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Little Oddities in the Star Wars Trilogy

#1 User is offline   Just your average movie goer Icon

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 04:55 AM

Amusing little oddities of the Star Wars trilogy

Forget the stories of sand-phobic teens and a galaxy of incompetents struggling to come to terms with the meaningless of their existence and their every deed. Come back to Star Wars.

Now, a disclaimer before I begin this post. Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I love the Star Wars trilogy. Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back are two of the greatest movies ever made in my opinion and there's much to love about Return of the Jedi as well (you can find it in the second half of the film interspersed between a whole lot of pointless crap).

However, it struck me last time I watched these movies through that there are a few little oddities about them that I generally skim over. This thread is dedicated to those oddities. Not the obvious ones like Luke and Leia, possible love interests one moment, brother and sister the next. Rather, the things that usually get glossed over when we watch these movies.

The Emperor

He;s a funny one, isn't he? In Star Wars, he's just an ordinary non-mystic person. No, you know it's true. When Tarkin's talking about the Emperor dissolving the Senate, he's not talking about a cackling hooded fool. Honestly, can you imagine Peter Cushing's Tarkin taking orders from Ian McDiarmid's Emperor? The guy looks at Vader strangling a guy with the force and goes "Very cute. Now knock it off." He's running an Empire here. He doesn't have time for mystic crap.

Yet, the Emperor eventually becomes that dark Jedi fellow in the third movie and is given the position of the main villain. Not only that, but he's commanding the Empire's armed forces. I mean, the guy's a civilian. Also, it's a bit weird having him as the main protagonist for another reason. Namely, he hasn't been involved in anything in the previous movies. Tarkin and Vader were the main protagonists in Star Wars. Vader took over in The Empire Strikes Back. And what did the Emperor do? I'll tell you what he did. Sweet F.A.

Darth Vader

A glorified, though somewhat disgruntled lackey in Star Wars, he nonetheless does his job without complaint. However, we do see that he occasionally thinks of ideas all by himself, including confronting Ben Kenobi and deciding to chase down rebel pilots personally. I like that actually. We can see that he's got big things on the horizon but he's still a young gun. Tarkin's the main villain in Star Wars. He's the one who blows up Alderaan and he's the one who was so keen on blowing up Yavin 4. Vader's more focused on the glory of personal combat than he is on the big picture. This is something that remains the case throughout the movies.

What's odd however is that after later becoming the rogue leader of the Empire's armed forces, using the entire fleet for his own private errands, he suddenly becomes a mopey defeatist in Return of the Jedi, who spends his time polishing the Emperor's shoes and doing his laundry. What happened, Darth?

And his redemption? I liked it better when he was evil.

Imperial officers

Similarly to Vader, these guys got seriously knocked down a few notches. At the very beginning of Star Wars, we see a young officer - maybe a lieutenant, maybe a captain - telling Vader that he thinks he's overstepped his boundaries. And he's quite frank with him about it. All the other officers in Star Wars seem equally at ease in speaking their minds as well and come across as fairly authoritative.

Yet from The Empire Strikes Back onwards, they're all feeble and apologetic. I mean, I realise they're worried about Vader throttling them but it's too much. Take Piett for example. He's the Admiral of the Imperial Navy and he looks as though he doesn't even go to the bathroom without asking Vader if it's okay.

Stormtroopers

Aren't stormtroopers adorable? They bumble around hopelessly. Most of them are played by people with absolutely no innate acting ability. They can't hit the side of a barn even if they're standing a foot away from it. In short, they're just fantastic. I've always found it funny in Return of the Jedi when the Emperor tells Luke that an entire legion of his best troops awaits his friends on Endor. Personally, if those guys were my best troops, I'd keep it to myself.

Jedi

When did George Lucas become so literal minded about everything in the Star Wars universe? You know, Greedo was a Rodian and he was a bounty hunter, ergo all Rodians are bounty hunters. A Jawa once used the word "Ooteenee" so now Jawas use this word to convey 90 % of what they want to say. It's hard to put a precise date on it but at some stage he applied it to the Jedi as well. In Star Wars, Ben tells Luke that the Jedi are all but extinct and Lucas seems to interpret this later as meaning there are absolutely no Jedi left in the galaxy besides Ben and Yoda.

Now, maybe this sounds crazy but if they were such a large social group, I find it hard to believe that every last member of it is dead by the time the movies begin. There's also another line in that scene that I think Lucas forgot about, when Ben says, "I was once a Jedi Knight, the same as your father." I don't know about the rest of you but from that scene, it doesn't sound as though all the Jedi are gone. It sounds like they certainly took a hiding from Vader and the Empire but completely wiped out? Come off it. It's very easy to imagine from that scene that there are heaps of former Jedi Knights like Ben around the galaxy… living as hermits, maybe holding day jobs, almost certainly regaling their grandkids with stories of the good old days.

It's hard to see how we get from that to the scene in Return of the Jedi where Yoda tells Luke that he'll be the last of the Jedi. And speaking of that…

Yoda

What's the deal with Yoda? I got the fact that he was old in The Empire Strikes Back but he seemed quite spry for his age and he kept himself healthy with all that stew he made. Yet, when Luke comes back to visit him in the next movie, he goes from talking about how old he's become to dropping dead… all in the space of five minutes. Honestly, when does that ever happen?

Luke: Hi Yoda. How are you?
Yoda: Well to tell you the truth, Luke, I don't feel so good. Would you excuse me? I think I might lie down for a bit... … cough... … ack...… (dies)

And also, how is it that he dies just after Luke turns up? Not before he arrives and not ten minutes after he goes but just after he turns up. How convenient.

Finally, has anyone noticed how useless Luke is in that scene? Does he try to pat Yoda's back when he's coughing? Does he ask if he's in pain? Does he get him a glass of water? No, none of that. So what does he do exactly when he sees that his friend and teacher is dying before his eyes? Why, our admirable hero pumps him for information. Great, Luke. That's real sensitive.

Han

Yoda wasn't the only one to suffer massive deterioration to his health. Something also appeared to happen to Han when he was frozen in carbonite. Once he's thawed out, he's a different guy. He doesn't sound like Han, he doesn't act like Han. He lacks his brazen but quirky personality. He hasn't got any good lines. He’s got absolutely none of his edginess. In fact, in Return of the Jedi, Han is every bit as neutered as Darth Vader… except unlike that moping puppy dog, he doesn't have anything to do.

Yeah, I know. He, Leia and Chewie destroyed the shield generator. But ask yourself, is this something that called on someone with Han's characteristics? Look at Star Wars. Han helps out because he's strapped for cash and he could do with the money. He helps Luke during the Death Star attack as a favour to the kid because he's his friend. In The Empire Strikes Back, Han's actions revolve around protecting a woman he cares about but is too shy to admit he really loves. In Return of the Jedi, Han's leading a commando squad to carry out a job… that a commando squad would probably know far more about than he would. Er… come again?

Why not have Han meeting fellow smugglers to find out the word on what the Empire's up to and where its Fleet is? Why not have him sitting in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon with Lando (and of course, Chewie)? Give the guy something to do that allows him to be himself. Ditto for Leia.

The Rebel Alliance

Has any one got the impression that Luke, Han and Leia work for a different group of employers in every single movie? I mean, sure the alliance must have divisions but how is it that not a single recognisable leader appears more than once. I mean, without Wedge Antilles, there wouldn't be a single link between any of the alliance groups.

Now personally, I didn't miss the guy in Star Wars with the long white beard. He was a little old-fashioned and dull. But I really would like to have seen General Riekan in Return of the Jedi. He was cool. The guy actually looked like a military leader that people would listen to. Also, unlike other military leaders in the Star Wars movies, he knew how to lead. We see him briefly think over things as they crop up in the Empire's assault on Hoth and make important decisions. The actor also was able to convey a sense that Riekan understood when he was making decisions that would endanger the soldiers under his command. He seems torn when he realises that he's got to hold the enemy until the transports are away… and that this means putting men on the ground in front of the base.

It's a far cry from the tactical genius of Admiral Ackbar, whose crowning moment of glory is when he flaps his amphibian hands, shouting, "It's a trap!" Thanks for pointing that out, Ackbar.

Oh and speaking of the leadership in Return of the Jedi, does anyone else find it funny how when Luke barges into the meeting, it just breaks up. I mean, poor General Madine is in the middle of his presentation and then suddenly everyone starts yapping about the football and what was on telly the night before. Whatever happened to discipline in the ranks of the Rebellion?

Madine: Er...… guys...… um, everyone...… could everyone resume their seats...… I…... (sigh)

However, one thing I do like is the transition of the old guard pilots to the new generation. The guys in Star Wars all come across as old veterans while Luke and Wedge are green rookies. When Return of the Jedi comes around, there are a whole group of new pilots ready to do their part against the Empire and encouraging them and leading by example, we see Wedge Antilles. It's a nice little cycle. Wedge is the rookie no more. Now he's the veteran. I like that.

The B-Wings

Just a little mystery to finish up but whatever happened to the B-Wings in Return of the Jedi? These new ships looked so cool, like massive gunboats as opposed to regular fighters. We see one in the hangar before Han and his buddies go off to have their picnic on Endor, we see them as the fleet prepares to go to lightspeed and as it comes out of lightspeed. We see their attack wings fold out (and they look really cool) and then…... we don't see them for the rest of the movie.

Something tells me that they disappeared for budget reasons but in that case, why tease us with them in the first place? It kind of feels like a half-finished job leaving them in.

That's just a list of things that come to mind for me. Maybe you guys have noticed a few things too.

This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 09 December 2009 - 05:14 AM

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#2 User is offline   steje73 Icon

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 05:23 AM

Well, there's the blast doors. They all open/close really quickly except the one time Han and Chewbacca need to nip through before the stormtroopers get there shouting 'open the blast doors!'
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#3 User is offline   Gobbler Icon

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 06:03 AM

View PostJust your average movie goer, on 09 December 2009 - 10:55 AM, said:

The B-Wings

Just a little mystery to finish up but whatever happened to the B-Wings in Return of the Jedi? These new ships looked so cool, like massive gunboats as opposed to regular fighters. We see one in the hangar before Han and his buddies go off to have their picnic on Endor, we see them as the fleet prepares to go to lightspeed and as it comes out of lightspeed. We see their attack wings fold out (and they look really cool) and then…... we don't see them for the rest of the movie.

Something tells me that they disappeared for budget reasons but in that case, why tease us with them in the first place? It kind of feels like a half-finished job leaving them in.


Thank god they weren't used more in the movies, because if you've ever flown one, you know that they're total and utter crap. Let them rot in the hangar for all I care. Advanced tactical bomber my ass, those things are nowhere near an improvement to the Y-Wings. What's the use of guns en masse like that in a close combat fighter if it's as maneuverable as a corvette? :angry2:


Alright, so maybe I played those games a bit too much...

This post has been edited by Gobbler: 09 December 2009 - 06:04 AM

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#4 User is offline   Just your average movie goer Icon

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 12:20 AM

Ah, those blast doors. Coupled with more stormtrooper foolishness...

So Gobbler, those B-Wings are all show? You're right of course. I didn't like them in Battlefront II. You have to be mindful of the fact that there's a lot of ship underneath you that can crash into things if you're not careful and the trade-off wasn't that great. All those weapons emplacements weren't that impressive when put to the test.

Now onto some more oddities. There were a few I forgot in my last list but have remembered since then.

The Interior of the Super Star Destroyer command bridge

The images speak for themselves really...

Posted Image

I don't know what happened there. It looks like when they made The Empire Strikes Back, they used some matte elements to expand it and in Return of the Jedi, they had a full sized set... but what a small set. Those cheap-skates. I'm sure they had their biggest budget yet when they made Return of the Jedi but it really looks as though they put most of it in their back pockets.

While on the topic of the Super Star Destroyer, an odd bit of dialogue

Remember when the gang's approaching Endor on the stolen shuttle? Luke looks out the viewport and says. "Vader's on that ship."
Han's reply? "Now, don't get jittery, Luke. There are a lot of command ships."

It appears that as well as losing his personality from being frozen, Han lost a bit of his cognitive functions as well. Yeah, there might be a lot of command ships but this particular vessel, the Super Star Destroyer, is eight times the size of the others. You don't need the force to figure out that's Vader's ship.

Actually, it's not surprising really. Han says a lot of dumb things in that sequence:

It'll work. It'll work.
Keep you're distance, Chewie but don't look like you're tryna keep your distance.... I don't know fly casual.
They're not going for it, Chewie.
Okay. I told you it was gonna work. No problem.

Foolish monkey man.

Tatooine

Has anyone else noticed that the first time the word 'Tatooine' is used is at the end of The Empire Strikes Back when Luke arranges to rendezvous there with Lando? So it could have been any planet at that stage (and given how dull the start of Return of the Jedi was, I wish it had been another planet). Making it Luke's home planet was only something they did in Return of the Jedi.

Some may doubt this but it is the case. At no point in Star Wars is Luke's home planet ever referred to by name.

Boba Fett is not cool

Many people think Boba Fett is the bee's knees. I'd argue that he doesn't warrant the status of any of the bee's appendages. In fact, he's an idiot. When he found Han, he could have taken him straight to Jabba the Hutt but he decided that he'd try to get even more money out of the deal by turning him over to the Empire first. It sounds clever but if you watch the scenes with him and Vader on Bespin, you'll see that he spends most of the time walking about in frustration and impotence as he realises that Vader can do whatever he damn well pleases. He was damn lucky to get anything out of that deal and he knew it.

Also, it's kind of funny in the freezing chamber scene when he tries to act all cool and lifts his gun when Chewie's fighting the stormtroopers. Lifts his gun only to have Vader slap it back down and put him in his place.

When we see him at Jabba's place, he acts similarly. He lifts his weapon a couple of times but never does anything. Then when it finally looks as though he's going to do something competent, he gets knocked into the sarlaac pit by a blind man.

Put Boba Fett on a pedestal if you want to but I'm not going to join you.

Also, another interesting little aside about his name... which is a rather stupid sounding name when you think about it. At no point in The Empire Strikes Back was he referred to as Boba Fett. Not even when he was addressed directly. In fact, Vader's last line to him is, "He's all yours, bounty hunter." Again, the blame for the name (hey, that rhymes!) lies with Return of the Jedi.

Heh - man, it's so easy to take cheap shots at that movie.

This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 10 December 2009 - 12:25 AM

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#5 User is offline   civilian_number_two Icon

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 03:35 AM

Hey, Movie Goer! Finally some activity here!

Like your list so far, but gotta nitpick your Boba Fett comment. Yeah, Fett could have taken Han to Jabba, but he was actually in the employ of the Empire at the time. Vader hired him along with some other guys specifically to get Luke Skywalker and his companions. So catching Has and then running off with him would have been suicidal. I agree however that Fett was not as cool as the fanboys seemed to think; what's the big deal? He had a neat costume, but there was no justification in shoehorning him into the prequels.

As for his name, yeah, it's not in the movie, but we all knew it anyway. Same goes for Tatooine. It was in the novel, the comic books, on the toys, the bubblegum cards, etc. It's an oddity that Lucas makes these movies that you have to read about in order to follow, but Lucas is not a great storyteller. His priority was in stringing together the action scenes.
"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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#6 User is offline   Just your average movie goer Icon

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 01:25 AM

Hey Civilian, good to see you. Yeah, it's been a while.

I'm glad you like the list, although I take your point on Boba Fett. Even though Vader could have completely screwed him over on that deal, it was probably safer than ticking him off. Still, when the time came to show off his fancy weaponry and gadgets, he did kind of suck.

And yeah, the books. I read the novelisation of Star Wars a while ago so I can't remember... but yeah, they probably called it Tatooine. And maybe the novelisation of Return of the Jedi mentioned the Ewoks by name too. Although, I imagine we know most of the obscure names from the Kenner action figures. From these action figures, I know that a three eyed alien who had two seconds of screen time was called Ree Yees.

Thankfully however, reading the stuff on the bubblegum cards, toy boxes etc wasn't essential to understanding the Star Wars trilogy. Although, that appeared to go out the window with the rubbish that Lucas has made since then.

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Lucas is not a great storyteller. His priority was in stringing together the action scenes.


Interesting that you should mention this because I just read the article the other day saying the same thing. It had an excerpt of an interview with Gary Kurtz and a few quite interesting things came up about old George...

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KURTZ: [ towards the end of The Empire Striks Back, George ] became convinced that all the audience was interested in was the roller-coaster ride, and so the story and the script didn't matter anymore.

.... one of the arguments that I had with George about Empire was the fact that he felt in the end, he said, we could have made just as much money if the film hadn't been quite so good, and you hadn't spent so much time. And I said, "But it was worth it!"


Full article here.

I think that excerpt really speaks for itself. Thank goodness for Gary Kurtz and Marcia Lucas for Star Wars and Gary Kurtz, Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan for The Empire Strikes Back. If it had just been Lucas, it sounds like none of us would be talking about these movies now.
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Posted 13 December 2009 - 03:40 AM

Yeah, but then maybe there'd be no prequels. So fuck them for making at least two out of three Star Wars movies good enough to justify those terrible prequels (two out of three of which are better to me for never having been seen. by me).
"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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#8 User is offline   Madam Corvax Icon

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 01:08 AM

View Postcivilian_number_two, on 13 December 2009 - 03:40 AM, said:

Yeah, but then maybe there'd be no prequels. So fuck them for making at least two out of three Star Wars movies good enough to justify those terrible prequels (two out of three of which are better to me for never having been seen. by me).


Gee, it is a breath of fresh air seeing civilian actually say something meaningfull in Star Wars forum rather than nipping the discussion in the bud saying "dude, where have you been for the last five years, this comment is sooo yesterday news" ;)

Lovely to see you guys :)
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#9 User is offline   Just your average movie goer Icon

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:02 AM

Madam Corvax? Wow, long time no see. Lovely to see you too.

And Civilian, I've never thought of it quite that way before. Although, I think I can almost forget the prequels entirely now. The only thing that remains is for Lucas to stop tinkering with the originals. At least now though, I've got the unaltered versions on DVD (although unrestored and non-anamorphic)... sigh, why is that two of the most influential films ever made (along with their inferior sequel) can't be given the bare minimum DVD treatment that even Adam Sandler films receive?

Anyway, I've got the originals and despite the fact that Lucas didn't put a scrap of effort into putting them on DVD, they still look good (besides, Lucas' "restored" versions have always looked over-saturated to me anyway).

But enough of that. Let's look at something lighthearted to lift our mood.

I found a nice little article about that loveable Admiral Ackbar the other day and a hilarious pictoral essay about the shortcomings of the Y-Wing. And Cobnat, if you thought the B-Wing was crap... Anyway, read and enjoy.

Ackbar for President

The Y-Wing - A pictoral essay
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#10 User is offline   Gobbler Icon

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 11:44 AM

View PostJust your average movie goer, on 14 December 2009 - 02:02 PM, said:

And Cobnat

Whoa whoa whoa WHOA! Was my post that bad?



Ehem. But yes, even the Y-Wing sucked. Same argument again: Small bomber = waste of material. Still, three times better than any of those idiotically designed B-Wing out there. Move the cockpit to the edge and let the rest of the ship rotate around it? Great idea, 'xcept for that whole cognitive dissonance thing. Why make it so slow when it provides so much target area? Bah. Bahhh. Hate 'em.

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#11 User is offline   Just your average movie goer Icon

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:23 PM

Strange... I don't know why I wrote Cobnat. Don't worry, it wasn't because of your post. I must have been thinking of something else and got distracted. I don't know.

Sorry about that, Gobbler.

Yeah, the B-Wings do provide a larger target area, that's true, and having all of the ship underneath you where you can't see it is weird. Also, it's hard to really keep an idea in your head about just how much ship there really is under you. Still, that article is hilarious. I'll have to check out the rest of the site and see if there's anything else written by that guy.
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#12 User is offline   Radu094 Icon

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Posted 18 December 2009 - 06:16 AM

Y'all forget an important aspect: B-wings had a much-much better shield. And this was a life-saver.

I remember how constantly terrified I was when flying an Y-wing.. those dang things would loose shields within a couple of seconds, waay before you could shake your tailer.

At least a B-wing gave you an honest shot at survival, though you still had fly carefully and always keep one or two wingman close.

This post has been edited by Radu094: 18 December 2009 - 06:17 AM

I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you read is not what I meant.
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#13 User is offline   Gobbler Icon

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Posted 18 December 2009 - 09:00 AM

Oh don't even get me started on wingmen... :P

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#14 User is offline   Just your average movie goer Icon

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Posted 18 December 2009 - 09:33 AM

What game is this you're referring to? Is this one of the X-Wing ones?

The only other games where I've had wingmen and team-mates have been the Battlefront ones and in those games, your allies are about as helpful as a hole in the head. They don't cover your back, they don't follow orders and the idea of using initiative or pressing an advantage just doesn't occur to them. I mean, it's all well and good to be sporting towards an opponent but...

Also, I remembered another little oddity in the films...

The Empire Strikes Back space-slug sequence.

It never really struck me when I was a kid just how dumb this was. And given how well thought-out the rest of the movie is, it really sticks out like a sore thumb. First, there are the obvious flaws - ie. How could something like that live in the vaccuum of space? What does it eat? Why do smaller things live inside it? Why would it have a taste for space-ships? How come Han didn't notice it when he flew down its gullet? How could Leia still think it was a cave when it was closing its oh-so-obvious mouth? How come Han and the others didn't need suits to protect them from the cold vaccuum of space and the lower pressure of a cavern inside an asteroid?

Oh wait... all the flaws are obvious.

I know of course why it was there. It was a plot device for putting the heroes back on the run from the Imperial Fleet after the designated interlude - but there are other ways they could have handled that. For instance, since Han thought he had fixed the hyperdrive (as evidenced by the fact that he attempts to use it again when he's being pursued by Captain Needa), he could well have decided that it was time to make a dash for it anyway.

However, it was not to be and so for all these years, Star Wars fans have been perplexed by this little bit of cheese in the middle of an otherwise solid film.
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Posted 18 December 2009 - 06:03 PM

Nope. That was the stuff of old-school sci-fi, looking back to the pulp SF days when noone much cared about the science. When Star Wars was an homage to those old serials and dimestore paperbacks, it was on solid ground. When Lucs claimed he'd read Joseph Campbell, had used universal themes to try to convey some sort of message, and when he created a symbiotic life-form as his explanation for the Force, then the space slug became stupid.

Not stupid in EMPIRE. Stupid only if you watch the prequels.
"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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