Why the Lightsaber battle in The Force Awakens is the best of the series

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens had a mammoth task of re-launching the series and appeasing one of the most opinionated fan bases on this, or any planet. It had to prove its right to exist, and continue cinema’s most sprawling epic story, and it did just that. Even without it’s great new characters, its returning old ones, JJ Abrams kinetic direction, and it’s back to basics effects, the Force Awakens truly soared with its lightsaber battle. Perhaps the best lightsaber battle of the series so far. Heresy! I hear you cry, but with a little bit of analysis we can see why this battle deserves to sit alongside the rest.
Spoilers for The Force Awakens and the Star Wars Saga below. Those two stubborn Star Trek fans who haven’t seen these movies have been warned.

In order to see why the battle of Kylo Ren vs Finn and Rey we have to look at what makes a lightsaber battle tick. It comes down to three things: choreography, plot significance, and character motivation. The Force Awakens hits these targets in a way that the series other battles just fall short.
For choreography, the fighting style of all three characters tells you so much about their characters. Kylo Ren, while fighting Finn, toys with him- making the fight last longer than it needs to to assert his dominance. Finns fighting style is ragged: when on the offence he lets his rage get the better of him with Ren easily parrying his shots, whereas when he’s on the defence he’s beaten easily. Rey on the other hand has better luck: with her proficiency with her staff, her experience with this kind of combat, and Kylo Ren’s injury at the hands of Chewie, the fight is more even.

Next is plot significance. This is the very aspect of a battle that makes Obi Wan and Darth Vader’s battle in A New Hope so cinematic, despite the choreography being so lacklustre. In The Force Awakens this battle is one of the ways that the film legitimises its new characters. This is the battle that the whole film was building too, despite the nostalgia of seeing old favourite like Han and Leia, the final act is about the new recruits, the faces of this new trilogy.

Finally, it’s the characters motivation that elevates this above Luke and Vader’s battles in the original trilogy, and the fantastic fight between Obi Wan, and Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. Luke and Vader’s battle is the classic power of good versus evil. In the Phantom Menace, despite the breathtaking choreography, the battle doesn’t become personal until Darth Maul kills Qui Gon Jinn. Up until that point Darth Maul was merely a cool looking obstacle for our hero’s, it is only a personal battle for about a minute and a half as Obi Wan goes full berserker and dispatches Maul.
In The Force Awakens it Kylo Ren’s motivations, and what both Finn and Rey represent to him, that gives the battle an add sense of gravitas. Kylo Ren has just killed his father Han, in doing so symbolically extinguishing his allure to the light side of the Force. He pursues Finn and Rey into the forest of Starkiller base to finish what he started with Han’s death. His scream of “Tratior” at Finn belies his own fears: if a programmed storm trooper can turn good, then he fears that he still could. With Rey, she is the representation of the power of the light. He wants to kill Finn due to what he symbolises to him, and teach Rey in order to corrupt her power.
The film ends with his defeat, Rey can’t be turned, and Finn nearly died for a noble cause. Despite Han’s death Kylo Ren failed- a victory for the light that will surely affect what happens next in this great cinematic epic.

Five Ways Star Wars: Clone Wars makes the prequel Trilogy better

1. Yoda looks like the badass Jedi Master he was meant to be.
Everyone loves Yoda. From his first appearance as Luke’s magical helper in The Empire Strikes Back, to his hilarious fight with Emperor Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith, Yoda is the unlikely symbol of the light side of the force. Who would have thought this weird little Henson puppet would grow into such an icon. One of the many criticisms of the prequel trilogy is how ridiculous Yoda looked in action scenes, a remember in the cinema all those years ago the audience laughing their heads off at Yoda and Palpatine. What should have been a fight with real dramatic stakes was turned into farce by the special effects. There’s none of that the Clone Wars. Due to the stunning animation, Yoda no longer seems out of place. No longer a puppet, or a CGI creation; Yoda is shown in all his Zen warrior glory from the very beginning of the series.

2. Count Dooku is more than a one note Christopher Lee
Relied on great casting to try and hide George Lucas’s ropey writhing. Christopher Lee’s Count Dooku was a prime example of this- a thespian actor whose only role was to be an obstacle for Obi Wan and Anakin. In the Clone Wars he is given greater purpose as the visible leader of the Separatists, and the man behind great villains like General Grievous and Asajj Ventress.

3. The less Jar Jar the better
The writers of the Clone Wars really know what Star Wars fans want. Spectacular space battles, exploration of a densely populated galaxy, and oh yes, less Jar Jar. They know that they can’t write him out completely as he is now Senator Jar Jar. Instead his rare appearances in episodes present viewers with many Final Destination style scenarios in which Jar Jar could get himself killed. There is no more satisfying outlet than to shout at the screen about how much you want this characters latest mistake to lead to his death.

4. One word, Ahsoka
Ahsoka is by far the best character in the Clone Wars. Introduced as Anakin’s young Padawan, Ahsoka is a long overdue female Jedi knight. George Lucas envisioned her character as a means of showing how Anakin transformed from the reckless Jedi of Attack of the Clones, to the more level-headed Jedi of Revenge of the Sith. Ashoka is the epitome of Anakin’s student, a creative risk taker, and moral leader in the making. She starts off the show purely as his pupil but quickly outgrows that role; so-much-so that any episode she appears in is sure to have an “Ashoka’s badass moment of the week”. The show puts a lot of effort into her and Anakin’s relationship, also the first master/apprentice relationship that we see the over a long period of time. She makes Anakin a better Jedi, and The Clone Wars a better show.

5. Obi Wan and Anakin as buddy cops
The most pleasurable thing about the Clone Wars is the relationship between Obi Wan and Anakin. Gone is the cinematic short-hand of the movies that paints their relationship in broad strokes.In its place we have the nifty banter and tactical prowess of Butch and Sundance in space. In the Clone Wars we see their partnership as Jedi knights of almost equal stature as both are Generals in the ongoing war. Their commitment to each other throughout the series serves to deepen the events of the future films. Watch a season of this show and tell me it doesn’t give their fights in Revenge of the Sith, and A New Hope more dramatic weight. Go on, I dare you.

6 Best Lightsaber Duelists of the Star Wars Galaxy

1. Luke Skywalker

luke-skywalker-evil-pic

Unfortunately, Luke’s display of Lightsaber skills is limited in the Original Star Wars Saga. His awareness of his Force powers come after he was an adult, which would have disqualified anyone from training under the Jedi Counsel. That being said, Luke did have direct training by two Jedi Masters, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Luke’s ability as a duelist was never fully tested, but he did perform well in combat situations. His duel with Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi has been questioned by many, seeing as Vader had limited mobility. But there is no denying is will to learn the ways of the Jedi advanced his abilities significantly.

2. Anakin Skywalker

star-wars-and-why-the-skywalker-family-history-could-be-a-bit-more-complex-than-you-may-th-785712

Much like his son, Anakin Skywalker began his Jedi training at a later age than most. Though if we follow the logic of the prequels, his ability to control the Force was unlike any other Jedi. This control allowed him to rapidly grow through the ranks, and even earned him a spot on the Jedi Counsel (a feat that is often overlooked).

His most brilliant moment as a worldmaster came with his duel vs. Count Dooku. This was a feat that, at one time, both he and Obi Wan couldn’t complete together. In a brilliant display of swordsmanship, he got the upper hand, and essentially earned a spot as Sideous’ right-hand man.

Despite his success over Dooku, along with many other Dark characters from the Clone War series, the question with Anakin is whether his ability with a saber made him a great Jedi or if he was fully reliant on his overall power of the Force. Additionally, his arrogance often counterbalanced his skill. For those reasons, he comes in on this list at No. 5.

3. Obi-Wan Kenobi

we-finally-know-why-uncle-owen-hated-obi-wan-kenobi-in-a-new-hope-803057

Perhaps the most battle-tested member of this list, Obi Wan possessed a masterful control with a Lightsaber. His growth during his training at the temple caught the attention of Qui-Gon Ginn, who agreed to become his teacher. Obi Wan’s lineage is unlike any other Jedi’s: his master Qui-Gon trained under Count Dooku, who was trained directly by Yoda.
As a member of the Jedi Counsel, Obi Wan was tasked with many missions, which relied on his mastery of a Lightsaber.

Along with his apprentice, we see him battle with Count Dooku during the start of the Clone Wars. He also takes on General Grievous, a villain known for slaying Jedi and taking their sabers. When Anakin turned on the Jedi, Kenobi was sent to defeat his former Padiwan. In his advanced age, he was able to train Luke, who went on to become one of the great Jedi of the Star Wars Universe. His teaching abilities show the level in which he comprehended the art of dueling.

4. Count Dooku

Once a great warrior for the Jedi Counsel, Dooku wanted to learn more of the Force by dabbling with the Dark Side. Prior to his turn, he served as Yoda’s last Padawan. He climbed the ranks and trained Qui-Gon Jin. We see his brilliance with the Lightsaber during Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. He defeats both Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi simultaneously. He then shifted focus to Yoda, a battle that ended in a stalemate.

Though Skywalker would eventually get the upper hand in combat, it is difficult to know what really happened in that moment. Did the Dark Lord influence the battle? Was Anakin’s overall power of the Force too much for the old master? It’s hard to say.

5. Yoda

As the leader of the Jedi Counsel, Yoda not only demonstrates the greatest control over the Force, but demonstrates excellent maneuvers with a Lightsaber. He trained nearly every member of the Jedi Order, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ki-Adi-Mundi, and Cin Drallig (the Battlemaster of the Jedi Temple prior to the Clone Wars).

He had memorable battles with Count Dooku and Dark Lord Sidious. Dooku, his former student, escaped the battle when attempting to crush the bodies of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, both of which were injured by his saber.

6. Mace Windu

Windu served as a member of the Jedi Council, earning the title of champion of the Order, and once served as the Master of the Order. He was responsible for keeping the traditions of the original Jedi Order.
Though his skills were seldom displayed during the films, we do witness Windu disarm and pin the Dark Lord Sidious before the intervention of Anakin Skywalker. Windu overcame the Dark Lord’s ability to control the Force.

Windu created a Lightsaber fighting style, Vapaad, specifically to combat Dark Jedi. Because of his mastery of this style, Windu tops the list of the best Duelists in the Star Wars Galaxy.

All Things Star Wars

In the world we live in today, news travels fast. Covering Star Wars news old and new, we’re here to keep you up to date with the latest, and not-so latest, news. Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t. Regardless, we’ve got you covered.

Now let’s kick things into hyperdrive and get things going.

 

The Star Wars Show

Last Tuesday saw the announcement of The Star Wars Show. Pete Townley and Andi Gutierrez are the hosts of the online show, keeping viewers up to date with any news and announcements.

This is an official show of Lucasfilm/Disney, meaning we know everything they say is true, because it’s made and filmed in the very building where they work on Star Wars. Only one episode has aired so far, but viewers and fans should keep an eye on this show since it’s likely to be the place where Star Wars news breaks first.

New episodes are posted every Wednesday on the Star Wars YouTube channel and StarWars.com. You can watch the first episode here is not the version :).

 

Everything We Know About Star Wars Land (So Far)

Disney-Star-Wars-land-lead-2-1020x610
Last summer was a dream come true for any Star Wars fan when Walt Disney Company chairman Bob Iger took to the stage at the D23 Expo to announce what will be Star Wars Land, explaining it’s the “first time our guests can immerse themselves in the real physical world that is Star Wars.” Guests will be able to visit the 14 acre park expansion in both Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Iger gave fans a small taste of what to expect in the park, mentioning “local inhabitants” of the Star Wars universe will occupy stores, restaurants, and other sections of the park. This alone is a huge step for Disney Parks, as it’s something that’s never before been experienced anywhere. Not that we know of, at least.

That all sounds amazing, but guests care about one thing above all else: the rides and attractions.

“The land will have two fantastic signature attractions,” Iger stated, “including the ability to take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy: the Millennium Falcon…”

Done. Sold. Sign us up. But wait, there’s more.

Iger then continued with the description of the second attraction, stating, “and the epic Star Wars adventure that puts you right in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”

Other information about the park is under wraps and the park’s opening date is yet to be announced, but it’s safe to say we’ll be there when it’s open!

 

The New Wave of Star Wars Figures from Funko

Great news for the Star Wars collectors! Funko has announced the third wave of Star Wars Pop figures! The majority of the figures are from The Force Awakens, but there are a few in there from the original trilogy.

Characters like Rey, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren already have figures, but this line is offering fans new versions. Not sure about anyone else, but we’ll be picking up a few, and by “a few,” we mean all.

“Traitor!” That’s right! The mysterious crowd favorite FN-2199 scored his own figure in the new wave of figures, along with Maz Kanata and Luke Skywalker!

Be on the lookout for these figures, as some are exclusives to Target, Walgreens, Hot Topic, and GameStop.

You can find the full list of new wave Star Wars Funko Pop figures here.

The new wave of Star Wars Funko Pop figure’s are set to be released this July.

The Hidden Stories behind Star Wars Background Characters

Luke. Leia. Anakin. Obi-Wan. Vader. Palpatine. Most of Star Wars’ biggest characters can be identified by one name, and generate some emotional reaction for us, potentially good or bad. However, the Star Wars cinematic universe has generated many other characters that, at first glance, challenge us to muster up anything more than apathy. However, examining a couple of characters relegated to the background may help us to better understand the struggles of the common man (or droid… or alien) in this galaxy far, far away.

TC-14

tc-14_08341508

TC-14 has the notable distinction of being the first character to appear in The Phantom Menace with female characteristics (if you don’t count Obi-Wan’s ponytail). Others may best remember her for only being a silver-plated copy of the beloved protocol droid C-3PO. However, once you get past your looks, you start to gain sympathy for TC-14, employed by a couple of Trade Federation scumbags.  According to canon informational material, TC-14’s mind was routinely wiped so she wouldn’t develop a conscience, which implies that TC-14 was quick to realize that she wasn’t in the best line of work. Her intelligence is further proven when you notice that, in the movie, she’s the one to point out that the “ambassadors” are Jedis, while the ship captains, apparently thinking that robes are a fashion statement, are relatively ignorant of the impending danger up to that point. TC-14 is truly the brain of that operation.

Biggs

landscape-1431106672-star-wars-biggs

In A New Hope, Luke mentions his friend Biggs offhandedly several times before he actually appears onscreen. You hear him very little and he dies during the Death Star attack; it appears to affect Luke emotionally even though we barely knew what was under that checkered helmet of his. This was later explained by the release of deleted scenes from this seminal movie. One scene was filmed where Biggs has returned to Tatooine after graduating from the Imperial Academy, the school that Luke wishes he could attend. Biggs explains to Luke that he had decided to seek out the Rebellion, which gets Luke hyped up. So Biggs probably played a bigger role than we imagined in Luke developing a hatred for the Empire. (Of course, that whole murder of his aunt and uncle probably didn’t help.) In a restored scene in the Special Edition, Biggs also vouches for Luke, calling him one of the best bushpilots in the Outer Rim. All this helps us to understand that Luke’s friend, who we barely get to understand, had an important influence on his life even before his encounters with the Force.

Gragra

creature

 She’s probably the most background of all characters on this list, appearing for approximately two seconds in The Phantom Menace as the vendor who gets angry at Jar Jar Binks (OK, I can already identify) for eating her gorgs, a lizard-like food, without paying for them. However, according to Star Wars Galaxies, Gragra, like many of us after dealing with a problematic customer in the retail industry, despairingly thought to herself, “Am I really going to do this for the rest of my life?” Somehow, this stupid Jar Jar moment impulsed her to begin a spinoff sauce business in addition to her gorg selling so that she could buy a ship and leave Mos Espa to start a new life. If only the rest of The Phantom Menace were that inspirational.

Salacious Crumb

Crumb_btm

This lizard is most remembered for causing annoyance to Return of the Jedi watchers by means of his incessant cackling. However, Card Trader explains that Crumb was enlisted by Jabba the Hutt to serve as his jester. Working for a crime lord is usually a dicey proposition, and more so for Crumb, who would be killed by Jabba if he was unamused by Crumb for an entire day. Of course, with your life at stake, you’re gonna treat every remotely funny action like an 80s sitcom, with laugh track all over the place. Crumb is forced to do a thankless job, and truly embodies the sad clown in our society.

As you can see, life in the Star Wars universe is just like life for us: a couple of huge characters that dominate the news while the majority of people live out their lives fighting their own personal battles to stay alive, get ahead or defeat a giant spherical ship.