Friday, November 16, 2012

Quantifying Star Wars Part 2.5: Empires and Clones, and Love

Welcome back to the second part of the second part of the Star Wars comparisons.  Wednesday I talked about quite a few things that differ between The Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones, but really only touched the tip of the iceberg.  Because of that, I wanted to put together a special extra post to cover one more thing that I wanted to talk about after watching both movies.

That one thing is love, and how love is displayed in each of the movies.  Awwwww.

To the nature of the subject it's inherently harder to quantify, though I will stick to my guns on the claim that if you can't measure it, you don't understand it.   

The comparison of the love stories between Empire and Clones is actually pretty interesting due to the fact that in the big picture they're somewhat similar.  Two characters who start off as friends are placed in danger, grow together over their experiences in the movie, and fall in love.  Sounds simple enough, right?

The love story in Clones is between Anakin and Amidala, and in Empire it's between Han and Leia.  George Lucas probably watched Empire a few times, right?  I bet that he can come up with something that works - even if not quite as effectively - in the same way as in Empire, right?  Let's take a look. 

In Empire, only 6 minutes into the action, Han tells the general that he needs to leave to pay off Jabba the Hutt.  The general says he's a good pilot and it's a shame to see him leave, but he understands.  He says goodbye to Leia, who responds somewhat unemotionally.  Han becomes frustrated, and storms off.

Leia pursues him into the hallway and tries to convince him to stay.  She says that 'we need you', and Han comes back with 'we need you?  well what about you?'  Han has already expressed that he's interested in Leia (back in A New Hope when he asks Luke if he thinks a guy like him could work with a girl like her), and you're clearly seeing his frustration that he thinks Leia is holding something back.

He says things like 'afraid I was going to leave without a goodbye kiss?'  Her response is 'I'd just as soon kiss a Wookie!', to which he exclaims 'I can arrange that!  He could use a good kiss', and stomps off.

He's going to leave - he goes back to the hanger to take off, and turns off his communicator.  C3P0 has to come and deliver a message by hand that Leia is trying to contact him (about Luke being missing).  Han continues to visibly express frustration with the situation (such as responding to the claim that his tauntaun will freeze with the line "then I'll see you in hell!), and when he's forced to stay (by Luke's disappearance, Chewie working on the ship, and the imperial attack) you start to cheer for the romance because even Han had basically given up on it.

Leia is fighting for him to stay, and at that point either doesn't feel anything more for him or simply won't reveal it.  She has a good excuse to want him to stay as a good pilot, so she doesn't actually have to reveal anything more than that.

Later in the film, after Leia has started to see a different side of Han, they are captured and Han is set to be frozen in carbonite.  It's at that point that she is brought to the same hallway discussion - Han is being removed from her and this time she realizes that it's not just the pilot she was trying to keep, it was Han.  She tells Han that she loves him right before she is about to lose him and he replies with the downright phenomenal line "I know."

The line isn't good because it's cold or emotionless - I'd argue it actually carries more emotion than most lines in any of the prequels - it's good because Han is having the same conversation with her that he had in the hallway earlier in the film.  At that point on Hoth Han was trying to get Leia to admit she had feelings for him, something that he already suspected.  In this sense, he did already know that she loved him.  He simply had to wait the rest of the movie for her to understand it the same way he had.

Han could have just as well said something like "it's about time" - the fact is that he's already displayed in his actions throughout the rest of the movie that he loves her too.  He doesn't need to express that to her in words, because by her admission he now sees that she is on the same page that he was on back on Hoth.  Making it as simple as words cheapens it, and moreover it underestimates the audience's capability to draw those connections themselves.

Now, let's consider the 'very similar' situation in Attack of the Clones.

Anakin shows up on scene with Amidala and she is pleased to see him.  He makes a number of awkward and creepy comments, and she laughs them off.  It's his free pass - he's an awkward kid having an awkward moment and stumbling over his words when nervous.

He tells the audience (via a conversation with Jar Jar) not that he loves Amidala, but that he is obsessed with her in an unhealthy way.  He thinks about her every day since they were separated back when he was nine, etc.  Jar Jar (!) and Obi-Wan act as voices of reason and say that he shouldn't worry, that Amidala was happy to see him and basically imply that they're still friends.

Anakin responds to this advice by continuing to be creepy and obsessive, to the point that Amidala comes out several times with stern statements like "stop looking at me like that...It makes me feel uncomfortable".  Amidala expresses no feelings for Anakin, nor does she have any reason to even keep him around.  Unlike Leia, who needs Han for his piloting skills (and his ship), Anakin is a completely interchangeable piece in this puzzle.

Even if it is the case that a Jedi is needed for protection Amidala could easily go to the council and request someone different, or even ask for Obi-Wan to work alone this one time.  They are not stuck in space, they are in the capital city of the capital planet.  They are literally a short trip away from the densest population of Jedi in the universe.

Let me walk that one by you again.

Anakin could be made to be special or useful for being a Jedi if they happened to be somewhere that Jedi were in short supply - say, Naboo or Tatooine.  The point at which Anakin has already totally creeped out Amidala several times over (not to mention angered and disobeyed Obi-Wan) is when they are still on Coruscant.  Being a Jedi on Coruscant is like being an 'actor' or 'writer' in Hollywood.  You're not that unique - have too many problems and even the vague threat of replacement should come up.  Especially if you're someone who was only admitted to the order with strong hesitance for fear of the problems you might cause.

By all rights Amidala should request a different Jedi, as she has to continue to have "no means no" discussions with Anakin over and over.  She should absolutely protest the idea of being shipped off to a planet alone with him given all the conversations they've already had and the concern she has over and over expressed.  Can I go back and use a stronger word than absolutely there?  Can I put it in double italics?  If a Jedi knight is necessary for the trip (why is that again?) let us not forget that Anakin is still in training, let alone showing huge problems with self-control.    

In Empire, Leia begins to see a different side of Han.  In Clones, nothing changes.  Amidala gives the same "no means no" speech over and over with growing looks of concern.  You don't start to feel for Anakin, you start to feel for her.  The only thing that actually changes is that the voices of reason (Obi-Wan and - I cannot believe I'm typing this, Jar Jar Binks) are removed from the picture and Anakin is free to be as creepy and obsessive as possible.  Anakin and Amidala eventually kiss, and she immediately pushes away and says "no means no" again, expressing great regret that it had happened.  What does Anakin do?  He now begins to obsess over the kiss itself, saying things like:

"From the moment I met you, all those years ago, a day hasn't gone by when I haven't thought of you. And now that I'm with you again, I'm in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you makes my stomach turn over - my mouth goes dry. I feel dizzy. I can't breathe. I'm haunted by the kiss you should never have given me. My heart is beating, hoping that kiss will not become a scar. You are in my very soul, tormenting me. What can I do? I will do anything you ask... "  

This is supposed to be romantic, kids.  This is how you treat a lady.

Is there any surprise that the generation that this was aimed at grew up to embrace the Twilight books?

To be fair, there's some points in Empire where Han has lines that - delivered incorrectly - might be construed to be as creepy as some of Anakin's.  When in the asteroid field the ship shakes and Han catches Leia.  Once it stops moving Leia peacefully says "let go of me."  Han, in frustration, says "don't get exited" to which Leia responds "captain, being held by you isn't quite enough to get me excited."  Leia is (successfully) expressing her frustration with the situation of being pursued by the Empire and directing it at Han.  Han, also frustrated, throws back the line "sorry sweetheart, we don't have time for anything else", while leaving.

On paper, it's kind of a creepy line, but in delivery it comes off not as a threat, but as something said to intentionally anger Leia.  Han is trolling, basically. He also uses the same coping mechanism he used earlier - leaving.  Anakin's delivery, on the other hand, always ends with him giving a creepy stalker smirk or smile as Amidala leaves.  I swear, just toss it on, mute it, and watch Anakin.  He's not trying to anger Amidala, he's trying to lure her into his windowless van.   

In Empire, Han and Leia kiss (fairly consensually!) at the end of a somewhat tense discussion, but are interrupted by C3P0.  Leia makes a quick exit and Han yells at him, but otherwise doesn't dwell on it.  He doesn't go back to his bunk and cry while writing in his diary, he moves on and realizes that if Leia had wanted to kiss him it will happen again.  She does.

There's a good contrast between the capture of Han and Leia and Leia's admission of love to the capture of Amidala and Anakin and Amidala's admission of love.  Leia's makes sense, and it's been building all movie.  She's not about to die, she's about to lose (for the second or third time in the movie) someone she has come to realize she cares about.  Amidala's doesn't make sense given her actions the rest of the movie, and you get the feeling that it's kind of situational (she is about to die).  She's reached the bottom and just wants to go out with a bang.  It's like kissing the passenger next to you on a plane plummeting toward the ground.  A spur of the moment kiss in the face of death does not a love story make.

Surprise!  They live, and what next?  Well, immediate secret marriage, of course.  Twilight novels, eat your heart out.  

So how to measure it?  By this point I'm sure you're itching for some graphs.

This train of thought got me thinking about two things.  The first is the situations into which the characters are placed.  Anakin and Amidala spend a good chunk of the middle of Attack of the Clones alone together.  It's as if Lucas realized that all it takes for two people to fall in love is a little bit of alone time on a pretty planet.  Did Han and Leia need alone time to get to know each other?  Let's see.

This graph shows the distribution of scenes in which the focus of the scene is devoted to the two characters on screen alone.  This allows for scenes like the one where C3P0 stumbles in, as the main focus of the scene is the part where Han and Leia are alone, not where C3P0 enters.  This also means that I don't have to go back and code down to the second the time that these characters are alone - by that we'll have to consider the above a reasonable approximation.

I feel like the subtleties of this graph should be explained in detail to every teenage boy.  Your failures in love might not be attributable to the idea that you simply can't find a way to create alone time, it might actually be that you're trying so hard to create a one on one situation that you're failing to capitalize on time where you're not alone.

Do keep in mind, the blank spots on this graph are not just the places where these characters are on screen and not alone, but also the time devoted to all the other characters in the movie.

If you've ever thought that calculus isn't applicable in real life, we can take some integrals of the above graph by movie to figure out how much time in each movie is devoted to scenes in which these characters are alone.  In Empire, it's a clean 15 minutes, or right there at an even 1/8th of the running time of the movie.

In Attack of the Clones it's a touch longer - 32 minutes is devoted to Anakin and Amidala sitting in fields looking at waterfalls, etc.  For a full half hour you are sitting and watching Anakin and Amidala roll around in fields, or gaze out over lakes, or have formal dinner dates.  Clones is a longer movie, but not that much longer.  These scenes account for 24% - just shy of 1/4 of the run time of the movie.

So how is this extra time spent?  Well, I've talked about Anakin's creepy stares and windowless van, so let's take a look at that.

I've attempted to come up with some level of how creepy some of the dialogue between these two characters in the movie is, on a three point scale.  A rating of 1 is something that might sound worse than it is out of context, or has a reasonable explanation.  A rating of 2 is something that's a bit worse, or something that has a less tangible situational explanation.  A rating of 3 are the things that should start to frighten the other person.      

There has to be something that Empire is going to have more bars of, right?  How about this?

Clones and Empire are both movies about persistence and pursuit.  In Empire, the crew of the Millenium Falcon persistently try to escape the pursuit of the empire.  In Clones, Anakin persistently pursues Amidala.

One of these movies has a character who admits to and continues to act on obsessive tendencies.  One of these movies has high levels of creepy dialogue, and a couple that is forced to spend creepy alone time together for little reason.  One of these movies has a character that over and over rebukes completely unwarranted sexual advances.  One of these movies ends with a secret marriage.

Oh, wait, all of those things happen in Clones.  In Empire, the characters try to distance themselves from each other, act in ways human adults often do, and spend very little time completely alone together.  Leia doesn't fully rebuke Han's actions, but rather starts to allow them to happen.  Empire does not end with a marriage, it ends with one of the characters (basically) being killed - see my last post for a better justification of saying Han is functionally dead.

Take a look at the first graph again - the last time Anakin and Amidala spend completely alone (the droids are at the wedding) is the scene in which Amidala admits her feelings and they kiss right before the arena.  After that they never have any other conversations about each other or spend any time alone (until super secret marriage).  It's like the whole plot was a build up to that kiss, and then once it's happened the next logical step is marriage.  They don't need to talk about it - it is that universally understood to be the outcome.

If the Empire plot is building to the kiss and admission of love right before Han is frozen, well - spoiler alert - the next thing that happens is that Han is frozen.  Looks like Darth Vader and Boba Fett ruined the next logical step of secret marriage.  Darn.  That has to be a bummer.  So that's why everyone is sad.

I think I've made my point on this one?  Hopefully.

If you're still reading, though, thanks and congrats!  I mentioned that I wrote down questions I had while watching episode II, and if you've made it through all this love story stuff you're now only lines away from reaping your reward.  Continue, and read what I think can be best described as they were by a friend commenting on the last post:  "accurate and depressing"

By the way, I cannot believe that I had this many questions about episode II.  Keep in mind, I was just watching the movie normally and coding for other things - I was not watching with an intent to find these questions - they just jump out at you.  This is the leftovers (the B side, if you will), not the focus.

- In episode I, while Amidala and Palpatine are in the senate, Palpatine points out the then Vice Chancellor as the embodiment of the main problem with the senate. He implies that the Chancellor is easily bribed and influenced by this guy, and really just kind of lays into him as a bad person. So, in the opening scenes of episode II, why is this guy still seemingly serving under Palpatine? I could see if it was a Sith ploy, but wouldn’t Amidala say something? She’s in the room.  Does she not remember?  Later, in the most contrived and manipulative tone ever, he’s the one that says ‘This is a crisis - the senate must vote the chancellor emergency powers’. This is the line that guilts Jar Jar into putting forward that motion.

- Why doesn’t Jango Fett just kill Amidala himself? I could understand if he didn’t want to be connected to it, for instance if he was going to have an alibi of being somewhere else when it happened. Nope, he’s on Coruscant, in full armor, watching it all happen. If he really wanted Amidala dead why not just crash the place with his jetpack after both Jedi leave chasing the diversion?  He's supposed to be a pretty top notch bounty hunter, right? They’d get back, Amidala would be dead, and they’d be kind of out of luck.  You know, unless he dropped a really unique poison dart that could be traced to the last place he was.

- This is covered a lot over in the RedLetterMedia reviews, but there’s such a lost opportunity for character development when Obi-Wan jumps out the window after the droid. He has just finished thoroughly feeding it to Anakin about how they’re not supposed to be launching an investigation and how Anakin should be more patient and stop rushing into things, and that Anakin is basically a short-sighted loose cannon. If Anakin jumped out the window it would be completely consistent with his character, and also consistent with Obi-Wan’s to go follow him. It would help develop both characters, instead of stunting both of them.  Obi-Wan doing it is like the good cop shooting a guy in the face while the bad cop is out getting him ice cream. Honestly, the character painted to that point of Anakin doesn’t even seem like one that would chase after Obi-Wan, but rather one that would stay with and protect Amidala (perhaps rightly so). This may seem small, but I think this is one of the largest lost opportunities of any of the movies.

- So, Jango says ‘his client’ is getting impatient. That means that someone hired Jango, who hired the shape-shifter, who used a droid. Seems like a good assassination attempt would involve a lot fewer middlemen. Outsource much?  I can't wait for the special edition where the droid hires another droid to do the job.

- It seems like there are so many better ways for a shapeshifter to kill someone. So many that I’m not going to list them. How much is that ineffective droid worth, though? And doesn’t it have a communicator? The shape-shifter is willing to shoot it out of the sky (instead of shooting Obi-Wan, who was actually a larger target), so it can’t be worth much. When things go south why not just send it higher and higher into the atmosphere? Or, say, the opposite direction?

- Anakin stops following the shapeshifter at one point to take ‘a shortcut’. A shortcut to where? If he knew where he was going in the first place, why even have a chase? How unique is the ship that the shapeshifter is flying? If he was just picking out a ship from the crowd that was fairly common it would be like jumping off a highway bridge to try to land on a that ‘unique’ white Toyota Corolla. Oops, sorry sir, wrong white Toyota Corolla.

- In the club scene, Obi-Wan uses the force to stop a death stick dealer from selling his wares. It’s not even implied that death sticks are illegal - maybe they’re like devil sticks ( , which also have an unfortunately evil sounding name. Obi-Wan actually ‘sends him home to rethink his life’. That seems pretty over the top and heavy handed from a Jedi. Is their job to impose social norms and serve as a morality patrol?  Do they do this all the time?  Is that one of the risks of living on Coruscant?  Imagine if there were Jedi just wandering around the world stopping you from doing things they didn't like.  Sounds like fun.

- The shapeshifter seemed to be planning to kill Obi-Wan with a blaster. Why, then, would she be trying to get in arms’ reach of him?  And why not kill him with a blaster earlier, when she shot down the droid?  It was actually easier than just shooting down the droid.

- In episode I, Obi-Wan and Captain Panaka seem to be the most level headed and practical characters, and also the best tacticians. Despite this, they are both left on the ship while the weakest parts of the crew head into dangerous situations. When Anakin and Amidala are leaving for Naboo, Obi-Wan and Captain Typho (at that point the two most security-minded and capable characters) look on and exchange worries while they let the two weakest characters again leave on their own.  Both express concern of what might happen to them.  Maybe, you know, tell someone who cares?

- The Jedi librarian says “if an item does not appear in our database, it does not exist”. Does that mean that the archive is no longer updated when they find or discover something new? Or do the librarians just not have object permanence?

- When Obi-Wan is looking for Camino he says “gravity is pulling all the stars in the area to this spot”. How big is the Camino system’s star? Even if we’re just talking about other stars orbiting the system that seems like it would be pretty massive (otherwise they’d be orbiting in a much different fashion).

- The younglings don’t have a new idea. Obi-Wan had said pretty much the same thing to the librarian, that maybe the archive was incomplete. If Obi-Wan believed the librarian he should have just yelled the same thing back at the kid: "if an item doe not appear in our database, it does not exist!"

- Amidala was an elected queen? Also the youngest? What credentials did she have to serve as queen? Is Naboo a matriarchy?  Do they ever have kings?  Are they required to wear all that makeup as part of the job?

- Anakin really just likes picking fights with everyone. Not a question, just true.

- Right before Anakin and Amidala kiss, Amidala gives Anakin a look that reads as ‘look, how many times do I have to tell you that no means no?’ She has said it several times already, and after he starts to kiss her, she pushes away and says ‘no’ again. Is this what Lucas thinks courtin’ should look like?

- Later, in what I dub the ‘fireside chat’, Anakin basically begs Amidala to be with him. She again rebukes his advances and tries to send him away. I’d say you have to dig to find some of this, but it’s worse than Twilight. Anakin is coming off as a super creepy, desperate stalker.  Why has she put up with this the entire movie?

- If Anakin and Amidala are trying to be covert about their whereabouts, why do they hire a fancy looking droid rickshaw to take them through the streets of a major city? Wouldn’t that raise some suspicion? They couldn’t have walked? They left Coruscant traveling as commoners, so that they wouldn't be tracked as easily.  Also, the droid pulling the rickshaw is one of the droids that was earlier shown on the tvs in the bar as part of the droid football league (yeah, you remember that now, right?). Is ‘rickshaw attendant’ the career path after you get too old to play robot football?  Or did the rickshaw droids just decide that they would be great at football in their spare time?

- Jango drops charges from his ship that visually explode, then moments later make an explosion noise. Is the idea supposed to be that you’re experiencing the sound/light speed differential, like seeing lightning before you hear thunder? In space? You know, where there’s no medium for the transmission of sound?

- First off, Jango needs a better targeting system. But, in true ‘now that the shields are back up no one shoots at us ever again’ fashion, Jango stops using his lasers the second that they are shown to be effective. Seriously. He makes several direct hits to Obi-Wan’s hull and droid, showing that any shields he has are down, and that the targeting is zeroed in. (Later, on the planet, the damage is revealed to be devastating - the hull is melted down to ship substructure - droid is totally fine though). Jango is firing upwards of a dozen shots a second, and just four shots did some pretty big damage. What to do in a situation like that? Stop firing lasers, of course - they don’t seem to be working - and prep missiles while also backing off a bit so you can’t see what’s going on. Duh. Basic space battle stuff, guys.

- The scene transition between Anakin looking for clues to find the Tusken Raiders and Obi-Wan spying on the separatists is something that has confused me every time I’ve seen this movie. You go from Anakin searching for something in a rocky desert environment to a scene where it pans down to a character (who looks like Anakin from the distance) sneaking around a rocky desert environment not unlike Tatooine. It flows in my mind that this should still be Anakin. Things zoom in and it’s Obi-Wan, and I always feel a pretty jarring disconnect even though I know it's coming.

- Dooku says he’s confident that 10,000 more systems will rally to the cause with the support of his little gang. Sure, the universe is pretty big, but it seems like a pretty easy trip from Coruscant (the core of the Republic) to a place like Tatooine, which is summed up best in Luke’s words from A New Hope: “If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.” It’s also the case that Dooku is talking about Republic planets defecting to the separatists, which means that there are at least 10,000 planets in the Republic. Are there 10,000 senators? In all six movies we only come across a dozen or so planets - so all the important stuff happens on something on the order of less than 0.1% of planets?  In A New Hope Tarkin says that the Emperor has dissolved the senate, and local governors will now be tasked with keeping order. How large would their jurisdiction have to be? A little hyperbole is fine, but someone really needs to be running conclusions on these numbers that they just pull out of nowhere.  If you just start saying "we just need to say a big number here, how about 20 billion?" you just quickly become Dragonball Z.

- Nute Gunray is having a conversation with Dooku in the hallway when Obi-Wan is spying on them. He asks first ‘is the queen dead yet?’ and then says ‘I’m not signing any treaty until her head is on my desk!’. Less than a minute later they’re in the conference room and Dooku casually mentions that the Trade Federation has pledged their full support. Nute Gunray and the Nemodian Pope both nod in agreement.  What changed?  Why didn't we get to say it?

- Obi-Wan, with an exceptionally small amount of effort, is able to use a tracking signal to pinpoint that Anakin is not on Naboo, but on Tatooine. Seems like if you were going on a super secret mission you’d turn that off. Also, they left Coruscant on a passenger freighter, and only picked up a random ship on Naboo - presumably just a random ship, and certainly not one that belonged to Anakin. Soooooo, what is Obi-Wan tracking exactly? Anakin himself?  Something in his bags?

- What is Dooku trying to accomplish when talking to Obi-Wan? If he is on the side of the Sith, he’s just revealed their entire hand. But...he’s not, because he’s working with the same guy he reveals. Is he actually trying to destroy the Sith? To me, this is the most confusing scene in any Star Wars movie. I watch it over and over and I have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to be taking away from it.

- Jango kills a Jedi that is attacking Dooku. An unnamed, uncredited, non-speaking, CGI Jedi. Doesn’t count.  With all the Jedi they had named and given roles to so far how hard would it have been to have just let one of those die?  Why create a completely new character that we've never seen before and have no connection to?

- So, protocol droids and battle droids have completely interchangeable parts?  Good to know.  Seems like Chewie should have had a much easier time putting C3P0 back together in Empire - all his parts are just plug and play.

- I get that the Caminoians are great cloners, and built the clone army.  I am fully willing to take that suspension of disbelief.  I'm on board.  But...who built the ships? The firepower they are able to deliver is devastating to the Trade Federation - if the Caminoians built those ships they should be better known for engineering than for cloning.  Why do they assume that Obi-Wan is there to see the clones?  He should be there to see the ships.  Why do they even need the clones, actually?  They could have bombarded that planet from space, or wait - wait - they could have simply set up a blockade.  Maybe Amidala's ship got lucky in Phantom Menace, but I doubt that Dooku's tiny little solar sail would be able to run a blockade of star destroyers.  I guess you wouldn't want to do the same thing twice, though.

- Was Dooku actually trying to kill Yoda, or just screwing around? He knocks over the pipes or whatever, toward Anakin and Obi-Wan, which causes Yoda to exert all his energy into catching it. Dooku simply runs to his ship and leaves. Seems like all he’d have to do would be turn around, kill Yoda, then let the pipes fall on Anakin and Obi-Wan. Then he doesn’t even have to run to his ship, he’d have all the time in the world. Realistically, he could let Amidala show up, and just kill her too. Separatists win!  Jedi devastated!  Yay!

- Mace, Yoda, and Obi-Wan discuss whether or not Dooku was telling the truth and a Sith is in control of the senate. Seems like all you’d have to do is start at the top (Palpatine) and start asking people to come in for a random blood test. Say there’s a virus going around or something. Do a midicholorian count and boom, there’s your Sith.

- Looking back, there’s more deaths, but I don’t know if there’s any blood. Anakin slaughters tons of Geonosions, but they just kind of fall apart like play doh. When he gets his hand cut off there’s just a smoldering stump. Obi-Wan gets cut up, but gashes just appear. The queen’s handmaiden dies, in an explosion. Shmi has cuts on her face, but just kind of dies of exhaustion. Tusken Raiders just kind of fall apart like there’s nothing in their suits.  In Empire there's not really blood either, to be fair, but somehow it just feels different.

- Dooku is also able to make it from Geonosis to Coruscant on a solar sail, but Obi-Wan is out of transmitter range from Geonosis to Coruscant (the first time this has ever been brought up as a problem).  How far out is Geonosis, then?  It seems like it would be out on the outer rim if the separatists wanted to stay hidden, so how long of a trip does Dooku actually take?  Ships in the star wars universe that are the size of Dooku's ship do not tend to have hyperdrive.  It's why Obi-Wan and Han are confused to find tie fighters out in the middle of nowhere in A New Hope.  Hyperdrives take up entire rooms (as is shown in the Naboo ship in Phantom Menace).  If it was possible to get from Geonosis to Coruscant at sublight speeds, and Naboo is closer to Coruscant than Geonosis, then why didn't Qui-Gon just take them back to Coruscant at sublight speeds in Phantom Menace?  They might not have had rations, but with 20,000 credits it seems like they could have picked some of those up on the way (easier than replacing the hyperdrive).  Tell me where Dooku's rations are on his tiny ship, by the way.  Even if we just give in and say that Dooku's ship had hyperdrive, then why would be need the solar sail?  Why would he not be jumping to hyperdrive the second he was out of atmosphere?  He already has no-solar sail, sublight thrusters to get off the planet, so the solar sail is either for travel between systems (in which case a hyperdrive would be redundant) or is for sublight short distances (in which case the thrusters are redundant.  Seems like someone just read about solar sails and said "woooooooooow, we should have one of those in our movie!"

One other thing came to me about episode I while I was watching all the magic use of communicators in episode II:

In episode I, what is being sent to Obi-Wan to analyze about Anakin's blood sample?  I've never thought about it before, but if Qui-Gon uses his device to take a sample of blood, how does it play out after that? What data could be sent that wasn’t analyzed before transmission?  Think about it.  Qui-Gon's device is doing something to the blood to produce digital information about it.  That information is then transmitted.  There is no teleportation at all in the Star Wars universe, so the blood itself is not being sent.  The only thing that Obi-Wan can receive is information that Qui-Gon sent to him.  Obi-Wan can only do transformations or math to that data, he can't introduce anything new.  He also doesn't have any special Jedi computer with him, as the ship they traveled in was destroyed early in the movie.  If he was carrying something in his robes that could analyze midichlorians it stands to reason that Qui-Gon would also have one.  He just has a regular ship computer - his communicator/tricorder is the same as Qui-Gon's, so anything he can do Qui-Gon could have done in the field.  Let's go back to it, though - in order for Obi-Wan to tell Qui-Gon something about midichlorians, Qui-Gon's device would have had to measure midicholorians.  Can he not interpret data from his device without funneling it through a computer?  It would be like having a calculator that can do any math you want, but that doesn't have a screen.

Ugh, end nerd rant.  


  1. This post is in response to your confusion about the scene with Count Dooku and Obi-Wan on Geonosis where Dooku reveals that the Republic is being controlled by the Sith. You say "What is Dooku trying to accomplish when talking to Obi-Wan? If he is on the side of the Sith, he’s just revealed their entire hand. But...he’s not, because he’s working with the same guy he reveals. Is he actually trying to destroy the Sith? To me, this is the most confusing scene in any Star Wars movie. I watch it over and over and I have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to be taking away from it."

    While I agree that this scene is extremely confusing, I have a potential justification for what is happening here. I don't know if you are familiar with the Darth Bane trilogy Star Wars novels, but they basically talk about the Sith 3,000 years or so before all of this time period. Throughout the books, the Rule of Two is developed and they talk about how the Sith have a lust for power and while they do have a master, they still desire to overthrow their master because they want the power to themselves. I think that perhaps Dooku is trying to get Obi-Wan to help him overthrow Darth Sidious so that Dooku can have all the power to himself. Once Obi-Wan has helped Dooku, then Dooku would probably dispose of Obi-Wan. This is just a thought, however, I do agree that this scene is so confusing and I too have watched it many times to try to understand it.

    1. I like the fact that you're trying to come up with SOMETHING that would make this make sense. The fact that you have to go to books makes it a little more unreasonable, but something like the rule of two makes sense in a bigger context as well. I think they touch on it a few places, and I suppose if we're being fair they allude to it in at least one of the movies (I'm thinking Phantom Menace).

      I can see that the idea that Dooku would want to overthrow Sideous and bring Obi-Wan to the dark side is a potential motivator. That could have been fleshed out a little better, but as a reach I'm willing to bite. Still, it's so unclear that Dooku is even on the dark side that it makes the sell harder and harder. Dooku has such weak motivation to be evil (power?), and if he really wanted power he'd actually be fighting the war in earnest instead of working behind the scenes for Sideous. He could very easily sway Obi-Wan to his side if he gave him proof of any of the things he said instead of just half-assing everything and kind of coming off as someone who doesn't even want to be there.

      Overall, I can see that there's potentially some things going on there, but the scene is just so poorly written, directed, and implemented as to make things just completely muddled and nonsensical.