Nov 282014

A random collection of thoughts:

  • Star Wars is a weird thing for me because it’s kinda split into two entities. There’s “my Star Wars“, which consists mainly of the OT1, a handful of the novels and games, a great deal of fan research, and some of my own twists on things. Then there’s “the Star Wars franchise,” which is everything with the name Star Wars attached. I get super-jazzed for stuff in the former category, while the latter category’s flame has long since burned out. I have no idea where these new movies/the Disney Star Wars era fits into those categories.
  • I don’t have any negative things to say about J.J. Abrams as a director. Any of the issues I take with the stuff of his I’ve seen have been writing-related. Sure, he has influence over that as a director/producer, but I don’t think those issues ultimately fall at his feet. I mean, I guess they do in a “the buck stops here” sort of way, but…meh? That he’s not working with Orci/Kurtzman/Lindelof this time, but rather starting from a script by Michael Arndt and retooled by Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi co-writer Lawrence Kasdan is at least encouraging.
  • This teaser has a strong fan film vibe to it for me, but I can’t quite put my finger on why. Vibrancy, maybe? Color timing not quite what I expected? Not sure. The very first shot, when Boyega pops his head up, is the one that feels the most fanfilmish to me. I bet that’s actually a location shot, but it looks like a greenscreen shot. Something about it just feels wrong. This comp2 also feels weird to me, color-wise, and to make matters even more confusing, I think it’s actually the human element that feels off. The helmet, the white vest, and the cockpit all look fine, but his actual skin just seems to…not fit.
  • As a rebuttal to the previous point, though, it’s worth noting that none of those shots likely represent “finished” shots. This far out from release, ain’t none of those gonna be final comps.
  • Good grief, John Williams. The shot where they hard-in on the Falcon with the fanfare swelling? Damn.
  • My initial reaction to the claymore lightsaber was a mixture of “gee-whiz!” and eye-rolling amusement. On thinking about it, though, it makes some amount of sense. What’s the one thing a lightsaber can’t immediately cut through? Another lightsaber. So, if you’re going to have a crossbar on your lightsaber, what do you make it with? Mini-lightsabers.
  • Favorite shot of the trailer was that lights-flickering interior dropship shot with all the stormtroopers. That was badass.
  • A reminder for everyone that this was the Episode I teaser. TFA’s teaser already has about 1000x as much attitude and tone.
  • Lucas approached Mark Hamill about reprising the role of Luke in an Obi-Wan-style mentor capacity during the filming of Return of the Jedi and speculated that it would film sometime in 2011. As pointed out by this redditor, “Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design.”
  • Did you notice the antenna on the Falcon? Not the old dish! (’cause, y’know, Lando knocked that one off)

In conclusion:


X-wings over water
Haters gonna hate
  1. Original Trilogy. Episodes IV through VI []
  2. “Comp” refers to “composition” or “composite” when referring to VFX. []
Nov 022009

The full Avatar trailer popped up recently. I’ve been wary of this movie since hearing about it for a number of reasons, not the least of which seemed to be its status as yet another big-budget movie with amazing visuals, but a dubious story. It seems to me that movies that are visually impressive, with a vaguely pseudo-naturist/spiritualist bent to them, tend to be lavished with undeserved accolades. I don’t care how much money you dumped into it; if you’ve got a crappy story, you’ve got a crappy movie.

That aside, what worries me more about Avatar is the plot element that seems to suggest a technologically primitive group poses a credible threat to a technologically sophisticated group. Throughout history, major technological disparity has meant absolute defeat for the more primitive group. I’m not talking about a scenario like Vietname or Afghanistan, which involved guerilla fighters. They were still using modern weapons. I’m talking about something more like the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, in which less than two hundred British soldiers fended off several thousand Zulu warriors.

That’s more or less what the situation in Avatar seems to be, but from the trailer it seems as though the Na’vi actually pose a credible threat to the humans. There was, of course, another movie that tried to pull this stunt, and has been universally mocked for it to this day: Return of the Jedi.

Jedi, though, can kinda-sorta get away with this in ways that Avatar’s own trailer prevents it from using. In Jedi, the Imperials had no inkling that the apparently-harmless natives would rise up against them. They had very little heavy firepower on hand (a handful of light armor units, a single heavy armor unit, and infantry), and the heavy firepower they did have was not well-suited to the terrain. It was a simple security detachment, whose sole purpose was to oversee an ostensibly secret installation (the Emperor’s claim that it was “an entire legion of [his] best troops” not withstanding; sorry, Palps, on screen evidence does not jive with your pomp).

From the Avatar trailer, though, we already know that the humans consider the Na’vi a threat (strike one), acknowledge that they are hard to kill (strike two), and are mobilizing their forces specifically to deal with them (strike three). The Ewoks’ cuddliness aside, if the Empire went into the situation with these three points established, those shield bunker personnel would have been dining on Ewok stew.

So, yeah, I’m going to reserve judgment until I see what the film actually does, but if this really does turn out to be a premise of the film, color me disappointed.