Category Archives: General Star Wars

The Last Jedi Review

I’ll come right to the point. I loved The Last Jedi. Maybe it’s not a great movie, but it’s a great Star Wars movie. I think it’s the best looking one of the whole lot. Obviously, the Ramming Speed! collision is a show stopper, but the white and red salt flats, Snoke’s throne room and Luke’s island are all beautifully realized set pieces. All the performances are good, and Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver do a terrific job holding the center of the story together.

Beyond that, the movie really pushes the characters to grow. One of the things I like about The Force Awakens is that it took the character types from Star Wars, but mixed them up. Poe thinks he’s the Han Solo, but he’s really Princess Leia, and in The Last Jedi Leia herself is kicking his ass to make him accept that truth. Our heroes eventually figure things out, but not by succeeding. Pretty much every plan made in this movie falls apart, but Rey, Finn, Poe and even Ben take their lumps and get back up again. I don’t know if Rose has a story arc, but I don’t care, she’s adorable.

As for Luke, the embittered old hermit, I buy it completely. I’ve always seen Luke as a loner; this is something I don’t think the Expanded Universe ever really got right, so I don’t think it’s out of character for him to retreat to the kind of life he saw Obi-Wan and Yoda living when things went bad. In Return of the Jedi, Luke’s heroic act is rejecting both Yoda and Obi-Wan’s urging to kill Vader and the temptation to the Dark Side. That he struggles to keep his own standards as a teacher is Old Luke’s tragic flaw, and it seems to me that Rian Johnson wants to call out Luke in a way that Obi-Wan and Yoda never were, and to force Luke to take responsibility for failing Ben instead of letting Rey do his dirty work.

I think that Leia was handled much better here than in The Force Awakens (or Return of the Jedi for that matter). I really believed she was leading this rebellion and not just a figurehead in the room. And her big moment seems to me to be the most impressive thing we’ve ever seen done with the Force in any of the movies. If we have to say good-bye to Carrie Fisher, I’m glad it was this way.

It’s not without flaws to be sure. By breaking up the band, the easy rapport between Poe and Finn and Rey, which was such a big part of what made The Force Awakens so enjoyable, feels like a missing piece. There are lots of characters, ideas and stories flying around here, and maybe some of it could’ve been trimmed. This density causes The Last Jedi to not have the same momentum as other Star Wars films, but, it does allow room to explore the Force more than any other movie in the series. And if the Canto Bight section drags, I’m willing to forgive it because it sets up the film’s coda. I think the scene with the kids is not only one of my favorite parts of the movie, but one of the best Star Wars moments ever.

Ultimately, The Last Jedi just works for me. It leaves me wanting more, but also feels complete in its own right. I like and care about Rey, Finn, Poe and Rose. I understand and pity Ben, I mourn the loss of Luke and Holdo. And Carrie. We should remember the truth of them as people, but we should also print the legend.

With that, I’ll bid adieu to 2017. I want to thank everyone for visiting and every bit of feedback from a like on Twitter to an award on reddit. I appreciate it all. Have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!

 

Comments Off on The Last Jedi Review

Filed under General Star Wars

Your Number is 2187, Isn’t it?

Your humble blogger is feeling a tad under the weather, so this week I thought I’d choose an easy sign to translate. While the recreation was a fairly simple task, this sign did lead to an aspect of Star Wars history to which I had not been aware prior to researching this post.

This sign is similar in style to many others found around Coruscant and other developed worlds of the Republic. It contains the usual bits of random letters and numbers, a neat calibration icon, a warning about stellar regulations, and a gentle reminder to always secure your safety harness when traveling by speeder.

While the large numbers atop the sign may seem random at first glance. They are far from it. Many fans will recognize them as the number of Princess Leia’s cell in Star Wars. And the numbers would come to even further attention as Finn’s stormtrooper designation in The Force Awakens.

The number’s true origin lies in the name of a short film titled 21-87 by Arthur Lipsett. This film had a profound effect on George Lucas as a young filmmaker, influencing Lucas’ aesthetic style and his habit of titling his early movies with numbered sequences; perhaps most importantly the film provided Lucas with the initial inspiration for the concept of the Force, which would lead directly to our beloved Jedi heroes and Sith villains.

The movie itself is quite abstract, occasionally disturbing, and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s interesting to see something that had such a seminal influence on Star Wars. “In terms of understanding the power of sound and picture relationships there is no one better than Arthur Lipsett,” George Lucas said of the man who created 21-87.

 

Comments Off on Your Number is 2187, Isn’t it?

Filed under Aurebesh to English, General Star Wars

Just Breathe

My pledge to take the week off has faltered yet again with the release of the trailer for The Last Jedi and its inclusion of Aurebesh on Finn’s medical pod.

Much of the text is so blurry and distorted that it is difficult if not impossible to decipher. Moreover, what is readable, specifically the sets of four characters that shift during the second or two this shot is on screen seem to be random characters. This information can easily be chalked up as medical jargon and acronyms obscure to all but the most seasoned of medical droids.

The information at the top of the red block, however, does seem to be translateable, and might constitute a very minor spoiler, so Caveat Clicktor!

As is often the case with Aurebesh ligatures, they are not used as letters but rather the English keyboard symbol that the font uses to generate them, so I translated the Cherek and Shen glyphs as brackets.

There seems to be more Aurebesh in white on the right side of the pod, but it is far too blurry for me to take a stab at.

To make sense of the Aurebesh in the screen shot, I did have to apply some technical jiggery-pokery in Photoshop. Even so this translation involves more guessing and perhaps wishful thinking than usual. Other translators may very well come to different conclusions.

 

Comments Off on Just Breathe

Filed under Aurebesh to English, General Star Wars

Why SWTOR Should Pay Tribute to Carrie Fisher

I hadn’t planned to post anything this week since I saw no point in competing with the news from Star Wars Celebration, but then I saw this and it genuinely choked me up:

It reminded me of the suggestion that many folks made that SWTOR should add a memorial to Carrie Fisher to the game. I don’t recall anyone at Bioware mentioning one way or the other about whether it would happen, but I figured I’d use my teeny, tiny soapbox to add my voice to those who have already suggested it.

A statue of a princess and a loyal astromech at House Organa on Alderaan has been the most common suggestion, and this would also be a fitting tribute to Kenny Baker who passed away last year as well. Certainly it could be done in a way that wouldn’t violate continuity any worse than “Hun Duo” and “Greepo” in the cantina on Hutta or the tableau of bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back on the Ziost Shadow.

But even if it did rip a hole in the time-space continuum, I wouldn’t care. SWTOR is not a transmission of historical documents, it’s a work of fiction, a game played and made by people in the real world. It’s only natural that it should pay tribute to someone whose contributions to Star Wars had a real effect on generations of fans.

So, of course, it should happen and I would hope the good folks at Bioware agree.

 

Comments Off on Why SWTOR Should Pay Tribute to Carrie Fisher

Filed under General Star Wars, General SWTOR

Falling Down a Bottomless Pit is Never Fatal

A friend of mine who got an invite to the PTS for the upcoming patch 5.2: The War for Iokath sent me this screenshot from the new daily area’s imperial quest hub. He doesn’t know Aurebesh, but figured I could translate it for him so I thought I’d give it a go.

At first glance this seems like a bog standard Imperial recruitment poster featuring one of the game’s most beloved Dark Lords. It’s topped with an invocation of the Sith code, but its tagline, however, is a different thing entirely. Not only does it have significant implications for the future of SWTOR but for the entire Star Wars saga.

Whether this is an inside joke for folks on the PTS or kind of a big spoiler, I cannot say. Click on the thumbnail and see the translation at your own risk. You’ve been warned!

 

Comments Off on Falling Down a Bottomless Pit is Never Fatal

Filed under Aurebesh to English, General Star Wars, General SWTOR

The Last Jedi

As a long time fan of Marvel’s Star Wars comics of the 70’s and 80’s, I’m always amused to see how prescient those old four color classics were in ways large and small. We are not likely to see Jedidiah on the big screen next December, but it’s neat to be reminded of one of Expanded Universe’s better Star Wars stories.

Central Circle

It is a real thrill to be included amongst the fine group content creators featured by SWTOR Central’s first installment of Central Circle. Sam is easily the most enthusiastic evangelist of SWTOR out there, and his videos are always an entertaining and even handed look at the game. The other creators’ content featured in this video are also worth your time from yet another great guide by Swtorista, FibroJedi’s tips for saving credits, OdBucko’s progression videos, and Aravail’s fantastic commentary on Galactic Command which I really, really hope the good folks at Bioware watch.

I’ll be translating more Aurebesh later the week as I keep my fingers crossed for good news from Thursday’s Bioware livestream.

 

Comments Off on The Last Jedi

Filed under General Star Wars

Rest in Peace Carrie Fisher

 

Comments Off on Rest in Peace Carrie Fisher

Filed under General Star Wars

Rogue One Review

I liked Rogue One a lot, but I can’t say I loved it. It’s interesting that this is a movie that George Lucas would never have made. It was the mission of the old Expanded Universe to tell stories like this (indeed, this very story had been told several different ways already), but for me Star Wars was always a cinematic experience; neither the books nor even my beloved comics were ever fully able to capture that feeling of watching Star Wars on the big screen, nevertheless I cannot deny that Rogue One does a good job of getting me there.

The things that held it back for me seem to be pretty common complaints. I got used to the “new” Tarkin in an Okay-Dick-Sargent-is-now-playing-Darrin kind of way, but the second computer generated cameo took me out of the moment. I didn’t think “Hey! It’s Princess Leia!” Instead it was, “Oh, that’s CGI Leia.” The Force Awakens and Rogue One end on almost identical beats, but I don’t feel like’s Leia’s appearance matched the power of Luke’s. On an extremely nitpicky note, I also felt like Vader was just a little off. Maybe it was the way the helmet was filmed, but it seemed like his neck was too thick.

I think a fair argument can be made that Rogue One leans too heavily into the fan service, but as one of those fans, I’m not going to complain. I do think it keeps the movie from standing on its own. I would not suggest to someone who has never seen Star Wars that they should watch Rogue One before Episode 4.

Probably the most damning thing I could say is that Rogue One kind of felt like a Marvel movie: Jyn’s arc is straight from the Tony Stark playbook, the villain was the least interesting character, and Vader fills the role of Loki. I was left feeling like many of the characters’ best stories happened before the movie. Who wouldn’t want to watch a Baze and Chirrut buddy movie? Or see Jyn’s life on the run with Saw Gerrera? And I can even imagine a paranoid workplace drama featuring Galen, Bodhi and Krennic. I thought the cast was very good, but a bit under-used and part of me wishes I could’ve seen them in a story where I didn’t already know how it ends. That’s probably where the Expanded Universe might have had an edge over Disney. A comic book series featuring Cassian Andor, Rebel Spy and his sassy droid would’ve made perfect sense back in the day.

All that said, oh, what fun! My previous complaint about the CGI characters aside, the effects were great. Every single shot of the Death Star was terrifying. The sight of a Star Destroyer looming over Jedha sums up the Empire perfectly. The climatic battle in space and on the planet was amazing. And I will never, ever complain about new types of Stormtroopers. I even bought my first Black Series figure to get a Scarif Trooper since I couldn’t find a regular size version. No regrets.

 

Comments Off on Rogue One Review

Filed under General Star Wars