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Jar Jar Binks Confirmed for Episode VII

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson
Return of the Chaos

Return of the Chaos

Director J.J. Abrams promised a new hope for the Star Wars franchise when tapped to continue the saga in next year’s Episode VII. That hope may have just faded like the cryptic spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Producers today announced that wayward Gungan klutz Jar Jar Binks will return to the series, playing “a significant role” in the 2015 release. This from the official Star Wars website:

Disney and Lucasfilm are excited to announce that Star Wars: Episode VII, directed by J.J. Abrams, will welcome the return of children’s favorite Jar Jar Binks…

“We think there’s more story to tell,” said Abrams. “His arc was never fully resolved in [Revenge of the Sith]. Every other major character either died, went into exile, or otherwise positioned for their role in the original trilogy.”

Since Jar Jar did not appear in George Lucas’ original films, the creative team behind Episode VII felt that an opportunity presented to reprise the character in a new setting.

“We understand that for many older fans who experienced the prequels in adulthood, Jar Jar wasn’t the most popular character,” confessed executive producer Kathleen Kennedy. “But kids liked him. They really did. And these films have always been directed primarily at a younger audience.”

Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who returns to the series with a pedigree penning The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, indicated that Jar Jar won’t be precisely the same Gungan we remember. “It’s been 50 years since last we saw him. Even a creature like Jar Jar matures in that amount of time. He has the same heart, but a little more grace and wisdom.”

So what do you think? Has the new trilogy just jumped the sarlacc?

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Will Tomorrowland See A Makeover From ‘A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away’?

Saturday, January 11th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Tomorrowland

Back in the summer, I wrote about the rumors that Disney has plans in the works for a Star Wars-themed land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. So far, we haven’t seen anything more substantive than those rumors. But since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, fans and theme park experts alike have speculated how the company would fold its new acquisition into the theme parks. Now, rumors have begun to swirl that Disney is planning a rehab of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland influenced by the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII.

The typically reliable MiceChat recently offered up a full update on Disneyland’s traffic numbers during the Christmas season (up!) and the park’s plans for the future. For those who like change, there’s apparently good news. Some of it is definitely coming, but it may not happen as quickly or be as drastic as Star Wars fans may have hoped. On the bright side, however, much of it may involve specific details from Episode VII, as the Disneyland crew recently was given a rundown on the plot and new characters that will be introduced to incorporate into their designs.

Apparently, the Tomorrowland remodel has been split into two phases… The first phase will involve relatively simple cosmetic alterations. The Astro Orbitor, [sic] that giant eyesore little kid’s ride pictured above, will be ripped out, along with the deserted track from People Mover. The buildings will also all be redone to look like a giant space port. Then, down the road, phase two will involve scrapping Autopia and replacing it with a speeder bike ride, putting some kind of spaceship walk through on the People Mover track, installing a new Astro Orbitor [sic] closer to Space Mountain and more, all positioned in the backhalf of Tomorrowland.

For Star Wars fans, this rumor (sorry, regardless of the source, it’s still just hearsay) could generate some excitement, and hopefully it will lead to changes at Walt Disney World as well – whether the changes be to  Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom or to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Adding a long popular franchise that just happens to be part of the Disney family into the parks is a wise move for both the creatives and the business people.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the comments at the end of the article, where commenters complained that a Star Wars patina is a bad addition to Tomorrowland, since the films take place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Of course, these folks have lost sight of the fact that Tomorrowland at both American parks isn’t exactly futuristic today. Imagineers have given Tomorrowland in both California and Florida – along with portions of Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea – a charming retro-futuristic vibe, influenced by science fiction from Old Hollywood as well as the works of Jules Verne. Art Deco flourishes abound throughout both lands, and other touches show a decided 20th century sense of style. It’s not strictly futuristic, but it is a distinct feel for these lands.

The bottom line is that Disney knows what it’s doing. The success of the Star Tours attraction and the Star Wars Weekends events demonstrate that Disney’s partnership with Lucasfilm paid off handsomely long before Disney bought the studio. I can’t help but believe that adding a bit of Star Wars influence to Tomorrowland (and a Star Wars Land at Hollywood Studios – please, please, please) can pay off even more.

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College Football Star Lets His Geek Flag Fly

Monday, December 16th, 2013 - by Chris Queen

Chris Conley

On Saturdays in the fall, Chris Conley puts on a uniform and goes into battle, where his legs and arms serve as weapons. The wide receiver at the University of Georgia will finish up his junior season on January 1 at the Gator Bowl, but once the season ends, Conley will don a different uniform and brandish a different type of weapon. He is organizing a light saber duel for friends at UGA to film:

Other than his No. 31 jersey he wears for the Georgia football team, the junior receiver has a Star Wars Jedi costume he will break out on special occasions. Like when he wore it to the Gym Dogs’ meet against Alabama on Feb. 2.

“It was pretty epic,” Conley said. “I was dressed as a Jedi and we had two Storm Troopers.” But he is hoping it’ll come in handy again sometime soon.

Conley is trying to organize lightsaber duels on UGA’s campus with other fellow Star Wars fanatics. His campaign to get production of the fan film going began on Twitter.

[...]

“I’ve actually had a lot of response,” Conley said. “A lot of people really want to do this. It’s something I’m kind of spearheading. It’s been a goal of mine before I graduate. This is just for me, just for fun. All of the people who are involved like that sort of thing and we accept our nerdiness.”

Conley began tapping into all of his possible resources. He recruited a Georgia football videographer — Frank Martin, who has overseen the production of the Bulldogs’ pregame hype videos, such as A Letter for Larry and Awaken The Nation — has been out shopping for props to build lightsabers and has continued to build his production team.

Conley doesn’t yet have a timeline for his project, but he and Martin are scouting locations, designing props, and recruiting participants.

The Bulldog star admits to being a fan of the Star Wars franchise since he was a kid – along with the rest of his family – and he freely admits his geekdom:

“My brother and I got into the games and into the some of the Star Wars history outside of the movies and I’ve just been a fan of it ever since,” Conley said. “I’ve been a big guy who prides myself on remaining who I am regardless of who I’m around or how old I get. It’s something that I like and regardless of what people tell me, if it’s frowned upon or not. It’s me.”

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Study: Being Born Without a Father Leads to Anger, Hate, Suffering

Friday, December 13th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson
"There was no father." And we all know how that worked out.

“There was no father.” And we all know how that worked out.

Anakin was doomed from the start, being born as he was by the will of the Force, and not by the seed of a present father. So we may conclude after considering a recent study from the journal Cerebral Cortex. Here’s the summary from The Christian Post:

The absence of fathers during childhood may lead to impaired behavioral and social abilities, and brain defects, researchers at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada, found.

The researchers found that the mice raised without a father had abnormal social interactions and were more aggressive, compared to the mice raised with a father. The effects were stronger among daughters than sons.

Being raised without a father actually changed the brains of the test subjects. The research found defects in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which controls social and cognitive functions, of the fatherless mice.

Mice were used because their environment could be controlled to ensure that the effects of fatherlessness were measured accurately. Plus, their response apparently proves “extremely relevant to humans.”

The real finding here affirms the human capacity for needless studies to confirm what plain sense makes clear. Kids need their Dad.

As a father of young children, I have been struck by the profound sense of gender identity inherent in even the youngest child. My six month old responds differently to men and women, snuggling up readily to the latter, and employing more caution around the former. My four year old presents different challenges to my authority than to that of his mother, and endures different challenges from each of us in return.

Here’s the deal. We had all the findings we needed on this topic when we first discovered that it takes one man and one woman to make a child. I’m not sure how much more we’re going to learn from mice.

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All I Want for Christmas Is Anything But the Hillarytrooper

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

HILLTROOPER

No.

Just no.

Not even I’ve been naughty enough to deserve one of these in my stocking.

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cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Why Disney Brings New Hope to Star Wars

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

vader-emperor-mickey

Star Wars holds a sacrosanct place in my heart, as it does with so many among my generation. As we’ve grown up, its mythology has served as a ready reference, shaping our perception of the world. Good and evil, light and dark, rebel and tyrant – while its moral dichotomy may prove simplistic, the struggles in Star Wars nonetheless resonate with conflicts we face in real life.

Anything which has such influence over a child, sparking imagination, shaping morality, and stimulating aspiration, ascends to an object of reverence. It becomes something we carry around with us (some more literally than others) and cling to like a sacred idol. A kind of theology develops around it, with conflicting doctrines advanced by competing denominations of fandom. So it is with Star Wars. For that reason, any tinkering with the the saga’s mythology inevitably draws cries of heresy.

Betsy Woodruff of National Review went so far as to declare Star Wars dead, due in large part to the brand’s acquisition by mega-corporation Disney. Citing George Lucas’ own introspection regarding his Vader-like transformation from ragtag rebel of the film industry to head of his own corporate empire, and detailing her experience trying out for a role in director J.J. Abrams’ forthcoming Episode VII, Woodruff concludes:

Here’s why Star Wars is dead: First, because they made a huge mistake in not casting me. Second, because it’s no longer in the hands of a bunch of nerds in California and because it’s been entrusted instead to the kind of people who think eight-hour meet-and-greets are a good idea either as A) publicity stunts (or, giving them the presumption of good faith) B) a good way to determine who’s going to be the next Luke Skywalker. It’s because Star Wars — a story that’s profoundly anti-centralization, anti-bureaucracy, anti-depersonalization — is being micromanaged and scrutinized by nameless bureaucrats who think that people who’ve stood in line for five hours will be satisfied with being directed to a website. And it’s because a film enterprise that was initially about risk is now about bet-hedging. No one should need to be told that the seventh film in a franchise probably isn’t going to be super great. But, you know, just in case, consider yourself warned.

Consider me a fan of another denomination. While the next film in the franchise may indeed bomb, it won’t do so for the reasons Woodruff cites.

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Disney Parks Will See A Greater Star Wars Presence

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 - by Chris Queen
(L-R) Bob Iger, Darth Vader, George Lucas

(L-R) Bob Iger, Darth Vader, George Lucas

Ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm just over a year ago and announced a new film trilogy, fans of the expanding Star Wars universe have sat on the edge of their seats awaiting a release date for Episode VII. Now we have a date – December 18, 2015, and the announcement became the talk of Hollywood last week.

The same day as the announcement, Disney CEO Bob Iger appeared on Blooomberg TV’s Street Smart to talk about Episode VII, as well as the increased presence that Star Wars will have at Disney’s various theme parks:

The only thing I can share which, actually I don’t think we’ve really talked about much, is that there is a fair amount development going on at Disney Imagineering right now to expand the Star Wars presence in California and in Orlando and eventually in other parks around the world… It’s probably likely that Star Wars will be more than in just our two domestic parks.

Iger made a similar (but more vague) statement back in May:

In addition to the Star Wars feature films that we’ve already talked about, we’re also working on opportunities for television and our parks. It’s still very early in the process.

What will this mean – individual attractions? Meet and greets? Or perhaps an entire Star Wars Land at the parks? (I’ve said for a while that a Star Wars land somewhere like Disney’s Hollywood Studios would generate far more excitement and interest than the Avatar Land in the works at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.) In March, the company surveyed guests at Disneyland to gauge their interest in a Star Wars land, and I wrote about swirling rumors back in June. The success of Star Tours 2.0 in the American parks, as well at Tokyo and Paris, along with the annual Star Wars Weekends in Orlando and Anaheim, suggest that the idea of a Star Wars land isn’t that great of a gamble.

Obviously, this situation continue to develop, but as both a Disney fan and a Star Wars fan, I’m excited at the idea that Disney Parks will see something in terms of an increased Star Wars presence. Stay tuned – as I learn more, I’ll pass it on here.

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Disney Plans To Phase Out Star Wars And Marvel-Themed Slot Machines

Monday, November 4th, 2013 - by Chris Queen

Star Wars Slots

In the last few years, Disney has made some of the boldest corporate moves, purchasing Marvel Studios in 2009 and Lucasfilm in 2012. In both cases, the company quickly incorporated both acquisitions into their brand, making and planning films and increasing their presence in theme parks and on television. Disney is also ensuring that both Lucasfilm and Marvel fit in with the company’s family-friendly reputation, announcing last week that they will phase out Star Wars and Marvel-themed slot machines over the next few years, according to The Guardian (UK).

A Disney spokeswoman told the NY Times the decision to phase out gambling machines linked to its recently acquired brands had been in place for some time, but was only now being made public. “Marvel discontinued plans to initiate or renew slot machine licensing arrangements as part of its integration with Disney,” the spokeswoman said. “The handful of remaining licence agreements have expiration dates within the next few years.” LucasFilm would follow suit, though it might take several years for branded slot machines to disappear altogether.

Taking on the lucrative gambling industry is nothing new to Disney. The company has fought attempts to bring resort casinos into Florida for several years, despite the protests of critics.

Disney is particularly determined to fight the proliferation of gambling in Florida. “We oppose the legalisation of so-called destination resort casinos because this major expansion of gambling is inconsistent with Florida’s reputation as a family-friendly destination,” said Andrea M Finger of the Walt Disney World resort.

Competitors, however, argue that Disney fears competition more than gambling. Michael A Leven, whose Las Vegas Sands Corporation hopes to open a casino in south Florida, told the Times: “Disney’s internecine warfare against integrated resorts in Florida under this pretence demeans them significantly.”

What do you think? Is Disney right to align its brands with a family-friendly focus? Is the company’s battle with the gambling industry a fight against the inevitable?

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The Empire Strikes Back Screenwriter Back on for Star Wars VII

Friday, October 25th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

empire_strikes_back_large_verge_medium_landscape

Best. News. Evah:

J.J. Abrams and “Star Wars” veteran Lawrence Kasdan have taken over screenwriting duties on “Star Wars: Episode VII,” replacing Michael Arndt, who was originally hired to pen the project.

“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a ‘Star Wars’ story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.”

If it weren’t for Kasdan’s script and Irvin Kershner’s direction, The Empire Strikes Back would have been a Lucas-infested and disappointing sequel. Instead, it’s inarguably the best movie of the original trilogy.

I have a new hope for the upcoming sequels.

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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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This Is Why They Made an Internet

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

TRAP

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Star Wars: The Market Strikes Back

Thursday, July 11th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson
swtor

Can’t we all just get along?

Not too long ago, on a server far, far away, I marveled at the cooperation between sworn enemies. Pitted against each other on the frozen planet of Ilum, Jedi and Sith extended each other a civil courtesy, working together toward mutual benefit.

This unlikely truce occurred in the massively multiplayer online game Star Wars: The Old Republic. Set thousands of years before the films, the game welcomes players to create characters loyal to either the Jedi-guided Galactic Republic or the evil Sith Empire. Players spend hours progressing their characters to a level cap beyond which the focus of gameplay shifts to large scale cooperative operations and player-versus-player combat between the two factions.

The developers designed Ilum as a stage for the latter, an open world player-versus-player environment where Republic and Empire funnel into close proximity. The design presumes that members of the opposing factions will attack each other on sight, simply because they can. However, that commonly does not happen. Jedi and Sith often leave each other alone, going about their respective business.

The planet hosted a recent in-game event including a kind of capture-the-flag scenario where players from both factions were tasked with collecting orbs and depositing them in a central goal zone. The act of depositing took three and a half seconds and could be interrupted by enemy players. A successful deposit triggered a minute long lockout of the goal zone. The developers’ intention was to encourage a contest over the goal zone, where players vied for the chance to deposit their orbs.

Instead, an understanding soon developed between enemy players. All soon realized that it was easier to cooperate and take turns depositing the orbs than to fight over the goal zone. So it came to pass that Jedi, Sith, troopers, smugglers, bounty hunters, and Imperial agents could be seen waiting patiently in single-file for the chance to complete their individual missions.

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Hot Disney Rumor: Is Star Wars Land Coming To Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 - by Chris Queen

Star Wars Weekends

Ever since The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm – and all that goes with it – last fall, the rumor mill has buzzed with gossip that Star Wars would have a greater presence in Disney’s theme parks. Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris already boast the thrilling, recently updated Star Tours attraction, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando hosts the popular Star Wars Weekends every May and June, where fans from across the galaxy gather to take part in special events and meet the films’ stars and cartoons’ voice over artists. Some kind of Star Wars themed land would be a natural fit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

As a longtime Star Wars fan, the mere possibility of a Star Wars Land in Florida thrills me infinitely more than the Avatar themed land already in the works at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But can it be that such an ambitious project could become a reality in a few short years? The grapevine is working overtime on this one, and the speculation comes with an interesting amount of detail.

Robert Niles over at Theme Park Insider seems pretty confident in proclaiming a Star Wars Land:

Multiple sources have told me the long-awaited dream of theme park geeks everywhere is actually happening. Disney’s moving ahead with both Cars Land and Star Wars Land at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.

From what I’m hearing, Cars Land will replace the Lights, Motors, Action auto stunt show as well as Catastrophe Canyon on the southern edge of the park, providing a logical extension to the existing Pixar Place.

[...]

So what about Star Wars Land? The logical places for that expansion would be on either side of the existing Star Tours ride. From what I’ve heard, it appears that the expansion would take out the area between Star Tours and the auto stunt show stadium, including the Muppet theater and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area. But I’ve also heard of consideration of going in the opposite direction, which would place the new land on the site of the Backlot Express restaurant and Indiana Jones stunt show theater. Given that the Indy theater’s used for several other events throughout the year, and that both the Muppets and Honey I Shrunk the Kids attractions long ago passed the height of their popularity, I’m hearing more forceful arguments for the first option.

This appears to be a five-year project, putting completion in 2018, though Disney could choose to throw money at it and accelerate it by a year.

Star Wars fan blog TheForce.net confirms the buzz, adding an anonymous source:

Speaking of Star Tours, it seems like that attraction will be receiving upgrades as part of the Star Wars land. “Expect to see new levels added to Star Tours and some more interactive attractions, possibly an additional ride,” my Disney source said. However, my source added that “most of the expansion will be environments and character meet-and-greet areas.”

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Folly of the Jedi

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

830px-Knightfall2

Love them or hate them, the Star Wars prequels prove by comparison why the original trilogy boasts such universal appeal. We love Luke, Han, Leia, and their ragtag band of rebels because they act from a profound moral conviction. They pursue liberty at any cost, and defy tyranny with admirable resolve. The prequel heroes, by contrast, spend a lot of time wringing their hands.

Over the course of the saga, Skywalker and son operate as essentially the same character presented in different contexts. Despite enjoying the collective instruction of the entire Jedi Order, Anakin falls to the Dark Side. Conversely, his son Luke adheres to the Light despite coming of age in dark times.

Upon due consideration, the prequels reveal that the Jedi Order was the true phantom menace. They took an innocent child with earnest moral impulses and turned him into a deeply conflicted, morally confused time bomb ill-equipped to deal with reality. Surely, the Sith were evil. However, despite an alleged moral dichotomy, so were the Jedi. Our recognition of their error makes it difficult to regard them as heroes and thus care about their plight. In the end, the teachings of the Jedi led directly to Anakin’s fall and the galaxy’s plunge into darkness. Perhaps that’s a large part of the reason we don’t care for their story that much.

The Jedi of the Old Republic operate from a disturbing moral ambivalence, fully personified in Grand Master Yoda and reflected to lesser degrees in the rest of the Council and their knights. At the close of Attack of the Clones, after reluctantly deploying the titular army to counter a clear and present separatist threat, Yoda rebukes Obi-Wan for regarding the outcome as victory.

Victory? Victory, you say? Master Obi-Wan, not victory. The shroud of the Dark Side has fallen. Begun the Clone War has.

Therein lies one of the distinguishing characteristics of the prequel trilogy, an aversion to war among its heroes. From Queen Amidala’s initial refusal to “condone an action that will lead us to war,” to Yoda’s above noted refusal to acknowledge a moral mandate to destroy aggressors, the prequel protagonists spend most of their time trying to weasel out of conflict – and thus exasperate it.

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5 Star Wars Games Which Need to Get Made Already

Thursday, April 4th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

 

New boss, same as the old boss. So gamers may come to regard Disney since its acquisition of the Lucasfilm family of companies, including video game developer LucasArts. Sitting on a rich catalog of intellectual properties including Star Wars and Indiana Jones, LucasArts should be at the forefront of the gaming community. At times, they have been. But recent years have left much to be desired.

The pairing of Disney’s acquisition with the looming transition to a new generation of gaming consoles presents an ideal opportunity to reinvigorate the brand. In a way, the lull in development from LucasArts in the past several years sets the stage for an all-the-more-impressive breakout. Here are 5 Star Wars games which need to get made already:

5) Remastered X-Wing Series

Steam led the way as a project pioneered by game developer Valve toward abandoning discs in favor of digital distribution. Now an established marketplace for titles from a variety of developers, Steam welcomes players with the latest new releases and a catalog of retro titles, many of which can no longer be played through conventional means.

As one example, Steam offers a large collection from LucasArts, including the Jedi Knight series, some classic Indiana Jones adventures, and the first and second Knights of the Old Republic role-playing epics. However, one franchise is conspicuously missing from the developer’s catalog, the X-Wing series of space combat simulators.

X-Wing, Tie Fighter, X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, and X-Wing Alliance were once sold as a collection on CD-ROM. Each entry offered a compelling combat experience more akin to a flight simulator than an arcade game. Players had full control over the minutia of their spacecraft, able to direct energy between shields, weapons, and engines, all while targeting enemy subsystems and approaching missions creatively. The series was enormously popular, inspiring a major expansion to the Star Wars Galaxies online experience which offered similar gameplay.

For each passing day that the X-Wing series remains unavailable on Steam, a LucasArts executive should be fired. Releasing these games as digital downloads is an absolute no-brainer. Practically effortless aside from some paper pushing among lawyers, the move would provide LucasArts (and parent company Disney) with profit-bearing revenue on day one. That said, the opportunity exists to remaster these classic titles with updated graphics and modern network capabilities. There’s an entire generation of gamers who have never had the pleasure of experiencing X-Wing. Updated versions of these bar-setting titles would fly off the virtual shelf.

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Heroes, Villains, Stormtroopers and More Photos from the 2013 Dallas Sci-Fi Expo

Monday, February 11th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

The Dallas Sci-Fi Expo wrapped up on Sunday, February 10. We snapped photos of some of the best, most creative and most disturbing costumes of the show. Click on a thumbnail below to view photo galleries. They’re divided into Girls, Groups, and Guys.

        

You can see more costumes from the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo here.

We interviewed Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer, here.

And ran into MickeyDeadMau5Trooper here.

 

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Meet the Unholy Spawn of Disney + Lucasfilm

Sunday, February 10th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

This thing caused a stir this weekend at the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo. I call it…MickeyDeadMau5Trooper. I saw it coming up the escalator and had to grab some video before it got away.

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The 5 Most Underrated Pop Culture Heroines

Monday, December 31st, 2012 - by Leslie Loftis

Recently, I argued that we like heroines who act like men and so writers construct stories enabling women to physically compete. So what about the female characters that don’t act like men?

If writers don’t have a female character fight for herself and by herself, then we typically ignore them. Sometimes we ridicule them. If given the opportunity, we rewrite them. Then, we complain that there aren’t enough of them. There are many, and the comment thread on the last article mentioned a few. These are my favorite five.

5. Princess Buttercup, The Ignored Heroine

In The Princess Bride, Buttercup lives on a farm and falls in love with a quiet and dedicated farm boy. The boy, Wesley, goes off to seek his fortune so he may marry Buttercup, but his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Buttercup despairs for Wesley’s death. Years later, the prince of the land choses her as his bride. Powerless to refuse him, she agrees. Soon, Wesley returns and rescues her and the land.

Targeted by an evil prince for her beauty, but with no physical way to resist him — no superpowers — Buttercup relies on her courage and wits to keep the prince and his henchmen at bay until help arrives. With Wesley’s help she escapes and together they save the kingdom from a needless war. But she got rescued and does not physically fight. She engages in elegant verbal sparring, of which I’d provide a video clip, but I can’t find any of those scenes online. They aren’t popular enough that anyone thought to upload them. I’ve rarely seen Buttercup mentioned as a feminist favorite even though The Princess Bride‘s cult following rivals Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s. Strong-willed and spirited she might be, but she’s just not manly enough to merit much attention.

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The 5 Most Overrated Pop Culture Heroines

Monday, December 3rd, 2012 - by Leslie Loftis

Even while women devour the Twilight books and flock to the recent release of Breaking Dawn 2 most revile the series’ heroine Bella Swan. The savvy modern woman prefers the vampire-slaying Buffy Summers. As a fan of both the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight franchises, I think that we have this partially backward and that the Buffy v. Bella arguments common on the web underscore dangerous assumptions about women. Feminists have co-opted Buffy and the female superheroes for the gender wars in order to perpetuate their illusion of no differences between men and women.

Conventional wisdom tells us that women can do anything men can. With rare exception owing to strength or stature, this is true. But we don’t always want to do what men do, and even if and when we do we have to account for our biology. Sometimes it is the strength and stature deficit, sometimes it is our heavier role in reproduction. The feminist intelligentsia thinks this unfair, so, couching their advice in terms of equality, they tell us to ignore biology. Accordingly, the female heroes who we admire today are the ones who work around reality.

It is great that we have heroes who happen to be women, but we mistake them as role models for womanhood. Five pop culture heroines to illustrate my point:

5. Hermione Granger, The Maligned Hero

Hermione helps Harry Potter figure out how to defeat the evil wizard Voldemort and, at great personal sacrifice, she accompanies Harry on his final quest.

As a role model for womanhood she is the best of this list. She shouldn’t even appear but for what we like about her. The oft-cited favorite Hermione part in the movies: when she punches Draco Malfoy.

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Over eight films loaded with powerful women defying evil—Luna Lovegood, Molly Weasley, Lily Potter, Narcissa Malfoy—that inconsequential punch makes number six of the 50 greatest moments. What was a slap in the book was rewritten as the crowd-pleasing punch because we like it when a woman acts like a man, which is ironic considering the next most overrated heroine, Wonder Woman.

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VIDEO: Man Dressed as Charlie Brown Proposes with R2D2 Engagement Ring

Saturday, November 10th, 2012 - by PJ Lifestyle Humor

Hat tip: Buzzfeed

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Related at PJ Lifestyle:

George Lucas Confirms It: The Star Wars We Loved Never Existed

In the New Star Wars, Will Mickey Mouse Shoot First?

Are Star Wars, Hunger Games, and Pride and Prejudice Anti-Cult Cult Movies?

5 Reasons Star Wars Actually Sucks

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VIDEO: Disney’s Re-education of Princess Leia

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 - by Jonathan Sanders
YouTube Preview Image

Now that Disney owns Star Wars, clearly Princess Leia needs a little “re-education.” Lucky for her, the others willingly teach her the Disney Way.

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Related at PJ Lifestyle:

Disney Buys LucasFilm For $4.05 Billion

In the New Star Wars, Will Mickey Mouse Shoot First?

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In the New Star Wars, Will Mickey Mouse Shoot First?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 - by Bryan Preston

Disney is buying up the galaxy far, far away.

The Walt Disney Company announced today it has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm and is planning Star Wars Episode 7 for 2015! In a later conference call, Disney revealed that they are planning a new trilogy starting in 2015 with a new movie coming every other year. They were also asked about “Indiana Jones,” but said that they were going to concentrate on the “Star Wars” franchise for now. This is following such big purchases as Pixar and Marvel Entertainment.

At first blush this sounds like horrible news. Outrageous, even. But giving it a second thought, it’s probably the only thing that can possibly save Star Wars.

George Lucas has absolutely destroyed that franchise. He tinkers with the good ones and the prequels were disasters for the storyline. The only part of it that still holds any interest to me, a Star Wars fan since Han actually did shoot first, is in the games. The Force Unleashed was solid and probably more than half of the LucasArts games have been worth playing. The Battlefront games were pretty good. But the movies…eh. Out of the six, two and a half are still watchable. The prequels aren’t among those.

To kids, Star Wars is not cool. I don’t know if it was the prequels or the Clone Wars stuff, but kids now just don’t pay the whole thing any mind. I tried watching the Clone Wars series just to see if it was worth my time. It covers an interesting part of the story but the way it’s done is somewhere south of meh.

Can Disney make it any worse? Possibly, but not probably. They want to make money and they’re very good at not wrecking properties that they acquire. If you’re worried about Disney cartoonifiying Star Wars, well, Lucas already did that. He also made it political and ham-handed and kind of stupid. Lucas selling to them at least means that he’ll stop tinkering with everything that has managed to survive his butchery. It also means that we’ll actually get a new Star Wars movie directed by someone who knows how to direct real live people in a couple of years. Maybe Disney will hire Spielberg or Joss Whedon to direct one. Disney owns Marvel, Whedon did The Avengers. It could happen.

So after the initial feeling of outrage wore off,

If Disney fixes Star Wars, great. If not, well, I didn’t sink $4 billion into the swamps of Degobah.

Update: Heh, look who else is buying stuff. Obama is buying ads in Michigan for very different reasons than Disney bought Star Wars.

*****

Cross-posted from PJ Tatler.

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Disney Buys LucasFilm For $4.05 Billion

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

via DISNEY TO ACQUIRE LUCASFILM LTD. | The Walt Disney Company.

Burbank, CA and San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2012 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”

This is fantastic news! Disney purchasing Lucasfilm is akin to buying a drunk driver’s corvette before he smashes it up again. It looks like Mr. Lucas’s Wild Ride has now concluded.


 

Related at PJ Lifestyle:

George Lucas Confirms It: The Star Wars We Loved Never Existed

Are Star Wars, Hunger Games, and Pride and Prejudice Anti-Cult Cult Movies?

5 Reasons Star Wars Actually Sucks

VIDEO: Mark Hamill Confesses He Wants Obama as His New Obi-Wan Kenobi

A Dog Wearing an AT-AT Walker Costume From Empire Strikes Back

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Welcome Back to the Woman Wars, Camille Paglia…

Saturday, October 13th, 2012 - by Leslie Loftis

The quality of discourse for women today is poor. The many and varied reasons for this will make a post for another day, but for the moment, note that the Mommy Wars and hookup culture discussions might be heartfelt but rarely resolve anything.

Notable recent examples of unproductive chattering: Naomi Wolf has created a new range of vagina puns with her anecdotal account of her technicolor orgasms in her latest book Vagina. The Life of Julia is a left-looking faceless cartoon claiming that women need government to take care of them. (I linked to Iowahawk’s parody because the original is too depressing.) Hanna Rosin seeks to convince us that replacing domineering men with domineering women amounts to positive progress. And a fan fiction author addicted to “shouty capitals,” E.L. James, captured the imagination of women across the English-speaking world with a poor specimen of a bondage novel that has since spun off a line of sex toys with little Fifty Shades of Grey logo tags. (British comment threads are always informative. Why pay for trademarked logo pleasure balls when limes work just as well?)

Missing has been someone to show how absurd this all is. We, the most privileged and independent women in history, find those discussions compelling? Sure, the Right has been pointing out the absurdities in such discussions for a while, but we are written off as the bigoted and biased Other. Feminist thought needs some honest criticism from the inside.

Re-enter Camille Paglia, the “pro-sex, pro-porn, pro-art, pro-beauty, pro-pop” sixties feminist and heavily published art and culture critic, quiet for the past few years while writing her latest book due out on October 16th, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars. Our debates suffered from her absence.  

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The 7 Most Overrated Blockbuster Movies of the Last 20 Years

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 - by John Hawkins

As a capitalist, it’s tempting to say that box-office receipts are a better judge of a movie’s worth than Hollywood award ceremonies. However, that ignores the sad reality that Americans sure do love some crummy movies. We’re not even talking “good crummy” either, like a fun zombie or chop socky flick; we’re talking “bad crummy.” Big-budget, high-powered, star-filled atrocities that bank hundreds of millions of dollars despite being average at best and mediocre at worst. Like, for example….

7) Inception

2010: Adjusted Domestic Gross — $295,152,300

Admittedly, in a theme that you’ll see repeated multiple times on this list, the movie looks great. It’s really cool to watch city blocks folding over on each other like a crisp dollar bill. The problem is that’s the only thing that makes the movie worth watching. Yes, it’s pretty… but it’s barely watchable, pretty garbage. The plot is dumb, the characters aren’t likable, the movie is full of overly forced action, and the rules the filmmakers come up with for their invented world are nonsensical. It’s almost like the CGI version of what’s going through someone’s head right after he takes bath salts, but right before he starts to eat people.

Inception explained

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