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Star Wars is officially cool again

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2016-12-02


I couldn’t imagine myself saying this a few years ago, but we are living in the age of Star Wars. Sure, the early 2000s were a big time for Star Wars too with the completion of episodes I to III but somehow what we’re experiencing right now feels different. Not only are there new Star Wars movies being released every year but, if last years’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens is any indication, these new movies have the chance of being pretty good too.

And it’s not like there’s been any time since the first movie was released that Star Wars was totally hidden from pop-culture. In the 1980s Return of the Jedi was released, a few TV movies and a slew of animated series were all out too. And in the 1990s the original trilogy was re-released in theaters to great fanfare plus in both decades were loads of Star Wars novels and comics. And I think what kept Star Wars creative in those nearly 20 years between films were those comics and novels.

Before the age of digital special effects there were limits as to what was possible to show on screen since everything had to be practically done — models had to be built, sets constructed and matte paintings created. But with the comics and books there was no FX budget so anything was possible. The quote I’ve always heard is that those medium has a “billion dollar” special effects budget for each story. And so some amazing things happened in the pages of the comics and books that couldn’t have happened on movie screens then.

I especially remember the Star Wars paintings of artist Dave Dorman. Dorman created these wonderful pieces of art that graced a multitude of comic and book covers from the early–1990s to present And he didn’t just paint established Star Wars “things,” his paintings also helped to expand stories that had already been told in the movies and introduced new characters and situations as well.

Dorman illustrated things I’d always wanted to see like Darth Vader leading a mass of Storm Troopers in a charge, Han Solo facing off against Boba Fett and, more importantly, brand new characters as well. These new characters looked liked they’d spent a lifetime existing in the galaxy of Star Wars with all the grit and grime and wear to show for it.
In fact, when I first saw the trailer to the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story I thought it looked exactly like one of those 1990s Dave Dorman paintings come to life.

This new movie, due out December 16, is a prequel to the original trilogy and tells the story of how the Rebellion got a hold of the plans to the massive planet-destroying Death Star. Said plans were used in the first Star Wars to destroy said Death Star. All of which is great, and is a story I’ve been dying to see since I was five. But it’s the character designs and locations of Rogue One that really piqued my interest in the film, especially that of character Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Gerrera’s encased in a suit of armor that looks like it was left outside for a decade before being tossed down a flight of steps then set alight.
And Gerrera doesn’t look like he’s in the best of health, he doesn’t look much better than the armor he wears.

In fact, there are loads of characters and settings in Rogue One that looks like all those diverse and different things from the comics and book covers that are different from the previous movies come to life and I couldn’t be more happy.

All those things I have closed up in bookshelves around my house that I pull down and open and fawn over once or twice every few years when the mood strikes will finally be alive and breathing on the big screen. With the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story it’s like I’m a kid again and am counting down the days until Christmas until I can open up my presents and see what I got. Or, in this case, pony up a few dollars and go to the movie theater and see all this on the big screen.

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