Monthly Archives: May 2016

Dear Asajj Ventress,

 (Beware of Spoilers)

I’ve just finished reading Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple, a canon novel based on a  story arc that never made it to TV because The Clone Wars was canceled. Now I wonder how audiences would’ve taken the news that you die at the end of your story when you saved your lover, Quinlan Vos, and former enemy, Obi-Wan Kenobi, from Count Dooku’s force lightning. Quinlan and Obi-Wan buried you on Dathomir, home to your people, the Nightsisters. At first I was sad and disappointed that you died instead of living happily ever after with Vos. But when your body was dipped into a pool, turning it green and the voices of your long deceased sisters welcoming you into their fold, was heard, I felt a sense of triumph. After all the years of pain and suffering you endured and afflicted on others, you were finally at peace. And you were reunited with your family.

Let me go back a bit. OK a lot. To 2002, after the release of Attack of the Clones. There was a book by Mark Cotta Vaz called The Art of Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones. On one particular page there was concept art of a grey-skinned, bald woman drawn by Dermot Power. He explained that he wanted this character to be a successor to Darth Maul for all the female star warriors but instead George Lucas went with the character now known as Count Dooku. No matter. It didn’t stop me from drawing a profile picture of you from the book.

And then you made your debut as Asajj Ventress in 2003 with Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars. 

I watched the micro-series with excitement as you snarled your first famous line: “Jedi! Their order is a fading light in the dark. Corrupt and arrogant. They must be punished. The jedi shall fall!” Then you lured Anakin closer to the dark side with one of the most memorable lightsaber duels since Yoda fought Count Dooku on Geonosis. You lost that fight but you went on wreaking havoc in the comics.

Then there was a second Clone Wars series in 2008 where you caused more murder and mayhem even getting a scene cut from cartoon network because it was deemed too sultry for young viewers. But it was in this show we learned that you had a tragic past. You were ripped from your mother as a youngling and sold into slavery. You were eventually freed by a kindly jedi knight named Ky Narac, yet tragedy hit you again when your surrogate father was killed and you were orphaned once again. Your pain drew you to the Dark Side and into the guidance of sith lord Count Dooku where you were a scourge of the Republic. But eventually Dooku betrayed you and left you for dead. You just couldn’t catch a break! But you made your way back to Dathomir, vowing revenge and exciting times lay ahead. Katie Lucas wrote some of the best epsiodes of Clone Wars involving the Nightsisters – Force sensitive women who practiced the dark arts – and she admitted in the introduction to Dark Disciple that she loves writing stories about you. We fans had only been familiar with these mysterious women through Dave Wolverton’s Legends novel, The Courtship of Princess Leia and the 1985 TV movie Ewoks: The Battle For Endor. But now we would see, for the first time, how the Nightsisters operated as a society. As a student of warrior women history and folklore, I couldn’t have been more intrigued to see TGFFA’s take on the Amazon archetype.  We also have you to thank (indirectly) for giving us back Darth Maul (shirtless of course).

But, alas, your quest for vengeance failed. Your experiment, Savage Oppress disobeyed you. Dooku slaughtered your sisters and you escaped but were alone yet again. Nevertheless you forged on and became a bounty hunter. It was through this unlikely job that your inner goodness came through. In The Clone Wars season 4 episode “Bounty”, you saved a young girl from a forced marriage after listening to her pleas for freedom. You also won our hearts further when you helped our favorite Togruta, Ahsoka Tano, clear her name with the Jedi Order. 

Which brings us back, full circle, to Dark Disciple. The Jedi Council ordered Jedi Master Quinlan Vos to go incognito as a bounty hunter, team up with you and convince you to help assassinate Count Dooku. Sadly this led to disaster as you and Vos went down the path of the Dark Side and it nearly lost you the love of your life. But your better nature and intuition came through when you let the light side of the Force flow through you and show you the way to redemption. With this newfound enlightenment, you not only convinced Vos to come back to the light side, you also saved the soul of the Jedi Order by convincing them that assassination was not the Jedi Way.

Some would accuse Lucasfilm of making you another woman in a refrigerator so as to push a male character’s story forward, but I disagree. You had taken the lives of others, so eventually you would have had to repay their lives with yours. But the difference between you and other “fridged” women is that you went down fighting and you made your choice knowingly and confidently.

You lived as a criminal in the eyes of the Republic and died as a hero in the eyes of the Jedi Order. By forging your own path, you taught us that we are not bound by destiny but by choice. You started off innocent, turned corrupt and then redeemed yourself. But you were always, Asajj Ventress, one of the most multifaceted characters to ever emerge from Star Wars. In hindsight, I’m glad Lucas stuck with his original decision.

Rest in peace, Asajj.

And may the Force be with you.

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Anthology Films We’d Like to See #5: ‘Alderaan Reborn’

This is a story suggestion I submitted to Clone Corridor about the continuing saga of the Skywalker family. This character has been in my mind for years and I’m open to any story suggestions.

Clone Corridor

Today we’ve got another instalment of Anthology Films We’d Like to See, this time from The Lady from Planet X, go check our her blog where she writes about TV shows, books and, of course, Star Wars. This one is about one of my favourite planets, Alderaan, and it not only focuses on a generation even further removed than the one we’re seeing now in the Sequels. It also works on the basis of the old Expanded Universe, which is fun, and I love the idea of a healer, rather than a warrior, a a hero. The story is also partially based on the Starkiller action-figure below.

Alderaan Reborn
by
The Lady from Planet X

60 years after A New Hope, Ben Skywalker’s daughter and Luke Skywalker’s granddaughter, Nehmiah is following in her father, grandfather and great grandfather’s footsteps as a Jedi Knight. She has Luke’s sandy-colored hair and…

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Do As Peggy Says: Support “Agent Carter”

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So the inevitable happened: ABC cancelled Agent Carter. Why? Because of “low ratings”. How were the ratings for Agent Carter were any lower than the ratings for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a show that (according to some fans) has indecisive storylines and started off weak, yet got stronger (depending on who you ask) as seasons went on? Was it because it was given a chance? Agent Carter, on the other hand, started off with critical acclaim, broke ground and won the hearts of nerd girls (and guys) everywhere. Even the second season, which divided fans, still had much to offer and left us with a juicy cliffhanger. If the show had such low ratings then why were there two online petitions to save the show? Maybe ABC aired the show in an inconvenient time slot (Tuesdays at 9 PM are iffy for me. I often had to use Hulu to catch up). Maybe ABC didn’t promote the show enough. Haley Atwell signed on to do a different show. Have you seen the trailer yet? Ugh. Just, ugh (barf).

But let’s not just sit around and mope. We are geeks and nerds! We have the brains and the imaginations to show and spread our love for our favorite secret agent so she will never be forgotten.

1. Sign Dat Petition

You’ve heard on the internet about that petition on Change.org to continue the show on Netflix. Sign that thing.  Think that won’t be enough? Go to abc.go.com, scroll to the bottom of the page, click on contact and a new window will appear (“feedback”). Select the box that says: “Select Your Issue”. Click on “abc programming feedback”. Give them your first and last name, email address, state and zip code. Select “Marvel’s Agent Carter” for “Select Show or Category”. Then select “I like this show because” and give your reasons. Even persuade them to move the show to Netflix. Then submit. If you feel that’s not enough, write to Marvel comics and Disney and complain (I’d provide contact info but I can’t find any. If you can provide info, it would be appreciated).

2. Buycott Peggy

Her Universe has four Agent Carter t-shirts. Here they are:

 

           10408048_hi   10577026_hi  

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Teepublic.com also has some great shirts. Collect them all.

There’s also this FunkoPop! Peggy figure:

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You can buy one from Hot Topic or your local comics shop if they carry one.

Season 1 is available on DVD at Amazon.

3. Make Your Own Peggy Stuff

Do you have any hobbies? Can you sew? Knit? Make jewelry? Paint? Sculpt? Then put your talents to good use and make some Peggy-themed stuff to show off to your friends, family and fellow fans. If you want to take your Peggy love a step further, sell some of your stuff online, or at your local convention so that others will join you in celebrating the awesomeness that is Agent Carter.  I make jewelry so I plan to make some Peggy pendants using pictures printed from the internet, bezels and magic gloss (aka resins). I will display the final results on Tumblr.

So now it’s your turn. How will you express your love for Peggy and the gang? Sound off in the comments. I’d love to hear your ideas.

 

 

 

 

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“Jodorowsky’s Dune” Film Review

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After a year (or more, I forget) of waiting, I finally saw the much-talked about documentary about the so called “Greatest Film Never Made” on Amazon’s video service. The verdict: while the documentary was interesting, I felt that in the end Jodorowsky wouldn’t have done Dune anymore justice than David Lynch did.

Let me back up a bit. In 1975, Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, embarked on an ambitious 14-hour adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal SF novel Dune (a book that needs no introduction). Jodorowsky hired some of the most visionary minds, his “spiritual warriors” as he called them, to work on the conceptual stage of his pet project: Jean Giraud (Moebius), H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, Dan O’Bannon, Pink Floyd and Magma. The actors he wanted were Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger and Amanda Lear. But no studio would back the film financially, nor distribute it and the project fell through.

So in 2014, a documentary film was released to selected theaters and rave reviews. Jodorowsky showed us storyboards and concept art of characters, locations and ships. There were interviews with H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, Gary Kurtz, Brontis Jodorowsky, Amanda Lear, Diane O’Bannon and even various film critics and filmmakers. But there was something that bothered me throughout the film.

Most of the participants never read the book. Even Jodorowsky himself admitted he hadn’t read it:

I didn’t read Dune. But I have a friend who say to me it was fantastic.

And then Chris Foss says this:

I still haven’t read the book. No. I have no idea what the actual story is. None whatsoever. It all came through Alejandro and the script. So as far as I’m concerned, the story of Dune is what Alejandro told me it was.

The only person who was familiar with Dune was Amanda Lear, who had to explain the novel’s plot to Salvador Dali when he agreed to play the part of Emperor Shaddam IV. This sadly brought to mind a quote by another director who attempted a film adaptation and failed miserably:

Interviewer: Dino DiLaurentis came to you or brought to you Dune the project before you were even fully aware?

Lynch: I had never read…never even heard the word. I thought he said June. 

So if Jodorowsky didn’t read the book what deviations did he take from the novel’s plot?

Well for starters, there’d be no romantic relationship between Duke Leto and Lady Jessica because he’s a eunuch. That’s right, he castrated. So how would Paul have been conceived? By a blood sample Jessica takes from Leto and somehow inserts into her birth canal…

Moving on.

Another scene involves Leto’s death. It involves Piter deVries (referred to as Peter in the film) hacking off the Duke’s limbs, asking “where are they?” (Who? Is he referring to Jessica and Paul and why would the Baron even care about their whereabouts?) with the Baron finally beheading him when he refuses to answer. No poison tooth here.

Then there’s the finale: Paul dies. He’s beheaded by the Harkonnen’s/Emperor’s forces and while they’re gloating, Jessica and every Fremen on Arrakis chants in unison (in Paul’s disembodied voice): “I am Paul, I am Paul, I am Paul,” while the planet becomes lush with plant life, drifts out of its orbit and happily spins into oblivion. This, once again brings another quote, this time from the voice of the master himself, Mr. Herbert:

Paul was a man playing god, not a god who could make it rain.

At the conclusion of the film, Jodorowsky had this to say:

I changed the ending, evidently…I did that. It was my Dune. When you make a picture you must not respect the novel. It’s like you get married, no? You go with the wife…you take the woman, if you respect the woman, you will never have child. You need to open the costume and rape the bride. And then you will have your picture. I was raping Frank Herbert, raping, like this! But with love, with love!

This statement is wrong on so many levels. No, you don’t have to be faithful to a book, scene by scene, word by word because, a) it doesn’t always work and b) it turns people off from reading the novel. But when you’re making a film adaptation of a book, you HAVE to respect your source material or else fans of the book will feel that disrespect emanating from your film and will turn those who haven’t read the book off from seeing your movie. Second, it isn’t “your Dune“, Mr. J, it’s Frank Herbert’s Dune. How would you feel if someone did a remake of El Topo and radically changed it so that it was El Topo in name only? I doubt you would like that. And finally, and most importantly, rape is NOT romance. It’s violent, it’s misogynistic, it’s about power, control and domination. Marriage is supposed to be built on respect or else there’s no love. Children are not a necessity, they’re an expression of a husbands and wife’s love for each other. The Bene Gesserit wanted Jessica to bear girls for their breeding program but Jessica instead had a boy. Why? Because she loved Duke Leto.

Lynch and Jodorowsky, two members of the Surrealist Movement, got it wrong. Dune has philosophy, religious themes, soliliquies and characters with visions but it’s not a mind-bending book. It’s actually straight-forward in it’s storytelling which is why it’s still read and loved to this day. Herbert wrote an anti-messiah story warning us about the dangers of putting too much faith in leaders (rumor has it he partly based Paul on John F. Kennedy. In his book, Eye, he blames JFK for the Vietnam War). But ironically these two filmmakers took it too literally. But that’s what happens when your not familiar with your source material. Some more appropriate SF material for surrealist filmmaking would be Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick’s later titles or any works by the authors of the then burgeoning Cyberpunk movement.

After watching this movie, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that Dune doesn’t need a moving picture adaptation. I will from now on just stick happily to the book and many, many artists’ depictions.

For further reading: “Big Worms And Big Fish: Jodorowsky, Dune And Jodorowsky’s Dune

 

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