Original Saga,  Prequel Trilogy

Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid among guests at Star Wars Celebration Chicago


From StarWars.com:

“The Emperor is coming here?

Ian McDiarmid, the actor who unforgettably played the galactic mastermind behind the rise of the Empire, transforming from the manipulative, scheming senator from Naboo into the ghastly cloaked figure of Darth Sidious, will join fans at Star Wars Celebration Chicago this spring.

[…] You can purchase your autograph tickets beginning this Wednesday, February 13, at noon PST. […]

Star Wars Celebration Chicago will take place April 11-15 at McCormick Place. “



  • lovelucas

    But…why would we be buying autograph tickets if we don’t know who is actually attending????? When will we have some sort of confirmed guest list besides the one at a time dribble?

    • lovelucas

      Indeed he does, Cryo. I was able to have a nanosecond of conversation with him and not only did he agree that Hayden really has been unjustly treated, he said so to the thousands who attended his session. Flat out said he’s a good actor and has been brutalized by critics (but here he did not add…..fanboyz which we agreed happened in our conversation)

      • Cryogenic

        @ Love Lucas:

        Ah! I’ve heard him say that about Hayden. Maybe more than once. I remember him being supportive of Hayden and in praise of his talent during the release of ROTS. It was fantastic to see them back on-stage together at Celebration 2017. And Lucas, too, of course. In fact, when the two actors walk out on stage, to rapturous applause, Lucas says off-mic, “Dark Side rock stars”. Ian reports it to the audience. Very cool moment.

        Great that you managed to have a short moment with The Master himself!!! I’ve seen the pictures. I am sure he had been “expecting” you. 😀

        I’ve never met any of the cast, but…

        I saw Ian in a stage play in 2008. I was sat on the front row about three feet from him. It was amazing to be in his presence. I still remember how amazingly clear his voice sounded in-person. And before the intermission, a stage prop (one card from a deck) landed on my shoe/boot. I was very tempted to keep it, but I didn’t. Again, just being in The Master’s company for two hours (it was a two-man play) was joy enough. Not much else can compare.

        • lovelucas

          @cryo! You got to see Ian in probably is favorite format. I got so close to calling in sick and driving to Chicago when he was performing…shoulda….coulda…woulda….if people weren’t on vacation where I worked so I was doing my job and covering theirs. So glad I’m retired by now Ian back in your territory and I haven’t seen anything indicating he will be performing in the US.
          PS -skank that I am, I would have kept that prop.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @lovelucas @Cryogenic

        Lucky you two! I’ve never got to see someone from Star Wars in person. Even though, ironically, much of the previous film was made in my backyard.

        Sidenote: I offer very reasonable tour guides in case you should ever decide to repent for your sequel-bashing sins 😉

        Celebration 2017 seemed like an amazing occasion. It was brilliant to see McDiarmid stand up for his fellow actor – a pure gentleman, through and through. His Palpatine in ‘Sith’ is my favourite performance in the whole saga. I do hope he can convince Ewan and Natalie to attend on a future occasion.

        Do any of you follow soccer? Christensen participated in a charity match with celebs like Usain Bolt just before last year’s World Cup. They ended up raising millions for UNICEF, the UN’s children’s charity. Posts about it on Reddit went very successful, it was a great sign of respect for the guy.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Luke’s hideaway planet does bring a kind of rough-hewn beauty to the sequel trilogy. It’s the most striking and memorable environment in the new films, in my opinion, and the only one that get a decent airing — enough that it seems to have a certain geography and character. That’s more than I can say for the other locations.

        Did you know it featured in the first episode of Kenneth Clarke’s epic thirteen-part documentary series “Civilisation” from 1969?

        Jump to around 13:30 in the first episode. It’s a little eerie seeing it all those years prior in an illustrious BBC documentary series. Place has quite the history:


        Of course, I’m no doubt telling someone who knows all about it. But it’s impressive discovering it an earlier context. I kind of wish the main saga would run for thirteen episodes. I suppose thirteen hours (the Lucas films) will do.

        Can you imagine, potentially, Hayden, Ian, Ewan, and Natalie in the same room, all those years later? Celebration 2017 was fantastic. Very special year. I was watching a live stream of some of the event. Including the Ian-Hayden-George panel. I was high on adrenaline. I had barely followed anything beforehand and had no idea what was coming. Sometimes, that’s the way you want it, so you can be surprised and delighted like a child. And I absolutely was.

        I’m not really much of a footie fan. My mates were when growing up. You couldn’t really escape it at school. I sometimes enjoyed a bit of a kick around in the park; and the FIFA games by EA Sports. I did, however, see some of the Hayden match afterward. What a trooper!!!

        Did you catch this bit of cheeky crowd interaction? Well, I’ve already added one link, so I’ll have to make a second post. In 3–2–1…

      • Cryogenic

        @ Love Lucas:

        Yes. The theatre is Ian’s natural habit. I think ROTS also makes this clear. If the opera scene isn’t a tribute to his considerable skill at weaving a story and capturing the attention of an audience, having them completely in his pocket, hanging on his every word and syllable, what is?

        It was cheap, too. The ticket, I mean. The play was at The Royal Exchange in Manchester, England. Not a million miles from my home city. No flying vehicles necessary. 🙂

        I do sort of wish I’d kept that card!!!

        And, of course, i wish I’d hung around for an autograph. Ah, well.

      • archdukeofnaboo


        You’ve gotta admit it saids so much about the impact of the PT that someone in the crowd – or more accurately, someone near enough that they could heard on the touchline – would recognise Christensen and would fangirl him out. His last SW film was 13 years ago, and he hasn’t exactly been in a movie the general public would know of since ‘Jumper’. By all reasonable accounts, he should be nearly anonymous. Yet he isn’t.

        One noticeable thing was his appearance in the formalities before kickoff – when all the players stand side-by-side, for the anthems and handshake etc. In the prequels he comes across as a towering figure, especially in scenes with Natalie Portman, and the same pretty much in the aforementioned Jumper. On the pitch here though, he’s still tall, but in no sense of the word towering like in the films. Either there were a lot of big players at that charity match, or Natalie is ridiculously petite!

        He seemed lively enough while on the field. I watch a lot of soccer, and I’ve also seen plenty of North American movie stars try their hand at charity games, and by that standard he wasn’t that bad. Such a shame they couldn’t get Ewan McGregor to play for the opposite team though.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        You’re right about the impact of the prequels when they shout out to Hayden. Mind you, I’m assuming they are fans to begin with.

        But, to continue your train of thought a bit, there was quite the eruption of applause for Hayden and Ian at Celebration 2017, as noted earlier. And also: Did you see “The Star Wars Show” host Andi Gutierrez interviewing Hayden after? She seemed a bit taken with him. And if I were in Hayden’s position, I think I’d be showing the same in reverse!!! Mmm-hmm…

        I think Hayden’s height is normally billed as 6’1″. Of course, this was something else fanboys bitched about in the past. “He’s too short to be Darth Vader”. I don’t think Hayden is especially tall. Height figures are normally exaggerated. And Natalie is certainly quite short. Actors tend to appear much taller in movies than in “real life”. In fact, it’s one of the marvels of the PT, I think, that Natalie can seem so powerful and imposing; when, in actuality, from a “height perspective”, she could easily disappear into a crowd. The way the camera makes her seem so formidable; when she’s very small and slight in reality. The magic of cinema.

        Hayden has always been a physical guy. I think he explains in his Episode II featurette that he played a lot of sports — hockey, especially, if I recall (typical Canadian!) — when he was growing up. Nick Gillard also notes that Hayden was very fierce and highly capable with sword fighting and the demanding stunt work (he mostly did his own stunts). He was a fast learner and willing to give almost anything a go. Doing “boy stuff” doesn’t seem to faze him in the least.

  • Cryogenic

    I love that double image!!! 😀

    Though, if you look closely, at the full-size thing, you’ll notice there is an obvious “seam” down the middle of the full image, for some reason…

    Other than that, though… Damn…. I’m reminded what an incredible complexion Ian McD. has for Palpatine. Those eyes have so much crafty intent, mischievous glow, and dark, awesome intellect about them…

    Ian is probably *the*guest of guests you want at Celebration. Bright, brilliant man, and a wonderfully engaging speaker. He also clearly gets the films and gets Lucas in so many ways.

    And you always have to wonder: How many more times will people like Ian be willing or able to appear at events like these? Gotta treasure these moments as they unfold…

  • Will Reardon

    As a result of guilt by association with Last Jedi, colleges of mine that are fans and history buffs have told me: If ever I go on a tour of Ireland, I never want to visit the island of Skellig Michael.

    Hopefully such a mindset will only be temporary, but I can’t help but wonder if Skellig Michael’s caretakers have any regrets about allowing the film production on the island.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Will:

      I would have thought that having a Star Wars movie filmed with an iconic, legacy character at such a location, would massively boost tourism, not dent it. If, by “colleges”, you mean professors and academics, well, snobbery from that class of people is nothing new.

      If anything, it’s going to be Star Wars that’s responsible for harming Skellig Michael, as the island/region is not really designed for tourists; certainly not in great numbers. There is precious wildlife there that is under protection; tourism presents a serious challenge to the sanctity of that wildlife.

      Also, as in the film, Skellig Michael is pretty inaccessible, and not without danger. Hamill himself tells of how he almost fell to his doom when he slipped on a rock. Someone from the production just caught him in time. If only he’d had that ginormous spear/pole-vaulting arm he uses in the film…

      • archdukeofnaboo


        Couldn’t say it better myself.

        I’ll let you all in on a little secret though: most of the scenes that are meant to be set on Skellig Michael in TLJ were actually filmed on the mainland. They’re still in remote, coastal parts of the country, but no dangerous voyage into the Atlantic is required.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Re: “Mainland filming”

        Wow! But of course: That makes sense.

        Golden rule of filmmaking (and life): Don’t inconvenience yourself any more than you have to.

    • archdukeofnaboo

      I was quite shocked too, speaking as an Irish person. But it’s well known that our government tends to be kind – perhaps too kind – to big multinational companies who set up here. Apple, to give you an example, pay barely any tax, and we’re now being pressurised to get that back.

      I would apply the same principle to Lucasfilm, and would be really surprised if they didn’t get themselves a sweet deal.

      Star Wars has no right to appropriate our historic, monastic island – I would beg you not to give in to that.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke:

      The same here in England, Duke. Disney/Lucasfilm got nice tax breaks because they chose to film in London, England, use British technicians, and cast British actors — also from London, England — in lead roles. In that way, they were able to have TFA classified as a “British” film, earning them their tax breaks. Hence the following credit at the end:

      “With Thanks to:”

      (One of the people/institutions thanked)

      “George Osborne. Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State, United Kingdom”

      Yes, Bullingdon Club member, austerity-imposing Tory boy George Osborne. He also claims to be a big fan of the series.

      And then, shortly below that credit, at the very bottom, is the following disclaimer:

      “For the purposes of United Kingdom copyright, Lucasfilm Ltd. was the owner of copyright in this film immediately after it was made.”

      This is how corporations operate. They always secure “sweet deals”. Kingly gifts for themselves, of course — not for the proles at the bottom of the social hierarchy. They’re the lowly subjects paying for it all, of course…

      None of these corporations pay much tax. Last year, for example, Facebook paid just 1% tax in the United Kingdom. Corporation tax rates are currently set at 19% in the UK. Hence the term: Corporate tax evasion.

      Here’s an article concerning Facebook’s tax dodging. Note that other companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Starbucks are also indicted:


      That’s the world we’re in. Where the rich have the politicians in their pocket and game the system every step of the way. It’s exactly what Lucas was warning of in the prequels: Corporate interests making a mockery of democracy and controlling everything. And people not giving a damn.

      • archdukeofnaboo


        Giving away your left-wing credentials there, haha.

        It is indeed deplorable that they would have the nerve to classify themselves as a British film. You log-on to any Wikipedia article on one the new films today, and you’ll see it spelled out what they really consider the film to be: American.

        Given the hugely international nature of the filmmaking process, including actors and crews, it’s quite archaic that just one nationality is attached. Kathleen Kennedy, the producer, a supposed champion of liberal values, really ought to know better.

        What would Star Wars be without the enormous contributions of people and places outside the US? Nothing. The external film industry does not exist to be a servant of Hollywood.

        I’ll be honest, I felt quite offended that Abrams made one of our upcoming acting talents, Domhnall Gleeson, speak with such an artificial English accent, so removed from his normal voice. I don’t care if you’ve introduced a few female imperials in the background – to me, as an Irish viewer, you’ve basically implied our accent isn’t worthy enough to appear in a major film. Are we really that difficult to understand? You can talk all day about representation, but you’re still stereotyping villains with a mandatory upper-class English accent.

        Like any skilled magician, there’s a lot of misdirection at play here.

      • joey pieper

        jj and kk are scumbags and should have never been involed with star wars in the first place what was lucas thinking hiring her as his successor? she lied to him and stabbed him and true fans in the back

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        “Giving away your left-wing credentials there, haha.”

        Well, I try not to — or, at least, not here. I try to recognise, at least in a Star Wars comments section, it might seem distracting to get into politics. Most people seem to break out in a rash the moment you start wading into “real-world” opinions.

        I know your comment was kind of flippant, but I feel that road was nevertheless opened up for me after you made mention of Apple barely paying any tax. What’s more, even though people want to deny it, or go the other direction, like Disney, and crudely weaponise it, Star Wars is actually a political entity. Lucas himself is, freely by his own admission, a left-leaning guy: a child of 1960s San Francisco. He didn’t make Star Wars to empower the right. And in the prequels, when he tried to tell people how politics really works, many just belittled the whole attempt and deliberately skewed everything under the mocking rubric of “tax disputes”.

        Which perhaps tells us something about the basic state of play (especially in America). A principled storyteller like Lucas — trying to inform people that having your democratic system eroded and actively manipulated by greedy banking clans and big corporations isn’t the greatest idea going? Nah! He’s just a greedy capitalist himself! What a hypocrite. And who wants socialism, anyway? You like socialism so much? Go live in Venezuela. Lucas is a clueless hack. Oh, look! How wonderful! A giant corporation now owns Star Wars. Finally! Back to real filmmaking…

        I’m not bothered about the basic “classification” of Star Wars, per se. It is really part-British, part-American, part-European, and part-international in scope. It’s the disingenuous nature of the labelling I take issue with. They wanted to use all the fruits available to them to make TFA as cheaply as possible, and then they basically disavow, in a formal sense, the British constitution of the film. Mind you, it’s only what the British Empire has done on a global, civilisational scale since the 16th Century. What goes around, comes around. And now Brexit is biting us in the behind, but I digress…

        I won’t bash Kennedy/Lucasfilm too strongly for corrupting cast members’ natural accents. But that’s not to say her words are without falsity. Actors not using their real accents is something of a Star Wars tradition. Liam doesn’t use his Irish accent in Episode I. Similarly, Ewan speaks with Received Pronunciation in the PT, despite having an obvious Scottish tinge to his voice in real-life. John Boyega’s Peckham accent got slapped down hard in TFA, and on into TLJ, too; with Boyega told to do a broadly American/Mid-Western accent instead. In fact, on an episode of Graham Norton, he mocked the idea of stormtroopers sounding like vernacular Londoners. Which is a bit ironic, since in a deleted scene for TLJ (and a pretty bad deleted scene, in my opinion), there’s a stereotypical hillbilly accent from one of the stormtroopers who collars Finn and even (ugh…) slaps his butt in an elevator.

        Which could lead me into more criticisms of TLJ, but I best leave it, aside from: Why did Finn and Rose display zero concern for being thrown out of the casino on Canto Bight, despite wearing their standard Resistance slacks? I mean, hello??!! An exclusive casino. And you walk right in and flagrantly violate the dress code? And how was BB-8 allowed in? Equally: Why do neither of them voice any concern that Finn might be recognised (as that stormtrooper easily recognises him in the deleted scene) when he goes back to the capital ship of the First Order? I mean, in TFA, a random stormtrooper called him a traitor and immediately threw down his riot shield to fight him on “Maz Cantina” planet, and Kylo, in the forest on Starkiller Base, used the same insult and clearly baited him into a fight. Finn’s face was perfectly recognisable by First Order personnel in TFA; until Rian Johnson decided it didn’t need to be an issue in his movie.

        Unfortunately, or not, since this all depends on your viewpoint: Star Wars still engages in accent stereotyping to some degree. But it gave the series its simple coding and a lot of it lustre to begin with. But yes, it does paint Kennedy’s empty promises in a strong light. When she and Disney talk about “diversity”, it’s basically Hollywood diversity they mean. Real diversity good, Hollywood diversity better. Orwellian doublespeak at its finest.

      • archdukeofnaboo


        You brought up Brexit. Brilliant. There you have a prime example of an issue – no matter which side you’re on – that shows just how important, how fundamental parliament is to a modern democracy. It was something Lucas spent 3 films pursuing, and Americans, fond of the cult of personality contest that is the Presidential race, just couldn’t get it – sovereignty in an assembly of people (ie the Galactic Senate) rather than one person.

        To us in Ireland, the UK, and almost all of Europe, political devices like a ‘motion of no confidence’, which occurred in TPM, are all too familiar. You had a failed one only a few weeks ago, while Spain had a successful one last year and may well have another this year. With the United States, on the other hand, it’s a completely foreign idea. When the motion was brought up against your own PM May there were some rather funny jokes made about it, via comparisons to Vallorum, on Reddit PrequelMemes.

        One really can’t understand the current situation between the UK and the EU without some knowledge of how the former’s House of Commons works and thinks. Interviews after negotiations in Brussels aren’t sufficient. It is the very same in Star Wars with the Galactic Republic and CIS – the negotiations here are largely violent (ie the Clone Wars) but to ignore the mechanisations of the Senate is to be clueless. in fact, the battles occurring serve as misdirection for the real malevolence: political subterfuge. Yet Americans just feed off the glitzy battles, they just cannot relate, cannot begin to imagine that the seemingly mundane proceedings of a parliament could be so significant. Perhaps many of them will soon learn from the spectacle that is Britain’s Brexit deal – or lack of.

        I would be keen to distinguish accent stereotyping in the 1970s, which I can’t fault so much, to that of today. There was really no need for Gleeson to adopt such a bizarre, exaggerated accent, which does not feel natural like Cushing’s Tarkin and McGregeor’s Obi-Wan did. His Hux character is, put simply, a Jar Jar Binks for the First Order – making the baddies feel like fools when they should be menacing. I had no issue with Boyega’s adopted American accent, it feels organic and I believe in his character.

        You’ve probably seen TPM a lot more than I have, but I don’t think Liam Neeson is hiding his northerly Irish accent as Qui-Gon – or at least very well. He speaks with an elegant and wise tone to his voice, yet it’s still discernable. Mind you, for a small island we have quite a broad range of accents.

        You’re spot on about Star Wars not being immune to political ideology or messages. The problem, however, lies in how you integrate it within your story. In the PT, like Orwell’s 1984, it is a fundamental component of the plot, and you can’t understand the primary villain, Palpatine, without it. I would argue that the political commentary at play is something everybody – barring fascists and communists, of course – in a Western democracy should be on board with. It is simply not the same case in TLJ. Politicking isn’t a fundamental part of the story (that died with Hosnian Prime in TFA, sadly), yet a certain political viewpoint, and moreover, a very divisive one specifically from the 2010s, is sprayed all over the surface and distracts a viewer from the real plot.

        Speaking personally though, there are many greater sins in TLJ which make it a bad movie: awful, cringeworthy, out of place humour; a malicious obsession with fooling the audience; a Luke Skywalker who feels very foreign, and is needlessly killed off; an uninteresting Rey who should be memorable; a villain, Hux, who is difficult to believe in – see above; a villian, Snoke, we never learn much about; daft, ridiculous superman moves for Leia and perhaps the most pointless, meaningless scene ever in SW on Canto Bight.

        I would honestly take the highly maligned romance plot of Attack of the Clones before any of the above. How critics can blast Anakin-Padmé to death and then conveniently ignore Rose-Finn in their fabulous 4 star reviews will forever be beyond me. The hypocrisy from the critics hurts more than anything.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Firstly, just to go back to one point:

        I’d settle for TFA being labelled a British-American, or Ameri-British, or American-International film. To be fair, tax breaks aside, most of the funding comes from North America, I think; though Disney’s own revenues are, of course, world-wide. It is getting tricky to classify films because the planet has become — or is in the process of becoming — a global village; probably tending, even if current political trends suggest otherwise, toward a “one world government” state of affairs. Of course, many religious-minded folk see something sinister in that; but I try and take the “Star Trek” view.

        You’re right that the US presidential election is basically a personality contest and a cult of personality; and that these aspects, if anything, have been heightened since the invention and proliferation of mass communication mediums like television and the Internet. Trump, for example, is a master at self-branding; not to mention adept at blowing smoke signals on Twitter. And people do, indeed, forget that you’re actually voting for a package of policies; not merely a lone individual (no matter how heightened their narcissism or how slick their ability to come out with pithy epithets for their political opponents actually is).

        It’s interesting that Padme herself impulsively acts on the myth of the Republic being stymied and in desperate need of new leadership — i.e., that a strong leader can “fix” everything — when she turns on Valorum and smooths Palpatine’s way to power. In the meadow scene in Clones, she blanches when Anakin suggests the Republic is in need of a “wise” leader; one who can force people to agree. Palpatine more or less swayed her into the same sort of belief; at least for a critical moment. At that point in the story, she has done more harm to her beloved democratic principles than Anakin.

        May is in a difficult position; but she obviously can’t come through with a deal that is satisfactory to anyone. And she arrogantly put herself in a leadership role to begin with; even trying to see off a divided Labour and murder credible opposition to Tory rule with the “snap election” she called in 2017. It didn’t work; instead of strengthening her power base, she diminished her majority and lost seats to Labour and (somewhat) improved Corbyn’s standing in the party. Yet she never learns and repeatedly insists it’s her way or the highway.

        Also, as many commentators have noted, Brexit is a self-inflicted wound, hundreds of years in the making, from an arrogant political class, the outmoded British aristocracy. It is, if you like, the egregious legacy of British colonialism turned inward — the moment the aristocracy fell on its own sword; the real implosion of the British Empire. Lucid article here from Pankaj Mishra. He refers to it as “chumocracy”:


        Funny that people are so slow to see the light; especially in politics. Indeed, Lucas has said on more than one occasion that politics is the exception to the rule: While things generally tend to advance in most human fields over time, politics is the one arena in which the same mistakes are made, and the same idiocy prevails, again and again. Note also his depiction of the senate rotunda itself: It is essentially circular, or elliptical, replete with circular pods that spin like tea cups but seem to go nowhere; with the interior also resembling a circus; or a giant mushroom chamber. “She was out picking mushrooms that grow on the vaporators.”

        You paint a pretty dire picture — but it’s an appraisal I certainly share. Brexit is going to bring catastrophic damage to British society, the economy, and the political structure as a whole. People don’t understand how distractions like the Clone Wars are cynically used by politicians to provide cover for machinations and dealings that make them richer and cement their power. The EU superstructure itself, of course, is hardly democratic in any normative sense of the word. And all political structures can be gamed by the rich and the powerful.

        Here is an example: The European Copyright Directive, or its more obscure-sounding actual name, Directive On Copyright In The Digital Single Market, is not the most freedom-loving and innocuous of bills. But not many people have been focusing on it; and it is now close to being ratified by the European Parliament because people have been distracted by other matters, including trivial events that its push through parliament coincided with, like the last World Cup. “Podracing.” And again: “Nothing happens by accident.”

        You’re right that there’s a tinge of Liam’s natural accent which comes through on certain lines. I did acknowledge that in a parenthetical comment, but then I removed it. Not sure why. Maybe I was waiting to see what you yourself, being Irish, felt about it first. By the way: My grandmother, my last remaining grandparent, is Irish. And 94, now, I think. Took a couple of holidays to Ireland when I was a kid myself. My grandmother and grandfather had a cottage and a little strip of land there. Sligo. Feels like a lifetime ago.

        I completely agree that political messaging, or trendy Instagram-y preaching, has been slathered all over the new movies. Which is both galling and slightly hilarious in light of the fact the first Disney film blows up the New Republic; and, by extension, any try at an engaging storyline with a measure of political intelligence and complexity to it. As you recognise, I am left-leaning; yet, as you also just said, the approach with the Disney films is divisive. Folks don’t like being condescended to. Star Wars was never designed as a forum for finger-waving, brow-beating, identity politics odium. It was actually meant to be more of a treatise against people and institutions spewing oppressive and self-serving propaganda; other than basic messages of fairness, tolerance, charity, community, and hope.

        You have successfully parsed out, by my estimation, many of TLJ’s most grating and obnoxious flaws. It’s all of those things plus redundant, empty, annoying characters; plot conceits that make little sense; underwhelming action scenes; boring planets and sets; and a big philosophical attack on the saga itself. There are some terrific videos on YouTube that really rip into TLJ; and, quite frankly, in ways I never saw people doing toward the prequels. These new video dissections seem much more surgical and precise.

        The AOTC romance is really the nucleus of the entire PT. And that’s something that drives hatred toward it, in my opinion. As Lucas has said: The Han-Leia romance was more of a fling; something that wasn’t central to the plot of the original films. But the Anakin-Padme romance is an honest-to-goodness courtly drama that the emotional and even the intellectual arc of the PT pivots on. It is the core of everything. Conversely, the Finn-Rose “thing” — what else can you call it? — is not even a sidebar; more a sidebar of a sidebar. It just “happens” at the end, at random, in a really contrived way, completely unearned. Basically, it’s the total antithesis of the Anakin-Padme romance; and maybe a true measure of the sequel trilogy’s bungling ineptness and shallow posturing.

        Critics are really just shills these days. There’s a fear of declining readership; and of being barred from press events if they pillory movies or speak a few home truths. And their appreciation of what constitutes great or interesting cinematic art has, by most measures, been very hit and miss. On the other hand, it would be wrong to say that all critics failed to appreciate the prequels or the romance. Some actually got what Lucas was going for and enjoyed them and it. But it was certainly, ah, interesting, let’s say, to see a wall of approval for TFA and TLJ; despite the enormous commercial calculation and empty recycling of TFA, and in all the ways that TLJ preaches down at the audience and delivers a view of the Star Wars universe — and the human condition — far short of the visionary excellence and psychological sophistication of the prequels.

      • archdukeofnaboo


        I don’t think anybody has described the ST more succinctly than James Arnold Taylor, the highly-praised voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Clone Wars: “They don’t speak to me”. Like you, he much prefers the Prequel films, although he does admit Episode I took him time to fully appreciate. He encourages those with issues with it to watch with their children.

        Dig a little deeper, and you will find that he’s not the only notable person who finds fault in the post-Lucas offering. It’s an important exercise because many would dishonestly have you believe it’s all from a cohort of politically motivated man-babies (as we’ve previously covered). I don’t think director Kyle Newman, a longtime Lucasfilm insider, and PT defender, liked TLJ a lot either. Check out the brave things he had to say here:


        I really would query the way these review aggregators work. What defines a positive review and what makes a negative review? Are all critics worth the same value, or should some weigh heavier than others? Is the scoring not in danger of being distorted by the addition of many inexperienced critics? What are the criteria for being a certified critic? I’ve never made the effort to understand Rotten Tomatoes and I don’t think I ever will. internet people tend to put way too much faith into a nice, expedient 2 digit number that remains open to all kinds shadiness. And as for audience scores? All hope for that died with the recent revelations of RotS’s bot manipulated score.

        You see, my main gripe with sites likes of Rotten Tomatoes is not their mere existence – no, it is more nefarious than that. It is when apologists for controversial films with ridiculously high ratings on it point to it as some kind of objective, stainless, all-knowing assessment of any motion picture imaginable. That you are wrong, and they are correct; that you have poor taste in cinema, and that can think critically. Art as a subjective experience is tossed aside, and the glorious rating insists on being able – being fully entitled – to set the Overton window of acceptable opinions. Mainstream media parrot the score and Joe Smith believes x is a y movie.

        I’m assuming that you, or at least another PT fan from TFN, would have at some point gone to the trouble of a close inspection of these wannabe public opinion formers known as review aggregators. It’s a really interesting phenomenon as to what gets branded a failure and what a success. How does a consensus in geek media arise etc etc. You know, I’m really beginning to see the merits in a Harvard psychology degree now 😉

        Interesting points on Brexit, but, alas, this is a PT website, so I’ll politely decline an in-depth discussion of that. Don’t want to bore our readers!

        “Instagramy preaching”
        – You had me laughing hard at that one. When they go back to satirise the 2010s, the clichéd and irksome form of activism on that weird site will be prominent.

      • archdukeofnaboo


        “And people do, indeed, forget that you’re actually voting for a package of policies; not merely a lone individual”

        – That’s the fundamental flaw with almost all Presidential systems. It’s concentrated around the person – “strong leadership” – rather than a group of like-minded individuals with a set of principles, or philosophy. Is it any coincidence that a person like Erdogan would seek to move Turkey away from a parliamentary democracy? Some have argued he pulled a Palpatine-style false flag with the coup d’etat attempt. Indeed Turkey is the closest mirror we have today of the downfall of Galactic Republic.

        There is much to damn Britain about, but they sure got something right when they transitioned to a sovereign parliament and gradually phased out first the arbitrary power of monarch, and later, the aristocratic House of Lords. An inverse of Ancient Rome, if you will. Something I would like to see nodded to to in the post-RotJ “The Mandalorian” series.

        I might add that ‘The Matrix’ is another example of a film that perfectly integrates its political messaging and philosophical musings. It’s perhaps the genius of its filmmakers that you can enjoy it with or without this layer.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        James Arnold Taylor! I didn’t realise he had offered his opinion on the ST. Interesting. But not really any different to what Rinzler has said; or Lucas; or Ben Burtt. Granted, it’s more implied with the latter, but I can’t imagine he’s a fan: “Because then I’d have to deal with Disney.” On the other hand, Ewan McGregor was fairly positive toward TFA, but I honestly think he was just arse-licking for a job, hoping to snag the role of Obi-Wan again, if it came along. Remember, not more than a year ago, an Obi-Wan spin-off was supposedly in the works, and Ewan signalled his interest; and now it has been cancelled. One of several “Kennedy assassinations” since KK’s Dark Lord, Bob Iger, told her to wipe out several projects; right after TLJ divided fans and “Solo” tanked at the box office.

        But is that really brave; what Kyle Newman says in that clip? I guess it could be. The date is fascinating, though: December 18th 2018. Right as the backlash was just beginning. Does Newman truly know something others don’t; or are, indeed, keeping quiet about? We have to examine our own biases as prequel fans. We obviously would like to believe that critics are totally biased and blatant Hollywood shills; because then their tepid response to the prequels (or I and II, at least) makes perfect sense. We have an easy explanation and a convenient means of dismissing them. Equally: They then gave strong marks (near universal approval) to these newer Star Wars films we generally disdain; even detest. And it just seems like the prequels have been eviscerated and never given their time to shine.

        I could get my head around the critics’ championing of TFA — somewhat. Yes, they were probably erring on the side of caution, not wanting to make enemies of Disney or rabid fanboys, but maybe it simply entertained them more; or they had even forgotten, in some cases, how entertaining and engaging the prequels were, perhaps never bothering to watch them a second or third time. And maybe, if they did dislike the prequels, or thought they did, TFA just seemed like a welcome course-correction; and therefore earned easy plaudits by comparison. There was a similar feeling among many fans in 2015 that Star Wars was back (though almost everyone is apparently a wise critic of TFA now).

        The overrating of TLJ, on the other hand, instantly struck me as unusual. I couldn’t quite believe so many critics were jumping up and down a second time. That has never happened with Star Wars before. Sequels tend to divide; especially after uber-positive opening installments. “What goes up, must come down”. Yet TLJ had critics practically falling over themselves to gush and outdo one another. But again: Maybe it’s this push-pull thing. The prequels generally disappointed them. TFA lifted their spirits. And then TLJ just seemed like a Star Wars movie with some heft; a good change in direction after the pleasing-but-superficial teaser installment. That could at least explain strong marks for both. But why would **so many** critics be equally overjoyed at two tonally divergent films in the same series; especially when many fans and casual viewers starting singing a different tune?

        This is also the silliness of taking film criticism seriously in a nut shell. I’ve been unimpressed with film critics ever since they fawned themselves to death over Peter Jackson’s “Lord Of The Rings” movies. I was never remotely able to share in their collective euphoria; or the constant orgasms of glee toward those movies and Jackson’s “towering achievement in fantasy filmmaking” in the wider geek-media. The superlatives hurled at those films turned my stomach. Especially when the prequels, their contemporaries, were relentlessly trashed and ritually scorned. It always felt, to me, like something sinister was at work. The “One Ring” of culture. Some evil mechanism. No dissension allowed; or even presumed to exist.

        The point in all of this, the object lesson, is to think for yourself — and to feel for yourself. This is art we’re talking about, after all. Heed what people say, seek out insights and perspectives, positive and negative, but develop confidence in your own heart, your own voice — and don’t allow your thought patterns to be completely collectivised by the impersonal machine of culture that breeds conformity, fosters intellectual stagnation, and turns people into passive consumers. Or, in a word, clones. Clones can think creatively? Only when they’re thinking of how to further pummel people into mental submission.

        I haven’t delved too much into the “aggregation” side of Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t think I want to. It’s bunkum layered on bunkum — an orrery of ornery ecclesiasticism, a fountain of festooning fanaticism, a mausoleum of mechanistic masturbation, a centrifuge of subjective codswallopism; the priests telling the proles what to think. Rotten Tomatoes puts the “numb” in numbers. You go on Rotten Tomatoes, you start listening to critics, or worse, paying attention to numerical ratings, you are becoming comfortably numb: another brick in the wall; a cog in a greed-driven power structure.

        But it’s certainly disturbing that so many people operate the way you outlined. If you agree with the herd, you’re sane, sensible, and safe from attack. You’re part of the “in-group” and “one of us” and on the side of “good”. If, on the other hand, you incline to a different view, or have the audacity to protest the madness, or venture to a different part of the map (or you even recognise and/or have the nerve to point out that the map isn’t the territory), you are wrong, bad, evil, deficient, and you must be mocked, harassed, harangued, proscribed, and ejected from the tribe; never again to contaminate the social fabric with your ill-formed, heretical notions.

        Rotten Tomatoes, as useful as it is when merely collating reviews, provides an easy crutch for the less sophisticated person — again, of which, there are seemingly a great number — to feel comfortable in their (often) not-own opinions; and to berate and jeer at others who see things differently. It is part of this mobocracy the Internet has given succour to since the turn of the millennium. If there is a real “Millennium Bug”, then this echo-chamber effect, along with a vengeful, purging, heresy-hunting mentality, must be it. People are now obsessed with tribal signalling and conformity like never before.

        Re: Parliamentary democracy and the rest of it:

        Yeah… We certainly got that part right. Sadly, what people don’t realise is that it’s an ongoing process. We haven’t licked all the problems of the past. We still, for example, actually have a House of Lords. It is almost forty years ago that Tony Benn envisioned a Labour government being able to abolish peerages and the House of Lords entirely. It hasn’t happened yet. We’re still living in a society where a bizarre creation called Jacob Rees-Mogg can go on national television, on a “respectable” BBC debate programme, defend South African concentration camps, and earn a round of applause. There is, I fear, still a long way to go.

        I’ve never been as taken with “The Matrix” films as some. But there are some interesting and quite complex philosophical ideas at play. Perhaps the boldest and most daring film trilogy after the prequels in “The Noughties”. That was, indeed, a fairly busy time for high-concept cinema. The prequels were, in some sense, fated to land alongside some hefty competition — quite unlike the Original Trilogy; which had a more-or-less free and uncontested run. Yet which are the films still being talked about today? Lucas, I think, certainly made his mark.

      • Cryogenic

        P.S. I can’t do dates:

        “But is that really brave; what Kyle Newman says in that clip? I guess it could be. The date is fascinating, though: December 18th 2018.”

        Oops. 2018??? Where is my head at? That is, indeed, the date of the tweet. But TLJ came out in 2017, of course.

        So I don’t know where that leaves Newman’s remarks. He’s coming out with this revelation a whole year later. After so much backlash toward the film; and after Disney hit back at fans with a range of smears and insults. A little… convenient.

        I forgot to pick that part up:

        If the fans are “manbabies” for complaining, what the HECK does that make the likes of Rian Johnson, casual dispenser of said insult, who admitted he harboured cynical feelings toward the prequels for years (but wasn’t above implying mild affection in more recent times)?

        Where does it place the likes of J.J. Abrams and his pal Simon Pegg; both of whom have slandered the PT (Abrams, tactically and opportunistically; Pegg, explicitly and obnoxiously), and even prequel fans (Pegg), without compunction?

        And what, most of all, does it make Ben Burtt, J.W. Rinzler, George Lucas, James Arnold Taylor, and all the other high-profile people, to whom the ST falls flat, doesn’t speak to them, and is made with fan pandering in mind?

        They really need to get a new batch of insults. Or, better yet, stop insulting the fans altogether. Lucas was at least able to take the high road a degree. But if you criticise these new films and their treatment of the property, you hate women, you’re racist, and in general, you’re just a reactionary, right-wing troll. Super.

      • archdukeofnaboo


        It’s not convenient. Kyle Newman didn’t offer the most flattering take on TLJ when it first came out in December 2017, if you look back on his appearance on the Steele Wars podcast, so he’s ain’t jumping on any bandwagon. Besides, if it was the case that he was changing his mind, I don’t think neither you or I have any right to be degrading him for doing so. If anything, we should be welcoming of people who change their mind. Just as we do with the PT.

        One of the worst tendencies of internet users, I find, is the unwillingness and sheer stubbornness of those who engage in discussions to be in any way shape or form open to changing their minds. It’s almost like an unspoken rule that one must stick to their original opinion to the very end, completely unaffected by anyone who would dare to think the slightest bit differently.

        With regards to JAT, he briefly touched on the ST during an episode of his own podcast a few months ago. He’s my favourite actor from the animated series and I really like him as a person. I’ll now be expecting more references to the Clone Wars in your future essays! 😀

        I don’t know why Rian Johnson is still trying to ride out the storm on Twitter. If I were him, and conscious of my well-being, I would get the hell off there – ASAP. He’s setting himself up as an easy target, and he should realise there are many other avenues for gathering audience feedback.

        “We have to examine our own biases as prequel fans.”
        – Cogent point

        I think you’re being a little too harsh on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and, if I may say so, it seems like your displacing some of your frustration with the PT’s poor critical reception onto it. I don’t think this needs to be the case; the world of film need not be a zero sum game. It is perfectly fine to a fan of the films and doing so does not, in a million years, undermine any argument in favour of the prequels. Yes, it was rather comical in 2003 when the Oscars fell head over heels for the final film, having ignored the – arguably superior – first two, and granted them every award under the Sun, but that’s on the Academy – not Jackson. This is the same Academy, let’s not forget, who rarely, if ever, grant ‘best picture’ to the most deserving film. There is no need to be jealous.

        The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003) was another concurrent film series. Again, I don’t believe prequel fans need to be engaging in any intense rivalry with it. It was also a big box office hit, but guess what, it didn’t do so well in awards season either. And, In my own opinion, the two sequels, which were filmed back-to-back, were poorly understood by the critics. Moreover, as films, they are are completely different in genre, themes, tone, characters, setting, target audience and so much more.

        But, for all I know, you may have been a greater admirer of JRR Tolkien’s books long before they were filmed, and found issues with Jackson’s adaption. If that it so, then that’s a legitimate critique.

        I foresee you coming for Christopher Nolan next. But, beware, for you are talking to someone who is well prepared to defend him! Well, maybe not the ‘Dark Night Rises’ – but many of my favourite films in the last 2 decades were made by him. And ‘Inception’ is the best film I’ve ever experienced in a cinema. Dom Cobb is not unlike Anakin – he longs heavily for his wife, and is willing to turn to crime for the sake of her. Gifted architect, gifted Jedi knight; one is exiled to another country, the other is exiled to the Dark Side. The quest for redemption is in common.

        • lovelucas

          Regarding Christopher Nolan and specifically Inception: I’ve watched this film almost as many times as the prequels. Still haven’t exactly sorted out what level they’re at and whose dream they’re in when a specific action takes place. It is a spectacular theory and my own mind reels at the idea of Nolan conjuring up this story and then making it happen. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – so good and not due to just the revolving corridor fight scene. The looks the individuals on the team give Cobb as he wakes up on the plane and slowly realizes what this means and then as he proceeds to the gateway that will prove he’s home….again the looks each individual gives him….JGL is looking sly – in the coolest way possible. Then there’s the music…….

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Sorry. Phone line died. Was without Internet all weekend. The glorious telecom infrastructure of the UK! But that’s another topic. Let’s get to it:

        The fact that Kyle Newman didn’t offer a positive opinion of TLJ to begin with doesn’t obviate the idea that what he says in that December 2018 recording isn’t convenient. In other words, he didn’t like it, so he’s hardly likely to be averse to a conspiratorial idea or two regarding its high critical approval. It’s just the sort of thing a person shocked at so many people, or one particular “caste” of people, having such a different reaction, might want to perpetuate or cling to.

        In any case, I was really just expressing a drop of skepticism/caution; not calling Newman a fraud or disingenuous or anything like that. Given that I don’t think highly of TLJ myself, much less the entire Disney takeover — and I have been quite vocal about it and suffered banishment as a result — I should have been the first to approve. But I do try to be selective/discerning at what I hear and take as gospel from another source; especially when the evidence is mixed or a person seems to be coming from a certain angle.

        I think you have projected onto me the idea I was “degrading” him. I wasn’t. You entered that piece of evidence; and I then commented accordingly. And you did frame it a certain way: “Brave” was your word. So if I was degrading, you were definitely elevating. I think the recording just hit us a different way. I did otherwise agree that critics are essentially corporate shills and seem afraid to give bad marks to films and franchises that are now “too big to fail”. I don’t think this is solely a “sequel trilogy” issue.

        I’m a bit disheartened to see so much psychoanalysis from you. Can you not see how the massive overrating by critics of the “Lord Of The Rings” movies parallels, at least superficially, the tsunami of praise they gave to TFA and TLJ? How do you separate the two? These films got a free ride from critics — virtually no resistance or complaint whatsoever. But in the case of LOTR, I must be “jealous” of their success vis-a-vis the prequels; while, if I don’t accept the idea that the critics lied about their feelings toward TLJ, as Newman has “bravely” revealed, I must be close-minded!

        My favourite film of 2003 was “Lost In Translation”. I find it infinitely more engrossing, lyrical, and transporting than any of the LOTR films, individually or in combination. I recognise that LOTR is based on a respected work of fantasy literature, and that a lot of craftmanship and hard work went into the films, but a film needs to speak to me on a *personal* level for it to have any deeper meaning. Unfortunately, absent some decent characters, the LOTR movies do not. I find them bloated, garish, cartoonish, fascist, and stultifying.

        Let me qualify. But only slightly. The books arguably have more nuance to them; and without that nuance, the whole descends into a tyrannical, tedious, ridiculously prolonged “black hat vs. white hat” Nordic superman slaughterfest: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” with Orcs and a lot of faux-Shakespearean pretentious twaddle. You’ve never heard anyone say this before? Well, sorry. But it’s what I believe. Or, perhaps more accurately, feel.

        At their core, both LOTR and the prequels could be considered meditations on power and ambition — or, in a word, greed. But I think, cinematically, the prequels do a better job and have more to offer. Were they overlooked? Yes. Am I irked at what I see as the ridiculous overrating of the LOTR movies? Probably. Is that my only reason for disliking them? No.

        Maybe you were just speaking generally on the latter, but I certainly wasn’t engaging in any rivalry with “The Matrix” movies whatsoever. I commended them in my last post. I also said I’m not as taken with them as some. That is probably the mildest expression of not-full-approval anyone could possibly make.

        I agree that the world of film shouldn’t be a zero-sum game. That’s why I like several films that made that Vanity Fair list the other day. The list that says approving things about all the films included, with the sole exception being the entry for ROTS — a prequel film. So I’d mail that piece of criticism to Vanity Fair.

        I suppose, if anything, what some of my comments reveal is that I don’t generally have a great taste for high-concept fantasy cinema. Star Wars — Lucasian Star Wars — is kind of the exception. Plus a few firm favourites from earlier decades. Just as it’s not a competition where one has to put other films down to elevate the prequels, one doesn’t have to feign interest in films one doesn’t like; no matter how much pressure there is to conform and to say nice things only.

        I don’t rate Nolan. Again: His films don’t speak to me. They’re well-made, but just okay. Actually, I do find them worse than “okay”, but I won’t bother getting into it. I understand why others might enjoy his work, but I simply don’t. I actually find his films quite leaden, preachy, and over-the-top. Until “The Dark Knight Rises”, you weren’t meant to say one bad thing about Nolan or his movies, or an immense hate mob would immediately descend upon you. And if you dared to say you admired the prequels in the same breath, these people would literally disown you and act like you were demon-possessed. But unlike those idiots, I feel quite comfortable in allowing people to like and dislike different things in different measures. After all, that’s what having a diversity of opinions is all about.

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