Monday, 14 December 2015

Star Wars: Episodes I-III or thereabouts

As I noted almost four years ago in a post about prequels in general, the Star Wars prequels are a sore spot for a lot of genre fans, and this remains true as Episode VII is days away.

There have been many articles about rewatching the existing films as a result. This one is mine.

I bought the Art Of books long before the films. They’re great. Highly recommended.

The timing of West End Games losing the licence after ten years of at-times-great work meant that the d20 RPG got to cover the prequels, poor misbegotten thing. (This did lead to a system where Jedi had to be balanced with non-Jedi, but it did so across levels.)

I may have fast forwarded some Jar Jar, some podracing, some committee talk, some midichlorians...

First, some positivity: If the new non-episode movies get Ewan McGregor back for more Obi-Wan adventures I’d happily go for that. His affable, world-weary, sometimes snarky performance helps immensely.

Question: Who are the Sith and why do they want revenge? In six hours of backstory this is never mentioned on-screen. Apparently they’re gone, presumably the Jedi had a hand in that, and they once oppressed at least some of the galaxy, and... ? All we needed to hear is covered in three lines right at the start of The Phantom Menace Visual Dictionary. Grrrr.

Padme gets way too little to do in Revenge Of The Sith thanks to her (admittedly talky) scenes or organising anti-Palpatine moves in the Senate were cut. (Speaking of cut, what’s up with her outfit in the Geonosis battle being slashed expertly to crop-top length? If going fanservicey at least be fair about it and have Obi-Wan or Anakin with his shirt ripped Kirk-style as well...)

Unnecessary Fett!

R2’s entire work group being blasted off the Queen’s ship! No wonder he fights so hard against the Separatists and then the Empire - this is personal!


The main thing to be said for them, and this is a big thing in their favour, is that they’re a real attempt to do something different. The Phantom Menace is an adventure story like A New Hope, but Attack Of The Clones is as much a love story as anything and still keeps the downer ending of The Empire Strikes Back, and instead of being like Return Of The Jedi, Revenge Of The Sith aims to be more like Macbeth! Successful or not, that’s pretty bold.

(It did make tie-ins like the Lego Revenge Of The Sith storybook rather weird, of course...)

The other main thing is of course animated Clone Wars. Taking the playground (and some of the hundreds of unused designs seen in those art books) and running with it in lots of new directions. The lightsaber fight at the end of the first Tartakovsky run is one of my favourite moments of this entire era. The end of the fourth CG season has a fantastic one as well, two against two for control of the one escape pod on a crashing ship...

The last two times I ran Star Wars I moved to a DIY future era with deliberate thematic and character callbacks spread throughout as well as room to include my own toys and put the PCs right at the centre of the setting. (I may well post more about it soon.) The last two times I played have been in the Rebellion era, like most Star Wars games I’ve played or run since WEG first edition. The next time I play or run Star Wars may well be in the Resistance era...

But as long as nobody plays a Gungan or mentions midichlorians I would consider a Clone Wars or other prequel era game.

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