George Lucas on Star Wars: Burials and Echoes

***Think what you will about George Lucas, but in terms of Star Wars, it can all be traced back to him. That’s why I always find it so interesting to listen to him talk about it. His creative process, the reason certain decisions were made, and how these movies became the pop cultural staples they are. This space is dedicated to just that. This is “George Lucas on Star Wars.”***

***New around here? Check out Primary Ignition‘s “George Lucas on Star Warsarchive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Anakin Skywalker, funeral scene, Star Wars Attack of the Clones

The Scene: At a small funeral ceremony for his mother, Anakin promises not to fail her again.

George Lucas Says (via the Attack of the Clones commentary track): “There’s, again, a constant echoing back and forth of things. .. where [Anakin’s mother is] buried, one can assume that Owen and Beru are buried in the same place.”

I Say: What I like about this “echo” is that it actually extends beyond Owen and Beru, and even beyond Lucas’ influence with The Rise of Skywalker. If Shmi Skywalker is buried at the homestead, one would have to assume that her husband Cliegg Lars was eventually buried there too.

Then, in The Rise of Skywalker, Rey buries Luke and Leia’s lightsabers near the homestead. So in a symbolic and ceremonial sense, Luke and Leia are buried there too.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Part I” Review

SERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part I”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Rupert Friend, Moses Ingram, Joel Edgerton, Jimmy Smits
WRITERS:
Stuart Beattie, Hossein Amini, Joby Harold 
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
May 26, 2022
SYNOPSIS: 
Inquisitors arrive on Tatooine looking for Jedi. Meanwhile, Princess Leia is kidnapped.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Let’s kick this off on the right note: With gratitude. Ewan McGregor didn’t have to come back to play Obi-Wan Kenobi again. I’m sure his experience making the prequels was a mixed bag. And that’s to say nothing of how audiences reacted to the movies. (Much of the criticism was justified. But much wasn’t.) I actually spotted an recent interview he did with Rotten Tomatoes where he references the difficulties of making the prequels. So to have him come back nearly two decades after the fact is a major blessing for Star Wars fans.

And of course, that also goes for Hayden Christensen, Jimmy Smits, Joel Edgerton, and Bonnie Piesse returning as Darth Vader, Bail Organa, Owen Lars, and Beru Lars respectively. This may all be more than we deserve, quite frankly.

Age/timeline check: Obi-Wan Kenobi takes place 10 years after Revenge of the Sith. Which is to say, nine years before the events of A New Hope. So naturally, the young Luke and Leia we see in this episode are about 10. And, as I’ve always read Obi-Wan was 25 in The Phantom Menace, that would make him about 47 here.

Our director for this episode, and the series at large, is Deborah Chow. She’s widely known for The High Cost of Living and The Possibilities of Fireflies. But Star Wars fans will know her as the director of two episodes of The Mandalorian: “Chapter 3: The Sin” and “Chapter 7: The Reckoning.” This is the first time one of these live action Star Wars shows has had one universal director. It’s a tall task. But Chow also has a lot to work with here in terms of story, the talent involved (not to mention her own talent), and the experience she now has working in the Star Wars universe. I’ve got high hopes.

One of the downsides of having Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett come out back to back? That’s a lot of desert stuff. I can’t say I’m looking forward to Andor as much as some people are (mostly because I hated Rogue One). But one of the upsides, at least judging by the trailer that just came out, is that we don’t see any desert scenes.

The episode, and the series at large, kick off with a quick five-minute recap of the prequels. To some, that’s probably the best way to watch the prequels. They might be right, actually. The contrast between the all the CGI backgrounds in the prequels and the actual places and sets in Kenobi is a stark one.

I must confess, having not seen all of Star Wars: Rebels, my familiarity with the Inquisitors is limited. But as I understand it, most or all of them are former Jedi Knights who’ve turned to the dark side and joined the Empire to hunt for Jedi in hiding.

At face value I don’t like that. Never have.

Much like having a planet full of Mandalorians devalues Boba and Jango Fett, having a big group of Sith inquisitors decreases the novelty of Darth Vader and his turn to the dark side. It also devalues Order 66. How effective could the big Jedi purge have been if enough survived that they needed to bring in Inquisitors to hunt them down?

Of course, that’s to take nothing away from the performances of Rupert Friend as the Grand Inquisitors or Moses Ingram as Reva.

Having Leia play such a pivotal role in the series is a big surprise. Coming in, I think we knew Jimmy Smits was going to be involved as Bail Organa. So a Leia cameo wouldn’t have been out of the blue. But this? This is beyond what I think anyone would have expected.

Vivien Lyra Blair, who plays Leia, does a fine job by child actor standards. The character is, thus far, written fairly well. I like that she’s characterized as, no pun intended, rebellious. Blair and Smits were able to create a father/daughter chemistry that felt very natural.

I appreciate that Obi-Wan has a job while in seclusion on Tatooine. That might be an odd thing to appreciate. But it’s one of those things that you (or at least I) never thought about when it came to the original movie. The guy had to make ends meet somehow, right? It makes me wonder if he had a job at the beginning of A New Hope.

I liked cynical Obi-Wan, i.e. the guy who refused to help his fellow Jedi in need. It speaks to him having spent a decade being beaten down by the desert. It’s a different character than we’re used to seeing.

Owen Lars refusing to give up Obi-Wan’s location was a wonderful character moment for him. For so long he’s been seen strictly as an antagonist for Luke. And maybe he is. But it’s always been in the spirit of wanting to do what’s best for his nephew and surrogate son.

It must be said that the chase scene between Leia and the bounty hunters did not come off very well. I’m not sure whether it was the actors, or the direction, or the editing, something else, or a combination of all of it. I understand and accept the notion that Leia knew the terrain better than they did, and was also smaller and harder to catch. But the impression I got was that Leia was moving very slowly, and that the hunters could have caught her quite easily if they’d simply picked up their pace a little bit.

We see that Obi-Wan buried he and Anakin’s lightsabers in the desert, presumably years ago when he first arrived. This is a nitpick, but how is he able to find that box again so quickly? Especially after 10 years. Did he pick that specific a spot? It just looked like a bunch of sand to me…

Overall, a good first episode. I can’t say I was blown away, but I definitely enjoyed it. Judging by premiere episodes alone, I’d say Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t quite as strong as The Mandalorian, but better than The Book of Boba Fett.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Star Wars #20 Review – You’ve Upset the Wookie!

Star Wars #20, coverTITLE: Star Wars #20
AUTHOR: Jason Aaron
PENCILLER: Mike Mayhew
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 15, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Jason Aaron really came across something cool with these “Journals of Old Ben Kenobi” issues. It’s a great breather from the events of the ongoing series, and Obi-Wan’s time in exile hasn’t necessarily gotten the attention it deserves from storytellers. Having Mike Mayhew take a crack at it is, more often than not, a joy.

A short time after we last saw this younger Ben Kenobi and an even younger Luke Skywalker, the bounty hunter Black Krrsantan has returned to Tatooine to collect the price on Kenobi’s head. When Owen Lars gets caught in the crosshairs, Ben finds himself in a fight for both their lives.

I criticized Mayhew for getting a little too cartoony in Star Wars #15. I’m happy to say he’s scaled that back here. That’s not to say our characters aren’t expressive. But at no point during this issue did I roll my eyes. For obvious reasons, that’s important. And it makes this issue an improvement over its predecessor.

Star Wars #20, 2016, Mike Mayhew, LukeMayhew’s rendering of a young Luke has been the highlight of his two issues. That youthful exuberance radiates off the page. It instills you with the sense that this kid is important and we need to protect him at all costs. Because, of course, that’s really what Obi-Wan is fighting this wookie for. Yes, he wants to save Owen. But in the end, he can’t this monster find his way to Luke. That’s almost said outright during the fight. But it doesn’t need to be.

This version of Obi-Wan is interesting to look at. Not only have we never seen the character look quite this way before, but Mayhew’s photorealism makes it look like he’s being played by a new actor. An actor who not gives a fairly versatile performance, but (as I’ve said before) conveys both the charm of Ewan McGregor and the wisdom of Alec Guinness. That’s a lofty task for a comic book. But Mayhew pulls it off.

In reading these journal issues, I’ve found myself wondering just how old Obi-Wan is at this point. In this issue he talks about age wearing him down. But his age has always been somewhat ambiguous, hasn’t it? Wookiepedia indicates he was born 57 years before A New Hope. Luke looks to be 7 or 8 years old here….which would put this issue about 11 years before A New Hope…which would make Obi-Wan about…46? I’ll buy that.

Obi-Wan, Star Wars #20, Mike MayhewI’m not sure how many issues Jason Aaron has left in him. But if for some reason he were to leave Star Wars tomorrow, Marvel might consider keeping him around to do an Obi-Wan miniseries, ideally with Mayhew. These flashback issues have been the highlight of the series thus far.

Images from author’s collection.

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A Star Wars #15 Review – The Next Chapter

Star Wars #15, 2016TITLE: Star Wars #15
AUTHOR: Jason Aaron
PENCILLER: Mike Mayhew
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 20, 2016

***For the last chapter in Obi-Wan’s Journal, check out Star Wars #7.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Mike Mayhew drawing actual characters in the Star Wars universe? Yes please!

Star Wars #15 brings us a new chapter in the journal of Obi-Wan Kenobi. A year has passed since the events of Star Wars #7, and the former Jedi Master continues to look after young Luke Skywalker from afar. When Luke is in a minor flying accident, and his Uncle Owen grounds him (literally), Obi-Wan goes to great lengths to get Luke back in the air. Meanwhile, Jabba the Hutt continues to search for the one who foiled his plans during the drought. Obi-Wan may not stay hidden for long.

Star Wars fans may remember Mike Mayhew as the artist on The Star Wars, the comic book adaptation of one of George Lucas’ early drafts in the ’70s. Mayhew’s photorealistic style is beautiful. He made the characters, who were ultimately never meant to be seen, come to life as if we were somehow watching an alternate version of the original movie. The only major flaw I find in his work is that his characters can go over the top with their expressions, and venture into cartoony territory. We get some of that here. But it almost doesn’t matter, considering how gorgeous things are.

Star Wars #16 (2016), Mike Mayhew, Young Luke SkywalkerFor instance, there’s a panel on page 5 that shows us Luke in the cockpit of his family’s T-16 Skyhopper. The sheer joy on his face, along with the superficial similarities to Mark Hamill in A New Hope, are enough to make you buy this kid as a young Luke Skywalker. As such, you’re immediately draw into the issue. I can’t understate how important this one panel is to the integrity of the entire story. You’re invested in him instantly. And as a bonus, we get a shot of a young Biggs Darklighter.

But just two pages later, things get cartoony in a shot of Owen getting angry with his nephew, and Luke crossing his arms in defiance. It’s an interesting trade off, but the upside makes it worthwhile.

Mayhew’s Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t look like Ewan McGregor or Alec Guinness, but still manages to evoke the charm of the former, and the wisdom of the latter. As such, he’s believable. As was the case last time, we only get one lightsaber shot, and it’s used toward the end. This is appreciated, not just because of creators relying too heavily on the lightsaber, but because this issue presents an ample opportunity to utilize it. At about the halfway point, we get a gorgeous two-page spread depicting a fight between Obi-Wan and a bunch of Tusken Raiders. If ever there was a good excuse to whip out the lightsaber, this is it. Instead, our creators show restraint, and show us Obi-Wan doesn’t need the lightsaber to be a formidable opponent. I wish we saw this kind of thing more often. It beats the hell out of the lightsaber frenzy we saw in issue #12.

Star Wars #16, Mike Mayhew, Obi-Wan KenobiI’ve had my share of bones to pick with Jason Aaron’s choices in this series. But these Obi-Wan journal issues have been fantastic. There’s so much potential for great storytelling here. Aaron uses this issue to give us a firsthand look at the dynamic between Obi-Wan and Owen Lars. It’s a fine supplement to A New Hope, and is consistent with what we saw from both characters in the film.

As evidenced by how we close this issue, this won’t be the last time we open the journal. As for Mike Mayhew, here’s hoping he comes back to Star Wars again in the near future. He’s got an entire galaxy left to explore.

Images from author’s collection.

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