Welcome to Empirical Purple

A blog by Simon Brady to cover a surprisingly wide range of geekiness, in a combination that no-one else does quite the same way. Probably. Either that, or it'll just be Simon talking about the likes of Football (usually the Soccer variety), PC & Tabletop Gaming, WWE, Movies, Music and occasionally even my actual job of Graphic Design, depending on what I'm up to in the world.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Use the Force. Like Always.

Everything wrong with Star Wars in one image
Every time you see something about Star Wars, it's the same thing again and again; they're variations on a theme, at best.

Putting aside the fact it's all about making money anyway, when you see Star Wars, it's always about swinging lightsabers and using the Force in special effects-laden action sequences.

I firmly hold the opinion that George Lucas completely fluked Star Wars' initial success, mostly down to Ralph McQuarrie's defining concept art and ILM's amazing SFX that set a new benchmark for effects in movies.

But what has every iteration of the franchise done since? Relied on without buidling on it. I'm not one of those Star Wars fans who claims that Episodes I-III ruined my childhood, nor that Return of the Jedi did it, either. In fact Jedi was one of the most-watched VHS tapes I had as a child, just behind Transformers: The Movie. What's wrong is that the swishy-slicey light show that was a highlight in the original three films became the centrepiece of the prequel triliogy and countless games, TV shows and fan works ever since.

 Every time something 'new' is created for the Star Wars universe, it's based on those first three films. Spaceships are always derivatives of TIE fighters, Star Destroyers and Corellian Corvettes, even as the supposed predecessors of those craft. Suits of armour are always designed as homages to either Boba Fett's Mandalorian-style bounty hunter armour, the Imperial Stormtroopers, or both.

Even in Star Wars: The Old Republic it's the exact same story played out in the exact same way. Despite being set 4,000 years previously, the technology is exactly the same and the only setting difference is that instead of two bad guys waving red laser swords around, there are just as many as the ones with green and blue (and yellow, and purple, and pink, and black...). The Planets are the same, the races the same, the themes are the same, and there's more music video editing and the light shows that will sear your retina.

CGI lightsaber-wielding super-gymnastic Yoda was where it really went wrong.

Once you take away the Jim Henson factor, you lose the reality of supporting characters. When the likes of Jabba and Yoda stop being physical entities for actors to react to and audiences to connect with, you lose some of the substance to a film. Animatronics technology has come a long way since the muppet-style Yoda of the late 70s, but evidently CGI is cheaper and allows you more control of your shots, so that's the way you go. First mistake.

Secondly, the action scenes. Of course, most fans have wondered what Yoda would have looked like in a fight with his lightsaber. The point is, however, that we should never see that, because Yoda represents the Jedi's pacifism and a route to solve problems away from conflict. When he drops his walking stick and moves like a little green blur against Count Dooku or Palpatine the whole point of his character, and indeed his message, is diminished.

But, never mind, it's a cool swirly swishy lightsaber fight with insane action, bright lights and shiny, shiny effects. Style over content is a great way to distract people, and make a hell of a lot of money while they're at it.

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