Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Comedy: The Phantom Menace... according to French and Saunders

It is of much debate, but the Phantom Menace by many is regarded as maybe the weaker of the six Star Wars Movies. Still... could have been worse.

George Lucas probably regrets deeply not hiring Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders for leading roles in the Star Wars saga. Or maybe not. He's certainly not on record denying it anyway.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Clone Wars: Season 1 - Episode 14, Defenders of the Peace

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Season 1 - Episode 14, Defenders of the Peace continues directly and concludes the events from Episode 13, Jedi Crash. The episode has the Moral, "When surrounded by War, one must eventually choose a side."

Republic forces in retreat! While rescuing General Aayla Secura from certain defeat, Anakin Skywalker has been seriously injured. After a narrow escape, our heroes crash landed on the remote world of Maridun. Stranded and with no way to contact the Republic, the Jedi receive medical aid from the peaceful Lurmen colonists. But even on this tiny planet, the war threatens to follow the Jedi.

Clones Rex, Bly and the Jedi Anakin Skywalker, Aayla Secura and Ahsoka Tano are stranded on Maridun when to make matter worse, Captain Rex spots a Droid Drop ship in the gloomy skies. A Separatist ship is headed to their location. "What menace have you brought to our village now Jedi?" asks the Lurmen Clan elder, Tee Watt Kaa. Ahsoka explains that the Separatists do not even know they are here and would have arrived anyway. The Lurmen are peaceful pacifists and have no intention of fighting. The Jedi decide then, they must go into hiding and distance themselves from the village.

The Droid Drop-Ship lands. An army of droids depart led by General Lok Durd, an overweight male Neimoidian and weapons developer. He tells the Lurmen they are now under the protection of the Separatist Alliance. They have very little choice in the matter. As the Jedi leave unnoticed, the droids ransack the village. Tee Watt Kaa says they will offer no resistance, they are not interested in conflict. Holding this peaceful philosophy is starting to become a bit of a strain for the younger Lurmen.

The Jedi and two Clones are hiding in the tall grass plains safely away from the village. They decide they need to get off world as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the only ships on the planet are owned by the Separatists.

Suddenly a probe droid jumps out! Immediately jamming its signal frequency, they have to stop it before the device can report their proximity. They make chase, but Anakin, still poorly from his injuries is unable to keep pace. Eventually Secura splices it in two as it flees in another direction from Ahsoka Tano. The group climb a large tree to get a better vantage point to view the extent of the Separatist's forces. Anakin spots an available shuttle if they can get to it, but there are serious numbers of Battle Droids everywhere. This is a large and resourceful army with a number of tanks at their disposable as well as a new terrible weapon.

The Separatist's new weapon is the Defoliator, design by General Lok Durd himself and is capable of catastrophic destruction. This weapon can destroy all organic matter, but leave any machines unharmed.

Lok Durd contacts Count Dooku over Holo-transmission. The planet Maridun was just a planet to test the Defoliator. Dooku witnesses it's first test... which is impressive. A shell fires high into the sky and bursts into a wall of destructive flame on landing. All vegetation and life in its range-path is wiped out. Dooku is impressed, but he wants it tested against living creatures. This is no problem for Lok Durd.He particularly chose this planet because it is inhabited. The Lurmen would make excellent test subjects.

Having also witnessed the destruction from a safe high vantage point, the Jedi suspect the Separatists are now moving to the Lurmen Village for further testing. They have to do something!

At night, the Jedi close in on the Separatist base. Anakin deftly takes out the sentry droids as Secura and Ahsoka stealthily scale the wall and enter. Basic Battle Droids are no match for Jedi. Secura and Ahsoka destroy the patrolling Battle Droids and let Anakin and the clones into the structure. The group make short work of the mechanical security and make off with not only the shuttle, but also a set of handy Shield Generators.

Watt Too and some of the younger Lurmen have been keeping a watch on the Separatist's movements and fear an imminent attack on the village. The Elder Tee Watt Kaa strongly disagrees. He is a very stubborn character and believes this is not their war to fight. If they do so, then they are no better than the Separatists.

The Jedi and Clones land the stolen shuttle at the Lurmen village. They tell the Lurmen, they don't care if they're in the war or not, they have to get them to safety. The stubborn Tee Watt Kaa is angry, he had told them not to return! Ahsoka tells them of the new weapon and that their village will be burned to a crisp. "Is this what you really want?" she asks them. Tee Watt Kaa is still steadfast in his rigid views, but it's possible these views are now solely his own.

General Lok Durd and the droids approach the village in Separatist tanks. The General believes he will own a promotion for this... he sure does like the sound of his own voice! He spots the Jedi and can't believe it. What are they doing here? He immediately orders the firing of the Defoliator!

In response, the Jedi activate the stolen Shield Generators.

The Defoliator fires causing the expected destructive fire wave to race along the ground. It crashes against the Shield and rushes over it like a sea of hellish death. Only now do the Lurmen see the full reality of it. The Village has survived the first strike unscratched.

Lok Durd orders a charge. Tanks move in as does the first squad of battle droids. The Jedi step outside the shield, risking their lives to protect the Lurmen village. The Lurmen watch as the Jedi go all out in battle against seemingly overwhelming odds. They destroy the first squad only for Lok Durd to order two others to attack.

A seemingly recovered Anakin advances, but the clones are driven back behind the shield. Droids fiercely break the defensive line and destroy all the Shield generators! The shield ultimately fails and cuts out to nothing. The village is defenceless! Despite Tee Watt Kaa's strong pacifistic philosophy, the Lurmen decide they must do something! They add their weight to the battle against the droids.

The Shield down, General Lok Durd orders the Defoliator to be fired again. This blast will finish the job. With lightning speed, Anakin Skywalker appears. He carves up the weapon and the firing shell falls harmlessly to the ground. Conforming to Neimoidian stereotype, Lok Durd decides to run for it. Before achieving any real distance however, Anakin has him suspended in mid-air with the force. "There goes my promotion," he comments miserably.

The droids destroyed, the Lurmen Village has been saved. The Clan Elder Tee Watt Kaa comments, "Perhaps we do owe you our thanks, but I still wonder at what cost."

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Star Wars Games: The Force Unleashed - Trailers

Here are the trailers for the the video game, The Force Unleashed. In was released near the end of 2008 on PS2, PS3, Wii, XBox360, iphone, N-gage, Nintendo DS, PC and the PSP.

The story in the game is set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.

In this adventure you play the role of Darth Vader's secret apprentice known as Starkiller. A fun third-person action game, filled with glorious graphics and magnificent sounds. However, the apprentice Starkiller is way way to powerful in the force to ever think this story could fit neatly into the Star Wars timeline. Rather ridiculous in fact. But anyway, if you ignore this, an impressive game.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Star Wars Creatures: Mastif Phalone

The Mastif Phalone is an odd looking species that was first revealed to the Star Wars Universe in the Clone Wars episode, Jedi Crash.

The non-sentient creature originates from the planet Maridun where it likes to hide in the tall grasses. Around two metres in length, Mastifs like the security of hunting in groups, but are easily startled into retreat if they believe their prey is too powerful. In the incident with the Jedi, Aaayla Secura and Ahsoka Tano, one was scared off by blaster fire.

They typically have grey skin and brown feathers, but are incapable of flight. The beast should not be underestimated. They have a muscular build with large sharp talons enabling them to make swift kills. Their head rather resembles that of a Turkey and they patrol their environment on four legs. You could perhaps compare them to a sort of wingless griffin.

In summary, a strange beast that likes to creep up on its prey with the aid of tall vegetation.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Clone Wars: Season 1 - Episode 13, Jedi Crash

The Clone Wars - Episode 13, Jedi Crash has the Moral, "Greed and fear of loss are the roots that lead to the tree of evil".

The Republic fleet is on the defensive and pushed to the brink. As war rages in the most contested Outer Rim Territories, chaos and fear mount as the Separatist army wages an epic battle against heavily outnumbered Republic Ships in the far reaches of the Quell system. Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan Ahsoka, race across the galaxy to aid the Jedi Knight Aayla Secura who is in the midst of a fight for her life as the sinister droid army closes in.

Jedi Knight Aayla Secura's Republic Warship is in trouble within the upper atmosphere of Quell. It is being intensely pummeled by Droid ships and has just lost its shields. Looking to take prisoners Super Battle-Droids bridge the gap to the ailing warship and board.

The rescue party arrive in the form of a Second Republic Warship with Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka and Admiral Yularen aboard. The ship is called The Resolute. They see Secura's ship under attack from the individual Super Battle Droids and immediately launch Gun-Ships to take them on.

During the battle, Anakin makes it to Secura's ship by hitching a lift on a Super whilst Ahsoka crashes a Gun-Ship through a gaping hole in the Warship's hull. She has a number of Clone Troops with her including Captain Rex. The ship is in flames and cannot survive much longer.

Battling their way through the crippled ship, Anakin, Ahsoka and the Clones meet up with Secura. They have to escape as quickly as possible as the vessel cannot possibly hold out much longer before exploding or starting to break up. A Republic Cruiser waits in the lower docking bay to take them away. Too late! Skywalker sees an explosion racing through the corridor toward them. He force-pushes his companions to safety through the air-lock, but is caught in its wake. Ahsoka opens the air-lock door and drags Anakin's unconscious body back to the waiting cruiser.

As they launch toward Admiral Yularen's Republic Warship to dock, Anakin lies in a critical condition being tended by a Medical Droid. Their escape cruiser takes a bad hit triggering the Hyperspace systems! Ahsoka and the Clones are unable to shut it down making any docking with Yularen's waiting ship now impossible. They vanish from the battlefield as the craft blasts into hyperspace away. Desperate to find them Yularen orders, "Plot every course along their last known trajectory!".

More bad news, the Republic Cruiser's navigation system is completely fried. Unable to alter course, they are headed right toward a star! Secura orders the clones to reset the Navigational Computer which means temporarily shutting the ship's power including Anakin's life-support. She says it's a risk that they have to take.

With the ship's systems successfully reset, they emerge from hyperspace dangerously close to the Star! Taking evasive action, they manage to swoop around it, but have taken critical damage. Unable to do much else, they crash land on a nearby habitable planet. Fortunately every one survives the impact.

One of the Clones finds evidence they are not alone on the planet, a stone tablet with a depiction of a tree etched on to it. Ahsoka doesn't want to leave her injured Master, but Secura says she must. It is important they find the people who live on the world in order to secure help. Captain Rex will guard Anakin while they are away in the makeshift camp they've erected.

In their search for intelligent life, the group are almost hit by some large falling seed type pods. There is a trail of them which they decide to follow.

Back at the camp, Captain Rex is guarding Anakin when he hears some movement in the bushes. Anakin awakes as Rex is attacked by a fierce birdlike creature. It is a Mastif Phalone! After a brief struggle, the beast is scared away by Blaster fire.

Secura's group are attacked by two of the Mastifs! Before they are scared off, three members of the Clones are killed. Secura decides it is unsafe out there and tells them they have to keep moving. Soldiering on, they eventually arrive at a large field of Pods & small gnome-monkey like aliens called the Lurmen. For some strange reason they have Irish accents, but this is Star Wars so anything goes!

Jedi Knight Aayla Secura explains to the Lurmen that they need their help, but the clan elder, Tee Watt Kaa, is not interested in their wars. He has very strong views on the subject. The Lurmen colonized the system to find solace from the wretched wars, they came there to find peace. Tee Watt Kaa tells them to leave before they destroy what small amount of peace is left in the galaxy. On hearing of Anakin SkyWalker's injuries however, they at least agree to send medical help in the form of their healer and Tee Watt Kaa's son, Wag Too. Uneasy, Tee Watt Kaa requests that one of the Jedi remain as insurance. This is Secura.

At the Camp, Anakin is in a bad way. Sensing danger, he struggles to his feet. He alerts Captain Rex and they turn round to see two of the vicious Mastifs headed in their direction!

Fortunately this is when Ahsoka, the Clone Bly and Wat Too arrive. The native Wat Too is an expert at dealing with these creatures. Using a rope he acrobatically ties them up with the help of the others. They take the injured Anakin on a streatcher back to the Lurmen's village where he is treated with healing Pod oil. He is told by Wat Too that the oil will aid the natural healing process.

Pleased that Master Anakin is now safe from harm Ahsoka comments that she is glad the whole ordeal is over. Jedi Secura reminds the young Padawan that they still have to find a way off the planet. Ahsoka believes that Admiral Yularen and the Republic Fleet will be looking for them.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Games: Lego Star Wars, the Complete Saga

You sure can't beat Star Wars lego! Here is the brief trailer that was produced for Lego Star Wars, the Complete Saga released by LucasArts. The game was released in November 2007.

Hours of fun are to be had with this cool game as you battle your way using various characters through the explosive events of all 6 of the Star Wars Movies.


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Clone Wars: Season 1 - Episode 12, The Gungan General

The Clone Wars: Season 1 - Episode 12, The Gungan General sees Representative Jar Jar Binks in the thick of things and is the conclusion to Episode 11 - Dooku Captured. The episode has the Moral, "Fail with honor rather than succeed with fraud".

Dooku held for ransom! After escaping capture from Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the villainous Count Dooku fell into the clutches of Pirates led by bridged Hondo Ohnaka. Eager to get custody of Dooku, the Republic agreed to pay Hondo a hefty sum in exchange for the Sith Lord. But Anakin and Obi-Wan had not counted on the treacherous cunning of Ohnaka and his band.

The episode starts with Anakin and Obi-Wan waking up in a Pirate holding Cell. Despite their evasive actions to prevent it, it appears they were drugged at the previous nights banquet after all. To make matters even worse, the pair are shackled to the evil Count Dooku.

Ohnaka's plan is once he receives the Republic ransom for the Sith, he will then set up another ransom for the Jedi. His colleague, Turk, thinks he has a better way to make money, but goes along with Ohnaka or... so it seems.

The Republic arrive in Florrum air space in the form of Senator Kharrus from Malastare, Representative Jar Jar Binks and an attachment of Clone Troopers led by Commander Stone. They are here to exchange Count Dooku for the ransom of narcotic spice.

Pirate Turk has other ideas and decides to double-cross the leader Ohnaka and take the spice for himself. He orders some of his trusted group to intercept the Republic ship. They do so and shoot it down, forcing a crash-landing. Senator Kharrus is killed in the crash, effectively leaving Jar Jar as the highest ranking one amongst them.

Turk is desperate to capture the Spice. On hearing that there are survivors of the Republic ship, he and his small gang, decide to take Speederbikes to the crash site and eliminate them.

Meanwhile, Count Dooku, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi have been trying to escape their cell. The first attempt is engineered by Dooku when, using the force, he takes a knife and springs the door locking mechanism. They are quickly recaptured when the pirate's pet Kowakian monkey-lizard raises the alarm. The second attempt, Kenobi uses his favoured Jedi mind trick to control the Weequay guard into letting them escape unchallenged. Unfortunately this second effort is again unsuccessful and almost gets them killed when Anakin attempts to vault a high wall to the outside. Ohnaka warns them not to complicate things by breaking out again.

At the Republic crash site, a clone troop is trying to repair the ship's homing beacon to aid in a possible rescue. The planet is dangerous. Numerous obnoxious geysers are periodically spouting plumes of corrosive acid. Jar Jar Binks is now technically in charge and the mission objective is in serious jeopardy. With no ship, they will have no way of safely holding onto Count Dooku if any exchange is made.

Binks spots Turk's renegade Pirate group approaching on Speederbikes. Any hopes they are here to provide an exchange for Dooku are quickly dashed when the advancing Pirates open fire on them! Outgunned, the clones form a defensive circle, before retreating into a Geyser crator. As soon as it goes off however, they will be completely fried by acid! Sensing it may be about to erupt very soon, they decide to leave and head back to the downed shuttle. The Pirates are nowhere to be seen. They have made off with the Spice and jointly towed it away. Bink has an idea how they can catch up with them.

If you remember the Kwazel Maw from the episode Bombad Jedi you will be aware that Jar Jar Binks always seems to have a way with dumb animals. He and the Clones hitch a ride on some fat looking hog beasts native to the harsh planet. Using these, they are able to catch the Pirate Speeders and engage them in a fierce fire fight. Some of the lasers fired set off a number of acid geysers, taking out a percentage of the bikers. A few get away including the traitor Turk, but Binks and the clones retake the Spice ransom.

The Clone Troopers and Jar Jar make their way toward the Pirate Base by following a trail of power-lines.

Turk meets with Hondo Ohnaka after his failed attempt to grab the spice for himself. He lies that the Republic had set a trap and a huge army was waiting for him. Ohnaka believes him. He agrees to let Turk go back against them with their tanks while he himself will deal with the troublesome Jedi.

Dooku, Kenobi and Skywalker are back in their Cell. Weequay guards arrive and lead the Jedi to the waiting Ohnaka. The Count is left alone with a single weequay on guard.

On their way to the Pirate base, Jar Jar is the first to notice the Pirate tanks coming their way. The Clone, Commander Stone, instructs Binks to go and negotiate with them... maybe he remembers how Binks fared against the Droid Army tanks on Naboo seen in The Phantom Menace. "He's probably going to get himself killed," comments a Clone Troop. Commander Stone answers, "Don't worry, he's smarter than he looks"... yes, well, that isn't exactly hard is it?

Ohnaka has the Jedi suspended on an electrical torture device in the Main Hall. Unaware of Turk's treachery, he feels betrayed by the Republic. He tells Anakin and Obi-Wan that the Republic sent a large army. Anakin doesn't think this can be right, but Ohnaka is in no mood to discuss things any further. He activates the torture device and force-like lightning is sent painfully through the Jedi's suspended bodies.

As maybe a little predicted, Jar Jar's discussion with the Tank Commander has led to a crazy and bizarre cascade of slap-stick accidents. Two tanks have collided causing multiple explosions and one has crashed into the Power-line cutting off all the Pirate Base's power. The Base is powerless. Shocked and battered, the Clone Troops defeat the remaining Tanks.

Without power, the torture device holding the Jedi is now useless. Anakin and Obi-Wan rapidly escape, force-grab their lightsabres from the Kowakian monkey-lizard and take the surprised Hondo Ohnaka hostage before he has a chance to move.

Dooku has also taken advantage of the Power-Cut to escape from his cell and kill the guard outside. He plans to escape before the Jedi and Republic can get hold of him.

Sensing things are going badly, the Pirate Traitor Turk also decides to leave. He doesn't get the chance. An arriving Count Dooku force chokes him several feet off the ground. He falls down dead, but not before he's also inadvertently shot his number two thanks to Dooku's manipulation. Dooku takes Turk's ship and escapes the Republic's grasp.

Binks arrives with the captured tanks to joig Anakin and Kenobi and from here their escape is easy. They release Ohnaka as taking hostages or seeking revenge is not the Jedi way. Ohnaka seems genuinely impressed by this show of honour. Kenobi warns him, Dooku does not share this kind of honour and now knows what he lives.