“Star Wars” fans have waited nearly 40 years to find out how and why there was such a fatal flaw in the first Death Star.
“Rogue One,” which debuted last month, lays out the events leading up to “Star Wars: A New Hope.” That’s the first movie that came out in 1977 labeled Episode IV.
“Rogue One” provides the story line for how the rebel alliance came to possess the detailed plans that ultimately allowed Luke Skywalker to blow up the Death Star.
As a fan of “Star Wars” from when it first premiered, I liked “Rogue One,” but I’ve got to vent about a couple of things. (For those who have not seen the movie, spoilers abound, so see it first and then come back and read this.)
* That hologram soliloquy by Jyn Erso’s dad…I know it’s there to drive the narrative forward but for heaven’s sake, the planet is crumbling around their ears and this message is droning on and on. It’s like a voice mail from a caller who does not know when to shut up.
* Can anyone tell me what Forest Whitaker’s character, Saw Gerrerra, was doing in this movie? He saves young Jyn. Hurray! And then years later he is some radical rebel even feared by other rebels? What? I was confused.
* I cannot help it but there is one scene where Gerrerra takes a deep inhalation from his oxygen mask that just so takes me back to the crazy character Otto played by Kevin Kline in “A Fish Called Wanda,” in which Kline’s character deeply sniffs his own armpit.
* The villain, Orsen Krennic, was not villainous enough. I mean, yes, he comes across as half-crazed when during a test-run of the Death Star he watches the destruction from afar and declares “It’s beautiful!” But overall he seemed more whiny than evil.
* Did Darth Vader go on a diet? The actor, Spencer Wilding, who is 6 feet 7 inches tall, somehow looked smaller in frame and about 30 pounds lighter than the original actor, David Prowse, who was 6 feet, 6 inches.
When Krennic enters Vader’s chamber and Vader starts walking toward him, I swear he sashays down the ramp. Yes, sashays. Not good. Not intimidating. What is he doing moving his hips like that?!
* Maybe my hearing is going, but I had a hard time understanding some of the dialogue because of the actors’ different accents.
* The scene where the shuttle pilot is brought before Gerrerra, and then subjected to some kind of mind meld with a slimy creature to see if he was lying was reminiscent to me of the Ceti eel scene in which one of the larvae makes its way into the ears of characters in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”
* What exactly made Capt. Casian Andor not go ahead with the assassination of Galen Erso?
* Felicity Jones was OK but I don’t think she holds a light saber to Daisy Ridley, who played Rey in last year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
OK, now on the plus side:
* I thought K-2SO was great and pretty much stole the movie. Ditto Donnie Yen.
* The movie did not have many light moments but the ones it did were well-timed and genuinely funny.
* The final battle scene was glorious, particularly the strategy to ram the two star destroyers into one another. Totally bad-ass!
* Speaking of bad-ass, the climactic ending with Vader taking on the rebels was vicious and no-holds-barred in its violence.
* The movie depicted war in the most realistic way of the “Star Wars” franchises so far.
* I know there have been a number of critics who have complained about the CG return of Grand Moff Tarkin (played in the first movie by Peter Cushing, who died in 1994) and a young Princess Leia (the late Carrie Fisher).
One of my friends said the appearances took him right out of the movie. I was fine with the recreated characters. I thought they were a neat surprise that did not detract from the movie.
I have also heard some critics say that “Rogue One” was the best in the “Star Wars” franchise and was better than “The Force Awakens.”
I could not disagree more.
And to those who think that way, I can only say you are a half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerfherder.
All of the members of the About Men Radio posse have now seen the latest installment in the “Star Wars” franchise, “The Force Awakens,” but there are shades of disagreement about how TFA ranks compared to the previous six installments.
As you will hear in in this episode of the podcast, Pedro and I rank TFA as No. 1 among the seven episodes.
I’ve now seen it four times and I am more in love with it with each viewing.
Rich and Silvio, while deeply impressed with the new movie, rank it as No. 3 in the pecking order of all things “Star Wars” and John merely thought it was good but not mind-blowing.
How do you rank TFA?
For hardcore fans who were around in the 70s and 80s, “The Empire Strikes Back” holds a special place in the No. 1 slot.
But recently having viewed “Empire” (as well as the rest of the preceding movies), I just don’t think they hold up as well TFA.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and reasoning on our Facebook page or write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll publish a roundup of opinions. Who knows? Maybe you will change some minds — but no Jedi mind tricks allowed!
I wish I could say I was blown away by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Instead I was — and this is going to sound odd — delighted with it.
You know that feeling you get putting on a favorite pair of broken-in jeans or when you look forward to a favorite cousin or uncle coming over a visit? Or maybe the sensation you get when you catch the scent of your mom’s cooking or baking?
That’s what my experience was like watching TFA in a Times Square theater in the wee hours of Friday morning with about 20 other fans.
It was that feeling of excitement and comfort to see the shimmering Lucasfilm logo appear and “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” and to hear the familiar chords of the “Star Wars” overtures we have come to know and love.
TFA did better than blow me away the way “Mad Max: Fury Road” did.
It instead stirred deep inside me the emotions and memories of a 12-year-old boy turned middle-age man.
In many, many ways, TFA represents a passage of time and of the torch (or should I say light saber?) to a new generation of actors and fans.
Seeing Harrison Ford (73!) and Carrie Fisher (59!) with their wrinkles and hearing their throaty not-so-young voices was a reminder that I am not a kid myself anymore.
But God! There was such a great joy in seeing them!
(Having just watched “Return of the Jedi” and Fisher’s infamous slave girl bikini scene, it is hard to believe it’s the same person! Carrie’s has had a hard go of it but I’m still carrying a torch for her.)
So, yeah. I cried at some parts.
And laughed out loud at others.
And jumped in my seat at yet others.
J.J. Abrams delivered the anti-prequels. TFA is, to borrow a phrase from a one-time leading “Star Wars” character: “Impressive. Most impressive.”
Without giving anything away, I must say that Harrison Ford is flawless and I think turns in his best Han Solo performance ever. And the lead actors — largely unknowns — were enthralling. The movie’s sense of humor was a wonderful, unexpected touch.
TFA is filled throughout with nods to its predecessors (prequels excluded). For “Star Wars” cognoscenti, there are ample callbacks to the first three movies that my generation grew up with.
And that is not a criticism. Abrams did not do that as cheat or a crutch. Instead he expertly renews past known relationships and builds new ones.
“The Force Awakens” is a stirring movie-going experience that harkens to familiar themes while introducing a host of new characters.
And for this 12-year-old boy in a 51-year-old man’s body, I could not ask for anything better.
Since it debuted not quite 40 years ago, “Star Wars” has held a special place in my childhood-stunted heart.
I can remember my mother, who was not exactly what you would call an avid fan of pop culture much less science fiction, telling me that she heard of this movie that I might like to go see.
I was 12.
I had grown up watching TV shows like “Thunderbirds,” “U.F.O.” and “Lost in Space.”
For a kid of the ‘60s and ‘70s, these shows represented the best that Hollywood had to offer in the way of production values and special effects.
So when I saw a clip of “Star Wars” on the morning news in 1977, I was gobsmacked.
The blasters! The droids! The Millennium Falcon!
My mom took me to the Loews movie theater on East 86th Street in Manhattan to see it.
I was mesmerized.
As childhood milestones go, seeing “Star Wars” for the first time ranked up there with getting a G.I. Joe Mobile Support Unit when I was 8.
In other words, this was a really, really big deal.
Overnight, I became a “Star Wars” geek.
Original movie program?
Trading cards from both Topps AND Wonder Bread?
Yeah, got those too.
About those posters…
I had many, many posters and I was hellbent to display all of them except that I quickly ran out of wall space on my side of the room, which I shared with my two sisters. And there was no convincing my sisters to part with some of their precious wall space.
But then inspiration struck.
My bed had a headboard. It was attached to the bed frame by two wooden uprights and the headboard itself was large, white and padded.
This headboard took up valuable real estate, aka wall space. So obviously, it had to go to make way for my “Star Wars” posters.
One night – I think my parents were out – I did what any enterprising 12-year-old would do: I got out a hand saw and cut the headboard off.
Voila! More wall space! Problem solved!
Except, of course, what I did not anticipate was that the headboard was, in fact, keeping the entire bed frame together.
Without it, the mattress rested on the equivalent of two stilts.
(I “solved” this problem by taking reams of rope and tying what remained of the two uprights together to keep the bed from rattling like a scene from “The Exorcist.”)
All of this comes to mind as “The Force Awakens” – the much-anticipated seventh installment in the “Star Wars” franchise – opens this week.
I am so stoked.
I’ve already bought my tickets in advance. I’ve got my “Star Wars” tie ready to wear and I’m looking to buy movie memorabilia and merchandise.
Pretty soon the house will be overrun with all kinds of “Star Wars” goodness.
You know, the bedroom set I have now has a wooden headboard.
A co-worker said that she never saw any of the movies or cartoons. This conversation gave me an idea for this blog post.
So, a recap for all of you who haven’t seen any of the movies or cartoons or have read the books or played the Star Wars video games, you may have heard a similar story before: It’s as old as the Bible, good vs. evil.
It’s a story about a boy and his family.
We are introduced to a boy named Anakin Skywalker who was born to Shmi. Like Mary of Jesus, Shmi did not know man.
We later learn that there was a Sith Lord named Darth Plagueis the Wise who could use the Force (Holy Spirit for Mary) to influence the midichlorians (DNA building blocks for Mary) to create life.
He caused the impregnation of Shmi not unlike the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38).
Qui-Gon Jinn (a Jedi Master) encountered a tremor in the Force around Anakin.
His cells had the highest count of midichlorians he ever saw in a life form.
He wondered if it were possible that he was conceived by midichlorians.
He refers to the prophecy of the one who would bring balance to the force.
Shmi asks Qui-Gon if he was there to free the slaves. Was he the Messiah or was Anakin to be the savior?
Anakin had dreams about the future and returning to his home planet of Tatooine and freeing his mother from slavery. He met Padme and years later secretly married her and she told him of her pregnancy.
Chancellor Palpatine talks with Anakin about the Sith along with their powers to heal. He tells young Anakin a story of Darth Plagueis the Wise who could resurrect the dead and heal the suffering.
Anakin was plagued by dreams of his mother’s death and that of his wife, Padme during childbirth. He thought that if he could learn this Sith power that he could save them.
Anakin becomes Palpatine’s apprentice to obtain these powers as he is tempted by the dark side of the Force, which later led him away from his wife.
Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days tempted by Satan and he did not give in.
Chancellor Palpatine was elected through a vote of “no confidence” in Chancellor Valorum’s leadership.
Later, Palpatine becomes Emperor and dissolves the Senate.
Senator Palpatine told Anakin that in his anger, he had killed his wife Padme. This news made him very angry and Palpatine smiled at his pain.
Padme gave birth to twins named Luke and Leia. The twins were separated for their own protection as heirs to Anakin would have a higher midichlorian count.
Leia was adopted by Senator Organa and his wife. Luke was sent back to Tatooine to live with his aunt, Beru and uncle, Owen Lars. Padme still sensed good in Anakin on her deathbed.
Once Anakin turned to the dark side of the force, according to Obi-Wan, he essentially died and became Darth Vader. There are always two Sith, a master and apprentice.
There were many Jedi Knights in the Old Republic as they were the guardians of peace and justice. During the Clone Wars, the Jedi were killed.
The Emperor knew that any child with a high midichlorian count could be a weapon of the Force, so they were rounded up and killed — not unlike Pharaoh killing the first born male children in Israel for fear that a messiah or king may be born.
Leia grows up and contacts Obi-Wan Kenobi, an old friend of her father’s. They fought together during the Clone Wars.
Princess Leia puts the plans for an ultimate weapon, a Death Star capable of destroying a planet, into a droid and jettisons it, R2D2 and another Protocol Droid, C3PO out of their ship as it is boarded by Darth Vader of the Galactic Empire.
The droids wind up on Tatooine with a young Luke Skywalker. Luke retrieves the message that Leia needs help. R2D2 goes out in search for Obi-Wan Kenobi, while Luke and C3PO follow.
Trouble ensues and Obi-Wan comes to the rescue. Obi-Wan tells Luke that his father was killed by Darth Vader. The full message is played and Obi-Wan and Luke set off on an adventure to Alderaan.
Luke learns about the Force through Ben Kenobi’s teachings and later by Master Yoda’s.
Luke Skywalker along with Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2D2, and C3PO continue the adventures against the Empire.
They fight alongside the Rebels to destroy the Death Star and bring back peace to the galaxy. In the end, Padme was right about seeing good in Anakin.
Luke also saw that he was good and it gave Vader the chance for redemption in the end.
For Jesus, the cross symbolizes redemption for all of us. Has Kylo Ren picked up his cross fashioned into a light saber to provide redemption for us or to resurrect the evil that was gone for the past 30 years?
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will take place some 30 or so years later.
Perhaps Han Solo and Princess Leia marry and have children.
Perhaps Luke, the sole Jedi of the galaxy becomes a teacher, like Master Kenobi and Master Yoda.
Perhaps Luke learns the ways of the Sith as well. A New Jedi Order is created under Luke’s leadership.
Out of the Garden of Eden or Paradise came evil. The Force works because of a balance of good and evil.
Perhaps Kylo Ren is the embodiment of the evil.
“Star Wars” is about a family with an absent father who leaves to take over the universe. Is Luke’s father dead or has he changed his name and began a new life and a New Hope?
The names of the Movies gives you a breakdown of the events:
Star Wars Episode I- A Phantom Menace: The story about Anakin.
Star Wars Episode II-Attack of the Clones: War breaks out between the Empire and the rebels. Anakin grows up and begins to form a relationship with Padme.
Star Wars Episode III-Revenge of the Sith: Anakin turns to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader and wipes out most of the Jedi.
Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope: Hope is restored through Luke Skywalker in the destruction of the Empires ultimate weapon, a Death Star.
Star Wars Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back: The Empire, led by Darth Vader, fractures the Rebels. In the end Han Solo is encased in carbonite and everyone’s feelings are unsettling and unsure.
Star Wars Episode VI-Return of the Jedi: Luke returns after rushing his training to rescue his friends and to restore order back to the galaxy. In this final fight, Darth Vader/Anakin kills the Emperor and dies upon seeing Luke with his own eyes. Luke brings his body back to Endor and burns it.
The spirits of Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and a younger Anakin are now visible to him.
Young Anakin was added as George Lucas said that when he became Darth Vader, he ceased being Anakin.
Everyone in the universe ends the movie in celebration with fireworks and frivolity.
Star Wars Episode VII-The Force Awakens: Takes place some 30 years after the end of Return of the Jedi. The Sith return.
In one of the trailers, Kylo holds the burnt mask of Darth Vader and says, “Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish what you started.”
Kylo picks up his cross which also appears to be a lightsaber.
Jesus said, pick up your cross and follow me.
What holds for the future of Luke and the Skywalkers?
As Chris and I discuss on this episode of About Men Radio, the original Star Wars trilogy continues to be an important part of our lives and a cultural touchstone for the entire AMR posse.
While Chris has gone “all in” and is already set to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens multiple times over its opening weekend, my plan is to tread cautiously.
The crushing disappointment of the prequels forced me to reconsider how much I would continue to emotionally invest in the Star Wars universe now that it appeared George Lucas was no longer in tune with his creation. Georgie-boy broke my heart.
J.J. Abrams did an amazing job with the Star Trek reboot so I hope he can make lightning strike twice. I miss Luke Skywalker. I miss Leia, Han and Chewie. I especially miss the Millennium Falcon.
I want nothing more than to be that 13-year-old kid watching Star Wars (minus the “New Hope”) for the first time, totally swept away by the epic adventure.
When I read that a former colleague of mine, Germain Lussier, had interviewed Harrison Ford – among other leading lights from the new “Star Wars” movie – I could not think of a more worthy person to celebrate such a professional milestone.
I knew Germain from my time as an editor at The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y. I was a news editor and he was an entertainment/features reporter.
He was quiet, diligent and dedicated. And above all, he was passionate about his craft and the beat he covered.
He pulled up stakes from his native New York to California for what he thought would be a career at a national magazine.
As you will read below, things took a different turn.
Germain graciously agreed to this Q/A for About Men Radio.
Apart from sharing in his reflective glory of rubbing elbows with Harrison friggin’ Ford (!), I wanted to tell his story because it is an excellent reminder to us all to pursue our passions with all our might.
There’s no telling the places you’ll go or the people you will meet.
Work does not have to be drudgery.
It can be a labor of love – something that Germain exemplifies here.
— Chris Mele
Tell readers a little about yourself: Where you grew up and a little
about your career path.
I grew up in Monroe, N.Y.
And from as early as I can remember, I wanted to be a movie critic. I thought getting paid to watch movies would be the best job in the world.
As I got older, I realized that there were other ways to do that too. So I went to New York University and majored in Cinema Studies, where I just studied, analyzed and wrote about film and film history.
That led me to internships with magazines such as Premiere, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly.
Eventually, I got a job as an entertainment reporter at my local newspaper, The Times Herald-Record. I worked there for six years before deciding I wanted to move away from where I grew up.
So I moved to Los Angeles and found a niche working on movie blogs.
For five years I worked on a site called Slashfilm and was able to write about movie news every single day, visit the sets of films like “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “Anchorman 2,” “Ender’s Game” and so many more.
It was a dream come true.
After a few years though, I got an offer to move to a bigger site, io9.com, and that’s where I am now.
Tell us about your passion for films: What are its roots and what is it about movies that fascinates you?
Honestly, I don’t know where my love for film comes from.
Neither of my parents love movies that much, but somehow by the age of 8 or so I already knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Now though, the passion comes from so many places.
First, the ability to go into a dark theater and be transported somewhere else emotionally never ever gets old.
Also, when you write about movies you have something new and exciting to look forward to every single week.
There are always new movies. Of course some are more highly anticipated than others but there’s always something exciting on the horizon.
Tell us about your current position at io9.com: How long have you been there, your title and duties.
I moved to California in June of 2009.
I started working at Slashfilm in September of 2010 and I started at io9 in June of 2015.
On the site, I’m the primary entertainment reporter, meaning if there’s news or an assignment having to do with movies or TV, I usually get first crack at it.
On a daily basis, I’m expected to write however many news stories are necessary and develop longer feature stories, which can be about almost anything.
Tell us about what led up to securing one-on-one interviews with the leading players connected to “The Force Awakens,” including Harrison Ford: How did that come about?
Everything lead up to it. Seriously.
I’ve been a “Star Wars” freak for as long as I can remember.
It was anticipation of Episode I that led me into the depths of the Internet and familiarized me with the websites that would become my livelihood a decade later.
It was those “Star Wars” websites that gave me my first opportunities as a college student to get a glimpse of the life of a Hollywood journalist.
As a college student, I interviewed the cast of the first two “Harry Potter” movies, as well as John Travolta, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle and Hugh Jackman for “Swordfish.”
My college graduation was in May 2002, the day Episode II was released in theaters and on that day, I set a goal for myself to be working somewhere I’d be able to write about the next movie, Episode III.
That happened in 2005 at The Times Herald-Record.
And ever since 2012, when Disney bought Lucasfilm and Star Wars, I had been developing relationships with people at that studio and in the industry not ONLY to prime myself for this event, but it was always on my mind.
So, as we got close to the release of the movie and I was invited to cover the press junket, I requested interviews with every single actor and filmmaker available.
I expected to maybe get one or two and I knew Harrison Ford was a long shot.
But, those relationships and my unrelenting passion for the franchise got me not just one interview, but five (four on the day as one got cancelled), including Ford.
And talking to Ford was a dream come true.
As long as I’ve been a “Star Wars” fan, I’ve been a bigger Han Solo fan. I also love Indiana Jones, so he’s always been my favorite actor and kind of an idol.
Plus, I collect Han Solo stuff so Harrison Ford is never too far from my face.
So actually getting to sit down with him was kind of a culmination of everything both in my personal and professional life, stuffed into eight short minutes.
Describe the interviews themselves. You openly expressed a certain disbelief that they were happening/did happen. What were those moments like for you?
These interviews are always extremely weird.
They take place in very sterile environments (hotels, offices, etc.) and are kind of an assembly line as a star sits in a room and then a string of journalists just walk in, talk to them, and leave.
For “Star Wars,” it was even odder as we were at a massive convention center and the interview rooms were bigger than most houses.
So you’d wait outside, walk in, sit on a white couch and talk for 8-10 minutes. And even more odd, with “Star Wars,” it’s the first press junket I’ve ever done without seeing the movie.
Sometimes there are “long lead” days where a company will show you a few minutes of a movie and then you do interviews but a week away from release, you always see the movie so you have something to talk to the actors about.
With “Star Wars,” you hadn’t seen anything and they were unable to talk about anything directly related to the movie.
It made for an interesting challenge.
Thankfully, I’ve been following this film since the second it was announced — literally — and I had plenty of questions for the likes of J.J. Abrams, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie and Mr. Ford.
Things only got weird on a few occasions with Isaac and Christie when they told me they weren’t allowed to answer a few questions.
I think my disbelief at being there was just kind of the resonance of feeling that so much of my life had led to this.
I’d finally arrived.
You have posted video of how you turned over your apartment to just about every piece of “Star Wars” memorabilia you own. As such a diehard fan and as a film critic, what are your expectations and hopes for the new movie?
My hopes are for something that makes me feel the way I do when I still watch the originals.
Those are my expectations too. I just want it to be something that’s worthy of “Star Wars,” that spawns conversation and answers questions I’ve had for decades about what happens next.
I mean I was ULTRA excited for the prequels.
I saw “The Phantom Menace” nine times in the theater I was so hyped for it. But with those movies, ultimately, you knew how they had to end.
Anakin becomes Darth Vader and his kids get separated.
But now, finally, after 32 years, we finally are going to find out what happens after “Return of the Jedi.”
We don’t know how it’s going to end, who the characters are, etc.
It’s all a mystery.
And that infinite possibility just gives me goosebumps.
But for memorable movie watching — as in like impossible to erase the imprint for your brain — the first-place trophy goes to AMR crew member Rich Rodriguez who a few years ago brought to the man cave “Requiem for a Dream” and “Human Centipede.”
We were crowded into a small room to watch “Requiem,” of which I knew nothing. It was an incredible movie about addiction but so dark and heavy that I needed a drink when it was over.
And then, as if that did not harsh our mellow enough, Rich popped in the DVD for “Human Centipede,” which was so vile and disgusting and repulsive that we demanded we watch it on fast-forward! (For an idea of how bad it was, consider that its sequel was banned in Britain!)
On a more uplifting note, there was the time we gathered at Pedro’s to watch “Ted,” the story of the raunchy, foul-mouthed stuffed teddy bear who comes to life.
At points we were laughing so hard and loud that we had to stop the movie and replay scenes because we were missing dialogue. That was a good time!
We guys, including my About Men Radio brothers, subconsciously crave that special moment when we transcend mere mortals and not only nail the quote to the moment but organically live it or make it larger than life.
I felt my wife’s hand on my forearm but instead of squashing my moment she whispered, “Relax Sonny.”
She recognized the scene without any prompting and added her own line to complete my moment! Typically a second guy completes a guy moment by delivering the final line, but unless my wife started going, RAT-A-TAT-TAT-TAT and then kicked me in the face for good measure, she couldn’t complete the actual scene.
But she recognized my moment, added her own line and made it memorable. She completed me.
I didn’t think I could love her more, but I was wrong.