How to Fix – Star Trek: First Contact

Welcome to the next article in a series called ‘How to Fix’, in which I will be offering my opinion on how to improve on stories from various entries in different franchises. It must be noted that not all of the films, games or episodes that I will be talking about in this series have to necessarily be ‘broken’ in order to fix them, simply that these articles will offer alternate means of telling the same stories.

Of all the Star Trek: The Next Generation films, First Contact is definitely the least terrible, objectively speaking. In many ways, it could actually be considered one of the better Star Trek movies, but there are just a few things about the film that definitely hold it back, not least the fact that it shifted the tone and focus of Star Trek ever closer to action and further from its lore-heavy sci-fi roots. With that said, here are just a few ways in which First Contact could be improved. To start:

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The film should have been set on the Enterprise-D

This one is early on the list because it isn’t really fair to First Contact to criticise it on this point, since it was the previous film (the godawful Generations) that committed the ultimate crime of destroying the Enteprise-D in the stupidest way possible. Nonetheless, the impact of First Contact is lessened thanks to the Enterprise-D’s conspicuous absence, because as far as the audience is concerned this film could have taken place on any random Federation ship and it wouldn’t have made a difference. We don’t know the Enterprise-E well enough to care about it being assimilated by the Borg, which is a huge part of what drives the narrative of the film. After all, the majority of Picard’s conflict throughout the movie is related to his unwillingness to destroy the Enterprise to stop the Borg, and this would have connected with the audience if the ship he was talking about was the vessel we had come to know and love throughout the show rather than a recent replacement that we had barely seen yet.

Imagine an alternate version of this film in which it was the Enterprise-D that was being attacked and not the E. It would have been more poignant to see the D’s engine room infested with Borg, or to have the argument between Picard and Worf happen on a damaged version of the D’s bridge instead of the bland set they cobbled together for the E. And if it really was the intention of the writers to destroy the D, it should have been done here rather than in Generations, as sacrificing the Enterprise-D to destroy the Botg Queen would have been a much better sendoff for the ship than having it crash after being attacked by a ship less than a tenth of its size.

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Expand on the character of the Borg Queen, or at least explain what she is

Many cite First Contact as the beginning of the end for the Borg, since it was just after this film that the threat of their constant attempts to assimilate Starfleet began to wane. This was made all the worse by their constant overuse in Voyager, but that can be a topic for another day. What threw the Borg ‘off-track’, so to speak, was the introduction of the Borg Queen without any attempt to explain why she actually exists in the first place. The film essentially turns everything we already understood about the Borg on its head, without giving any satisfying reason as to why, simply to introduce a fairly uninspired villain with confusing motives.

The Borg are a hive-mind, and by definition have no leader, and yet the writers of First Contact obviously decided that the Borg were a hive in the literal sense, as in a hive of bees, and by that logic they needed a Queen. In theory, this could work – the Borg might need one particular individual drone to store command data, or provide an imaginative insight into how the Borg should expand, or even as a variant of ‘Locutus’ that is required to communicate with other races. What we got in First Contact was a Queen who seemed totally detached from the Borg, almost as if she was some other entity that had taken control of them, and no concrete explanation as to why the Borg even need a Queen. Data himself expresses his confusion over the concept, but the Queen just brushes it off and quickly moves on. In order for this antagonist to work, it must first be explained what her motives are and why she exists in the first place.

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Make Picard more like Picard

Since this was a movie and not an episode on a TV show, Picard seemed to suddenly develop a Rambo complex in this film. He brutally murders a fellow Starfleet officer in cold blood to prevent him from becoming a Borg drone, despite the fact that he himself was once assimilated and was later rescued and returned to normal. He screams like a maniac when firing a machine gun at the Borg (which definitely shouldn’t affect them since earlier in the film Data is shot with a machine gun and, strangely, suffers no damage whatsoever) and then later screams the infamous ‘NOOOOO’ while smashing up his office. And, to top it all off, at the end of the film he just snaps the Borg Queen’s neck, despite the fact that she had been beaten and was essentially a harmless spinal column writhing around on the floor.

So what should he have been like? Well, more like how he was in the TV show. He shouldn’t have been driven by hate of the Borg or a desire for revenge, because that is totally outside of what we have come to expect from his character. In fact, the entire ‘Picard has Borg PTSD’ was invented entirely for this movie – even after he was assimilated Picard fought the Borg many times, and even had a chance to totally destroy them, and yet he showed none of these feelings of anger that have suddenly cropped up for no explainable reason. If anything, it would have been far more interesting to see a character like Data go through this arc, since his newfound emotions are still somewhat unstable and he clearly finds the idea of the Borg disgusting as they want to eradicate humanity, the very thing that he looks up to.

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Remove the Earth sub-plot

Admit it, nobody watches this film for Zefram Cochrane. The Earth subplot is cheesey, makes no sense in terms of the temporal Prime Directive and only serves to create a cliche tension-built climax at the end, when it looks like the Borg are about to destroy human history by ensuring they never discover Warp Travel. Admittedly, the character of Lily is an interesting inclusion, and having someone with no knowledge of starships, Borg, the Federation or phasers bumbling around on a ship in the middle of a Borg attack seems like something that The Next Generation would have done on the show. However, Lily could have ended up on the ship for any number of reasons, and then dropped off on Earth at the end while promising to tell no-one of what she saw, which would have spared the audience scenes with awful dancing, dated music, cringe-inducing dialogue and Deanna Troi getting drunk.

Alternatively, those scenes could be replaced with more of the action that is happening on the Enterprise, which is what people are actually watching the film for. If the subplot with the Phoenix has to be a focus, then perhaps Lily could be written as a character who is somehow crucial to the launch, and it is imperative that the crew get her back to Earth unharmed before the launch is scheduled to occur.

In fairness, First Contact is the best of the TNG movies, and it certainly defeats its predecessor hands down. But with just a few tweaks, it could have been one of the best Star Trek movies of all time. If you enjoyed, you can follow us either here or on Facebook and be sure to leave a like. Thanks for reading!

Star Wars – 5 Best and 5 Worst Changes to the Original Trilogy

An interesting quirk that Star Wars fans have to deal with in the re-releases of the Original Star Wars Trilogy is that, since the original film was released on VHS for the first time in 1985, George Lucas has been tweaking his creations by implementing changes to all aspects of the film – effects, dialogue, sometimes entire characters and scenes have been removed, added or altered in all three original films and even some of the prequels. The topic of the re-release changes has created some debate in the fandom, with some arguing that the changes improve the films and others preferring the original releases. It wouldn’t be as bad if there was a version of the original Star Wars film out there, but since the changes began with the original release, it is now impossible to watch the film in its original state, regardless of whether you like the changes or not. With that in mind, here is my list of the 5 Best and 5 Worst changes to the beloved series.

Best Changes:

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5 – Improved Effects

This is an obvious choice, but the re-releases do improve most of the effects in the film, with just a few exceptions. One might argue that the film’s original effects were part of what made it so good – after all, at the time of release the visuals were one of the major selling points of Star Wars. But most fans agree that there’s nothing wrong with bringing the original films up-to-date with modern special effects, and that certainly shows when you compare scenes like the Battle of Yavin where the older effects do somewhat break immersion, particularly if you are used to the newer releases. The improved laser blasts and lightsaber effects make the action scenes appear less scratchy, and improve continuity between this trilogy and the ones that come before and after it in the timeline. It would certainly be

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4 – Oola

It’s strange to consider when you watch it now, but in the original cut of Return of the Jedi Oola’s death scene was much more brief – she simply falls down the trap door into the Rancor pit in Jabba’s Palace, and the Rancor reveal is saved for later. Amazingly, the actress who played Oola filmed the extended death scene over a decade after first appearing in Jedi, with no difference to the visuals whatsoever. The Rancor isn’t revealed completely, meaning that the impact of its later appearance isn’t spoiled, but it does create a menacing scene showing more of the mercilessness of Jabba’s henchmen. Interestingly, Oola was allegedly supposed to have a much larger role in the film, but due to changes in the script her role was drastically reduced, so if anything this change simply provides a bit more screen-time for a fan-favourite character.

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3 – Victory Celebration

This one might be controversial, but the change to the music at the end of Return of the Jedi is, in my opinion, one of the best decisions George Lucas ever made. The original song that played during the celebrations on Endor was ‘Yub Nub’, a nonsensical and comically puerile ditty that doesn’t do the finale justice, but the replacement, John Williams’ aptly-titled ‘Victory Celebration’, seems a much more fitting tune to end the original trilogy. For comparison, one needs only to look at the ending of A New Hope – the tune used there fits the tone and gravitas of the scene, and ‘Yub Nub’ simply does not. Whilst it is a fan-favourite, that doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice for what is to some the conclusion of the Skywalker saga. But, then again, the dancing doesn’t sync up with the new tune as well.

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2 – The Real Palpatine

As important as  it is to remember Marjorie Eaton, the original actress who portrayed the Emperor – and yes, I said ‘actress’, as Clive Revill was merely dubbed over her performance – for the sake of continuity her original scenes as the Emperor no longer work. In heavy makeup with digitally inserted chimpanzee eyes, the 78 year old effectively filled in for the Emperor in the original 1980 release of The Empire Strikes Back but, after Ian McDiarmid was cast as Palpatine for Return of the Jedi and then again in the prequels, it only makes sense to retroactively insert him into Empire as well. Admittedly, as many have stated before, the original Emperor does appear more visually intimidating, with some criticizing the newer editions for making the Emperor look outright bored as he calmly drops the bombshell onto Vader that Luke is Anakin’s son, and sort of ruins the idea that Vader came to that conclusion himself. Nonetheless, A+ for effort.

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1 – Young Anakin

Okay, before I even explain the details of this change, I would like to get one thing out of the way first: I understand why people hate this change. In fact, for many years I too cringed in resentment at the awkward, out-of-place looking Hayden Christensen who had been clumsily imposed over the charming, warm smile of Sebastian Shaw that was in the original cut of Return of the Jedi. Upon reflection, however, I have also conceded that I understand why this change was made, and in many ways it is one of the most important changes to the Star Wars films because it establishes something interesting about the Force and about the character of Darth Vader that was only hinted at in the original films. By showing Anakin’s ghost as he looked in his youth, it firmly establishes the idea that the dark side corrupted and twisted Anakin to such an extent that by the time he had been burned alive on Mustafar he wasn’t even the same man anymore. Anakin being burned and chopped up and turned into a Cyberman is just a formality, Vader consumed him during the events of Revenge of the Sith meaning that, in returning to his former self in death, Anakin lives on through the Force in the way that he was before his turn. This brings a whole weight of validation onto the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi who, when you consider how he goes about relating the events of the prequels to Luke, comes across as a manipulative and downright inconsiderate arse-hole who attempts to warp Luke’s perception of reality to fit his worldview. If, however, we accept that the redeemed Anakin Skywalker appears to Luke in the form of his younger self, it not only metaphorically shows that the corruption of Vader has fallen away to reveal the man he once was, but it also shows that the nature of the Force itself backs Obi-Wan’s claim that Vader and Anakin are separate entities, and that is arguably far more important to the story than just seeing Vader as he would have looked if he hadn’t turned evil. From a technical standpoint, the change itself needs work (mostly to make Hayden look less creepy for no reason) but ultimately I believe it adds to the depth of the lore of the Force and I will gladly agree to disagree with anyone who says otherwise.

But now, let’s take a look at some of the really bad changes to the Star Wars films…

Worst Changes:

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5 – Jabba the Hutt in A New Hope

Although some like the inclusion of the unused ‘Jabba’ scene from A New Hope that digitally replaces the man who was originally going to be ‘Jabba’ with the slimy slug-like Hutt that we all know him as today, this change is fundamentally awful for a number of reasons. For one, when it was originally included in the 1997 re-release of A New Hope, the CGI Jabba looked absolutely horrendous – it would be hard to distinguish between it and the Globgogabgalab if the latter didn’t periodically break into song. In fact, if my previous list of terrible CGI characters had included a section on the original trilogy, this Jabba would have topped the list. Thankfully the 2004 re-release of A New Hope changed Jabba into something that looked a little bit more like what we remember from Return of the Jedi but that still doesn’t answer the question of why this scene is even necessary in the first place – for one, it spoils the reveal of Jabba from Jedi, and it doesn’t establish anything that we didn’t know from the previous Cantina scene. To add insult to injury, Han steps on Jabba’s tail, something he would probably have been killed for if this was the real Jabba instead of a CGI imposter.

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4 – Vader’s ‘Nooooo’

This change is a perfect example of how altering the tiniest detail can have a whole lot of impact. Adding in Vader screaming ‘No’ Revenge of the Sith-style into the climax of Return of the Jedi essentially threw any hope of subtlety in the scene out of the window, with the Emperor cackling maniacally like the pantomime villain that he is in Jedi. After all, wouldn’t the Emperor hear him say it and blast him with lightning instead? The point of his betrayal originally was that it was totally unexpected – the Emperor never had a chance to stop Vader by the time he had been lifted into the air and hurled over the balcony to plummet to his death, but now it just makes Palpatine look like an idiot. Speaking of treating people like idiots, surely the audience can basically figure out by his body language and actions that Vader is saving Luke without a clear statement from him? But according to Lucas, everything needs to be spelled out for us, it’s not like we’ve had over 30 years to figure out what Vader must have been thinking during the final scene.

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3 – CGI creatures everywhere

It’s almost comical when watching it back, but the iconic ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for’ scene in A New Hope now begins with a really close up shot of a reptilian creature lumbering in the way of the camera, totally blocking the shot and obscuring all of the main characters for seemingly no reason whatsoever. But that’s not the only creature that was added in to the original trilogy, there are plenty – a Dug (one of Sebulba’s species, for anyone who wanted a grim reminder of The Phantom Menace) can now be seen in Jabba’s palace, the Wampa now gets a full reveal (spoiling the ambiguity of the creature) and that dance number in Return of the Jedi makes me want to burn everything in my house that links me to Star Wars. Seriously, it’s that bad. Heck, they may as well go and retroactively add Porgs into the films, scurrying around on the Millennium Falcon or screeching over the dialogue in Empire. In fact, it’s not just the addition of creatures that make this so bad – Lucas couldn’t even digitally insert a rock in front of R2-D2 whilst he hides from the Tusken Raiders without having it disappear between shots, and the gap when it is there be too small for R2-D2 to even fit through. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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2 – Greedo Shooting First

It may surprise some that this isn’t number one, because it has become the most infamous change to the Star Wars films with, the motto ‘Han Shot First’ seemingly encompassing the Star Wars fandom’s rejection of the majority of George Lucas’ changes to the films. After all, Greedo shooting first not only detracts from the firm establishment of Han Solo as a no-nonsense, quick-triggered badass, but it also devalues him as a character – what kind of bounty hunter can fire at that close a range whilst sitting down and having a totally clear shot and yet still miss? Is this another attempt by Lucas to add out-of-place slapstick humour to Star Wars that absolutely fails at every level? Ignoring the neck-breaking head motion that Han has been edited to perform in newer releases with this edit, the change just doesn’t look right. Everything happens so fast that it’s impossible to tell why Lucas felt this was necessary, aside from a vague excuse that ‘good guys don’t shoot people’. Well George, tell that to the dozens of Stormtroopers who are dispatched by Han throughout the movies, they’re people too.

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1 – Boba Fett’s voice

This is the change that I take most issue with, regardless of the whole ‘who shot first’ fiasco. In fairness, this change was obviously made with continuity in mind, rather than just a random desire to pollute the frame with more random CGI creations like the Stormtroopers on the Death Star or the Max Reebo band – for those not aware, Boba Fett is revealed to be a clone of Jango Fett who features in Attack of the Clones. Obviously by replacing James Wingreen’s voice from the original cut of Empire with the voice of Temura Morrison, who played Jango, Lucas was bridging the gap between Clones and Empire and admittedly, this change could have been done well under different circumstances. But the fact of the matter is that Wingreen’s performance was just so much better than Morrison’s, and even if you apply the logic that Boba is a clone, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that he had the exact same voice – after all, environmental factors have much more of an impact on accent than genetics, making this change ultimately pointless.

So that was my list of the Top 5 Best and Worst Changes to the Star Wars movies, I hope you enjoyed, if you did then you can always leave a like either here or on Facebook, and be sure to follow us if you want to read more content like this!

 

 

 

 

How to Fix – Attack of the Clones

Welcome to the first article in a series called ‘How to Fix’, in which I will be offering my opinion on how to improve on stories from various entries in different franchises. It must be noted that not all of the films, games or episodes that I will be talking about in this series have to necessarily be ‘broken’ in order to fix them, simply that these articles will offer alternate means of telling the same stories.

To introduce my new series, I will be focusing on Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, a film that is considered by many to be among the worst of the Star Wars franchise alongside The Phantom Menace and (dare I say it?) The Last Jedi. This film is probably the Star Wars Prequel film that I have seen the most, and I adored it as a child, but it is not without its flaws. Some of the fixes here will also involve small alterations to The Phantom Menace, which I have purposely skipped as to attempt to correct the huge amount of plot holes in that film would require an entire rewrite of the script. So without further ado, lets start with the most obvious fix to Attack of the Clones:

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Change the Backstory of the film so that it is easier to Understand

A major criticism levied against the Prequels is the excessive use of political dialogue, particularly considering the film is supposed to be for children. This could work if it was done well, and in a way that was simple enough for children to at least grasp the basics whilst also not boring adults who don’t have a clue what the characters are talking about half of the time. Attack of the Clones commits the cardinal sin of having a tonne of political dialogue that not only has no preliminary explanation whatsoever, but also crosses in the realms of the ridiculous even from a political standpoint.

For a start, the film should make it clear who the main villain is from the beginning. Rather than hiding the reveal of Dooku until the very end, the film should demonstrate who Dooku is and why he is a threat as soon as possible in more than just dialogue between the Jedi and Senator Amidala. Realistically, Dooku should have been in The Phantom Menace as a member of the Jedi Council, that way we’d at least have a face to put to the name when we’re watching Attack of the Clones, and would also serve to demonstrate that not even the wisest and most powerful of the Jedi can resist the lure of the Dark Side entirely.

From the similar vein, the mysterious ‘Sifo Dyas’ should have at least made an appearance. Obi-Wan Kenobi talks about Dyas as if we, the audience, are already aware of his existence – we are never given any explanation as to who Dyas was, when and how he died, why he would want to order the Clone army, and how he paid for it. We must assume that he was somehow a puppet for Sidious, and apparently in an earlier draft of the film ‘Sifo Dyas’ was a disguise that Sidious used to order the clones himself. Ultimately, the Jedi Council in The Phantom Menace should have had both Dooku and Sifo Dyas as members in order for the backstory of Attack of the Clones to make sense, and the political dialogue should have been reduced or altered. On that point:

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Expand the role of  Padmé Amidala

For the prequel trilogy’s leading lady, Padmé Amidala is woefully underused and blatantly one-dimensional. To her credit, Natalie Portman does her best with the material, but she was essentially wasted on this character. The next step in fixing Attack of the Clones should therefore be to expand Padmé’s role and make her more important to the story outside of being the future mother of Anakin’s children. After her  monochromatic persona of Queen Amidala fell away in the final act of The Phantom Menace, Padmé proved herself to be quite an interesting character, capable of maintaining her deception to the extent that she fools the Jedi and still finding the time to befriend young Anakin, making her the most engaging character in The Phantom Menace, although that’s not saying much. In Attack of the Clones, however, her motives are less clear, and therein lies the problem.

In The Phantom Menace Padmé‘s role boiled down to essentially saving her planet – her motives were always clear, and even when she takes the time to dress up as a maid and follow Qui-Gon Jinn into a junk shop it definitely gives the impression that she is curious and wants to learn more about the world that they have found themselves stranded on, whilst also keeping an eye on the clearly drunk Jedi Master. In Attack of the Clones, however, Padmé bounces between roles and seemingly allows all of the major decisions regarding where she goes and what she does to be decided by other characters, be it the Jedi, Anakin, her Security Chief, and even Palpatine. Padmé should certainly have taken the reigns more, perhaps in the sense that she is the one who decides to leave Coruscant and visit other planets, perhaps with Anakin in tow. As far as the politics is concerned, it gets even more dire.

We know from the text in the opening crawl of the film that Padmé is opposed to the creation of a Republic Army, but this position is never once challenged even as the Clone War erupts around her. In the opening scene of the film, Padmé should witness a Separatist attack on an innocent planet that leads to the destruction of her ship, having kills her bodyguards die in a clear Separatist raid rather than a political assassination. This would challenge Padmé‘s view of the idea of an Army and might create some conflict down the line that was woefully absent, and might explain why she ends up falling for Anakin – after seeing all of her capable guards slaughtered, perhaps spending time with Anakin on missions and learning more about how the Jedi benevolently resolve disputes would appeal to her. But this brings us to the next major point:

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Completely change Anakin’s character

We all know that the guy who was destined to become Darth Vader was essentially portrayed in the Prequel Trilogy as a whiny, stroppy brat who hated not getting his own way, moaned incessantly about every tiny problem in his life and switched between any degree of cringey or creepy when chatting up his future wife. But it didn’t have to be this way, if you think about it. After all, Obi-Wan Kenobi talks about Anakin in A New Hope as if he was a great and noble Jedi, as well as a ‘good friend’, and wouldn’t it be far more tragic if a level-headed and by-the-books Jedi Knight fell to the dark side as opposed to a stroppy teen with anger issues?

This would also greatly improve the on-screen romance between Anakin and Padmé. After all, nobody on planet Earth has ever been fooled by the pathetic excuse for a romance that we see in Attack of the Clones, mostly because Anakin is such a monumental arse that it seems totally impossible that Padmé would ever fall for him, even if her mind was being manipulated by the Dark Side or whatever the expanded universe material has conjured up to explain away this point.

Whilst it may seem that at this point the film would be completely different after these changes, it would still be possible to implement these changes whilst keeping the ideas that we see in the finished film. Ultimately, even if the actual story of the film was exactly the same, it would still be a monumental improvement to expand Padmé‘s role and change Anakin’s character to fit the story better, and it would also lend more credibility to Old Ben Kenobi in A New Hope. The other scenes in Attack of the Clones are actually quite good, especially the parts with Obi-Wan as he attempts to unravel the thinly-veiled mysteries of the Clone troopers. The final and most pressing issue with Attack of the Clones can be fixed with one final amendment, and that is:

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Show why the Separatists are doing what they are doing

One of the main reasons why the politics in Attack of the Clones falls flat is that we are only given one side of the story, namely, the Republic side. There are moments in the film in which we hear Separatists talking, like the scene in which Obi-Wan eavesdrops on Dooku’s council discussing tactics, but we are never given tangible explanations as to why the Republic is splintering – surely if the Separatists leaving the Republic is central to the political dialogue in the film, we should at least have an idea as to why this is the case? Are we expected to believe that the vague ‘trade disputes’ mentioned in The Phantom Menace, a film set ten years before this one, are to blame? I don’t think so.

By effectively conveying to the audience the motives of the main villains, the film opens the door for possible fan debate over the morality of each faction – after all, the Republic stands for democracy and peace but is also equatable to modern-day ‘mega-states’, the epitome of centralised government, an idea that does not appeal to everyone in this day and age. Likewise, we could learn more about the methods of each faction – the Separatists use droids in combat rather than living people, so could this be twisted to imply that they want to reduce loss of Separatist life? Star Wars is certainly a franchise of clear-cut heroes and villains, but for a trilogy that leans more heavily on political dialogue and storytelling, perhaps this would have been a better direction to take things.

So they were my thoughts on how to ‘fix’ Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, if you enjoyed then be sure to leave a like either here on on Facebook, and if you have any points to add on how Attack of the Clones could be improved, be sure to leave them down in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Top Ten Sci-Fi Spaceships

The Science-Fiction genre is replete with examples of iconic spaceships, often used as transports and even mobile homes for the characters in science fiction. As such, the ship almost becomes a character in itself, developing its own quirks and technicalities that give it its personality. But the question remains – which ship is the best? For this list we will be judging based on how useful the ship would be, and the extent of its powers. To begin:

10 – Red Dwarf – Red Dwarf

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Despite being a slow, unwieldy, ancient mining ship that is peppered with meteorite impacts, Red Dwarf always pulls though and provides a home for its disparate band of occupants. Also, it comes packaged with Holly, the transgender eighth generation ‘hologrammic’ computer with an IQ that supposedly exceeds 6,000. Depending on the day, Holly might be sane or totally senile, and the ship seems to attract trouble on a near-daily basis. Don’t look forward to speedy travel with the Dwarf, however, since it trundles along at a snail’s pace. You do, however, get Starbug, but its up to you whether or not that’s a good thing.

9 – High Charity – Halo

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The Covenant Holy City-ship of High Charity serves as the cultural, political and military headquarters of the alliance, and mobilises the Covenant assault force against Humanity.  The best thing about High Charity is its environments, which you explore during the Halo 2 levels Gravemind and High Charity. The curved purple interiors and modular architectural design demonstrate the alien nature of the Covenant, and in terms of power it boasts a slipspace drive for instant transportation and a vast array of destructive weapons, with docking structures that can contain and transport hundreds of capital ships. So whether you like strolling through botanical gardens or invading planets with huge fleets of warships, High Charity is for you.

8 – Thunderbird 3 – Thunderbirds

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The ultimate classic rocket design, Thunderbird 3 might not have weapons but it is extraordinarily fast – able to make it halfway around the world in a matter of minutes, in some cases. Overall, the red rocket tops any other rocket-type ship in sci-fi, and the best part about it is that you might even get Tracy Island thrown in, as well as the ability to travel to and dock with Thunderbird 5, an orbital space station. Designed to launch as an SSTO (single-stage-to-orbit) rocket, the ship can be re-used unlike contemporary rockets used by NASA, and it even runs on the same fuel,

7 – Ebon Hawk – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

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The spiritual predecessor to the Millenium Falcon, the Ebon Hawk serves as the home for the traveling circus cast of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This ship was constructed over 1,000 years before the Falcon, so it isn’t as fast but it does seem to be more heavily armoured. However, featuring dual engines, the Ebon Hawk was certainly fast for its era, and could certainly hold its own against more powerful ships like the Leviathan. After all, this was Darth Revan’s ship for a reason.

6 – Serenity Firefly

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Similar to the Ebon Hawk, Serenity is a freighter primarily, designed to haul cargo from planet to planet. Thanks to heavy modifications, however, she serves as the vessel of Mal Reynolds and his crew, a band of vagrants and smugglers who partake in various illegal activities. The ship was described by Firefly creator Joss Whedon as the ‘tenth character’ of the series, and she has character indeed – fans have likened Serenity to freighters like the Millenium Falcon. The biggest strength of Firefly-class ships is their durability and ease of repair, and Serenity is no exception.

5 – USS Enterprise-D – Star Trek: The Next Generation

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The USS Enterprise is a fantastic ship in its own right, but the USS Enterprise-D surpasses it in almost every conceivable way. For one, it is essentially just a more powerful version of the original Enterprise, and it also has much more advanced technology aboard like the Holodeck and the Saucer Separation. Not only that, but the ship is also more luxurious, with more space and better living conditions – the original Enterprise was built with practicality in mind, with dull grey bulkheads and no inch of space wasted, whereas the Enterprise-D has a warm beige interior design with the occasional appearance of wood paneling. With the addition of the crew, particularly Data, the Enterprise-D is equipped to deal with any obstacle, whilst also providing a comfortable environment.

4 – Millenium Falcon – Star Wars

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Allegedly the fastest piece of junk in the Galaxy, the Millenium Falcon is certainly a go-to starship if speed is a priority. Han Solo boasts in A New Hope that the Falcon ‘made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs’, which sounds like he made it up on the spot but will undoubtedly be extrapolated to the Nth degree in the upcoming Solo Movie, but the general jist of what he is saying stands – the Falcon is a fast ship. Able to outrun any Imperial starship, this unassuming-looking freighter has gone on to become one of the most famous ships in the Galaxy, and aided in the destruction of not one but two Death Stars. The only real downside of the Millenium Falcon is its amenities – it is essentially a grotty smuggling vessel, with very few forms of entertainment to pass the time during the long hyperspace jumps (unless you count a dodgy holographic chess set and a flying ball.) The ship would be handy in a pinch, but for long-distance travel the Falcon falls short of the best ‘conventional’ starship in Sci-Fi, which is:

3 – USS Voyager – Star Trek: Voyager

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The Intrepid-class starship won the top spot for Top 10 Federation Starship Classes, and the most famous ship of its class is at least half of the reason why. The exploits of the USS Voyager top any starship of this dimensional plane, and its already advanced and reliable design is augmented by many modifications that the crew picked up during the ship’s time in the Delta Quadrant, including some Borg technology and a massively improved warp drive. With the Voyager also comes the Delta Flyer, a greatly upgraded and improved redesign of the standard Federation Shuttlecraft for ship-to-surface transport or even ship-to-ship dogfights, an innovation that other Federation starships lack. Despite the greater focus on tactical systems and speed, the Voyager still features the entertainment systems available on the Enterprise like the Holodeck, and is sleeker, faster and comes with a holographic medic.

2 – Heart of Gold – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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The Heart of Gold is powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive, a wonderful new method of crossing interstellar distances in a mere nothingth of a second, without all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace. This incredible propulsion system temporarily launches the ship through every part of conceivable space simultaneously, and the only payoff is a temporary bout of extremely high improbability, which can cause hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, or a complete rewrite of the ships entire internal environment at a molecular level. Known effects have included the creation, and spontaneous upending, of a million-gallon vat of custard, marrying Michael Saunders, the transformation of a pair of guided nuclear missiles into a whale and a bowl of petunias, and transforming one of its crew into a penguin.

1 – The TARDIS – Doctor Who

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The TARDIS may not look like much of a spaceship, but its abilities exceed all of the other ships on this list combined. Capable of traveling anywhere in time and space, the TARDIS can quite literally take its crew anywhere in any time period, and even other dimensions under the right conditions. If that were not enough, the ship is dimensionally transcendental, meaning the interior exists in a separate dimension to the exterior, creating the illusion that it is bigger on the inside, and the interior of the TARDIS is so vast that after over 2,000 years of owning the ship the Doctor has still not managed to fully map the floor plan. The TARDIS is alive, in a sense, and can alter and reshape its interior to suit the needs of its occupants, as well as allowing for a huge amount of internal systems such as a karaoke bar, a cinema, a library and a swimming pool, all of which occasionally move, change, or in rare cases fuse (causing the swimming pool to sometimes appear in the library). The ship is shielded to the extent that Dalek missiles – of which less than 10 are needed to eradicate a planet – don’t even scratch the blue box. Undoubtedly, no other spaceship in Sci-Fi even comes close to beating the TARDIS.

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And that’s our list of the Top 10 Sci-Fi spaceships. If you enjoyed, be sure to leave a like, and you can follow us and like us on Facebook for more content like this. If you have your own list of Top 10 Sci-Fi spaceships, be sure to leave it down in the comments below!

 

Top 5 Terrible CGI Star Wars Prequel Characters – and Top 5 Terrible CGI Star Wars Sequel Characters

It’s fun to bash the terrible CGI in the prequels, particularly because it’s not hard. You get mobile games with better graphics than the CGI of the CGI in Attack of the Clones, and despite the slightly improved CGI in Revenge of the Sith it includes even more truly awful and unnecessary CGI characters. As part of their quest to disassociate themselves as much as possible from the prequels (for better or worse), Disney decided to use more practical effects in their sequel trilogy, and yet even more godawful CGI characters slipped through the cracks. To clarify, this list is judging both the quality of CGI used for the character and the strength of the actual character itself, and with that, we start with:

Prequel Countdown:

5 – General Grievous – Revenge of the Sith

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Despite being totally obsessed with Star Wars as a child and knowing oddly specific knowledge about obscure parts of the lore and wider universe, I have trouble now remembering what General Grievous was supposed to be. It must have been explained in a tie-in novel or comic or even video game, but therein lies the problem. Nobody knew who General Grievous was because the film didn’t tell us, he appeared seemingly out of nowhere as a random Separatist leader who had lightsabers. I was among the relative few who watched Star Wars: Clone Wars animated TV show as a child, but that portrayed Grievous as a cold, calculating badass rather than the choking, shuffling Transformer-esque robot we got in the movie.

4 – Watto – The Phantom Menace

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The Phantom Menace ticks almost every box when it comes to criteria for terrible Star Wars movies, but a conspicuous exception is that it is not riddled with as much blatant CGI as its prequel siblings, but the CGI creatures that they do have are among the worst. Watto is not only terribly rendered but he is also terribly racist, embodying a crude Middle Eastern stereotype in his accent and character whilst also sporting a prominently large and hooked nose. But seriously, why did Watto need to be CGI? It would have saved a lot of time and effort to just put someone in an alien costume and have him stand there, even if you dub in the lines later. But no, instead we have to watch over half an hour of Liam Neeson negotiating gambling odds with the Crazy Frog. Thanks, George.

3 – Lama Su – Attack of the Clones

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“Who?” I hear you ask? Exactly. This idiot, Lama Su, appears briefly in Attack of the Clones to spout a huge wad of exposition about the Clone Army to Obi-Wan, but aside from holding the dubious honour of starring in what has been scientifically proven to be the most boring scene in all of Star Wars, Lama Su also holds the responsibility of the entire plot of Attack of the Clones in his hands. He’s the man with the answers, so to speak, and so when Obi-Wan goes to visit him you expect to finally find out answers to all the questions that have been cropping up throughout the movie: ‘Who is Count Dooku?’ ‘Who is trying to kill Padme?’ ‘Who wrote this script?’ spring immediately to mind. But no, when the movie was in dire need of some explanation as to the basic backstory, what we get is more questions. Who the heck is ‘Sifo Dyas?’ is he ever even mentioned again? Is he Count Dooku? We may never know.

2 – Dexter Jettster – Attack of the Clones

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Imagine it. You’re sat in the cinema, watching Star Wars: Attack of the Clones for the first time ever. You thought The Phantom Menace was pretty bad, but so far this film seems  promising – there’s been a speeder chase, explosions, lightsabers, even some mention of a wider story that you may or may not have been interested in. Overall, it seems more like proper Star Wars.
And then this brown, hulking, four-armed CGI creature comes shambling over to Obi-Wan Kenobi, calling him his ‘old buddy’ before giving him a hug, pulling up his trousers and squeezing his bloated computer-generated body into a plastic booth in terrible futuristic 1950s space-diner. Who let this happen? Who created this abomination? Why does he have that creepy Mario mustache?
Like many prequel characters, ‘Dex’ only appears in one scene – a bland, one-dimensional throwaway character who is cobbled together on a computer. But think – with the Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone movie coming out, maybe there’s a chance that Disney will do Dex justice.

1 – Jar Jar Binks – Who Else?

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There is very little I can say here that hasn’t already been said. Jar Jar Binks is overdesigned, overacted and overly hysterical, and he appears far too often throughout the prequels. As a one-shot Dex character, Jar Jar might just be remembered now as an embarrassing scene from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, but due to the diabolical decision to make him a main character in the first prequel movie cast a shadow across the entire trilogy, and due to his prominent role in what will soon be considered the ‘first’ Star Wars movie, his poorly-rendered shadow now looms over the entire franchise.

Sequel Countdown:

5 – Maz Kanata – The Force Awakens

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If you thought the prequels were the only Star Wars movies with totally unnecessary CGI characters, you were wrong. Enter Maz Kanata, who singlehandedly introduced at least 3 major plot holes into not only The Force Awakens  but the wider Star Wars story too. If she has been on her planet for over a thousand years, why have we never heard from her before? If she’s older than Yoda then surely she would have some interesting things to contribute to the prequel story if anyone thought to ask her – heck, Obi-Wan should have gone to her instead of Dex, She’d probably have had Palpatine’s diary lying around in her back room somewhere. Come to think of it, she never explains how she retrieved Anakin’s lightsaber from Bespin, so after being pointlessly shoehorned into The Last Jedi and possibly even the Han Solo Movie, we may be due a fourth round of Maztime in Episode IX.

4 – CGI Tarkin – Rogue One

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The uncanny valley reached new depths with this creation, which in fairness is a highly accurate representation of the late Peter Cushing (who, after ANew Hope, would go on to play the Doctor in the garish and hilarious Dalek Movies), that sparked debate upon the initial release of the film as to whether or not the digital recreation of an actor who is long dead was even ethically justifiable. Regardless, old Wilhuff has appeared once before, in the prequels – except that time he was played by Wayne Pygram pretending to be a younger version of the character – but when Rogue One came around, they felt that the movie needed a totally accurate digital recreation of Tarkin, who looks like he is made of plastic compared to the real members of the cast. Admittedly, the performance of the actors imitating Cushing do a fantastic job, and overall the level of quality in the cameo is high, it just the visuals which let it down.

3 – Porgs – The Last Jedi

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Of course Porgs are objectively adorable, there’s not question about that – but were they necessary? Well, the answer is certainly no, unless you factor in that Rian Johnson needed something to cover the fact that the island used to film all of Luke’s scenes plays host to a Puffin colony. From a marketing perspective, Disney certainly jumped on the idea of having a tiny puffin-shaped creature to turn into thousands of mass-produced stuffed toys, McDonalds Happy Meal prizes and lunchboxes, but their scheme did backfire somewhat when it turned out the movie was terrible, and so now everyone has a central icon to rally against in hate of this movie, and it’s the poor Porgs.

2 – Everything in Canto Bight – The Last Jedi

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So whilst not everything in the Canto Bight sequence was CGI, there were a lot of critters running around – the alien mounts that rampage through the casino merely added to the cacophony of visual diarrhea in this scene, with one particularly annoying alien insisting on inserting dozens of gold coins into BB-8 – why? Surely BB-8 isn’t hollow? And why does BB-8 have a mechanism to fire them out like bullets? The thing that most annoys me about Canto Bight, however, is that it continues the sequel trilogy’s trend of introducing vast swathes of new alien races without supplementing it with aliens we already know exist in Star Wars. Sure, the Galaxy is a big place, but after seeing recurring races like Rodians and Twi’leks so often in both the prequels and the original trilogy it seems odd that suddenly everything is different.

1 – Supreme Leader Snoke – The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi

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Despite the hundreds of theories stating otherwise, Snoke turned out to be totally useless in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, simply serving as a poor-man’s Palpatine to play the role of the ambiguous evil dark lord master who is really strong with the Force. Unlike Palpatine, who is shown to be the puppeteer from the beginning, Snoke seems to have suddenly emerged from the shadows, and it is this trait that initially peaked everyone’s interest. Sadly, however, the potential for this character was extinguished in The Last Jedi, as Snoke is tossed aside as quickly and easily as Palpatine was before him, and now the hopeful theorists are left to widely speculate their way to insanity trying to uncover the hidden meaning behind this character that was ultimately as contrived and disposable as the multitude of CGI characters in the prequels. His death scene definitely had shock factor, and it did come as a surprise, but it is extremely likely that Rian Johnson wanted it that way to make the movie more memorable – at the expense of a potentially important character. And note I say potentially important – Snoke had all the makings of a good villain, but we just never found out enough about him to understand either his motives or his place in the Star Wars universe. As such, he is now cut in half and cast into the chasm of irrelevance like Darth Maul before him.

So that’s the Top 5 Terrible CGI Star Wars Prequel Characters, and the Top 5 Terrible CGI Star Wars Sequel Characters, if you enjoyed then do remember to leave a like and you can follow us either here or on Facebook. Look down below for more articles like this one.

“I need someone to show me my place in all this” – Why Rey is NOT a Mary Sue

Of all the criticisms of the new trilogy of Star Wars, the one that irritates me more than anything else is the arrogant, unfeeling assertion that Rey is a Mary Sue – a self-insert who has no personality or chemistry and who is, without explanation, more powerful than any other Jedi we have seen so far in Star Wars. To those not in the know, if a character is described as a ‘Mary Sue’, it essentially means that they are poorly written – the term originates from the Star Trek fan-fiction community, and has since spread to all areas of media as a basic term to mean any character who has been written, designed or otherwise created to be infallible, flawless, perfect at everything, universally loved and essentially unbeatable. The phenomenon often goes hand-in-hand with so-called ‘self-insert’ characters, which are examples of characters written in fan fiction to be a representation of the author within their work, playing off the idea of authors literally ‘inserting’ themselves into the continuity as a character. Generally, characters who are regarded as Mary Sues are often considered to be bad characters who break the immersion of a film, book or video game because they seem just that little bit too good – which alleviates all the drama from a work of fiction since you don’t feel as though they are in any danger.

Almost inevitably, when Rey debuted in the first film of the new trilogy, The Force Awakens, people classified her as a Mary Sue. Why was this inevitable? Well, she is portrayed as being very powerful in Episode VII, and many people took issue with this, for some reason. Apparently in order to correctly qualify as a Star Wars protagonist, you have to be totally out of your depth and clueless as to what is going on in the first movie of your trilogy, and only suddenly gain increased skill in lightsaber combat and the Force in your second film, silly. But let’s just take a second to think about why that isn’t such a good idea – for a start, the only reason why people seem to think that Rey was too overpowered in The Force Awakens is that she seemingly picked up a lightsaber and immediately knew how to use it. This might seem like a kick in the balls for people who like the prequels, since Anakin had to learn and hone his lightsaber fighting style throughout all three of those movies. Remember the crucial scene from the first film where we see Anakin pick up a lightsaber for the first time, and he tries to do a spin attack and drops the saber, and Qui-Gon picks it up and says “Don’t worry Anakin, you’ll level up after 40 hours of grinding”.
No?
Of course not, because that didn’t happen, did it? In fact, do we ever see any scenes of Anakin even once practicing his lightsaber combat to explain why he can use CGI video game powers to jump and flip everywhere? No, of course we don’t. But hold on a second – we do see someone showing initial skill in melee combat to establish their skill before giving them a lightsaber, now who was that again?

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Of course.  To be fair, Anakin had ten or more years training under the peaceful, non-violent, stoic Jedi in which to hone his violent combat skills. Rey only had eighteen years on a hostile desert planet surrounded by scavengers, bounty hunters and murderers with absolutely nothing to do in her spare time, there is no way she would be as good in a fight as Anakin. But the other thing about Rey that makes her so unforgivable as a character is that at the end of the film she suddenly gains the ability to use the Force, an unprecedented occurrence in the Star Wars universe. Never before has a desert-planet dweller ever suddenly harnessed a dormant power within him to perform a feat of unbelievable good luck and then escape, it just doesn’t happen, and that is why Rey simply cannot stand on her own two feet as a character.

But in all seriousness, now that we have the established notion that Rey’s achievements are actually just as odd or random or unexplained as Anakin’s or Luke’s out of the way, we can actually get more into the meat of why Rey certainly isn’t a Mary Sue in the way she is written, and to do that we have to explore more of the reasons why people think Rey has been written as a Mary Sue. Allow me to make one thing perfectly clear and then I will not mention it again – I am fairly certain that a lot of the people who dislike Rey attempt to find reasoning for explaining why they don’t like her without admitting that they actually don’t like her because she is a woman. Regardless of what you might think of that as an assertion, anyone who has been into the Youtube comments of any video relating to Rey being a Mary Sue will immediately understand what I am talking about – people think that just because Rey is female the writers and producers will have made her a Mary Sue – because according to Hollywood, women can’t ever do wrong and can never be faulted. This, at least, I agree with – they did the same thing with Hermione in the Harry Potter movies (sorry, Ron, but your character is denied) and countless other times with random, one-shot female protagonists who need to be ‘cool’, ‘independent’ and ‘strong’ by basically putting down every male member of the cast. This is a totally separate issue from Rey, however, because it cannot come close to accentuating her characterization.

Rey is flawed, and we know this because she shows it. Unlike Anakin, who basically kept a straight face throughout any time in the prequels when he wasn’t scripted to be angry, or Luke, whose expression fluctuates from confused to content to confused again for most of the original trilogy, Rey actually expresses her emotions. Daisy Ridley’s range of facial expressions that can be plucked out of thin air on a whim lends heavy credibility to her as an actress, since she can perfectly portray in her face the emotions that her character is currently feeling, and in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Rey’s emotions are varied and plentiful. She feels anger, she feels fear, she feels loneliness, she feels sorrow and hate and self-doubt and loathing at so many points throughout the two films that many have even pointed out that she is in danger of falling for Yoda’s old ‘Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to Suffering’ nonsense from the prequels. But the important point to take away from all of this is that if Rey were a Mary Sue, she simply would not feel these emotions because, for a Mary Sue-type character, these emotions would not be on the agenda.

For a Mary Sue character, negative emotions are a no-go. If a Mary Sue character needs to be upset or annoyed or angry, it must be due to the fact that they are so perfect and flawless that they push other people away. Rey, on the other hand, shows her potential as a protagonist because she gets upset, angry and annoyed. Most importantly, however, she feels self-doubt, and expresses it. This is the final nail in the coffin for Rey being a Mary Sue, as far as most rational-minded critics in the know are concerned. Everything from Rey’s body language, to her reactions to plot developments, even down to her lightsaber fighting style, it all rounds off the idea that Rey is a normal person. If Rey truly had been a Mary Sue, if she had been written to be a self-insert character who fulfills all the tropes that a Mary Sue usually carries, Episode VII would have gone a lot differently.

For a start, Rey would not be living in an AT-AT. She would be a scavenger still, probably, but she’d be the scavenger who always found the best part that day, and Simon Pegg in a fat-suit would give her all the portions she ever wanted. Then, one day, a handsome young resistance fighter by the name of Finn would show up in her town. Rey would guess straight away that Finn was a defecting Stormtrooper, because nothing ever gets past her, and she would then proceed to beat up all the other Stormtroopers and Finn would fall immediately in love with her. At this point, the rest of the story may as well not happen, because obviously both Kylo Ren and Han Solo would also fall in love with Rey, and the entire First Order would implode as Kylo, Hux and Snoke all fight over who gets to be her date for the Coruscant Homecoming Ball on Life Day. The crucial factor to remember when dishing out helpings of the ignorant assertion that Rey is a self-insert is that Rey is designed to be a character with positive traits, because she is the protagonist of the flagship franchise of a major child-friendly corporation, and she is supposed to be a good guy. If all protagonists were picked apart with the same vigor and zeal as new trilogy haters do for Rey, one might just find that most protagonists in television shows, films, books and video games display these traits, because they’re the protagonists.

To finish, one final scene that people often use to cite that Rey is a Mary Sue is the scene in the Millenium Falcon cockpit with Han and the ‘compressor’. To contextualise, people seem to think that Rey being able to bypass a compressor on the Millenium Falcon and therefore fix the ship is further evidence to suggest that she is a Mary Sue. I left this part until last because I really wanted to isolate how stupid that really sounds, if you think about it. Han may have owned the Millenium Falcon when we knew him, but he was by no means an expert on the ship, and this is heavily implied if not shown to us by his handling of the repairs in Empire Strikes Back. Are we honestly expected to believe that Han, a freeloading smuggler who prefers to sweet-talk his way out of trouble unless he thinks he has good odds at blasting his way out, the man who claimed to be able to re-wire a simple door in Return of the Jedi and ends up somehow botching that job, are we actually expected to believe that he has the faintest idea how or why the Millenium Falcon actually works? I mean, he can fly the thing, that’s for sure – but fix it? Isn’t that the whole reason why he has Chewbacca around, so that he can handle all the technical stuff while Han flaunts his fame to any random girl who passes through Mos Eisley Cantina? And yet people are up in arms about the idea that a technically-minded young girl who had worked on this ship when it was sat in the junk for years of her life could possibly outwit a sixty-or-more-year-old ex-smuggler who couldn’t even sneak up on a Scout Trooper. Frankly, it begs the question of why so many people are intent on picking apart Rey’s character when they aren’t pleased with the fact that she actually acts like a normal person.

Star Wars Movies – Ranked Worst to Best

Most Star Wars fans have an easy time ranking the movies, since there almost appears to be a universally approved unspoken rule the the order of quality in terms of the trilogies so far, and that is that the Sequel Trilogy beats the Prequel Trilogy and the Original Trilogy beats them all, with almost no exceptions. For the record, I am including Rogue One as part of the sequel ‘trilogy’ since Episode IX hasn’t come out yet and it just makes things easier. I would like to think outside of the box for a moment and rate the films based on to what degree I personally enjoy them. So here goes:

9 – Episode I – The Phantom Menace

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Alright, so as far as thinking outside the box is concerned I haven’t got very far yet. But allow me to explain – there is a reason why Phantom Menace always comes up bottom in polls for best Star Wars movie, and that is that it is not only bad, it is also boring. As far as boring movies go, Phantom Menace falls into the worst possible category of films that could have been so much more interesting, and therefore much better, if just a bit more care and attention had been put into them. As it stands, Phantom Menace is riddled with plot holes, has little or no tension, is swamped in racist stereotyping and terrible dialogue, and ends in a convoluted mess of a conclusion that has four separate battles going on at once. Overall, the film has two bits that are less terrible than everything else around them, and they are the Podrace and the final duel with Darth Maul. Everyone says that these scenes alone redeem the film somehow, but I disagree. They are visually exciting, but that is all that can be said for them. There is no tension at all in the Podrace save for the bloated length and although the illusion of high speed that Lucas creates during this sequence is impressive, visuals alone do not make a scene. The same is true of the final duel between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul – we know next to nothing about Darth Maul and we have barely had time to know Obi-Wan either, so when Qui-Gon dies its a foregone conclusion what is going to happen because we know that Obi-Wan must survive. Added to all this is the numerous other fatal flaws that the film has, there’s the midi-chlorians, the boring political element that would surely baffle children, the decision to sideline Obi-Wan for the less interesting Qui-Gon, and the terrible child acting. Overall, the decision to make a prequel is almost always a misguided one, and Phantom Menace stands as a testament to a worse-case scenario.

8 – Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

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A lot has been said about this film recently, and it’s obvious from where I’ve positioned this film on my list where my views on this movie stand. However, I don’t hate this film, far from it. I actually really enjoyed watching Episode VIII, but there are some things about the film that just really bugged me, such as the seemingly forced humour, the pointlessly inserted characters like Maz Kanata and DJ, and the implausibly misguided decision to kill off Luke Skywalker and not Princess Leia. There were good things about the film, such as Rey, Kylo Ren and scenes like the throne room duel and the destruction of the Supremacy, but then there were some outright strange decisions, such as the characterisation of Luke Skywalker, the decision to kill Snoke, the Porgs, and the scene in which Leia flies through space like Superman. Overall, the film wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t too good either.

7 – Episode II – Attack of the Clones

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Attack of the Clones is a strange one for me because it was my favourite Star Wars movie for years as a child. I loved the battles, the lightsabers, the fact that Jango Fett was in it, and because it was a sequence of bright images played in a sequence. On reflection, the film is totally bland, with a story that meanders and relies too heavily on plot elements that are not properly explained to us. Who is Count Dooku? Who is Sifo Dyas? Why are the Separatists rebelling? These are never explained and so we are almost forced to not care about the political plotline. This is somewhat refreshing since Phantom Menace relied so heavily on political exposition to deliver plot elements, but that isn’t much to be proud of. The best thing by far about this movie is that you get a feel for what the Galaxy was like before the Empire, with the Jedi at the height of their power. The special effects of aged horribly, and considering they make up over half of the movie, it shows.

6 – Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

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The final chapter of the Original Trilogy is a fantastic film in its own right, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to either Episode IV or Episode V. The biggest problem with Episode VI is that the ending is basically a rehash of the ending of Episode IV but with a more ridiculous villain. Despite filling the evil manipulator role really well, Palpatine seems somewhat of a ridiculous ‘big baddie’ for the Star Wars universe, considering the fact that Darth Vader is a menacing robot man with an evil mask and Palpatine is an old man in a black cloak. His motives seem really strange too, he asks Luke to join the dark side whilst offering no real temptation or reason as to why he should, other than the vague assertion that the dark side is powerful. Even when he finally decides to kill Luke, he dawdles and relishes his victory to such an extend he ignores both the fact that the Death Star is about to explode (again) and also that Vader is about to betray him. One aspect of this film that used to be one of its most redeeming features was the wholesome ending, but the new films have spoiled that now and so Episode VI is lesser today than it was.

5 – Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

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This may seem somewhat of a controversial opinion, but I firmly believe that Episode III is better than Episode VI. As they both take the role of the ‘final act’ in their respective trilogies, it is easy to compare the two and George Lucas deliberately inserted references to all of the Original Trilogy films into Episode III. The best thing about this finale is that it ends the despised prequel trilogy on a dark and sombre tone – the formerly sickeningly child-friendly and happy prequel films end on the darkest Star Wars film to date, with scenes including the massacre of a temple full of unarmed children, the massacre of a room full of unarmed politicians, and the massacre of at least 600 defenseless Battle Droids. The film does have some really emotional scenes, such as the Order 66 scene, the scene in which Anakin realises Padme is pregnant and the best scene in the film – the final conversation between Anakin and Obi-Wan before the two former friends part ways. The lightsaber duels in this movie vary, from the bland and dull Dooku fight and the overlong Anakin and Obi-Wan fight to the two fantastic duels involving Palpatine.

4 – Episode VII – The Force Awakens

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While I didn’t like Episode VIII very much, I am not a sequel-trilogy hater. I really enjoyed Rey’s story in both Episode VIII and its predecessor, Episode VII. Whilst I accept that the film has its issues – most notably the fact that the film essentially rehashes the basic plot structure of Episode IV – the film itself is an enjoyable and refreshing return to the original formula of Star Wars, and it feels that little bit more authentic than the Prequel Trilogy did. The new characters are all likeable and relevant (except for Maz Kanata, who makes no sense) and the pool of acting talent is rich, from the charismatic John Boyega to the energetic Daisy Ridley. Overall, it rebooted Star Wars strong, ignorant of what was yet to come.

3 – Rogue One, A Star Wars Story

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The original prequels may have failed, but the sequel prequel did what the prequel trilogy tried to do, the inverse of which the sequel trilogy did right, in that it was an effective stylistic sequel but chronological prequel to the original trilogy. Rogue One gives audiences a Star Wars experience, and although the main plot is far from relevant in comparison to the Skywalker lineage, the film does solve several major plot holes of Episode IV whilst also standing on its own two feet as a movie. I would even consider showing this film to people who had never seen Star Wars before, apart from the fact that it is so action-packed that the original films may seem boring by comparison.

2 – Episode IV, A New Hope

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The original Star Wars, originally called Star Wars, is a fantastic experience. Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to watch the film in its original form, since the only versions that are released nowadays are the heavily edited special edition versions. Episode IV had several re-releases, each one adding or altering more and more of the film until it has reached the point where entire scenes have been added, dialogue has been altered, and the focus or point of entire scenes turned on their head. Nowadays, it is difficult to watch Episode IV without these changes becoming more and more obvious, to the extent that they almost impact on the enjoyment factor of the film. For a lesser movie, they might, but this is the original Star Wars experience, and it still holds up. Essentially a traditional swashbuckling fantasy adventure in space, Episode IV kicks off the franchise with a beautifully immersive experience.

1 – Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back

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And then came the big one. Not much needs to be said here, since Episode V is often considered to be one the best movies of all time, and it is not hard to see why. It improves on Episode IV in almost every single way, bringing new planets, new characters, new adventures, new threats and shocking new revelations to the main characters and the audience. Imagine the shock that would engulf the internet if Episode V was released today, it would be truly Earth-shattering.