I give the Old Republic a week to live

Wednesday, 11 May 2005 — 9:35am | Capsule reviews, Film, Star Wars

Gentle readership, I humbly apologize for the lengthy hiatus. Aside from the many worldly distractions and commitments that have impaired my ability to sit down and crank out a good post of late, there is another reason for my absence that should not go ignored: there has simply been too much to write about.

It all started – the descent into a state of non-posting, that is – with an attempt to give the Garth Jennings film The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, based on the absurdist discontinuity of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Phantom treatment – all the while geeking out about the obscure references to the BBC television series like the cameo by the original Marvin and the appearance of the “Journey of the Sorcerer” theme music with the introduction of the Guide, and singing the infectiously catchy “So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish” to the end of the earth (in about twelve minutes). By the way, AMPAS should realize by now that the Oscar for Original Song had better be kept under lock and key, because we have our first surely-should-win of the year, and I don’t imagine anything topping it. As for the rest of the experience, it was hit and miss, and for reasons that only erratically intersect with concerns for how close it was to Adams’ multiplicity of contradictory universes.

Before I was more than a paragraph into my scene-for-scene rant and roar, which I hoped would balloon into a critique as holistic as Dirk Gently’s detective agency, I had already thrust myself into yet another galaxy-spanning epic comedy of infinite philosophical resonance, only this one was twelve minutes long and sketched by Don Hertzfeldt. And that was only one highlight of many of The Animation Show 2005, which I wish I could spare the time to applaud in writing. Then there was Kung Fu Hustle, Stephen Chow’s over-the-top martial arts fantasy – not as outright funny as Shaolin Soccer, but more ambitious, and successfully so. It is likely to remain the best superhero film to see release this year.

Opening last weekend was Kingdom of Heaven, a refreshingly sober gentle brushing of the dead horse that pretend-epics spent all last year beating, and with another keeper of a Harry Gregson-Williams score beneath it. It’s not as fun as Gladiator and does not have the pulpish charm that will preserve it as well, but stakes out its own position as a very different sort of beast – indeed, a tamer one, and a thinking man’s history.

As far as books go, those into children’s literature should spend these precious remaining pre-Half-Blood Prince days with Eoin Colfer’s fourth Artemis Fowl, The Opal Deception. I’ve always thought the Irish techno-thriller fairytale series was a pleasant diversion, but this one goes well beyond the call of duty and plays off everything that has come before it so thoroughly that should Colfer write a fifth volume, it’s unlikely he could spin a yarn quite as all-encompassing. Deception takes all three of its predecessors and uses every part of the buffalo. I’m still not over what a gut-busting action-packed romp it is, and it makes me wonder why so-called adult sections don’t get escapist spy stories this good. Tom Clancy’s making video games – no, video game sequels, Dan Brown’s off in his own little world publishing prosaic Cliff Notes to Umberto Eco’s obscure waxings on historical secret societies, and here we have a children’s writer from Wexford stomping all over their turf. One can only hope he keeps on stomping.

I do not enjoy capsule-summary judgments that say nothing of value aside from what one recommends seeing or reading and what one decidedly does not. I wish I had time to talk about every last detail of all the blossoms of storytelling springtime I mentioned. But no – there’s just too much.

And beyond that, I haven’t had time to think about them. No, everything is bent towards one upcoming story right now, one chapter in a grander story decades in the making that is finally on the verge of congelation. I think we all know what I’m talking about.

I’ve been going back and seeing all the existing movies over the course of the week, and already I have a laundry list of essays to get through once the last piece of the jigsaw is in place, dissertations I’ve been waiting for the chance to dissert for the better part of the last seven years. I want to talk about modern divergences between philosophical and scientific thinking, particularly with regards to determinism, and discuss them in the context of the collapse of the Jedi Order. I want to return to the age-old question of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s success or failure as a Jedi Knight and infer from it a model of causality that applies to the operation of the Force. I want to whip out my copy of The Hero With A Thousand Faces and see how the Lucasian approximation of Joseph Campbell’s formalization of the monomyth holds up to its specification. I want to evaluate and possibly reinforce my claim that Vader was not in the suit when Luke sets it afire. I want to look away to the future (never my mind on where I am, what I am doing) and close the book on the canonicity debate now that the circle is at last complete. I want to watch the saga I-II-III-IV-V-VI after I complete my current cycle of watching it IV-V-VI-I-II-III (which I will of course repeat for the sake of reliable experimentation) and see how the story unfolds empirically and inductively – then maybe try something unorthodox like IV-I-V-II-III-VI, which would actually make a lot of sense now that I think about it.

There is a very real possibility that for several months, this could undergo a full conversion to being a Star Wars blog. If you can navigate your way through this or this, you should be fine, but otherwise, I make no claims to comprehensibility. You have been warned.

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