Pandora's Hope

I was watching TV the other night when a commercial caught my eye. It's the exceptional ad that does this, since I usually have commercials muted so I can focus on constructive things instead. In this case, I immediately recognised, entirely against my will, the iconography of planet Pandora from James Cameron's Avatar, a movie I never saw. I was wondering if this meant we were getting an imminent Avatar sequel and was just beginning to ponder the ramifications of that before the true purpose of the commercial became clear: Opening in May of this year in the Animal Kingdom park of Walt Disney World Resort will be Pandora: The World of Avatar, an entirely new land attraction that seeks to create the world of the beloved film in physical form.

My first thoughts were, unironically, “well, that's going to do incredibly well” followed soon after by “this seems like a good fit”. Though the religiously ecstatic paean to CGI that is Avatar at first glance seems like a strange fit for the ostensibly environmentalist tone of Disney's Animal Kingdom, the connection seems like a much more intuitive one if you look at it deeper for ...

An Increasingly Inaccurately Named Trilogy: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

The standard line about the original trilogy is that Return of the Jedi is its weak link. It will surprise nobody to learn that I’m suspicious of this logic, which is at its heart rooted in an aesthetic that says that big reveals like Vader being Luke’s father are good and Ewoks are bad, but it’s nevertheless worth recognizing that Return of the Jedi is the one film in the original trilogy that’s markedly improved by the presence of the prequels. This isn’t a new observation - it’s at the heart of the famous Machete Order, which suggests putting the prequels between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and which basically prompted this entire series with its argument for why you should skip The Phantom Menace while doing this, which was the immediate cause of my remarking that prequel criticism was generally worse than the prequels themselves.

The problem that Return of the Jedi has on its own merits is Luke’s constant assertion that there’s still good in Darth Vader, a claim that not only lacks justification in the films but is actively unjustified by the sheer degree that Darth Vader is an ostentatious force of pure evil ...

Shabcast 29 - Wheelers Beware Girls Who Ask Questions

The Shabcast is back.

Shana guests again, to talk about 80s fantasy cinema classics Return to Oz and The Neverending Story.

 

Download here.

Hyrule Haeresis 6

There was a child once long ago who went into the woods outside Kokiri Village. The child was looking for someone, and was very sad because all of their friends had gone away, and they thought that they didn't have any. As it came to be, these woods were enchanted, and it was said strange and mysterious things happened to those who travelled through them. Some of the village people thought these woods had been the dwelling-place of the Old Ones in the time no-one could remember anymore, and that their spirits and memories still haunted those same woods.

The child searched high and low, near and far, but couldn't find any trace of the person they were looking for. Then, the child found a cave inside a hill they had never explored before. Supposedly, this cave opened up into a gigantic hole, and the child fell in. That was the last anyone ever heard of them. Some say the child found the kingdom of the faeries who are thought to live inside that hill, and that it was those same Good People who raised that child, and that they remain inside that hill to this very day ...

Tuesday Tunes?

The_OA Exegesis is on hiatus this week, as Jane is driving across America.

But you can always listen to this, like I've been recently -- it's kind of fun given that "away" rhymes with OA.  Suddenly, it's like the singer is speaking to her or something, which gives it all a different sort of (yet somehow related) context.   

See you next week.

An Increasingly Inaccurately Named Trilogy: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Ring theory - essentially the best read on the interrelationships between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy to date - is based around nested correspondences among the films. The fringes of this, which pair Return of the Jedi with The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith with A New Hope, are an inherently tricky business, with its interpretations standing in opposition to the more intuitive approach of reading The Phantom Menace and A New Hope as roughly analogous. But the middle, in which Attack of the Clones and The Empire Strikes Back are read as fundamentally related films, is a rock solid bit of interpretation that pays considerable and rewarding dividends.

The most obvious similarity is structural: both films spend their middle sections alternating between two roughly equally weighted storylines, to the point where they very clearly have two protagonists, in this case Luke and Han. This is most interesting in terms of Han, whose upgrade to co-lead serves as confirmation of his moral centrality to whatever the saga is doing in this second trilogy. And in this regard, the most interesting thing about The Empire Strikes Back is its ending, with Han encased in carbonite. Sure, it’s not the ...

Love in the Time of Empire

Spoilers 

Orson Krennic, director of the Death Star project, is a middle manager type who has achieved a position of authority above his abilities, possibly owing to his pre-existing relationship with engineer Galen Erso.  He climbed the greasy pole owing to his association with a brilliant technician, and their partnership working on a prestige project.  He’s ambitious and unscrupulous, but also essentially inadequate.  He spends the entire film playing catch-up, being bounced between various superiors, looking for recognition, taking his frustrations out on others, and generally failing. 

Tarkin’s attempted usurpation of Krennic’s control over the completed Death Star looks like a cynical power-grab, but could as easily be seen as a sensible management move.  As Tarkin correctly notices, Krennic is not suited to a command role.  In any case, Krennic’s shocked outrage is ludicrous given that this is just how the Empire works.  His own successes come from appropriating the work of others, yet he has the temerity to feel aggrieved when his own work is appropriated.  Moreover, the usual way you rise in the Empire is by showing more ruthless unscrupulousness than the other ambitious drones.  You ‘work towards the Emperor’, and fuck over any competitors as ...

Myriad Universes: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine The Next Generation Part 4: The Enemy Unseen

The Othersiders are gloating at having captured Data, Odo and Deanna. They order them to drop their weapons, which they do, but not before Data sets them to overload, causing yet another terrific explosion. The scattered away team uses the opportunity to kick massive amounts of ass, with Data punching people square in the gut with the full brunt of his android strength, Deanna unleashing sick karate moves and Odo turning into an awesome sludge monster to dispatch the rest. In sludge monster form, Odo praises Deanna's fighting skills in a tone that, if I didn't read him as asexual and aromantic, could almost be construed as a come-on. Deanna brushes it off by saying Worf trained her.

On Deep Space 9, Miles and Geordi have figured out what's causing the Wormhole to throw a fit. It turns out it's being assaulted by a certain kind of waveform, being broadcast simultaneously from two different stations: One in the Alpha Quadrant and one in the Gamma Quadrant. Miles figures that if they could knock at least one of those out, the Wormhole would go back to normal. Captain Picard doesn't want to send another away team ...

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