Star Wars VII The Force Awakens Review (major spoilers)

December 19th, 2015 at 9:17 am by David Farrar

J.J. Abrams delivered. As one reviewer said, this is the Star Wars film you are looking for. It is the best of the series and I predict will break pretty much every box office record on the planet.

The detailed review with spoilers is over the break, along with thoughts on all those unanswered questions.


20 Star Wars facts you might now know

December 16th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Have just finished reading How Star Wars conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor. A very well researched book on not just the films, but the cultural phenomenon. He has interviewed scores of peole involved and got holds of all the various drafts and amended scripts.

Picked up a lot of facts and trivia I didn’t know, so figured the day before Episode VII is a good time to share some of them. 20 facts you may now know:

  1. Lucas saw Star Wars as how a small bunch of primitive rebels defeated a huge empire.  It was loosely based on the Vietnam War with the US Government being the Empire, the Emperor being Richard Nixon and the Ewoks representing the Viet Cong!
  2. The original title for the first movie was “The Adventures of Luke Starkiller”
  3. Lucas was over budget for the movie so destroyed Alderaan to save the expense of filming what was to be several scenes on it
  4. Engineers once calculated that it would take 833,315 years for Earth to construct the Death Star and cost $852 quadrillion or $852,000 trillions.
  5. When Mad Magazine did a parody called The Empire Strikes Out, Lucasfilm wrote to then threatening a lawsuit. Mad Magazine responded by sending them a copy of the personal letter they’d received from George Lucas telling them how great the parody was.
  6. In original scripts C3PO was meant to die in Episode IV and Lando in Episode VI. They were changed to Obi-Wan and Yoda.
  7. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher had an affair during the filming of Episode IV. It started when he surprised her by hiding naked in his closet with just a bow tie on.
  8. Economists have calculated that if you paid people minimum wage to mop the floors of the Death Star, it would cost $732 billion
  9. Fox Studios thought Star Wars would tank as it had only $1.5 million of advance bookings and it opened in just 43 theatres
  10. So many people just stayed in theatres to watch Star Wars multiple times (without paying), that this led to theatres now checking and clearing the audience between screenings of films today
  11. Fox stock went from $13 to $23 a share within one month of Star Wars opening
  12. The reasons Luke Skywalker looked so stunned to learn Darth Vader was his father was he got told just two minutes before the scene was shot. And the actor who played Darth Vader (not James Earl Jones who was the voice) only found out when he watched the film!
  13. The reason Had Sole got frozen in carbonite at the end of Episode V is because he had not signed up for Episode VI. If they couldn’t get an agreement he would have stayed frozen!
  14. The entirety of Boba Fett”s dialogue in Episode V and VI can fit into a single tweet
  15. After Mark Hamill learnt Leia was his sister (and before that Darth Vader his father) he joked that they should have Boba Fett remove Fett’s helmet and Luke discovers Boba Fett is his mother 🙂
  16. Lucas named the Trade Federation leaders Nute Gunray and Lott Dod after Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.
  17. The original script for the prequels sounded much better than the final scripts – Qui Gon is a minor figure so the focus is on Obi-Wan for Episode I.  Jar Jar speaks normally and is very wise, and the plot is about how Amidala’s race is prejudiced against his but she overcomes this prejudice. Also originally in Episode III Amidala was meant to found the Rebel Alliance, instead of dying.
  18. One fan queued up for six weeks for the first screening of Episode I.  His reaction upon seeing it was “Shit. Fucking. Sandwich”
  19. In the original script for Episode III Palpatine tells Anakin that he created him through the force, and that makes him effectively his father. That would have meant the Emperor was Luke’s grandfather!
  20. Han shot first!

Ranking the six Star Wars films

December 14th, 2015 at 7:17 am by David Farrar

USA Today ranks in order the six Star Wars films:

  1. Episode V – Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  2. Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
  3. Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
  4. Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  5. Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
  6. Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

I’d agree with those rankings.

Can’t wait for Episode VII!

Star Wars Episode 7 Trailer II

April 17th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

December can’t come quickly enough!

Episode 7

November 29th, 2014 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

38 years after Episode 4!

The Internet Party of Ukraine

October 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Love this ad by the Internet Party of Ukraine.

Related to this Stuff reports:

In a galaxy far, far, away – Odessa, the third-largest city in Ukraine – several Star Wars characters have managed to register as official candidates in the upcoming election. With names like Darth V. Vader, Stepan Chubakka (Chewbacca), Master V. Yoda, and Padme N. Amidala listed on the candidate roster, voters can’t be blamed for looking twice at the ballot.

Here’s another of their campaign videos

In a galaxy far, far, away – Odessa, the third-largest city in Ukraine – several Star Wars characters have managed to register as official candidates in the upcoming election. With names like Darth V. Vader, Stepan Chubakka (Chewbacca), Master V. Yoda, and Padme N. Amidala listed on the candidate roster, voters can’t be blamed for looking twice at the ballot.

Obama turns down a death star

January 13th, 2013 at 9:23 am by David Farrar

The White House has a policy of responding to any online petition that gets more than 25,000 signatures. This one got almost 35,000.

Those who sign here petition the United States government to secure funding and resources, and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016.

By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.

I would have thought the left would be fully in favour of this, as the ultimate fiscal stimulus. It would create jobs for every American!

The Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget has responded:

The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.

Actually they are working hard to spend more than ever. They could just print some more money to pay for it!

The Administration does not support blowing up planets.

Heh. Not even Pluto which isn’t even a real planet now?

Star Wars: Episode VII

October 31st, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Yay. NZ Herald reports:

A seventh Star Wars film has been confirmed for release in 2015 as well as a string of sequels after the sale of LucasFilm to Disney for US$4.05 billion (NZ$4.93b).

In a statement announcing the deal, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm George Lucas said: “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.”

May Episode VII be as good as Episode IV rather than Episode III.

I wonder if the new movies will follow the non-canonical books, or if they will be totally different?

I can still recall the excitement as a 10 year old, seeing Star Wars. Almost everyone went to see it twice or more, and some peopel saw it dozens of times. It really did change films.

The case against the death star

May 11th, 2012 at 11:49 am by David Farrar

I’ve previously covered the debate about whether the death star is a good investment from a fiscal point of view. Now the debate is about whether it is a good idea politically. The case against:

First, the Death Star is a bit misunderstood. It is primarily a tool of domestic politics rather than warfare, and should be compared to alternative means of suppressing the population of a galaxy. Second, as a weapon of war, it should be compared to alternative uses of scarce defense resources. Understood properly, the Death Star is not worth it. …

I see the Death Star (DS) as the Emperor’s solution to the dictator’s dilemma.  First, note that its construction precedes the Rebel Alliance; the plans are first developed by the Separatists in Episode 2 and, by the time it is completed, the Rebel Alliance has just won its “first victory.” While it may have some use as a deterrent against possible invaders, the DS is primarily a tool of domestic politics. Prior to its completion, the Emperor is compelled to keep the Imperial Senate around, presumably to maintain the semblance of popular consent. But the Senate imposes some inefficiency—meddling in military strategy, perhaps, or directing spending to some favored planets. Once the DS is operational, the Emperor can disband the Senate and, instead, empower Imperial governors to suppress the local population and extract revenue. 

So the Death Star was about allowing the Senate to be replaced by Governors.

But how can the Emperor guard against rebellion by one of these governors? Or revolt by a local planet’s population? The answer is simple: he can zip around in the baddest weapon in the galaxy, destroying his foes with the push of a button. No foe could fight back, and the DS is mobile enough to respond to multiple threats in short order.

Note that this scheme provides an easy answer to the question, “how can we afford a Death Star?” If the scheme works, the Death Star will pay for itself dozens of times in the additional tax revenue from fearful planets, and by the money not spent by the military putting down revolts with conventional weapons.

So seems a good idea, right?

But will it work?  Only if it induces cooperation through fear. Every planet blown up represents a tremendous loss of potential future revenue, so like nuclear weapons today, the actual use of the DS is a calamity. Moreover, like nuclear weapons, they only work as a deterrent if they are used judiciously. citizens throughout the galaxy must believe that failure to pay their taxes and comply with their Imperial masters will lead to detonation, but also that compliance will save them. The fact that the DS was used against Alderaan, however, would likely have had the opposite effect. Alderaan is “peaceful” and “has no weapons.” It was detonated because its teenage senator was secretly aiding the Rebel Alliance and waited too long to give up Dantoonie.  …

If the net effect of the DS is to make every person in the galaxy think their planet could be the next one arbitrarily destroyed, it actually mobilizes them to join the rebellion.

So use of the death star will not work, and indeed it did not.



For Star Wars nerds

May 24th, 2008 at 9:36 pm by David Farrar

A fan, Michael Kaminski, has written a 532 page book on the secret history of Star Wars. It has everything – the discarded plot elemenets, how they decided Darth Vader would be Luke’s father only after the first movie was done, what happened to episodes VII to IX.

If people have nothing to do over the next weekend’s long weekend!