Thursday, June 25, 2015

Not!Firefly

I've really missed Sci Fi (now SyFy) Fridays. I don't know how long they've been showing wrestling in that spot, but it seems like forever since the golden age of three (or more) solid hours of science fiction programming on Friday nights. Usually, there was at least one Stargate show, often two (SG-1 and Atlantis), sometimes Battlestar Galactica, sometimes Doctor Who. And for a brief time they showed the entire series of Firefly in the pre-prime time slot. I'd settle on the sofa with a pizza at six and watch all night.

And now it's back. They've moved wrestling to another night (it still doesn't belong on the network, but I guess if it helps pay the bills and keep the other stuff on, I can live with it), so we have three hours of science fiction shows on Friday night. And, wonder of wonders, two of those actually involve spaceships, something SyFy has avoided for a long time while they've focused on shows that were more "paranormal" than science fiction. I like a lot of the paranormal stuff, but I also enjoy spaceship shows.

The first hour is devoted to the returning Defiance, which is sort of a post-apocalyptic Western with aliens on earth. The next two hours are new shows that both fall into the category of Not!Firefly. Otherwise known as "we loved Firefly, so we wrote fanfic and then filed off the serial numbers and added a twist or two." I can hardly criticize, as my very first attempt at writing was Star Wars mental fanfic with the serial numbers filed off. In my defense, I was twelve. And I didn't get a TV development deal out of it. But hey, I liked (loved, obsessed over) Firefly, so a couple of hours of Almost, but Not Quite, Entirely Unlike Firefly (Really! It's Totally Different!) is fine with me.

So, the first hour of Not!Firefly Night is Killjoys, which has only had one episode so far. Basically, Not!Inara is the captain, except her mystical special training seems to have been as a ninja-like assassin instead of as a courtesan, and it seems like Not!Simon is her first officer, only he's a thief instead of a doctor, and Not!Simon and Not!Mal are brothers, and they're all bounty hunters instead of smugglers. The world is very, very Firefly. We even have the evil corporation that seems to be in charge of everything. I liked the pilot, although the weak link is Not!Mal, who has none of Mal's personality or charm. Maybe he'll warm up as they go along.

Then the next round of Not!Firefly is Dark Matter, where they barely bothered filing the serial numbers off the characters, though they're in a totally different situation. It's basically Firefly Alt-Universe fanfic with the character names changed. A group of people wakes up from some kind of cryosleep on a spaceship, with no memory of who they are, why they're there, or where they're going, but they do seem to each have some kind of skill that comes to them without any memory of having learned it or having used it. The woman who just falls into the captain role is Not!Zoe. Then there's Not!Simon and Not!Jayne. There's a young girl who's a blend of Kaylee and River, and RivLee is so obvious in her origins that I can't even put the Not! in there. I'm thinking that the Asian swordsman is maybe a gender-flipped Not!Inara (for the mystic exoticness, not so much for being a courtesan, though who knows?), and then we have Not!Book. The only slight twist is a rather snarky android with homicidal tendencies, who did not appear in Firefly (unless maybe she's our Not!Mal). We don't learn any of the characters' names until the very end of the pilot, and they refer to each other by numbers that I can't keep straight, which doesn't help my tendency to refer to them by their Firefly character names.

I was a little ho-hum on this one, mostly amusing myself by mapping all the Firefly parallels, until the very end of the episode and we learned who they were, and that intrigued me enough that I immediately watched the next episode (I was watching OnDemand). I'm kind of a sucker for "blank slate" stories, the idea of what would you be if you didn't know who you were, and I have a feeling that the identities we learned about may not be that straightforward (I have theories, based on the obvious Firefly 2.0 situation, but we shall see if I'm right).

It's not Firefly, nowhere near the same level of writing or acting, and I wouldn't recommend that they re-run the real deal in that pre-prime time slot because the newcomers would suffer in comparison, but if you have the original memorized and want something new that kind of scratches a similar itch, check these out.

Friday, May 22, 2015

That Game of Thrones Episode

Although there's been a lot of disturbing stuff on the Game of Thrones TV series, the ending of last week's episode really irked me, enough that I fired off an angry tweet. Now, after thinking about it and reading other responses, I think I've unpacked what exactly it was that bothered me so much. Spoilers ahead for books and TV series.

1) It was a breaking point/final straw about lazy writing
It's a sad reality that the kneejerk reaction to a woman doing something on the Internet that displeases a certain kind of man is a rape threat. I've been fortunate to have avoided that, probably due to being too obscure an author to get that kind of attention, but I've seen it happen to way too many other female authors. "You should be raped/you deserve to be raped/I ought to come rape you" is used to mean "I disagree with your opinion," "what you said made me feel uncomfortable," "you aren't writing fast enough and I want more books," "you took a character in a direction I didn't like" or "the e-book of your newest release didn't download onto my reader at precisely the stroke of midnight even though I pre-ordered it."

The Game of Thrones TV series is starting to feel the same way. They need to show that it's a dangerous, gritty world? Rape. They need to show that women are vulnerable and aren't safe? Rape. They need to show that a man is a twisted jerk? Rape. They want to shock the audience? Rape. An exposition scene might be boring? Rape of a topless or naked woman.

So, basically a team of supposedly professional writers for a highly praised, award-winning TV series is functioning on the creative level of your average Internet troll. It's lazy writing, prurience masquerading as "grit."

2) "But it's realistic!" "There's rape in the books!"
Yes, women have been raped throughout history. Yes, there's rape in the books. But there was lots of other unsavory stuff going on in those historical eras and in the books. The books depict the terrible aftermath of a war, showing how it's the common people who are suffering even after the nobles have wrapped up their war over which nobles will be in power. There's starvation because crops were destroyed in battle. Homes were destroyed. There's a flood of refugees on the roads. Lawless bands of former soldiers abruptly cut loose at the end of the war are roaming around, terrorizing the population. And, yes, this includes rape. The show mostly boils this down to rape, skimming over the rest. It's the shorthand for "things are tough all over." Also, most of the key rape scenes in the TV series were not rapes in the books or happened to different characters in a different context. They're adding bonus rape to major characters.

3) Did these writers even read the books?
I feel like in the latest scene involving Sansa that the writers were so eager to include a rape of a major character (perhaps not coincidentally played by an actress who recently became "legal") that they entirely missed the point of this segment of the books. The theme of that story line was fakery because there was a lot going on that wasn't what it seemed. While a woman was raped at the corresponding part of the story in similar circumstances (the consummation of an arranged marriage), the point was that the Boltons were trying to cement their hold on the north by marrying Ramsay to "Arya Stark," who was actually an impostor. Which meant this marriage actually did nothing to solidify their hold. Meanwhile, the Lords of the North who were gathered to witness this wedding were actually plotting against them and undermining them. Even the minstrel playing in the hall was actually someone else in disguise. It looked like the ultimate Bolton triumph, but readers could tell that they were actually building a house of sand that was in danger of collapsing completely. Although the events were horrifying, there was an iota of hope that it was all about to turn around. But the TV show replaced the fake Arya with the real Sansa Stark, so this marriage actually does solidify their claim. The lords aren't there. Mance isn't there in his minstrel disguise. So it's a very different event from what happened in the book.

4) It was given a really creepy context that wasn't in the book.
In the book, Ramsay is a monster, all the way through, with no redeeming qualities. There might be a few twisted individuals who identify with him, but that's on them because I don't get the feeling that Martin is in any way trying to make him sympathetic. On TV, this character is played by a handsome actor with a lot of charm and charisma. When we meet him, he's tormenting Theon, a traitor who bears a lot of responsibility for what happened to the Stark family, so although Ramsay is cruel, there's the sense of "the enemy of my enemy." He gets the snarky one-liners and clever quips. We actually see his degradation of Theon instead of it being something that's already happened by the time we catch up with the character again. Show-Ramsay has a bevy of beautiful women at his beck and call to help him with his sadism. When he tortures and castrates Theon, there are naked women on the screen. Ramsay is depicted in a consensual relationship with a beautiful woman who's even jealous of his arranged bride. In short, on the show, he's shown to be kind of a cool dude, and is pretty much the way the Internet trolls would like to see themselves -- they're irresistible to beautiful women, but they also get to force themselves on the women who think they're too good for them. That makes the scene in question feel like it was written to cater to the worst elements of the audience.

5) It actually does make a difference that it happens to a secondary character.
This sequence in the book is mostly about Theon's growth, how the way Ramsay treats his wife is what breaks Theon out of his tortured conditioning and Stockholm Syndrome and makes him help the girl and defy Ramsay -- it's his redemption arc. While it is kind of icky that a woman's rape is used for a man's growth, the woman is a supporting, secondary character, and that's what supporting characters do. They help create and support the plots for the major characters. There are plenty of major female characters in the books, most of whom are not raped and who have their own arcs that aren't about supporting the emotional growth of men. I'll withhold judgment until I see how the aftermath plays out here, but the camera did focus on Theon's face and his reaction, so there's a good chance that this arc will still be largely about his growth. The problem here is that Sansa is a major character in her own right who has her own story and her own arc, so one of the major female characters in the story (who has not been raped at the point where the books leave off so far) may have been demoted into a position of supporting the arc of a male character (who is arguably a less important character than she is in the books), and they're using a rape of her to do so.

So, all this is why my reaction to this episode was "Seriously, guys? Oh, come on." I'm not going to stop watching because I want to see how the story plays out (and goodness knows if we'll ever get to the end of the books), but I did want to raise my voice. I don't know if the outcry will actually make these guys think, but I don't want anyone to have any illusions that no one has noticed what they're doing here. It would be lovely if the freedom offered by HBO weren't just used to make television with all the maturity of a 13-year-old boy. "Mature audiences" really should mean more than "hee hee, boobies!"

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Geeks vs. Nerds

I go back and forth between the terms "geek" and "nerd," and they're often used interchangeably, but now some scientist (probably very geeky) has tried to quantify the difference, with a graph!

Are you a geek or a nerd?

I'm not entirely sure I follow his rationale, and only a few of the terms on the graph seem to apply to me. From what I can tell, I'm both extremely geeky and extremely nerdy, mostly due to the books, Star Trek, Star Wars and Tolkien factors. But I don't do gaming, costumes, technology or collecting.

There was no data about stealth geeks.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

TV news and Defiance Review

First, Warehouse 13 is coming back April 29, but the season premiere (the resolution of last season's cliffhanger) is currently available online via the SyFy web site and OnDemand (depending on your cable company). I watched that last night, but I may have to rewatch the older episodes they've also put OnDemand because I'd forgotten a lot.

I also watched the series premiere of Defiant, the new SyFy show. I'll definitely watch it again, but I'm not in love with it yet. I've found that the shows I get really into have some character or some question (or some question about a character) that makes me eager to see what happens next, not so much for the plot but because I can see that the mix of character and situation is going to be interesting. A lot of it comes from a sense of surprise. For instance, one of the things that got me intrigued about Firefly when I saw the first episode that was aired ("The Train Job") was the revelation that on this ship full of criminals pulling off heists, the one who was wanted by the Feds was the prim and proper doctor. I remember that sense of "Oh, now this could be interesting." So far, there's none of that in Defiance. I don't dislike it, but there was nothing that had me really curious about how things would work out.

From what I could tell of the backstory, there was an alien invasion by an alliance of races that planned to terraform earth to be a new home for them, but they weren't prepared for earth already being inhabited. There was war, until the soldiers decided not to fight anymore, and now there's a tenuous peace in a weird postapocalyptic landscape. Our Hero is a Mal Reynolds/Han Solo type, a former soldier who's an embittered veteran of a famous battle who's now something of a mercenary/scavenger, and he travels with his adopted alien daughter, a war orphan he took in and raised as his own. They get robbed by a roving gang and then are rescued and taken to the town of Defiance, formerly known as St. Louis, and if you've ever seen any movie or TV series ever, you pretty much know everything that will happen after that.

It has a bit of a Firefly vibe, with the Western tropes in a science fiction situation, and there's a dash or two of Mad Max in there, as well. I find a few of the characters interesting, though not all that intriguing (there's no real mystery to any of them, nothing I'm dying to find out). I'm a little worried about the teen Romeo and Juliet plot because the kiss of death for most of the recent science fiction series (V, Terra Nova, Revolution) has been the annoying teens put front and center. But my main problem with the pilot was that there were no surprises whatsoever. Starting about five minutes into the show, I had outlined pretty much what would happen. A lot of these tropes are right out of famous movies, down to the scenes and even some of the lines. Even the big "shocker" in the episode's tag was a bit of a "well, duh!" Granted, I'm hard to surprise because I know too much about story structure, but it would be nice to have one or two developments that I didn't see coming or that didn't seem so horribly telegraphed. I feel like I can even see how the series is likely to progress, so I hope they throw in a few monkey wrenches along the way to shake things up. Maybe the obvious triangle won't happen or the obvious budding relationship between the currently at-odds younger people won't come about, but I won't hold my breath. Still, it's science fiction on television. There are spaceships and aliens, and so far the teens aren't too prominent, so I'll be watching unless something else gets in the way.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Snow White and the Huntsman

I like fairy tales, and I like retellings of fairy tales that flesh them out or reimagine them. You'd think that would have led me to see Snow White and the Huntsman in the theater, but something about it just struck me as Not My Kind of Thing. And I was right, but it was the perfect thing to watch on HBO when I was sick. You really need to be feverish and on cold medicine to properly appreciate it, probably because it seemed like the entire cast was doped up on Nyquil. They all just kind of mumbled their lines like they were barely conscious, and then every so often Charlize Theron would jolt herself out of her stupor and scream something and make me jump. Being on Nyquil yourself makes you more sympathetic to the characters. You want to hand them a tissue and some juice instead of just rolling your eyes at them.

Snow White is a pretty problematic fairy tale to try to translate because the heroine is essentially a Mary Sue -- she's the most beautiful girl around, so beautiful that everyone either loves her instantly or is insanely jealous. The core of the plot is that someone is so jealous of her beauty that she wants to kill her, which is a rather lame motivation for a villain. Some of the retellings attempt to provide another motivation, which can backfire if it's even lamer than "because she's prettier" (see Once Upon a Time). I haven't seen Mirror, Mirror, but my impression is that it was played for laughs there, where we were supposed to think it was a ridiculous motivation. The Disney animated version played it straight. This one really goes for the gusto. Not only is Snow White the fairest of them all, she's so fair and pure and good and sparkly and wonderful that her very existence threatens the queen's powers. You see, the queen has made a career out of marrying kings, killing them, taking over the kingdom and then she seems to get some of the power from killing the kings and other power from taking milk baths and more power from sucking the youth and beauty from all the young, beautiful women in the kingdom (they weren't really precise with the explanations here, or else I missed something in all the soporific mumbling). I guess she moves on when she's depleted the place. Anyway, her magic mirror tells her that her power will be weak while Princess Sparkly Perfect still lives, but if she eats her heart, she'll be immortal. To make sure we know how magically special Snow White is, she literally <i>walks on water</i> to meet the Aslan-like magic white hart that rules the forest, and the Aslan-like creature <i>bows</i> to her as an onlooker breathes, "She is life itself!" So, yeah, go big or go home -- if she's going to be the fairest of them all, why not go over the top?

The movie follows most of the beats of the fairy tale otherwise, except the huntsman sent to get her doesn't send back a deer heart and instead stays with her for a kind of buddy road trip thing, she only stays with the dwarfs for about a night instead of living with them in hiding, she rallies the people into an assault on the castle after being awakened from the magical coma, and nobody falls in love with a corpse in a glass coffin (which is a step up from the story).

I hadn't seen the Twilight movies, so I didn't have a lot of preconceived notions about the Twilight chick, but she seemed to mostly go through the movie with a perpetual "Huh?" look on her face. In fairness, I probably had a similar look while watching the movie, but mine was more "You have got to be kidding me" than "I don't get it." The poor girl just looked confused the whole time. I'm also worried that she needs to be evaluated for breathing difficulties. She spends a lot of time with her mouth hanging open and her chest heaving like she's struggling for air. Maybe that was why she needed all the Nyquil.

I remember when this movie came out that most of the enthusiasm was for the Huntsman character, and apparently he's going to be the focus of a follow-up film, but I have to say that I wasn't impressed at all. He was such a standard issue Something Bad Once Happened to Me, So Now I'm a Drunk Who Doesn't Care About Anything Until The Right Woman Cures Me With Her Magical Sparkliness antihero stereotype. He actually had two Han Solo "I'm leaving because I'm selfish, but I'll come back at the right time" moments. I think he was method acting with the drunkenness and combining it with the Nyquil because he was the worst for sounding like he was barely awake. Not that I blame him, given the dialogue he had to spout. Like, "What does a girl like you know about pain?" Dude, the wicked queen hired you to track her down. Do you really have to ask the question?

The guy I found intriguing and who I'd like to see focused on in a future movie was the former childhood best friend. Yeah, I've got a weakness for the childhood best friend type, but this one had just as much reason for pain and guilt but didn't feel the need to go on and on about his angsty manpain. Instead, he apparently has been working on some serious skills, and he got the absolute best moment in the movie (one I wish I could steal without being obvious about it so it could go in a more worthy story). He's learned that Snow White is alive (he's believed her dead all this time and blames himself), has escaped and that the queen is hunting her, so he infiltrates the queen's creepily quasi-incestuous brother's (someone's been reading George RR Martin) hunting party by standing in the road in front of them to block their progress and asking if they need a bowman. The queen's brother says they already have one. THWANNNNNG. Thud. "I ask again, do you need a bowman?" That's my kind of badass. Plus, he looks like he smells a lot better than the Huntsman (come to think of it, that may explain her other facial expression, which seems like "What is that smell?" and it may explain the panting and mouth breathing).

The other best thing about the movie was the dwarfs, which were a surprising who's who of British actors. I figure they must have found the bar where they all hang out, dosed their drinks, tossed them into a van when they passed out, then held them prisoner long enough to do their scenes. That's the only explanation that makes sense. Too bad they were barely in the movie.

Actually, there was some potential to this story, although the dialogue was terrible. The main problem was that they didn't bother to flesh out the characters into anything resembling people. Snow White is the Perfect Sparkly Princess with no touch of humanity or depth to her. She mostly exists as a quest object, no matter how much they try to make her a kick-ass woman warrior (note: it takes time to learn to use a sword or even be able to hold it without pain -- something that didn't seem to happen when she was locked in a cell for years). There was nothing to the Huntsman other than his standard-issue angst/reluctant heroism. There were hints of something kind of intriguing about the best friend -- how did he become such an expert archer, what was his relationship with his risk-averse father, what was his role in the rebel underground? -- but he just seems to exist because apparently a movie like this needs a triangle. I wonder if I could write his story of what's going on the whole time Snow White's imprisoned and file off the serial numbers.

But I will say, it gave me a laugh or two and inspired me to start thinking about how I'd deal with the issues inherent in the Snow White tale.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Surviving the SyFy Movies: Chupacabra vs. the Alamo

I have to admit to having a slight fondness for some of the Saturday-night SyFy movies. I prefer the Fantasy Cheese genre to the Mockbusters or the Horror/Monster types (though Mansquito was highly entertaining), but any of them can be fun when I'm in the right mood.

I was really looking forward to Chupacabra vs. the Alamo because it pretty much writes itself. You know from the title exactly what's going to happen. Sadly, this one was just plain bad, not awesomely, entertainingly bad. Spoilers below, as if you can't figure out everything based on the title.

To start with, I suspect that no one involved with the film has ever been to the Alamo, to San Antonio or to Texas (after this movie, they probably won't be allowed to visit Texas). They also apparently haven't looked at a map of Texas. The basic plot is that the chupacabras have migrated from Mexico to near San Antonio via the drug smuggling tunnels. That's some pretty impressive tunneling technology, considering that San Antonio isn't a border city and that would be a really, really long tunnel, not to mention the fact that there's a <i>river</i> between Mexico and Texas. Oh, and there's apparently a lush forest with ferns all over the ground 80 miles from San Antonio.

So, anyway, Erik Estrada (who has not aged badly since his CHiPs glory days, but who also hasn't taken acting lessons since then) plays a DEA agent (with the troubled relationships with his teenage kids that seems to have become mandatory in these movies -- the horror will end up bringing them together as a family) investigating the slaughter of a group of cartel members in one of these tunnels right outside San Antonio. But those wounds don't look like anything a human would have made! From there, we get a lot of badly CGIed "chupacabra" attacks, with the chupacabras looking like they took photos of chihuahuas and digitally altered them. The effects are so bad that the actors look like they're just flailing for no reason and the CGI chihuahuas are in a different plane of existence. But that's not the worst effects failure.

You know how in old movies, it's pretty obvious that Cary Grant is sitting in a car in a studio while scenery is being projected on a screen behind him? There's a lot of that here, where Erik Estrada rides his motorcycle past all the major San Antonio landmarks on his way to the crime scene outside the city, and it's so fake that it's laughable. In fact, the effects are at "spoof" level, without the filmmakers seemingly being in on the joke. I know these movies generally have a "here's five bucks, go make a movie, kid" budget, but if you can't fake it well, fake it with style.

I will give them props for a scene in which two teenage girls are in the house alone when the monsters invade (we won't get into how the rabid CGI chihuahuas can get through closed and locked doors), and they actually do things that make sense instead of just screaming like idiots. The girl in the kitchen takes out one with an electric carving knife and pulls a Gremlins on another in the microwave (yes, our fearsome monsters are small enough to fit in the microwave). The girl in the bedroom takes out one with a hot steam iron to the face.

I skipped past a few more scenes of various attacks, though it does look like the beasties followed the DEA agent home and are now on his trail through San Antonio, but somehow, a hardy group of random people who've survived previous attacks ends up at the Alamo (of course, given the title) right at closing time, where they team up with the tour guide in a Davy Crockett hat (of course) who knows the place better than anyone, and they prepare for a last stand, using antique weapons they take from display cases. No mention is made of finding ammunition for these weapons. In fact, they fire them without having to load them, so I guess loaded weapons were on display, and they still work more than 150 years later. But when all their plans fail, they mention the legend that there was an escape tunnel dug, but no one's ever been able to find it, in all these years of the Alamo being thoroughly explored -- oh, wait, here it is, behind this crudely boarded-up wall in a utility room (yes, a utility room that apparently existed in an early 19th century mission/fort). And since they have an escape route, they decide to trap all the chupacabras in the Alamo, rig a bunch of explosives (that they conveniently happen to have handy) and escape through the tunnel. Mind you, the tunnel -- supposedly built in 1836 and lost since then -- comes out in a parking lot, where there's an easy-access hatch. Yes, the parking lot pavers somehow knew to put in a hatch over a tunnel lost since 1836.

So, yeah, not only do they blow up the Alamo (sacrilege!), but they don't seem to realize that the Alamo is right smack downtown in a major city. Why would the wee beasties focus on chasing a handful of people into the Alamo when there's an entire smorgasbord of people just milling around on the Riverwalk across the street? Not to mention that San Antonio is a military city. If they're under attack from an invasion of strange creatures, they aren't going to have to rely on a few DEA agents, a couple of street thugs and an overeager tour guide. If it's anything like my last visit to San Antonio, about half the US Air Force is probably across the street at the Riverwalk. Also, the Alamo itself isn't all that big.  Here's a picture from my last trip. If you tortured yourself with this movie, you can see the difference. It's no longer a highly fortified position you'd retreat to in a crisis.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

When Darth Met Mickey ...

The big geek news of the week is that George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney. That's resulted in some fun photos that have been going around Facebook, like the Death Star with mouse ears, or the Death Star hanging overhead with the "When you wish upon a star" logo below.

But I think my favorite Star Wars/Disney mash-up is an official one. This is what Disney Parks put together, and though I don't normally embed videos, this one is totally worth it. So, Darth Vader, Disney just bought Lucasfilm. What are you going to do next?



Listen very carefully to the music. On the surface, it sounds like the kind of tinkly music they play in all those Disneyland ads, but it's actually a rather familiar theme in a way you've never heard it before. That alone makes this a work of art, and if this is the kind of thing that comes out of this merger, I'm totally on board with it. I have to admire the kind of minds that would come up with this sort of thing.

They've said they'll be putting out new Star Wars movies, but in my wildest dreams, what I'd love them to do is reboot the prequels. Those stories need to be told, but they did it wrong. Now they need to claim that those movies were badly produced Imperial propaganda and set the Disney-Pixar writing team to work on telling the real story. They know character and story and know to focus on that, no matter how many pretty bells and whistles they're throwing at the screen. I think they'd realize that they have to totally scrap the idea of Anakin being the "hero" of the prequels because that puts them in the uncomfortable position of making the Young Hitler Adventures. The hero should be Obi Wan, who's struggling with this kid he loves like a brother but who's going down the wrong path. I'm sure they could get Ewan McGregor back (try to keep him away), and he hasn't aged that much, plus he was actually way too young before to have turned into Alec Guinness in only 20 years after the end of Episode 3. They could scrap everything that wasn't already directly referenced in the original trilogy, which would get rid of Jar Jar, make Luke and Leia's mother less useless, allow Anakin to be a darker, less whiny figure (when out of Lucas's grasp, he'd have to be less of a Mary Sue), scrap that awful immaculate conception pseudo-scientific "midichlorian" nonsense, and just tell the tragic story of a young Jedi who was so full of himself that he was easily seduced by the dark side.

Not that I expect that to happen, but in my geeky mental happy place I'm picturing Pixar writing allowed to go into more complex, adult places, with better acting coming out of a better script and better directing. I am curious about where they might go with the new movies. I've lost track of that expanded universe and haven't even finished the last two Zahn books (his are the only ones I've really liked), but I think I'll always be a Star Wars geek at heart, since that was my gateway drug into science fiction and fantasy.