Posts Tagged ‘The major “Star” franchises’

Got An Intergalactic Revolution!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

With JJ ABrams’ Shatnerless Star Trek reboot hitting cinemas this summer, the eternal question is back on everyone’s lips. To whit: which is the best out of the major “Star” franchises (Trek, Wars, Gate)? Well. First of all we can disregard Stargate as I have never seen it (except for the original film, which seemed pretty cool in 1994, although that might be because we were so impoverished for space spanning adventure that James Spader versus an androgynous Pharoah was an acceptable evening’s entertainment. In retrospect it can be blamed for paving the way for  Independence Day. So not good then).

So Star Trek vs Star Wars. It’s a debate that has raged among nerds for years, and we can finally put it to bed now. The criteria we will use will be a seemingly inconsequential element of  the most misbegotten moments of each saga. From Scott Bakula helmed crapfest Star Trek: Enterprise we have the overblown, incongruously 80s style power ballad Where My Heart Will Take Me, while the acid flashback fever dream that is The Star Wars Holiday Special provides Jefferson Starship’s “futuristic” performance of Light The Sky On Fire.

Enterprise was an attempt to free the Star Trek franchise from the entrenched continuity that the previous three series had built up, being set as it was before the formation of The Federation and the adventures of Kirk and Spock. Unfortunately this resulted in episodes about making a really good chair. It was also distinct in that it forsook the traditional “spacey” orchestral theme tune (none of them a patch on the otherworldly warbling of the Original Series) and went for a (gulp!) “rock ballad”.

Gratuitously sexy vulcan, Sam Beckett and blue dude - Enterprise had it all

Where My Heart Will Take Me was sung by crossover opera star Russell Watson in full gravelly transatlantic style, and while a bit cheesy, it’s not bad if you like that kind of thing. Not surprising as it was written by uber songsmith Diane Warren, whose oeuvre includes such AOR classics as Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Time, LeAnn Rimes’ Can’t Fight The Moonlight and Aerosmith’s That One From Armageddon. That drivel about “reaching any star” notwithstanding,  it’s nothing to do with Star Trek though, which is unsurprising when you find out that the song was originally written for Patch Adams, a Robin Williams (urgh) comedy drama (uurrgh) about a Doctor who treats patients’ spirits as much as their bodies (glurgaargh!!). Spizz  Energi’s Where’s Captain Kirk? would have been a better choice. As long as it was the live version with screaming in the middle.

Diane Warren’s CV also includes Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now from the movie Mannequin, performed by Starship, the 80s stadium rock incarnation of pivotal godheads of 60s psychedelia Jefferson Airplane.

In between their glory days of bashing the Nixon Administration through the medium of acid rock and their latter years, singing of the love between a man and a shop dummy, they were known as Jefferson Starship, and seemingly did a lot of songs about space. This set them up as an ideal “special musical guest” for that infamous, interminable, Star Wars Holiday Special.

Now, much has been written about this 97 minute (but feels a lot longer) toy advert slash variety show slash psychological torture, so I hardly need to get into it here, suffice to say that it has to be seen to be believed, but you’ll wish you hadn’t bothered.

They're really big on Kazhyyyk

Appearing as a pink hued hologram, the band perform the song as a distraction for the Imperial officers, who obviously like a bit of a groove to murky 70s rock during downtime. Marty Balin is singing into what I presume is intended to be a lightsaber, but it resembles a flourescent dildo. At least they make the effort, wearing swishy costumes (pitched between glam rock and male stripper), twirling drumsticks, and generally pulling shapes while their instruments (including the fantastically futuristic keyboard on a shoulder strap) emit sonic waves (or something). The song features a spoken interlude about “The Great God Kopa Khan”, and (apropos of nothing) cries of “Cigar shaped object”! I can’t be certain but I’m sure that’s not canon.

Psychedelic siren Grace Slick is nowhere to be seen in the preformance. She had actually been fired from the band earlier in the year for drunkenly goading German audiences by shouting “who won the war?” while she should have been singing Somebody To Love for the 30,000th time. Nice one Grace. At least she was spared the embarrassment of appearing in the one part of the Star Wars franchise that is deemed too bad to ever get an official release.

Even though I have a grudging affection for Where My Heart Will Take Me, the prize has to go to Light The Sky On Fire, just because it’s so mental. So that’s that settled then. Next week we sort out which is the one true religion.

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Anakinversary

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

A long time ago… ah screw it, everyone’s probably done that one. Today’s the tenth anniversary of the release of The Phantom Menace. Happy birthday Duel of The Fates, Watto and  The Boonta Eve Classic. Although for us in the UK we still had another excruciating two months to wait while everyone else in the world was talking about  it.

He's Behind You!

Like many people who can’t let it lie, I have felt the need to defend the damn movie over the last ten years. Dunno why, it’s neither my fault, nor my problem if someone else doesn’t like it.  But I do find myself wondering why so many people have taken against it, especially seeing as every single film looks like that now (Even the Sex and the City movie had that completely incongruous scene where two vast armies of CGI it girls fought on a CGI battlefield, using CGI Louis Vuitton handbags). Let’s look at the reasons;

  • Enormously clunky plot contrivances. So they need a hyperdrive generator and the only person that has one is immune to the jedi mind trick and also owns a slave who has latent jedi abilities and races pods and has just happened to be secretly building a podracer for a tournament that just  happens to be tomorrow… phew!
  • Midichlorians. Let’s be honest, while it doesn’t invalidate the mysticism of the previous movies, we hardly needed an empirical system of measuring someone’s connection to The Force.
  • Jar Jar. The Star Wars movies were always aimed at a young audience, but never before was a character included specifically for the preschoolers. However, people never complain about “that really bad special effect”, or even “that really bad character”. They actually talk about Jar Jar as if he’s a real person. So really he can be said to be a success… from a certain point – ah screw it everyone will have used that one too.
  • Too many special effects. Seriously, complaining about this in a Star Wars movie is like stopping taking drugs because they make you feel weird.
  • Sixteen (or twenty, depending on how much of a nerd you were) years of anticipation. After that amount of time we could have got the best film ever made and people would have still complained. Not that I’m suggesting it is the best film ever made, you understand.
  • Darth Vader built C-3PO. Actually, I can explain this, no problem.

This piece, written by Using the Force author Will Brooker,  pretty much sums up my experience. It wasn’t my own expectations, any of the (admittedly many) flaws in the film, or even Ben Quadrinaros that ruined it for me. It was knowing everything about it, including how I was expected to feel.

Having said that, I still love The Phantom Menace. As Todd Hanson says in A Galaxy Not So Far Away, it’s just a big dumb movie about space wizards. What’s not to like?

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Mon Calamari Monday

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Here’s a quick sketch of Admiral Ackbar, in honour of #MonCalamariMonday.  The Mon Calamari are, of course, the best “Mon” in the Star Wars Universe, closely followed by Mon Mothma, Ephant Mon, and Mon Julpa (I had to look that last one up on Wookieepedia).

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