My Thoughts on “Star Wars” and New Installments
NOTE: The following essay is neither perfect nor original, as many people have spoken on these topics more than enough. However, as I’m sure not everyone on Earth has scrutinized the Star Wars prequels and changes to death, my thoughts should still prove fresh and insightful to someone out there. So please allow me to say my piece, even if it has been covered by someone else.
I approve. I highly approve.
After seeing the 2nd trailer for the new Star Wars film The Force Awakens, I decided to finally start watching The Clone Wars tv series, which for years I had completely ignored because I thought it would be complete garbage. I really really enjoyed watching the Genndy Tartakovsky shorts, which came out during and after Attack of the Clones around 2002, and those were mind-blowingly beautiful and elegant in their execution and visual design. So it pained me quite a bit when I found out that they were expanding upon the Clone Wars story with a fully CGI series. Only now have I been so withdrawn from Star Wars that I desperately need some new material. And so I have now gladly begun the series. And to my surprise, it’s not half bad. There are, and were far better animated shows, to be sure. But it isn’t something I’d be embarrassed to say that I’m watching. I have also been aware of the brand-new Star Wars Rebels series that premiered on Disney XD last year, but I have yet to experience that show as well. I imagine once I’ve gone through quite a bit more of Clone Wars, I’ll gladly pick up Rebels, since it seems to fall directly between the Clone Saga and Episode IV: A New Hope: allowing for plenty of thematic, plot, and character ties to be made. Most importantly, we have the return of Darth Vader, during his peak time as Imperial Galactic Enforcer. Will we see a young Luke Skywalker at some point during this story? Maybe. Will we run into a teenage Han Solo like we almost could have in the prequels? Maybe, maybe not. I think it’s cool to bring some characters back, but the original 3 human characters don’t always have to show up or be a part of everything Star Wars related.
And I think it’s wise that after this next film, we likely won’t see any of them again, except for a youthful Han Solo in The Solo Adventures, which is a part of Star Wars lore that I think desperately needs to be told. I want to see how Han Solo met Chewie. I want to see how Han met Lando. And I want to see how he got the Falcon from Lando. I think that’d be pretty damn cool. Trying to wrap one’s head around the vastness and the details of the Star Wars universe is not easy, especially when one is to include all of the (redacted) material from the expanded universe novels and games. But just trying to deal with the films and tv series logically is a head-ache, because at the end of the day, George Lucas’ concept for what happened prior to A New Hope is almost complete garbage. First of all, the very few clues we are EVER given as to the history of the world of Star Wars are given to us in A New Hope: when Obi-wan talks about the Jedi Order in the old republic and Luke asking about the Clone Wars, and when Governor Tarkin explains that “The Emperor has dissolved the counsel permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.”
Now when you hear those words, you have NO idea what to associate them with. I can agree that the Republic featured in the prequels is not a bad representation, nor is Coruscant an inaccurate world to have in the Star Wars universe, as I always thought it was a very impressive looking place, along with Naboo. I rather loved the imagery when I first saw it as a kid, even if it might look a tad too polished and perfect. But when one talks about “The Clone Wars,” the first thing that comes to your mind isn’t that the Clones were part of the army for the heroic side, or at least the side that the Jedi were sympathetic to, but rather that the Clones were ugly beastly monsters cloned to create an army of creatures which could trample everything in their path. This is what Mike said as Mr. Plinkett on RedLetterMedia. And why not? That makes a hell of a lot more sense.
Sure, the plotting going on behind the scenes with the Emperor/Palpetine and Duku setting up a contract for a clone-army for the republic which would secretly be trained and programed to follow strict (over-riding) orders from Palpetine, is a genius idea. And it allowed for at least the smallest amount of a mystery plot. But alas, all of that really doesn’t turn out so clever when you consider that the Clone Wars television series has done such a meaningful job of humanizing these otherwise seemingly disposable people. The clones, in all cases, have no ties to a family, or parents, or a life of any kind outside of the service; except perhaps after their service has ended. However, now that they have been given nick-names, unique haircuts, and distinguishing personalities to some degree, you have to wonder just how aware are they of their secret sleeper orders? Is Order 66 really even a sleeper-code order? Or were all of the troopers simply being very loyal and carrying out any executive order they were given? I can’t be sure. But this new dynamic and their new, more realistic depiction makes it far more difficult to believe that they would have killed all of the Jedi willingly. So I suppose it makes their story even more tragic. There have also been arguments, especially since John Boyega popped onto the scene in the trooper suit, as to whether or not the Storm Troopers in the original trilogy were in fact still the Jango Fett clones. And I think it’s pretty clear now, what with their more rounded personalities, that they could be, but they don’t ALL have to be. I mean, if you think about it, it was established in Attack of the Clones (which makes much less sense when the attack is referring to the “good-guy” side) that the clones have accelerated growth rates: allowing them to become full-grown adults in half the time.This means that instead of living for 82 years or so, they would likely only live for 40 years at most, but still exhibit the same physical attributes of someone who had lived twice as long. They would also likely become more physically fatigued than people who age normally, because their bodies would be decaying twice as fast, causing their bodies to be much less stable and structurally sound. I also can’t imagine that after a while, the clone troopers would be of much use to the Empire. Because once the Republic had been disbanded in favor of an Empire, and the Emperor himself had established his powerful grip on the galaxy, he would have no more need for an army of that size, and thus would not contract for more of them to be made. Therefore, the need to draft able-bodied men from around the galaxy into the galactic service would become necessary in order to further tighten his grip on regular citizens so as to make it clear that he is in control, and he calls the shots. If you must work for the Empire, then you will work for the Empire. This then should mean that while not all of the Troopers in “A New Hope” may be the clone troopers, it doesn’t mean that a few of them aren’t still around somewhere. But it’s more likely that their ranks were slowly fazed out. And there’s a chance that we may see when and how that happened in some future installment, unless I’m simply out of touch at the moment and we already HAVE seen that happen. But considering people are still arguing that fact, I’m assuming we have not, yet. Anywhozits, there is still the matter of Anakin Skywalker and his fall to the dark side. Because as far as I’m concerned, Lucas clearly did not pay close enough attention to how his original three films were structured and played out. You have to read between the lines, George, and pull out what makes the most sense. Not cram more pointless crap in that was never established.
The only Jedis we ever saw in the original films were Yoda and Obi-wan, fair enough. But both of them were living nomadically out on desolate worlds, forcing them to take up clothing and means of living that were far more humble and functional. So then why is it that when we finally see the original and fully-functioning Jedi Order, that they are all wearing the Obi-wan garb with the hoods and the belted tunics? Luke Skywalker was wearing one of those too. Even his Uncle Owen was wearing one. But he ain’t no freaking Jedi. I would have assumed that clothing like that was specific to Tatooine, even though Yoda wore something similar. So then why was it turned into the official robes of the Jedi that all masters and apprentices must wear? Furthermore, why was it established in the prequels that there was a Prophesy, and why was it explained that Jedi cannot love? The Prophesy is a pointless and meaningless way to make the old movies tie together with the new movies, even though a story link like that was not necessary. And “love” being immoral and illegal to the Jedi is pointless because one would think that clearing your mind and strengthening your will and your conscience would allow one to freely date and marry anyone you’d like, because you would never let your love or your jealous ambitions get the better of your good judgement. I find that a far better discipline than simply saying, “you must not love.” Fear is a path to the dark side, yes, but you can have love without fear. And you can have hate without fear as well.
I get why some organizations figure that if you simply avoid a very hot-button complicated situation like “love” that it might dispel all other related issues. But it is wholly unfair to ask that of others, and I would think that love and compassion are important attributes that cannot easily be controlled or removed from your life. Love and compassion on a friendly, brotherly, sisterly, parental, or romantic level is important for any person, especially someone as wise and powerful as a Jedi. The power of love is strong indeed. And it’s a shame that the importance of it was never established in the original films, at least in a more tangible way rather than inferred or implied. I also agree that quantifying the force in the form of midichlorians was ridiculous, not because it gave the Force a tangible form, but because it established that certain people are born with more Force generating cells inside them than others. Plenty of scientists and well-educated Christians dream of the day that we might find a tangible clue as to the provable existence of God. It might be in Dark Matter. It might be in Dark Energy. It might be in Quantum Physics. It might be in String Theory. We even found a particle that we affectionately named “The God Particle.” So I think it’s safe to say that while the majority of Christians, including myself, don’t need physical proof of God to believe that he exists, and is part of our lives, I also don’t find it blasphemous or wrong to want to find that tangible proof. And so seeing the Force take on a similar nature is not a problem for me.
I don’t think, if handled much better, that the Force would be ruined or made less impressive by giving it a naturally occurring presence. But giving it a quantifiable number and making it part of someone’s physiology? Yeah, that I don’t like. Making it more like the plants and that glowing tree in Avatar would have been the better route. A few other smaller things that I don’t think quite make sense with the prequels vs the original trilogy include C3PO and R2D2. At first I thought perhaps making R2 such a prominent figure in every installment of the franchise was over-doing it and over-killing the character’s usage. But after thinking it over, it was established in A New Hope that R2 was previously owned by Obi-wan. Either that or R2 was simply trying to create an excuse for why he had to see him. Then again, Laia never gave R2 a physical description or even a photograph of Obi-wan to him to reference as he went on his search: or at least, we don’t see it. So it’s still reasonable to assume that even if C3PO was not privee to Obi-wan’s existence before this point, perhaps in an earlier service, R2 was. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s what they did. Apparently R2 comes from Naboo, and was a droid designed and built for the service of a Naboo vessel for repairs. I would argue that his design bares no resemblance to anything else built or used on Naboo, as I would assume since everything else is so pointy, curvy, and yellow-green, that droids on the planet would bare a similar design aesthetic. But apparently George didn’t know where else to put R2, so he just stuck him on a Naboo cruiser. Maybe R2 units are bought in bulk from an off-world manufacturer and are simply installed into different ships across the galaxy. Not an unbelievable possibility. But if that’s true, then why did we never see some quirky advertisement for R2 units somewhere on Coruscant? I think that would have been pretty cool. How about just a flyer for a flash-sale on R2 units? It would have added so much more to his character. Then we have 3PO, a protocol droid intended for interpretation, diplomacy, butlering, and all manner of polite society events. Unfortunately, the one thing we never see poor C3PO doing is the one thing he was designed to do. I never once got to see him actually perform a more typical form of his duties. He never served dinner for the rich and wealthy. He never got to charm anyone with humorous quips or interesting gossip. He only got to tell stories once when he was on that moon of Endor. And only twice was given the distinction of translator between two different languages, unless you count Chewie and R2, but Han and Luke were already doing that pretty early on themselves. And despite eventually becoming part of Senator Amidala’s personal attendants, I still have yet to see him do what I’ve seen those other silver painted droids do. This obviously leads us to the most ridiculous element of 3PO’s existence, his creation: which I swear makes absolutely no sense.
Why is an 8 year old kid, a kid who can barely speak properly given his poor acting skills, building a protocol droid to help his mother? What his mother needs is a good strong maintenance droid around the house, not a droid well-versed in protocol. Besides which, I think it’s pretty clear that if Anakin is building a protocol droid, that he likely got all of the pieces for it from his boss in his junk yard, or tossed around elsewhere. Which is likely to mean that since Anakin clearly couldn’t have coded or programed 3PO’s personality or lexicon of information, that he got his central memory circuits from scrap left behind from previous droids. Which must mean that 3PO was originally a completely different droid that is now reborn. What the hell, man! Where in the world is THAT story? I know there’s no definitive proof to say that 3PO’s brain came from a previous droid, but it doesn’t make any sense any other way.
Sure, as a kid, you can be skilled and adept at building things, doing science projects, fixing cars, fixing bikes, you might even have enough ingenuity to completely rebuild your house’s plumbing. But there is no way that you can tell me that Anakin as an 8 year old was smart enough to code droid, or even pod-racer software. He HAS to have gotten it all from previous scrap, as he got all of his parts and pieces. And since protocol droids come in a very specific design all across the galaxy, it must mean that just like R2 units, C3’s, or whatever they must be called, come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and even vocal genders: since the first protocol droid we meet in The Phantom Menace had a female sounding voice.
So, did 3PO exist in yet another form before Anakin put his brain in a new body? Who knows? But maybe someday we’ll get the whole story. Because I would LOVE to see it. Well, anything else I have a problem with? Um… well I’m okay with there not being any skinny disposable droids featured in the original films, because if there suddenly were, the screen would be far more cluttered than it is in the original films. And I’m okay with it because I’m sure, just like with the clone armies, that the Emperor had the droid armies either discontinued or destroyed: which makes total sense to me.
The bigger chance that I have a problem with between original and prequel trilogy is the design of the Imperial vehicles.
Why is it that the first wave of Star Destroyers–when the clones and the Jedi were using them–have broader sides and brick colored painted sections? Were those particular models discontinued at some point? Were they somehow redesigned and rebuilt? Why take away the red color and make them all flat gray? Plenty of questions that could have been answered if they simply didn’t change them so much in the prequels. But I guess that’s to be expected if you want to see something new for the sake of something new. It’s neither and bad thing or necessarily a good thing.
Something that I’m sure must have been explained in the books but not in the films, was the Jedi’s many varied abilities. There never seemed to be a clear-cut list of all of the things that Jedis can do, it is simply shown to us by Obi-wan and Yoda.
One. You can affect people’s minds and perception.
Two. You can sense things without the use of your eyes. Meaning your own perception is higher than others.
Three. You have the power of telekinesis: you can levitate yourself and other objects.
Four. You can affect your own luck.
Five. Your skills with a blade and acrobatics far surpass those who do not connect with the Force.
Six. Your spirit, once it has connected with the Force, can have a life and existence outside of the physical plane. Meaning that when you die, you are not entirely gone, and you can interact with those in the living, if you wish it so.
There were never any specific rules given to each of these factors, especially the situation of the dead speaking to the living (and seemingly from anywhere in the galaxy), but my hope is that some of these rules and disciplines will be better expressed by Luke when he likely trains his children, or the principal characters of The Force Awakens in how the Force works and how one can harness it. It has yet to be seen whether this new film series, just like with the expanded universe novels, will redact the concept of midichlorians and how they are connected to the Force. Because I’d much rather leave that stupid element behind, as (in its current form) it serves no meaningful purpose to the story, and works to remove any meaningful chance that lowly everyday people can rise to the challenge and become the greatest of Jedi Masters.
I am thoroughly looking forward to the new film series, in both its sequential story, and in the side stories: which I’m sure (just like with the Marvel films) will be hit and miss in their own way. And we will need to prepare ourselves for that inevitable issue. J.J. Abrams is only directing this one film (as far as we know for now), which means that his successors will have to take on the mantle and do it justice. Will Disney be more wise in choosing each new director than Marvel has been? That has yet to be seen. But I think it’s important for us to prepare for such a turn of events, because we have been burned bad enough already. It would do us all good to understand that even if this next film kicks ass, Episode VIII might not kick as much. We just need to be clear in our minds and take things as they come. And on the side of Star Wars Rebels, I think bringing us to a new chapter between the new and the old is a brilliant choice, and should prove a great installment to watch in the intervening time, especially if the stories and different episodes are tied together in some way.
Also, just one last note. Something I’d like to explain for all of those people out there who for decades have blindly argued why the Death Star’s chief weakness is stupid and shouldn’t even exist: IT’S A THERMAL EXHAUST PORT! Do you not know what a Thermal Exhaust port is? It’s exhaust. You know, that pipe that’s on the back of your car that lets all of the burned fumes out without suffocating you.
Imagine if you were to shoot a laser gun straight up your car’s tail pipe. Eh? It would blow your freaking car sky high.
But wait. Oh! We could just board it up and that would solve everything. No, it wouldn’t! Because then you would start building up pressure from all of the fumes and gas not able to escape any other way, and the Death Star would have blown up by itself.
Bottom line, the exhaust port that allows the Rebels to destroy the station is not a flaw, it is simply a feature of all vehicles and large machinery that is necessary for it to function. The only flaw made here was that they allowed for its precise location to be leaked to the rebels, allowing them to fire into it. Again, if you know where the exhaust port on any vehicle is, chances are if you shoot or throw anything explosive into it, it’s going to be bad news for everyone nearby. Case closed.