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Heart of Dorkness: Star Wars Celebration IV, Day 5

28 May 2007 by Chad 9 Comments

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Okay, if you haven’t done so, go to www.StarWars.com and watch the trailer for the all new Clone Wars TV show. NOW.

You do it? Good. Wasn’t it cool? Well, again, cool being a relative term. I saw two big panels today at CIV, one involving the aforementioned Clone Wars cartoon, the other involving a man who is in many ways a walking cartoon.

First, though, The Clone Wars.

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CIV had three consecutive panels today about their new television show. All the word was that the presentation was not to be missed, and you should come to one of them if at all possible. I’m definitely glad I did.

The panel featured supervising director Dave Filoni (of Avatar fame) and producer Catherine Winder (of Liquid Television). They revealed that the new show had been in development for about two years now, and that it would be the flagship of the newly announced Lucasfilm Animation division of Lucasfilm Ltd. While they were under obligation to not reveal too much about the show, they were able to tell us a little.

The new show is called The Clone Wars. It is about the Clone Wars. Filoni said that he was a big fan of the Cartoon Network show, but that this version would stylistically be a middle ground between the films and that cartoon. He showed us some concept sketches of a Clonetrooper, Obi-Wan, and Anakin, and he is dead on. Much more photo realistic than Gendy Tartakovsky’s cartoon, but much more stylized than a real film. The designs were sleek, effective, and, most importantly, very cool.

The big reveal was that the show will be a full half hour show (22 minutes plus commercials.) They explained that this would allow much more time for storytelling and will assure that it’s not just one big action fest. Winder also assured us that Lucas was approving everything on the show, and is, in fact, contributing story and character ideas.

They didn’t get into the story stuff too much, but things that were hinted at as being in the show included the ongoing story of Boba Fett and the origin of General Grievous. Filoni assured the audience that it would be strict canon, that he too was a reader of the comics and the novels and would not contradict them at all, and may even reference them.

Dave Filoni seems like a great guy. I’ve never watched “Avatar”, but he seems to be a gi-normous Star Wars fan. His dedication to the material seems very very real. He kind of looks like Robert Rodriguez, cowboy hat and all.

But then they turned off the lights and showed us the trailer. Twice. Both times, it got a standing ovation. It far surpassed what anyone in the room thought it could be. Some of the animation looks like it could be for a theatrical feature. This very same trailer came online at about the same time. Go to Starwars.com. You won’t be disappointed.

Then I rushed over to the Petree Stage to get in line for the day’s most pimptastic panel.

Lando fucking Calrissian.

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Billy Dee Williams came out on stage dressed like you’d expect him to be dressed. White jacket. Stylin’ shoes. His hair perfect.

Billy Dee is pretty much who you think he is, but not quite.

The first question the host asked Mr. Williams was “What do you and Lando have in common?” Billy Dee smiled, and then replied “When I think of guys that are handsome, I think of myself.”

Fucking Lando!

But then, he went to describe himself as a “walking absurdity.” That he is aware of his larger than life image. The ladies’ man. The smooth operator. The, let’s face it, the pimp of the galaxy. While he didn’t outright admit this persona to be an act, he acknowledged how silly it was, and that he was glad to play along.

A thing about this panel. This is the only one at the ‘con where several of the audience members acted like Kevin Smith fans. Yells of “Colt 45” and “Lando Rules” came from the back row on more than one occasion. The audience laughed their uncomfortable laugh, and Mr. Williams took it in stride, but I got news for you guys. Yeah, you, the frat guy asshole that likes to yell shit at celebrities. You’re not funny. You’re not cool. You’re embarrassing the human race. Stop it. For the love of God. Stop it before you yell “Freebird!” at one more rock show. Please.

Billy Dee’s favorite thing about Lando seemed to be the cape. He said that the cape was “the key element” to the character, and that once he put it on, he knew who this guy was. I have to admit that most of the interview was kind of awkward, mostly due to the host and also to Billy Dee’s lack of Star Wars knowledge.

Some of the questions being asked by the audience were getting into canon and continuity and shit. Come on. Billy Dee don’t know shit about Star Wars. He doesn’t have to know shit. He’s an actor who scored a gig all those years ago and will be known for it until he dies. Which he seems cool with. But don’t ask him about Lobot. He doesn’t even know who the fuck that is.

Oh, and he’s also got a men’s fragrance coming out soon called, ready for it: Billy Dee.

Here’s the thing I bought the other day. Gentle Giant is company that makes unbelievable statues and the like, and I’ve been looking for this item for a while. It’s probably the geekiest thing I’ve ever purchased.

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Yes. Those are bookends. They only made 3500 of these puppies. And, if you look real close, you can see Han shooting first. Don’t ask how much they cost.

Okay. More pictures, then you can read about Empire if you want.

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I’m sure I’m the only one who cares, but that’s a cool lookin B’omarr Monk.

Thoughts and Reflections: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

esb

First Time Seen by Me: On videotape, on the last day of school, sometime around 1982. Cambridge, OH. I actually owned the read-along book-on-45-record version of Empire before I ever saw the movie.

Known Aliases: The Best One, The One with the Walkers, The One with the Down Ending, The One Where Vader Strangles a Bunch of Fools, The One with Yoda.

Favorite Image: Han in Carbonite. My favorite Star Wars Image ever.

Best Obscure Character: LO-BOT! LO-BOT! LO-BOT!

Biggest Sin: 1980 Version, None. 1997 Version: Luke’s bitch ass scream as he falls through Cloud City. Gone is the Noble Jedi choosing Death over Dishonor. Now, the farm boy who slips. 2004 Version: The scream has been removed. The movie is now absolutely perfect in all ways I can think of.

Favoirite Line(s) (come on. It’s Empire): “I know.” – “How do you get so big eating food of this kind?” – “Why you stuck up, half witted, scruffy looking, nerf herder!”

The O’Williams Factor: If I have to tell you the best musical cue in Empire, then you’re not a Star Wars fan and probably aren’t reading this anyway.

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The Empire Strikes Back is the best of all the Star Wars films. I know it’s neither edgy nor risky to say so, but sometimes a spade is a spade, the sky is blue, and Richard Donner is a pussy. Some things just are.

There are 3 key factors that make Empire the best of the bunch. They are, in no order of importance: the script, Han Solo, and Darth Vader.

George Lucas is really not a screenwriter. Now, I know from being in this town that anyone with a half-baked idea and a pirated copy of Final Draft can technically call themselves a screenwriter. But he really isn’t. Yet Empire is the only one of the six films on which Lucas is not credited for the “screenplay.” Story, yes, but not the screenplay.

The reason the Empire screenplay is so kickass is a man named Lawrence Kasdan. He also co-wrote ROTJ with Lucas, and also wrote a little flick called Raiders of the Lost Ark. He went on to direct such films as The Big Chill, Body Heat, and Silverado.

The script for ESB is fast, funny, dark, and romantic. The dialogue is far beyond anything Lucas has managed to do on his own. Kasdan and director Irvin Kirshner went to great lengths to flesh out these characters, to make them real, to give them depth. And made them adults.

I am such a fan of Larry Kasdan’s work for George Lucas that I get star-struck by the fact that I know one of his sons. The presence of his seed is enough to make me humble.

Empire is infused with an old-Hollywood style banter, mostly between the Rebel leader Leia Organa and her future husband, the one and only Han Solo.

ESB is dominated really by two characters. One is Han. Yes, predictably, he is my favorite character. Yes, as a kid I wanted to fly the Falcon more than I wanted to fly an X-Wing. Yes, I think “I know” is the greatest (THE GREATEST) line in movie history.

Han is at his best here. He is struggling with two sides of his personality. The outlaw, the opportunist, the scoundrel, that he has been since leaving the Imperial Navy is battling his newly emerged Rebel self. His new self believes in something. His new self wants to help make the galaxy a better place. His new self is in love.

And scoundrel Han doesn’t like it.

As the film progresses, you see him slowly get more and more resigned to the fate he has chosen. That he is going to be a good guy. That when he had the chance to leave Hoth before the Imps got there, he could not unless he knew that Leia was safe. This is, of course, all building up to the freezing chamber scene. There is a serenity about Han during that scene that the audience had not seen before.

“I know” is the best line in movie history because it is two words, nay, two syllables, that say tons. To me, the line, and the look on his face, says: “I’m still Han Solo. I’m still cocky. I’m still a smartass. But I’m a good guy now.” I know that may seem a little simplified, but that’s what it is to me.

And it was an improv.

The other half of the powerhouse characterizations in ESB is that of Darth Vader. The Vader we meet in this film is not the same of A New Hope. In the first film, he seemed to be a guy doing his job. He was an evil guy doing an evil job, but it was all under someone else’s orders.

In Empire we see a driven Vader. An obsessed Vader. The defeat of the Death Star is a black spot on his history. But more importantly, it was destroyed by a man with the last name Skywalker.

Skywalker.

Probably a name he has not heard in a long time. A long time.

The bloodline that has seemed shattered for 20 years suddenly springs to life. Here is, finally, someone he can bring to his side, train in the ways of the Dark Side, and overthrow the Emperor with. At last, an apprentice.

But he has to find Luke first.

And nothing will stop him. He is so bad ass cold in Empire. He crushes the throats of any officer who displays incompetence. He has hired six bounty hunters to fine the Falcon, knowing that that leads to Luke. (If you can name all 6 of these bounty hunters AND give me a little bit of bio info for each one, you get a nerd cookie.) He tortures Han and Leia to lure Luke into a trap. He double and triple crosses Lando.

Then, he tells Luke “the secret.” And Vader changes.

From that point out. He is no longer an evil knight. He is now a tragic hero. A fallen Jedi. Just like that, the greatest movie villain in history becomes…simply…human.

It’s such a big change that it ripples throughout time, all the way back, reverberating in history. History, of course, that won’t be written until 1999. But this moment, this change in Vader, it’s what makes all things Star Wars different from what they were before.

ESB is easily the best Star Wars film. For the 3 reasons I have listed and for many many more (one word: AT-ATs. Or is that two words?). It is one of my five favorite films of all time. It’s so good that my mom, MY MOM, still uses the phrase “nerf-herder.” MY FUCKING MOM

In high school, people would come up to me after class and say “What’s the 24th line in The Empire Strikes Back?” I would go off to class, replay the film in my head, then tell them after the next class (it’s “don’t”).

Want to guess how many girlfriends I had in high school? Go ahead and guess.

I dare you.

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Tomorrow brings the dreaded Day Six. The end of the affair. The saddest day of my life…this week. The final day of Star Wars Celebration IV.

I will also reveal my positions on Ewoks, the musical stylings of Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band, and the fact that Boba Fett went out like a total fucking punk

Oh. And I’m also going to tell you what Star Wars is all really about.

And it’s not gay droids.

At least not entirely…

9 Comments »

  • » Heart of Dorkness: Star Wars Celebration IV, Day 5 said:

    […] Original post by Chad […]

  • Star Wars Fan said:

    The Empire Strikes Back is by far the best of the movies and I agree with most of what you said, but I was sad to see one of the classic lines missing from your Favorite Lines–“Apology accepted, Captain Needa.”

  • Chad (author) said:

    Yeah, I was trying to only list one line per movie, but ESB has too many to pick one. Captain Needa would have probably made the top 8, though.

  • dillopod said:

    Dude, that’s so awesome cause when I think of guys that are handsome, I think of Billy Dee Williams! And Lobot.

  • ChadShonk (author) said:

    dillo,

    when I think of guys that are handsome I think of you.

    And Lobot.

  • bats said:

    Come on, I’m dying to know (and was hoping your review of ESB would’ve told us…what’s this hate-on for General Veers? (Be kind; he is a favorite of mine…)

  • ChadShonk (author) said:

    He killed my father. I don’t like to talk about it.

    (I love Julian Glover and General Veers. I was just fucking around and trying to throw some hard-core geek shit in for the fanboys and fangirls)

  • dillopod said:

    I appreciate that man…meet me in the third stall of the Glendale Home Depot mens bathroom tomorrow at 12:30 pm. Bring some peanut butter. The smooth kind.

  • ChadShonk (author) said:

    I don’t know. The Glendale Home Depot is more of a “Leather Daddy” Home Depot. I’m not really that into the whole biker thing. I’m with you on the peanut butter, though…

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