Since it first rolled into theaters in 1977, Star Wars has captured the imaginations of generations of dreamers. What started out as George Lucas’ breakaway hit has ballooned into a 4 billion (according to Disney’s valuation) dollar empire of books, video games, TV shows, and action figures.
There have been many different formats, many different attempts to expand the universe. Here are a few of my favorite (or least favorite) star wars things.
Hit – The Original Trilogy
Okay, let’s be honest – The prequels never really held a candle to the originals. Credit to George Lucas for having the foresight to do something crazy like label his movies as episodes IV-VI when episodes I-III wouldn’t come out for another 20 years (And yes, I’m aware that the original crawl didn’t have Episode IV at the beginning and they only changed it in the 1981 re-release). That takes guts.
I mean, who DOESN’T have a memory of star wars? I remember watching the VHS tapes from the library as a kid, thinking how cool it would be to fly an X-Wing, be a Jedi, etc. Probably not coincidentally, I think every Star Wars video game I purchased was purchased because I still wanted to be able to do that stuff. But we’ll talk about that later.
There was heroics. There was romance. There was a giant space station with a planet-destroying superlaser, and the galaxy’s only hope was a ragtag group of Rebels attacking a small thermal exhaust port on said destroyer of worlds. Everything you need to make a great adventure movie. And let’s not forget the terrifying bounty hunters, lightsabers, wookiees, and ewoks. Or AT-AT walkers and snowspeeders. Or asteroid field chases. Or Super Star Destroyers, or…
Sorry, started to geek out a bit. I’ll stop.
Miss – The Prequel trilogy
Now, I appreciate what George tried to do here. He tried to give us the back story. It wasn’t all bad, mind you, the effects were phenomenal, the idea behind the story was fantastic, but there were a few misses.
- The dialogue – I know the originals weren’t exactly the pinnacle of film dialogue, but somewhere between the direction of George Lucas and the delivery of some otherwise capable actors, I felt like I was being fed lines by a series of cardboard cutouts with Ben Stein providing voiceover. “I don’t like sand” from Episode II, anyone?
- The ruining of a perfectly good bad guy – And by this, there are a couple of them that get ruined. One, Boba Fett, famed bounty hunter, turns out to be nothing more than a clone of Jango Fett. Then, Darth Vader. I mean, seriously, I wanted him to be bad for being bad’s sake, instead we find out he was bad because he was trying to save his wife. (Spoiler alert should’ve gone before that, for those of you just coming out of a 30 year time capule who might not have seen the movies yet – My bad)
- Jar Jar Binks – In the immortal words of Stan Lee, “‘Nuff Said”
Hit – Knights of the Old Republic
While I didn’t appreciate the production value of the Prequels, I can tell you something that I did thoroughly enjoy the production value of – Knights of the Old Republic.
I first owned this game on PC, by PC was BARELY able to run it, but the fact of the matter was, the idea of an RPG involving Jedi fascinated me, and I wanted to try it. It wound up being a vastly superior storyline to even the prequel trilogy.
The entire premise is that the game is set a thousand years prior to the events of the Star Wars films. It’s a time where the Jedi Order is at its pinnacle. The Republic has just ended a war with the Mandalorians (the race that Jango and Boba Fett were, for those keeping score at home), and while Exhausted, the Sith appear out of nowhere, lead by Revan and Malak, who were war heroes of the Mandalorian wars but went to the dark side. The story takes you through the journey, starting out as a soldier on a ship under attack by the Sith (a nod to the opening of “A New Hope”, for sure) and begin down the path to end the Sith threat forever. In fact, as it happens you wind up becoming a Jedi, and after many hours of play, you find quite possibly the biggest plot twist since “I am your father.” Seriously, I didn’t see it coming.
It was cool for a couple of reasons. You got to be a jedi, you got to explore worlds that you’d only begun to see in the films (Kashyyk, for instance) and ultimately, depending on how depraved you were, you affected whether your character was a force for good or a force for evil. Beyond that, you also had the ability to affect how your party members turned out, which would eventually determine how the game ended.
Miss – Star Wars: Rebellion
Okay, so I geeked out over the thought of an interplanetary conquest game based around Star Wars, however the game I was hoping to get was closer to Star Wars: Empire at War, which came 8 years later. In truth, Rebellion was probably the worst-explained video game I ever played, I never fully understood what I was supposed to be doing throughout the game. Empire at War did slightly better at it, but was still iffy. I think I slogged away at Rebellion for two weeks before giving up on it.
Hit – Any novels by Timothy Zahn
I’ve read quite a few of the novels, and they could be hit or miss, but I think the one surefire hit that always turned up was Timothy Zahn. I loved the Thrawn trilogy, as well as some of his short works from “Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina” and “Tales from Jabba’s Palace”. I’m looking to pick up “Scoundrels”, which I understand he rather successfully crosses Star Wars with Ocean’s 11. If I were to ever take up science fiction writing, I’d be fine with being an iota as successful at it as he is.
Miss – Star Wars: Detours
Okay, let me explain why this is a miss – There were some seriously funny previews for this coming out (I mean, Admiral Ackbar in the dinner trying to get past his block? “It’s a frappe! It’s a wrap! It’s a trap!”). And then? Silence. Disney apparently wasn’t too keen on the idea, sin ce it’s suspended indefinitely. I was kind of looking forward to it, too.
Hit – The Legacy of the Force series
If the rumors are true about what the Episode VII storyline will be (and let’s be honest – after JJ Abram’s “No, it’s not Kahn, no it’s not Kahn, Surprise! It’s Kahn” shenanigans, anything he says to the contrary is questionable), the story would be pretty awesome. I read the series some years ago, first time in a while I’d picked up a Star Wars novel, and I loved it. I think given the space between the originals and the prequels, the timeline is just about right for it.
Hopefully, though, J.J. Abrams doesn’t pull a George Lucas on us and botch a promising story.
What did I miss? Anything? Bueller? Let me know!