Posts Tagged Star Wars

Why stop at Seven Samurai?

So, rumors are going around that Zack Snyder (director of 300 and Watchmen) is working on a Star Wars version of Akira Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai. I’m assuming that means seven warriors will band together to defend a small village, only this time they’ll have lightsabers.

Whether this actually happens or not, it shows the flexibility of Kurosawa’s original story. Seeven Samurai has already been adapted as Magnificent Seven and an anime called Samurai 7. Tropes from the original have also been recycled in countless actions films.

Which begs the question: What other sci-fi adaptations of Seven Samurai are possible?

Seven Gundams: I’m thinking specifically of Gundam Wing; they’re only two pilots short of a full contingent already. The plot would involve seven laconic teenagers and their mobile suits defending an unarmed space colony, with space rice as their only payment.

Seven Redshirts: A Federation starship is dispatched to defend a small outpost from the Romulans and/or Klingons. An away team is dispatched. Everyone dies.

Seven Klingons: Klingons consider a glorious death in battle as payment. Three survive (as in Seven Samurai) and their shame is passed down for three generations.

Seven Superheroes: Pretty much a standard Avengers (Marvel) or Justice League (DC) story, but substituting an impoverished village for New York/Metropolis.

Seven Transformers: Not that Optimus Prime would ever accept payment for defending humans against a Decepticon attack, but some Energon would sweeten the deal and give Megatron a reason to attack.

Seven Mandalorians: Factional differences lead to the destruction of all seven before the Hutts get to the village.

Seven Soul Reapers: A group of Soul Reapers has a dispute with the Soul Society (it happens all the time) and redeem themselves by entering the World of the Living to stop marauding Hollows.

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How to name a spaceship

Milennium Falcon and Star DestroyersSo you’ve got a spaceship. You’re ready to go boldly where no one has gone before, or to let the computers figure it out while you hypersleep and wait for the facehuggers. Either way, your ship will need a name.

Naming ships has been an important tradition in in the maritime world since the first seafarers, and that tradition most likely continue with spacefaring vessels. Here are some spaceship naming tips.

Military

Naval vessels are named after almost everything, so we’ll start here. Several sci-fi series, like Star Trek, believe the military naming tradition will carry over to future space fleets, which is why Starfleet ships carry the prefix “USS” and a hull number. Military names add some gravitas, and could possibly reference seagoing vessels from centuries past.

Naval ships are assigned specific types of names depending on their class. Obviously, these don’t all apply to spacecraft, but they give a good indication of how a name matches up with a ship’s purpose:

Aircraft Carriers: presidents, battles, famous navy ships

Battleships: states

Cruisers: cities

Destroyers and escort ships: Navy and Marine personnel

Submarines: fish and marine life (more recently, states and cities)

Amphibious Assault Ships: same as aircraft carriers

Destroyer/Submarine Tenders: national parks

Patrol Craft: numbers only

Transports: various

Geography

Choosing a name based on an Earth landmark will be a good way to remind you of home as you cross the galaxy. They are also a good may to circumvent national boundaries; mountains and rivers are more politically neutral than historical figures or events from a country that may be part of a unified world government in the future.

Adjectives

These are always a good bet, since, by definition, they describe how awesome your ship is. Adjectives are a favorite of the Royal Navy; examples include HMS Invincible, HMS Indomitable, and HMS Illustrious. One of my personal favorites is Intrepid, first used on a U.S. Navy ketch during the Barbary Wars, then on a World War II aircraft carrier, and eventually on a class of Star Trek ships. You don’t have to choose a name that begins with “I,” but there are plenty of good ones out there.

People

Naming a ship after an important person says a lot about the ship’s creators. A ship can embody the qualities of its namesake, or honor their remarkable achievements. That’s why so many American ships are named after presidents, especially ones that led the country through wars. On the other hand, Sea Shepherd (of Whale Wars fame) named their ships Steve Irwin and Bob Barker. Conceivably, a future nerd society could have ships named George Lucas and Isaac Asimov.

References

A ship name is the perfect place to slip some allusion into a sci-fi story. In the Alien series, several ships, including the Nostromo and Sulaco, have names that refer to Joseph Conrad. Appealing to nerds isn’t the only option; references to mythology are also a good way to give your ship a cool, original, name with some meaning. These names aren’t as obvious as Mount Everest or George Washington, which makes them a little more realistic and a little more interesting. In a spacefaring civilization, all the “good” names will get taken; shipwrights will have to get creative, and so will you.

For the sake of concision, these are just five of the many possible types of names. These five are the most popular types of ship names, but the possibilities are almost infinite. You can even combine two cool-sounding words like Millennium Falcon. Just try to think as an actual ship captain or owner: would you really want a certain name if the ship was real?

Remember that, no matter what a ship’s name is, tradition dictates that it is female. Even if your ship’s name is the Sean Connery, you should refer to it as a “she.” They may just be machines, but ships have always had a romantic quality. That’s why naming them is so important.

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“Phantom Menace” redeemed

George Lucas can now add Glenn Beck to the list of people who don’t like the Star Wars prequels. Beck saw Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D and said the CGI wizards at Industrial Light & Magic should use their technology to make Lucas go away.

The common consensus among Star Wars fans is that the prequels are not as good as the original trilogy. Some might go so far as to say that Lucas ruined Star Wars with abominations like Jar Jar Binks and Hayden Christensen.

However, not everything about the newer movies was bad. And since when did Glenn Beck become a movie critic? Lucas deserves some credit for the things he got right in Episode I, if for no other reason than to piss Beck off. Here are 10 good things about Episode I:

1: Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn

As Obi-Wan’s mentor, Neeson does a great job conveying the serenity and wisdom of a true Jedi master. His acting reminds audiences that Neeson starred in Schindler’s List and makes it hard to believe he also made The Grey and Battleship. The character of Qui-Gon is pretty badass: a powerful Jedi who won’t play by the Council’s rules.

2: Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi

Establishing continuity between young Obi-Wan and Alec Guiness’ great performance in the original trilogy must have been hard, but McGregor pulls it off. It’s cool to see a character fans know so well as a brash young learner.

3: Darth Maul

He has horns on his head. He has red skin. He has a two-bladed lightsaber. Like all the best villains, he spends more time killing than monologuing.

4: Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala

Padme is an important part of the storyline and not just an idle love-interest. Portman makes the idea of a 14-year-old queen somewhat believable. She didn’t deserve the indignity of being hit on by a nine-year old.

5: Coruscant

Star Wars viewers finally got to see the capital of the Republic/Empire, from its massive Senate Chamber to the Jedi Temple. There are plenty of references to the Old Republic and Jedi Order in the original Star Wars films; in Episode I people finally got to see what that looked like.

6: Lightsaber combat

The lightsaber duels in the original trilogy were memorable for their drama, not action. Advances in technology allowed for a faster pace and more movement in the new movies. It also means there is more lightsaber action: in Episode I, viewers get to see Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan take on an army of droids, and fight Darth Maul.

7: The Naboo N-1 Starfighter

It may only have two laser cannons instead of an X-Wing’s four, but the N-1 is still a pretty hot machine. It’s one of the few craft in the new movies that wasn’t ripped off from something in the old ones. This is a sleek, distinctive design; it looks like a cross between a traditional starfighter and a hot rod.

8: Ian McDiarmid as Darth Sidious

McDiarmid’s portrayal of Sidious in all three of the new movies is flawless. He is just as evil as one would expect the future Emperor to be. I still get chills when he turns to nine-year-old Anakin and says “we will watch your career with great interest.”

9: Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu

Samuel L. Jackson as a Jedi Master? Why not?

10: The CGI

Star Wars went on to become more like a computer-generated than a live-action film series, but it is important to remember how ground-breaking the effects in Episode I were. Everything looks startlingly realistic; the colors and shapes are muted enough in this first attempt to make everything believable. The Gungans are pretty annoying, but there are also massed armies of droids, starships, and the planet-wide urban sprawl of Coruscant to look at.

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