My wife and I felt it was about time for a vacation, so we took a few days to drive up to Sequoia National Park. On the first day, we took the easy Crescent Meadow Trail and somehow wound up on the far-less-easy Trail of the Sequoias (lovingly referred to as the Trial of the Sequoias) and all the trails we then had to take to get back to where we started. On the second day, we planned to visit Moro Rock, but wound up on the much longer trail to Moro Rock instead.
We certainly made a few mistakes along the way, but those mistakes lead us to some amazing views that we would otherwise have missed. We look forward to returning next year for everything we had actually planned to see this year. 🙂
If you’re a Star Wars fan like me, or even just coming to know Star Wars, you’re probably planning to watch the films now that they’re all available digitally. After being inspired by The Machete Order, we decided to try our own take on the reorganized saga: I, IV, V, II, III, and VI. Except for my usual annoyance with Episode II, the new order was a much better experience than watching all six straight through, and here are some thoughts on why.
First, let’s get one thing out of the way, Star Wars is the story of Anakin Skywalker, not Luke Skywalker. Luke is in only three films, Anakin is in all six, it’s that simple. Now, what does that have to do with the new order? Everything. (spoilers below)
When watched in sequence from I to VI, the conclusion of Episode III completely robs the cliffhanger reveal in Episode V of all its meaning and shock value. “No, I am your father!” Vader, I know, we confirmed that two whole films ago. “No, that’s not true, that’s impossible!” Oh, it’s true, I saw it with my own eyes. “Search your feelings,” no need for that, I just re-watched the 1:16:40 mark of Episode III, it’s indeed true. This is what bothers me the most about the prequels, even more than Jar Jar Binks. “I am your father,” was one of the most profound reveals in cinema, but when watched with the prequels first, it’s not shocking at all, it’s expected.
When watched in my new preferred order (I, IV, V, II, III, VI), the “I am your father” reveal is still first and still shocking. We begin with Episode I to learn about the naive young Anakin Skywalker, who is swept up into something he can never hope to understand (Your complaints about this episode aside, you can’t have a meaningful story about Anakin Skywalker’s fall and redemption without the chapter on this naive young boy). We flash forward 32 years for Episode IV to see that things aren’t so well for the galaxy, and that we have a new hero in Luke Skywalker, who is apparently Anakin’s son. We continue the story in Episode V where we learn that Darth Vader is indeed Anakin, and we’re just as devastated as Luke. We flash back 25 years for Episodes II and III where we learn exactly how that naive young boy fell so far and became the terrifying Darth Vader. Finally, we return to the “present” timeline in Episode VI, to finish the saga and witness Anakin’s redemption.
The order restores the impact of the “I am your father” reveal, forms a much more solid narrative around Anakin Skywalker by introducing both distinct phases of his life in the first two films, and also takes advantage of the larger than usual time spans between Episodes I and II and Episodes V and VI to support the flash forward/back structure.
Above all, Star Wars is a great saga that you deserve to enjoy however you want to. I personally prefer this new order, but you don’t have to take my word for it.
After all these years, I’m finally aware of what bothers me so much about Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. It’s the pacing. To put it simply, a completely different film slaps you across the face about half-way through, even more so than any of the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit films.
Attack of the Clones follows two sets of characters on their own plots until they somehow get together for the very end. In the beginning, Anakin and Padmé are on a journey to find love from Coruscant to Naboo, while Obi-Wan is tracking a bounty hunter and slowly unraveling a conspiracy from Coruscant to Kamino (and confronting villain #1). Suddenly, an hour in at almost the same moment, Anakin and Padmé are on a quest to find Anakin’s mother on Tatooine while Obi-wan is on a quest to get to the bottom of a droid army on Geonosis (and confronting villain #2).
Do you see what happened there? We’re still following the same characters, but both their purposes and their settings pivoted simultaneously. It just robs the whole film of its flow. A wonderful reason for maintaining two parallel plots is that you can keep one flowing to bridge the gap while the other pivots. You should never pivot both plots at the same time. Yes, in a film where the chemistry between Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman sparkles like the murky swamps of Dagobah, this is what bothers me the most, the fact that the film comes to a screeching halt and pivots in the span of one transition.
Every time I watch this film, I stop about an hour in and continue the next day. I could certainly watch another hour, but I can never seem to find the energy to invest in a set of new plots without some sort of break. Future filmmakers take note, Attack of the Clones would have been one of the better prequels if it had just maintained its flow. Always stagger the pivoting of your parallel plots to hold the audience’s attention.
Have you ever wanted to see a Star Wars anime? We’ll probably never see an official one now that Disney owns the franchise, but this short film fills the void quite well, and all I want now is more. For more info, see the coverage at The Verge and the short film’s companion PDF.
2014 was another big year for MacManX.com, and as usual, the folks at Jetpack prepared an awesome recap of my year for me! There’s some fun numbers and charts in there to round-up the year, as well as this gem:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
2014 was a great year, so here’s hoping for an even greater 2015!
Robin Williams, renowned actor, comedian, and so much more, passed away yesterday. I can’t think of a single actor that I have seen in more films throughout my life, from his hilarious and whimsical performance as the Genie in Aladdin to his brilliant and terrifying performance as Sy in One Hour Photo. To suggest that he did not have an impact on my life through this wealth of artistic output would be ridiculous, and for that, I will indeed miss him.
You can see two collections of some of Robin Williams’s best scenes rounded up at The Verge and Quartz. Below is his pivotal “What will your verse be?” scene from Dead Poets Society, and in honor of his life and legacy, I ask, what will your verse be?
It has been a rather long time since I last assembled a LEGO set, but when I saw the latest Ghostbusters-inspired set, I knew I couldn’t resist. This Ecto-1 set is from LEGO Ideas, a place where anyone can submit an idea for review and possible production by LEGO, as long as it gets over 10,000 supporters, which this project did in a very short amount of time.
If you have some ideas for LEGO sets trapped in your mind over the years, submit them to LEGO Ideas, and you might see them on store shelves some day!
The last time we moved, we took the opportunity to frame and hang some great artwork from colleague Joen Asmussen. After our second move, we felt it was time to further decorate the office by framing our very small collection of signed comic book art.