Saturday, February 18, 2006

May The Force Continue...

After multiple viewings of the Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoon I have come to a very disturbing conclusion: They are better written and better acted than the movies. It seems impossible to think that a cartoon whose budget I can only imagine is in the thousands can be more successful in telling the Star Wars tale than multi million dollar movies with a collection of talent that is first rate in the business. It seems that the old adage that story is the most important aspect of any film, play, book, etc. is true. Unlike in the movies, where we only hear about how good a fighter pilot and Jedi Anakin is, in the cartoons we actually see it. In one sequence where Anakin in taunted by a newly recruited Sith apprentice, Anakin’s flying abilities and saber fighting are displayed to the fullest extent. He even uses his anger to make himself stronger and defeat his foe bringing him one step closer to the dark side. The end of the series brings us right up to the moment that Episode Three begins. I can only imagine that there are many geeks behind the scenes of those cartoons that are saying to themselves, “Let’s tell the Star Wars story that we really wanted to see in the movies.”

The rumor­-which I believe has been confirmed-is that Lucas plans to continue the Star Wars story on television with two series’. One will be a live action series that takes place between Episode Three and Episode Four. The possibility for really dark and haunting storylines with a spark of the rising hope we get in Episode Four is phenomenal. I’d guess we’ll see more of the Jedi purge and the beginnings of the Rebellion. The other series will be CG and deal with more of the Clone Wars, ala the cartoon series. If it is done as well as the Cartoon Network Clone Wars cartoons I’d be happy as a nest of Gundars!

Lucas set up a great universe and there are many talented people out there wanting to play in it. I for one, think that the new series’ will take the Star Wars universe to a level never seen before. Plus, think of all those cool new toys that we’ll see come out of them.

Some people have a problem with the merchandising of the Lucas Empire. In actuality it’s a smart move on GL’s part. The merchandising (and I can’t help but think of saying that line in a Jewish accent like Mel Brooks playing Yogurt in Spaceballs) has helped George Lucas keep his films his own. He is the biggest independent filmmaker in the world. He financed everything on his own, through his own company and with the money he made on previous films and merchandising. I know that I wish I had the creativity and business sense that he had. He’s a billionaire because of it and has entertained millions of people in the meantime.

I really do love the merchandising. Sure there may have been a greedy side to it when Lucas created the characters and thought they’d make cool toys but isn’t that what Santa Claus does? I remember Christmas mornings, coming out of my room and opening up Star Wars figures thinking that they were the greatest toys ever invented. Even now I get a twinge of nostalgia when I see those figures in their little plastic bubbles. It reminds me of being a kid.

It was inevitable but I’ve turned my children on to the Star Wars phenom and my youngest has taken to it with a Force not seen before on the Cohenside. He is absolutely infatuated with the movies, cartoons and action figures. He plays with his light sabers and runs and jumps around pretending he’s a swashbuckling Jedi Knight rescuing the princess and battling evil. I love watching him play because it reminds me of my own play when I was a child. It also reminds me why I love the series so much. The sense of epic adventure and innocent, na├»ve, battle between the clearing good and the clearly evil. There’s intrigue, love, adventure, war, magic, everything that makes a good story. That is the appeal of this tale to children.

I remember back in the Seventies when I first saw the movie. I came home and we talked about it for hours. The other kids seemed to loose interest after a while but it all stayed with me, the Millennium Falcon, the Death Star, the light sabers, the characters, the droids and especially Darth Vader. When I watched it I felt like I was watching something I should have known about for a long time. I thought that there was a more to the story than meets the eye and we were getting a small glimpse into a larger universe and a larger battle. I never let go of that movie. I believe I had to wait a whole year before getting my first action figure and then finding some of the Marvel comics continuing the adventures of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.

That movie began a lifetime love of speculative fiction. No matter how far I travel from the original universe whether it’s with the crew of Serenity or the Fellowship of the Rings, I always come back to Star Wars.

May the Force continue, for a long, long time.

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