Category Archives: review

Gearing up for the fourth season of The Clone Wars

Season four of The Clone Wars begins this Friday night on Cartoon Network with an hour-long two-episode special: ‘Water War’ and ‘Gungan Attack’. The Mon Calamari homeworld is engaged in a civil war that becomes part of the larger wars with the involvement of a new Separatist villain, Riff Tamsen, siding with the Quarren. As with many of the episodes from the latter half of season three, these episodes will be forming a larger story arc, with the third course of Mon Calamari being served up on September 23. Amy Ratcliffe has a spoilery review from the premiere showing. With this season’s theme of “Battle Lines,” you can certainly see from this story arc that season four is bringing more of the wars to Star Wars.

As we count down the final days to season four, I decided to get ready by re-watching the finale from season three: ‘Padawan Lost’ and ‘Wookiee Hunt’ and was amazed again at how fantastic the show is. Here are a few of my favorite things from season three:

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Book reviews: Speak Wookiee, Darth Paper and standalone The Jedi Path

Every year, the publishers try to come out with fun books that the long-suffering relative of a Star Wars fan can grab as a nifty gift. Since the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier each year, it’s no surprise that you can start getting a few of them right now.

How to Speak Wookiee is a really cute board book with sound board. You get a Wookiee-shaped sound board with ten phrases that you can use to get on everyone’s nerves by playing them over and over. The illustrations by JAke are adorably cute with lots of funny details. And the write-ups by Wu Kee Smith made me laugh out loud. Knowing bookstores, they’re probably lurking in the childrens’ section, but it’s worth the hunt.

Darth Paper Strikes Back is the follow-up to the surprise hit The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. The adventures of our intrepid middle school students (from Ralph McQuarrie Middle School) continue with a case study of Dwight’s suspension from school, as told by various witnesses. Adults should not blow off this book because it’s set in middle school. It’s very cleverly written. Always funny. And it will have you hurtling back to your own middle school days in no time. (Okay. Maybe that’s not really selling this.)

The Jedi Path has been released in book form without the nifty bells and whistles of the “vault” presentation box and its various trinkets. But you really don’t need the extras. This book is really well done, with a nice combination of serious background information and hilarious written notes from its various owners over the years. If you missed the high-end one, don’t miss this one!

It’s just the beginning of the onslaught. And while you’re there, don’t forget your Star Wars calendars!

Review: LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace

LEGO Star Wars -The Padawan Menace: Visiting Mos Eisley

Turning to Star Wars for comedy value is nothing new – in the past few years, three Family Guy parodies and three Robot Chicken specials have mined the saga for laughs. But LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace breaks some new ground for Star Wars entertainment: not only is it funny and full of jokes, it also tells a new adventure that builds on both the classic and prequel trilogies. It breaks from the style of the LEGO Star Wars video games by having the characters talk rather than just use gestures and non-word vocalizations, but it would be slow to tell a story if all the dialogue had to be pantomimed. The Padawan Menace in two words, stolen from one of the younglings: Totally Awesome! Continue reading

The Clone Wars review: ‘Citadel Rescue’

If nothing else, Season 3 certainly has lived up to its tagline. Secrets were revealed all over the place – secrets about the Sith, secrets about the Separatists, secrets about the Hutts, the Clones, and of course, the Force. There’s also been some cool action, some very impressive animation, and a whole bunch of memorable new characters. (Are you there, Hasbro? It’s me, Stoogey. My request is the same: an Arok the Hutt figure.) The one thing that’s been missing has been emotion, and if it takes a death or two for me to feel something like I felt in Season 2… well, bring on the carnage. And spoiler alerts – bring those on, too. ‘Cause they’re needed. Continue reading

The Clone Wars review: ‘Counterattack’

“This is some rescue. When you came in here, didn’t you have a plan for getting out?” Last week’s episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, entitled ‘Counterattack’ shows what happens when the best-laid plans of mouse droids and men hit reality. As the middle story in the Citadel arc, its parallels to Leia’s rescue on the Death Star build up – and then take a different route as the Sith hits the fan. Continue reading

The Clone Wars review: ‘The Citadel’

The problem with the whole “Secrets Revealed” idea is that the marketing campaign feels compelled to reveals all the secrets before the show gets a chance.  This episode is a good example – the late introduction of Captain Tarkin was clearly supposed to be a surprise, a sudden twist that makes the story seem much more important… at least for us old-school fans.  (Despite everything I hear about The Clone Wars being the only Star Wars kids know – and it’s true, if my daughter and nephews are any indication – this season proves that the writing staff also cares about the older demographic.  The past seven episodes, for example, only make sense if you’ve seen the movies and read some EU.)  But because the Cartoon Network promos decided to spotlight Tarkin, and the news broke online even before that, it wasn’t so much of a Big Reveal as a Big Wait For The Reveal. Continue reading

The Clone Wars review: ‘Ghosts of Mortis’

Two weeks ago, Star Wars: The Clone Wars wrapped up the three part story arc involving the Father, Son and Qui-Gon’s Ghost. Do good things come in threes? We’ve got three episodes, with three Jedi, and three Force wielders (err… two now!). ‘Ghosts of Mortis’ closed up the story of the Chosen One doing what a Chosen One does best, bringing balance by killing things. I guess important deaths do come in threes.

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The Clone Wars review: ‘Altar of Mortis’

One of the common criticisms of the prequel trilogy was that the movies were a bit too drunk on their own mythology.  The originals films, the argument goes, used Joseph Campbell to tell a story, while the prequels used a story to talk about Joseph Campbell.  It’s not a criticism that’s unique to the prequels (it was also leveled at Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the Matrix sequels, and more recently, Tron: Legacy), and I don’t think it’s completely fair… but it’s hard to deny that Uncle George laid on the symbolism pretty thick.  That being said, the mythological overtones of the prequels were apparently just a warm-up for this Mortis storyline.  The result is an episode that’s beautiful to look at, fascinating to analyze, and otherwise pretty dull.

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Book review: Troy Denning’s Fate of the Jedi: Vortex

After teaming up in Allies, relations between the Lost Tribe and the Skywalkers have turned a bit sour. Abeloth has been defeated, but the two sides are determined to keep secrets and double cross one another (both are good stalling tactics, after all). Luke and Ben tread dangerous ground, but it isn’t long before the pair is forced to flee the planet when they discover Abeloth did not die after all. Taking Vestara with them again, the trio travels to the moon of Pydyr to track down and destroy her, hopefully for the last time.

On Coruscant, the secret mission intended to aid Luke and Ben, has been stalled. The Jedi Council is increasingly growing tired of Master Kenth Hamner’s stubbornness. It becomes apparent that there’s something he’s hiding and the other Jedi Masters are fed up. When young Jedi begin recovering from their strange psychosis and Daala refuses to acknowledge this progress, the Jedi Council is especially convinced that rescuing Valin and Jysella Horn will accomplish one of three things: reassert the Council’s autonomy, discredit Daala, and serve as a distraction while the Stealth X-Wings deploy for Pyrdyr. As it turns out, Daala is the least of their problems. An unexpected friction arises that threatens to unravel the Council Luke has worked so hard to achieve. Continue reading

Book review: Introduction to Jedi Knighthood

I have a particular fondness for the independently-published Star Wars philosophy book. People are all over the board in how they see the Force and Star Wars and these books reflect that.

Jedi Manual Basics: Introduction to Jedi Knighthood by Matthew Vossler came across to me, from its description, as a book written for kids (another fondness of mine). But it’s actually a workbook for those wishing to study Jediism as a religion or personal philosophy.

Jediism has been gaining ground as a religion in recent years. This book lets you walk through the basic precepts and examine your own understanding of the Force through a series of studies and writing assignments.

I would have liked to see a bit more actual background over assignments. And the use of URL’s as reading assignments could be problematic as sites go down and change.  As a result, its usefulness in the long term is doubtful. But if you’re at all interested in Jediism, this would be an interesting way to explore it further.