Han Shot First (aka The Madness of King George)

Last week, there was a great disturbance in the geek world. Millions of voices suddenly cried out in anguish, and were silenced.

George Lucas had done it again.

Continuing his revisionist history of his own films, Lucas announced last week that he had always intended that Greedo shot first in that pivotal scene between Han Solo and the bounty hunter in the original Star Wars.

Star Wars fans everywhere, of course, went ballistic. I saw a number of stories that came out over the next couple of days showing “proof” that no, no, Lucas was wrong. Han shot first.

Honestly, though, this has been brewing since the “Special Edition” came out in the late 90s. It’s even spawned a couple of “Han Shot First” t-shirts.

Most Star Wars fans have seen the clips. The original version of the movie clearly shows Han shooting first. Lucas, not happy with this, tried to tweak it in the “Special Edition” of Star Wars in the 90s. The updated version shows Greedo shooting first, with a badly edited image of Solo jerking his head to the side, then returning fire.

But in the end, why does it matter?

Yes, it takes away some of the initial “unscrupulous” tones that defines Han Solo in those first scenes. Those of us who have seen and/or own the original movies can enjoy the movie the way we remember it. At least, we can enjoy it until Lucas seeks and destroys every last copy of the original movie.

But, in the end, Han Solo is still a smuggler, and he’s still a mercenary. Even with the scene altered in the Special Editions, the story of Han Solo over the course of the three movies is unchanged. He’s still a scoundrel in the beginning. He’s still a hero in the end. He still gets the girl in the end.

Give the man credit. The original Star Wars movies created a universe that captured and continues to capture the imagination of millions over the last 30 plus years. The universe spawned six movies, numerous video games (including the current big MMORPG – The Old Republic), a cartoon series, and dozens of books.

I have no idea why Lucas continues to tweak the original movies and is now content to sit back and lash out at his fans over the universe that he created.  It sucks that he seems to feel the need to change what’s already been done. It makes me think of Michelangelo taking a look at his statue of David and deciding the statue “really need some pants.”

As we all have seen, the second trilogy of movies were simply not the same. Lucas had full control over these movies, and there was simply no one there to provide any opposing viewpoints to any aspect of the story.

I could go into detail, but I think there’s a set of videos that cover it very well.

You have to get over the serial killer “it puts the lotion in the basket” voice of the narrator, but the epic Phantom Menace review along with his equally long reviews of the sequels by RedLetterMedia are worth watching. He picks apart the movies in great detail.

Red Letter Media – The Phantom Menace Review – Part 1

Warning: There are seven parts to this review, roughly 70 minutes total.

Even better, if Lucas tampering with Star Was wasn’t bad enough, Red Letter Media has an equally great review about the last Indiana Jones film.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Review

Even if you have to sit down and watch these videos one part at a time, they’re great to watch. If you’ve ever wanted to learn something about writing a story, these videos go into great detail about what’s wrong with the story in all of these movies.

The best news about Lucas that Star Wars fans can find solace in is that he’s talking about retiring from making movies altogether. Since fans continue to bash the last three movies (Episodes 1-3), he’s not going to bother to make the last trilogy (Episodes 7-9).

I think most Star Wars fans can live with that.


Time for Audiobooks

I can’t really go into much detail about my job here, but this time of year is considered to be our “busy” time of year.

Part of that involves putting in longer hours, including having to get into the office earlier in the morning.

For me, this seriously extends my morning commute. The drive from McKinney to downtown Dallas is bad enough in normal traffic. In rush hour traffic, it can really test a person’s patience.

I learned a couple of years ago one of the few things that helps me get through this time is to listen to something other than music. Anything that helps to take your mind off the fact that you’re going to be stuck in traffic for the next hour and a half or so is very helpful.

I tried podcasts, and they’re okay.

But, as with long road trips, I really prefer audiobooks. Like listening to music, it allows my mind to wander, but it’s a more focused type of wandering – as opposed to just thinking about bits of everything that comes to mind while listening to music.

Plus, in other goals, I’m really trying to make more of an effort to read more books overall. I have plenty of books to read in the evenings. Listening to audiobooks helps me towards that goal.

In four weeks, I’ve already gone through four books, and I will probably post reviews of them here at some point. They’ve all been a bit different. Three were new. One was an audio version of a book I’ve read 20 years ago.

I can’t recommend audible.com highly enough for finding audiobooks. The website is still a bit clunky for just browsing through books. Sometimes, I find Amazon easier to search for books, and then switch to Audible once I have found something that interests me.