JJ Abrams Hates Midichlorians

Now that I have your attention, let me go on to my real topic.

Disney/Lucasfilm/Abrams/Prequel Bashers have been making a big act of everything that will make The Force Awakens “different” than the prequels. They highlight “more practical sets,” focusing on the original actors and the…well, they’ve got two major characters who are CG so I guess that one flies out the window.

I’ve highlighted this tremendous act of pandering while podcasting, but it’s really gotten under my skin again. JJ Abrams did some press for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation where he once again highlighted that his approach to The Force Awakens emphasizes the Original Trilogy, as opposed to the Entire Saga or including the Prequel Trilogy in specific.

Even more specifically, he replied emphatically “no” when asked if midichlorians will be featured in the new movie. He made news earlier by saying that he treated only the Original Trilogy as “canon,” a favorite abuse of a religious term by fans when referring to the affirmed officialness of works in their preferred stories.

OK, fine. We get it.

I’ll remind everyone that this is no guarantee that the movie’s going to be the terrific work of wonderfulness that everyone expects. The same fans that are lining up to hand out back-alley pleasure trips to Abrams for his sentiment are the same ones that savaged him over the development of LOST, attacked him for his use of lens flares in the Star Trek Reboots, and have otherwise found a mountain of reasons to belittle his work.

But this time, it’ll be different because he says the things that the people who dislike the prequels like to hear!

It Makes Sense Anyway

Plenty of people had trouble coming to terms with the fact that Lucas split the Force into the Living and the Cosmic Force, playing even more on the Buddhist philosophies that everyone claims they knew to influence him but never actually read anything about.

It’s like the people who know that Lucas read the works of Joseph Campbell but never read them on their own. Or who don’t know that Leigh Brackett actually died after handing in her first draft of The Empire Strikes Back and Lucas co-wrote that one, too.

But I digress.

It makes sense that midichlorians aren’t featured because each trilogy has its own flavor so far.

I understand The Force Awakens may shape up to be little more than a reboot of the original series, or it may succeed in becoming its own story. But that’s the point. Each trilogy is supposed to stand on its own while serving the other. The midichlorians pertained most heavily to the Prophecy of the One Who Will Bring Balance, and played through the works set in that era.

But Stop Dismissing Those Who Like/Love the Prequels

For Pete’s sake, there was a time when I introduced the prequels to someone who’d never seen them they not only cried at the end of Revenge of the Sith but, when we continued to the original Star Wars, they mentioned unprompted how much more depth there was to Obi-Wan and Vader’s Death Star confrontation. Of course, to support those that love the originals only, I should have alerted them that their opinion was shameful and should be ignored.

Let me highlight an important point. There are those of us who love the Originals, the Prequels, and The Clone Wars TV series. We’re fans of the whole package. It doesn’t make us better, but we do exist.

All of this bend-over-backwards-bulls*** to appeal to “old school fans” is kind of like a middle finger to those of us who have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the things that came from Lucas himself. Is there some coded dismissal of our opinions?

I suppose that’s just fine since their focus is to “sell” the new movie. I suppose also that they know they’re going to get people “like me” in there anyway.

If you keep treating the other pretty face too nice, you’re going to piss off the one who’s been with you all this time.

Relationships 101, that is.

Flashback Blog: Why I Love Grievous

It’s pretty self-explanatory. However, it’s also fun to look back and see how “prophetic” I was about the greatly expanded role Grievous would enjoy in the not-yet-airing Clone Wars series that’s now de rigueur viewing for any serious fan, and even reclaiming fans who’d turned their back on the franchise.

In a nutshell, I love Grievous for one basic reason…but then it’d be more fun to have you read my thoughts as I laid them out little more than five years ago.

Fun side note. Apparently I posted this for the first time on the one-year anniversary of the release of Revenge of the Sith, also the sixth for The Phantom Menace. Neat coincidence!

Enjoy!


Flashback Blog: Why I Love Grievous

Originally posted May 19, 2006 at the original kessel korner.

General Grievous – a character that could have gone oh, so wrong and completely wrecked a terrific film. A completely CG main character, but not a good guy this time – a major villain. Considering that the villains had to be the ones to make Sith shine, this was an incredibly risky move. I’ll share with you here why I think he worked so well.

First and foremost, he was not cookie-cutter. He was not yet another calm, completely-in-control bad guy. We had that with Dooku. We had that with Palpatine. In Episodes IV and V, we had it with Vader. No, Sith needed a different ingredient – a villain that harkened back to the Snidley Whiplash-type, moustache-twirling villain who always got away just when it seemed they were about to be smashed by the heroes.

Grievous was a lot of fun. There is a sense of whimsy about him – a machine that has all the trappings of a failing human body. A cheesy, 1930s vampire accent. A cough that was explained to the die-hards, and left completely open to interpretation to the casual viewer. In short, he had a real character about him; he was more than the sum of his lines.

He gave Obi-Wan a chance to shine on his own. The fight with Grievous on Utapau established, without a doubt, that Obi-Wan was one bad mammajamma. Few people have the wherewithal not only to face an 8-foot cyborg, but remain calm about it.

And finally, because of the fight itself. I had a friend nitpick my review of King Kong, accusing me of showing fan favoritism; I had picked on Kong because of its ridiculous over-the-top action – he’s fighting a dinosaur! No, two! No, wait, three!

“Well,” my friend reasoned, “it’s no different with Grievous and the four sabers.”

“That’s not true, it is different,” I protested.

“Just because you’re a fan,” he retorted. My friend thought this was witty. I realized that he fell back on an argument everyone loves to use when I defend a piece of one of these films. The “He-Lost-Perspective-Because-He’s-A-Fanboy” argument.

At that time, dinner was served and we had to table the discussion. I had no chance to prove him wrong at that moment as he so richly deserved- my wife listens to enough Star Wars jabber that when she called us to the table, I chose to drop the discussion.

Well, here is my formal reply. (Since I am sending a link to this out to him, I’d like him to know that no matter how wrong he was that night, I forgive him.)

The Obi-Wan versus Grievous fight starts out with Grievous’ arms splitting into four, wielding lightsabers like a “windmill of doom.” Had it worked where the fight started with one saber versus one, then escalated to two, three and finally four, I would agree with my friend.

But it does not. The fight takes the opposite approach, with Obi-Wan calmly disarming Grievous (a pun!) of two of those sabers and the fight eventually boiling all the way down to a hand-to-hand match. A straight-up, honest-to-goodness fight, with two opponents simply doing everything they can to stop the other’s heart. Like a real fight to the death would be.

No rules, no flashy steps, no twirling like a gymnast. Just two opponents throwing down with anything and everything they can use, or that’s within arm’s reach. The fight is actually a move in restraint, because instead of starting small and building up to craziness, Lucas got the craziness out of the way and then boiled it down to mano a mano. A seeming lesson to other filmmakers that you can practice restraint, and wisely.

On top of that. the hands-on fight was filmed…with one actor and a CG character. That’s just frickin’ cool. Find me one other film that has ever had such smooth hands-on interaction between a CG character and a live person. There is none!

Sure, it’s unfortunate that Grievous only appeared in one of the films. But you know what? Cameo excepted, Tarkin was a character who had a part of consequence in one film only, and it’s okay to like him.

So Grievous has quickly and decidedly rocketed up my list of favorite Star Wars characters, and is likely to stay entrenched there for some time. I even bought one of his action figures to add to my “pantheon of evil” (I collect only cool bad guys and Jedi) and placed him next to Tarkin.

Here’s hoping we’ll get more Grievous in the TV show that takes place during the Clone Wars era – I suspect we will.