How the Failure of “The Phantom Menace” fed my “Star Wars” Obsession

My “Star Wars” obsession began in 1997 when George Lucas unleashed the new editions of his trilogy in theaters. For me it was something of a passing fad that I admired through the fun commercials and the heavy connection to Doritos. I wanted those pogs even if I didn’t know who Luke Skywalker or Lando Calrissian was. A year later, I borrowed the original trilogy from a friend on VHS and consumed the whole series in one sitting over the course of a weekend. I never came back from that obsession, and to this day it’s a hard habit to break. “Star Wars” is a series that kept me hooked for a very long time and I was always looking for anything I could find to read about it, or consume in some form as entertainment.

In 1999 when Lucas aired the first ever trailer for “The Phantom Menace” on primetime television, I rushed home to watch the trailer on video tape, and I must have seen it at least ten times. It looked amazing.

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TV On DVD: The Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2 (DVD)

Nostalgia entertainment is about as popular as ever and modern streaming services and networks are banking on the fascinating topics that can be mined from the mementos of pop culture. One of the most entertaining documentary series to be brought to the popular Netflix service has been by Brian Volk-Weiss’s “The Toys That Made Us.” While most studios would cut corners by merely making a series that relies on “Remember this?” and “Remember when…?” what “The Toys That Made Us” instead does is examine the importance and relevance of iconic toy lines from the eighties and nineties.

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Looking Back at “The Last Starfighter” at 35

I didn’t discover “The Last Starfighter” until I was thirteen years old. It was 1996, and I was looking for any and all movies that peaked my interest, and “The Last Starfighter” seemed like a good time to me. For some reason “The Last Starfighter” managed to skate right by me when I was a kid, and I watched every movie. I watched everything from “Willow” and “Legend” right down to “Warriors of Virtue,” but I never actually knew there was such a thing as “The Last Starfighter.”

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Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

The problem with prequels is that you already know what you’re getting, because you already know what’s going to happen to certain characters within the canon, so, “Solo” doesn’t pack much surprises. I will say though for arguably safe genre entertainment, it’s exciting and also delivers some well timed twists within its narrative. After the much ballyhooed problems during the making of the film, “Solo” ends up being a surprisingly competent popcorn movie that keeps a brisk pace, and channels the original tone of the episodes IV-VI better than the previous prequels/mid-quels (?).

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The Bootleg Files: The Lost Starfighter

BOOTLEG FILES 622: “The Lost Starfighter” (2017 “Star Wars” fan film).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Not unlike all fan films, it is based on an unauthorized use of copyright protected material.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Maybe in a galaxy far, far away, but not in this one.

I have not seen the latest installment in the “Star Wars” saga, nor do I have any plans to watch it. For that matter, I have no plans to see any more films released under the “Star Wars” banner.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Rian Johnson has created what is easily one of the most complete and well developed “Star Wars” cinematic installments since “Empire.” While it does have the occasional pitfall (Porgs), “The Last Jedi” is a masterstroke for the series so far. Johnson manages to skillfully build on this new universe while also answering a lot of the pressing questions that the fans had for “The Force Awakens.” This is the second film to usher in the new generation and ease out the originals, turning this in to a war where the underdogs are still the rebels and they’re filled with reverence for folks like Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. Johnson focuses primarily on the “How,” and “Why” questions from “The Force Awakens,” allowing fans closure on a lot of the nagging questions that left them excited and or baffled.

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Star Wars: Dark Legacy (2017)

We all know well and good about the turbulent and peaceful relationship between the Jedi and his padawan, but how often do we get to see the relationship between Siths and their apprentices? “Dark Legacy” explores the typically twisted and weird relationship between the Sith and their apprentices and how it can be emotionally draining and quite violent. The training revolves more about brainwashing and the Stockholm syndrome and director Anthony Pietromonaco delves in to the demented dynamic and how it makes or breaks the apprentice.

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Hardware Wars (1978)

With only one movie under its belt in the series, and little resources, Ernie Fosselius’s “Hardware Wars” is a solid fan film for “Star Wars” and the first ever made. Fosselius doesn’t try to make a movie so much as a mock movie trailer that runs down the events of the first film with humorous results. It’s filled with literally nothing but satire about the original movie, even skirting copyrights by altering everything enough to avoid legal trouble.

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