Posted by: Staff | 02.12.2008

“This is just the beginning:” Star Wars comes back to big screen, small screen, all sorts of screens this fall

TOPH TUCKER ‘08

And you thought it was over. Not even close.

Lucasfilm, Warner Bros., and Turner Broadcasting have just announced a deal that will bring a new 3D animated film (think Pixar), titled Star Wars: The Clone Wars, to theaters everywhere this August 15. The movie will be continued as a TV show on Cartoon Network and TNT shortly thereafter.

The film and show take place in-between Episodes II and III during the Clone Wars, a period ripe with potential. Stylistically, it’s a major departure from Episodes I – VI, namely in that it is essentially a cartoon. If you saw the 3-15 minute cartoon shorts on Cartoon Network back around 2004, you have the right idea. Indeed, that series (titled Star Wars: Clone Wars, without the “the”) served as a sort of pilot for this one. But visually, this is dramatically more complicated. Indeed, it’s truly like nothing you’ve seen before… except maybe a videogame.

Speaking of which, LucasArts will be releasing its latest project, a video game called Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, around the same time. It is billed as the next episode (lower-case “e”) in the Star Wars saga, and follows the training of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice in the previously-unexplored years between Episodes III and IV. The game is being released for all major platforms, including Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP, Nintendo DS, and N-Gage. But the version you want is the one for the 360 and PS3, because only those versions feature two revolutionary new technologies: Euphoria and Digital Molecular Matter.

Euphoria lets the in-game enemies behave realistically, instead of according to pre-recorded animations. Stormtroopers on a wobbly bridge will actually shuffle and trip and balance in real-time; if they’re shoved off, they’ll try to save themselves by grabbing a box, ledge, or even each other. Digital Molecular Matter (DMM) means that if those stormtroopers are standing on that bridge, you could Force-throw a crate, knock out a support, and watch the bridge collapse realistically. Or you could throw your lightsaber in the forest and watch trees fall and splinter like real wood. The possibilities are endless.

The Force Unleashed is actually what LucasArts refers to as a “multimedia project,” which means that it will be accompanied by books, comics, and toys—as will, I’m sure, The Clone Wars. And the casting of an established TV actor (Sam Witwer, who has appeared previously on ER, Bones, CSI, Battlestar Galactica, and more) as the main character in The Force Unleashed suggests that the character could play a role in the next big Star Wars event: a live-action series, still early in development, set to air in 2009.

With these and other ongoing undertakings, Lucasfilm is pushing the limits of cross-media projects. The Episode I trailer was one of the first to ever be shown online, back in 1999; the original Clone Wars animated short series was one of the first TV shows to be available in its entirety online. The saga has already stood at the pinnacle of its genre for 30 years. Now, with the two movie trilogies finished, new endeavors spanning film, television, and gaming look to keep Star Wars alive and kicking for generations to come.

In the interest of full disclosure I, Toph Tucker, am a gigantic fan of Star Wars. I’m not sure I could be unbiased if I tried. I don’t even mind Jar-Jar. I’m always up for a good Star Wars debate, by the way. For instance: did Palpatine let Mace Windu win, or was Windu actually the superior swordsman? Think about it.

Images from Lucasfilm, Ltd.
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Responses

  1. In response to the afterward:
    While the “Battlefront” games are not considered canonical, If you have ever played Battlefront 2 the answer is obvious. The lightsaber moves were taken directly from the movies, and Mace Windu’s are supirior in every way to the Emperors.

  2. If that were the only evidence, I’d be hesitant to rely on it, since as you said, games take great liberties for the sake of gameplay. But I happen to agree. The Emperor has Mace beat in terms of mastery of the Force, but Mace is the better swordsman.

    I’ve talked to some people who disagree, and who say it was obviously all just a trap to convince Anakin of poor little old Palpatine’s helplessness. That’s true, to an extent. Palpatine was obviously playing up his defeat. And he probably could have escaped arrest without Anakin’s help–he must have known it was coming. But once he was backed into the corner, I think he was pretty genuinely backed into the corner.

    He knew Anakin too well, though, so even then there probably wasn’t much of a risk. But in a pure 1-on-1 swordfight (no Force, no trickery), I think he would have been in trouble.

    Hmm, so that wasn’t much of a debate. There’s always the Strongest Force User stuff, but that’s tricky because some sources (like the old Clone Wars mini TV series) obviously exaggerate the “truth.” Or one could always debate the best way to view the movies: I II III IV V VI or IV V VI I II II….

  3. Battlestar Galactica is better.


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