One Shot Analysis – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

I’m trying something new here – not sure if it’ll stick, which is why I’m trying it here and not immediately launching a new blog.

I had the idea, partially inspired by this thread on Twitter examining Empire Strikes Back shot-by-shot, to take a single shot from a movie and analyze it / write something about it.  This took me on a fun trail trying to figure out just how do people get still images from movies, anyway?  It led me to https://www.film-grab.com which is a fantastic resource, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

With that, here’s a scene from the first act of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Image courtesy https://www.film-grab.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s going on in this shot?

Interpreting it in a strict sense, Luke Skywalker is playing with a model spaceship while cleaning up a pair of droids.

In story terms, that’s pretty much the same answer.  This particular shot isn’t doing a lot, plot-wise.

What does it say about the characters?

About the droids, nothing.  C-3P0 is kind of just standing there in the oil bath, and R2-D2 is…watching?  He’s not doing a lot either, probably stewing about his mission being delayed.  I think that it says a lot about Luke Skywalker, on the other hand.

In this shot, Luke is pretty clearly playing around with a model ship while he does his chores.  I almost hate to admit it, but this is pretty much on the level of watching TV / movies while I’m folding the laundry.  Almost.  I think it’s probably closer to playing with toys when I was supposed to be cleaning my room when I was younger.

In this shot, we can see that Luke has no interest in the day-to-day life of the moisture farm.  I wouldn’t say he’s dreaming of adventure in space, exactly, but you can definitely see that his mind is in that spaceship in his hand, flying around with his friends.  (On a side note, it’s almost too bad that the podracing in The Phantom Menace wasn’t a little closer in nature to the T-16’s Luke flies.)

He has no sense of who he is in the larger galaxy at this point – if you put Luke as he is right here in the cockpit of the X-Wing at the end of the movie, there’s no doubt in my mind he’d be one of the casualties in the battle, and Yavin IV would be toast.

What do you see in this shot?  Anything I missed?

The Last Jedi (Spoilers!)

The Last Jedi has been out in theatres for at least a month now, which I feel makes it safe to talk about the movie without holding back on spoilers.  With that said, it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, so the details will be somewhat vague.  I won’t be revealing specific plot points (I don’t think, anyway), but I might talk about specific moments in the film.  If you’re okay with that, read on; otherwise wait until you’ve seen the film.  These are some of my thoughts on the controversies and overall opinion of the movie.

Spoiler Alert
Spoiler Alert

Continue reading “The Last Jedi (Spoilers!)”

How To Read 3650 Pages In A Year

I’ve been doing a little bit of research lately to try and get more eyeballs onto my blog, and one of the things I’ve been trying to do is read what other people are writing.  That’s something I’ve been neglecting for some time.

One of the articles that I found was from the blog Flight Headed (www.flightheaded.com).  It was called, “How and Why You Should Read 3650 Pages  Worth of Books A Year“.  It is as the title suggests – an article suggesting that you should read 3650 pages of books in a year.

That honestly sounds like a lot.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows hovers around 500 pages.  A Game of Thrones is 873 pages, and A Dance With Dragons clocks in at 1200+.  If you’re adding with me, that’s 2573, leaving 1077 pages to go and that’s only 3 books.

Author Chris Flores breaks it down a bit more reasonably.  Flores suggests reading just 10 pages a day, which is where the number 3650 comes from (365 days x 10 pages = 3650).  If even that seems daunting, the suggestion is to read 5 pages a day – which is still 1825 pages!

But the point isn’t really the amount of pages you should read.  The number, like I said, simply comes from being something that is manageable on a per-day level.  10 pages?  That takes 15-20 minutes, depending on your reading speed.  Sure, you can find time out of your day to do that.  You probably read that much in online articles and blogs.  It’s a much easier ask than throwing a book at someone and telling them to read it in two weeks.

I won’t re-hash the benefits of reading that Flores outlines (check out his blog post, he really does a good job describing the benefits).  Instead, what sparked me to write this was what clicked in my head after reading the article.  I often lament that I don’t have time (or don’t make time) to read, and as a result have many books just sitting on the shelf.

To look at things in a “10 page a day” pace, it makes things much more manageable.  I’m currently reading Catalyst by James Luceno; its length is 288 pages and I’m on page 177.  111 pages?  If I read just 10 pages a day I’ll be done in 10 days.

Update: Actually, I wrote this last week – since then I just finished reading Catalyst last night – see my Goodreads entry on it if you’re interested!

Currently I have a goal to read 25 books this year (including comic books / graphic novels); I’ve read 11 so far.  I plan on getting as close to 25 as I can using this new-found reading spark.  I’ve got a lot of good books waiting to be read, and I keep finding more!

Vader Omnibus – Volume 1 Review

I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Vader comic book series, and it was recently recommended to me by Patrick of Make Dad Read Comics to read it – I had a $50 gift card burning a hole in my pocket so I finally picked up the first 12 issues, collected in Vader Omnibus – Volume 1.

If you haven’t come across this comic book before, the general idea behind it is that it follows Vader’s antics immediately after the destruction of the first Death Star.  It joins the long standing tradition of comics and novels filling in the space in between films, which I can always get behind.

I finally finished the book over the weekend, and I can say that I really enjoyed it.  One of the interesting things that it does is knock Vader down several notches.  He’s somewhere in between his status in A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back; he’s still taking orders from other Imperial officers (Tagge, this time), but isn’t quite as fearsome as he appears in ESB.

What’s interesting is that the Emperor is really displeased with Vader in this comic series.  The destruction of the Death Star at the end of A New Hope is a big failure for the Empire, and for Vader in particular.  At this stage in the comics, Vader must really prove himself to the Emperor again, while being placed under the supervision of an Imperial officer.  What results is Vader taking it upon himself to gather his own covert forces to track down Luke Skywalker.

There are several cool flashback moments in the comic that re-contextualize Vader a little bit.  It made me realize that he was probably thinking of his past at a few different points in the movies, even though the prequel trilogy came much later.   But the real highlight of these first 12 books are Captain Aphra and her droid factory (I’m hit or miss on Triple-0 and BT but more on the hit side than miss).  I just found out today that she’s going to have her own comic book series – and I think I want to check it out.

I would gush more, but I need to give this another read through.  Especially since I also just learned that the second volume is coming out Feb 28th, so I have another book to pick up soon.  Suffice it to say that the Vader series is well-written, well-drawn, and is fun to read through.  I definitely recommend it!

Latest Snoke Theory

I’ll just leave this here.

Death Star Trench Run Revelations

I had a post in the works talking about Our Lady Peace, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.  To keep the streak of a post every day though, enjoy this blog post from FXRant.

It’s a fun read!

Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope

infinitiesanewhope16 years later, I finally read Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope.  If you’re not familiar with the title, the Infinities series is basically a “What If” series of comics published by Dark Horse in the early 2000’s, starting with A New Hope in 2001.

I first picked up issues 2, 3, and 4 – probably 16 years ago – based on the cover of the books; at the time, I couldn’t find issue #1 in the comic book shop, so I never read the books.  Finally, this year, I found the first issue and got to reading.

Overall, I’d give the series a 3.5/5.  The first issue is definitely the weakest, starting off with a quick summary of what really happened in A Ne w Hope, with some narration boxes saying…”what if something changed” (I paraphrase)?  In the case of SWI:ANH (my abbreviation), the detail that changes is Luke’s torpedoes fail to destroy the Death Star.

What follows is that the Rebel Base gets mostly destroyed, but the Rebels  manage to escape…for a few minutes.  Han and Luke believe that Leia is dead, triggering a massive angry outburst from Luke.  They manage to escape, and on starts this new saga.

I think the best part of this story has to be the depiction of Coruscant as the seat of the Empire, taking familiar locations from Episodes I and II and flipping them around.  For instance, the artists draw the Jedi Tower almost exactly as it appears in the prequel films, but use it as the Emperor’s private residence.  It’s a very fitting place for the Emperor to set up shop, really.  But the artist team get the details perfect, including the landing platforms that are used as well.  I recognize them all from the prequel trilogy.

Overall the writing is pretty sharp and tight.  I recently read the Dark Empire series from Dark Horse, and didn’t really enjoy the writing in that series.  However, the story progresses well for Infinities and the character choices make sense.  Well, Han doesn’t really have much to do other than shuttle Luke around – but I liked the sequence where Han, Luke and Chewie head to Dagobah.  That part does work.

If you can track the series down at some point, I definitely recommend it.  I’m going to look for the other Infinities series soon – hopefully they’re just as good.  Next up though, I have the first 12 volumes of the new Darth Vader series on the way to my mailbox, so I’m looking forward to getting started with that.

A Star Wars Christmas

I have a bunch of Star Wars toys that I’ve collected over the years (and I have no shame in amditting that I still buy them), and this year I finally had a place to display them. So naturally I created a “Merry Christmas” photo for 2016.

A Star Wars Christmas
A Star Wars Christmas

I think next year I’ll try to get a little more creative with it, but in the meantime I have an idea for a Father’s Day photo shoot.
If anyone wants to add anything to this photo digitally – go for it!