Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 6 Review

Welcome back to the Star Wars Report’s look at the latest installments of Star Wars: The Clone Wars! This week we’ll be looking at the episode Nomad Droids. Taking place after last week’s Mercy Mission, R2D2 and C3PO are swept to a couple different planets, with many different problems, after the cruiser they were aboard was attacked and forced them to escape to the nearby planets.

Last week in my review of Mercy Mission, I mentioned that a C3PO/R2D2 centered episode was a perfect setting for episodes that didn’t relate so much to the Clone Wars, in my opinion, this still stands. Nomad Droids wasn’t a great episode of the Clone Wars, but you certainly have to appreciate it for what it is. And what is that? It is something different. Nomad Droids is in a completely separate league than the rest of the series, which I find to be very bold on the part of the Clone Wars crew to work on a Clone Wars episode that isn’t exactly Clone Wars. Even the structure itself is rather strange. In twenty minutes, the droids travel to, and solve conflicts in, four unique and diverse situations. This gave the episode a fast pace, and from the space battle, to the planets, to the pirate ship etc., this episode seemed like a Clone Wars version of Star Tours, which I kind of enjoyed. Though I can certainly see where people can feel differently about the episode. It was catered more towards kids, and structured more like a kids TV show, rather than to the die hard fanboys who are looking for a 4 part arc about the return of Darth Maul.

In this episode, 3PO and R2 travel to two planets and eventually aboard a pirate ship and separatist cruiser. All four are immensely different in terms of design and characters. The first two (the planets) are about corrupt leaders and 3PO and R2, somewhat accidentally, destroying them. The messages in the episode of creating democracy and trusting your leaders are quite apparent throughout, but I think its how 3PO and R2 go about it that make it so awesome. I think this could be 3PO’s finest and funniest episode. The highlight of the episode for me was on the first planet, after the dictator there was crushed by R2, 3PO helps them select a leader, declares the people a democracy, and then leaves as they are all arguing among themselves. I couldn’t help but think, classic 3PO, and classic democracy. On the second planet, we were shown a different story of a people that were being controlled by a giant alien who rules with an iron fist…that was really a pit droid. I think the end to that section is the best, where the pit droids deception has been exposed, and you see a huge explosion behind 3PO and R2 a few miles away (which they pay no attention to).

After they venture to the planets and are taken aboard the pirate ship, the episode takes yet another turn, in which we are not overthrowing evil warlords or deceptive pit droids anymore, but a gladiator ring of droids. I think my biggest complaint is that they didn’t try to work in the theme they had for the previous environments into the pirate ship. But I did enjoy seeing the design they had for the gladiator robot, if you notice, the design they used for his hands are very similar to a gladiator droid’s hands that was in the Ghendy series. So I got to give a thumbs up on the designs for this episode. And just as soon as we get on the pirate ship, we get swung out into space and onto a separatist ship, then back into the republic’s hands, all in the blink of an eye (metaphorically speaking, of course).

Nomad Droids certainly was a different type of episode, but still very enjoyable. Like I said with my review of Mercy Mission, these episodes are great every once in a while, but not all the time. Now, what did you think of this episode? Leave your comments below! Thanks for reading and may the Force be with you…always!

-Ryan

 

Fan Days IV Recap

Fan Days IV Recap

On October 8th and 9th the Irving Convention Center in Irving Texas hosted the 4th iteration of Fan Days.  Fan Days this year was a mostly Star Wars focused convention featuring special celebrity guests, fan groups, Q&A panels, and numerous vendors.  Fans from around the country, and even from other countries, gathered together for two days to celebrate their love for the Star Wars franchise.  As with most conventions, there was not enough time to do absolutely everything, but here are my memories of what I did get to see and do.

Stephen Stanton, Catherine Taber, Meredith Salenger, and Tom Kane at the Clone Wars panel


Author Panels
I was sad to see there wasn’t much of a representation from Star Wars authors at Fan Days.  Luckily, they did have two of the best.  Aaron Allston, who has written books in the X-wing, New Jedi Order, Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi series, and Tim Zahn, who has written numerous Star Wars books and is considered by some as the “godfather of the modern Expanded Universe.”  I was excited to hear from both of these authors and attended the two panels that they were on together.  The first of these panels was called “Ask the Authors” and was exactly that.  In a small but crowded room, fans got to get up and ask their questions and get them answered by the two authors.  You can actually watch the entire panel over at YouTube thanks to our friends at TheForce.net.  Here are some of the highlights.

Allston said that much of the direction of the story in Fate of the Jedi is dictated by Lucasfilm and Del Rey and not just the authors.

Tim Zahn doesn’t like the idea of time travel or “flow walking” in Star Wars.  He really really doesn’t like it.

Aaron Allston’s favorite Star Wars film is Empire Strikes Back. “…it has the best character development.”

Tim Zahn on the subject of rebooting the Star Wars Expanded Universe – “A reboot would be very messy.” “There would be immense pressure from the fan community not to do a reboot.”

Awhile back, Allston pitched the ideal of a novel about the events of the Original Trilogy from the perspective of Darth Vader.  Zahn thinks he should repitch the idea to Del Rey and the crowd heartily agreed.

When asked what he would have done differently with the Prequels, Zahn said he would have done Jar Jar differently.  “The most irritating thing about Jar Jar is that he doesn’t grow.”  Zahn also said the Yoda/Dooku battle in Attack of the Clones would have been better if it wasn’t as acrobatic. Have Yoda stand still and show his mastery.

Zahn – “Now that certain of my characters have been offed, there is less incentive to write in that era”

The other panel they did together was called “What Not to Put in a Story.”  This panel was less Star Wars focused, and more advice to aspiring writers.  Still a great panel, it was very enjoyable to listen to the two authors critique modern movies and books.  Two things I learned from this panel were they don’t like Clive Cussler’s writing too much, and Zahn is a big fan of Doctor Who.  Star Wars literature did eventually come up…

Zahn – “Maybe before they kill Han, Luke, and Leia they should destroy the Falcon and see what kind of fan reaction they get”

Allston said that at the beginning of The Clone Wars animated series there was not much communication between that team and the books department.  He said now communication is much better.  They actually had to change some things in the Fate of the Jedi series because of some things that were coming up in The Clone Wars show.

Allston was in talks with Del Rey to possibly continue the Republic Commando series. He ended up doing the Wraith Squadron book instead.

Author Aaron Allston

Hughes the Force
One of the big events at Fan Days was a screening of the fan made film Hughes the Force, written and directed by J.C. Reifenberg.  The film is basically a mash up of Star Wars and John Hughes films, specifically borrowing from the plot of Weird Science.  At the end of day one of the convention, they invited everyone up to an auditorium to watch the short film followed by a Q&A with the crew of the film.  I have to admit that I haven’t seen too many John Hughes films, so some of the humor may have been lost on me, but the film was very well made and funny.  Tons of Star Wars references and even cameos by some of The Clone Wars voice actors.  I definitely recommend checking this film out.  I even had a chance to talk to J.C. Reifenberg and the producer of the film Ruark Dreher while on the convention floor.  They are both extremely nice, talented guys and I look forward to seeing what they can come up with in the future.

Costumes!

Convention Floor
If you were looking for that hard to find Star Wars toy, a unique Star Wars t-shirt, or are hoping to meet a Star Wars artist or celebrity, the convention floor at Fan Days was the place to be.  The floor was arranged so the celebrities were on the edge of the floor (Billy Dee had his own room) and the artists and vendors had booths organized in the center.  Very easy to navigate and find what you were looking for.  There were more artists and celebrities than I will mention here, but some of the names that stuck out to me were Ashley Eckstein, Stephen Stanton, Tom Kane, Tom Hodges, Spencer Brinkerhoff, Denise Vasquez, Randy Martinez and Matt Busch.  Some were easy to get to and others had long lines, but all of the celebrities and artists were very friendly and more than willing to spend a few minutes talking to the fans that came up to them.

Any mini fig you could ever need

Volunteering
This year I wanted to see what it would be like to be a volunteer at a convention so I signed up to work a shift on the second day.  There are many possible jobs you can get, anything from watching a door to sitting with a celebrity, and I was ready to do whatever they asked.  Luckily for me, I got the job of sitting with one of the guests and helping them as they talked to fans and signed autographs.  The guest that I got to sit with was Jon Berg, who did a lot of visual effects work on the Original Trilogy.  I had not heard of him before but after talking to him for a few minutes I quickly realized how important he was to the Star Wars saga.  He had done design work on some of the most iconic things in the movies including Imperial Walkers, Ithorians (he laughed when people asked him to sign “Hammerhead”), Duros, the holo-chess set, and a lot more.  The conversations I had with him were amazing.  It was like an interactive behind the scenes session.  He was one of the nicest people I have met and very down to earth.  He even offered to get me coffee at one point which is what I was supposed to be doing for him.  This was only his second convention and I hope he goes to many more.  If you ever get a chance to talk to him I highly recommend it.

Jon Berg with a fan

The Convention
This was my first time to Fan Days, and I was very impressed.  It was well organized, well run and spacious.  I never had the feeling that it was over crowded like some of the bigger conventions I have been to.  A smaller convention like this allows you to relax and take everything in.  The best thing about these conventions is getting together with your friends and other like-minded fans, and Fan Days was full of them.  I am not sure when the next Star Wars Fan Days will be (my guess is 2013 since there is a Star Wars Celebration in 2012) but you should go.  Hopefully I will see you at Celebration 6 before then.

-Aaron Goins

 

Drew Karpyshyn and Timothy Zahn to pen new Star Wars novels

Some very interesting news indeed.

Just announced at our Del Rey Star Wars books panel: Drew Karpyshyn will write a fourth novel that will tie into The Old Republic for Fall 2012 and Tim Zahn will write a new novel starring Han Solo set in the classic films era. More details to come on both as they develop.

 

Source

 

The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 5 Review

Hello and welcome back once again to The Star Wars Report’s The Clone Wars reviews! Today we’ll be looking at C3PO and R2D2’s latest adventure when they stumble upon a mystical land beneath the surface of an alien planet, after earthquakes ravage the surface in Mercy Mission.

The episode starts with Republic cruisers arriving on the planet Aleen after massive earthquakes have killed thousands of the Aleena and destroyed much of the buildings. Naturally, our favorite droid translator C-3PO has been brought along to assist in communicating with the natives while R2D2 downloads a program that will detect the earthquakes. Soon enough, 3PO and R2 get themselves into some trouble (as they always do) and look to solve the mystery behind the earthquakes from where they originate underground. It was kind of strange to see an episode without any real villain. There were no Separatists, no Sith, and no bounty hunters to be found. I thought was a nice change; it really was a step away from the war entirely. Even the creatures underground causing the quakes weren’t really trying to hurt the surface dwelling creatures, they even helped 3PO and R2 solve the problem. Now, I would not like for this to be a consistent theme in season four at all, but every once in a while its good to see what else is going on in the galaxy, and a 3PO episode is the perfect setting for that.

This episodes biggest strength is that it was a very visual episode. There were lots of sequences with cool lighting, character models, and environments. Above ground everything was scaled to the height of the Aleena, so it was pretty cool to see the clones having to crawl through the hallways instead of everything being their size. The underground setting was very “Mortis” like in that the plants glowed beautifully and lit up the rest of the dark surroundings. But this time, the plants talk! 3PO and R2 confront a gang of mystical trees that lead them to an alien named Orphne, who was also a very strange and mystical creature. This episode was very fantastical, due to the visuals, the soundtrack, and even the basis of the episode. I think that Star Wars could always use more mysticism, and while I wasn’t a huge fan of Mortis because of the conflicts it created, I certainly appreciated the tone, the setting, and the symbolism we got to see in that arc, and Mercy Mission seemed very similar, just without as much impact on the galaxy and our characters, unfortunately.

This brings me to a few complaints I had about Mercy Mission. What was the point? I think we’ve surpassed the time in Clone Wars where standalone episodes mean nothing and the characters were basically the same at the end of the episode as they were in the beginning. I know I said before that getting away from the war was good, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t still affect something. I mean its great that 3Po and R2 saved the Aleena on the surface from the earthquakes, but how is that going to impact the future of the galaxy, what did 3PO learn from his experience?

Mercy Mission had great visuals and neat ideas, but at the same time felt like a filler episode. I still liked it, but not as much as the other episodes we’ve seen in Season 4 so far. What did you think of 3PO and R2’s latest adventure? Did you like it? Hate it? Leave a comment below and let us know! Thanks for reading and may the force be with you…always.

-Ryan

 

 

 

The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 4 Review

Hello and welcome back for another Clone Wars review! Today we’ll be reviewing not one, but two episodes since I never released a review last week. So watch for a second review for Mercy Mission on the site today as well. And with announcements aside, let’s jump into the episode! Below is my review for episode 404 Shadow Warrior.

Going into this episode I was aware that it was going to be another Jar Jar episode. I had flashbacks in my brain of Bombad Jedi and the Gungan General. So naturally I was expecting a comedic episode, one extremely light in tone. This was not the case for a good half of the episode. This episode started out with lots of Jar Jar type jokes, (most of which I thought were hilarious) from Jar Jar being forced to impersonate a high ranking official in the Gungan government, to having a conversation with none other than General Grievous aboard a separatist ship. Then the tone suddenly darkened with an awesome fight which had a few surprises. First, Tarpals dies, which once again shows how willing they are to kill off characters, even from the films which kind of shocked me. Then, General Grievous actually gets captured! This was a nice change from seeing Grievous running and escaping, of which he seems to do a fair amount of. To be honest, I felt this episode had way more impact than any episodes we’ve seen so far on season four, and I had been expecting this episode to be a lighthearted comedy!

And the surprises don’t end there! Anakin is in pursuit of the episodes supposed villain, Minister Liu, when he finds out the true schemer behind the failed war between the Gungans and the Naboo. Turns out Dooku was behind it the whole time, big deal, Dooku is always behind this kind of stuff. But it’s what Dooku reveals that perked my interest. He mentions that he was part of the first battle of Naboo, which would be around the same time he left the order. Was he really part of the planning behind the events of the Phantom Menace, or was he representing the Sith in general? Was he already Sideous’s apprentice at the time of the battle of Naboo? It brings up so many questions about how far back Dooku really goes in the history of the Clone Wars. On a side note, I noticed that the hologram of Sideous was animated to be far less sinister than previous versions in terms of facial expressions and voice, it seemed a lot more true to the movies instead of overdone with evilness.

And lastly, the trade. I totally expected that, but was it good for the overall story? When confronted with the dilemma to trade Anakin for Grievous, I think it would’ve been better for Padme to have had someone advising her against the trade. Both Jar Jar and Boss Leone were there to tell her it was the right thing, but I think there needed to be a part of her the represented her inner sense of duty to the Republic, which meant refusing the trade and serving justice to the droid general, which would in turn end the war. But what if that had happened? What if Anakin had been taken prisoner by the Separatists? I think that would’ve sparked another story of how Anakin (and Grievous) escape their captors instead of finding the quickest way to tie up the episode.

All in all, I thought this was a great episode. We certainly learned a lot about Dooku, the Gungans, and the fate of a somewhat important character from the films. Leave your thoughts below and let us know what you thought of the episode! Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you…always.

-Ryan