Category Archives: review

Best of Star Wars in 2011: Comics

2011 brought us a plethora of Star Wars comics from Dark Horse. With 44 individual comic issues and 17 books (digests, trade paperbacks and omnibus collections), there was a lot for everyone, with nearly every era getting some stories. As part of Dark Horse’s 25th anniversary, the Star Wars lineup added some new titles (Jedi – The Dark Side, Darth Vader and the Lost Command, and Agent of the Empire), brought back some old favorites (Crimson Empire III) and finished up the Cade Skywalker storyline with the end of Legacy: War. Darth Vader and the Lost Command was Dark Horse’s bestselling Star Wars title of the year, which earned it a special hard-cover trade edition. While Haden Blackman’s tale of Vader on a mission filled with betrayal is a great story, I think there was another story that topped it to be the year’s best.

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The skimmed book review: Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Innovation

It’s that most wonderful time of the year! All those yummy coffee table books about Lucasfilm hit the shelves, hoping for that cool relative to come along who wants to finally get you something awesome. How about considering Industrial Light & Magic – The Art of Innovation by Pamela Glintenkamp? It’s been a while since anyone has updated the fabulousness that is ILM’s extensive record of movie history.

Ms. Glintenkamp had been hired by Lucasfilm to produce the Lucasfilm History Project. (Wouldn’t you like to get your hands on that?) So when the time came to update the history of ILM, she happily took the job.

While she does start out with a brief overview of the years up to 1995, the book’s true purpose is to document their work from 1996 through 2011. Included in the book are movies from each year that represent ILM at its most innovative and creative. (A complete filmography is included in the back.) The major movies feature quotes from the artists who worked on the films about advancements and challenges, as well as a list of any awards received.

But where this book excels is in the photography. Fantastic screen captures of their work make it really colorful and stimulating. Of course, being a Lucasfilm property, there is more extensive coverage of the Star Wars work. But special effects fans won’t be disappointed in any of it.

This is a must for ILM and special effects fans. As for others? It’s definitely a fine book, but if you have to be careful with your gift money, you might wait to see if it goes on sale.

The Clone Wars review: ‘Darkness on Umbara’

New characters on The Clone Wars are a double-edged… uh, lightsaber, I suppose.  On the one hand, they’re usually great additions to the cast.  But on the other, more mechanical hand, they’re often gone after one episode.  Several examples right off the top of my head: Mar Tuuk, Admiral Trench, and Master Sinube.  They came, they ruled, then they left, never to be seen again.  And each time, my fragile heart was shattered. Continue reading

The skimmed book review: The Complete Vader

Clearly, I need to take a speed reading course. I don’t know how anyone can quickly get through the coffee table books that seem to come out each year for your holiday pleasure. There’s always so much text involved. So why not just do a review on first impressions? For instance, the awesomeness that is The Complete Vader by Ryder Windham and Peter Vilmur.

This book basically takes you through the story and pop culture development of Darth Vader over the years; from his development to The Clone Wars television show.

In between? Awesome things inserted into the book. And I do love me the special books where they have things stuck in them. For instance, towards the beginning is a folder that allows you to take out a copy of the piece-by-piece instructions for putting on the Vader costume that was used for public appearances. (Sorry. Did I just crush some childhood dreams there?) And there’s also an early costume sketch that is all aged and faded looking, as if it was smuggled out of the Archives. And then there’s a look at the early toys associated with Vader.

And this is basically how the book unfolds. You hear about story developments in the years being addressed. Expanded Universe products. And the toys and pop culture  happenings.

My only complaint about the book would be its construction. The pages and inserts are so heavy that it exposes the binding; giving it a flimsy air. Although I don’t believe it’s actually flimsy precisely because it’s stitched in, instead of glued. However, this might turn off well-meaning relatives trying to get you that awesome holiday gift.

So is it worth getting and/or putting on your “Star Wars things I haven’t actually purchased” list for the holidays? Absolutely; especially for fans of the pop culture aspects of Vader. It’ll be a fun stroll down memory lane.

The Clone Wars review: ‘Nomad Droids’

“It’s a big universe out there beyond the few million planets you know,” Padmé tells Threepio at the start of ‘Nomad Droids’, last week’s episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And we got treated to a few of those strange new worlds as R2-D2 and C-3PO take an unintentional detour from the war. Although it feels like they passed through more of a bookshelf of classic children’s literature, only with some odd comments on politics thrown in.
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The Clone Wars review: ‘Mercy Mission’

Oh, Clone Wars, Clone Wars, Clone Wars.  What am I going to do with you?  Last week you dazzled us with one of the best episodes yet, and then this week we get… ‘Mercy Mission.’  But you know what would have been a real mission of mercy?  Not letting this episode air!  Hey-o!  Try the veal, tip your waitress, you’ve been a great crowd.

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The Clone Wars review round-up: shadowing ‘Shadow Warrior’

If someone tries to kill you, kill them right back.

Time to see what the rest of the galaxy thought of last week’s episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: ‘Shadow Warrior’. You probably already know how much I liked it from my review here on Club Jade. But what did other people think of the Grievous-skewering, Gungan-possessing, Anakin-zapping, something-spoilery-happens episode? Continue reading

The Clone Wars review: ‘Shadow Warrior’

Who's the Boss?

‘Shadow Warrior’ is a fantastic episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars – while only a half hour long, the story covered so much ground, and really captured the feel of Star Wars. It makes me wish that this storyline was spread out across two episodes, with the first half of the story (the Gungan plot) separate from the capture of Anakin and the prisoner exchange.

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The Clone Wars review: ‘Prisoners’

First, a bit of housekeeping: in the past, I’ve tried to keep these reviews mostly spoiler-free, so that a positive review might encourage new viewers to hop aboard.  But let’s face it… we’re in the fourth season already.  Either you’re watching the show or you’re not.  And certain episodes – like, say, this one – are such mixed bags that the only way to properly discuss them is by tackling the major plot points.  So, here we go.  Spoilers abound. Continue reading

Review: Pottermore needs more… servers

The interactive Harry Potter website Pottermore, announced in June, has finished enrolling its last beta testers.

I somehow lucked out on hitting the site when one of the Magical Quill qualifying rounds opened. This method involved having the hopeful answer a trivia question and then head to another webpage to find the magical quill. Click on it in time and you’re in! Continue reading