Tag Archives: George Lucas

The Lord of Some Rings – or, how I learned to love “The Sword of Shannara”

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Yes, “The Sword of Shannara” by Terry Brooks has awesome/awful/epic cover art, doesn’t it?

As I get older, I find myself less and less bothered by what people think about the things that I enjoy – hence, I’ve chosen to return to Brooks’ first novel, after abandoning it previously in a fit of peevishness over the debt owed by the novelist to some obscure fantasy novels written by a British academic, back in the day.  My reason?  It’s not original, it’s not clever, but it is fun – if you allow yourself to just enjoy it as fantasy novel candy, rather than genre-busting, transformational literature which alters the landscape of the form forever after.

In many ways, it doesn’t surprise me that Brooks would eventually go on to pen the tie-in novelisation for “Star Wars – Episode One: The Phantom Menace” as his work has a fair bit in common with George Lucas’ ultimately divisive sci-fantasy blockbuster.  Both writers lean heavily on breathless plotting, well-established archetypes/tropes and a sensibility so at odds with the critical establishment that it could well be deliberate.

Neither can be said to produce what might be referred to as high art and both are doing very well, thank you kindly, out of their nerdy, un-hip, Saturday morning serial brand of adventure yarn.  And, on the evidence of “Sword of Shannara”, the 1977-vintage Brooks and Lucas were slightly confused by girls and, not knowing how to write such mysterious creatures, didn’t bother to.

This is knowingly nerdy stuff, folks, with all the plucky Dwarves, ethereal Elven warriors and mysterious Rogue leaders that you could yearn for/fear of in fantasy fiction.  Your tolerance for it may directly correlate to how much you can handle post-Tolkien fantasy and whether or not your brand of escapism cleaves more to the grimy, neo-realistic worlds of George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie and Richard Morgan.  I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with either, but I do find myself drawn more to a more optimistic take on extraordinary events – which, for an often cynical soul like me, is quite a turnabout.

As ever, the idea of ploughing through many years worth of trilogies and series by an author fills me with some trepidation but I’ll report back if “…Shannara” continues to entertain me as it has been doing for the last week or so.

 

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Disney Deal Delivers New Star Wars trilogy…

Not pictured, Jar Jar Binks stuffed into a suitcase and LEFT FOR DEAD…

You go to sleep for a few hours and the movie business throws you a curve ball over night.

George Lucas is $4 billion richer, Disney now owns Lucasfilm and have a new trilogy of “Star Wars” movies in the works.  Things are in such a state of advancement that a treatment exists for the first in the proposed new series, with releases scheduled at a decent clip of every two to three years.

Of course, the negative Padawan in me is convinced that Disney’s involvement hastens the inclusion of Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber being cast as the offspring of Han Solo and Princess Leia, cheese-ball 3D bombast and full CG characters so irksome that they make Jar Jar Binks look like Marlon Brando.  But Disney involvement hasn’t exactly hurt Marvel Studios‘ world-domination strategy, so perhaps the knee jerk reaction to the House of Mouse snagging the rights to a Galaxy Far, Far Away should be tempered by the prospect that the best thing for the universe that George built is for its creator to hand the Bantha reins over to a new creative team?

I’m just intrigued by who Disney are going to enlist to bring this new series of films to cinemas worldwide.  Lucas is on board as a creative consultant and won’t be helming things – dare we hope for the calibre of filmmakers on First Showing’s list of suggested candidates (yes, yes, YES to Brad Bird.  A marriage made in nerd heaven…).

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George Lucas sets the record straight.

Isn’t it good to know that you’ve been wrong all these years?

Somebody who can't shoot for toffee. And Jango Fett.

In an interview over at the Hollywood Reporter to promote this weekend’s 3D re-release of “The Phantom Menace”, visionary CG tinkerer George Lucas informs us once and for all that we collectively imagined the classic moment in “A New Hope” where  Han Solo shot alien bounty hunter Greedo in cold blood (don’t click this YouTube link as there’s nothing there, what with Han Solo not shooting first and everything).

All of these years that we’ve laboured under the misapprehension that crafty space rogue Solo did something morally dubious which made his character interesting and what do you know – it’s all down to the wrong camera angle being used. Or something.  Glad that’s sorted out – I’d hate to think that George’s incessant need to piss about with “Star Wars” had clouded his judgement (the very idea!).

Elsewhere in this Heat Vision blog interview, George offers his thoughts on SOPA, 3D and the fifth Indiana Jones film in a fashion which is almost comprehensible (for somebody who writes professionally, this interview demonstrates that he’s not capable of making a lot of sense in a one to one chat).

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Phantom, menaced.

File this poster under ‘Not sure if wants’.

Empire today has the re-release posters for the forthcoming 3D re-release that nobody’s crying out for – “Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace”.

I confess that this is the instalment of the prequel “Star Wars” trilogy which I’ve seen least – I’m one of those fatally absurd souls who quite enjoyed “Attack of the Clones”, despite it’s shortcomings and “Revenge of the Sith”, to me at least, kicks a ridiculous amount of booty.  Perhaps it’s time for me to give the first prequel effort another chance – although a 3D makeover can’t really do much to improve what I remember beings a bizarrely episodic, disjointed story, with variable special effects and the digital character of whom we do not speak.

“The Phantom Menace” reissue is Mauling  your local 3D screen from February 10th, 2012.

 

 

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“Portal” is free…

I'm making a note here/Huge Success...

I saw this via the Hot UK Deals forum but Eurogamer have a story on it also – ace PC Sci-Fi puzzler, “Portal” is free on Steam until 20th September.  If you have a Steam client installed on your PC, fire it up and go to the link to get it free…

In which sabres are lighted and wookies and jedis sometimes love each other very much...

Not free, but flipping cheap this weekend – a bunch of cheaper “Star Wars” PC games to celebrate the Blu-Ray release of George Lucas’ pension plan.  “Knights of the Old Republic”  for £3.49 – that is a steal.

Hey, it's that bloke from "Mad Men" - only all digital...

There’s also a nifty deal on “LA Noire” – the Hot UK Deals link will get you the game new on 360 or PS3 for £19.99 from Gamestation (Game are apparently also doing the same deal).

Ludicrous deal of the week – if you’ve already beaten “Dead Island”, HMV are offering “Gears of War 3” for £1.99 if you trade in “Dead Island” before September 25th.  This is in-store and I believe that some stores also give you some extra credit if you have HMV’s ‘Re/Play’ app installed on your smartphone and present it when trading in your game.

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George Lucas – cease, desist, just quit it!

By now, you may have read that the upcoming Blu-Ray releases of the complete “Star Wars” saga features a suite of visual and audio tweaks to the original and prequel trilogies, as part of director George Lucas’ apparently ongoing campaign to merrily widdle away whatever goodwill he may have accrued as the SF auteur of many of an 70’s/80’s kid’s childhoods.

This post at Topless Robot neatly summarises many of the inanities awaiting those who purchase the box set.

Fanboy rage or stoic acceptance that Lucas can't leave well enough alone?

We’re used to Lucas feeling that he needs to update his saga every so often with digital tweaks, sound upgrades or the addition of footage left on the cutting room floor but surely the time comes when he can just put a full stop on his creation and move on with his life?

Short of doing away with the awkward, technically-dated but still well-loved analogue aspects of the films entirely, where does he purport to cease his ongoing campaign of revisiting the “Star Wars” saga?  As one commentator on a forum which I frequent asked this week – is he going to wait until Ewan McGregor is old enough to play Alec Guinness’ role in “A New Hope” and thereafter graft on some Hayden Christensen for good measure, just to retcon the whole damn thing into even more absurdity?

Lucas seems unwilling to let things be unspoken, to be hinted at – every change that he seems to make wishes the underscore and highlight (in neon pink, if possible) moments which were subtle or underplayed in the original films – see the B.S. sound-effects now grafted on to the climax of “Return of the Jedi”, in the Vader/Skywalker/Emperor confrontation.   It’s as though the ultimate theatrical presentation for Lucas would be the chance to show the films in your home cinema, replete with a telestrator pen, where he could show you what he actually wanted to do before the constraints of time, money and release dates upset his apple cart.

No, don't fix the stuff that's still broken - stick Jar Jar in the Death Star battle, eh, George?

I can see the argument for creating a through-line to the movies that the new, young “Star Wars” fans can relate to and feel a kinship with but there’s also the inescapable truth that a great many fans would like to have access to the original, technically inferior but iconic films that they grew up with.  Just keep them as ‘branching’ versions on the discs – Lucas doesn’t ever have to watch them again, but a great many of us would like to.

It isn’t as though any of this stuff is actually that important, in the grand scheme of things.  The movies are Lucas’ to do with as he will, any informed consumer can decide to buy the new box set or not and the world will move on anon.

However, I may find myself at the point where the good ship “Star Wars” is abandoned once and for all.  Insert your most apposite “You’ve Just Taken Your First Steps Into A Larger World” meme here.

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