the situation? Which would be forgotten? What new ideas would arrive once there and walking around? Oh the possibilities.

The first two videos are up on YouTube: Photography in Harbin Park – Intro and Being on the Path – Harbin Park. While walking down a wide path, a new opportunity came about. It was time to get the iPhone out to discuss how to get a blue sky. This is one of the most common questions asked of me. So, here’s the demonstration.

Visit the videos and enjoy. More editing is to be done and more videos will follow. Send your questions in. It is time to learn and explore photography. It is time to explore your own Harbin Park. It is time to get out and see the world through the lens.

Have fun!

 

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