Tag Archives: Princess Leia

Star Wars 40th Anniversary Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

SWTFA_wallaper_Mac

Since episodes I through VI are universally known by the fans who read these reviews I thought it best to avoid reviewing their respective stories and instead discuss my feelings on the films in general and my overall impressions of them. However, since The Force Awakens is more recent I am going to review it in a more traditional manner by going over the plot in more detail. Obviously this means there are going to be spoilers in this review and if you haven’t seen the film yet (which I kinda doubt by this point) it may be best to turn away.

For the rest of you who have seen the film or at the very least those of you who don’t give a womp rat’s butt about spoilers here goes:

The Force Awakens is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi in a galaxy so far away that there are no Yuuzhan Vong around, Chewbacca is still alive, and the Solo family only had one child. And there is not a sign of any Mara Jades, Kyp Durrons, or Jaxxon the Green Rodents to be found. If Disney’s axing Jaxxon from the canon infuriates you then avert your eyes from The Force Awakens.

The story opens with the opening crawl declaring that Luke Skywalker is missing and General Leia, who is leading a Resistance against an evil organisation called The First Order, has dispatched her best pilot Poe Dameron to find him.

On the desert planet, Jakku, Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) receives from an old man named Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow of Ingmar Bergman fame) a star map which will reveal the location of Luke Skywalker when combined with additional maps. The other maps are thankfully all stored in R2-D2’s memory banks so the Resistance doesn’t need to go looking for them, but getting this final piece to R2 may be harder than it sounds.
Their meeting is interrupted by a sudden attack of First Order Stormtroopers led by a Dark Side user (he’s not a Sith, remember that) named Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver). With Kylo is a chrome plated stormtrooper named Captain Phasma (played by Brienne of Tarth herself, Gwendoline Christie).
To prevent the First Order from getting the star map to Skywalker Poe gives the it to BB-8, his ball-shaped astromech side kick. He tells the droid to get as far away as possible and find a way to get the map to the Leia.
Lor San Tekka is soon killed and Poe Dameron is captured and taken to Kylo’s Star Destroyer. Kylo Ren orders Captain Phasma to have all the villagers from where Lor San Tekka resided to be executed, but one of the Stormtroopers named FN-2187 (played by John Boyega) is too horrified by the carnage to take action and watches in silence.
Meanwhile, BB-8 wanders the desert when he is nearly captured by a junk dealing alien named Teedo before he is rescued by a young woman named Rey (played by Daisy Ridley). She, who can understand astromech language, reluctantly lets the droid follow her, but resists at first only giving in when the little robot tugs at her heart strings by making wimpering sounds. Why she didn’t want BB-8 following her in the first place is beyond me since the droid took up little space and it wasn’t like she needed to feed it.
Rey lives by herself in an abandoned ruin that was once an AT-AT and she makes a living scavenging parts which she sells to a dealer named Unkar Plutt who gives her meager payment which she spends on food. She has lived on Jakku since she was a little girl and she hopes some day that her family will come back for her. Spoiler: They don’t.

Elsewhere, Poe Dameron is being interrogated and tortured by Kylo Ren until he is forced to reveal the location of the map. When he finds out that the map is located in a BB unit he informs his colleague and rival, General Hux (played by Domhnall Gleeson). While preparations are made to return to Jakku, FN-2187 finds Poe Dameron and busts him out of his cell. FN, whom Poe nicknames Finn, decides he wants nothing to do with the First Order and he defects. But, lacking the training to pilot a TIE Fighter being an obstacle he recruits Poe Dameron to help him.
How a low ranking stormtrooper whose specialty is sanitation knows the high-profile prisoner aboard is a pilot for the Resistance is beyond me. Either the First Order is fairly open with their intel or some water cooler gossipers are overdue for a good Force choking.

They steal an X-Wing, but they are almost instantaneously shot down and crash on Jakku. Finn survives, but Poe Dameron is nowhere to be found and Finn assumes his new friend is dead. He treads through the desert until he reaches Niima Outpost where BB-8 and Rey happen to be at the time. BB-8 spots Finn and recognises the jacket he is wearing which he scavenged from the crash. BB-8 tells Rey that this is Poe’s jacket and she charges at Finn with her big stick and knocks him over. She demands to know where he got the jacket and he tells her that he is with the Resistance and the jacket belonged to Poe Dameron who gave it to him.

Before any introductions can be made they get attacked by low flying TIE Fighters hellbent on retrieving BB-8 and the map.
Rey, Finn, and the droid escape inside the Millennium Falcon which happened to be in the possession of Unkar Plutt and take off. Just moments after going into hyperspace they get caught and are tractor-beamed into a large cargo freighter. The Falcon is boarded by none other than Han and Chewie themselves who are pleased to have their old ship back. Apparently in the past several years the ship had passed hands from thief to thief and having tracked it down, Han is intent on claiming it back. When Han sees that Rey, Finn, and BB-8 are not hostile he decides not to lock them in the brig. When he learns that the droid is carrying a partial map to Luke Skywalker he tells Rey that years ago Luke had tried to start a Jedi academy, but a young student rebelled, turned to the Dark Side, and destroyed it all. Luke felt responsible and he fled in search of the first Jedi temple. Kylo Ren, the boy who rebelled, who we learn is and Han and Leia’s son had venerated Darth Vader and sought to mimic him. He joined a Dark Side cult called the Knights of Ren and changed his name from Ben Solo to Kylo Ren. Han became devastated over his son’s betrayal and left Leia to return to a life of smuggling. Leia continued leading the Resistance against the First Order which is being led by an evil being called Supreme Leader Snoke (voiced by Andy Serkis of Gollum fame). The origins of Snoke, the First Order, and the Knights of Ren are not elaborated on in this movie and barring reading the new canon material I feel that most of the information that is missing is going to be expanded upon in The Last Jedi.

After Han discusses the state of the Galaxy they are suddenly boarded by pirates who are bent on collecting a bounty on Solo’s head. This goes poorly for the pirates, however, when Rey accidentally opens all the cell doors containing Han’s cargo. The cargo happens to be giant man-eating rathtars which are basically huge tentacled monstrosities that make the dianoga in the trash compactor in A New Hope look like a kitten. While the unfortunate pirates are getting devoured by the rathtars our heroes escape in the Falcon and leave the cargo ship behind.
They head to Takodana to meet a thousand-year old alien woman named Maz Kanata who runs a bar that hosts a variety of unsavoury patrons, but is a good and friendly source for information. Like Lor San Tekka she venerates the Force while not being a Force-sensitive herself. When the main characters arrive she detects Han’s presence almost immediately and shouts his name across the bar.
Because that is what friends do. They loudly and obnoxiously declare the presence of their friends with bounties on their heads in a seedy bar. This goes exactly as expected and while Maz and Han converse several patrons secretly dispatch messages to the First Order notifying them that BB-8 and by extension the map to Luke are here.
Maz tells Rey that she has the power of the Force within her and that she can use it to fight the First Order. Rey refuses as she still believes her family will come for her on Jakku. She storms off but starts to hear a child crying in the bar’s cellar. She goes down to investigate and finds that the sound is emanating from a wooden trunk in a closet. She opens the trunk and finds inside an old lightsaber. When she grabs it she is suddenly plunged into a Force vision in which she sees her younger self dropped off on Jakku crying for those who abandoned her to come back. This is followed by images of Luke sitting by R2, Kylo killing students at the Jedi academy, and visions of locations such as Bespin. When the vision ends she is accosted by Maz Kanata who tells her to take the lightsaber which once belonged to Anakin and later Luke Skywalker. But Rey refuses despite Maz’s pleas that Rey’s future is ahead and not back on Jakku waiting for someone who isn’t gonna come back. I am not sure why Rey is so upset. I would have been relieved. If I was in a seedy backwater bar and heard a child crying in the cellar my first assumption would not be Force vision.

Rey runs off into the woods and around this time the First Order arrives and attacks Takodana. But before doing so they demonstrate the full power of their new super-weapon, Starkiller Base. This weapon is a moon whose core has been converted into a device that can annihilate several planets at once. With this weapon the entire Hosnian Prime system (It’s not Coruscant so you can stop saying that!) which is the current seat of the New Republic is wiped out.
Han, Chewie, and Finn manage to get out of Maz’s bar and the old woman gives Finn the lightsaber Rey wouldn’t take. Finn who is trained in melee as well as blaster combat proves effective with the blade and takes out several stormtroopers with it (TRAITOR!).
However, in the end Han, Finn, and Chewie are captured by the overwhelming forces and Rey is abducted in the woods by Kylo Ren who takes her to his Star Destroyer; though Han and his gang are soon rescued by the Resistance who fly in with a squadron of TIE Fighters led by Poe Dameron who is alive and well. After the First Order flee a Resistance shuttle lands and out comes General Leia and C-3PO who is sporting a red arm. Don’t ask; the canon explanation is really quite stupid.
After a brief bonding moment Han tells Leia he saw their son carrying Rey away. The heroes all head to the Resistance base on D’Qar and discuss plans to destroy Starkiller Base. Finn who has fessed up to being a former Stormtrooper by now claims that he knows the inner workings of the facility and can help them not only rescue Rey, but also destroy the base. The base is heavily shielded which protects it from attack, but Han and his friends devise a plan to infiltrate the base and plant explosives that would shut down the shielding system.
They take the Falcon to the base and get to the surface of the moon by taking advantage of the shield’s refresh rate. The Falcon has a rough landing but they all make it in one piece. Inside the base they find Rey who had already escaped by herself using a Jedi Mind Trick on one of the guards (fun fact: he’s played Daniel Craig in an uncredited cameo!). After Maz told her she could use the Force Rey apparently decided to try it by using her guard as a test subject.
After Han and Chewie plant the explosives Solo sees his son Ben walking along a catwalk. Han calls out to him and tries to convince him to come home and leave the First Order and the Knights of Ren. Kylo feigns remorse and offers to let his father take his lightsaber. Unfortunately, when Han make a grab for it Kylo Ren ignites it and the blade penetrates through Han Solo’s chest. The wounds are fatal and the last thing Han Solo does before he dies is take his hand and gently touches his son’s face before falling off the catwalk to his death. While I am not the biggest fan of how Han is killed off for reasons I will get into later, I do like this scene as it shows how Han feels about his son. Touching his son affectionately was his way of showing Ben that he forgave him and still loved him at the end. We see Han Solo grow in the Star Wars films from a cynical self-serving scoundrel to a loving father who firmly believed in the good of the Jedi and the Light Side of the Force.
Chewie roars in grief and immediately ignites the bombs effectively shutting down the shielding network for Starkiller Base. The Resistance then attacks and destroys crucial segments of the base causing it to begin to explode and fall apart. As the forests of the moon begin to quake and come apart Rey and Finn encounter Kylo Ren for one last time on their way to the Falcon. Finn tries to take him out in lightsaber combat but is easily overcome by Kylo’s superior skills and he is wounded and rendered unconscious. Rey draws upon the Force a second time and Force pulls the lightsaber to herself. She then fights Kylo Ren in a duel that is both raw and rough demonstrating both of their need for further training. Rey eventually gets the upper hand and slashes upward and strikes her enemy in the face. He survives but is badly injured and she and Chewbacca take Finn back to the Falcon to escape the base that is falling to pieces around them. As they leave Snoke tells General Hux to retrieve Kylo Ren so he can finish his training.

While Chewbacca is aboard the Falcon weeping for his lost friend Rey pilots the Millennium Falcon back to D’Qar. At the base R2 takes the map and adds it to a larger map revealing that Luke Skywalker is on a water planet consisting of small islands called Ahch-To. There Rey takes the Falcon with just herself and R2-D2 and finds the ruins of an old temple. She climbs the steps and after several hours she finds an old man in a Jedi robe standing looking over a cliff. He turns around and looks at her revealing himself to be the long lost Luke Skywalker. Rey opens her pack and takes out his lightsaber. The same lightsaber he lost on Bespin thirty years ago. She holds it out to him with a look that is almost pleading in its intensity and he looks at her with a quizzical and somewhat sad expression as she holds the weapon toward him. Before Luke utters a word the film ends cutting to credits leaving its audience two years to wait to to hear him say anything.

Now what did I think of The Force Awakens? Well, I liked it a lot. I think it is a step in the right direction for the Star Wars films which had hitherto degenerated into convoluted plots with little to no character development and an overabundance of CGI and green and blue screen photography. Episode VII uses more practical effects and actual sets, balancing state-of-the-art special effects with old methods that have withstood the test of time.
The story is very reminiscent of the original trilogy and the characters have colour and interesting characteristics unlike the Prequels which tended to ignore the characters in favour of expanding the backstory. Some have complained that The Force Awakens borrowed too heavily from A New Hope and while I can see what they are referring to I never saw it as an issue. The Phantom Menace does the same thing if you really think about and I think at this point it should be realised that Star Wars is like a musical composition or an epic narrative poem that repeats and rimes themes, motifs, and ideas to form a rhythmic symphony.
I do, however, have reservations about Starkiller base. It seems a bit cheap to add another super weapon to the mix. The Death Star II was an unoriginal and unimaginative bit of overkill itself and Starkiller Base is no better. The fact that it is bigger, can destroy more than one planet at a time, and is built inside of a moon is not a major difference to me. I only wish Ben Kenobi was there. I know what he would have said: “That’s no moon. It’s a space station….and also a moon.”

Speaking of Ben Kenobi I find it a bit odd that Han and Leia decided to name their son after him. Leia never knew the man and Han only met him briefly and Han spent the entire time mocking him. It was Luke who connected with the old man, not Han and Leia. I think the old EU made the smarter choice in having it be Luke who named a child Ben and not Han. They might as well have had Han name his son Owen or something. It makes no sense.
I also seriously dislike the way Han is killed off. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with Han Solo’s character dying. Done correctly it would have added a dimension to the story that would have been both meaningful and emotional for the viewers and the characters. But, this is not the case though. There is no sacrifice and Han seems to achieve no end that benefits his friends. He is simply tricked by a false redemption and killed for it. Han didn’t die saving anyone. He didn’t die doing something that benefited the heroes or the Resistance. He just died. And the revelation that he had not been with Leia at this time also negatively affects the impact this scene could have had. I am not sure why the writers even thought we wanted to see this. Why would they think we, the fans, wanted to find out the love story between Han and Leia fell apart? It would have been better if Han had remained with Leia and stayed with the Resistance. That would have added a stronger meaning to his death a deeper sense of loss. Han Solo’s death was a missed opportunity and I was disappointed.

For the most part, though, I have had no issues with the story and I found it a welcome addition to the Star Wars saga. I like the characters, new creatures, and space ships; and I like how Kylo Ren contrasts Luke in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In those films Luke struggled with the temptation to turn to the Dark Side and resisted until he made a final resolution to be a Jedi by tossing his lightsaber aside. Here, Kylo does the opposite. Ben Solo is tempted to the Light Side of the Force and resists its pull. This is a concept we have never seen in Star Wars before and I find it a unique take on an individual’s relationship with the Force. And like Luke he makes a decision to demonstrate his final resolve. In this case, by slaying his own father.

There is another complaint that I have with this film that I also share with Attack of the Clones. The music.
John Williams is a master composer and all of his Star Wars soundtracks are masterpieces. However, some of them are less good than others and Episode II and Episode VII’s soundtracks are the black sheep of the bunch. The music in both of these films are not that memorable and only a few tracks stick out to me.
Also I am not sure if I am the only who noticed this, but the first note that plays when the words STAR WARS appear on the screen doesn’t sound the same as it does in the other six episodes. Listen and compare next time. It’s a little different.

Another thing I have noticed that few others did is relating to Kylo Ren’s name. When I first heard the announcement that his name was going to be Kylo Ren I was appalled. The reason for this was that I had watched some of the old 1980’s Droids cartoons when I was a kid and I distinctly remember there being a villain named Kybo Ren. He was a portly, mustache-twirling, midriff-showing pirate who always referred to himself in the third person. In a word, he was ridiculous! The fact that the villain in The Force Awakens is called Kylo Ren cannot be a coincidence and the decision baffles me. That would be like making a movie about a badass action hero and then naming him Dorrest Gump! It’s such an odd thing to do.

If The Force Awakens seems to lack something to the viewer; whether it be the lack of memorable music, unique planets, or a story that expands on the lore in a major way, I understand where you are coming from. I have similar gripes. Episode VII takes too few risks. The planets are mundane and are not much different than anything else we have seen before. The music sounds tame and standard. And the plot feels small and less epic than the last few Star Wars films we have seen. There is a certain characteristic dullness to The Force Awakens’s aesthetic and the more I watch the movie the more I become aware of it. It hasn’t led me to hate the movie or even put it on a par with the Prequels, but I do think it had some lacklustre aspects that did hurt it inevitably.
However, I am truly expecting more from The Last Jedi and I am excited to see where we are taken next in this galaxy far, far away. Despite its imperfections The Force Awakens is a refreshing revival of the Star Wars films and it is an awakening we have all felt. I believe Episode VII is only our first step into a larger world.

This review series and other Star Wars related blogs can be found at my own blog Star Wars EU Reviews.

Advertisements

Star Wars 40th Anniversary Review: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

428996

Return of the Jedi, while being the weakest film in the original trilogy, is still a masterpiece. Luke’s own Hero’s Journey reaches it’s culmination in this movie and it is beautifully and artfully done in such a way that is both moving and exciting.
People have tons of fun making fun of Luke for how much he whines, needs his friends to rescue him, and is brash to the point of being a liability. But, in all fairness close examination of this movie in comparison to the previous two reveals how admirable a man Luke Skywalker actually becomes.
Disillusionment with one’s ideals is not uncommon in the growth of any adult especially when we see those whom we admired and imitated show their own flaws and imperfections to us. Luke Skywalker was a young dreamer who wanted to become a Jedi Knight like his own father and never stopped to consider how hard a life that would be for him. One can only imagine the bitter blow it would be to discover that the man he admired and made a role model was not who he thought he was. We all discover eventually that our own parents are human and imperfect, but rarely do we discover that they are evil! I truly admire and give credit to Luke’s character because a lesser man would have become cynical at the revelation that his role model was nothing more than a lie. Luke, on the other hand, stuck to the principle of his ideals and reacted to the truth of his father’s identity by attempting to turn his father back to the ideals that he had rejected decades ago. And when failure seemed inevitable Luke stuck to his guns in the face of certain death. He stood there even to the point of tossing his weapon aside and declared himself “a Jedi like my father before me.” If Darth Vader had ignored his son’s pleas for help Luke would not have given up and turned to the Dark Side to survive. Death was an option. Turning to the Dark Side was not. After truly considering all that I dare anyone to seriously call Luke a pansy.

And Darth Vader’s conversion to the Light Side of the Force and his final moments with his son is my absolute favourite scene in the entire Star Wars franchise. It’s a beautiful, moving, and meaningful finale that puts George Lucas high up on the list of great storytellers.

Sadly this film is rife with imperfections and flaws in its other parts. The epic final showdown with the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire is disappointing and drags more than it excites. The chemistry between Han, Leia, Chewie, the droids, and other characters is no where near as good as it was in The Empire Strikes Back and much of it falls flat and is overshadowed by Luke and Vader’s story.

The second Death Star is a very lame mcguffin to threaten the Rebels with since we already seen one of those in A New Hope. The lack of originality is a gaping problem with Return of the Jedi and as fantastic as the space battle is it doesn’t make up for the utterly absurd manner in which the Empire is taken down. The Ewoks are clearly a marketing gimmick to sell toys and make the film appeal to very little children, but for the rest of us who wanted an epic and believable conclusion to the Rebellion against the Empire we are disappointed with seeing care bears with stone age spears and slingshots take out a battle-hardened, heavily armed, and thoroughly trained Imperial military. It’s stupid, pure and simple, and the only commendable thing to come of the Ewoks was Warwick Davis’s future career which I have enjoyed immensely.

I also feel that the first half hour of Return of the Jedi really drags. The Jabba’s Palace sequence feels like a failed attempt to recapture the novelty of the Cantina scene in A New Hope, but the music the band plays sucks in both the original version and the Special Edition (although the Special Edition is admittedly worse) and I find myself thinking the scene would have been better if Jabba had booked Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes rather than Sy Snootles and her crew. It also would have spared us the excruciating Special Edition scene in which Boba Fett flirts with some of the female singers. Boba Fett is such an overrated chump as it is we really don’t need to mess with him more by having him getting distracted by a pair of legs and flashing eyelashes at a dingy party.

And if I am jumping on the Boba Fett is overrated bandwagon it is only because I sincerely sit in that camp. He had Han Solo handed over to him by a Sith Lord in a frozen block of carbonite before he could be bothered to take him in and after Han woke up feverish and blind as a bat he still managed to overcome the heavily armed bounty hunter with a stick. I wouldn’t hire Boba Fett to win an Easter egg hunt!

Also what the hell is up with Leia at Jabba’s Palace? She was tortured, drugged, and imprisoned by a Dark Lord of the Sith and yet still remained the independent spitfire we all know and love. But, now she gets captured and put in a degrading slave outfit by a fat gangster who needs help moving to the bathroom and suddenly that shuts her up? Whatever happened to telling Grand Moffs they smell bad, accusing Darth Vader of being on a leash, and calling the coolest man in the Galaxy a laserbrain and a nerfherder? After enduring physical torture and seeing her homeworld annihilated you would think a perverted slug would be just another day at the office; but, no, she is now broken, tamed, and needs Luke and Han Solo to rescue her. I am calling bull!
And don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining about the slave outfit itself. That puberty-inducing getup suits the straight male in me just fine. I just don’t like seeing Leia rendered inert by it. Her strength should not have been sapped by humiliation and I wholeheartedly object to it.

It’s the Jabba’s Palace and Endor stuff that really keeps this film from being perfect. But, the epic conclusion of Luke Skywalker’s path to being a Jedi and Anakin Skywalker’s redemption more than makes up for those imperfections and combining that with the groundbreaking special effects, John Williams’s score, Ben Burtt’s sound design, and all the other talents who put their innovative mark on Return of the Jedi are what make this movie a masterpiece. Adding it to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and The Original Star Wars Trilogy is to this day one of the greatest screen epics ever made along side with Coppola’s Godfather films (which also had a weak third entry), Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and cinematic treasures like Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Ben-Hur. If people ask me why I love Star Wars so much and need a short answer I won’t point to all the multi-media, comics, games, books, and fan conventions. I will point to these three films by themselves as a whole and let them know that these films are what make me love Star Wars.
I have seen some hardcore EU lovers who have admitted that if the EU had not existed they probably would not care for the Star Wars movies all that much and that seriously bothers me. I have even heard one guy comment that by themselves the Original Trilogy movies were merely quaint and it was the EU that truly made Star Wars meaningful to him. While far be it from me to dispute one’s right to a subjective opinion, I do wonder at how someone could look at these films and see something quaint or uninteresting.
The Original Star Wars trilogy is enough for me. As much as I love the EU, I could live with just A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Boil it down to its purest essence and it is these three masterpieces that are what Star Wars truly is and I, for one, hold them in highest honour.

Check tomorrow for a review of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars 40th Anniversary Review: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

empire-strikes-back-wallpaper-1

The Empire Strikes Back is my favourite of the entire Star Wars saga and I think it is no surprise that so many other people feel the same way. Having the best pacing of all the films, a complex and engaging story, great writing and character development, a thorough exploration of the nature of the Force, some of the best music, and a darker and maturer tone are all ingredients that make a near perfect film.

The chemistry between Han Solo and Princess Leia is perfectly written and handled resulting in a romance somewhat reminiscent of Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh in Gone With the Wind which I believe is far superior to the cringe-inducing and unconvincing romance between Anakin and Padme in the Prequels. More on that in a later review.

The droids are at the top of their form in this one and the separation from each other throughout the majority of the movie allows both of their characters to shine brighter. Threepio is still hilarious as always and his frustration and confusion in dealing with the volatile and irritable Han Solo provides some of the best comedy in the film.
In fact, the entire sequence involving Leia, Han, Chewie, and Threepio is one of the best demonstrations of how character development and character interaction is properly done.

Luke’s training on Dagobah is still to this day the best exploration of the Force seen in the films. Even the highly Jedi-centric Prequels never gave us as much depth and thought-provoking material on the philosophy behind the Force than the scenes with Luke and Yoda on Dagobah.

In A New Hope the bad guys had much less screen time, but here we get almost as much of them as we do the good guys. Darth Vader is amazingly bad ass in The Empire Strikes Back compared to A New Hope and Return of the Jedi in which he is treated more as if he was on someone’s leash rather than the commanding Dark Lord of the Sith who in this movie absolutely rules every scene he is in. His looming figure, shiny helmet, and epic theme music that plays every time he enters a room is enough to terrify any Imperial officer and with good reason. He doesn’t accept apologies for failure and if your clumsiness is proportionally equal to your stupidity then you better be ready to get Force choked.

The Empire Strikes Back has such great dialogue that it is readily the most quotable Star Wars film ever made. Darth Vader’s “Apology accepted, Captain Needa” is just fantastic and “Take the professor back and plug him into the hyperdrive” is still my favourite Han Solo quip of all time.
And when we talk about dialogue we cannot forget the wisdom of Yoda. “Do or do not. There is no try” is so classic that seeing Star Wars is unnecessary to recognising it. And adding to the mix “Always in motion is the future”, “Wars don’t make one great”, and “Luminous beings are we; not this crude matter” it soon becomes apparent that alien muppets make the best spiritual gurus.

John Williams’ score for The Empire Strikes back has turned up some of the saga’s best pieces such as The Imperial March, The Battle in the Snow, Yoda and the Force, and The Asteroid Field which are iconic and prove that Williams will always be the master unlikely to be paralleled or rivaled. Kevin Kiner and Michael Giacchino are good, but they can only be padawans to the Jedi Maestro that is John Williams.

While I said earlier that the pacing in this film was the best of the saga I would mention that some people have griped about how badly synced up the timeline is with Luke’s training and the Falcon crew’s time in Cloud City. It’s said that the training that Luke went through must have taken a period of weeks (maybe even months) while the Falcon’s journey seems to only take maybe a few days at the most. However, I really do not think this is a big deal and even if it was we should consider that Luke had successfully used the Force on Hoth to retrieve his lightsaber and we already know that three years ago he used the Force to destroy the Death Star. Three years of practising using the Force unaided by a master is nothing to scoff at and it would not be surprising me if Luke’s training on Dagobah was only about a week long before he left for Bespin. He is naturally talented and one should bear in mind that Yoda told Luke he was not ready to face Vader yet which means we know he didn’t even complete his training before leaving. I think the timeline is just fine.

All in all what have packaged in The Empire Strikes Back is a near perfect film that continues to impress me every time I rewatch it.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s review of Return of the Jedi and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars 40th Anniversary Review: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

P4FWQ1Y

Today is the 40th anniversary of the movie I am reviewing. This is a momentous occasion for the millions of fans; many of which who are going to celebrate in their own way. Some will go cosplaying, digging out and dusting off old Star Wars books, comics, and video games; others will talk about Star Wars with friends, and some like myself are going to spend the next few days marathoning the series.

In the 40 years since its inception Star Wars has been unrivaled in the impact it has had on popular culture. Special effects films were never the same again since its release when it shook Hollywood at the core and completely reshaped the trends of filmmaking at the time. With the popularity of Jaws, American Graffiti, and the Planet of the Apes franchise helping pave the way before it, Star Wars had suddenly given birth to the summer blockbuster. It is thanks to Star Wars that cinema has given us Indiana Jones, Alien, Terminator, Back to the Future, The Lord of the Rings films, and the immensely popular multitude of DC and Marvel movies that get released once or twice a year.

And not only was cinema affected. I could go on and on about how Star Wars changed the future of merchandising, created an unparalleled multimedia franchise involving books, games, comics, TV shows, etc.; engendered a fandom so massive that millions of people including celebrities turn up at conventions once a year; and I could even go on about people I have seen who made Star Wars a career. For example, there are Youtubers who work hard daily producing content on nothing but Star Wars. There are even people who make it a hobby and don’t even get paid for it. These are types of people who collect Star Wars toys, dress up as their favourite characters, and even spend a couple hours a day writing blogs and reviews about Star Wars. Get a life, right?

But seriously, as I said, I really could go on forever. But what I am here to do is review the movie that started it at all and changed everything for the next 40 years.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope came out in theatres on 25 May 1977. The film, which at the time was only titled Star Wars, was a smash hit and before the year was over a sequel was being discussed, the main actors became instantaneous household names, and Hollywood producers were scrambling fast to cash in on and imitate its success. In the wake of Star Wars films like Alien and Star Trek: The Motion Picture were made which spawn blockbuster sequels of their own.

There are many people who remember first going to see Star Wars back in 1977 and will wax nostalgic about the entire 40 year ride of fandom since then. Alas, I am not one of them. Having been born in 1992 I was first introduced to Star Wars when the film was just old enough to get a drivers license. I was of the last generation to first see Star Wars prior to the 1997 Special Editions having had them on VHS when I was very young. I am half tempted to delve into anecdotes of my obsession with Star Wars when I was a 5 year old, but, as I write what is already becoming an overlong intro I realise that would address Star Wars as a whole and not this particular film that I am reviewing.
But, to be perfectly honest, do I really need to even bother? I mean it’s Star Wars! If you are the sort of person who needs to read a review of Star Wars then, frankly, you really have no reason following this blog.
And to be perfectly honest I am not even entirely sure what to say. I have went on about how it affected everything and changed the landscape of pop culture and fandom, but to me that is just trivia. That’s not personal. I wasn’t even alive when the original trilogy was released and I certainly wasn’t old enough to appreciate its affect on the future of cinema when I first saw them.

So what should a review of this subject consist of then? We already know the story. It would be insulting to the reader for me to review it the same I review the comics. We all know about the farm boy Luke Skywalker and his meeting with Threepio and Artoo which led him to Obi-Wan Kenobi. We know about Darth Vader and the Death Star. We know Senator Princess Leia of Alderaan is secretly a rebel leader. We know the secret base is on Yavin 4. We know how the Death Star solved Alderaan’s overpopulation problem. And we know how Luke blew up the Death Star after the rebellion ingeniously decided to give the controls of an expensive X-Wing over to an unknown 19 year old hillbilly from Tatooine who likes to turn their ships’ vital targeting systems off because the voices in his head tell him to. We know all that stuff. And we know it’s a great story. It has all the mythological and epic tropes of a classic fairy tale or fantasy. And it has all the fanciful space operatic worldbuilding found in great stories like Asimov’s Foundation or Dune. It has robots, wild western saloons with aliens for riffraff, space ships, princesses, smugglers, giant furry dogmen who hate losing chess, and weird old men waving shiny sticks around raving about invisible powers. In essence, it has everything we love.

Of all the seven currently released Star Wars movies A New Hope is the one that feels the most like a traditional fairy tell. It has all the colourful characters who tag along bit by bit, the evil sorcerers, the good sorcerers, the weird creatures, storming an enemy’s fortress, and it has a clear beginning and ending. It’s very much a classic yarn about a faraway place in a distant time that entertains both young and old. It’s a modern fairy tale in space.

While it is not my personal favourite of the Star Wars films it is arguably still its best. It does everything perfectly: telling a complete easy-to-follow story which loses none of its charm or rewatchability as the decades go by.

The only thing that can mitigate perhaps the film’s greatness is the fact that we may be too familiar with it. Knowing the story, the dialogue, the characters, and even the pacing of A New Hope so well it is hard to approach it any more without it starting to feel like white noise. Approaching it with new and fresh eyes becomes harder and harder and this makes it easier for us to miss any hidden gems the film has to offer that we had never noticed before. When a sight, layout, or image remains constant after awhile we stop really seeing it and it bothers me when I become conscious that this has happened to Star Wars. That is why tonight when I watch Star Wars in celebration of its 40th birthday I am going to cut out all distractions. The computer gets logged off and turned off, no fiddling with phones or tablets, no running back and forth from the kitchen for snacks, pure unadulterated attention, no heavy sluggishness-inducing foods like pizza to make me more docile, and no growth acceleration.
Basically, what I am trying to say is that I am going to watch Star Wars closely and soak it all in. See if I might just catch something new. I think the best birthday gift I can give A New Hope on it’s 40th anniversary is my full and complete attention. Just because we have had it for so long it doesn’t mean it needs to become white noise. All those years ago Star Wars was our first step into a larger world and however you choose to celebrate this special occasion we would be remiss to not pay our respects.

Before I go I would like to address the bantha in the room which are the 1997 Special Editions and the subsequent edits made since. Even though most fans seem to agree that the original theatrical editions were the superior versions the Special Editions have still succeeded in generating controversy. Many fans, myself included, feel that tampering with the movies was unnecessary and nigh to vandalism; and many have taken particular exception to certain changes that were made. Greedo shooting first is a notorious example, and there are also the extra content of Jabba the Hutt, adding obnoxious aliens to Mos Eisley, and other offences.
George Lucas’s reasoning for having Greedo shoot first makes no sense to me. He believes that having Han shoot Greedo in cold blood was too brutal for a future hero and he cites John Wayne as a proper frontier hero who displays unflinching honour and decorum during gunplay. Having seen The Searchers I know that to be utter nonsense. John Wayne has played absolutely despicable characters before and, besides, having Han Solo start off soft utterly lessens his transformation from a self-absorbed criminal to a sympathiser and patriot of the Rebellion. Character transformation is vital to good storytelling and the best stories make heavy use of it. Just watch Breaking Bad and you’ll know what I mean.
The Jabba the Hutt sequence was just unnecessary as most of his dialogue is just repeated from what Greedo was saying to Han in the cantina. The CGI in this scene is horrendous and subsequent attempts to fix it in later releases have only improved it marginally.
The only change that feels like a genuine improvement is the destruction of the Death Star which enhances what originally was nothing more than a glorified handful of sparks.
You know what would have been a good change? The lightsabers. You can’t sit there and tell me the lightsabers could not have been improved with CGI. The scene with Luke training against the remote aboard the Millennium Falcon still looks horrible. The blue blade is so washed out that it looks almost white. The lightsabers in this movie lack the vibrancy of colour that we will see in later films. Instead of fixing that George Lucas got too busy making Ewoks blink, adding aliens where they are not wanted, and reinserting scenes that were deleted for a reason.
I really hope one of these days Lucasfilm and Disney gets the right idea and releases the unaltered versions of the trilogy on Blu-ray. With the VHS, Laserdisc, and Betamax players no longer readily available there are no decent versions of the original trilogy to watch. There were Limited Edition DVD’s that contained them as a bonus discs, however those were direct transfers of the Laserdiscs and they look awful, sound awful, and are virtually unwatchable if you are using a large screen TV.
Oh well, no matter what stains and blemishes that may have been added to A New Hope it doesn’t cease to be a great movie and an immensely entertaining experience.

Check tomorrow for a review of The Empire Strikes Back and may the Force be with you.

Remembering Carrie Fisher

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

2n069gy.jpg

Having just learned of Carrie Fisher’s passing a few minutes ago I am still trying to gather my thoughts from the shock and find something appropriate to say. The loss of Kenny Baker earlier this year and the death of Carrie are both hard pills to swallow. I grew up with Star Wars and every character from the films were like old friends to me that I would revisit from time to time.
Having been born in the early 90’s I never got to see the Original Trilogy when it first came out, but Star Wars was in my consciousness from the very beginning. I do not remember the day when I was first introduced to the Saga because for me it was always there. Star Wars was something that seemed to have always existed for me growing up and so naturally the characters felt equally omnipresent.
To my mind Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher form The Big Three; an iconic triad who represent the series. This morning we lost one of them and the world will not be the same.

Princess Leia was arguably my first crush on a fictional character as a young boy and she was probably the first fictional princess I ever saw on film. I am quite certain Star Wars was already firmly in my consciousness before I was introduced to Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the other Disney princesses who have been sadly marketed to death lately.
Star Wars represented a lot of “firsts” for me and Carrie Fisher played her role in more than a few of them. As I said she was the first princess I saw on film. And she was my first crush. I was very young and I doubt I fully comprehended the feelings she evoked in my prepubescent mind when I first saw her in that slave outfit, but probably the less I speak of the indelible impact that left on me the better. But there were other firsts she represented too. And not just for me, but for others.
Hollywood was already well on its way toward being open to representing women as more independent than just winnable “dames” and quasi-romantic objects to be rescued and/or tamed; but Star Wars really thrust a strong female character into the mainstream spotlight for the first time for a lot of younger audiences. Star Wars was aimed at children as well as adults and this means that impressionable young minds were being exposed to progressive concepts that would shape them into better people as adults. Now young girls didn’t just have pathetic role models like Snow White and Fay Wray whose only skills were screaming in a nightgown or fancy dress for the big strong male protagonist to come rescue them. They now had Princess Leia, an idealistic hero who is just as skilled with a blaster as she is with her words and resolve. She isn’t needy, but her emotions are appropriately balanced so that she is still capable of love and warmth and charm. She could be comforted and comforting, but she could not be used and abused.
And it is not just young girls who can learn from Leia either. I firmly believe that a young man or boy who is exposed to stronger women in his youth is much less likely to grow up into an abusive, misogynistic neanderthal than the boys who have only seen weak, obedient, submissive “females” all his life. The young man who has a crush on Princess Leia is seeing a woman who is capable of free choice and surviving on her own.
When Luke Skywalker came to “rescue” Princess Leia one of the first things she does is snag his blaster from him, take out several Stormtroopers, and calmly find an escape route that Luke and Han were too distracted to find themselves. In essence she isn’t a big baby like Snow White screaming at trees or an airhead like Cinderella singing “So This is Love” at a man she just met and whose name she doesn’t even know.
And for many children Princess Leia was the one who first showed this more progressive side to femininity. And Carrie Fisher performed the role well.

After Star Wars Carrie’s roles tended to be a bit more obscure and I have to confess that I have seen very few of them. I am acquainted with her voice work on animated shows like Family Guy, but Star Wars is truly where I know her. She was my first Princess and my first crush. And as years went by as I kept watching Star Wars the depth of her character and every other character in Star Wars became clearer and garnered new insight. A true testament to how much Star Wars is as much for children as adults is how we find new things in its characters and story as we get older. Leia impresses me more and more as a grown man than as a boy and I hope my own daughter is similarly impressed by her growing up. I would rather see my little girl grow up to be like Princess Leia than a mewling damsel in distress.

I probably won’t see Carrie Fisher again until Episode VIII which will be nearly a full year since her passing. It will be a bittersweet moment for all of us.
Today we lost a talented, intelligent, funny (just watch her interviews), and beautiful individual who lives on in memory. All those wonderful people who have become one with the Force in recent years like Carrie Fisher, Kenny Baker, Drewe Henley, Richard LaParmentier, and Michael Leader should not be taken as a sore reminder of the mortality of life, but rather bittersweet and peaceful passings that prove that memory is a stronger giver of life than the temporal health of the body. None of these people are truly going anywhere. Memory and joy in that memory immortalises us all. May the Force be with them. Always.

R.I.P. Carrie Frances Fisher (October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016)

Star Wars EU Reviews: Marvel #18-23

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

11

At last a good story arc! Some of the previous one-issue stories were decent, but this is the first extended arc in the comics that actually has a good story to tell. Devoid of green rabbits and speedo-wearing space pirates issues #18-23 is a tale of intrigue and complexity that respects its characters and actually delves into the Force where previous issues avoided the subject. Here marks the beginning the Marvel Star Wars line starting to tell intriguing stories fleshing out the characters and the Rebellion vs. The Empire. Gone is the era of Buck Rogers imitation and campy kitsch. The Star Wars EU is finally improving in quality. Now that isn’t to say that some of the goofiness of the series is wholly absent. But the goofiness is now balanced with the writing instead of sucking out the dignity of the Star Wars expanded universe with ridiculous plotlines and funny characters more at home in Flash Gordon than a Galaxy far, far away.

The story opens with Luke Skywalker aboard the Millennium Falcon falling into a comatose state after engaging in meditation in an attempt to improve his focus. The meditation technique accidentally leads him to touch the mind of Darth Vader causing his consciousness to war with Vader’s in a trance.
Han and Leia decide to find a medical facility but the Falcon accidentally drops out of hyperspace into an Imperial-infested sector after Solo forgets to readjust the navi-computer which was beginning to drift. The Falcon is accosted by an Advanced TIE Fighter which Han promptly destroys just before discovering in the sector a ravaged private merchant vessel with Tagge House markings. The Tagge family have strong ties with the Empire with one member even being a high ranking fleet commander. Aboard the vessel are dead and dying Rebel soldiers who were captured and then planted there by the Empire as a part of a plot to discredit the Rebel Alliance by framing them for piracy. Before they can get the Falcon out of there it is once again attacked by Advanced TIE Fighters led by an Imperial light battle cruiser commanded by a Commander Strom who is involved in the conspiracy to put the Rebellion in ill-repute.
The heroes flee to a nearby resort space station known as The Wheel. The Wheel is a known sanctuary for Imperial citizens containing a massive centre for gambling and gladiatorial entertainment. The Wheel is administrated by a former senator named Simon Greyshade whose facility has turned up major funding for the Empire’s military thanks to a tax on its profits. The tax has been especially lucrative because sanctuary policy against Imperial interference aboard the resort has made The Wheel a popular haven for gamblers. Han and his companions assume to take advantage of this sanctuary, but meet with complications when the Falcon and the two droids Artoo and Threepio are impounded due to illegal docking without a permit. Furthermore to make things more complicated Commander Strom decides to violate the sanctuary agreement by sending a detachment of Stormtroopers aboard the station to find the Rebels and eliminate them. Leia and the two droids are captured by Greyshade while Chewie is arrested and thrown into the gladiator pits. Meanwhile, Han in a bid to pay for the Falcon and the droids agrees to participate in the gladiator games voluntarily.
It is revealed that the Empire’s scheme to frame the Rebellion is a part of a plan to justify an Imperial takeover of the facility. The Tagge merchant vessel was delivering Wheel profits making a Rebel attack a serious economic threat. The Empire hopes convincing the resort visitors of this will make them open to Imperial control without losing a large portion of their patronage. Greyshade is in league with Commander Strom in this venture under the promise that his administration would remain unaltered when the Wheel changed hands.
Elsewhere, Darth Vader who sensed Luke’s meditative contact through the Force is now on the hunt for him. Aboard an Imperial Star Destroyer the Dark Lord orders Captain Wermis to change course toward The Wheel so he can track him down.Meanwhile,  Luke who has been treated at the Wheel’s medical section overcomes his trance and breaks out of his bonds.
Leia escapes Greyshade and teams up with newly awakened Luke and the droids to find a way to rescue Han and Chewie. They witness some of Greyshade’s personal guard stealing back the profits that were used by the Empire to frame the Alliance and Leia realises that her former senate colleague is double-crossing the Empire for some reason of his own. She quickly discovers what that reason is when he recaptures her and tells her what he wants. He has developed a romantic attachment to and has plotted a scheme to convince her to leave with him and start a new life away from the Empire. In return he promises to release Han and Chewie and let her friends go away from Strom’s hands. This, of course, does not sit well with the princess; but she relents when she senses no other options. Things, however, drastically change when Han fakes his own death in the gladiator arena which is once again set in the zero-gravity environment of space. With Han Solo slaying a giant lizard with a lightsaber and twice now enduring space with no suit I am beginning to wonder if the smuggler’s trade is a pathway to many abilities some to consider to be unnatural.
And in other news Commander Strom discovers Greyshade’s treachery and orders his men to hunt him and the Rebels down and kill them. Amid the chaos Greyshade gives up his dreams of having Leia for his own and flees with his droid companion Master-Com (the only true friend he ever had) only to be caught by an enraged and bitter Strom. Greyshade throws a grenade at the Commander killing him, but the close range of the blast fatally injures the former senator and damages Master-Com beyond repair.
Luke, Leia, and the droids escape in Greyshade’s private yacht and Han and Chewie take off in the Falcon. At this point Darth Vader and Captain Wermis arrive and attack the Falcon when Vader recognises it as the ship that shot him during the Death Star battle. Luke saves his friends when he once again meditates and releases strong feelings of rage toward Vader which temporarily incapacitates him buying them enough time to jump to hyperspace.

This story arc has its flaws, but overall it was a well-written piece. I enjoyed seeing the Force given more exploration this time around and it’s great to see Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie, Threepio, and Artoo all have a fair amount of time to shine in the story. The characters are fleshed out and given plenty to do.
Casual readers may not notice, but the Tagge family which owned the merchant ship used in the Imperial ploy has appeared in A New Hope. The Imperial officer aboard the Death Star who expressed his fears that the Rebels may exploit the Death Star plans was a member of the Tagge House. This family’s affairs will be explored further in the Marvel series.
The overall story is pretty good and it doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence by giving a childishly simple plot. The political intrigue, while not at the level of complexity as War and Peace or even Dune, is still an impressive and unusual thing to see during this era of the EU.
Some minor gripes I have is largely to do with the resolution at the end. I find Greyshade’s true motives a bit stupid for a man who had it all. Throwing all his success away for a woman, even if she is Princess Leia, doesn’t fit the sort of character we are led to believe he is. Also I strongly dislike Luke using what is essentially Dark Side powers to escape Vader. Releasing anger in a fight is what Obi-Wan and the Jedi Order teach to avoid. It is an unsettling way to see Luke deal with a problem. And finally once again in one panel we see Luke turn on his lightsaber and the colour is red instead of blue. I still do not know why the artists were having difficulties representing Luke’s lightsaber colour accurately, but it seems to be a frequent inconsistency.
Otherwise, this arc is an excellent and worthwhile read.

Check in next time for my review of Star Wars Marvel issue #24: Silent Drifting and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Marvel #11-15

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

11

Before Kamino the first water planet in the EU was a little world in the Outer Rim called Drexel. Instead of high-tech cloners we have seafaring brigands who use a sonic transmitter to cause approaching ships to crash and unlike the Kaminoans these pirates don’t care how well your manners are or how big your pocket book is. All they want is to take your ship for scrap and kill you in the process.
Unfortunately, for Luke Skywalker this happens to be the planet that he investigates during his search for a new Rebel base. After losing contact with Luke shortly Princess Leia takes it upon herself to look for him when she is suddenly captured by none other than the speedo-wearing space pirate Crimson Jack himself who is now the captain of a stolen Star Destroyer! Hoping to get a sizeable ransom from the Rebel Alliance for her safe return Captain Jack is frustrated when the Princess refuses to tell him where the secret base is. Hoping to find another way to persuade her he additionally captures Han Solo and Chewbacca using a tracer he installed on the Millennium Falcon after their previous encounter. Not realising that Leia is the same woman who saw an entire planet annihilated to protect the secret of the rebel base he seems to think threatening Han and Chewie would get him results. When this plan goes poorly Han Solo makes a counter-proposal by claiming that the reward that was stolen from them was only a small portion of a Rebel-owned treasure in the Drexel system. Leia and Han, hoping to find Luke and survive the pirate’s plans at the same time, agree to guide him the the Drexel system in exchange for their lives.
Meanwhile, Luke and the two droids Artoo and Threepio crash on planet Drexel thanks to the transmitter used by the local brigands. The band of robbers is led by an obese pirate named Captain Quarg who has an obsession with hanging anyone who happens to displease him. His group has had a longstanding feud with another group of locals called the Dragon Lords who ride the local Drexelian sea monsters across the planet’s ocean. Luke convinces Captain Quarg not to kill him by assuring the pirate that the mechanical skills of himself and the droids would be a greater asset to him in his war with the Dragon Lords than hanging him.
During this time Quarg reveals to Luke that his father was a former governor of an asteroid belt during the days of the Republic. However, the governor was deposed after butting heads with the Jedi Order who were informed that he was sharing profits in a business of wrecking space vessels to cannibalise scrap parts. The embittered governor escaped with his family and associates to Drexel and began the life of a pirate. A few years later a schism broke out among some of the technicians who were banished and later became the Dragon Lords.
Soon after this Crimson Jack’s ship arrives and is immediately assaulted by the transmitter. Han, Leia, and Chewie escape in the Millennium Falcon amid the chaos on the Star Destroyer and land on the planet in the middle of a battle between Quarg’s men and the Dragon Lords. The Millennium Falcon is hit and Han who was on the surface of the ship falls in the water enraging Chewbacca who sees Luke tinkering with the engines of one the vessels that attacked the Falcon. Chewie assumes Luke betrayed them and attacks him and the droids. Artoo, however, successfully knocks the Wookie out by smothering him with a fire extinguisher. Meanwhile Leia is captured by Quarg’s men and Han is rescued by the Dragon Lords who tell him that the Drexelian sea creatures they ride are actually sentient alien life forms who are helping them fight Quarg. With help from the Dragon Lords Han rescues his friends and the war against Quarg is ended in a great sea battle.
This leaves only the unfinished business with Captain Jack whose ship survived the attack from the transmitter thanks to its mass size being too much for the sonic device to bring down. The heroes take the Millennium Falcon for one final showdown against the space pirates eventually leading to a space duel between Han and Jack using only blasters and oxygen helmets in the zero-g environment of space. Apparently Correllian smugglers and speedo-wearing pirates can survive the intense pressure of space without spacesuits. To make a long and tedious story short Han wins the duel, Crimson Jack dies, and the formerly man-hating Jolli has a change of heart toward Han Solo and sacrifices herself by betraying the pirate captain out of love for him. Cue vomiting.

This story was weak. It’s a weird mess with two factions of good guys and two factions of bad guys having it out in a convoluted plot that makes no sense. We see pirates who are smart enough to commandeer an Imperial Star Destroyer act stupid enough to believe an enemy who tells them they know where some treasure is. That’s a classic trick more worthy of the Loony Tunes than Star Wars! We also witness two men fighting in space without suits and an important political figure of the Rebellion and last surviving member of the Alderaan royal family be allowed to take off just to find a friend who is missing in action out in the Outer Rim. Did General Dodonna have his back turned or something? There are so many things in this story that don’t work and are just plain stupid that even without green rabbits and Roy Thomas’s writing I found this arc much less enjoyable than the previous one. The last arc was at least entertaining in its absurdity. This one was a pain and a bore to read. Oh, and apparently Leia can swim now even though in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye she revealed she couldn’t!

Check in for my next review of Issue #16: The Hunter in the Star Wars Marvel line and may the Force be with you.