Archived News from July to December 2004

Click here for Archived News January to June 2004

Click here for Archived News from 2003

Click Here for Archived News from 2002

Return to Latest News

 

12/24/04  Yoda Rules

 

Whether you've been following the saga for years or only casually watching the films, pick up this book and read it today:

Funny, engaging, and at times brutally dark, this is the Star Wars book you should read.  Yoda is lured to Vjun to meet with Count Dooku who claims he wants a truce.  An elaborate trap?  But for whom?  And in the shadows, Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress has plans of her own. The Clone Wars are winding down and the intensity is heating up!  Before going to see Revenge of the Sith this May, pick up Yoda: Dark Rendezvous!

 

 

 

 

12/21/04  Well.... I'm back.  I know a lot of you have been wondering where I've been.  Well, aside from a busy few weeks, I've been redesigning the site to make it quicker for pages to upload.  Thanks to the auspices of  Jon Armstrong, web-designer extraordinaire (and nice guy to boot), I've been able to streamline things a bit more to make everyone's life much easier (and faster).  No, I'm not going the way of Theforce.net in terms of modernization.  This will remainl very much an image-friendly site.  And while I recognize the needs of time-challenged people, I'm also aware that this is essentially a hobby site for people who love and take the time out for such things as literature and art.  So, I'm finding a compromise between the two extremes.  There's still much to be done, but as some of you have already voiced your approval of the changes, I feel I'm at least headed in the right direction...

 

Watched all 30 hours of your new LOTR Return of the King Extended Edition DVD yet?!  I had the privilege of watching it with friends and family over this past weekend.  The reviews are coming in fast and furious and indeed this new version is well deserving.  Many of you know of my slight disappointment over the theatrical release, likely an after-effect of having re-read the book prior to the film's release date.  The truth is for myself to enjoy the film, I have to temporarily disengage from my memories of the book version of ROTK (my favorite of the three).  Not an easy task has this been, but the converse is to suffer one word that keeps flashing in my brain when viewing even the new version and that word is: truncated.  Everything moves by at lightening pace and feels not so much exhilarating as exhausting. 

 

Frodo and Sam's journey still feels rather compressed.  The additional scenes of the Orc march were great, as was the fallen king, but I guess I'm greedy because I wanted more more more!  And of course I still miss the scene on the stairs of Cirith Ungol of Smeagol's near-redemption.  I still miss Beregond and Bergil (though not as much), the Druadain and Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth -- who I note we see and hear (he's even given a few lines -- look for the tall, handsome blonde-headed man in Minas Tirith who says, "It is as the Lord Denethor has foreseen," to which Gandalf responds, "foreseen but done nothing"), but who's never identified or developed.  Of course, the Saruman scene was great.  Yes, Sharky and the Scouring would have been a joy, but I knew long in advance it wasn't happening and I understand that one.  Were this a mini-series, we would likely have gotten it along with Tom and the Barrow Wights (but of course at the cost of the wonderful visual effects and WETA magic).  The Mouth of Sauron is a ghoulish delight to behold, but the conclusion suffers from two problems: first: it's doubtful (and disappointing) for such a powerful figure to so easily (and foolishly) be killed (especially as they could have used him in the final battle), and second: where did his body and horse go?  Apparently, upon death Sauron's servants (and their steeds) utilize Jedi-like abilities to disappear into thin air! 

 

I could live with (and grow accustomed to) the omissions in time as I have the others, but something struck me that seemed odd.  There's more that wasn't put in.  For one thing, what happened to the Watchers at the gate of Cirith Ungol?  We see them clear as day.  Then we see Sam past them.  Why didn't they put their scene back in?  I know it was shot because I'd read about it some months back.  Then I watched the Appendices (more on that later).  In it (I think the Book to Script doc., but don't quote me), they show a brief glimpse of a scene with Gimli in the Glittering Caves and Legolas in what appears to be Fangorn (yes, these are the scenes from the book describing the later adventures of these two friends).  What the heck?!  Why wasn't this restored to this version!?  How much more are they holding back from us and why?  The answer of course is a double-edged sword.  New Line promised that this would be the final DVD release of these films, but note the key word "DVD release".  With HD and Sony Blu-Ray's just around the corner waiting to engage in a battle bigger than that at Pelennor Fields, we may be seeing a Super-Duper Deluxe Lord of the Rings in our future.  Here's the double-edge sword part.  Another long wait again to get the "complete version," UPDATE: PJ has stated that the upcoming version will only include those scenes as "Deleted Scenes" because it will "weaken" the film to add them back in!  I don't care if it's six and a half hours long –  I'll watch it over a weekend – As they are scenes from the book, they belong in the context of the film -- not as a separate 'Deleted Scenes' section! 

 

The next issue will be 'which format are they supporting?'.  My hopes are on HD (as I have little use for Sony), so we'll see... 

 

Rant over, if there's anything of unequivocal joy on these DVDs it's the Appendices.  I've loved the ones on Fellowship and The Two Towers, and even Richard Taylor's drone grew on me over time as I watched in wonder at the feats of magic his team at WETA and every single department were doing to give us the most stunning film-experience we could hope for.  This time round, they've eliminated a lot of the technical aspects and focused more on the emotional pulse of the cast, crew and filmmakers as they struggled against overwhelming odds to complete this production (and you'll see just how close they came to not doing it).   These documentaries are absolutely engaging and have more entertainment value than the first two combined (and those were no lightweights!). 

 

I have a lot of favorite parts in these, but of note is the sheer wealth of insightful commentary on Tolkien himself.  The people behind this doc. are truly giving you the best of Tolkien scholarship summed up in a short time.  And they're all here: Tom Shippey (my favorite) is back again, joined by Colin Duriez and a veritable Who's Who of Tolkien experts!  These are the authors you should be buying books from!  On the more emotional end of the spectrum, the DVD concludes on several bittersweet notes; the Academy Awards, of course are shown, as are several cast members saying tearful goodbyes after shooting their final scenes.  Lastly, there is a separate documentary on Cameron Duncan, the young filmmaker who's life and death from cancer inspired Fran Walsh to compose the haunting 'Into the West'.  His short films and commercials are included, and you can clearly see why Peter and Fran were so touched by the too short life of this talented young man.  It's somewhat apropos that they have honored his dying wish to not be forgotten by including his material on this disc, because as we learn early in the Appendices, Tolkien too made a promise to a young friend who died in the trenches of World War II, a promise that was realized by the publication of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. 

 

12/06/04 Mark your calendars Star Wars fans!  Clone Wars Series Season Three will debut March 21st, followed the next day by the release of the Clone Wars Seasons I and II on DVD!  Exciting news this!  Have you checked out the latest Star Wars books?  Yoda: Dark Rendezvous is receiving rave reviews Yoda heads to the evil world Djun on invitation of Count Dooku who is claiming to sue for peace! This is a confrontation you won't want to miss!  While you're at it, pick up the brand new Boba Fett book, Pursuit!  Fett seeks revenge for the death of his father and heads to Coruscant to track down Mace Windu.  But will Anakin Skywalker stand in his way?  The final countdown to Episode III has just begun!

 

12/01/04 December 1st, my how time flies!  Got your countdown clocks primed yet?  Check out the updated six-month Clone Wars primer leading up to Episode III's Revenge of the Sith at my Rise of the Empire page.  If you haven't already, now's a great time to begin your Star Wars reading!

11/30/04 Site news regarding Star Wars timeline: After viewing the Ewoks films and cartoons again on DVD, I've made some changes on the placement of the films.  Internal evidence indicates that the two Ewok movies do indeed predate the events of the animated series.  Like with the Clone Wars cartoons, the animated series should be taken in light of the medium and target audience and not too literally.  While the basic events occurred, the way in which they occurred likely differed greatly in tone and specifics than as portrayed.

 

11/27/04 LOTR news: Check out the official site (www.lordoftherings.net) on 11/29 for a special six-minute preview of the Return of the King Extended Edition (coming out very soon on 12/15).  For those who need their fix right now and can't wait two days, there's a teaser trailer currently available to whet your appetites...  Click on the link to the right to pre-order this film at a great price from Amazon.

 

 

11/22/04 In long awaited Oz news, two new books are now available from Tails of the Cowardly Lion & Friends: http://members.aol.com/LionCoward/home.html.  One is The Giant  King of Oz (which is a direct sequel to a Baum book) and the other, Lin Carter's The Merry Mountaineer of Oz. 

 

Lin Carter is best known for his Sword & Sorcery writings, Conan and Kull pastiches as well as numerous fantasy book introductions, but his Oz stories have never seen print before and are only available at the link above (TOTCLAF is a non-profit organization). 

 

It is exciting to finally have Carter's Oz stories published after so many years.  Please keep in mind that prior copies of TOTCLAF's Oz books which have gone out-of-print command huge sums on the second-hand market, so be sure to grab up your copy today before it's too late!

 

 

 

 

 

 

11/19/04 Six months till Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith!  Hard to believe, isn't it!?

In other good news, less than a month till The Return of the King Extended Edition

 

The only sad thing about all this is wondering what are we going to have look forward to in the days ahead...

Well, there is, of course, the upcoming Star Wars (live-action) TV show that will debut in 2006 (yes, this is confirmed); Narnia news is starting to come forth regarding the upcoming The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (any one who's a fan of either Tolkien, Baum or Lucas should definitely be interested in this project); finally, there's always The Hobbit (which, let's face it, one way or another, is going to be made)...  So, chin up, there's still plenty ahead to enjoy... and in the meantime... there's plenty of books and comics, so read, read, read! 

 

11/07/04 Star Wars news: I posted my review of the latest Clone Wars novel, Jedi Trial, and for the first time, it's a negative one.  Actually, scathing would be a better word.  But boy did it deserve it!  Click here to read it.

10/29/04 Star Wars news:

Tales #21 is finally out... This is the start of the new format which individually labels what stories are in-continuity (and which aren't) and in what era they take place.  Set at three tales, this first issue is off to a bang with two excellent multi-parters and one well-done standalone starring Kyle Katarn and the first comics appearance of the Yuuzhan Vong.  All of the stories are interesting and the artwork outstanding on each.  My favorite, Nomad, by Rob Williams is Star Wars at its finest and Brandon Bandeaux' illustrations are worth the cover price alone.  Jeremy Barlow has done a great job here and has even seen fit to include definitions for each of the different eras (which I'm going to utilize here as well).  Keep 'em coming!

Also be sure to pick up Jedi Trial at your local bookstore or Amazon.com.  The Clone Wars are ravaging the galaxy and Anakin Skywalker is finally given the chance to take the trials and ascend to the level of Jedi Knight  -- but at what cost will he succeed?!

 

10/04/04 Lord of the Rings news begins to heat up again as we approach the December 14th date of the release of the Return of the King Extended Edition DVDs.  You can finally preorder yours now from Amazon.com

In other news, theonering.net has posted this interesting and very welcome and exciting quote from Howard Shore which should make many a Hobbit ear tickle: 

"My main focus right now is the box set," he says, referring to an intended nine-CD collection he hopes to release next year that will include every note from the movies. "My dream is to put everything out, all of the music in the films, plus [Doug Adams'] book, plus some treats for the fans -- you know, some rarities."

9/29/04 Star Wars news from the Official Site:

Daily Star Wars Webstrips Start Next Week!

Members of Hyperspace, the Official Star Wars Fan Club will soon have access to new installments of Star Wars adventures every weekday in the form of exclusive comic strips starting October 4th! Hyperspace will be home to four ongoing strips, each telling a different tale set in the Star Wars galaxy. Two of these are new never-before-seen strips, while the other two are reprints from the original newspaper comics that ran in the late 1970s and early '80s.

 

[ Daily Star Wars Webstrips Start Next Week! ]
Reversal of Fortune tells an original story set at the end of the Clone Wars, beginning only days before the events of Episode III and continues along with the on-screen saga. The Jedi Council believes it can end the war by removing the Separatist leadership. It sends a trio of women -- Barriss Offee, Aayla Secura and Stass Allie -- to capture Commerce Guild President Shu Mai. But the CIS military leader, General Grievous, remains one step ahead and has ambitious plans of his own. The series is written by Paul Ens, and illustrated by Thomas Hodges.
[ Daily Star Wars Webstrips Start Next Week! ]
In A Hunter's Fate: Greedo's Tale, you'll discover how a young Rodian left the sanctuary of a primitive jungle world to enter the dangerous and cutthroat life of a bounty hunter. Pablo Hidalgo adapts and illustrates a short story that first appeared in Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, written by Tom Veitch and Martha Veitch.
[ Daily Star Wars Webstrips Start Next Week! ]
Gambler's World originally appeared in newspapers in March of 1979. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2 journey to the wealthy gambling planet of Vorzyd-5 to disrupt the unending supply of credits into the Emperor's coffers. Little do they know that Blackhole, agent of the Empire, is conspiring against them. These early strips were by comics legend Russ Manning, and though Dark Horse Comics has reprinted many of them in reformatted comic book style, this marks the first time this story-arc has been reprinted in its original daily format.
[ Daily Star Wars Webstrips Start Next Week! ]
The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell is another classic strip, this time from the legendary duo of writer Archie Goodwin and illustrator Al Williamson. As the title suggests, this story chronicles the confrontation with the bounty hunter briefly described by Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. As the Rebellion struggles to find a safe new world for their hidden base after the Battle of Yavin, they must ever be vigilant of traps lurking within possible havens. This tale original began running in February of 1981.

If you're not already a member of Hyperspace, sign up today and catch the daily adventure, drama and fun of Star Wars webstrips by clicking here.

Also, I've updated the Clone Wars section to include a bit more of a detailed breakdown of the events taking place there and have what I think is a much more accurate placement of where exactly everything fits in.  Likely certain upcoming books will be shifted around as they are released and the timing becomes clearer.  One things for sure, the excitement preceding Revenge of the Sith is beginning to build, and if you haven't already, now's the best time to catch up on your Star Wars reading!

9/26/04 LOTR news has been relatively quiet of late, but no more!  Here's some information from the official site for the upcoming Return of the King Extended Edition which you can begin pre-ordering on October 1st (see below), and if that's not enough to whet your appetite, don't forget that the 50th Anniversary Edition of Lord of the Rings and the Expanded Silmarillion (with additional artwork by Ted Nasmith) is set to hit bookstore shelves on October 21st and November 15th respectively :






DISCS 1-2: The Feature
FEATURE (approx. 250 minutes) - A new version of the final installment in the epic trilogy! The Academy-Award® winning film now has 50 minutes of never-before-seen footage incorporated into the film for this highly-anticipated video release:
Widescreen (2.35:1) version of the Special Extended Edition
Dolby Digital EX 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS ES 6.1 Surround Sound
Stereo Surround Sound
English subtitles and closed captions
Spanish subtitles

Four audio commentaries by the director and writers, the design team, the production team and the cast featuring more than 30 participants including Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom and Academy Award® winners Richard Taylor, Howard Shore…and many more.

Cast commentary also features dialogue between split-personality characters Gollum and Smeagol (Andy Serkis)!


DISCS 3-4: The Appendices
Two discs with hours of original content including multiple documentaries and design/photo galleries with thousands of images to give viewers an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King::

THE APPENDICES PART V: "The War of the Ring"
 

Disc intro by director Peter Jackson
"J.R.R. Tolkien: The Legacy of Middle-earth" documentary

From Book to Script:
"From Book to Script: Forging the Final Chapter" documentary
Abandoned Concept: Aragorn Battles Sauron

Designing and Building Middle-earth
"Designing Middle-earth" documentary
"Big-atures" documentary
"Weta Workshop" documentary
"Costume Design" documentary

Design Galleries - 2,123 images
The Peoples of Middle-earth (galleries with docent audio)
The Realms of Middle-earth (galleries with docent audio)
Miniatures (galleries with docent audio)
"Home of the Horse Lords" documentary

"Middle-earth Atlas: Tracing the Journeys of the Fellowship" interactive map
"New Zealand as Middle-earth" interactive map w/on-location footage


THE APPENDICES PART VI: "The Passing of an Age"
 

Disc intro by Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan

Filming The Return of the King
"Cameras in Middle-earth" documentary
Production Photos (gallery) - 69 images

Visual Effects
"Weta Digital" documentary
"The Mumakil Battle" demonstration / multi-angle interactive feature

Post Production: Journey's End
"Editorial: Completing the Trilogy" documentary
"Music for Middle-earth" documentary
"The Soundscapes of Middle-earth" documentary
"The End of All Things" documentary
"The Passing of an Age" documentary

Cameron Duncan: The Inspiration for "Into the West"
"Cameron Duncan: The Inspiration for 'Into the West'" documentary
"DFK6498" short film
"Strike Zone" short film


DVD-ROM CONTENT: Includes access to exclusive online features

 

9/24/04 Star Wars updates below.  After much deliberation, I've decided to take down the Original Trilogy DVD petition.  For one thing, I'm thrilled with the films the way George has realized them.  Until 2007 (see below) these will be the editions I'll be watching.  Sorry, but you purists can keep the boxes around the ships and your awful Yub Nub song at the end.  If GL decides to release that version on DVD, I might pick them up, but I've got the videos (which have been unwatched for years) if I'm feeling puritanical.  Lastly, I'm getting sick of the so-called fans who's loud complaints really only amount to a few minutes of screen time.  Close your eyes for a second when Greedo shoots and learn to appreciate all the hard work that's gone into making these films.  Van Ling, producer of all the Star Wars DVD's, had a great quote about this:

"Imagine your kid goes out on stage in the school play for the first time and all people focus on is his or her braces or a pimple. There's a lot of great work and effort that was put into this DVD set, and I'm sorry to see distractions to people seeing that. But at the same time, it's amazing to see how attentive the fans are. I appreciate how much they care."

If that doesn't speak volumes, I don't know what does.  Finally, for those who insist on what they want, I'll leave you with one final quote from him:

"You vote with your wallets. Don't buy anything you don't want. George makes his decisions based on his vision as a filmmaker. If he were strictly about business, as a lot of folks accuse him of being, then he would have pandered to all the fan requests, right? You can agree or disagree with his choices, but you have to respect his right to make them, just as I'm sure he respects the fans' right to disagree."

9/21/04  Star Wars news: They're here!

 

My friend Carl and I went to the Best Buy midnight release of the DVDs and the line wrapped around the store and back!  Vader was there, along with Stormtrooper's and other assorted Jedi and Imperials, and we got to meet some great people online (unfortunately many of the pictures didn't come out) who helped pass the long wait till the discs went on sale. 

Freebies included coupons for the game Star Wars Battlefront and a special Star Wars Insider magazine which contains a short bio of each character, a good article on the early merchandising (including a history of the toys and comics) and some nice illustrations. 

I also picked up a copy of the new THX1138 Director's Cut DVD and got my picture taken with Darth Vader!  A healthy round of applause also should go out to the Best Buy staff for doing a great job with the crowds, long lines and late hours!  I'm not a huge fan of Best Buy, but this time 'round, they got it right!  My only complaint was the presence of Hot 97 and their obnoxious brand of Orc music blaring in the front of the store (thankfully far enough from me to not have to get out my blaster rifle)!  Next time, tell them to stay home.

So, did I preview the discs when I got home?  Hey, it's me!  Unfortunately, it's me at 34, so I've been useless all day today after going to bed at 4:00 AM! 

So how are they, you wonder?!  Well, as of this writing, I've only watched the first film but I have to say that all the hype about the quality of these discs is well deserved!  You've never seen Star Wars look like this!  The clarity of detail on every single person and thing is staggering.  Even if you haven't got a high-definition widescreen TV yet (and if you need an excuse to get one these DVDs are it!), you're going to see things you never did before!  On top of that, the color palette is astounding.  Kudos to everyone who worked on the restoration of this print because if I didn't know better, I'd swear they were filmed last year and not 27 years ago!  There is not a spot of grain here, no edge enhancement and zero pixelation!

The sound, of course, is spectacular!  I'd forgotten just how LOUD Star Wars was!  The fronts fire away ceaselessly.  The low frequency effects are utilized to maximum benefit as are the surrounds, and never to the detriment of the dialogue which is always crisp and clear.  Lasers shoot by and ships fly behind you as John Williams' soaring soundtrack swells in glorious 5.1.  While DTS would have been a nice addition, the Dolby Digital does a great job of surpassing your memory of the '77 Theater experience.

Ok, how are the changes on Episode IV.  Well, the two opinions of the viewers that night were "Great!" and "Amazing!".  Jabba looks like Jabba and is fantastic, while the scene of Han walking over his tail is much smoother and more natural than before.  Awesome job overall.  On to the most controversial of Special Edition changes: Greedo does indeed still shoot first, only this time, Han deftly (and rather subtly) dodges the blast and immediately fires back.  It looks good to me and I'm happy with the way the guys at LFL were able to make it feel right this time.  You can make up your own opinion when you watch it, but know that some fans are never satisfied and always on the lookout for something to bitch about and this time is no different (now they're complaining that Han should've grimaced or flinched with the blast coming so close to his head -- yes, they are THAT nitpicky!).  Other than that, LFL spiffed up some landspeeder shots (coming into Mos Eisley) and possibly a few other things here or there (it's been awhile since I watched the Special Editions on video and as everything is so colorful and clear its hard to tell what exactly was updated here).  Eagle-eyed viewers will still spot the commonly known continuity-gaffes (R5-D4 standing in the row after he's moved away; Vader moving his arm as if speaking to Tarkin but with no dialogue), but truthfully, if you're solely focused on those things, you're really sort of missing the forest for the trees, aren't you? 

Update: 9/22/04 Finished The Empire Strikes Back last night.  If anything, it's even more stunning visually as the deep blues and blacks resonate off the screen and quality of detail is astounding to see.  You've never seen this film look so good.  Likewise, the sound is superb with wind howling around you on Hoth and At-AT's stomping towards you in booming subsonic frequencies.  The surrounds are kept busy with Tie Fighters and laser blasts and creatures from the swamps of Dagobah.  The major changes here from the '97 Special Edition is the fact that Luke no longer screams as he drops down the chasm.  This is a plus as Luke's noble sacrifice was somewhat cheapened by his frightened scream.  The other change is also a good one in replacing the former Emperor hologram with Ian McDiarmid, the 'real' Emperor from Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.  Strangely, the credits have not been changed from '97 and Clive Revill is still listed as the "Voice of the Emperor" (which obviously is no longer the case).  The  actor who was replaced was a woman superimposed over with monkey's eyes.  McDiarmid is, as always, brilliant.  His flickering hologram is chilling (like something out of a horror film) and he delivers his lines with sinister precision and malice.  There is some added dialogue between he and Vader, but nothing to get pedantic continuity-fans in an uproar.  When told by Palpatine that the boy who destroyed the Death Star was the "son of Anakin Skywalker," Vader asks how this is possible.  Clearly Vader knows his son is alive and involved in the Rebellion earlier when Hoth is discovered as the location of the Rebel's secret base and Vader states out loud that he knows "Skywalker is with them."   On the other hand, he does not know how much Palpatine has discovered.  Therefore, when Palpatine confronts him, he feigns ignorance in an attempt to a) gage how much Palpy actually knows, and b) pretend he's unaware of Luke's existence when in reality he's been secretly devising how the two of them would overthrow the Emperor.  Vader gives himself away shortly afterwards by stating a little too concernedly, "He's just a boy," but Palpatine has his own ideas for Luke (as a replacement for his treacherous father), and thus allows Vader to think he's convinced him to let Skywalker live on the grounds that he be "turned" to "join" them.  Wonderful Machiavellian stuff here, enhanced even further by the new dialogue!  Note: for those of you curious how Vader learned that his son was the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, see the trade paperbacks: "A Long Time Ago... Volume 2: Dark Encounters" and "Vader's Quest" both published by Dark Horse Comics (A Long Time Ago reprints the old Marvel comics from the 70's and 80's).  

Coming soon: Return of the Jedi...

Update 9/23/04: Completed the OT (Old Trilogy) with Return of the Jedi today.  Again, sound and picture quality are top notch, and there are some nice improvements as well.  The rancor no longer looks completely phony as Luke runs between his legs and Palpatine's 'slugs' have been removed (the so-called slugs were a bizarre effect on the Emperor's face -- compare any prior version of the scene with Palpatine in his throne room with Luke and Vader and you'll see what I mean).  There were some other facelifts I'd have liked to have seen (Han's thaw from carbonite for instance), but overall, exceedingly well done, although perhaps not as impressive as the first two.  The big change on this film came with the replacement of Sebastian Shaw as the spirit Anakin with Hayden Christianson.  Looks-wise, the new scene is perfect and Hayden blends perfectly in with the other two.  Acting-wise, Hayden does a great job in this briefest of cameos.  There is an embarrassed shyness at first followed by a look of extreme approval and thanks towards his son.  A nice touch, overall, as was the addition of Naboo in the celebration tour of planets.  You can also now see the Jedi Temple in the distance on Coruscant.  Perhaps in a future incarnation, we'll get to see Kashyyyk as well.

Note: These are NOT the so called "Ultimate" (or "Archive") Editions that are known of and are likely planned for the 30 year anniversary in 2007.  When Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is complete and headed to DVD (or HD-DVD... or Sony Blue-Ray) in the six-box set we all know is coming, there will be new scenes added to these films akin to the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions.  These filmed scenes may include: Palpatine disbanding the Senate; the POV of Alderaan as the Death Star approaches their atmosphere; and possible changes to Episodes I and II.  The new scenes have been shot, so while I'm thrilled to have these amazing (and they really look and sound amazing) DVDs now, I'm grateful to have something to look forward in the upcoming "Extended Editions" in a few years.  As regards deleted scenes, there are none on these discs (other than what can be briefly glimpsed in the documentaries), so I'm hoping we'll have many of these restored to the films themselves, for instance: Luke and Biggs on Tatooine; the Wampas in Echo Base; the sandstorm scene.  All of these have been discussed by fans for years (and some may be seen on the Behind the Magic CD-Rom), but as of yet have not debuted on video or DVD.  We'll see what comes down the pike in three years.

Update: Van Ling, producer of all five Star Wars DVDs has confirmed that the 30th Anniversary of A New Hope, 2007, should see a new Star Wars box set with material not included on this release.  Jim Ward had stated recently that the material on this set was but the tip of the iceberg, and things like the infamous Holiday Special were considered but left off.  As regards deleted scenes, one of the few disappointments of this set, Van Ling had this to say: "As for the deleted scenes, I think George may want to finish them and clean them up before he puts them on DVD."  Great news indeed!  Let's hope they're incorporated back into the film itself (or at least offer a branching system where one can choose the SW version he/she wants to see).

9/16/04 Star Wars News: The Associated Press has posted a very insightful Q&A with George Lucas regarding the reason for the Special Editions, why no original versions on DVD, his stance on the offshoot novels and comics (known as the Expanded Universe), his view towards the fans, and the now officially confirmed news of a Star Wars Television show!  This one's a keeper!  Check it out here.

9/09/04 Star Wars news: Star Wars Trilogy DVD reviews are finally here!!!  The best of the bunch is from the great guys over at Digital Bits (www.thedigitalbits.com) who can always be counted on for their fair-minded reviews from a perspective of those who genuinely love film.  Check it out here: http://www.thedigitalbits.com/reviews3/starwarstrilogy.html

Update: Here's another great, but controversial one which makes a lot of sense to me:

I’ve been following the "Star Wars" controversies for many years now and quite frankly, I don’t get it. I’m not sure why people would get worked up about whether Greedo or Han Solo shoots first. They are both fictional characters, in a fictional world, in a movie! George Lucas could just as well have decided to have Greedo shoot first in the original version and no one would ever have given it a second thought. This brings me to another point – the fact that George Lucas can do with his films however he pleases. These are his films and if he would decide tomorrow to have them entirely destroyed, it is well within his rights as the creator and artist to do so – and I would respect that. The incessant tirades about the original versions of the films is truly getting tiresome, if not obnoxious and in my opinion many fans are having this deluded sense of entitlement that just because they like and enjoy these films George Lucas has an obligation towards them – and frankly, nothing could be further from the truth. Only George Lucas can – and should - decide what he considers to be his vision and if new technology accommodates his original vision – especially since he’s been driving that technology to that point – it would almost be a crime to leave these movie landmarks in the rut of their outdated 70s special effects. It is really that simple as long as you don’t forget that these are really only movies made for entertainment, and not a religion or something to run your life around. But be that as it may, you can save your flame mails in case you disagree because I won’t be reading them.

Read the rest of the review here: http://www.dvdreview.com/fullreviews/star_wars_trilogy.shtml
 

9/04/04  Here's a cool sneak peek of the cover of the upcoming novel that will lead into Episode III:

The months leading up to the final Star Wars film should prove to be exciting ones for Star Wars fans as LFL is coordinating tight continuity between the books, comics and animated Clone Wars, all of which are tied together to lead right into Revenge of the Sith.  Here is Labyrinth of Evil.  You'll notice General Grievous behind Anakin...  Stay tuned in the next couple of month as I'll continue to post the lead-in titles and the correct order to read (and view) them, and which of them you should bring with you to your line-party opening day.  Anyone wishing to join my line-party should email me and come on down.  No exact location yet, but figure on Westbury or Farmingdale.

 

 

I've put up a new page for personal thoughts, essays and articles.  To kick off the new Roots of the Swamp Thing site, I've written an essay on the Swamp Thing series.  It actually turned out pretty acerbic and will likely prove controversial.  You can check it out here.

9/3/04 Hey all you fathers out there!  Are you bringing up your kids right!?  Are you making sure to feed them their monthly dose of Star Wars comics!  Check out these pictures of the exemplary dad and remember: Good reading habits begin early and the best reading begins with Star Wars!

That's Jared Libsman reading Star Wars Tales! His father Carl demonstrates what it means to be a true Star Wars fan, imparting his love of reading and Star Wars to his then 3 year old son.  Incidentally, this particular issue features a great story by mutual friend Rich Handley!  You can pick up the latest issue of Star Wars Tales at your local comic book store! 

9/02/04 I've discovered that a few who had visited my site, but who didn't know much about fantasy literature, were getting a little lost.  To alleviate this problem and aid future visitors and lost souls, I've altered my 'About TimelineUniverse.net' page.  It's now more like a FAQ.  Check it out here.

9/01/04  Theforce.net reported some good news from Sue Rostoni (of LFL fame) regarding future Star Wars books: 

There are 18 books in the new contract and 9 of them are set post-NJO. Three or four will be post Ep3, 2 (as of the moment) will be Old Republic. One may be post Ep4. This leaves two others that are yet to be decided. The three or four post Ep 3 will not feature Luke, Leia, et al, as they're kinda young at that time. The two (at least) in the Old Republic will have new characters and situations. This is a good mix of characters and settings, old and new. I like the Old Republic era and hope those two undetermined books (2008 titles) can be set there.

8/26/04 Update on Star Wars news:  Contrary to what I reported yesterday it appears that the DVD releases of Droids and Ewoks be released as if they were feature-length films (note the running time for each is around three hours).  So, no these will not be released per season as most of us expected, but as $14.98 "double-features," which essentially means that several episodes will be compiled by storyline into each feature.  Note, that while similar to the videos that were released a few years ago, the DVD will have an extra storyline of material (which means practically double the episodes from the old video).  I just hope they reinstated the original opening soundtracks for both Droids and Ewoks (both videos had deleted the memorable and bizarre opening songs). 

While not as angry as yesterday (when I mistakenly thought they were releasing two episodes per disk), I would still have preferred these released by season as that is how the current DVD market releases episodic TV and animated television programs.  I imagine that LFL wants these to be presented in movie-length formats, which I can accept, however, I'm curious how they're going to handle the second season of Ewoks (which were written as shorter, non-connected episodes).  Between Ewoks and Droids there are 50 episodes -- 35 for Ewoks and 15 for Droids -- so one more disc should complete the Droids episodes and a few more for Ewoks.  Look for these on 11/23/04.

 

8/23/04 At long last...

... is online ... And well worth the wait!  Click above to go to the Green!

8/09/04  Any Star Trek fans out there?  Any real Star Trek fans out there?  Well, if so, my friend and author of several articles and short stories (as well as the upcoming Roots of the Swamp Thing), Rich Handley, is offering for sale the rare and never reprinted UK Star Trek strips!!  Click here to learn more!

Well, here are the pics you've all been waiting for.  Betcha can't wait for December now! 

This is obviously the Deluxe version with Minas Tirith statue.  Stay tuned for release dates!

8/04/04 More Star Wars comic book news!  (as reported from ComicCon 2004 at Rebelscum.com and picked up on Theforce.net):

Clone Wars Adventures - There are currently three volumes planned. The first issue debuted earlier this month and focused on the Jedi Knights. The second issue is still being decided, although it will reprint the Free Comic Book Day story for those that may have missed it. The third issue will feature the Clone Troopers.

Republic - The Clone Wars will continue by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema. One upcoming storyline will feature Honoghr, the planet of the Noghri! Fans of the Expanded Universe may recall the creatures' appearance in the Timothy Zahn novels, and their history will be explored in this storyline starring Aayla Secura and Clone Commander Bly.

Empire - The focus will be taken off the Imperials for awhile, and instead focus on the heroes of the Rebellion. The Empire is not gone, as their presence will still be felt throughout the series.

Star Wars Tales -
As previously reported, issue #21 will kick off the new format. The first issue will have a story from the Republic era, a story from the Empire era, and a New Jedi Order tale starring Kyle Katarn!

General Grievous - The new face of evil will get his own 4-issue mini-series by Chuck Dixon and Rick Leonardi. No details on the story yet, but this series is expected just prior to Episode III's release.

Obsession -
As previously reported, this 5-issue mini-series by Haden Blackman and Brian Ching will focus on Obi-Wan Kenobi's quest to bring Asajj Ventress (last seen battling Obi-Wan on Rattatak) to justice. This series will have ties to both the third season of the animated micro-series and the Labyrinth of Evil novel.

Revenge of the Sith - The official adaptation of the upcoming movie will be presented by Miles Lane and Doug Wheatley. Naturally, story details are still under wraps, but this adaptation will run 4 issues and a collected edition will be available before the film's release.

Dark Horse Holocron - A series of books collecting everything Dark Horse has published into omnibus collections, each volume running 200-400 pages. For example, the entire
Dark Empire series would be available in one volume. Not much is known beyond this, as it is still in the planning stages. May not be the final title.

7/27/04  Updated Star Wars news below.  Yes, the Ewoks cartoons will be released on DVD along with the Droids animated series.

7/25/04 It's official!  Star Wars Episode III will be called:

 This comes as very exciting news (particularly to me as this was the title I had predicted and was rooting for waaaay back when) as it creates the perfect link to Episode VI's Return of the Jedi.  But there's even more great Star Wars news:

 

 

Another reminder, if you don't know it already, the Official Site's Hyperspace site (that's the one you pay for) has upped the ante making it impossible for me not to now subscribe.  Believe me, I was fighting it for a long time, but this I cannot refuse.  In a short while (by Autumn), Hyperspace will be featuring four new online daily comic strips!!  You heard it right.  Two will be brand new strips, one of which will be written by Paul Ens and set during the conflict of the Clone Wars, and another an adaptation of existing books (as yet unknown) which will be penned by none other than Star Wars continuity guru (and all around great person) Pablo Hidalgo!  On top of that we will get reprints of the old newspaper strips (unformatted which has only ever been seen in Russ Cochran's long out-of-print three volume series) and more!  In all, the price for Hyperspace is no longer looking so terrible (especially when you factor in the year's subscription to the Insider).  Click here for more info.

 

Speaking of comics, if you haven't been reading the latest Clone Wars issues, you're seriously missing out on the best Star Wars has to offer.  Go now and pick up these amazing titles:

 

 

This digest-size issue comprises three separate Clone Wars tales told in the style of the animated series, and they are excellent, action-packed and beautifully illustrated!  Obi-Wan and Anakin are trapped on a night planet and pursued by the Shadowmen in "Blind Force"!  In "Heavy Metal Jedi" Mace Windu and Saesee Tiin must pool their different talents to face off against the Separatists most fierce droid creation yet!  Finally, Kit Fisto continues his adventures undersea (as seen in the Clone Wars animated series) as he must search the depths for the mysterious leader of the Separatists on Mon Calamari in "Fierce Currents".

 

 

 

An instant classic!  One of the best tales of the Clone Wars and one of the most powerful Star Wars stories ever told.  Yoda heads off to Thustra, a pivotal planet in the Republic's war against the Separatists, and home to his old friend, King Alaric, who has chosen to side with the enemy.  Yoda's quest to find a peaceful solution to the ever-worsening conflict may be hampered by a web of Machiavellian plots and deceits that even he cannot unravel.  While there is no shortage of action, this is first and foremost an intelligent and thought-provoking story that deals with perspectives and principles. It also serves as the perfect bridge between Episode II and III poignantly demonstrating the results of the Jedi's continued allegiance to the Republic, and their unknowing adherence to the manipulations of the Dark Lord of the Sith.  Author Jeremy Barlowe and artist Hoon together weave a beautiful and tragic tale of betrayal, grief and lost ideals set against the epic conflagration of the Clone Wars in a galaxy far, far away....

7/8/04 Lots of great new Star Wars titles out this month.  Check out the following titles:

 

As you can see from the cover, Tales #20 completes its run with some humorous shorts, including two interesting (and in-continuity) episodes in the lives of young Luke and Lando.  As has been mentioned before, Jeremy Barlowe will take over from Dave Land on Tales #21 which will label each story as to their respective era in continuity (or Infinities).  That certainly will save fans the guesswork as to what goes where (and arguments with pedants who mistakenly believed every story in Tales was Infinities and haven't read this article).  Jeremy's a big Star Wars fan (and a great writer), so we can be sure to enjoy his run on this great title!

 

 

If you haven't yet, pick up the new Clone Wars Adventures.  This was released this past Saturday as a special promo for Free Comic Book Day (which also means it's bound to become a collector's item).  It marks the start of a new digest-sized series based on the popular Clone Wars cartoons.  If this issue is anything to go by, this will be a great series that should tide you over until the new season of cartoons debuts on Cartoon Network on 3/21.

 

 

Finally, if you love Mace Windu but haven't been reading the comics, you're missing out on some of his most exciting adventures.  Following shortly on the heels of Shatterpoint, Show of Force part 1 (Republic #65) featured Mace and a team of Jedi have infiltrating the Bounty Hunter's Guild in order to put a stop to the bounties being placed on Jedi.  Unfortunately for him, the bounty hunters have penetrated the disguise and are not taking the disruption lying down.  Count Dooku and Quinlan Vos make guest appearances as well in this action packed conclusion taking place in the midst of the Clone Wars.

 

 

 

Return to the Gateway