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Star Wars Celebration III and Revenge of the Sith Review


 

See my Convention photos here

Day 0

Ok, here it is - finally - the thing I’ve been talking about for like a month now. My review of Celebration 3! Hopefully I’ll be able to remember it all in detail. I’ll try to stay general, but for those of you reading this that don’t know the name of every last alien in the cantina, I’ll try to put explanations in parentheses. Now if you don’t know the difference between Boba Fett and Jango Fett, you might be out of luck here, but I’ll try and help you out the best I can.

Of course I have to begin the day BEFORE the convention-

We decided to get in a day before the convention started and leave a day after it left so that we wouldn’t have to rush around on those two days. We started out rather lucky, as Jay Jay and I bought plane tickets two months before Jay Jay’s dad did, and so he wound up on different flights both there and back. Our tickets were much cheaper, but we also had a 6 hour layover on the way back. A week and a half before we left, however, we got an email saying that our flight was being cancelled and we were transferred to the same flight as Jay Jay’s dad. We also switched hotel rooms around and he stayed with us, which made our room a lot cheaper. Our hotel was a mile away from the convention center, but it was a pretty easy walk (and didn’t seem at all like it was a full mile)

As we left the airport and went to get a van to take us to the hotel we began to notice several groups of people in Star Wars shirts and/or jackets and/or hats and/or any other piece of clothing that you could fit some sort of Star Wars graphic on it. Now, given that I’m pale and skinny and at the computer all day, I’m not really one to talk about Star Wars fan stereotypes - but lets just say that instead of being sponsored by Target and Burger King, I think Pearl Vision and Clearasil would’ve made a killing here :) We also noticed lots of people carrying poster tubes, which of course contained not posters - but lightsabers!

Our van came and got us and drove us through the empty city of Indianapolis. Our driver said that including the suburbs, Indianapolis (Nativeamericanapolis as he called it) was only a city of a million people. I don’t know how accurate that is, but the city did seem really empty outside of the Star Wars fans (unless maybe a lot of Stormtroopers happen to live in the city). Upon arriving at the hotel we were issued a special Star Wars key - which stopped working the day the convention ended, despite the fact that we were staying an extra day. We put our stuff down and then decided to walk downtown for dinner. As we left the hotel we saw a van with Jodo Kast markings all over it (Non Star Wars Fans: Think Boba Fett in blue and yellow armor) and of course Jodo Kast himself standing right outside. Being the smartass I am I asked “You here for the convention?” We all laughed, and truth be told I probably could’ve gotten a lot of mileage off the joke, but in the interest of good taste, I didn’t.

We decided to head down to the mall, which happened to be right next door to the convention center. As we got closer and closer, we began to notice that people were already wearing their lanyards (instead of tickets we were issued lanyards stating either “four day” or whatever day it was if you bought a single ticket) Then we saw several of them with goody bags. Goody bags! I didn’t know we were gonna get goody bags! Now we had a reason to scope out the convention center. I was curious though - we didn’t bring our lanyards (as the convention didn’t start until tomorrow!) so could we still get them? Well, first we went to dinner anyway, and then we checked out the mall. Most stores had their own Star Wars displays - including a very silly Sarlacc pit (NSWF: The big vagina with teeth in Return of the Jedi) made out of paper that was at Sam Goodys. We also saw several Stormtroopers and Jedi at the mall. I remind you once more that this was the day BEFORE the convention (which is why we have no pictures of it). A lot of stores also had a small sign saying “Star Wars Celebration III” The significance of which is beyond me. It didn’t mean a discount or anything, I guess it just meant that, well, it really didn’t mean anything. They just put it up to attract people I guess. Every single downtown restaurant had one though, so it seemed rather pointless.

In any case, after the mall we took the skywalk (someone tagged a post it note to the end of the sign with a little “er” written on it) over to the convention center. We ended up upstairs, but the goody bags were being given out downstairs. For some reason they barricaded the escalators though, and since we didn’t feel like heading back out and down stairs, we moved the barrier and went downstairs. Or rather, I moved the barrier and convinced Jay Jay and her dad that we wouldn’t get in trouble for breaking past it (in my family, this barrier wouldn’t have been considered any sort of problem :) We got our goody bags, the contents of which I’ve already listed in a previous blog, and headed home. Once again we walked through a city filled with Stormtroopers, people STILL wearing their lanyards, and no actual Indianapolis citizens (I have a theory that they all went into hiding) It was a very surreal experience. I’ve been to Provincetown during Carnival and this was weirder to me. Odd thoughts I know, but I’ve always considered myself to be near the top of Star Wars geekdom. I have quite the collection of Star Wars merchandise that I’ve been collecting since I was three years old (including over 2000 figures), I’ve read every last novel and comic, played every video game, and I really could tell you the name and backstory of every last alien in the cantina AND Jabba’s Palace. And yet, I found myself suddenly at the bottom of the pile. Before we left Jay Jay’s dad said on a scale form 1 to 10, I’d be a 10, he and Jay Jay would be about a 4. Now we had to reevaluate. I’m now only a 3 and they are barely a 1. I don’t own any costumes, props, or R2 units (and certainly never built any of them myself) I don’t have a Star Wars room myself (my room at home doesn’t count!), I only even own four Star Wars shirts and the only lightsaber I ever bought I spray painted silver for my anal probe prop when I filmed “Martians” I ran into levels of fandom at this convention that I barely even conceived of.

And so ends Day 0. The next day - the first real day of the Convention - was mostly spent waiting in line.

Day 1

We awoke Thursday morning to a cold grey Indianapolis day. It was 70 degrees and sunny the day we arrived, and would be that way again the day we left. In between, however, it was rainy, wet, and cold. And by cold I mean Florida cold. It was in the 50s, which was enough to put Jay Jay and her dad down for a bit. I didn’t even bundle up.

The doors opened up at noon that day for Fan Club members and at 1pm for non- Fan Club members. While I’m a member of the Fan Club (and surprisingly only joined about two years ago) Jay Jay and her dad couldn’t come with me, so I figured I’d be good and not ditch em. The night before I had heard some guy saying that if the doors opened at noon, they should get in line at 8am. I laughed. How ridiculous - it’s not like this was a movie line. It’s a convention center - they just open the doors up and you go in - right? Wrong! But I’ll get to that in a minute.

We went to breakfast at a place called LePeep. Our server had a lazy eye. Now, I only mention that because for some strange reason we ran into no less than four people during our time at the convention that had a lazy eye. It’s nothing against those people, but it just seemed to be a bit odd. Anyway, I’m not a big breakfast eater (I prefer the Cracker Barrel One Egg, Two Strips of Bacon meal) but since I was now in the Midwest, the smallest breakfast I could order was two eggs, four strips of bacon, two slices of toast and a side of hash browns. I ate what I could, and couldn’t help but notice that my choice of meal seemed to be preferred by many Jedi Knights.

After we ate we went to the CVS that was on the way and got more film. The cashier was Lazy Eye #2 (collect em all!). From there we had planned on hitting the convention center around noon, but soon noticed people pointing down the street. We turned the corner and saw massive amount of Stormtroopers posing on the steps of the capital building two blocks away. We ran over to snap pictures, and I climbed up onto the statue (hoping that the bronze eagle’s claw I grabbed on to to pull myself up wouldn’t snap) I also helped a female Dooku up with me who was having trouble getting through the bushes surrounding the statue. I later found out that she was with the group who showed up with C-3P0 in a kimono (pictures at our Yahoo photo site) You can probably tell from the pictures I took that I was never quite sure when they were done setting up. I finally dropped down so we could leave when they all pulled their helmets off for more pics. We left anyways and could hear the crowd even by the time we got to the convention center. We went to the mall first (I forget why) and headed in through the skywalk again. We were stopped by security (the people dressed as Stormtroopers were security, as well as the blue shirted convention center security people - who were assholes all the way!) and told that we had to go down through the parking garage to get in line. We saw the line from the parking garage are were shocked. It went around the side of the convention center and up the steps of the RCA Dome (where the Colts play) It looked as if it wrapped around the entire stadium, but when we got to what we thought was the end of the line it turned out that it was the Fan Club line, which had wrapped around from the other side of the convention center. So we turned to follow the non-Fan Club line. And we walked. And walked. And walked and walked and walked and walked. We went around the entire side of the stadium, down the steps behind it, and out into the street. I immediately crossed off the first event we wanted to see, which started at 1:30. The poor woman behind us had a one day badge, plus two small children, so our collective hats go off to her. Her daughter (who must’ve been maybe three or four) totally lost it about an hour in. Secretly, we all felt like her. We found out that instead of just letting everyone in at once they were letting in fifty people, then waiting, then fifty people more and so on. When we turned the corner, and the door was in sight, we saw a guy attempt to get under the cue line and almost strangle himself to death. It turned out that his guy is none other than C.C. Banana. Who? See him here. He also dresses up as Darth Paul, a Darth Maul/Paul Stanley combo and apparently he does this at a lot of heavy metal concerts as well. But enough of our pseudo-celebrity sighting - we finally entered the building at 3:30.

The first thing on our list that we hadn’t missed was Ryan Church: Technologies and Environments. Being a techie at heart, I didn’t really care about seeing any of the actors speak, I was all about the behind the scenes stuff. I found Ryan Church’s presentation fascinating, as he took us on a journey from concept to screen with many of the ships, vehicles, buildings and planets of Episode III. I could tell, however that Jay Jay and her dad were pretty bored so I volunteered to skip the next thing I wanted to see - Dan Gregoire: The Vision Before the Film. Instead we went into the Exhibit Hall. I was thinking Prop and Costume Exhibit. It turns out that “Exhibit” is Star Wars for “Overpriced Stores” The Exhibit Room actually had booths set up from licensing companies such as Hasbro, Lego, Del Ray Books etc. as well as online stores who set up little shops like a flea market. I was a very good boy and didn’t buy a single thing. It was in this room that we got almost all of our freebies though. The freebies of course came from the licensees. The stores were filled with overpriced merchandise. For example, there are two versions of the Darth Sidious Pez dispenser - one purple, and one black, which was only available at Wal-Mart. They were released about two weeks before the convention. Just out of curiosity I asked the guy at one of the booths how much it was. He tried to tell me what a steal it was for only $15. It sold for $1.20. It’s still available in stores.

The convention was also selling an exclusive Darth Vader action figure. I decided I’d get mine on Friday, since I figured that the line for the Convention Store (different than anything in the Exhibit Hall) would be shorter then. Turns out that every day they shut the line down less than an hour after the Convention hall opened. That means people were getting in at 9am and waiting until 11pm to get into the store. So fuck that. What pissed me off was that each person could buy up to four exclusive figures, which sold for $15 each. The vendors in the Exhibit Hall all had the figures available too, usually for $50+. How did they get them? Well, while browsing I overheard some kid go up to one of the store owners and ask him if he was still buying figures. So basically these vendors were getting people who were buying a figure anyway to buy the maximum amount and then buying their extra three and marking them up to $50. Worse, nothing was being done to stop it. I’ve said all along that this would be my first and last convention, and the whole situation here only helped to solidify it.

We left the Exhibit Hall to check out the Archive Exhibit, which was the props and costumes thing I had been looking for originally. The line was huge, so we decided to wait till Friday. It was Sunday before we finally bit the bullet to go see it. We continued on past an went into the Fan Fair Hall. Since I make custom figures I decided to say hello to the guys at the FFURG (NSWF: They’re the big online community for that sort of thing) booth. They have online forums, which I never use unless I’ve updated my site, and which I have my own thread for. Still, I had mentioned in their C3 thread that I’d stop by to say hello. So of course I get there and have no idea who any of these people really look like, or what web sites they run or anything. I asked who was who, but couldn’t really place who had made what or anything off the top of my head. I introduced myself and no one there had any idea who I was, so I was a bit bummed, though it wore off quickly once the logic set in that I don’t really participate in the whole online community thing.

From there we walked over to the one place where we’d spend most of our four days - NiubNiub’s Dioramas. NiubNiub (who’s real name is Frank, is Canadian, and is working on post for The Fantastic Four) runs a huge Star Wars website dedicated to dioramas at NiubNiub’s Universe. He set up a workshop for people to build their own. The theme was the Death Star, and he had several rooms and corridors on display (if memory serves he managed to have every set seen in Star Wars). You’d pick the one you wanted to do and he or his volunteers would hand you blueprints, foam core and the decals you’d need to make your room. On Sunday he’d put them all together to form one huge diorama. Thursday, however, was just a set up day, so we said hello, checked out the other dioramas that he brought from home (a drive from Quebec) and then left to go see our next presentation - 30 Years at ILM.

The ILM presentation was in the massive 500 Ballroom. It turned out to be 1000 times better than we thought it would be. This had nothing to do with the presentation itself, though it was pretty entertaining. About halfway through the show Rick McCallum (NSWF: The Star Wars prequels producer) busts in through the doors. Starting Friday they were going to be running a five minute preview of exclusive Episode III footage. The problem was, they had to test it right away. If there was something wrong they’d have to fly a guy out from California. Would we mind being the first ones to see the new footage? Even without sound? Gee, um, let me ting for sec-yes! He totally milked it of course, but when the ILM guys were done, the footage ran. The sound wasn’t working, and yet we all still wanted to watch it… Imagine that? Describing it at this point seems kinda moot, but at the time it was simply orgasmic. Was that word a bit too strong? Nope. We got to see the silent version with Official Rick McCallum Audio Commentary, which consisted of “Gee, too bad you guys can’t hear what she’s saying” and “I bet you wanna know what he just said” Well, screw him - it was fun anyway!

When the show was over we headed over to the Opening Ceremonies. The line of course was capped, however, and so we had to leave. Because we were surrounded by Line Freaks, getting to the Opening Ceremonies a half hour early wasn’t god enough. The Ballroom (which was MASSIVE) had already filled up and so it seemed our night was over. They were playing the original Star Wars in the 500 Ballroom - complete with free popcorn popped in the new Darth Vader popcorn poppers (pop pop popopop pop!) at 10pm, but we decided to call it quits for the night. We went back into the mall to get dinner, ice cream, and check out the mall’s movie theatre. We didn’t see anything that night though, and walked back to the hotel and conked out.

So yay! I finished writing up my first convention day! Three more days to go, plus the bonus journey home :)

Day 2

We spent all of Thursday night and Friday morning fearing more lines. I had hope though, as this time the doors opened up at 9am for Fan Club members and at 10am for everyone else. The first thing we wanted to see started at 11, so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. Prior to breakfast we stopped off at CVS again to drop off more film, and then it was off to Einstein’s Bagels for breakfast. With fear and dread we walked up to the convention center and saw a line around the block. Actually, first I saw Greedo (NSWF: Green guy with bug eyes who shot at Han) and General Grievous (NSWF: Badass cyborg from the new movie) step into a big puddle. The line wasn’t nearly as long as it was on Thursday, and we even soon found out that it was only for non-ticket holders. In fact, we got to walk right in!

After walking past someone from convention security screaming his lungs at people who tried to get into the Celebration Store line (it had closed around 9am), we went into “Strange and Funny Star Wars Collectibles” where we got more free goodies - including a stack of animation cells from the short lived Ewoks cartoon show. It was a lot of limbs, eyes, and mouths, but since they gave out stacks to the three of us at several different presentations, and then later gave out even more them on the final day of the convention, I know have a stack that’s about a half-inch thick - and out of all of them I managed to get one or two shots of something recognizable (including Paploo’s butt!)

The presentation itself was pretty entertaining. We got to learn of such things as fuzzy Vader slippers, Chewbacca head backpacks, Star Wars Underoos (which I totally had!) and a very dirty C-3P0 tape dispenser (he’s lounging back with his legs spread - and guess where you pull the tape from!) StarWars.com has some of the slides we saw here. That day Jay Jay’s dad wore his “OB-GYN Kenobi” shirt that we got him from TShirtHell.com (He really is an OB-GYN, so it’s not dirty!) but wouldn’t show it to anyone there during the audience participation part of the show.

Once that show was over we popped back into the Exhibit hall for more freebies, and so Jay Jay’s dad could buy some Anakin Skywalker shots for Erin. I’m glad I don’t collect autographs, because you had to buy the pics from OfficialPix.com’s booth or they wouldn’t autograph it. I’m not sure if the stars themselves also charged for autographs, but having to pay for someone’s signature in the first place is kinda silly in my opinion. This press release from OfficialPix almost made me laugh (until I realized that they’d probably sell them out anyway):

This "Ultimate" set will include more than 115 autographs on all the photos available at the actor tables. Many of the photos will include multiple autographs. The set will also include a very special chase photo only available in these sets. Current chase Celebration III photos expected to be randomly inserted include George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Nick Gillard and maybe one other
This ultimate autograph set also includes a black leather Celebration III 3-ring binder and special slip case. Price is currently set at $2160.00 but may change based on the final photo and autograph count at the show. Check the "Pre-Signed" autograph counters for details.

You read that right - $2160.00! And of those 115 autographs, about 100 of them had less than a second of screen time. But enough soap-box - Erin got three nice unsigned shots of Anakin Skywalker to oogle at her leisure.

We left form there to go to Erik Tiemen’s presentation on Mood and Lighting in room 109, where we saw Ryan Church, and several other lectures. In fact our entire weekend was mostly spent in Room 109, the White River Ballroom, 500 Ballroom and the Fan Fair Hall. But anyway, we get there a half hour early only to find a line around the block. “Is this the Mood and Lighting line?” we asked as we followed it around the corner. It turned out that most people were there for the next presentation - John Knoll. Unfortunately for them, after each presentation the room was completely cleared out - so those people had to get back in line again anyway. Jay Jay and her dad ran to the bathroom and wound up missing it. Not that I think they cared, but I was entertained at least. The show turned out to be more about mood and lighting in the concept painting stage, rather than the gaffer-type stuff I had assumed it would be, but it was interesting. He also used the paint program to whip up a quick thumbnail painting based on audience participation. What started out as a single streak of brown soon became a watery planet with twin suns poking out over a mountain range, and an industrial factory bolted to a rock formation. All painted in the span of about fifteen minutes.

Once the show was over we went back to the 500 Ballroom to watch the sneak preview footage that we saw on Thursday. While we got to see it, along with another 3 minutes making of clip, with sound, the sound was just a temp track, and despite what Rick McCallum led up to believe, there was no audible dialogue. Still, we loved it and even saw it again on Saturday.

From there we went to the Fan Fair Hall, specifically to NiubNiub’s dioramas. I had wanted to do a fairly complicated one, but ultimately went with the Detention Center, simply because it seemed the most versatile. Jay Jay and her dad wanted a really simple one so they chose the Garbage Compactor. They felt it would be easy since it was just a rectangular cube. Turns out that there was a mistake on the blue prints and instead of cutting 7 strips for the walls, they needed to cut over 50! We found out that the staff had been up till almost 4am preparing everything, so it was forgiven, and while Jay Jay and her dad could’ve chosen to do something else they stuck with it. On the other hand, I had my diorama cut, glued, and the labels applied before they were even done cutting the pieces they needed. I almost forgot to mention that unlike the other dioramas, which had decals to be applied to the walls, their diorama had to be painted entirely. By the time I was done they decided to call it quits and come back Saturday to finish.

We left and went next door to Steak and Shake for dinner. Turns out that Steak and Shake is a very popular Jedi hang out (imagine that!) What weirded me out a bit was the girl across from. She was Lazy Eye #3. Well, she didn’t have a lazy eye, but she was full on cross-eyed. Now I know, its not her fault or anything, but the thing is she was dress in costume. Not a Star Wars costume, but she was dressed as something. Part of her costume involved putting a bindi on her head - right between her eyes! Now, if you were cross-eyed, why would you put a black dot right between your eyes? I tried not to stare - but I’m only human! We also saw the Elvis Stormtrooper walk past the window and wave, but more on him on Saturday’s write up.

We left to go watch Empire Strikes Back (with free popcorn!) The line to get into the 500 Ballroom and see it wrapped around the convention center’s interior. We were shocked - I mean everyone has already seen this movie right? What was even sillier was that people were taking pictures of the screen. Why? You know they all own the DVD. Security had to threaten to boot people, and they still took shots of the film. Jay Jay was a bit annoyed that people were talking during the movie, but to me that was part of the fun. Everyone there absolutely loves the film, knows all the dialogue, knows all the nuances, so it was a lot of fun. The only thing I didn’t like was that Return of the Jedi was being played a half hour later and we were told that we’d have to exit the theatre and get back in line. We decided not to stay, but right after “I am your father” people started getting up in droves and leaving - and leaving quite loudly. Like I said, we all know the movie by heart, but some people were pretty obnoxious about it.

With the movie over we headed back to the hotel, soaked in the hot tub and went to bed. That night we had a hailstorm, and while we laid warmly in bed, there were droves of people already lining up for Saturday.

Day 3

Starting at 9am George Lucas would be giving three half hour shows. We really wanted to go see him, but after Thursday we realized that we were surrounded people who loved nothing more than to wait in line. So we said fuck it! We can read the transcript online (which we did). As I said before, it hailed that night, and we found out that people had started lining up even before the convention center closed on Friday night.

Did I mention it was hailing?

HAILING!

The cops also kept coming to break up the line, and everyone just kept reforming the line. I kinda wonder if there were fights over who was in front of who. Maybe they all sung songs like hippies. Who knows?

The point is we went to Einstein Bros Bagels again and saw Lazy Eye #4 helping out. We also stood being two Jedi who seemed pissed at the costume groups. I missed the beginning and end of the conversation, but from what I understood there are a lot of politics in Jedi costuming and someone made a nasty comment about the woman’s boots being made from the wrong kind of leather. She countered that Ki-Adi Mundi’s (NSWF: Conehead Jedi) boots are made from the same thing her’s are. You’d think people could just relax and have fun with it, but I guess some nasty faux-Jedi had to go and make snippy comments to this woman.

After breakfast we waltzed into the convention center at around 11:15 and headed for the White River ballroom, this time for the Unproduced Toys show. Jay Jay and her dad weren’t quite as interested, or should I say not interested at all, but they came with me anyway. Jay Jay has at least read almost all the Star Wars novels (her dad became curious in reading them and we did a quick count - there are over 100 Star Wars fiction novels at this point!) and some of the unproduced toys were to be based on some of the novels, so she at least got to see what some of the characters she read about look like. We actually got to the presentation early and saw the Lili Ledy show. Lili Ledy was the Mexican Star Wars toy company back when the first movies came out. Kenner produced all the US toys and then farmed the molds out to foreign toy companies to produce. Or something like that. We missed the first 45 minutes and I didn’t find it very interesting so I didn’t really pay attention. I did however get more stacks of Ewok cartoon cells and some more freebie trading cards.

After the show we headed back to NiubNiub’s so Jay Jay and her dad could finish their diorama. While they put theirs together some more I wandered around a bit. I saw some new people at the FFURG booth - one of which has posted at my site before - but there were two giant lummoxes who kept monopolizing the guy’s time so I left again. I walked over to the Droid Race (people build their own R2 units) and shot some pictures and then returned to NiubNiub’s. I saw that my diorama had been set up with a lone Stormtrooper hanging out in it. He looked bored so I grabbed some scrap and made a little computer console for him to use. By the time I was done Jay Jay was ready to paint. Her dad wasn’t interested and went looking around the hall. While we painted Jay Jay asked me about the costumers. I told her that they were all homemade. She agreed with me about the Jedi and Imperial Officers since the costumes are almost all fabric, but didn’t believe me when I said that the Stormtroopers made their own armor. She pulled some guy aside and asked him and he said that he did in fact make his armor. He bragged that it took him $1200 a year for four years. Jay Jay was unimpressed. Well, not so much unimpressed as shocked and appalled. Of course the character he was dressed as didn’t exist until THREE years ago, so he must have been exaggerating at least a little. Still, I’m sure the people who build their own droids must spend quite a bit of money on their hobby as well. Suddenly my $5 action figure hobby doesn’t look so bad :)

While painting we also met a little boy who was building a diorama with his dad. He was very proud of the fact that his dad was named Luke - Just like Luke Skywalker! He told us all about his Darth Vader action figure and how they were driving back to Missouri that night. I didn’t expect too many kids to be at the convention (or women for that matter!) but there were a lot of families who all seemed to have an equal love of Star Wars. We did, however, see a few girls who seemed to have only been brought along to haul merchandise…

But back to painting. I had a lot of fun doing it and I even taught Jay Jay a bit about how to mix paint and how to get a good wash so that the color would stay uneven and look dirty. They didn’t really have much paint available for us to use - only three tubes, one grey, one burnt sienna and one burnt umber. We used our bottle of Aquafina to water it down a bit and make it usable. We just barely finished it before the paint ran out and we handed it in for display. It turned out to be the only one other than NiubNiub’s display model to have been completed.

After the diorama was finally done we left the Fan room, meeting Stormtrooper Elvis one the way out, and went towards our next panel - Star Wars Continuity, which was again in Room 109. We got there and the line was once again around the block! For continuity! I can’t win… The continuity presentation was really more about the Star Wars novels, which Jay Jay and I loved, but her dad was totally lost, having never read any books. We stuck around for the next show in that room (and yes we had to get out and go around and wait in line again) which was the reveal for the next phase of Star Wars publishing. New novels that now take place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, and a few books that will fill in the 20 years between Episode 3 and 4. Once again, had I written this up as soon as I got home I would’ve detailed all the new news, but it’s all widely available now, and those of you who’re reading this who care probably already know what it is (I’m looking at you Chris)

We went for dinner at the mall when the show was over and Jay Jay finally asked about all the lightsabers people were swinging around. Hasbro makes plastic lightsabers, but there are also the sabers made by Master Replicas. The hilts are metal and properly scaled and fully detailed. They also have a tube that lights up just like a lightsaber does (with the blade extending) and it even has sound effects. I told her they cost around $200 but since we saw so many little kids swinging them around she didn’t believe me (is there a pattern forming here?) so she snagged a kid and asked him about the saber he was swinging around. He seemed very proud to have been asked and confirmed my information - with the exception that the light tubes are very strong and more or less unbreakable. Jay Jay resisted buying a saber for herself for the entire convention. While at dinner we saw the four George Lucases (Luci?) - four kids who dressed up in flannel shirts with pillows stuffed in them and fake black beards. She only got pics of three of the four as the other was “having stomach issue and would be awhile”

After dinner we went back to the convention center for “Celebration at Celebration” - the Saturday night after party. It totally sucked ass. To begin we had to pay an extra $15 per ticket to get in, and then they were charging extra for food and drink on top of that! And despite them advertising that only a limited amount of tickets would be sold, it certainly didn’t seem that way. You could barely walk and of course there were lines for everything. By the time we got in (only ten minutes after it started) we knew we’d be able to do maybe one or two things before it ended at 11pm, four hours later. Jay Jay really wanted to get one of the exclusive t-shirts being sold only that night, but the line was so long that people didn’t even know which direction it was heading in, or even where it ended.

So disappointed, we decided to get airbrush tattoos. I should mention that they were doing the tattoos through-out the convention, and not just at the party, but it had the shortest line so we took it! Once we got them we got in line for the caricaturist. We also thought about leaving at 9 to go watch Attack of the Clones instead. Keep in mind the times here. We got in at 7:10/7:15 - it’s now about 8:30 and all we have to show for it is a set of airbrush tattoos. While we waited in line Jay Jay made friends with a little boy with a lot of energy. He had a “Sith” tattoo and was telling us about how much he loved Mace Windu, but thought that the bad guys would win. He also told her that he though I would win in a fight between Mace Windu and the Sith. Read that sentence again. I know - but it’s little kid logic. He told us how everyone seemed to give him all their tickets. See, as a further rip off you were given a certain amount of tickets for the various booths they had - once you used them up you basically couldn’t do anything anymore - not that you could ever use them all up in the four hour time window you had. In fact the three of us combined only used 6 tickets, 2 each for the tattoos. By 9pm we hadn’t moved an inch in line so we gave the kid our tickets as well.

We went and stood in another line and waited another half hour in order to go see Episode II. Of course as soon as we sat I realized that I had to pee, so I asked the line guard if I could go. He (or she as they were under a mask) said I’d have to wait till everyone was seated because they needed to fill all the seats. I told them that I had a seat being saved but they didn’t pay attention. I wound up standing and waiting with five or six other people with their legs squeezed together and though people were still coming in, one of the cue line guards had to go as well and left. And when he left, we all left! The movie itself was as fun to watch as Empire, though we did have a fat obnoxious problem behind us. The single most fucking annoying kid on the planet was sitting right behind us. While the comments people shouted out at Empire and Clones were funny, this kid was a flat out asshole. His comments ranged from the witty “Yeah, stupid,” to the more insightful, “dumbass.” Jay Jay and I felt the need to yell out our own comments such as “Shut up” and the even more insightful “Shut the fuck up” When the kid wasn’t yelling out pointless comments (which was hardly ever - I mean he seriously yelled something after virtually every line of dialogue in the entire film!) he kept smacking his lips over and over and over - for two and half hours! When the movie ended we turned to get a look at the little shit and it turned out he looked exactly as we pictured him. A tubby 14-year old Jedi asshole with squinty eyes and fat lips. What was even worse was that he was sitting with his father. Maybe it’s just me but I feel weird chewing someone out when their dad is right there. Jay Jay doesn’t feel like that though, and while she didn’t do anything outright she made it known what she thought of him in obvious earshot. In fact if you are this kid, and you’ve stumbled upon my site - leave now. I don’t know who you are, but you’re banned!

So all in all, Saturday, our last full day at the convention, started out fun, but ending rather disappointingly.

Day 4

So here we are - the final day of the convention! The day when we had to finally suffer through all the lines we had avoided so that we could finally see everything else. Unfortunately for us there were four different shows happening at the same time that we wanted to see, but before we get there, we first stood in line to see the archive exhibit. It took us a good hour or so to get in, and while it was cool to see everything, we were moved along rather quickly and didn’t really have much time to check things out in detail. Also while waiting in line we got more stacks of Ewok animation cells.

Once we saw the exhibit we went into the Fan Fair Hall once more to check out the full NiubNiub Diorama. If you haven’t gone to check out our convention pictures, do so to get the full scale of this thing. It was massive - and populated with plenty of Star Wars figures. A lot of them were put into funny scenes, and the trash compactor that Jay Jay and her dad made had a Sandtrooper with a paintbrush and a little cap. I thought the joke was that you could still see a little white from the foam core and he was finishing the paint job, but Frank let us know that he’s the Death Star Janitor and he was with his mop and bucket :)

We left the hall and wanted to get in line for “Star Wars in 30 Minutes” but as was the case for every other showtime, the line was massive, so we skipped the first of three showings that day. We then had a choice between the Star Wars Tattoo Show, author Timothy Zahn’s info session about his new Star Wars novel, or getting in line for the second SW in 30 show. Instead we went over to Hall G to wait in line for The One Man Star Wars Trilogy. Not only was there no line, but we got to catch the last half of Star Wars: The Musical. What we saw was great - a chorus line of Stormtroopers, X-Wing suits and of course parodies of a lot of showtunes. I still maintain that I hate musicals, but considering the amount that I’ve worked on over the years I knew all of them. I only wish we had seen the entire show. Jay Jay’s dad wound up sitting next to the cast on the flight home, but didn’t know it until we almost touched down (and didn’t tell us until they had already left).

The One Man Star Wars Trilogy was excellent! The star, Charles Ross does the entire classic trilogy including the sound effects and score. He takes little one minute breaks between movies, but essentially goes non stop for the whole hour. He runs around stage morphing into starships and characters, doing all the voices, and capturing each character’s mannerisms and facial expressions perfectly. He even yelled at someone to shut off their cell phone without breaking character. My personal favorite moment was just as he was about to start Empire Strikes Back. He retuned from offstage and motioned for an audience member to come over to him. He went to whisper in his ear and then - DA! DA! Da-dun-da! - right in the guy’s face. It caught everyone off guard, though not as much as his poor victim. BY the time the show was over he was soaked to the bone with sweat. It’s understandable why he only performed one show per day. He ended with a nice inspirational message reminding people to do what their passionate about, regardless of what anybody else thinks. He also mentioned that he’s currently developing a Prequel version of his show, and also does a Lord of the Rings version. After we saw him we decided not to bother with Star Wars in 30 Minutes. We just didn’t think a half hour multi-cast version of one movie (I’m not totally positive if it’s one or three films, but I think it’s one) could top a one man hour long version of three.

By the time the show got out we had missed the chance to see the Concept and Sculpture presentation in good ol’ Room 109 so we went to see the exclusive Episode III footage again. After there we went into the Star Wars Artists room. It was to be our first stop on Thursday, but we kept going to see other stuff. As we walked through I noticed that Jan Duursema was one of the artists. If you don’t read Star Wars comics then I guess you may not know who she is, and I don’t really read any comics except for Star Wars so I have no idea what else she’s done, but I do know that she’s one of the best, and most prolific, Star Wars artist out there, and was the creator of Aayla Secura (NSWF: Blue Jedi chick with two tentacles coming out of her head). At least I think she was. I have to admit full and total ignorance on how a comic book character is created. I don’t know if the writer comes up with the character and the artist creates the visual image, or if the writer comes up with appearance as well and the artist brings his vision to life. Maybe a combo of the two? In any case, I’d made some of her characters for my website and she had left me a guestbook entry. I had no idea if she’d remember my site (it’s been a few years) but to my surprise she did!

I’ve never cared for autographs, or even just to say hi and shake hands with a celebrity, because to me it’s pretty meaningless, and even people who get to say more than two words usually just fawn over them, which once again is nice, but once again is far from meaningful. That being said, it was nice to have a real conversation with her, and we even swapped autographs. Well, ok, she didn’t really ask for mine, but she wanted me to write out my URL again and I signed underneath it (hopefully she can read it!) and I left the suggestion later that if she happens to need a character name and wants to Star-Wars-ize mine, then I could make a figure of it for her… It’s a long shot, but it would be pretty cool :) I also forgot to tell her that her autograph happens to be the only one I own, at least since I was a kid (I also have Sgt. Slaughter’s and Brooks Robinson’s) I passed on several chances for Paul Newman’s or Gene Wilder’s (among others), but Jan Duursema’s I have! Given the fact that I was bummed that the FFURG people had no idea who I was, this was quite a pick-me-up.

Oh - almost forgot to mention that Jay Jay came over while we were talking and Jan seemed kind of amused that she had no idea who Aayla’s master Quin-Lan Vos is (NSWF and Jay Jay: He’s Aayla’s master, and a major figure in the SW Universe) so I had to explain that while Jay Jay has read almost every Star Wars novel out there, I have yet to get her to read the comics as well. I had hoped that the little encounter might spur her to start reading them, but as of yet it hasn’t. Of course it took me years to get over the stigma against the medium, and I’m quite glad I did. I never read comic books as a kid, and didn’t get into the Star Wars ones till I was probably 16 or 17, so ironically I read comics more today as an adult than I did when I was a little and it was socially acceptable.

After leaving the Artist’s Room happy (and waiting to call Chris since none of my other friends have any idea who she is since none of them read SW comics) we went back to NiubNiub’s to get our dioramas. Jay Jay got to keep her Death Star Janitor and I got to keep the Stormtrooper manning the little console the I made. There was a UPS store at the convention so we went there to pack them up and ship them, as we didn’t want to take them on the plane with us (their’s was small, but mine was 27” long and 24” high) Of course we got to the room they were using to ship out of and there was a line! It was 2:30 at this point, but we’d seen everything that we’d wanted to see. However, as 3 o’clock rolled around Jay Jay started to lose it. She got that little pissy/stubborn look in her eye (I’m so in trouble for typing that! :) said no! We’re were not going to end our trip standing in line. We were seeing one last show before we left. So we take off, diorama’s in hand, and headed to “Bad Girls of Star Wars” We had no idea what that was, but we went anyway.

Through-out the convention I had joked that a lot of the Star Wars “celebrities” really only had one, or usually no lines in the movie at all. There are people out there with literally hundreds of fans and they did nothing but say “Watch it Luke” or in many cases, just stood around in a cool looking costume. There’s one woman who wasn’t even in the movies, just only dressed up as the character for a photo shoot (and subsequently for conventions) and she just released a DVD with an hour long interview! So Bad Girls of Star Wars turned out to be Leeanna Walsman, Sandy Finlay, Michelle Bourriage and I forget the other woman’s name. They played Zam Wessel, Sly Moore, Aurra Sing, and one of the Tonnika Sisters, respectively.

Ok so most of you probably have no idea who those people are, so here’s a quick NSWF run down - Zam Wessel was the purple chick from the beginning of Episode II, Sly Moore is one of Palpatine’s advisors - she’s pale and bald and enshrouded in a white feathery cloak all the time, Aurra Sing was seen for roughly five frames during the pod race in Episode I and the Tonnika Sisters can be seen a single shot in the cantina. Of the four only Zam Wessel has any lines, and she does play a major part in the beginning of Episode II. Sly Moore is in both Episodes II and III and has some screen time, but no lines. After her cameo in Episode I, Aurra Sing was rumored to be featured in Episode II (in the role that eventually went to Zam Wessel) and was featured heavily in the comics and the Tonnika Sisters are only famous because the actresses didn’t sign away their likeness rights and so they couldn’t have their action figures made (though conversely if they could’ve been made, then no one probably would’ve cared to see them that much)

So really I sat there wondering what exactly this interview session would hit upon. I’ve read interviews with actors who had a line or two and manage to overblow their film contribution, but these actresses did seem to have a good idea of their contributions relative to the fan reactions to them. The actress who played Aurra Sing laughed about having a single shot in the movie and that people tell her how much they loved her “part” and Sly Moore joked about fans who come up and ask her all these questions about her character that she has no idea how to answer. The interviews in general, though were kinda boring. A lot of people got up and left during them, but we at least waited until the Q&A session started so as not to be rude.

We left and went back to the UPS store, carefully guarding our dioramas, and when we got there, though it had been close to an hour since we left, the people who we used to be behind were just now at the cashier. There was a sign taped to the door though that said the store wouldn’t close until everyone was taken care of, signed by a guy named Vinnie. A half hour later it was four o’clock and they had just taken our stuff to be boxed up. We still had about twenty more minutes before we reached the cashier and could finally leave, though. One of the blue shirted convention security drones busted in and said “All right, it’s four o’clock - anyone not wearing a VIP or Vendor badge has to leave!”

No one moved :)

He repeated it again and everyone said we’d been waiting in line to ship this stuff, we’re not leaving. The guy got pissed and said we had to clear out immediately, when one of the staff member pointed out the sign on the door, which it turns out was also posted at the UPS Store that these guys normally worked at. The guy slammed the door shut, and quickly opened again looking for Vinnie. He wasn’t with us so the guy stormed out again, ripping the sign off the door. I remarked that I’d always thought that Stormtroopers wore white. We finally got our package shipped, and upon leaving the room found that the entire convention center was crawling with people. The convention had only ended a half hour ago, but I guess the Blue Shirts couldn’t chase anyone away.

We hadn’t eaten since our breakfast at LePeep and decided to find a nice place to eat our final meal. Of course here we are looking for dinner at 4:30, so all the restaurants were closed. I guess Indianapolis doesn’t have too many old people who look for the early bird specials! We wandered around the mall a bit and finally went and ate at, um, well i can't remember the name - but it was in a historic spot. We were of course were the first ones there. The food was great though and afterwards we went back into the mall to see Sin City at the movie theatre. We still had an hour or so to kill so we went to the arcade center next door and I finished off my Star Wars weekend by playing Star Wars arcade games :) I tried to play Star Wars pinball as well, but the stupid machine froze up! I’ve always preferred pinball to normal arcade games, so was a bit bummed. I was also bummed cause I got my ass kicked in Starfighter, though I did fairly well at the Trilogy Arcade Game. I also lost to Jay Jay and her dad in the Daytona Racing game, but my steering wheel was busted. As you can tell, I’m generally pretty bad at video games :)

So we left and saw Sin City - which was incredible, and I’d say to go see it, but at this point it’s out of theatres. When the movie was over we went back to the hotel only to find that my Star Wars hotel key no longer worked. It was raining of course, so we went around to the front door (we’d been using the side) and when we got to our hotel room and the key still didn’t work, Jay Jay’s dad pulled his key out for us to use. Why he didn’t use it in the rain is beyond me…

BONUS - Day 5!

Ok, not really a bonus, but with the convention over, we still had the next day to get home. We woke up to beautiful weather (it was cold and rainy every day except for the day we arrived and the day we left!) but it was raining in Cleveland where our connection was. As we got to the airport we heard our names being paged and so we hurried to the ticket counter. The woman there said to use the check in counter, which we did and it said “See Attendant” We told her and she told us to stand aside. We had to be transferred since our flight had been cancelled. However, the guy behind us had the identical problem and she took care of him right away, as well as the people in the other two lines, despite the fact that there were two other attendants. She got pissy with us for daring to ask why we had been shunted aside, but finally we got rerouted through Houston. It also cut our wait time down so we hurried to our gate - only to get stopped by security and all three of us had to go through full security check. Guess that attendant didn’t like us questioning her…

We had Erin pick us up at the airport and Jay Jay asked if we thought her mom made dinner. We all laughed. You see, Jay Jay’s mom does NOTHING all day. Really, truly nothing. Sometimes she doesn’t even get out of her pajamas. Her typical day involves her getting up, going to the couch and taking a nap, and then stalking Erin’s boyfriend on the Internet (she lurks for HOURS on the forums of his band’s website). When I, Jay Jay or her dad get home from work she then demands dinner. If it were up to me we’d be making three portions a night, but Jay Jay’s dad has more of a soft spot. Of course we get home after a six hour travel ordeal and she gets mad that we didn’t bring home dinner. She then expected us to cook. I think we made pasta or something, which she complained about, but oh well :)

So that’s it! I’m done with my convention recap. Only took me 3 or 4 weeks…

Episode III: The Review

So as with my Star Trek review, I decided to review Episode 3 first, then tell my tales of the Star Wars convention, simply because the convention will be a multi-day thing and it quicker this way. At this point I’ve seen the movie twice (Jay Jay says that’s enough - where did I go wrong? :) and I’ve also read the comic adaptation and novelization. And before I get to the movie, I must say that the novelization was AMAZING! I didn’t start reading it until after I’d seen the movie for the 2nd time and I still couldn’t put it down. While Mathew Stover quickly became one of my favorite Star Wars authors (Jay Jay’s dad was curious so we counted it up - there are now over 100 SW novels) his adaptation was outstanding.

So back in March or early April, we bought our tickets to the Point 21 Movico theatre in Orlando. Jay Jay saw Episode 1 there on their Imax screen and was blown away, so we decided that was where we wanted to see it. The film itself wasn’t true Imax, but we had the screen size as well as the sound system. Jay Jay and I, along with her dad and, surprisingly, her mom (who never leaves the house for anything other than grocery shopping) left to stand in line at 9pm. Jay Jay’s sister and her boyfriend (I think - I’m not sure, and it might be different now for all I know) arrived later, but more on that - later. There were only a few people dressed in costume, but there were a ton of people with lightsabers (surprisingly, to this day the only lightsaber I ever bought was for the giant anal probe prop in Martians) including two spastic teenagers who were going nuts battling on the walkway. I’d make fun of them more, but then again some friends and I used to do battle with each other prior to Episode 1’s release. While we waited the people behind us turned out to be friends with the people in front of us, and of course managed to wind up in front of us. We didn’t say anything at first because Erin and Eric would be coming late and we wanted to let them in with us as well, however it seemed like these people knew just about everyone in town and by the time they let us in to sit there were fourteen of them in front of us (four of them were there to being with) Also, and Jay Jay can back me up on this, not one of them weighed under 250 lbs. with beer guts you wouldn’t believe. I was pissed until we were let in to sit. The line led right to the left side of the theatre, and so we cut over to the left and got seats dead center, while the Fat Fourteen all got stuck on the end.

Now naturally, Eric and Erin were late as usual and Jay Jay and I had to defend their seats from the other nerdlings, and in fact between all of us leaving to use the bathroom (no way were we going to let our bladders ruin our Star Wars experience) I don’t think all six of us were sitting together until five minutes after the movie started.

Prior to the start of the film, we had to suffer through the “preshow.” A Movieco employee by the name of Jessica came to try and pep everyone up, but failed miserably. First she tried to get people to admit to when they got in line (the earliest anyone would admit to was 11am) and then tried to get people to come down and tell their favorite SW movie scene. One kid went down and talked about Yoda vs. Dooku, and then one of the lightsaber spaz kids came down and said he’d liked the Hoth Invasion cause “I’m an Imperial, so anytime the Imperials are kicking butt I’m happy” Earlier he was happy to dueling with Darth Vader - screaming it from the balcony, actually - but no one had the heart to tell him that the “real” Darth Vader doesn’t own armor made from duck tape.

Jessica was booed as she left to go to the next theatre (they had 12:01, 12:05, 12:10 and 12:15 shows) and was mostly booed. She returned later mostly to tell people they’d soon have to stop saving seats. Erin and Eric of course hadn’t arrived yet and so the panic began. The panic belonged soley to Jay Jay’s mom, the rest of us didn’t care much. We would still be seeing the same movie in the same theatre - not a big deal. Jessica also had ot start threatening people to move inwards and fill all seat and showed her angry side. No one seemed to care. She tried once more to get everyone pepped, but once again couldn’t do it - she was too cheesy, too over the top - and personally, I doubt she’s ever even seen a Star Wars film. So with a final overly cheerful wave of her hand - the film finally began.

And wow! The opening space battle is so incredibly detailed it defies description. One thing that I missed during Episode 1 was that there just wasn’t as much stuff as in the classic trilogy. Everywhere you looked there was something interesting. The prequels, relying more on digital technology lost a lot of that the first go round. It was there more in Episode 2, but the opening battle of Episode 3 is every bit as detailed, if not more, than the space battle in Return of the Jedi. It was also full of the little character moments that have been a bit lacking. Even Artoo gets a little fighting action. The first time I saw it, the battle seemed like it lasted forever. The second time it went by rather quickly as Obi-Wan and Anakin make it towards the General’s ship to rescue Palpatine. During their daring little rescue (Lucas does another of his trademark mythic cycles - Obi-wan was in a Trade Federation ship battling droid in the opening of Episode 1, and the first acts of Episodes 3 and 6 deal with a rescue mission) Artoo gets even more action here in one of the most memorable, and humorous, sequences in the film as he contends with Super Battle Droids much, much larger than he is. Anakin battles Count Dooku in a set that’s eerily similar to the Emperor’s Throne Room in RotJ where Luke battles his father. This time, however, Skywalker gives into his hate.

And that’s not all that goes awry with Palpatine’s rescue. The trio are captured and here we meet the much hyped General Grievous. For people like me who read/watch everything Star Wars, General Grievous debuted last November and prior to the movie opening has stared in the Clone Wars cartoon, a young adult novel, the Star Wars online comic strip, and several comic books, but finally we get to hear him speak - and cough! It seems the General is an alien being kept alive by droid technology, and he apparently has some respiratory problems - much like a certain villain who debuts much later in the film. Some critics complained about it, but I thought it was funny. The General escapes, along with all the escape pods, and the ship begins it’s decent into the planet below - with Anakin at the helm.

Will they make it? Of course they will!

Naturally, Anakin lands the ship and the second act begins. The second act is really the only part of the film with any real dialogue. Anakin begins having premonitions of his wife Padme’s demise. Make that pregnant wife. Another popular critic complaint (most of the reviews have been positive btw - something that not even the original films can boast) has been that Padme doesn’t see much action in this film, she mostly stays at home and worries. Lucas has said, however, that he didn’t want to have a woman who’s pregnant with twins go running into combat. There were several scenes that were cut from the film in which we see Padme more or less founding the Rebel Alliance, and I’m positive those will all be on the DVD.

Palpatine begins luring Anakin over to the Dark Side, with the promise that if he embraces it he’ll be able to save Padme’s life. He also strongly suggests that he was the one responsible for creating Anakin’s virgin birth. Now, Lucas knows that everyone knows Anakin’s fate at the end of the film, so he seems to take great pleasure is showcasing moment after moment for Anakin to make the right decision, because we all know he won’t. While all this is going on Obi-Wan is sent to the sinkhole world of Utapau to hunt Grievous, a mission that Anakin thinks should be his. Yoda is sent to the Wookie world of Kashyyyk, a plot point that has little to do with the film, only Yoda and Obi-wan both have to be off-planet during the upcoming Jedi Massacre - and why not send Yoda to Wookie-town? Obi-Wan manages to track down Grievous and kill him in another sequence that some critics felt was extraneous. I disagree, however. When Grievous’s existence was first revealed I thought of it was overkill. However, prior to Anakin becoming the film’s villain, someone else was needed. Obi-wan, like Yoda, needed to be away from Anakin during his fall, and thus needed a bad guy to chase. Dooku, however, needed to be killed by Anakin in order to mirror Luke’s battle with Vader in RotJ, in which he makes the correct decision and refuses to kill his adversary. And thus, another baddie was needed.

Anakin eventually figures out that Palpatine is in fact Darth Sidious, the Sith mastermind that’s been trying to take over the Republic. He returns to the Jedi Temple to warn Mace Windu and is told to stay behind. Following this is one of my favorite moments from the film as during sunset Anakin sits alone in the Jedi Council chamber. Padme gazes out of the window of her apartment, worried. We cut back and forth between them, and a tear rolling down Anakin’s face is revealed.

Meanwhile, Mace confronts Palpatine who reveals himself and quickly kills off the three other Jedi Masters (they’re really just extras anyway :) During the duel Palpatine is engulfed by his own force lightning and transforms into the pale and wrinkly appearance he had during Return of the Jedi. I’m still not sure if it was meant to be his “real” face, or if the lightning did in fact do the damage. Anakin arrives just in time to make a choice. Either Mace dies, or Palpatine does. He pleased with Mace to spare Palpatine’s life - without it he can’t save Padme. Mace won’t budge, and so Anakin takes his first step down the dark path. He is dubbed Darth Vader and another classic montage begins in which Anakin invades the Jedi Temple, and Palpatine gives Order 66.

People and long tried to figure out how so many thousands of Jedi could be killed off so quickly. Well, now we have our answer. Each Jedi led a squad of clone troopers. Each clone trooper was secretly controlled by Palpatine. Each Jedi was gunned down by his own squad. Except for Yoda and Obi-wan of course. Yoda manages to lop off some heads and then make his escape with Chewbacca and his buddy. Obi-wan is just given his lightsaber by the commander of his squadron - Commander Cody (Quick Side Note: While I have yet to see anyone comment on it, Commando Cody was the hero of several Hollywood serials, including Radar Men from the Moon and King of the Rocketmen. The serials were the basis for the movie The Rocketeer and were also a big influence on the young George Lucas) when Cody gets the order and attempts to kill him.

Back on Coruscant, Anakin does horrible horrible things before leaving for the volcanic world of Mustafar (or in mythological terms - he’s now committed mass murder and is sent into hell), and Bail Organa goes to investigate. He’s stopped by a group of Clones, but manages to see a young Jedi get gunned down. He takes off and leaves the city in his ship and manages to intercept Yoda and Obi-wan before they get home. He sneaks them back to Jedi Temple before attending an emergency Senate meeting in which Palpatine declares himself Emperor to thunderous applause. One can only hope that we don’t find ourselves in a similar situation when Bush is scheduled to leave office.

Obi-Wan and Yoda discover the truth, and Obi begs Yoda not to let him go after Anakin, but Yoda refuses - only he can take on the Emperor. Obi returns to Padme’s apartment to find out where Anakin has gone, but she won’t tell him. She, however, goes after him, and he stows away in her ship. As she reaches Mustafar and begs Anakin to stop what he’s doing, Anakin sees Obi-wan in her ship and loses it. He attempts to kill Padme, choking her with the Force. He throws her to the ground and the great battle begins.

We’re actually treated to two duels. Dual duels, if you will. It’s not only Obi-wan vs. Anakin, but Yoda vs. Palpatine. Now of course we know the outcomes of both battles (or at least every last Star Wars fan does) but both are so entertaining that it doesn’t really matter much. Yoda and Palpatine duke it out for the most part within the Senate Chamber - a most appropriate place considering they’re battling for the fate of the Republic. Palpatine starts chucking senate platforms and the little green dude, but Yoda manages to counter attack - even blowing Palpatine back with his own Force lighting. Yoda, however drops his lightsaber, giving Palpatine the upper hand. He escapes down through the pipes of the Senate and is rescued by Bail Organa. Palpatine wants to go looks for the Mighty Muppet, but senses that his new apprentice is in trouble.

Obi-wan and Anakin attack each other in the greatest lightsaber duel of them all. They move so fast that at times you can barely see anything but flashes of blue lightsabers. I’ve heard some people report that the fighting might be sped up, but I’ve seen the raw footage, and they really are that fast (a little healthy competition during filming had Hayden Christensen and Ewan MacGregor constantly trying to best one another) They use every force trick in the book, beating the living crap out of each other while lava flows begin to destroy the factory. They fly out onto floating platforms over the river of lava (if you look closely, Anakin is actually riding on top of a poor droid) until Obi-wan leaps off onto the shore. He tells Anakin to back off as he has the high ground. Overconfident, Anakin attempts to leap over him.

Obi-wan roughly describes this duel in the Return of the Jedi novelization, which was written in 1983. I first read it in high school and always pictures them on a bridge, with Obi-wan knocking Anakin into a lava flow and leaving, assuming he was killed. Instead, as Anakin leaps over Obi-wan he slices off his legs and arms. Anakin lands in the soot and begins slowly sliding towards the lava. Obi-wan yells at him in anguish and a leaping ember lights Anakin on fire. As his friend burns, Obi-wan grabs Anakin’s saber and departs with 3P0, Artoo and the still-unconscious Padme and heads to meet up with Yoda and Bail on Polis Massa. After he leaves, Palpatine arrives and rescues Anakin, taking him back to a medical center on Coruscant. The births of the Skywalker twins is intercut with Anakin’s rebirth as Vader. Padme names her kids (Luke was born first) and then promptly dies. Meanwhile, Vader awakens and learns that he killed Padme. In a fit of rage he uses the force to destroy everything in the med-center save the Emperor. He also screams out “NOOOOO!” and it looks a little cheesy, but only because you can’t see his face.

We return to the Tantive IV (aka Leia’s ship from the opening of Episode IV) where Yoda, Obi-wan and Bail decide to split up the twins. Bail says he’s always wanted to adopt a daughter, and Obi-wan says he’ll take Luke to his family’s home on Tatooine. It seems like a bad choice, but since Vader wants nothing to do with his former life, and since the death of his mother was so painful, he’s probably not going to go visiting anytime soon. C-3P0 also gets his memory wiped, and utter the final word of the Prequel Trilogy - “Oh no!” Incidentally, Threepio also speaks the first word of the Classic Trilogy, and it’s even in the same spot in the same hallway! We’re then treated to a small silent montage (all Star Wars films end with an instrumental) showing the twins being dropped off and Vader, Palpatine and Tarkin inspecting the beginnings of the Death Star. This has caused a little continuity error in that the SW novels say that the first Death Star took 4 years to build (inferring that the second one was started immediately after the first was destroyed) but I think 20 years is a bit more realistic considering it was the size of a moon - and no one said that the Emperor couldn’t’ve begun building both simultaneously - he is an evil genius after all. Plus, since they started publishing the modern SW novels in the early nineties, they’ve always said that anything Lucas wants to contradict is fair game. Whatever he puts in the movies is what “really” happened.

So to sum up - I’ve seen the movie twice, I’ll be seeing it again soon, and there’s no prequel taboo on this one. It’s just as good as the originals (of course I’ve said that about Episode 2 as well :)

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