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Tag Archive: Obi-Wan Kenobi


obi_wan-rebels-a

Star Wars Rebels officially crossed over into the Star Wars Cinematic Universe in December with the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  The series’ plucky little astromech droid C1-10P or “Chopper” was seen at the Rebel Base on Yavin 4, and the series space vessel the Ghost was also seen docked there and in other scenes, including a scene with the Rebel Fleet making a jump to hyperspace, and fighting at the Battle of Scarif (no doubt there are some great opportunities here to replay Rogue One from the perspective of the crew of the Ghost).  At the same time, Grand Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy of sequels to Return of the Jedi is now firmly enmeshed into the Star Wars canon, and a new trailer teases even more events will bridge the original trilogy with the prequel trilogy.

It all begins with Obi-Wan Kenobi’s message–a warning–sent to the remaining Jedi after Anakin Skywalker massacred so many (along with Emperor Palpatine’s Order 66) in Revenge of the Sith.  Stephen Stanton, who is known for his ability to mimic Sir Alec Guinness’s voice, is the new voice of elder Kenobi.  Stanton has voiced other Star Wars roles, most recently as the Mon Calamari Admiral Raddus in Rogue One.  The second part of Season 3, continuing this week, will feature Mon Mothma on the Ghost, more Tarkin, and Forest Whitaker again taking on the role of Saw Garrera from Rogue One, albeit an earlier, less cybernetically modified incarnation.

garrera

The trailer for Season “3.5” also shows a bipedal Darth Maul in the shadows of Kenobi’s bonfire.  It looks like it is time for a revisit of their battle in The Phantom Menace.  Watch closely for the guards surrounding Grand Admiral Thrawn, black-armored Death Troopers, which are apparently tied to the “Legends” (the old Expanded Universe) creation of a zombie trooper legion in the new Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide.  Death Troopers are also seen in Rogue One. 

Here is the preview of Star Wars Rebels 2017 episodes:

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It sounds better than it is.  Star Wars is back in theaters.  “See it again for the first time.”  Before 1999 this would have been incredible huge news, and of course in 1999 it was huge news.  Back then we hadn’t seen any new Star Wars movie hit the big screen since 1985, when the last reels of Return of the Jedi played in dollar theaters across the country.  And we all lined up around the block at theaters to see this new Star Wars, this time a big “prequel,” and what would be the film to define that word forever after.

The first time the words Star Wars appeared at the top of the familiar scroll and John Williams trumpets blared from nowhere, no audience was silent.  Star Wars Episode I:  The Phantom Menace was finally here!  And then the movie began.  And there was talk of tariffs…and…what’s that?  Tariffs?  Trade routes?  And the wincing started.  And it didn’t really end until Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith showed Darth Vader walking like Frankenstein.  I’ve always said the reason why franchises succeed is because of checks and balances and the involvement in every enterprise of several creative minds.  When one guy makes all the decisions, and presumably everyone around him is afraid to question his vision, the result is Episode 1.

That said, 1999 was a long time ago.  By now you have probably watched Episode 1 on cable more times than you would admit, simply because nothing else good was on, and, isn’t a little Star Wars universe better than no Star Wars universe?  And maybe you know some kids who weren’t going to movies in 1999.  If so, then, whether or not you love or less-than-love Episode 1, you’d be nuts not to grab that kid and go see it again.

Wait a second, what’s that you said about wincing?

I know.  You can come up with so many reasons to avoid this movie:  (1) Everyone blames Jar Jar for everything, global warming, the economy…  Personally, if George Lucas was aiming at kids just a bit with this character, then fine.  He’s only annoying when you consider being an adult viewer.  If Jar Jar was the only oddity in Episode 1, everyone would have little bad to say about the film.

Jar Jar, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan

(2) But you have to add to Jar Jar things like the stupefying midichlorians, an unwanted scientific explanation for the existence of Jedi that instantly shifted all this great space fantasy to questionable science fiction.  It was an unnecessary concept that made the possibility that anyone could become a Jedi, even young hopeful Earthlings, vanish.  You gotta have the noble blood.  Lame.  (3) And I already mentioned the pure excitement of discussing trade routes.  As a concept later in the prequel trilogy this might have worked, but as the first thing we saw, it started us out wrong.  (4) Then you have Queen Amidala.  What could have been used to explain the strength, leadership, and determination of Princess Leia became one of the most pathetic attempts at strong women leaders put on screen.  In Episode 1, she is foreshadowed to be paired with this much younger and smaller boy.  It all seemed so wrong.  In all three prequels she never gets to do anything, with all her greatness happening apparently off-screen.  (5) And to top off the bad, the one character we cared about, that we wanted to see, was never Anakin.  It was Obi-Wan Kenobi.  The guy who first whispered about the clone wars to us.  His past was key to everything.  And in Episode 1 instead of someone awe-inspiring we got a young, pompous, arrogant jerk with a goofy haircut.  We didn’t want to idolize Jedi Knights as protectors who were better than the rest of us.  We wanted Jedi who would stand shoulder to shoulder with the little guy.  Samurai, not WWII military police.  (6)  Phantom Menace as a title, announced well before the release, was indicative of the weird we’d get.  Luckily all the other titles were far better.  (7) Haven’t we already given enough of our earnings to the House of Lucas?  (8) One final thing (because we could go on forever):  CGI Yoda can’t touch Muppet Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back.  ’nuff said.

Amidala in Padme disguise

So there is a lot to wince at.  But then again maybe we should all just lighten up and go with it.  Criticizing Episode 1 is too easy.  Don’t be Simon Pegg in the TV series SpacedUnlearn what you have learned.  Why should I go to see it, you ask?

First, Darth Maul.  More specifically, Ray Park’s performance as Darth Maul.  If they didn’t get anything else right with Episode 1, they finally gave us a lightsaber battle worthy of the Jedi and an acrobatic athlete up to the task of taking on knights in space.  And Maul’s red center-handled lightsaber could not have been a better designed weapon.  Although we questioned the red face and horns, at the time we didn’t know that he was but the first in a line of several prospective alien lieutenants of varying races that were being tested to be the Emperor’s one right-hand man.

Qui-Gon, Kenobi and Zod (oh my!)

Although he was only half as cool as he should have been, with his stilted dialogue and inexplicable removal of a little boy from his mother (leaving her to be a slave!), Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gonn Jinn had a very cool look, and for what Lucas was attempting to do, he gave us a leader we all would happily follow.  And where he was lacking, we got to meet an even cooler Jedi, Mace Windu, played by Samuel L. Jackson.  His calm coolness worked, even if he didn’t get to do much yet.

Mace Windu hanging out

And one contributor to the Star Wars universe who never failed was John Williams.  His new score for Episode 1 was on par with Return of the Jedi.  Sure it was darker and less magical, but it reflected the story Williams was handed.  The seemingly never-ending pod race would have been far more painful without his new theme.  The “duel of the fates” of the climax would have been far less foreboding without his incredible soundtrack.

Composer John Williams

Next, the costumes were just awesome.  Check out all of Natalie Portman’s 3,761 dresses.  And the set design and sound can’t be beat.

Finally, the nostalgia and pure fun may be all the reason you need to see this one.  Anthony Daniels as C-3Po.  Kenny Baker as R2-D2Tusken Raiders on Tatooine almost changing the future of the galaxy with a single rifle shot at a little boy in a pod race.  Cameos by Warwick Davis and former Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings fan club president Dan Madsen!  Emperor Zod as a good guy!

Kenny Baker, R2-D2 and Dan Madsen

And who doesn’t like 3D?  Just pop some Excedrin before you go.  It might help prevent the headache behind your eyes.

Besides, putting aside the way cool and creepy Daniel Radcliffe movie The Woman in Red, or the 3D version of Disney’s best animated work, Beauty and the Beast, what else are you going to see in theaters this weekend that is any better than the Star Wars universe in 3D?  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?  The Vow?  The Grey?  There are three great reasons right there to buy tickets for Episode 1 in 3D before they’re sold out.  And it might whet your appetite while you wait for a better film to return, Attack of the Clones, and then later the real fun begins–the original Star Wars in 3D and then The Empire Strikes Back in 3D.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By C.J. Bunce

Yesterday we started in on what makes a great character, and who and how we determine our favorites, mentioning dozens of  favorites from different genres and different media.  The challenge?  Come up with your top 5 favorite fictional characters from anything.  When I was finished selecting them, I was surprised what they all have in common: a desire to protect others and defend the good against the bad.  I went through a ton of characters to whittle it down to five.  Most of my favorites I see as having some trait I want for myself, or guys I want to be like.  Along the way I carved away Boba Fett, the obscure but coolest of the “men with no name” anti-hero Western archetypes, and opted instead for another Star Wars character.  I lost Steve McQueen’s too cool cop Lieutenant Frank Bullitt for another cop that made the list and had to cut the other coolest guy (other than The Fonz), the no-named drifter from They Live.  I lost Thomas Magnum, the TV show private investigator, that, along with Batman, is up there at the top of my Sherlock Holmes influenced characters.  I cut big life-long heroes like the Six Million Dollar Man, Luke Skywalker, Tron, and even the awesome A.A. Milne creation Eeyore.  No room for Will Riker and Captain Dathon from Star Trek.  I love Dana Andrews’ noir detective Mark McPherson in Otto Preminger’s Laura.  Fred Gailey, who defended Santa Claus (successfully!) in court in Miracle on 34th Street, hung to the list almost to the end.  A top 10 list would have been far easier!

After a lot of soul searching–and this is not an easy exercise (try it for yourself!)–here is where I finally ended up.

When we first meet Uncle Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi, played by Sir Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars, he was an old man.  A miser living out beyond the Dune Sea.  Luke thought he was long dead.  Then he comes out of nowhere in the desert at just the right time to barely save our story’s hero.  Ben doesn’t remember the droids he supposedly owned a few decades ago.  Is he a bit absent minded?  Has the desert gotten to him?   Without Uncle Ben, Luke Skywalker would be dead, and he saves Luke’s life six times: first, from the Tusken Raiders in the desert, second, from an alien in the cantina’s hive of scum and villainy, third, from the Empire by getting Luke out of Mos Eisley, fourth, by releasing the Millenium Falcon in the Death Star, fifth, by guiding Luke from afar to destroy the Death Star in his X-Wing Fighter, and sixth, by keeping him alive after he is mugged by a snow beast on the frozen planet of Hoth.  Kenobi was part samurai warrior, part medieval wizard, part mystic, a monk, a veteran of the last battle of the Jedi.  And later we’d learn he was the reason Luke and his sister survived at all: he’d saved Luke as an infant by bringing him to the remote planet with twin suns.  He doesn’t have much time to mentor Luke, but what he does counts for a lot.  Kenobi proves nothing is more powerful than wisdom and experience.  Ultimately he sacrifices everything to save the galaxy by using his knowledge of the force to convert into a spirit, the only time this ever happens in the original Star Wars trilogy, so he can assist Luke along the rest of his journey.  Later on Ewan McGregor put a very nice spin on the character for the prequels, but the original played by Guinness can never be beaten and Guinness received the only acting nod from the Academy for all the great actors of the series.

DCI Gene Hunt was a cop, a cop played by actor Philip Glenister.  A good cop that blurred some of the rules of British law enforcement, but who was a product of his times, which was 1973 in the BBC TV series Life on Mars, and 1982 in the series Ashes to Ashes.  He is brash, rude, and mouthy.  He is kind.  He is crude and speaks in local colloquialisms that make non-natives have to rewind and view the closed captioning to understand what the heck he just said, and sometimes you still can’t tell.  He protects his team.  More than anything, this guy has angst.  Yet he wants to help others.  He wants to do the right thing.  He believes in justice.  He believes that sometimes a cop has to break the rules to get to the right result.  To find the criminal.  To protect the innocent.  He’s willing to stop and help a woman having an emergency birth.  He falls for a co-worker who herself is a mess and desperately lost.  He tolerates his bizarre group of subordinates, as he prefers them to everyone else, and he’ll join them for a drink at any time of day.  And he always drives a cool car.  He’s like a British version of Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, but with more layers and a lot more problems.  He becomes so involved in everyone else’s affairs that he ultimately forgets who he is.  I have seen Philip Glenister in little else, and wonder whether I like Gene, or I like Gene because Glenister played him.  Either way, nothing is as it seems in Manchester and Salford police departments.  And that leaves Gene to rise above it all and become the best cop in the best cop series ever made.

In the western movie Silverado, at the beginning of the film, Paden is dead.  At least he is left for dead, like real-life Beck Weathers in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.  Paden is played by Kevin Kline.  You can’t start much worse off than Paden, prior to being rescued by Scott Glenn’s character, Emmett.  All Paden has to his name is his 1800s long underwear.  He was trusting, befriended some cowboys who turned on him, stole his horse, his saddle, his hat, his ivory-handled Colt.  The whole rig.  But he really missed the bay horse the most.  They were laughing when they left him.  Thought it was real funny.  He walked for a little while but there was no use, so he gave it up.  Figured it was just bad luck.  He lies down to die.  And he gets a second chance.  But he’s not so much about revenge as looking out for the little dog one of his fellow riders mistreats.  He’s trying to find his place in the world, which just so happens to be managing the affairs of a saloon.  And you never know what Paden will care about.  Even if that means he must stop looking the other way.  He is a hero so he must act.  If that means risking his footing in a new town to defend a man against a racist saloon operator, so be it.  And if that means killing the men who run Silverado and the sheriff himself, his old friend, well then so be it.  Kline plays Paden as funny, serious, smart.  Sometimes warm, as when he is taking care of new friends, sometimes cold, as when he has to shoot a man.  Sometimes puzzling, like when he flirts with a woman the night her husband is shot dead.  Sheriff Cobb is using Stella to get to Paden.  “I don’t want you to get hurt,” Paden says.  Stella responds: “He can’t hurt me… if he’s dead.”  Paden is a complex guy who changes his luck in a time when getting by was good enough.

I’ve read everything I could get my hands on related to Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, as re-developed in DC Comics’ silver age, from 1971 forward.  Queen was a billionaire who lost it all.  He became “everyman.”  He ended up fighting crime as a vigilante and donned the outfit of Errol Flynn’s Adventures of Robin Hood and took his bow and arrow as well to fight crime.  He’s a bit like Batman, a sleuth in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes.  He became a force for social change and fell in love with a beautiful woman, Dinah Lance, aka Black Canary, and they ended up together in Seattle running a floral shop.  They were members of the Justice League and rubbed elbows with the best superheroes around.  Oliver always was outspoken, sometimes offending everyone around him, yet everyone around him always respected what he had to say and they often took his lead.  He always fought for the underdog.  My favorite incarnation is my first revisit to comic books, Green Arrow written and drawn by Mike Grell, but O’Neil and Adams’ version is a close second.  In his first scene of the modern era, he must convince Green Lantern that he needs to stop protecting a slumlord and instead protect the tenants.  With his on-again/off-again, fiery relationship with Dinah, he became part of the only crime-fighting superhero couple, together ridding the streets of every kind of baddie.

The only one of the five of my favorite characters listed here that never veered from my #1 spot is Captain Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce.  As the leading character in the TV series M*A*S*H over the course of eleven seasons, Alan Alda became the best actor on any TV series, and soldier/doctor Pierce became my favorite character.  He is defined by triage.  Triage in his job as he must discriminate between who has a chance to live and who won’t live.  Triage is his circumstance as he must decide to make the best or worst of being stuck in a place no one, even the local Korean refugees, wants to be.  His tools consist of scalpels, forceps, alcohol, and humor.  He takes the most depressing of dramatic situations and makes everyone laugh, and when the brilliant writing team gives us a serious story, he leaves us silent.  He gives us gut-wrenching performances, via a simple salute to Radar O’Reilly as he leaves for home to take care of the farm, to his reaction to the death of Colonel Henry Blake, to his interview responses for Movietone news.  He makes us laugh at his unending supply of practical jokes, against Hot Lips, Frank, Winchester, or B.J.  He is a hero, he’ll save the life of a North Korean soldier without flinching, and at his worst he freaks-out, asking those questions everyone wants to ask in the middle of a war, but doesn’t.  Why can’t we all just get along, as bunkmates, as co-workers, as Americans, as humans?  And he is calm when he needs to be.  Even when he is being bombed while trying to save lives after hours without rest.   With more than a dose of inspiration from Groucho Marx, Alan Alda conducted a one-man band of chaos in the middle of a stellar cast of characters.  It’s hard to believe M*A*S*H was a 30-minute show.  Never before or since has anyone come close to packing so much emotion, drama, comedy, and energy in such a small period of time, for so many years.  Although the writing of his character bottomed out in the last episode, what came before is what matters, and it explains why the series finale was the most-watched show ever.

Editor’s note: Tomorrow… we will take a day away from our favorite characters and Jason McClain will run down his recommendations to the Academy for the Ten Best Picture nominees, who will be announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tuesday, January 24.  Come on back Tuesday bright and early for Jason McClain’s top five favorite characters, followed by Art Schmidt on Wednesday and Elizabeth C. Bunce on Thursday.