Joss Whedon and Star Wars

whedonwarsEver wonder what a new Star Wars film would look like if Joss Whedon wrote the script? In a new book from PopMatters, After the Avengers, I have a chapter answering that exact question. In particular, I focus on the duality between the physical body and the soul (the “mind-body problem”), which has been a theme throughout much of Whedon’s oeuvre. A Star Wars anthology film could prove an interesting new medium for Whedon to explore this issue. Check it out here!

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Retrospective Review: Attack of the Clones

Star_Wars_-_Episode_II_Attack_of_the_Clones_(movie_poster)In preparation for The Force Awakens, I’m rewatching all six Star Wars films and sharing my thoughts here. This week, I look at Attack of the Clones, which sees the start of the Clone Wars. (originally published at Legendarium Media)

Over the years, I’ve heard many people complain about politics in the Prequel Trilogy. Unlike in the Original Trilogy, which focused primarily on military engagements, the Prequels contain several scenes in the Galactic Senate and in the chancellor’s office. Some fans claim that the opening crawl of The Phantom Menace, with its references trade disputes and taxation, seemed out of place for a Star Wars film. It’s not uncommon even for fans who enjoyed the Prequels to argue that politics and Star Wars don’t mix. Yet, I can’t help but feel that such complaints misdiagnose the problem. We know that political intrigue can provide for compelling drama. One need only look at Dune or Game of Thrones. So, why did so many people complain about politics the Prequels? Continue reading “Retrospective Review: Attack of the Clones”

“The Man in the High Castle” (Amazon)

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Another year, another adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story. Dick’s oeuvre has proven to be a considerable source of fodder for Hollywood. Some of the biggest science fiction movies in history originated from Dick’s mind, including Blade RunnerTotal Recall, and Minority Report (as well as a few bombs, like Screamers).

Even amongst this storied history, Amazon’s TV adaptation of Dick’s 1962 novel The Man in the High Castle is special. It’s not just a good sci-fi story, but an important one. I admit I haven’t read the book in decades (something I hope to rectify soon), so I can’t provide a detailed comparison of the book and the TV series, but the show manages to hit upon the core themes Dick explored in the novel. Of particular importance is the idea that humanity can become shockingly complacent to brutality given the right circumstances. Continue reading ““The Man in the High Castle” (Amazon)”

Retrospective Review: The Phantom Menace

swpmpictureIn preparation for The Force Awakens, I’m rewatching all six Star Wars films and sharing my thoughts on Legendarium Media. This week, I look at The Phantom Menace, the first film in the saga…

I know this might shock Star Wars fans of my generation, but I’ve always had a soft spot for The Phantom Menace. When I first saw it, I was young enough that I could overlook the problems with the plot and pacing and just enjoy the ride. Some of my fondest memories from high school come from this film. Once, several of my friends and I skipped class just so we could see it a third time (shhh… don’t tell anybody). I was also interested enough in politics that I could sit through the Senate discussions about trade disputes. Continue reading “Retrospective Review: The Phantom Menace”

Putting a Ring on Star Wars

Originally published on Legendarium Media here

In the DVD documentary “The Beginning: Making Episode I,” George Lucas famously described the relationship between the Original Trilogy and the Prequel Trilogy as “like poetry. Every stanza kind of rhymes with the last one.” In the audio commentary to The Phantom Menace, he adds, “You just take a concept and just interpret it differently visually.” There are many obvious parallels between the Prequels and Original Trilogy, particularly in how Luke and Anakin Skywalker both face similar choices at similar points in their lives. But what does it mean for the two trilogies to rhyme? And what effect does the rhyming have on the story, if any? Continue reading “Putting a Ring on Star Wars”

“Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” (BBC TV miniseries)

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Mythgard Academy is offering a free podcast course on Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. In preparation, I read the book and watched the BBC TV miniseries adaptation. Here are my thoughts on the TV show:

I know this will get me in trouble with some people, but I actually liked the BBC adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell more than I liked the book. To be fair, although I enjoyed the book, I don’t have a particularly strong attachment to it. If anything, I thought the book would have benefitted from a tighter narrative. Fortunately, the miniseries makes one change that really helps the pacing and increases the dramatic tension. Continue reading ““Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” (BBC TV miniseries)”

Star Wars as a Globalized Myth

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The Jedi returns to Poland

Originally published on Legendarium Media here

The overwhelming reaction to the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, which was released on October 19, has prompted me to think more carefully about the role of Star Wars in pop culture. People clearly responded to the trailer on a deeper emotional level than simply excitement for the latest blockbuster action film. IMAX reported $6.5 million in advance ticket sales just a few days after the trailer, easily shattering the previous record of $1 million. It’s often said that people invest so much in Star Wars because it is a “modern myth.” But what does that really mean? The term “myth” conveys something more than “just” a story. Myths are stories that hold some sort of “deeper truth” for a community. As I’ve written over these past few weeks, I think it’s clear that Star Wars contains deeper truths about life and morality (as is also clear from books like Star Wars and Philosophy). Continue reading “Star Wars as a Globalized Myth”

“Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” by Susanna Clarke

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Mythgard Academy is offering a free podcast course on Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. In preparation, I read the book and watched the BBC TV miniseries adaptation. Here are my thoughts on the novel:

Neil Gaiman calls Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell  “unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years.” Friends of mine, including fellow blogger Katherine Sas, have raved about the novel and have asked Mythgard to cover it for years. Needless to say, my expectations were high… Continue reading ““Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” by Susanna Clarke”