Star Wars

Star Wars: A Journey Through the New Canon – Part 1: The Phantom Menace




A long time ago, a girl’s parents took her to see a science fiction film called Star Wars. On that day, she fell in love with all things Star Wars, even the extended universe that began with Timothy Zahn’s 1991 book, Heir to the Empire. But in 2012, Disney purchased Star Wars and proceeded to erase the majority of the extended universe she had come to know. With much of her Star Wars knowledge no longer applicable, she begins a journey through the new canon. Her goal – to travel the path of the new canon, experiencing as much of the new material in story order as best as she possibly can.


Warning: Spoilers

The Phantom Menace (1999), written and directed by George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars universe, begins the new canon. While I saw the film in the theater, this time my goal is to watch with fresh eyes without comparing the work to any Star Wars property created prior to its release.

A crawl introduces the world to the audience. In this far away galaxy, the Galactic Republic has been in power for a long time. However, there is trouble – the Trade Federation has established a blockade around the planet of Naboo, protesting the taxation of trade routes. From the crawl, I realize The Phantom Menace is not a sci-fi romp; instead, the film is more akin to a political thriller.

It took me eight minutes to figure out who the “bad guys” are. The Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic has sent two ambassadors to help Naboo, but it is a secret mission. According to the crawl, Jedi Knights are “the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy,” but the Trade Federation trembles in fear of the news that the ambassadors are Jedi. Clothing is no clue. A man named Lord Sidious is in league with the Trade Federation, but he wears a cloak like the two Jedi. Perhaps the Jedi aren’t as benign as the crawl said. Maybe the Jedi learn that the Senate is the entity acting in the wrong. The mystery of who I should be rooting for is finally solved when the Queen of Naboo states that the Trade Federation has gone too far. In response, the Trade Federation cuts off Naboo’s communications, launches an invasion of the planet with their droid army, and attempts to kill the Jedi.

What kind of people try to kill the galaxy’s keepers of peace and justice? Bad guys, that’s who.

After presenting this politically complex world, the film takes a break and spends time on Tatooine, a planet on the outer rim, outside of the protection of the Galactic Senate, which allows for this Hutt-controlled world to have slaves. Because they need parts for their ship, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), the Queen’s handmaiden Padmé (Natalie Portman), and the droid R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) venture into town and meet Watto (voiced by Andrew Secombe), the owner of the shop and of two slaves, Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August) and her son Anakin (Jake Lloyd).

Qui-Gon feels that the boy is special and uses those feelings to get the money necessary for parts. Anakin is a kind boy; he offers them shelter during a dust storm and offers to compete in a very dangerous event, podracing. Qui-Gon makes a series of bets with Watto: if Anakin wins, Watto will give them the parts and free Anakin. Qui-Gon places a lot of faith in Anakin, and the nine-year-old boy handles it well.

Anakin had bragged about his talents before, and his performance during the podrace confirms the hype. He built his podracer, which stalls at the beginning of the race, but he fixes the issue and starts in second-to-last place. He has a lot of ground to cover in three laps. The race is intense. The course is full of tight turns, tunnels, and other dangers such as Tusken Raiders shooting at them. Anakin repairs his racer twice during the race and outmaneuvers Sebulba (voiced by Lewis Macleod), a cheater who had dominated the podracing circuit, to win the race.


Yes, my Padawan, I did put our fates into the hands of a 9-year-old boy. That’s how Jedi Masters roll.

With their ship fixed, our band of heroes are ready to leave the desert planet. Before they can leave, they are attacked by Darth Maul (Ray Park), the apprentice of Lord Sidious. This moment is when these two plots converge. The main story is the liberation of Naboo. The subplot is about the Jedi and Anakin. Darth Maul was sent to get the Queen and bring her back to Naboo to force her to sign a peace treaty with the Trade Federation. Maul’s weapon is what ties the two together. Maul fights using a lightsaber. By having the same type of weapon as Qui-Gon and his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), Maul and Lord Sidious are revealed to have a connection to the Jedi. This signals a possibility that Lord Sidious and Darth Maul are Jedi with a grudge or something worse.

Queen Amidala finally arrives at Coruscant, a planet that is one huge city. Navigating the sprawling city-planet is easier than navigating the Senate. Naboo’s Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) warns Amidala that her pleas will fall on ears bloated with ego and drowning in corruption. And he’s right. The insistence of Supreme Chancellor Valorum (Terence Stamp) to push the issue onto a committee prompts Amidala to call for a vote of no confidence.

Also in Coruscant, on top of one of the highest buildings, is the Jedi Council. Qui-Gon insists that the Council train Anakin to be a Jedi. On Tatooine, Qui-Gon had Obi-Wan test Anakin’s blood for midi-chlorians, and his count is off the charts, even higher than Master Yoda’s. This causes Qui-Gon to believe Anakin is the Chosen One, a Jedi destined to bring balance to the force.

This development raises three questions:

Question: What are midi-chlorians? According to Qui-Gon, midi-chlorians are microscopic organisms that live in all living things in a mutualistic symbiotic relationship, making life and the Force possible. When one quiets the mind, they can hear the midi-chlorians speak. In real life, there are millions of bacteria who live in our bodies, both us benefitting. However, I don’t hear them speak, unless that’s where the adage about listening to one’s gut comes from. Because Anakin has a high count of these magical bacteria, Qui-Gon concludes the boy is destined to be a powerful Jedi.

Question: How can Anakin have no father? During the Jedi Council meeting, it is said that the Chosen One is conceived by midi-chlorians. On Tatooine, Shmi told Qui-Gon that Anakin has no father; she just woke up one day pregnant. So somehow Shmi had a lot of midi-chlorians inside her that fertilized her egg, making Anakin a genetic blend of his mother and magical bacteria. If Qui-Gon is correct. Or Shmi was roofied by a guy who was either a jerk of a Jedi or a Sith. Sorry Qui-Gon, being roofied is more plausible.

Question: Why is there a need for a Chosen One? The prophecy states that the Chosen One will bring balance to the Force. But the Jedi, the good guys, are in power. Sure, the presence of possible Sith surprised them, but currently, the Jedi are not threatened.

Questions aside, Chosen One or not, the Council is reluctant to train Anakin because he is too old and Master Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) senses much fear in the boy. But Qui-Gon informs the Council that he will train Anakin. However, having two Padawans is against the rules. Qui-Gon says Obi-Wan is ready for the trails, which will promote Obi-Wan from Padawan to Knight. The Council decides to decide Anakin’s fate later.

Queen Amidala returns to Naboo so she can free her people. Padmé, who is actually Queen Amidala and not her handmaiden, proves herself to be a capable leader and fighter. She negotiates an alliance with the Gungan, and it is her plan that leads to the capture of the Viceroy and to winning the day. Part of her plan included blowing up the ship controlling the Trade Federation’s droid army, which was accomplished by Anakin. He obeyed Qui-Gon’s instructions of staying the cockpit, but he powered up the ship to help Padmé, and the ship’s autopilot took him to the battle. He got inside the control ship and inadvertently destroyed it, disabling the droids.

Best part of the movie. I dare you to tell me otherwise.

Best part of the movie. I dare you to tell me otherwise.

The best part of the film is the battle between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul. Darth Maul is a unique villain. His red face with black markings and spikes and those red-yellow eyes make him visually striking, and he mainly communicates with his facial expressions and body movements. His fluid fighting style is more elegant than the two Jedi’s, and his mere presence is imposing, quickly conveying to the audience why it takes two Jedi to strike him down.

Yes, one of the best characters of the film, the one dripping with intrigue and vast potential, is cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi.

But not before killing Qui-Gon.

Although The Phantom Menace gets bogged down in a complicated plot, there are plenty of good entertaining action scenes. Sea monsters, blaster fights, a space battle, and a duel between Darth Maul and Jedi are needed to break up scenes with clunky explanations about midi-chlorians, confusing Senate meetings, and dull discussions about trade policy. Even Jar Jar Binks offers relief.

Before Qui-Gon died, he made Obi-Wan promise to train Anakin. After the battle at Naboo, Obi-Wan passes the trials (off screen) and becomes a Jedi Knight. He tells Master Yoda that he wants to train Anakin, even if it means defying the Jedi Council. Defying the Council is something Qui-Gon did in the past, and Yoda says that he senses Qui-Gon’s defiant streak in Obi-Wan. Although they have doubts, the Council has given Obi-Wan permission to officially train Anakin.

Naboo is liberated. Senator Palpatine has been elected to be the new Supreme Chancellor, promising to end corruption and bring peace and prosperity to the galaxy. Yes, a Sith is somewhere out in the galaxy, but there are plenty of Jedi to deal with that. And a young, sweet, innocent boy begins his journey to possibly become a great Jedi.

Everything is good in the galaxy.



Up next: The trade paperback of Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin (collects Obi-Wan and Anakin #1 – 5 by Charles Soule, Marco Checchetto, and Andres Mossa; published by Marvel)

Highlight from Indiana Comic Con: Ian McDiarmid and Ray Park


During the recent Indiana Comic Con, I attended the “A Long Time Ago in a Q & A Far, Far Away” panel featuring two stars from the Star Wars universe, Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine) and Ray Park (Darth Maul). There were no empty seats in the hall. Over the course of forty minutes, the duo answered questions from a moderator and fans.

Before he answered any questions, Ian, as Palpatine, growled, “Welcome to the Dark Side.”

The crowd roared. After the crowd settled, he recounted how the part of Palpatine came his way. He was working in theater when his agent called. The part came out of the blue. He went to a meeting with the director of Return of the Jedi, Richard Marquand, and George Lucas. On his way out, George said, “Nice nose,” to Ian. When he got back to his flat, his agent called and told him that he got the part. He accepted it after his agent told him that he would be playing “the Emperor of the Universe.”

Ray grew up loving action; his idols were Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, and Bruce Lee. He started studying martial arts around the age of seven. When Ray got called in for Phantom Menace, he hoped it was for a Jedi, but the Star Wars fan was stoked to be Darth Maul. For the look of Darth Maul, the makeup team tried a bald cap first, but it took over thirty minutes to get it on and glued. He figured he would be bald one day, so wanting to see if he had any scars on his head, Ray shaved his head. He ended up finding his shaved head liberating.

Makeup was a big part in creating the role of Palpatine for Ian. He confessed to not seeing The Empire Strikes Back before he got the role, so he didn’t know what the Emperor looked like. The first time Ian went in for makeup, the person suggested he go to sleep in the chair. Four hours later, Ian woke up, looked in the mirror, and screamed. He had found the Emperor. After Return of the Jedi, Ian thought he would never play Palpatine again, considering George Lucas told him that Palpatine was dead in all forms.

Thanks to technology, we got more Star Wars, and Ian was given a chance to explore more aspects of the role. As he read the script for The Phantom Menace, the character of Darth Sidious was more appealing than the ordinary politician, Senator Palpatine, the man playing a long, subtle game. He didn’t know they were the same man until the first day of filming with Ray. According to Ian, many of the actors didn’t realize he was both until the film was released.

Ray Park and Ian McDiarmid. Photo by Michelle Ealey

Ray Park and Ian McDiarmid. Photo by Michelle Ealey

To prepare himself for the role, Ray regularly trained with the stunt crew for about twelve hours a day, living the dream of playing with lightsabers. The stunts set the foundation for Darth Maul, but working with Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson helped him find the character because his fellow actors brought their characters to the fights.

Darth Maul pacing up and down during the last battle was George’s idea. Liam sitting and meditating wasn’t in the script; it was done during rehearsal, so he wasn’t sure of what to do. Ray tried to get a little Jean-Claude Van Damme in there somewhere, so he did the splits. George called cut, not liking the splits. Ray admitted that he was showing off, not knowing if he would ever get to work in another movie again. George told him he wanted Maul to be more like a caged animal, like a tiger.

The duo took questions from the audience.

A young fan asked if they liked playing the bad guy. Ray confessed that he had to learn to like playing the villain. Ian said that playing someone who is just bad can be dull. With the Emperor, he tried finding some redeeming features, but he could only find one – Palpatine enjoyed the opera, so he had to be a patron of the arts.

Ian got asked which character, Rey or Kylo Ren, would the Emperor want to train. He decided to answer as diplomatically as possible. The Emperor would want a young, lively mind, with an innocence that he can work on to convert to the dark side.

Another fan asked Ian what the inspiration was for the voice of the Emperor. Ian was surprised that he had to work on the voice to make sure his voice wasn’t replaced, something George Lucas has done before. He was told that if he could get his voice close to Clive Revill, the original voice of the Emperor, then he could keep it. After he had seen the face of the Emperor, Ian thought he looked like a repellent toad, which became the starting point for finding the voice. Seeing a performance by a Japanese actor whose voice seemed to come from the stomach motivated Ian to try to do the same. He practiced getting his voice as deep as possible. During rerecording of the dialogue in postproduction, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were there, encouraging him. Spielberg said at one point, “Oh my God, you’re so evil.” Ian was please that his hard work got to stay in the film

And then I got to ask my question.

Me: I’m curious, what do you, my Emperor, think of the fan theory that Jar Jar Binks is some sort of Sith Lord?

Ian: I like Jar Jar. I really loved the actor who played him, Ahmed Best, a wonderful actor and a great original talent. I wish George had concentrated on Ahmed instead of making him the first digitized creature, but there was a whole section in Clones where the Emperor had reason to be grateful to the creature and George cut it, I think because he felt the fans had had enough of him, but I have affection for him, and I think George still does. But as to whether he engineered any plot or had any sort of interesting plan hatched for the Emperor is a little farfetched. But we shouldn’t be too cruel on him.


The Emperor has spoken. Jar Jar is just Jar Jar.

Game/Life Balance U.S. Podcast Episode 30: Commercial Auditions and Gamer Stereotypes


Cody and Jon discuss their recent game/life balance, then Cody explains how commercial auditions and casting agencies work. He then engages Jon in a discussion on gamer stereotypes and how deeply they’ve permeated our culture.

Show Notes:

The post Commercial auditions and gamer stereotypes: Game/Life Balance U.S. Podcast Ep. 030 appeared first on Game/Life Balance U.S..

Legends News Stream June 23rd, 2016


The entertainment news for the week ending Thursday June 23rd, 2016 as seen by Beef, Wing and Shark Taco. As usual, we discuss news from the world of entertainment from movies to TV, the web and more. Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! These discussions will be spoiler filled and will contain explicit language, so consider yourself warned.

For more geeky podcasts visit

You can find us on iTunes under “Legends Podcast”. Please subscribe and give us a positive review. You can also follow us on Twitter @LegendsPodcast or even better, send us an e-mail. You can find all of our contact information here on the network page.  Our complete archive is always available at

Show notes


Star Trek interview with Bryan Fuller

Hannibal season 4, not before August 2017

Linda Carter is president of the USA in Supergirl

Archer renewed for 3 seasons!




Dwayne as the Wolfman?

Ghostbusters theme song is a bust

Disney is franchising Indiana Jones

I’m a Power Rangers fan and I don’t get this poster at all

But Bryan Cranston is Zordon! LOL

Mwahahahahaha worst poster EVER!!!

Noomi Rapace in Alien Covenant

Super-Hero Bash!

Willem Dafoe plays Vulko in Aquaman

Affleck Update on The Batman

Jason Statham’s The Mechanic Resurrection

Ouija 2!!!!

The Birth of a Nation

American Honey with Shia TheBeef

2Pac movie

War on Everyone… fun weird? Maybe

Jack Reacher 2

The Girl With all the Gifts

Star Wars

Rogue One pictures

Forest Whitaker is a Clone Wars cartoon character in Rogue One


Sorkin’s Masterclass for 90$

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Legends News Stream April 28th, 2016


The entertainment news for the week ending Thursday, April 28th, 2016 as seen by Beef and Wing. As usual, we discuss news from the world of entertainment from movies to TV, the web and more. Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! These discussions will be spoiler filled and will contain explicit language, so consider yourself warned.
For more geeky podcasts visit

You can find us on iTunes under
“Legends Podcast”. Please subscribe and give us a positive review.
You can also follow us on Twitter @LegendsPodcast or even better, send us an e-mail. You can find
all of our contact information here on the network page.  Our complete archive is
always available at

Show notes


Quantum break? Time manipulation

Doom. Beta

release some images

Twin Peak reveal full cast list, more than 200

Dr Who new

Kripton going to Pilot with



Sigourney Weaver talks Alien 5 with
And a picture of 27
years old Newt

Alien Covenant tease Weyland
Yutani merger and Xenomorph concept

Will Ferrell to play

NBC Universal buys Dreamworks
animation for nearly 4BILLION dollars

Furious 8 start filming in

Fox out of Comic con for fear of

Alicia Vikander is Lara

Alita Battle Angel start
casting, Cameron to produce the Robert Rodriguez

John Wick director helped on
Civil War

Nathan Fillion is WonderMan in
Guardian vol.2?

Iron Man in Spider-Man

InHuman out of Marvel’s

Casting call for The

Ghostbuster Empire

Pamela going back to



The Duel looks like a fine

Batman the Killing Joke animated
looks AMAZING!

Oliver Stone’s Snowden looks

Independance day

The Founder tells the story of
McDonald’s. Keaton for the win again!

The Infiltrator, Cranston at his

Jason Bourne

Star Wars

Rey lightsaber


Just a fun Tony Stark teaser

A real hover bike

Source Article from

Legends News Stream April 6th, 2016


The entertainment news for the week ending Thursday, April 6th, 2016 as seen by Beef, Wing and Shark Taco. As usual, we discuss news from the world of entertainment from movies to TV, the web and more. Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! These discussions will be spoiler filled and will contain explicit language, so consider yourself warned.


For more geeky podcasts visit



You can find us on iTunes under “Legends Podcast”. Please subscribe and give us a positive review. You can also follow us on Twitter @LegendsPodcast or even better, send us an e-mail. You can find all of our contact information here on the network page.  Our complete archive is always available at



Show notes



Legendary Pokemons for 20th anniversaries


Community Star to play Chevy Chase in biopic


Sherlock Update

Preacher showrunner promise no “preacher-lite”

The Boys heading to Cinemax


Warner has less money than expected

Wonder Woman moves up a month

Even Snyder wants Batfleck to direct

Batman The Killing Joke teaser

Nolan and Cillian Murphy team up again

Dr Strange buys Dr Strange comics

And Mads look in Dr Strange is strange

Del Toro Troll Hunter looks… Cute

Some Tek pic for 1st contact day

Scorsese Silence lands award season release

Sicario 2?!?!

Dave Batista in Blade Runner 2



Spielberg BFG

Time renegade Korean crazy fun

Mel Gibson does his Takens I guess

Swiss Army Man or the farting corpse trailer

Apocalypse 4 horsemen trailer

Final Fantasy 15 trailer

Star Wars

Episode 8 Countdown 617 days __hours __mins

Bunch of Blu-ray stuff

Rogue One

We got a teaser for the teaser !

Force for change part 2

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Legends News Stream March 16th, 2016


The entertainment news for the week ending Thursday, March 16th, 2016 as seen by Beef, Wing and Shark Taco. As usual, we discuss news from the world of entertainment from movies to TV, the web and more. Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! These discussions will be spoiler filled and will contain explicit language, so consider yourself warned.

For more geeky podcasts visit


You can find us on iTunes under “Legends Podcast”. Please subscribe and give us a positive review. You can also follow us on Twitter @LegendsPodcast or even better, send us an e-mail. You can find all of our contact information here on the network page.  Our complete archive is always available at


Show notes

C2E2 now with more Beef!



House of cards has started


Daredevil season 2 this Thursday


Netflix to produce a movie about the National Lampoon founder


The night manager or the manager. AMC loki n house
Night Manager


Preacher TV series gets good Pilot reviews


Better Call Saul RENEWED


Supergirl\Flash crossover is coming



The Crow Reboot loses its director AGAIN


Cannonball Run remake…. WHY?


Michael Mann to write a prequel to Heat, novel and screenplay


Indiana Jones 5 with Ford and Spielberg



Sausage Party is a BLOOD BATH




Green Room or Patrick Stewart is a crazy Mofo


Now you see me, that magic still makes no sense


Central Intelligence


Ben Hur or why remake a classic


Sing Street


BvS Featurette give us some new footage


Star Wars

Episode 8 Countdown 648 days __hours __mins


Short list of actor for young Han Solo



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Musings of a Blerd Black History Month Infographic: Black Star Wars Characters & Actors



Previously posted on my personal blog

If you weren’t aware, February is Black History Month. In honor of that, I wanted to mix my love of Star Wars with my love of blackness. So here’s an infographic that I created using Piktochart that lists the black characters in the Star Wars universe. Granted this might not be a complete list but I did scour high and low to find as many black characters as I could. In addition there’s a bonus section listing black actors who appeared via their voice acting, motion capture, or as a member of the many alien races in the Star Wars universe.  Enjoy:


Game/Life Balance U.S. Podcast Episode 7: The Federal Reserve, U.S. Politics, and The Order: 1886


 Jon tells a hilarious story about a “free to play” game he’s been playing on his phone, and Cody discusses how he’s learning about the Federal Reserve. Then, he and Jon delve into U.S. politics for a bit before Cody goes FULL GAMER and reviews The Order: 1886 for the PlayStation 4.

Musings of a Blerd: Art From Computer Graphics’ Star Wars Reimagined Contest


Forgive me my fellow nerds and geeks, it’s been two weeks since my last posting. But I’m here today with a new post, it’s Star Wars related but something a little different. Let’s begin shall we?

Whether it’s a book, movie, video, etc. one of the ways creators flesh out their ideas through concept art. Concept art can be really amazing and at times, we lament about the pieces that aren’t used in a project. Well the folks over at Computer Graphics hosted a contest titled Star Wars Reimagined.  The premise of the contest was basically for those who entered to reimagine their favorite character, creature or vehicle from the Star Wars universe and to be as creative about it as they could.

And the results have been freaking awesome! Behold some of the entrees:




By Stepan Alekseev



By Nicolas Gekko



By Jeronimo Gomez



By Marcelo Laborda



By Andrei Pervukhin



By Gregory Vlasenko



By Riyahd Cassiem 

Check out the 3D model over at



By Pirkka Harvala