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Final Countdown Star Wars thus far

#1 User is offline   Mnesymone Icon

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 08:20 PM

All the bets are on. The board is set, the pieces are moving. There is barely more than a month remaining...

You cannot escape it - for those who support the prequels, will this be the culmination of George's new works - the pinnacle of his achievements?

For those who oppose it - this might be the vindication of your beliefs on the prequels - or it might be the redemption of Lucas to his greater works of old.

For those of us who do not indulge in spoilers,the only way to judge it is to look to the past.

Thus it begins - in the final countdown to the Revenge of the Sith, we turn to Star Wars thus far.

A New Hope.
(Note to readers: I refer to the original theatrical versions here, not to the later 'enhanced versions')

Drawing on a rich legacy of great films - from Kurosawa to the Dambusters, Lucas takes all these elements and weaves them seamlessly into the story of Luke Skywalker. Set agains the bleak deserts of Tatooine, or the chill backdrop of space - A New Hope not only tells a great story, but brings in great storytellers.
The movie is founded not just on older masterworks, but on the rock of the performances of the two most senior leads: Alec Guiness as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Peter Cushing as Tarkin - aided in no small part by the relatively inexperienced (refreshingly so) and charismatic younger cast. Looming over it all is the extraordinary physical presence of the Dark Lord of the Sith - and underfoot but not unnoticed are the droids - C-3PO is just as human as any of them and R2-D2, for all he cannot speak, works well.
The final stroke are the groundbreaking, yet now dated, special effects. The suspension of disbelief for A New Hope is total - we see an entire world destroyed before our eyes and never once doubt the truth of it.

The movie is perfect - unimprovable - perfectly flowing, and the characters perfectly introduced. Mood progresses, each scene the characters find themselves in is the logical progression of the previous scene. It does not suffer for not being entirely, in fact it benefits, but fashioned as it is of other elements, it is a masterful work of craft, yet not of art - it also feels quite light and fast, so it falls short of epic. It is an utterly perfect four-star type movie, and so I give it four and a half.

The Empire Strikes Back.

A new story, a new setting. The deserts traded for the snowfields, the forests for the clouds. Lucas here only provides the bones - perhaps realising he has exhausted his reserves of film lore in the making of the first, perhaps something to do with Marcia, who was a great help to him in the writing of the first. Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett flesh out the writing, and the direction is given over
Irvin Kershner. The differences between Lucas's work on A New Hope, and this teams work here are readily noticed. Here, the story aims for the epic, the tragic, and for romance. It aims higher than the first, but does not reach its goals.
Flaws creep into it, but the source of these flaws is not readily identified. It develops a slight episodic nature, and it diverges into concurrent storylines.
In the absence of Kenobi or Tarkin, the foundations have moved outwards a step - to the ancient Jedi Master Yoda, brought to life by Frank Oz, better known as Miss Piggy, and to Darth Vader - stepping from the physical power behind the film to the driving force for evil - the physical presence Prowse gives his Vader is excellent, and James Earl Jones finishes him with the voice to match. The younger actors have matured and come into their own here. Once more, the mould is broken in terms of masterful visual effects - Knee-high miniatures are so cunningly filmed and worked that they loom like giants over the icy wastes of Hoth - and more daring movements are asked of the starships which they provide willingly. Once again, we do not question what we see - and what we see is great.
The Empire Strikes Back is far more original, and far heavier than the first - but it flawed. It is a five-star type of film, but of only entry level, and so it is again four and a half stars.

Return of the Jedi.
Given a cliffhanger from the previous film, Return of the Jedi lets us fall. Again given the deserts of Tatooine and the Death Star, it loses much simply in the staging of the film. Rather than allowing the same team from Empire Strikes Back to build on their own work, and temper it to perfection, Lucas cuts Brackett from the writing and trades Kershner for Richard Marquand. This was not necessarily a good move, as despite resting on the foundations of Empire Strikes Back, Jedi attempts to stand alone. One of the foundations is totally removed - there is no great character for good - as Yoda dies before he can perform, and the spectre of Obi-Wan Kenobi is so heavily reduced from the live one that he does not convey any of Guiness's power from A New Hope, while the spectral Kenobi from Empire served only to support and introduce Yoda. As for the foundation for evil, it is again pushed outwards once more, this time to the Emperor. We met the Emperor previously in Empire, but this is an altogether different actor and character. The wizened, cackling creature resting on his cane and his throne has none of Vader's commanding physicality, nor any of Tarkin's charm and clarity. Instead he projects an aura of weakness. As for Vader, we are introduced to his light side, an entity we did not feel existed, nor did we wish it to exist - this weakens him and his performance, particularly around Luke and the Emperor.
The younger characters seem to have been asked to mature too much - and they lose the feeling of youth altogether. Their performances are leaden, except in patches, but these patches are only outstanding in the sense of being inconsistent.
We are also introduced to the Ewoks and to Jabba. The Ewoks feel like the comic relief, but we are asked to believe that they are important to the story - Jabba is rude, crude and disgusting. Also, the movie follows the form of prelude and then the flesh of the movie - so while Empire Strikes Back was episodic, it was strong enough to withstand this, while Jedi is already weakened, so it does not appreciate this extra burden. However, the business end of the movie is wonderful - we see the extraordinary visual effects take a step further - capital warships going broadside and swarms of fighters in dogfihts work marvellously well - better than many more modern techniques could have done it. A final scene with Vader and Luke duelling before the Emperor is one of the strongest scenes thus far in the entire trilogy. However, the ending is inanely, perhaps insanely happy.
It is a middling movie, with very good and very bad elements - it would be a three-and-a-half star film, were it not for the combination of the made for children Ewoks and the perversion of Jabba's Palace - and so is a straight three stars.

Coming soon... prequels
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Posted 09 April 2005 - 08:25 PM

The Phantom Menace.
The first of the prequels, it picks up where nothing at all left off, and begins quickly - not quickly in a seamlessly swift fashion as of A New Hope - but in a stilted, painfully fast assault on the senses. We are asked to believe that Obi-Wan-Kenobi is a teenage boy, and I for one rebelled. We also meet an entirely digital character - none of the actors could see him and we wish we couldn't either. He is Jar-Jar Binks, a swamp-dwelling, accident-prone creature that looks like an amphibious rabbit and was banished from his home because of his extraordinary clumsiness. Jar-Jar kills the movie in its cradle - and even if he were to die the instant we meet him, all he had to do was sour the first bite. It is difficult to judge objectively after meeting Jar-Jar, but I will try.
The actors chosen, and the characters they play - neglect the sound principles of the first movies, of having younger actors performances balanced by talented older thespians. A proxy for these performances are provided - but Ian McDirmid, who provided the weakest performance of the original trilogy, is used for the evil foundation, and Liam Neeson, who is a fine actor, plays such a poorly tempered and scripted replacement for the original Obi-Wan that all his skill does not avail him. Child actors are also far too abundant here, and the writing and acting for them is quite weak.
The visual effects which added the final touches to bringing the original trilogy to life are poorly executed, and are used too heavily as a crutch for the feeble screenplay. Relying on modern digital techniques, rather than clever set design or models, the suspension of disbelief fails.
The scenes do not logically progress, and there is a sensation of deus ex machina.
Also, the Force, the mysticism behind the original trilogy, is replaced with the truly pathetic concept of midichlorians.
The performances, the writing, the visual effects aren't just not good, they are bad.
It is a two-star type of film, and a fairly feeble one at that. I give it one and a half stars.

Attack of the Clones.
Lucas improves upon the previous solo work, but also makes it worse. The writing is better crafted, but the actual story it tells is terrible. The directing also picks up, but tries many far more shameful scenes. Fully digital characters are in abundance - in fact they are in the majority, as are digital sets and props. The fact that it was digitally filmed makes the computer elements slightly more believable, but weakens the few remaining live-action elements.
Jar-Jar, who sank the first one, is back with a vengeance. He again utterly destroys the film the moment he appears. The deliveries from the continuing cast picks up, but the lines themselves fall. Also, cameos from the original trilogy are used, shamefully so. The physical force for evil, called Jango Fett, loses all potential and believability when we go to his apartment and have a nice chat with him. An area for improvement was the casting of Christopher Lee - a formidable actor capable of extraordinary pathos - but his abilities are wasted by giving him re-hashed dialogue, and by attempting to make him ambiguous, rather than clear-cut evil.
Also, the love story for the prequels is excessively theatric, very much a 'love is pain' affair when it does not need to be that way. The progression of mood is feeble, and there is little appeal in the other ambiguous character, Anakin - weakly portrayed by Hayden Christensen, who lacks the pathos, the clarity and the physicality for the role.
The movie brings us slightly closer to our destination, but ends with obvious deus ex machina -and its attempt to convey a cliffhanger is feeble.
It is a stronger movie than the first prequel, but does not rise beyond the two-star category. I give it two-and-a-half stars.

As for Revenge of the Sith.... We will have to wait.
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Posted 09 April 2005 - 09:08 PM

(*Completely irrelevant to topic - thewhole post was too large so I had to cut and paste two segments, so individual words and letters are missing*)
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Posted 09 April 2005 - 10:25 PM

Could you elaborate on the "flaws" of ESB. I love the movie too much and am too close to see the problems. Once you mention them, I'll probably see it....
Flying Ferret

Battle for the Galaxy--read the "other Star Wars"

All I know is I haven't seen the real prequels yet.
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Posted 09 April 2005 - 10:41 PM

The problems aren't exactly BIG HUGE PROBLEMS - but there is a sort of depression in flow between the single-story-thread on Hoth and the divergent plots - the little space slug scene and some of the sitting on the Star Destroyer, though good scenes, kind of slowed the pace a bit too much in setting up the Bespin scenes.
It's not much, and I do love ESB, but... You may have guessed that I have tough standards. For me, a movie has to be perfect in every way, unimprovable, unable to be logically critisised to be five outo five.
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Posted 09 April 2005 - 11:27 PM

Finally the end of this madness...


"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities also has the power to make you commit atrocities."
~ Voltaire (1694-1778)


Enjoy this Tribute to Nazism...(Mp3)
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Posted 09 April 2005 - 11:42 PM

(* Disregard the above reply - do not respond to it. Please)
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Posted 09 April 2005 - 11:46 PM

May I recommend to all members the joys of the Ignore User function?

That way we don't have to see trolls derailing people's threads with irrelevant rubbish.
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Posted 10 April 2005 - 08:13 AM

One of the more interesting things that happened to me if that AOTC was one of the fisrt movies I watched and actually found the acting to be severely lacking. Before that, I just didn't really have the knowledge to see whether someone's acting was good or not. I guess they're right about he idea of 'with age comes wisdom'.

In the case of Jar Jar being in AOTC... his role was actually pretty small, but still VERY important. The biggest problem I had with the loon is the fact that he was still acting like a little kid even after TEN YEARS of being a representative of his planet in the senate, he's still the same old bumbling buffoon that we found him to be in TPM. The only other problem is the fact that he's responsible for the rise of Palpatine to power since he was apparently the only guy with the guts to propose a radical amendment that Palpatine wanted. I knew that Jar Jar Binks was going to do it when they brought up the issue on the movie, and nothing made me cring more than that! :mad:
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Posted 10 April 2005 - 08:45 AM

I quite agree with Chefelf's criticism about how this was also made out to be yet another one of Jar Jar's antics. Oh, how we were laughing.
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Posted 10 April 2005 - 12:58 PM

Compared with Star Wars, (which has no flaws), Empire is a disappointment. Here are a list of my complaints.

Logic flaws
Why does Vader attempt to search an entire galaxy with those probe droids? It would take a thousand years for a thousand probe droid to find Bin Laden on Earth, so why are we asked to believe a galaxy can be searched this way and succeed?

Why can't Luke pick up any life on Hoth when a huge beast is standing an arm's length away from him?

Why does Luke not stay in the cave until morning, like any cub scout should know? (He is from a desert planet, too, he should know about survival techniques).

How does the fact that Threepio cannot understand the probe droid mean that it HAS to be an imperial droid?

Where should admiral Ozzel have come out of hyperspace, if not close to the system? Any further away wouldn't make any sense.

Why are harpoons and tow cables (which the speeders just "happen to have on board") the ONLY way of stopping the walkers. Especially when the rebels have an ion cannon, and prove that it can shoot down a star destroyer with a single shot!

Why do 2 Star destroyers crash into each other while chasing the Falcon. Could they not see through the windows that they were on a collision course? (Even if
Solo hadn't pulled that maneuver, they still would have been on a colission course.)

Why, even after Threepio tells Solo EXACTLY what is wrong with the Hyperdrive engine, does Solo not just fix the problem instead of endangering everybody's
lives by his incompetance with engines? He should know what's up - he made a few "special modifications himself"!

Luke wants to go to Dagobah, but doesn't bother to tell anybody. Why does Luke disappear for an unspecified length of time for his own personal business without
telling ANYONE what he intends to do? Then, he charges in at full speed through zero visibility with "all the scopes dead" towards an unknown planet, and crashes
in a lake. X-Wings can hover, can't they? (They could on Yavin anyway). Luke is a pilot, he should know better.

The Falcon lands on an asteroid in the stomach of a giant worm, OK. But that is no kind of believable digestive system. Mynocks even live in there permantly! A
creature that big would not find enough food to live on on a barren rock. How can Chewie and Solo walk around in space, in a worm's stomach without space suits?

Why does Vader decide that the best way of getting Luke involve capturing a few random rebels (which luckily happen to be our heroes) and torturing them so that
Luke will possibly feel it across the galaxy, and then possibly come BY HIMSELF to rescue them, and thus be easily captured?

Why does Chewie have all those tools and a broken droid with him in the prison cell? What kind of torture session is that supposed to be?

Why does Vader want to use carbonite to transport Luke to the emperor? If Lando didn't point out to him that it probably won't work, he might have accidently

killed Luke right in that pit, and then he would have been in trouble.

Why, at the end of the film when the heroes are all escaping in the Falcon, being chased by tie fighters and star destroyers, does Artoo make an offhand comment that he KNOWS that the Hyperdrive motor has been deactivated (the city computer told him so), but doesn't think it important to fix this BIG problem, but instead concentrates on welding Threepio's foot?

These are just logic flaws that I have chosen which are spaced out evenly throughout the movie, and there are plenty more if you look for yourself.
* * * * * * * *
Characters flaws
Also, the characters are all boringly static. Lando contributes nothing that Solo didn't already give us. A scoundrel with a heart of gold. He couldn't decide what to do, but in the end chose the right thing. Seen it all before...

Solo,( who in Star Wars alternated between bad ass smuggler and scared shitless regular guy), now lacks any subtlety. He's just the bad ass smuggler all the time
now. That chess board he used to have on his ship - the old Solo might have ben an intellectual chess player. They new Solo - no way! Hes too popular now to deviate from the template; the fans might object. Instead, just have him delcalre that he is a "gorgeous guy" a few times.

We saw Darth choke a guy with the force in the original, to make him shut up when he was talking shit about the force. (THAT had a point; "Do you belive in it now?...") Let's have him do the same thing TWICE in this movie, and it doesn't have to have a point this time. Don't want to expand him as a character too much, don't invent any new interesting force techniques or anything, just rehash the old stuff.

Find an instance other than Darth is Dad, (which is and was ridiculous) where any character evolves in a way that wasn't totally predictable. Leia, Luke, Chewie,
Artoo, Threepio, none of them ever made you sit up in surprise.

This post has been edited by azerty: 10 April 2005 - 01:02 PM

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 12:59 PM

* * * * * * * *
The script
From the scroll up it is ridiculous. Darth now knows Luke is his son, and is obsessed with finding him. I wonder how he suddenly worked that out?

Solo says not enough life on Hoth to fill a "space cruiser". If this had been a pirate movie do you think they would have said fill a "Spainsh Galleon"? Don't want people to forget what kind of movie they are watching!

How about when Threepio says "It's so good to see you fully functional". (That's the kind of dialog that only somebody who really HATES science fiction could write!)

Other examples "Just as soon kiss a wookie", "pull the ears off a gundark", "nice try Laser Brains", etc.

How about battle dialog? "Watch that crossfire boys", (There is no crossfire, all the walkers are in front of you). "Set for position three!", (What, have you practised attacking walkers and have a play book for just this situation?) How about when Luke's co-pilot states "We've got a malfunction in fire control!" Luke just ignores him and repeats his order "Hang on Dack, just hang on! Get ready to fire that tow cable!" (I was under the impression that it was malfunctioning.)

Now, the first attack on the death star had pretty interesting and realistic dialog, which seemed to contribute to the action. On the other hand, the dialog on the walker attack not only didn't contribute, it did not make any sense. It was Star Trek technical gibberish. Talk for the sake of noise.

What about general lines of story? Threepio TWICE calculates the odds of some random event. Some doctor robot babbles on about T-47s, presumably only to
add a "science fiction type ambiance", but it is irrelevant to anything real, or anything we have ever heard of. And on and on and on.

Leigh Brackett is credited with doing such an awesome job, but it was crap! I could have done a better job. How? Keep all the plot bits that George wanted, but make an effort to connect these important bits in a believable way. If the rebels needed to be found on Hoth, then use a believable way to find them. Have Vader use the force the same way Luke did to find his mates on Bespin. Have Luke crash on Dagobah in a believable way, not in the utterly lame way that he did. If the rebels were looking for Luke in the snow, they should at least appear to make an effort. Don't have Artoo standing inside the hanger with a fly swatter sized antenna pretending to look for Luke. Appear as if you are really trying (Have the big parabolic dish frozen solid pointing at the sky, incapable of working until dawn, but have guys attempting to burn the ice off it with lasers) and fail anyway. Kill Ozzel for coming out of light speed too FAR from the system, not too close to it! If you are going to torture Chewie, do it, but don't let him set up a damn droid workshop WITH TOOLS in his prison cell. Don't pretend that the door slamming shut in front of Artoo in the corridor of Bespin was going to stop him following Luke, when it was obvious that the door sill was going to block him anyway. Don't have Luke get into the Carbonite chamber elevator, (which was also the freezer) and not have Vader freeze him. If you argue that Vader wanted to talk to him first, then why does he try and freeze him so early on and say "All too easy"? Don't make Solo into a overconfident strutting ass. Even having Luke mutter "Leia, hear me", when he is hanging off the bottom of Bespin is lame. He should have been semi concious and silent, and Leia should have felt him anyway, without having to hit us over the head with the whole "force conversation" thing. She should have just ordered Chewie to turn the ship around, and Chewie should have done it. Don't have Lando call the Falcon "the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy" when we know full well that Solo made the "special modifications himself."

Maybe you say I am slicing Empire too thinly, and that anything can be destroyed if you try and take it apart. Maybe. But the whole CONCEPT of Empire is terrible, too! Star Wars was a fantastic well rounded off movie, by any standards. Having hooked us with that one, Lucas now decides that the next one will merely be "Episodic", and not have a full story to tell. The fans are hooked, don't ever give them a full meal again, just keep srtringing them along. They will keep coming back... Now that is inexcusable. Mad Max told one story, Mad Max 2 a different story. Aliens told one story, Aliens 2 another one. This isn't Lord of the Rings, with a grand plan, known to all from the start. It's a big jip, and it's starting to smell like bullshit.

And what about the grand plan? Vader is alive at the end of Star Wars. I assume the rebels know this, because Solo would have seen the collision in the Death Star trench. So the rebels would have had to start evacuating their base immediately, before Vader called up the Fleet and wiped them out. So how long after the Death Star does Empire begin? It is difficult to tell, but Solo and Leia have not progressed in their relationship much, and Luke hasn't progressed much either. However, you can assume from their previous behaviour in Star Wars that Luke is in love with Leia, and Solo kind of is, but can't make up his mind about it. So when does Empire start? Months, or weeks or days later? With Solo and Leia, it could be months, with Luke and Leia it seems like weeks, and from the state of the new base on Hoth it could be only days. My opinion? It should have started with a bombardment on Yavin only hours after Star Wars finished, and it should have had a more definitive ending, and the middle bits shouldn't have lacked credibility. These are my complaints against the Empire Strikes Back.

This post has been edited by azerty: 10 April 2005 - 01:08 PM

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 06:03 PM

That's an interesting post. I'd be prepared to accept all of your criticisms except the one about how Leia should have sensed Luke hanging off the bottom of Cloud City.

Remember, this is before Return of the Jedi. Luke and Leia weren't brother and sister and therefore Leia didn't have any special ability in the force. So Luke would have had to have called out to her.

Other than that, I do see a valid argument there, Azerty. It's a shame you don't enjoy the movie though. Because I think it's an incredible film, grand adventure on an epic scale. However, seeing your reasons, I can understand why you don't like it.
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Posted 10 April 2005 - 06:56 PM

As closely as you are criticizing EMPIRE, there is no way you could have liked STAR WARS either, except as a matter of taste. You can't look at these films as closely as that; this isn't CHINATOWN. I disagree with most of the complaints you raised, given that I felt the overall feel of the film is right and I'm willing to meet it halfway. Many of your criticisms sound like a guy who watched THE LION KING and came out saying "that's dumb; animals can't talk!" Seriously: Artoo couldn't have made it over the door sill? No kidding, but how'd he get around in the desert?

As for Leigh Brackett, she was dead before the second draft of EMPIRE, and had nothing to do with JEDI. She had little to do with EMPIRE, either, but since she'd already been paid her retainer and since there wasn't a strong argument for removing her name "Intangible contribution" + "don't owe her any more money either way," they left her name on the screen. The Leigh Brackett screenplay is one of those STAR WARS mysteries; Lucas mulched it, and we'll never know what was in it.
"I had a lot of different ideas. At one point, Luke, Leia and Ben were all going to be little people, and we did screen tests to see if we could do that." -George Lucas, in STAR WARS: the Annotated Screenplays (p197).
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Posted 10 April 2005 - 07:35 PM

Az, there's some great points there... i'd like to comment on a few though
(i could defend the others, but let's face it, i'd be bullshitting all the way through)

QUOTE (azerty @ Apr 10 2005, 12:58 PM)
1.
Why can't Luke pick up any life on Hoth when a huge beast is standing an arm's length away from him?
2.
How does the fact that Threepio cannot understand the probe droid mean that it HAS to be an imperial droid?
3.
Where should admiral Ozzel have come out of hyperspace, if not close to the system?  Any further away wouldn't make any sense.
4.
Luke wants to go to Dagobah, but doesn't bother to tell anybody.  Why does Luke disappear for an unspecified length of time for his own personal business without
telling ANYONE what he intends to do?  Then, he charges in at full speed through zero visibility with "all the scopes dead" towards an unknown planet, and crashes
in a lake.  X-Wings can hover, can't they?  (They could on Yavin anyway).  Luke is a pilot, he should know better.
5.
Why does Vader decide that the best way of getting Luke involve capturing a few random rebels (which luckily happen to be our heroes) and torturing them so that
Luke will possibly feel it across the galaxy, and then possibly come BY HIMSELF to rescue them, and thus be easily captured?


1.
shitty small rebel personal scanner full of snow
2.
if i spoke 6 million languages and was living on an icolated planet hiding from the law and probe droid came down speaking something i didn't understand, i'd jump to conclusions too
3.
comming out of hyperspace to close alerted the rebels of the fleets proximity... comming out of hyperspace further away would have given the fleet more time to ready their weapons and the rebels less time to ready theirs as the first clue to the impieriel precence would have been missles.
4.
yeahm what's the deal there? he's missing for a couple hours and han disregards regulations and his own safety to find luke... but luke flies off in the wrong direction and he doesn't bat an eyelid... (i suppose he had other matters on his mind).
5.
luke escaped tatooine in the MF
luke escaped the death star in the MF
the MF shot DVs TF when LS was blowing up the DS
i think when seeing the MF leave hoth, it was a fair assumption that luke would be there too...
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