Tag Archives: Star Wars

Reappraising Attack of the Clones

Having been binging on Star Wars: The Clone Wars recently I decided to rewatch a film I haven’t properly sat down to watch in almost half a decade: Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, a film that just last week I said was bad. Turns out time has been kind to Attack of the Clones (henceforth AotC), or I have gone mad, quite possibly the latter.

A couple of months ago I rewatched The Phantom Menace because it happened to be on my DVR and I was in the mood for some Podracing action. Now this was a film I watched numerous times on VHS, so I was very much surprised to notice subtle differences in this version that happened to be on TV at some point, which I assume is the same as the Blu-ray versions. Firstly the HD quality helps bring it up to date (although Phantom Menace was cautious with its use of CG), but George Lucas’ meddling resulted in a some minor additions to the Senate as well as a slightly extended Podracing section. These are changes I was very happy about.

Now because AotC is not a film that I’ve watched many times I really can’t comment on whether anything has been added or not, but what really stood out was that Lucasfilm had put in considerable effort to polish up the CG. It is by no means perfect, but now looks more like the typical limitations of using physical actors on top of green screen (or blue screen in the case of Star Wars). There was one scene in a diner featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi and an old acquaintance of his, Dex (Dexter Jettster), that I would always bring up whenever there was a discussion about the prequels and the use of CG, as no matter how much I may defend Phantom Menace, the character model of Dex was dreadful! Obi-Wan may as well have been talking to the tennis ball that Ewan McGregor was likely actually talking at. Thankfully now Dex has been fleshed out with a much more convincing character model. No longer dragging me out of the experience, except for the fact that I couldn’t get over how happy I was they fixed this scene.

When I started watching AotC, and after the giddiness that one gets during the opening crawl of text, I found myself surprisingly gripped by the first few scenes involving the attempted assassination attempts on Padmé Amidala. This first section of the film is possibly the strongest as the film struggles to keep up the same tension or intrigued (also helped by the fact that, despite being a literal global city, Coruscant is an interesting location). The scenes on Naboo are forgettable except for how tedious they are for having to poorly explain Anakin’s feelings for Padmé. After having left Tatooine, which involved a big rise in dark side points for Anakin, they arrive on Geonosis and bumble their rescue of Obi-Wan. In the events that follow for the first time we are shown the full force of the Clone army, followed by the surprising revelation of Yoda’s adept lightsaber skills fighting off against Count Dooku.

The film does end strong, with Count Dooku passing the plans for the Death Star to Darth Sidious, and an impressive shot of the thousands of clones marching off to fight in the Clone Wars. Even the final scene with Anakin and Padmé following their wedding is fitting considering how, along with the presence of R2-D2 and C3PO, is reminiscent of the ending of The Empire Strikes Back. All of these are accompanied perfectly by the excellent score by John Williams, who has managed to create great new themes for the prequels, whilst expertly interweaving the themes from the original trilogy.

However, despite my reappraisal of Attack of the Clones, it is still the “worst” film of the series, but that’s all. It is not the abomination to the cinema that many people think it is (or the entirety of the prequel trilogy for that matter). I admit that having been watching The Clone Wars may have helped, but with the necessary changes made to the CG, even with the sometimes mediocre acting (although who am I to call out someone’s acting), Attack of the Clones is a worthy film, and more importantly a worthy Star Wars film.

 

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Late to the party: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The Star Wars prequel trilogy receives a significant amount of criticism. Some of it is warranted, as the trilogy has its fair share of problems, such as Padme dying from a broken heart and giving up the will to live and most of Hayden Christensen’s acting . Personally I’m a big fan of The Phantom Menace (I found the senate negotiations and the presence of the Trade Federation interesting) but Attack of the Clones was the weakest of all the films. This was for multiple reasons ranging from the overuse of bad CG, the aforementioned acting, and the overall plot of the film wasn’t particularly good. However the film was influential in what it brought to the lore and explaining key aspects of the universe.

Attack of the Clones also gave Lucasfilm the opportunity to explore other stories that could take place outside of the films in a way that was more accessible than the expansive series of novels and comics that populate most of what was the Expanded Universe. Initially this was in the form of the first Clone Wars animated series which came out in between episodes two and three. This had a distinctive style due to being from the creator of Samurai Jack and was well received. Later George Lucas decided he wanted to revisit the Clone Wars and expand upon the events that took place during those three years.

Unlike the previous Clone Wars series from 2003 The Clones Wars (which began in 2008) adopted a brand new computer animated style, but one that took great inspiration from the 2003 series, with many of the returning characters having their appearance based on their previous depictions.This was highly effective as the show manages to expand upon the animated look but also utilise the advantages that computer animation can provide, when used correctly.

Whilst the series shares characters from the prequel trilogy new voice actors provide the voices for the characters. Although the first few created episodes were combined to form a feature film (although it isn’t nearly as good as the rest of the show) in which some of the original actors reprised their roles and voiced their characters from the films, this included; Christopher Lee (Count Dooku), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu). Using difference voice actors for a series that was always intended to have around five seasons made sense, however what wasn’t expected was that the new actors would do such a good job, at worst they were merely imitating the original actors, but often they were surpassing them, this was particularly noticeable with Anakin Skywalker (now voiced by Matt Lanter). Whilst still mostly the same Anakin we’re familiar with from the prequel films, his cokyness no longer comes off as grating, and his naiveness more pronounced, and therefore his actions more understandable.

From what I have seen so far (currently near the end of season 2) the show has effectively utilised the benefits that the television format can bring, this being that smaller stories can be explored in more detail without detracting from the wider narrative. The use of story arcs is nothing new in TV, especially for animation, but for me The Clone Wars presents one of the most effective implementation of this storytelling approach. The arcs vary in size, although some episodes are essentially stand alone, but tend to be around 3-4 episodes. This gives ample time to explore a particular battle or diplomatic event.

The arc that I have just finished watching involved the Mandalorians (the society from which Jango Fett and by extension Boba Fett are from) who while determined to remain neutral during the Clone Wars risk being dragged in by the efforts of the Death Watch who are a group that wish to see a return to the warmongering days of Mandalore past. Of course their recent actions are no accident, as Count Dooku and Darth Sidious are manipulating events from behind the scenes to benefit their own aims. This on its own is interesting, but unexpectedly we are also given a look to into Obi -wan Kenobi’s past, one that draws a surprising parallel with that of Anakin Skywalker.

Of course issues of diplomacy aren’t to everyone’s liking, and the battle scenes present throughout the show are spectacular. They both simultaneously make me more excited for Star Wars Battlefront to take part in large ground based battles, but also disappointed that there are no space battles, as there are many ingenious space battles that take place.

This is complemented by the shows ability to change its focus throughout a season. There are episodes and arcs that do not include Anakin or Obi-wan and are no weaker for it. It is a credit to the writers that an episode that focuses on Anakin’s apprentice Ahsoka Tano (who is first introduced in the show) can still be entertaining and worthwhile. Even the clones who were mostly forgettable in the films are given personalities, and it is not difficult to care about the struggles that they face. Other stand outs are oddly enough the Battle Droids who manage to bring a lot of the comic relief, which is necessary overall as the show is permeated with darker subplots.

The Clone Wars came as a surprise to me, I somehow thought that the show was going to be too heavily geared towards children, and whilst it isn’t inappropriate, this is a show that any Star Wars fan regardless of age can enjoy. The Star Wars Universe can be intimidating, which is partly why Disney discounted the Expanded Universe from the main canon, but The Clone Wars provides an accessible entry point for those who want learn more about the galaxy outside of the core films. Plus with the show being confirmed as remaining part of the core canon it can be considered worth your time. Then again the show manages to stand on its own and provide a range of different stories that are enjoyable for a variety of reasons. Now that the show has concluded and with Star Wars Rebels, a show that shares the same art style but set between episodes three and four, already off to a strong start, now is a great time to dive in.

Coffee Time News 04/05/15

First look at Will Smith’s Deadshot from Suicide Squad, Batgirl is playable in Arkham Knight and Star Wars Rebels is free to watch today.

Film

Michael Fassbender, who’s both producing and starring in the Assassins’ Creed movie adaptation, has stated that the movie will begin filming this September, aiming for a late December 2016 release. Fassbender has been quiet on where, or when, the animus sections of the film will be based in.

Suicide Squad! (Or as it will most likely be renamed, I imagine, Task Force X) director David Ayer has released a roster photo of the gang from Belle Reve, showing us the first look at some of the anti-heroes we’ll be meeting, including Katana and Killer Croc amongst the characters we’ve already heard about. And if you’d like a detailed look at Will Smith’s Deadshot, just click here for an image that includes the signature helmet/mask.

Fantastic Four and Chronicle director Josh Trank has stepped back from directing the second Star Wars Anthology Spin off that was due out in 2018. We knew little of the project, and we know little of the departure, though Trank has stated that he’s intending to pursue original creative opportunities’ – after working with Fox on a brand like Fantastic Four, it’s no surprise he’d like to take a break from franchises and the pressure therein.

Television

If we’d known about this earlier, we’d have shared it at the beginning of the week, but for those who haven’t seen Star Wars Rebels you can watch the entire season 1 for free online here, until the end of May 4th Bank Holiday.

Grodd is a character that has been built up in the Flash since the pilot, well the super intelligent telepathic ape is about to make a spotlight appearance in the upcoming episode ‘Grodd Lives’ – you can check out the promo here.

Games

People might know how much I loved Child of Lightand how addictive that world is, and while Ubisoft haven’t confirmed a sequel, but they have let us revisit the world, in this 20 page children’s book, featuring the adventures of Reginald the Populi.

Fancy slaying dragons in Dragon Age Inquisition‘s multiplayer? Well you’re in luck, launching tomorrow (on all available platforms) is a multiplayer expansion which will allow groups of players to take on the fiercest beats in Thedas.

Still think £40 for a season pass for Batman Arkham Knight is a bit steep? What if I told you it included a stand alone story featuring Batgirl named ‘a matter of family’? Yeah, it’s still pretty steep… but if more narrative content is included and less… trial maps, then I’m all about it.

Coffee Time News 07/04/15

Bad news for Top Gear and Twin Peaks fans, Good news for Star Wars, Daredevil and Ian Malcolm fans. Also a way to nerf Bloodborne’s bosses.

Film

An image from Jurassic World has appeared which hints at either, an appearance from Ian Malcolm in the upcoming film, being set 22 years after the events of the original, or a small nod to the character. The image, which features books by the character titled ‘god creates Dinosaurs’ is a reference to Malcolm’s line in the film ‘God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs, God creates man, man destroys God, man creates dinosaurs.’ (Dinosaurs eat man, woman inherits the earth).

For the first time since its release, the entirety of the Star Wars series will be available via online distribution, including Itunes, Amazon and Google Play. The best thing? They include even more bonus features.

A gallery of on set photos for Deadpool has appeared, featuring the Merc with a Mouth laying down all kinds of whoopass. What’s interesting is that if you look closely on the eyes you’ll see CG markers, confirming that the mask will have some form of computer enhanced expression, something that will add to the character a lot more.

Television

Bad news Top Gear fans, due to the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, and the uncertainty surrounding the show’s future at the moment, it’s looking like the final two episodes of the motoring/three guys arsing around show might not be airing on the BBC.

Bad news for Twin Peaks fans too, it looks like David Lynch has officially stepped away from the revival project, stating that as much as he loves the world of Twin Peaks, he feels that not enough money has been promised to the project to realise what he wanted for the show.

Good news, however, for Daredevil fans. The Netflix show kicks off this Friday, with all episodes available from day one, and here’s two trailers to get you in the mood, the best thing about these is that they show us so much more of the show. I’m very keen for Friday.

Games

IGN brings you the first 15 minutes of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in this Gameplay video, and for those worried that this might ruin the experience, game designer Damien Monnier has said that to do everything, you’re looking at 200+ hours. So, this is but a drop in the ocean.

April’s system update for Xbox One has begun rolling out, and if you’re not sure what you’re getting with that lovely lovely download, check out this video from Major Nelson detailing some of the ins and outs as well as what’s coming soon.

Bloodborne, it’s a tough game, but if you’ve got 12 hours to sit idling you can make the bosses in the game much, much easier. Bosses no longer do a huge variety of attacks, and some are laughably easy. Check out here for some comparisons and details.

 

Coffee Time News 25/03/15

Is Captain Marvel already cast? Is there a new Star Wars television series on the way? Will Gambit be in Apocalypse? RUMOURS!

Film

A few casting/cameo rumours this morning. First up is the rumour that, alongside cameos from Storm and Wolverine in Xmen Apocalypse, the next instalment of the Xmen franchise could also see the first look at Channing Tatum’s Gambit, before his feature film in October 2016, now this is a rumour, so it might not be true, but I can’t see why they wouldn’t do it.

For those who missed it yesterday, here’s the full length trailer for Mission :Impossible – Rogue Nation. Starring Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin and Rebecca Ferguson.

The last bit of movie rumour-ness is exciting for a few reasons; first of all, it’s been thrown about the internet since Avengers that Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) could make some sort of appearance in Age of Ultron, but since no-one was cast, and the standalone film was announced for 2018, those talks simmered down. Well now there are rumours (and once again, these are only that) that we could indeed see an un-powered Danvers in Age of Ultron, with a strong likelihood that the role has been cast in absolute secret. Which means Marvel can still surprise us.

Television

More rumours, geez, what is it today? This time on the Star Wars front. There’s a rumour that we could see a live action Star Wars series that will film between the shooting of the feature films, to keep the assets and production values of a similar ilk. They’d help build the Universe and prepare us for the stories to come. But it’s just a rumour.

Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller has released a load of details pertaining to season 3, including directorial announcements and a time-jump mid season to fast forward to the events of red dragon, which will introduce Richard Armitage. 

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny will be returning for the 6 episode X-Files run, 20th Century Fox has confirmed. The show will start filming this summer, and a restricted run will allow for some nice, concise story telling, so I’m all about it.

Games

Like Rainbow Six? Well you can now sign up to the closed Beta for Rainbow Six: Siege without pre-ordering the game (instead you go onto a sort of wait-list).

The second piece of DLC for The Evil Within hits consoles on the 21st of April and will follow directly on from the events of the first, check out the trailer here.

The Jaws of Hakkon the first piece of DLC for Dragon Age Inquisition is officially out now for Xbox One and PC, still no date on the PS4 release though, expect it in the coming weeks. Also, trailer. Right here.

Coffee Time News 13/03/15

Frozen 2 is announced, Fantastic Four Costumes and Uncharted 4 has been delayed.

Film

Well, it’s official, for all you parents, uncles, aunts, anyone who has anything to do with children, get ready, because Frozen 2 has been announced. You thought it would end with Frozen Fever? Alas, no. Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee will be returning and Disney gave the good news at a shareholder’s meeting yesterday. Kristen Bell has confirmed her return on Twitter, as well as the return of the voice of Olaf the Snowman Josh Gad.

We’ve seen very little of the Fantastic Four so far, besides the very Interstellar-y trailer, but now we’ve got a better look at the heroes’ containment suits, all aside from Ben Grimm’s Thing, which hasn’t been seen besides those few shots in the aforementioned trailer.

The first Star Wars spinoff has been titled Rogue One, and will star Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) while little else is known right now, we do know it will be directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and it will arrive next winter, December 16th 2016 to be precise. It’s also been confirmed that Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick, Brother’s Bloom) will direct episode 8.

Television

Image time for Game of Thrones, get your first look at Arya’s new Braavosi outfit, as well as the first official look at the Sand Snakes (the daughters of fan favourite Oberyn Martell) who are as dangerous as their father (though, perhaps not so prone to the eye gouging…)

A promo for Tuesday’s episode of Agents of SHIELD, the show has really picked up since the inclusion of the Inhumans, and last week’s episode settled a lot of my own doubts about the show, but a whole can of worms is about to be opened for Coulson as Cal (Skye’s father) is back, and out for revenge. 

Here’s something pretty interesting, UK network the BBC is creating a 90 minute piece on the creation and social effects of Grand Theft Auto, to be aired on BBC2.

Games

Ubisoft Montreal is holding a closed alpha for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege, it’s only on PC and requires a Uplay account but if that still whets your appetite then click over to here for more information.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch which is hilarious fun, is coming to WiiU and Xbox One this summer according to developer Young Horse. The game is absolutely mental, it sees you play as an octopus, who, well, has a family and has spent the last few years of his life pretending to be a human. It’s a great example of a well written comedy coinciding with funny gameplay, but it still hits you in the heart once or twice.

Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End has been delayed. The game’s directors have said that the game was more ambitious than they had previously hoped, and to keep the standard of story telling that Naughty Dog is known for (Crash Bash had the best narrative) and have delayed it a few months. It didn’t have a solid date before, so expect it in spring 2016.

Coffee Time News 04/03/15

Community Season 6 Avengers themed trailer, Avengers Teaser Trailer and March’s PS Plus games announced.

Film

The coolest man in the galaxy, Lando Calrissian, may not be featuring in The Force Awakens but actor Billy Dee Williams has been told that he’ll have a ‘fun cameo’ in episode 8 and has said that he’d definitely be up for it. This comes from the Tabloid the Sun though, so you know… It’s probably to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Here’s the first look at Joseph Gordon -Levitt as Edward Snowden, from the movie Snowden directed by Oliver Stone. The movie, based on the events of 2013 involving an NSA whistleblower who discovered the US government’s surveillance program on ordinary citizens,  will also star Nicholas Cage and Zachary Quinto.

As much as I dislike teasers for trailers (which in themselves are teasers) The Avengers Age of Ultron recently had a new teaser for the third trailer that will air on Thursday night. (So expect it here on Friday Morning) as well as the final character poster starring Chris Evans as Captain America.

Television

I had my doubts about Community season 6, I can’t help but feel like it’s gone on a little too long, but the first trailer for the Yahoo exclusive show, which is obviously heavily ‘inspired’ by the Avengers Age of Ultron’s first trailer has won me over somewhat, it looks like the continuation of the form we’ve gotten since the end of the terrible gas leak season.

Winter is coming, but SO SLOWLY, with just over a month to go until season 5 of Game of Thrones (airs April 12th) we’re really still quite thin on the ground with regards to promotional material, though when something’s this big, do you really need it? The people who are going to watch it are definitely going to watch it. Anyway, we finally get to see some of the fan favourite Sand Snakes in this weapon featurette which talks about designing the weapons of Dorne.

Star Wars Rebels (which, for those who are keeping track is official canon) has just announced that Season 2 will star Sarah Michelle Gellar, don’t know who that is? GET OFF THIS SITE.
Nah, just kidding, she’s Buffy, you know, from Buffy The Vampire Slayer? Her character doesn’t have a name or role yet, but you know, talent?

Games

Big news first, Valve, responsible for all your summer sale poverty, has finally announced details about their Steam Machines and the Steam Controller, which are to be launched in November. Apparently they’re to be priced in the same realm as regular consoles but will have higher performance, and the steam controllers will be priced around $50 a piece. They also announced that their new engine, Source 2, will be free for developers which is lovely of them.

Dragon Age Head Writer David Gaider announced via twitter that he was leaving the franchise but not Bioware. He’s starting work on a new project that, unfortunately, he can’t tell us anything about. But being responsible for 10 years worth of Dragon Age work can only prove promising for whatever it is he’s moved to.

Better late than never right? The PS plus games for March are here, they include Counter Spy, Valient Hearts the Great War and OlliOlli 2. check out the full list, and previews over at the official page.