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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Get Your Geek On

No book or movie review this week, for the simple reason that no one volunteered to write one. (Although if you think this is something you'd like to try, please take a look at The Assignment Desk, where among other things we list the free review copies we currently have on hand. More titles are being added all the time.)

Instead, in eager anticipation of next month's release of Star Trek, we are today launching the first in a series of totally fanboy discussions, plumbing the depths of absolute ├╝bergeekdom. In this series, we propose to examine the questions of absolutely no consequence whatsoever that drive sci-fi fans nuts. Appropriate enough, then, we begin with:

Why Do The Star Wars Prequels Suck So Badly?
There's no arguing the central issue. The original three Star Wars movies were, in sequence, great, even better, and good enough. Then, a bantha's age later, LucasFilm finally came out with the prequels, and there were, in sequence, awful, getting better, and thank God at least it's over.


Some say it's because the original Star Wars was blessed with a uniquely seredipitous cast: Sir Alec Guinness, who could read the phone book and make it sound like Shakespeare, and a trio of young and relatively unknown actors—Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford—who had the almost magical gift of being able to read Lucas's clunky dialog and make it sound exciting.

Others say it was a demonstration of the blind squirrel-and-acorn principle: that Star Wars was great precisely because it was a relatively low-budget film shot on a short schedule, and had Lucas had all the time and money he wanted, the original film would have been much worse and the sequels never would have happened. As evidence they cite the reissued "Special Editions," and we must admit, that's a convincing argument.

A third faction hews to a more plot-driven point, arguing that the prequels collectively couldn't help but be a bummer, because they tell stories of tragedy, downfall, and the collapse of the Republic, and most importantly, we already know how it all ends.

Our theory is that in making the prequels, George Lucas, whether accidentally or intentionally, left out one critical character. Sure, Luke Skywalker is the nominal focus of the original movies, a young man of great power and destiny and all that with his mythic qualities shamelessly lifted straight out of Joseph Campbell. But in our opinion the real hero of the original Star Wars series was Han Solo, and what makes the prequels so bad is that there is no equivalent human-scale Han Solo-type character in them. Further, it is our opinion that had Lucas wanted to make an interesting and engaging pre-Star Wars movie, he would have been far better advised to ignore the Jedi and Sith and focus instead on Jango and Boba Fett.

Let the arguments begin.

Have a question that's just bugging the heck out of you about Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Gallactica, Farscape, Firefly, Fringe, Heroes, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Smallville, The X-Files, or pretty much any other SF-flavored media property? Send it to slushpile@thefridaychallenge.com with the subject line, "Geek Fu," and we'll work it into the queue.
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