Thursday, May 19, 2005

Star Wars Week - Original Bonus Material

Day four of Star Wars Week and I’m so jealous of those that who went last night to the opening and the response is so good I wish I had blown off my commitments, or just passed on getting any sleep last night, to see it myself. But a wise man once told me tomorrow is only a day away. Today I’ll be looking at the bonus material on the DVD set of the original trilogy. This includes about 5642 different trailers for the three films (give or take 1000, but there are quite a few of them), a massive photo gallery, a behind the scenes preview of Episode III (it has nothing new so I’ll refrain reviewing of it), a demo of the game Star Wars: Battlefront (my lack of an Xbox keep me from playing it), and a few documentaries that included:

The Characters of Star Wars

This was a documentary that chronicled the many changes that some of the characters of Star Wars went through from Lucas’ first conception until they finally made it onto the screen. Most interesting was that Darth Vader was given a mask late because the designer realized that he need a way to breath in a scene where he was walking in space. This then led the most memorable part of Darth Vader, his breathing. Another change that made me giggle was that Luke Skywalker was originally supposed to be a midget. Oh, how that would have been a different movie then. The most interesting par of this documentary was when Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings fame, said that 25 year later, most people don’t remember the special effect of Star Wars, it the character that have stuck in people’s minds. That may be the problem of the prequels is that Lucas cared more about the special effects than he did developing the characters.

The Birth of the Lightsaber

Here Lucas tells how he came up with the idea of the lightsaber and how he executed that on film. It was very interesting to see the split screen of a fight with the rough fighting and that with the special effects put in. The highlight though is how they came up with the sound of the lightsaber, a sound that every little kid has tried to emulate, or still does. Watching film of the guy creating the sound is worth the price of the set alone. As the credits roll we get to see Star Wars as seen through the eyes of the Simpsons and Futurerama. Again very entertaining.

The Force is with Them: The Legacy of Star Wars

Here we have filmmakers such as James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson, and John Singleton talking about their first experiences with seeing Star Wars. Then they talked about how the movie inspired their own movies such as Titanic, Alien, Lord of the Rings, and Boyz in da Hood. OK, Singleton seemed to be missing from this part. Basically this featurette was a fifteen minute love fest for George Lucas.

Empire of Dreams

I haven’t gotten around to watching this part yet as it is so long that it is the first documentary that I’ve seen that actually has its own chapter selection. Check back later for this review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Star Wars Week - Bounty Hunter Review

Star Wars: Bounty Hunter

I've collected Star Wars videogames ever since the Atari days. Some were better than other, but LucasArts has hit its stride putting out entertaining games one after another. I have yet to get the Revenge of the Sith tie in game as I'm avoiding all types of spoilers until I have seen the movie. Sadly that won't be tonight, but I will be seeing it this weekend. Don't expect a review of it either as will be too tempted to spoil things myself. Expect a full review when the DVD comes out. But back to the videogame theme, my favorite game that has anything to do with the movies is Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. And yes, I did get a copy with the Limited Edition Cover Art (not pitcured above). Granted it's only special in that it has Limited Edition Cover Art written on it and a different, yet cooler, picture of a close up shot of Jango Fett's helmet. Here's a review.

One of the most popular characters from the original trilogy was the bounty hunter Boba Fett. And being one not to pass up a marketing goldmine, George Lucas brought back Boba back for the prequels, showing up in Episode II: Attack of the Clones as the only son of another bounty hunter, Jango Fett, the prototype fore thousand or possibly millions of clones that populate the end of the movie. Star Wars: Bounty Hunter actually takes place between Episode I and Episode II and shows why Jango was chosen as the template for the clone army. The storyline of Bounty Hunter starts off with Count Dooku hiring most relentless bounty hunters to hunt down and deal with a rogue dark Jedi who threatens Darth Sidious' master plan. And whoever succeeds with then become that spawns the clone army. And for anyone who has seen Episode II knows who is going to win (or anyone who was paying attention earlier in this post). But knowing the outcome doesn't ruin the game.

The game play in the game is really smooth. The best part of the game play is Jango’s jetpack. If you get ambushed, all you have to do is power your jetpack backwards and shoot your enemy with your blasters. Other weapons that Jango uses throughout the game are missiles, a whipcord (think Indiana Jones) toxic darts, grenades, and a sniper rifle. How Jango can keep all of these at the same time is beyond me, but I’m glad he can. And since he has some extra time, there are a few bounties that Jango can pick up in each level which he can spot with his ID Scanner. Granted this option is a little tricky switching to this and back to the weapons with ease. But once you capture some one, or some thing, you unlock bonus material including outtakes and concept art.

Since Jango is not the only bounty hunter hired by Dooku, he is frequently running into his competition, Montross, who cares more about the kill than he does the money and Komari Vosa, a former Padawan. Jango even pick up an ally in Zam Wesell, who makes a brief cameo in the beginning of Episode II. He is also helped out by Rozatta, who is basically a female equivalent to Watto, Anakin’s former owner. Jabba the Hutt even makes a brief appearance. On his journey, Jango visits such planets as Coruscant and Tatooine.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunter gets a Terror Alert Level: Severe [RED] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Star Wars Week - Clone Wars Review

Star Wars: Clone Wars vol 1

It seems that Statboy* may not have done a very good setting the line in yesterday's Over/Under. There were a lot of over guesses. If you still want to play along, just scroll down a little and enter your guesses in the comment section. In today’s installment of Star Wars Week, I'll be looking at Star Wars: Clone Wars vol. 1 on DVD and also vol. 2, which has yet to find its way to DVD yet.

When I first heard that George Lucas was going to be doing a cartoon version of Star Wars I was a little hesitant. Then I heard that it was going to chronicle the Clone Wars and I put my nerd hat back on. The Clone Wars in the Star Wars mythology was a massive war that brought the rise of the Empire and the demise of the Jedi. Not even the prequel haters can complain about this. Then I heard that the episodes would clock in at 4 minutes. I've urinated longer than that. And so the nerd hat came off. That's a lot to ask to tune in for 5 minutes at 8:00, the start of the primetime. But I guess that why they invented TIVO (not that I'm cool enough to have a TIVO, I instead had to use the VCR). After watching the first couple episodes, the nerd hat came back on.

First thing I noticed about the Clone Wars series was that Lucas alleviated the number one problem that has plagued most of the movies, ear bleeding dialogue. A majority of the episode go without any talking. The major storyline involved Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker trying to take another world back for the Republic. But Mace Windu, Padme with her droids, and Yoda get their own screen time. Even little known Jedis Kit Fisto (an underwater, Bob Marley look-alike) and Luminara Unduli get their own mini-episodes.

The best part of the Clone Wars are the introductions (and sometimes demises) of some of the baddest characters in the Star Wars lexicon with all due respect to Darths Maul and Vader. Durge, with his flair for medieval battle, wipes out a bunch of clones with his lance easily. Plus his Terminator (Robert Patrick version) like tendencies makes him very hard to kill. Asajj Ventress is a (wannabe?) Sith whose is hired by Lord Dooku to be a thorn in Anakin's side. And the last episode features the baddest of them all, General Grievous, the only non Jedi or Sith that uses a lightsaber. And as an added bonus, he's also the only character that can wield three at one time. Grievous is the only baddy here that will make an appearance in Episode III, and I am interested in seeing how the pull him off on the big screen, especially the three lightsaber trick.

There were a few unintentionally funny things that happened during the Clone Wars. First has to be the appearance of Shaggy, of Scooby Doo fame making an appearance as a Padawan. I had to watch this a couple time because I though the Scooby Snack I was eating were making me hallucinate. Secondly, I cannot get enough of Yoda riding on his mini-horse, it good for a chuckle. Also, for reason unbeknownst to anyone, the started out the four minute episodes with a "previously on" montage and ended each with a "on the next Clone Wars." These end up being almost as long as the actual episodes.

Don't check out the Clone Wars vol. 1 expecting any furthering of any of the movie's plot points. Aside from the appearance of Grievous, there is nothing here that gives us any insight on what will happen in the future. Also, don't expect to hear Natalie Portman or any of the stars voices on the DVD as only Anthony Daniels lend the orginal voice to his cartoon counterpoint as C-3PO. The thing that irritated me most is in one of the documentaries on the DVD; Lucas stated that the Clone Wars were the most exciting part of the Star Wars universe. If that is so, why did you not make a movie about it then? He should have scraped The Phantom Menace, make The Attack of the Clones Episode I, and the Clone Wars Episode II.

Star Wars: Clone Wars vol. 1 gets a Terror Alert Level: Severe [RED] on my
Terror Alert Scale.

Not yet on DVD yet is Clone Wars vol. 2. Now we get five fifteen minute episode instead of 20 four minute like vol. 1. Vol. 2 starts off with a lot more dialogue than the first but luckily this trails off and we are left with more action in the latter episode. They were also were able to sneak in a little love story into one of the episodes. Also this season better bridges to Episode III with General Grievous kidnapping Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Anakin becoming a Jedi Knight. I will wait until the DVD release for a more thorough review or rating it.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Star Wars Week - Over/Under

To start off Star Wars Week here on the 9th Green, I thought I start it off with a little game of Over/Under. For those who are unaware how to play, here are the rules. The commissioner will provide you with a number and an explanation of what the number represents. Then you go into the comments section and guess whether you think the actual number will be over or under the number provide (an example is provided in the comment section). And unless your name is Michael Wilbon, you are not allowed to push (pick the number provided). Also, I have not read the book, played the game, seen an advanced screening, and I have avoided spoilers the best I can, so if you know the answers to the following, please do not ruin it for the rest of us please. Now on to the game:

It's time for the game that's seeping the nation, Over/Under. Let's get our first number from the commissioner, Statboy*.
  1. 3 - Total screen time in minutes for Darth Vader
  2. 10 - Total Jedi killed onscreen
  3. 5 - Number of original trilogy references not already mentioned in Episodes 1 or 2.
  4. $30,141,471- Domestic opening day gross (This is how much Episode II grossed, Episode I took in $28,542,349)
  5. 20 - The number of years before Star Wars Episode VII is released.
*Statboy, Pardon the Interruption, and ESPN are in no way affiliated with Scooter McGavin's 9th Green.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Record Executives Are Shady II

An update to my earlier rant. I just recieved this e-mail from the support:

Thank you for contacting us, Scooter. We appreciate your purchase of the Dave Matthews Band CD and will be happy to assist you with the music transfer.

Please follow the instructions below in order to move your content into iTunes and onto an iPod:

If you have a Mac computer you can copy the songs using your iTunes Player as you would normally do.

If you have a PC place the CD into your computer and allow the CD to automatically start. If the CD does not automatically start, open your Windows Explorer, locate the drive letter for your CD drive and double-click on the LaunchCD.exe file located on your CD.

Once the application has been launched and the End User License Agreement has been accepted, you can click the Copy Songs button on the top menu.

Follow the instructions to copy the secure Windows Media Files (WMA) to your PC. Make a note of where you are copying the songs to, you will need to get to these secure Windows Media Files in the next steps.

Once the WMA files are on your PC you can open and listen to the songs with Windows Media Player 9.0 or higher. You may also play them in any compatible player that can play secure Windows Media files, such as MusicMatch, RealPlayer, and Winamp, but it will require that you obtain a license to do so. To obtain this license, from the Welcome Screen of the user interface, click on the link below the album art that says If your music does not play in your preferred player, click here. Follow the instructions to download the alternate license.

Using Windows Media Player only, you can then burn the songs to a CD. Please note that in order to burn the files, you need to upgrade to or already have Windows Media Player 9 or greater.

Once the CD has been burned, place the copied CD back into your computer and open iTunes. iTunes can now rip the songs as you would a normal CD.

Please note an easier and more acceptable solution requires cooperation from Apple, who we have already reached out to in hopes of addressing this issue. To help speed this effort, we ask that you use the following link to contact Apple and ask them to provide a solution that would easily allow you to move content from protected CDs into iTunes or onto your iPod rather than having to go through the additional steps above.

Please let us know if we can assist you further.

Thank you.


SunnComm Tech Support

So they want me to copy my CD, then rip my burned CD onto iTunes? That would take about an hour to do all that. Or it might just be easier just to take the mp3 from my favorite peer to peer client in a matter of seconds. And what are we, the iPod/iTunes users suposed to do with the burned CD? We might as well give away that worthless CD, which in turn will make BMG lose money, the original reason for them to put the copyrighted material on the CD in the first place. So hats off to you, the BMG executive who came up with this idea because, you, my sir, are a moron.