Star Wars: The Last Jedi: My thoughts Part One-Luke-MASSIVE SPOILERS

His Compassion for you will be his undoing.-Palpatine

 

Remember, real heroes are never as polished as the legends that surround them.-Big Boss, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker

In my 400th post ūüôā I’m going to look at the latest installment in the Star Wars saga, and perhaps the final one in the Skywalker side of things….well, at least the ‘light side’ of the Skywalkers, that is.

I’ll start with Luke, and eventually do further character/plot/setting reviews in future posts.

Luke Skywalker

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Luke’s the big macguffin here, but he’s initially portrayed as a broken man, and far less idealistic than he was in the OT. He’s a bit like Yoda in ESB, somewhat reluctant and with a more mischievous sense of humor than we’ve seen before (although he probably picked up a bit of that from Han). Although with Yoda, he was mainly testing Luke’s patience, and found him lacking, but trained him anyway with a slight push from Obi-Wan; Luke just doesn’t really want to get involved anymore. Even when he does agree to train Rey-with R2-D2 showing him the old “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” message, he only does it to show that while she has the gift and all, generally bringing back the Jedi is a bad idea, as it also allows the Dark side to gain ascendance (With the old Jedi Order being responsible, in part, for the Empire being formed, and his own failings helping give rise to the first order). Although Rey manages to rekindle at least part of his connection to the force (As he’s shut himself off) and at least reconnect with the comatose Leia (Perhaps helping her to regain consciousness), in a scene somewhat reminiscent of another mid-trilogy moment, when he had his other darkest hour…..

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After Rey leaves in an attempt to try to save Kylo Ren, somewhat similar to his own quest in ROTJ, Luke just wants to torch the old Jedi tree library (although it appears Rey took the books with her for some reason, as they’re seen later in the Falcon close to the end of the film.) when Yoda appears as a force ghost (as predicted by Obi-Wan in ROTJ) …

 

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….shows up and pretty much does the job for him, seemingly repeating another ROTJ qoute: “Already know you that which you need” but referring to Rey’s abilities, as well as reminding Luke to focus on the here and now instead of worrying about the future . (I’ll deal with more of Yoda’s presence in this film in the future.)The film also shows Luke as even more flawed. While it’s clear in the first two films he was a bit impatient and occasionally ‘cocky’, the film reveals that in a way, that he shares some of the blame for Ben’s fall and the state of things-in part, because he had compassion….and cared for his nephew in a similar fashion to the way he cared for his father, despite the darkness in both, and couldn’t do a killing a blow. But while Luke staying his hand resulted in the light awakening in his father and Vader selflessly giving his life to take the Emperor down, here it only awakened more darkness. The Force awakens, indeed.

 

 

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Luke seems to accept that this time, there’s no way to turn Ben back to the good side, something Rey also learns (although episode 9 will probably answer that question for good), and we see him with a look resembling his ROTJ appearance-cropped hair, black suit etc….although much older with a beard. It’s a nice nod to when we last saw him. Looks like he got a quick haircut too from his time on Ach-To.

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When things seem kind of really bad for the resistance, the Prodigal son (of Vader) returns, and has a nice moment with Leia, with the ROTJ brother/sister theme playing, and Luke handing her the Millenium Falcon’s dice (sort of) as a bit of a reminder of their shared friend, Han. Also pretty great is Luke’s wink to C-3PO, with one final “Master Luke”.

Luke’s last stand is pretty spectacular, with the Walkers against the setting sun. And although Luke doesn’t really take down any walkers, I can’t help but be a bit reminded of this scene with Luke facing a Walker in the now non-canon EU, “Dark Empire”.

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(Although he was certainly no slouch in ESB either, but he didn’t use the force.)

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Despite a massive barrage, Luke is unscathed. While we’re led to believe this is mainly the force shielding him from the blast perhaps, but even more anomalies show up, as Luke has the saber-broken on-board the Supremacy-fully working.

The duel isn’t really meant to be spectacular or flashy, and the blades hardly connect-indeed, Luke is pretty much dodging them altogether to keep up his illusion to allow the Resistance/New Rebellion to escape. It’s perhaps the closest we’ve come to a mexican stand-off in a lightsaber duel in this films, which is kind of funny since the old Eastwood Westerns were certainly an influence on the original films (and the Western films-particularly the late 60’s ones-borrow heavily from Asian cinema such as Kurosawa movies, another inspiration.)

 

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Although certainly there were elements of such a stand-off in TPM’s “Laser gate” sequence.

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But it turns out to be a ruse, and Luke was never there, and it’s Luke ‘broadcasting’ himself from Ach-To. It’s certainly something that’s been used in the Expanded Universe a lot…including the current Disney canon, where it was a Sith power…but I’ll get more on that later.

Luke’s last words,

“See you around, kid” seem to hint that, as he says he’ll be a presence in Kylo’s life going forward, although it’s unclear if it’ll be something that’ll weigh on his consciousness like his father’s death (Luke seems to indicate so when he states “If you strike me down in anger, I will always be with you. Just like your father.”

Luke then looks up at Ach-to’s twin suns (although this seems like a bit of a cheat-while it made sense for Tatooine to be a dried-out desert planet because of it’s two suns, Ach-To is pretty much the opposite….maybe they’re less powerful stars.), in an echo of course of that classic sequence…

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His journey, in a way, ends where it begins, although it’s possible the journey isn’t over yet, and maybe he’ll help the Rebellion in some fashion as a force ghost-as we saw with Yoda, it’s still possible for these ghosts to imprint on the physical world in some way, at least through the force.¬† Although we sort of saw this in ROTJ, with Obi-Wan at least being able to sit.

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And of course, in many ways having Leia still surviving sort of fits  ROTJ dialogue,

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“If I don’t make it back you’re the only hope for the alliance.”

Although due to unfortunate real-world events, this will not perhaps unfold that way. However, as we see towards the end of the film, Luke is no longer the last Jedi, Rey at least has “That what she needs” as Yoda would put it; and take the place of Luke as the Rebel’s Jedi inspiration….

 

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….and perhaps she can pass her knowledge on, as the end of the film hints that-despite their allies not responding, the legend of Luke facing down the Walkers and Kylo Ren has begun to grow among the orphans on Canto Bight, who wear the symbol of the Rebellion/resistance. So, like his father’s sacrifice, Luke’s sacrifice might eventually have deeper meaning, and allow for a true new beginning for the galaxy.

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Star Wars-The Big Question-Who are Rey’s parents? *possible spoilers!*

Along with the background of villain Supreme Leader Snoke, this is probably the no.1 question on Star Wars fan’s minds….who were Rey’s parents?

 

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Rey is introduced in “The Force Awakens” living alone on Jaaku, collecting junk from the long-ago battle (chronicled in many Star Wars novels and games by now) and selling it for food. She also appeared to be semi-raised by Unkar Platt, but like with Watto and Anakin there’s little love lost between the two.

We know that Rey was left on Jaaku by her parents, as revealed in the force vision in Maz’s castle. We don’t know anything really beyond that, except that she was waiting on Jaaku for them to come back, and once she embarked on her journey, she was often adamant about going back in case they showed up. How and why are of course still unknown.

 

 

 

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Let’s look at some of the candidates.

 

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Luke

Of course, the big one, and perhaps the most obvious. Luke of course might have had reasons for leaving her behind (although it’s fairly implied by some sources that Luke’s exile/Ben’s fall is fairly recent, about 5 years before, and Rey is born considerably earlier).¬† If Luke is the father, makes you wonder who the mother is; and while Luke of course got married and had a son (and also apparently didn’t age for twenty years) in the now non-canon Expanded Universe legends stuff (His Jedi order was a bit different on the attachment/marriage issue)….

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…Maybe his giving away of Rey has something to do with the Jedi rules forbidden attachment? Although of course Luke’s attachment to his father brought him back to the light in the end, Anakin’s fear about Padme’s death drove him in part to the dark side. Maybe Luke in this continuity is trying to follow the old Jedi rules? Then again, wouldn’t his nephew, Ben (Who, ironically, is the name of his son in the “Legends” stuff) count?

 

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Certainly Rey being related to Luke would explain why the Lightsaber “calls” to her, and her affinity for the force. The second trailer for “The Force Awakens” also used Luke’s line from ROTJ, although edited a bit. “The force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power too”. Although of course nothing was revealed in TFA regarding that (Unless you count Ben/Kylo, as he’s that same bloodline as well), it still makes you think….

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Plus of course Rey’s also a good pilot and mechanic, which of course also apply to Anakin and Luke…. (although I wouldn’t say piloting is genetic…)

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But it could also apply to….

 

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Han and Leia

I gotta admit, this one’s considerably more far-fetched and unlikely. Rey’s a good pilot and pretty much the new captain of the Millennium Falcon, and of course saw Han as a father figure. While many also speculated that Rey was their daughter in the initial buildup to TFA, neither Han or Leia seems to have any family connection. Also, why would they dump their daughter behind and simply raise Ben? Although the Falcon eventually ends up on Jaaku, I’m thinking there isn’t any connection here either. Although being a good pilot¬†and a Jedi are both attributes of their “Legends” daughter, Jaina Solo…..(Who almost got her own book series before the Lucasfilm sale to Disney pulled the plug).

 

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Obi-Wan Kenobi

While this one’s also far-fetched, it’s gained a bit of traction, and could explain why we hear Ben’s voice-in a mix of Alec Guiness(“Rey!”) and Ewan Mcgregor’s (“There are your first steps”) when her force vision ends. While Kenobi of course is shown to be a pretty straight-laced Jedi in the films, the “Clone Wars” series established that Obi-Wan had a past relationship with the queen of Mandalore, Satine (Which is said to not be an intentional Moulin Rouge reference, but it just seems like a major coincidence if it isn’t)

 

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….and nearly left the Jedi Order for her (presumably during his apprenticeship under Qui-Gon). The two were reunited during the wars, and still had some feelings for each other, although Obi-Wan of course was committed to the Jedi Order. Their story forms an interesting parallel to Anakin/Padme’s. Unfortunately, Satine is later killed.

 

 

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Although Satine leaves no heirs, this does show that Obi-Wan, much like his apprentice-but with less recklessness and anger-was sometimes willing to ‘bend’ the rules of the order just a bit….and so it’s possible he might’ve gotten in a relationship during his exile on Tatooine-or perhaps even earlier? That could’ve produced a son or daughter who might also be one of Rey’s parents. (He’s a bit too old and dead to be Rey’s direct parent, unless we’re talking something like Anakin’s birth). It also could explain Rey’s British accent.

 

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Palpatine

While Palpatine never is shown to have taken an Empress or any form of female relationship, several of the old “Legends” expanded universe books did imply that he did possibly have heirs. They were….a bit odd, to say the least….Triclops, Triocolous from the strange YA books, and Irek Ismaren, AKA “Lord Nyax”, whose eventual form in the New Jedi Order books looks more like a video game boss than a believable Star Wars villain.

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The last two ended up as pretenders to the throne, although the first one was kind of legit. Anyway, like with Kenobi, it’s possible, although somewhat more unlikely, and would form an interesting link with Kylo Ren-both being the grandchildren of Sith Lords….

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Snoke

Here’s another theory, that Rey is possibly related to Snoke somehow. Granted, we don’t know much about Snoke quite yet, although he does appear to have a larger-and more corporeal-role in The Last Jedi. Could his talk of “raw power” be him talking to Rey?

 

“When I found you, I saw raw, untamed power. And beyond that, something truly special.”

Somehow supported by Luke later on, talking to Rey…

“I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me then. It does now.”

Of course, in both instances this could be referring to Kylo Ren….but maybe not?

 

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Jyn Erso

This gained a bit of traction before Rogue One came out, due in part to her similar looks and accent. Since then, not so much, for good reason .

 

 

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Idien Verso and Del Meeko

This is a new one.

 

Spoilers for Battlefront II-these two former Imperial “Inferno Squad” special forces members who eventually defect to the rebel alliance, fall in love, and apparently get married and have a daughter, although Meeko eventually meets his end at Kylo Ren’s hand. An upcoming DLC will continue her story. Some fans of course assume that the daughter might be Rey, but¬† I think that’s a bit far fetched. Even though the “Lucasfilm story group” generally keeps the movies/comics/novels/games tightly connected these days compared to the old EU, with several characters crossing over (Admiral Rae Sloane, for instance) I seriously doubt they’d have such an important plot point be relegated to spin-off media that will probably be seen by a fraction of the viewing audience. Although there is a bit of precedent for this-Poe Dameron’s parents were revealed in a Marvel Star Wars comic, Shattered Empire.

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But let’s face it, Poe’s parentage isn’t exactly a big deal, and from all accounts he was raised pretty normally by these people (and of course inherited his mother’s piloting skills) as opposed to Rey and Finn. So it’s not a huge plot point like Rey’s parents.

 

Just Some ordinary people

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In Marvel comics history, part of the reason that Steve Ditko left the Amazing Spider-Man is that he had a different idea for the reveal of the man behind the mask of the Green Goblin-he would just be some ordinary guy Peter Parker didn’t know. Stan Lee however, decided to have him be Norman Osborn, a character introduced a few issues before, and the father of Peter’s college friend, Harry Osborn.

So perhaps the ‘reveal’ will be something like Ditko’s original plan for the character, and not some “big reveal” like Stan’s plan, or of course, that other famous Star Wars revelation….

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So maybe the parents aren’t that important or any character we’re aware of at all, maybe they couldn’t care for Rey somehow, didn’t care to, gave her to Platt to pay off some debt etc. or were scared of her force powers or something.

There was no father.

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One of the other theories that’s a bit weird is that Rey doesn’t have a parent, or even that she’s actually a¬†reincarnation of Anakin,¬†and that maybe it’s the force making amends for kind of screwing up that whole thing in the first place.

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While an interesting theory, it just seems a bit weird even for Star Wars, although I’m sure the film will delve into some arcane Jedi lore, if the shots in the trailer of the books in Luke’s tree are any indication. But something kind of feels a bit too hokey about this one. And it would certainly make the training a bit awkward for Luke.

 

May the Fourth be with you-What could the fourth trilogy be about?

Recently, Disney confirmed that Rian Johnson-Co-writer and director of The Last Jedi-will be supervising a fourth Star Wars trilogy. However, it’s a bit unclear if this will be a continuation of the current “Skywalker saga” of films, or something self contained. Much like my “third spin-off” speculation (A third spin-off that has yet to materialize, despite Kathleen Kennedy teasing a Summer announcement; perhaps it’s been delayed due to the Han Solo problems), this is mainly just me thinking about what it could be.

 

 

 

Sequel to the sequels?

 

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It’s pretty obvious that the current sequel trilogy is pretty much the last hurrah for our original trilogy heroes. Han died in “The Force Awakens”. Carrie Fisher’s passing will probably mean no more Leia after “The Last Jedi” although the character’s fate remains unknown. Mark Hammil could continue as Luke but he’s somewhat far older now, and also his fate post-TLJ remains unknown. Plus he’s also fairly old at this point-it seems like a wise move by Disney to mostly sideline the OT characters in the sequel trilogy due to their age (and makes me a bit concerned about Ford headlining a new Indiana Jones-as “Force Awakens” and “Blade Runner 2049” proved, at this age he’s perhaps best as a mentor to a new lead-although I suppose Indiana Jones 5 could do this, but hopefully with somebody other than Shia Lebouf’s Mutt). The only real OT characters that could go on are probably Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2, all who are of course not human, and simply-with the exception of Anthony Daniel’s voice as Threepio-wearing an outfit/CG/remote control etc.

The current actors are of course still young, and it’s conceivable that-bar their characters dying-they could continue in Star Wars movies past “Episode 9” for years to come, and perhaps even down the line pass *their* torches to another new generation of heroes.

 

 

 

 

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Totally new saga? 

This is of course what the spin-offs are primarily for; but perhaps they can tell a story that goes through more than one film. Certainly, there’s been a few “micro-sagas” in the the now non-canon “Legends” Expanded Universes, such as the adventures of Stormtrooper-turned-mercenary-turned-Jedi Kyle Katarn (Dark Forces/Jedi Knight), or the former Royal Guard Kir Kanos (Crimson Empire), each of whom saved the galaxy in their own way, with the regular Star Wars heroes (and some villains) only making the occasional cameo. And both were multi-part sagas.

Dark Horse also did their own take on a saga mostly divorced from the era of the film’s; the “Legacy” comics. In a way, it anticipated some of the developments of the sequel trilogy, with the good guys facing off against a resurgant Empire/Sith-with the Jedi once again mostly extinct, and Luke is a mentor (although he’s now a force ghost that retains a youthful appearance like his post-2004 father) ; However, unlike those films, set pretty much in our ‘real time’ from the time of ROTJ (A few decades) this one goes a full century into the future. It’s of course not totally distant from the films; the main character, Cade, is a descendant of Luke’s (presumably through Luke’s son Ben from the novels) and there’s even a Leia stand-in although she’s Cade’s cousin (through the Jaina/Jagged Fel line).

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Still, if they want to go in semi-fresh, perhaps a ‘far future’ saga is the way to go. Kind of worked for another franchise with “Star” in the title…

 

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Old Republic?

I discussed something similar in my spin-off thread.¬† Part of the Star Wars backstory-fleshed out somewhat in the prequels-is that there was once a massive war between the Jedi and the Sith lords, with the Sith thought to be extinct-although one of their order-Darth Bane (This is still canon; Bane is mentioned in “Clone Wars” series) survived and continued the order in secret with the rule of two-with one Sith as the Master and the other the apprentice. This eventually culminated in the conflict of the first six episodes, with Palpatine ascending to power and wiping out (most of) the Jedi, bringing back Sith rule under the Empire and taking Vader as his apprentice. (It’s kind of unclear where Snoke/Kylo Ren/Knights of Ren fit into the dark side hierarchy, but I’m sure some answer is coming)

While the story of this war-as well as prior wars-is told in the “Darth Bane” novel series (as well as it’s comic counterpart, Jedi vs. Sith) and Bioware’s “Old Republic” franchise, that series (apart from the Bane element) is now non-canon, so Disney could be free to tell this story their own way….and it’d probably take quite a few movies to do so.

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Chris’s favorite movie scenes: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

When it came out in 1984, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was a bit divisive. A decidely different Indiana Jones movie, while it still featured the character of Indiana Jones and breathtaking actions, it took a somewhat different tone that was somewhat a bit more camp and yet much darker at the same time. It also, unusually, was a prequel, set one year before the events in Raiders. Perhaps most controversial was the added violence and gore-while “Raiders” was no slouch in the gore department-with villains skewered, shot, ran over and melted-Temple of Doom took it a step further with brutal scenes of torture and of course, the famous heart-grab.

Then of course, there’s the opening:

Anything Goes!

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The film opens with a Mandarin langauge singing of “Anything Goes” at a Nightclub sung by Willie Scott, whose enterance even obscrubes Indy’s name for a bit, probably because the name is fairly well known and stuck in pop culture already. The song’s nice of course, and sort of era-appropriate considering the film’s set in the 30’s. One thing I’ve always kind of noticed is that Willie visibly slips and frowns for a second before regaining her composure. I’m wondering, was this intentional on behalf of Spielberg-Willie is of course somewhat clumsy later on-or is it an actual blooper that made the cut?

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Of course soon the action begins. Indy meets with gangster Lao Che, who Indy wants to trade some ancient Imperial ashes for a priceless diamond (The Young Indiana Jones series and a few non-movie sources apparently reveals that like the Cross of Coronado in TLC, the diamond-the Peacock’s eye -is one treasure Indy’s been seeking since his youth).

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However, Lao would rather keep both the diamond and ashes, and despite Indy’s threats to Willie, poisons the archaeologist. What soon follows is a free for all, with Indy literally skewering one of Lao Che’s sons, and with a massive free-for-all with everybody scrambling around, and another presentation of “Anything Goes” starting in the middle of it for no apparent reason (Maybe they thought the chaos was part of the show?) Plus you’ve got Willie trying to get the diamond and Indy trying to get the poison antidote, and he’s kind of just flailing about with half of his wits.

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Noticing that Willie has the antidote, he quickly uses the gong as a massive shield against the machine gun fire of Lao’s surviving son. Really nice sound effects work, I’m assuming by Brett Burtt.

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As the scene ends with Indy crashing into Short Round’s car (which of course leads to another action scene, we learn the name of the nightclub….)

 

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Star Wars reference!

Elephant Ride

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Agreeing to take a look at Pankot Palace for the villagers-and interested in it’s link to the Sankara stones, Indy agrees to help them, taking along Short Round and a reluctant Willie. Although this is a fairly short scene, I really liked the great version of Short Round’s music. Depending on what you think of the character itself, the theme is one of my favorite John Williams compositions.

Fortune and Glory

A pretty cool scene, as after the ceremony concludes, Indy whips across the Temple to get the Sankara stones, with some nice choral music perfectly capturing Indy’s awe.

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There’s also a brief funny moment as Indy notices the snake¬† on that statue but realises it’s just a fake rather quickly (Does seem to move a bit but I think that’s just part of the Temple mechanism).

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However, Indy hears screams in the next chamber over, where he discover the Thugee mine, using the children of the impoverished town from earlier as slave labor. However, as Indy hurls a rock in disgust at the chief Thugee guard, he also alarms the whole temple, resulting in the characters getting captured.

 

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One thing about this scene, you might notice that Willie seems to escape the Thugees by running back towards the caverns. In a deleted scene, she actually makes it back to the palace, where she then tries to warn Captain Blumburtt, but is instead captured by Chatter Lal (Who she didn’t know was part of the cult) and possibly the possessed Indy as well who assure Blumburtt everything’s hunky-dory and Willie’s just freaking out for some reason. It explains why Lal is very eager to silence her in the next scene.

 

“Right.All of us.”

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Although the mine cart chase which follows this scene is often said to be the film’s signature set piece, but I’ve always preferred the scene before it-more action, that fantastic music, Indy’s smile as he helps the kids escape by unlocking their chains, a fight with Pat Roach again (with him once again facing a grisly death) a lot of great uses of Raiders March as well (as well as the film’s other motifs), plenty of whip swinging, and less slightly dodgy miniatures and blue-screen work. Plus Indy’s bad ass pose here looks like it definitely inspired the teaser poster (or vice versa).

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The highlight here is Indy facing the chief Thugee guard. Ford is once again fighting Pat Roach again(Roach played the mechanic in “Raiders” when Indy unsuccessfully tries to commandeer the Flying wing plane, as well as the Sherpa who doesn’t like Toht’s command to “shoot them both”…and is also well known as General Kael in Willow). The fight also looks somewhat more painful…not only is Indy getting hit pretty rough here-such as this shot:

 

But there’s also the possessed Maharaja at the same time stabbing his doll at the same time. Pretty brutal. Thankfully, Short Round manages to knock him out of it and Indy gets some punches in.

 

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“It’s not the years, but the mileage” indeed…

Thankfully, Short Round manages to knock him out of it and Indy gets some punches in (with the help of a saw and two buckets), to the tune of the Raider’s march almost synched to them.

 

Funny thing is, it actually looks like Indy tries to briefly help the guy from getting crushed-He seems to be pleading for his life, and it’s possible that like the Maharaja and (briefly) Indy, he was simply under the “Black sleep of the Kali Ma”.

 

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Chris’s favorite movie scenes-Raiders of the Lost Ark

Same as the “Star Wars” ones, here’s my thoughts on my favorite scenes from the movies.

 

The Idol/The Boulder

 

Up to this point in the movie, Indiana Jones has pretty much been portrayed as highly component and badass; sort of supporting the feeling that some Indiana Jones fans have that the last two films were too ‘soft’ with the character of Indy. However, this scene pretty much proves the opposite-while Indy is of course a professional, he does occasionally make clumsy mistakes. Misjudging the weight of his sandbag to replace the golden idol, he triggers a series of events that sets off pretty much every trap in the place, puts his trust in the wrong place with Satipo, mistimes a jump and the support of a weed; and to add further insult, a massive boulder then starts to hurtle toward him as well!

 

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Although he’s further humiliated by Bellog who steals the idol and then sets the Havitos on him, Indy is able to make it to the plane, but is extremely agitated when he learns there’s a Snake in his seat. Jock tells him to ‘grow a little backbone’. It’s an interesting take-down of the character, and sort of defines the series’s approach between action and comedy, as well as despite Indy being kind of cool and all, he’s also prone to embarrassing mistakes-and of course his iconic phobia.

Explaining the Ark

This scene is pretty much a great deal of exposition, setting the main plot in motion, but it also reveals Indy being somewhat giddy at the thought of the discovery of the Ark, and gives the Army intel men a sort of enthusiastic school lecture on the Ark and the Staff of Ra

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but what also find striking about this scene is that Indy’s friend, Marcus, actually comes across as somewhat ominous and creepy as he describes Tanis’s sandstorm and later, the powers of the Ark, even unsettling the Army guys.

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And then of course it also introduces’ the film’s haunting ark theme as well, when Indy opens the huge illustrated bible.

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Two interesting “Star Wars” connections here as well (apart from Harrison, of course). William Hootkins, who plays one of the G-men, is also known as ill-fated pilot Porkins in the original Star Wars (Hootkins played a variety of roles in the 70’s and 80s in genre films such as “Flash Gordon” and the first “Batman”.)

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And the bible illustration? By Ralph Mcquarrie, one of the most prominent concept designers of Star Wars.

The original rendering for the bible page drawn by Ralph McQuarrie

 

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Map Room at Dawn

With the proper instructions of the Medallion, Indy lowers himself into the map room at Tanis (somewhat vandalized by the Germans who have written on the ‘false’ Well of the souls) and quickly assembles the staff of Ra and using the proper slot. The music of the ark keeps building up, and there’s a nice choral moment when Indy realizes it’s almost to the right time of day.

 

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The way Indy is framed and shot in here is pretty cool, sort of looking a bit Lawrence of Arabia or some figure out of a Cecille D Mille Biblical epic in robes here. The “map room” music is particularity incredible as the sunlight runs across the miniature city.

There’s some slight goofiness with Sallah drawn away from the site and having to quickly improvise an alternate escape for Indy, but that’s no big deal really.

The music swells and Indy’s look of wonder is great as the Ark’s beam reveals the Well of the Soul’s true location.

 

“I’m Making this up as I go!”

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The truck chase is really the film’s last major action sequence, and it’s actually about thirty minutes or so before the film’s actual ending. The line above kind of goes with my point above about Indy not being quite as sure of himself as he appears to be in the film’s opening few minutes…he’s mainly just improvising a lot of this.

The scene of Indy boarding the truck by jumping from the horse is so iconic (and owes a bit to some older films like Zorro) that it was replicated 8 years down the line in “Last Crusade” with a younger Indy and a circus train.

 

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What follows is an interesting chain of events, as Indy commandeers the truck, uses it to bump some other bad guys off the road (and some unfortunate workers too) gets shot a bit, and then faces off against one last German who throws him through the hood….

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with Indy holding on to a very unstable hood ornament and grille for dear life….

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and then after that begins to fall apart, uses his whip to anchor himself to the truck, in a scene that was probably really rough for the stunt guy….

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…finally managing to kick the other guy out, who also attempts to hold on to the grille, but Indy mangled the thing so badly he quickly loses his grip. After shoving Belloq/Tot/Dietrich’s car off the road, Indy makes a clean getaway thanks to Sallah’s friends.

“I’ve found him.”

Where?”

“There!”

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Although it’s a short scene, of Indy boarding the U-boat to salutes and cheers from the Bantu Wind crew, I’ve always like the triumphant and patriotic sounding version of the Raiders march that plays here. How he manages to stay afloat when the sub descends unfortunately is left out of the film. Here’s a bit of trivia on that…

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(He doesn’t board it, although one of the boat crew does have a resemblance to Ford, but more of a 90’s era, clean shaven Ford)

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We clearly see Indy wet and looking for dry, incognito clothes when they reach the base, so it’s pretty obvious he was above. Here’s how though.

Both production photos and the comics adaptations reveal that Indy tied his whip to the periscope.

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Chris’s favorite movie scenes-Star Wars original trilogy

Here’s another break down of some of my favorite movie scenes, this time from the Star Wars original trilogy. As noted, some of these choices might be a bit different than a lot of other ‘top’ lists.

 

Episode IV: Star Wars-A New Hope

You must do what you feel is right, of course….

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This scene really gets the movie rolling, and generally expands on the nature of the Star Wars series itself. Here, we get our first mentions of the force, the Jedi, lightsabers, the origins of Darth Vader (although Obi-Wan distorts the truth, as he said later, “From a certain point of view”) and the Clone wars-and we get the full message from Leia as well. Alec Guinness really sells this scene, and almost seems to relish the opportunity to train Luke and help Leia, although Luke is somewhat reluctant due to his responsibilities on the moisture farm. Ends with a great line of Obi-Wan, and then cuts dramatically to Vader’s Star Destroyer approaching the Death Star, with the “DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN!” that would later make a comeback in Rogue One.

 

Situation normal!

After shooting up the Detention block guards, Han quickly tries to bluff by telling the people on the other end of the commlink that everything’s ok, it was just a weapons malfunction-and even asking “how are you” with him visibly cringing at his own performance. When the bluff doesn’t work, he makes a second lie, which doesn’t really work either, and just blasts the thing, saying it was a “boring conversation, anyway”. A very funny scene, showing the fun nature of the OT in general.

He certainly has courage!

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As they try to get to the Falcon, Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie run afoul of some Stormtroopers, and Han goes kind of goes nuts and charges the Stormtroopers, telling Luke and Leia to get back to the ship, causing Leia to remark that he “certainly has courage” although Luke wonders what good it’ll do them if he gets himself killed.

Harrison’s expression and yell here is pure gold.

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Although the special edition has many questionable edits and changes, I actually found the added hanger to this scene an improvement over the dead-end corridor, even if it’s really only made as a sort of comic moment.

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Trench run!

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The trench run of course is a pivotal scene in Star Wars, and one that has a ton of tension, and would inspire future ‘obstacle course’ chase scenes in the future films, such as ESB’s asteroid chase, ROTJ’s speeder bike chase, TPM’s Pod race and AOTC’s Coruscant speeder chase. The editing is really sharp here, creating a lot of tension as Vader picks off both Biggs and Wedge (Wedge however survives, as his engine is still good enough to escape)…and Luke, although about to make his good shot, is almost in Vader’s sites until Han saves the day. Plus there’s of course there’s Luke surrendering himself to the force, with his trusty buddy R2 incapacitated and told to let go of the Targeting computer, letting himself “act on instinct” instead of on technology.

 

Star Wars Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back

Imperial fleet-and March-revealed

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After the rebels discover the probe droid, they figure their secret is out, and we go to a large fleet of Star Destroyers, and suddenly we see something overshadowing even these mammoth ships-an even bigger Star Destroyer, Vader’s personal command ship, the Super Star Destroyer Executor. We also get our first good look a the inside of one of the ships, in this incredible shot (done partially through the use of matte painting).

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Noticing Admiral Ozell squabbling with his first officer, Captain Piett, about a discovery by the probe droid that could indicate a rebel base, Vader quickly agrees with Piett, despite Ozzel trying to reason it’s just a settlement or smugglers…but Vader is adamant. I love the expression Ozzel gives Piett here-he’s clearly been embarrassed, but he doesn’t live long after this to really reflect on this humiliation anyway….and Piett quickly gets a promotion.

 

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Asteroid chase

The Millennium Falcon’s escape from Hoth doesn’t go as smoothly as Luke’s and the rebel transports-his hyperdrive’s not working and he’s being pursued by three Star Destroyers. This scene really shows how much a lot of the film’s special effects have advanced, as we see the Falcon and TIE fighters do a number of tricky manuevers, including one which causes the Star Destroyers to nearly collide with each other. We see the Falcon and TIE fighters flip, something it wasn’t able to do in Star Wars that much-they mostly just moved in a straight line most of the time.

 

 

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Han ultimately decides to seek cover in a nearby asteroid field, causing several of the TIE fighters to collide with nearby asteroids as the Falcon outmaneuvers them.

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One of the best things in this scene is the score-a triumphant theme plays as the Falcon maneuvers between the asteroids, culminating in the destruction of the last two-and then quietly reverting to the Han/Leia love theme as Han does a roll into the asteroid cavern itself.

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The Carbonite scene

This is probably on a lot of other lists-as Han makes his exit from the film-well, at least in human form-as Vader freezes him to test out the carbon facility-and also give Boba Fett a trophy to deliver to Jabba the Hutt. The scene’s probably one of the more horrifying in the film series, with the steam and orange glow making Vader seem even more scary than usual.

Plus there’s the kiss and love declaration, which was partially improvised by Harrison and Carrie on set.

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Han in Carbonite-his face seemingly trapped in anguish-is one of the most haunting images in the series. Billy Dee Williams really sells it here. He’s really horrified about what he’s done and this is pretty much the turning point for him.

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I never doubted you for a second! Wonderful!

Lando, Leia and Chewie, along with the droids, are trying to get to the Falcon to escape cloud city-but the door is having some problems, as R2 tries to ‘hack it’, the theme builds up until the Han/Leia theme builds to an explosive crescendo. Threepio’s pretty much insulting him the whole way, and ignores a pivotal clue that the hyperdrive on the Falcon might not be quite fixed yet….and then after R2 opens the door, kind of tries to cover up his insult. The music when the Falcon lifts off is quite good too.

 

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Episode VI-Return of the Jedi

Sail Barge battle

The film’s second main action sequence after Luke’s fight with the Rancor has our heroes in a bit of a tight spot, but thanks to Luke smuggling his saber in R2, a well-placed somersault jump, Luke is quickly able to get the other hand and help free his friends. Although Luke’s skills as a fighter and combat pilot are of course evident in the other films, it’s pretty clear he’s taking the lead here and definitely isn’t a kid anymore. We also get to see his new lightsaber-a green one, the first in the series, with the handle modeled on Obi-Wan’s-in action here. The music is also great, mixing in of course the classic Star Wars theme with other action cues. The editing in the scene is a bit chaotic, but I think that’s really reflecting the nature of the scene itself- Jabba and his co are a bit out of their league, although Luke’s friends are at a somewhat similar disadvantage-Han’s still somewhat blind, Lando has accidentally fallen near the Sarlacc, Chewie’s a bit wounded, and Leia is still chained up-although she uses the confusion to throttle Jabba.

 

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The scene of course culminates with a nod to the original, with Han and Leia once again doing the rope swing (although with Leia in a lot less clothing and without the now iffy semi-kiss), an image also used in multiple marketing for the film.

 

 

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The Emperor arrives

What initially seems like just another Imperial transition of just a few TIE fighters moving around, soon turns out to out to be a massive swarm of the fighters outside a hanger bay….and then we see what’s inside.

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A massive Imperial gathering of all sorts of troops (including a probe droid and a few Imperial R2s to the right there) showing us the arrival of the Emperor.

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We then get our first good luck at the Emperor, a character briefly seen in holo in ESB. One wonders how this shorter, frail old man could somehow make the more imposing Vader kneel. There’s also some nice body language with David Prowse’s Vader here, with Vader momentarily hesitating as Palpatine senses he wishes to continue his search for Skywalker.

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I’m going in! Here goes nothing!¬†Intensify forward firepower!

A very, very fast paced scene as Lando and Wedge dive into the innards of the second Death Star to take out the massive battle station, in another scene that looks even dangerous than the trench-at least the trench had an opening at the top-here, our heroes are boxed in on all sides. The music during this scene is kind of a mix of the “Here they come!” music from the original, with some of the trench run music.

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Here, we see the Falcon lose it’s circular radar dish, a detail that isn’t missed in “The Force Awakens” where it has a new more rectangular one.

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The second part of this scene has Admiral Ackbar-hoping to buy the fighters some more time by taking on Vader’s Super Star Destroyer, currently run by Piett. Two A-wings managed to hit a direct hit on the big globes on top, causing the bridge shields to fail.

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Piett orders that the “forward batteries” be intensified so that any fighters can make their way to the bridge.

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However, said forward firepower damages an A-wing, which then spins out of control directly into the bridge. Despite calling once again to increase the firepower, the A-wing smashes into the bridge, killing Piett and his crew and causing the whole ship to spiral out on control, crashing directly on the Death Star’s surface.

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Plus there’s some nice body language here by Ackbar, sort of giving a sigh of relief that he no longer has to deal with the big ship.

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Chris’s favorite scenes from Movies: Star Wars Prequels

Thought I’d run down some of my favorite scenes from movies in a new blog series. For this, I’ll start with the 8-well, 9 if you count the Clone Wars (or 11 if you count those Ewok TV movies). Here’s a rundown by episode number. I’m also going to try to stay away from scenes that everybody pretty much already likes and that have had a lot more written by them-some of these choices therefore might be a bit different than one might think. I’ll start with some think are either the worst films ever made or somewhat underrated in a few ways, although they could’ve been better-I’m pretty much of the later persuasion-The Star Wars prequels.

 

Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

 

Prime of the Jedi

While certainly one of the less popular entries in the series, The Phantom Menace does have it’s moments. One of them pretty much happens right away, as the Jedi quickly evade being poisoned by gas and plow through battle droids to get to the Trade Federation bridge. The Star Wars theme kicks into high gear, and we really get to see the Jedi more in their prime here, although the battle droids are largely ineffective…

 

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One of my favorite moments in when Qui-Gon attempts to saber his way through the blast doors-and almost suceeds in getting through, astonishing the cowardly Trade Federation bad guys. However, he’s forced to beat a hasty retreat when their cornered by the TF’s “Droidekas” (Or “Destroyers” as Obi-Wan calls them)….and we get one of the few uses of “Force speed” in the series.

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Unfortunately, the film does go a bit downhill from here, but there’s a few more good points.

 

Don’t look back. Don’t look back….

 

A pretty emotional scene with some okay dialogue and even some decent acting by Jake Lloyd (although Pernilla August certainly carries this scene too. A lot of Vader’s downfall hinges on him losing his loved ones, and of course we know the consequences of him not following his mother’s advice and attempting to return to her on Tatooine. The scene closes with a nice rendition of the force theme as well.

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Now they will elect a new Chancellor. A Strong Chancellor.

 

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Although Episode I-and the prequels in general gets a lot of flak for being a bit too much about politics (Although the concept of the senate goes back to the first Star Wars of course). I still like this scene, with Palpatine sort of using Amidala as his instrument to bring down Chancellor Valorum-a man who is really powerless to do anything. Palpatine uses a lot of the manipulation here-sowing mistrust between Amidalia and the overly bureaucratic Republic leadership-that he’ll later use on Anakin to turn him against the Jedi.

And yes, I like the end duel of course, but pretty much everybody does….

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

 

Fett vs Kenobi

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As cool looking as Boba Fett was, he didn’t really get to show off much of his toys, apart from a brief fight scene with Luke in “Return of the Jedi” which ended with his jetpack getting jabbed by Han and him becoming Sarlacc lunch. Jango Fett here get considerably more screentime, and a lot more demonstrations of his ‘toys’, such as the rocket from his backpack actually being used (something that-although depicted in some toys-never happened in the OT), his gauntlet’s blades etc. and Obi-Wan is no slouch here either, especially when he briefly loses his saber and has to fight Jango hand to hand. The scene’s CG is also pretty OK compared to some of the dodgier points of the movie later on-maybe because it’s a darker scene?

Empire in all but name

Although the proto-Stormtroopers (Clonetroopers) Walkers (AT-TE) and Star Destroyers (“Jedi cruisers”) have already been seen, this really sells it with a full-blown Imperial march, with Palpatine looking out at his newly formed army-and the weapon he’ll use against the Jedi and to enforce Sith rule on the galaxy.

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The shot of Bail Organa looking defeated is pretty perfect. Although he isn’t aware of the Empire to come, as Leia mentions in the original film, Alderaan is a peaceful world with no weapons….and well, these are a lot of weapons.

 

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The Jedi come home, Anakin goes seperatist hunting, Empire declared….

A pretty interesting set of scenes as Palpatine’s masterplan starts to gel together and bring the Clone Wars-that he started-to an end. There’s some great John Williams music here, as the Jedi return to the Jedi temple and Bail to the senate to find out what the heck’s been going on back home-while Anakin takes on the Seperatist leaders, who are powerless before him.

 

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Plus Yoda’s takedown of the Clone Trooper, although the kind of smug look on his face kind of is a bit in conflict with his “Empire” persona (But then again people could say that about a lot of Yoda’s scenes in the prequels).

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And of course the whole “Sith eye” look Anakin gets (Wonder why we never really saw Dooku with these outside of the Clone Wars? Then again Anakin doesn’t always have them in later scenes, except of course when he’s burning. Maybe it’s when he’s particuarly strong with hate or something.

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Anyway, my final choice….

 

Birth of Vader

Although of course he’s called Vader earlier in the film, Vader is of course born as the masked icon when the suit actually snaps into place. Intercut with the birth of his kids-and the death of Padme-it’s quite an effective scene.

We get a brief look at what Vader sees-basically, red.

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Anakin’s expression here is a bit interesting-at first he looks kind of scared, but then seems to just accept it with a hardneed expression.

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This shot of Vader’s helmet clicking into place (complete with the ESB “thunk!” sound effect) and Vader’s breathing is *perfect*.

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Of course the follow-up scene is a bit silly with the “NOOOOO!”

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But you’ve got to love Palpatine’s expression here.

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