Dashing my hopes of doing these once a week, these might be biweekly type of thing, weekly if I’m ambitious. I’d hoped that I’d get to Lilo and Stitch on my Disney Retrospective first, but looking at my half written Dumbo retrospective, it might be a while. Now, Lilo and Stitch might not seem like your typical monster movie, but it does follow a lot of the same beats of the classics, reminding me a bit of some of the Gamera movies and All Monsters Attack. So, let’s take a brief look at one of my favourite movies that just so happens to feature a monster.
Back in the day, when I first started this aimless little blog, I used to post at least once a week. This was in part because wordpress used to have a reminder system and my life got busy with work and school. In hopes getting back into the swing of blogging, I want to do some sort of weekly thing and since I haven’t gotten my test recipes organized yet, I thought I’d talk about one of my other loves: Monster Movies. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this up and make it a thing. There will be spoilers for both Leviathan and the Thing.
So let’s ramble about Leviathan.
It’s been well over a year since I posted here last and it’s been a hell of a year. My last post I talked about my anxiety over 2016, briefly touched on my experience in my first year of pastry school and mentioned that I’d gotten married. I was days away from starting my second year of school and might have been contemplating more blog posts, but then got lazy and decided that Instagram was the way to go. I’d post a big update once I finished school, then I didn’t and then time kept on passing and then it felt like it had been too long. I started to feel guilty about ignoring this space and then started to ignore the guilt and here we are. So let’s get caught up.
The first two months of my 2017 started with me going back to school and ended with my husband and me moving into a bigger place and the death of my car. While initially being worried about going back to school, I ended up excelling at my second year studies and other than the ridiculous final exam (which is a rant for another day) my grades were in the high 90’s. In an earlier draft of this post I went into extremely boring detail, but upon reading it I realized that the pictures of my progress would say more than I ever could. Besides, it was my third year studies where things started to get interesting.
Last I wrote here, I was preparing for my first day of pastry school. I was a little nervous, mostly at the prospect of failing at something I truly loved doing. The apprenticeship program for baking takes two years of school and condenses it into six months of training, partially because they expect you to have learned a lot from your work experience. I was enrolled in my first year training and it went great. In fact as I write this, I’m just eight days away from entering my second and third year training. That was eight months ago, so why the silence?
Well it was my plan to post once a week on what was happening with school, with lots of pictures and details into the inner workings of professional baking. The only problem was, I kind of got burnt out telling friends and family about school and I was posting stuff on instagram, so I was just going to do a big post at the end. Then the condensed nature of the course combined with a couple of real life things got the better of me. I got married, secret married, which we didn’t keep the secret for very long. One of my best ad dearest friends got married as well and since it was a real wedding it required more effort and organization.
I had tons of ideas for posts, but I was determined not to post anything until I’d actually said something about school. Only I didn’t know what to say, it had been so long. I was going to say something before Twenty-Four Hour Comic Book Day, but then because everything was so hectic in October I decided to do Inktober and Drawlloween instead. I did a few more drawing challenges, one was even Dungeons and Dragons themed, which might have made me look a bit obsessed if you didn’t know it was a themed challenge. They were simple enough, plus to participate I didn’t have to do the one thing I’d been avoiding for months and that was opening my laptop.
Some day I’ll look back and 2016 and I’ll laugh, because for me personally it was a pretty good year. This was the first time since my divorce in 2012 that I’d stabilized myself financially, I went back to school, I got married to the most amazing man I could ever imagine and other than blogging more frequently I kept most of my resolutions, however, there were a lot of horrible things that happened too. The American election caused me so much anxiety that I couldn’t bring myself to open my computer. I did everything from my cell phone and was able to keep informed, but stay away from most of negativity that seemed to be infecting the internet masses. All in all, the whole thing made me very happy to be a Canadian. Now that all of the election garbage is over (there doesn’t seem to be as much coverage now that the worst has come) it feels like I can open the computer without a barrage of internet bile filling the screen.
So here I am days from going back to school again without having really said anything about my first year. I think that I can sum up my first year of school in one story, the nickname story. From what I remember it was the second or third day of class that we put on our uniforms for the first time and got to go into our lab kitchen. We learned about and got a quick demo about each station were were going to be using over the next two months; this was all review for me except for the doughnut station. So when we got to the hopper and deep fryer, I jumped at the opportunity try out the new equipment. We made a batch of cake doughnuts that turned out really nice, but it was interrupted by an orientation that all apprentices had to attend.
On the advice of our teacher, we brought the doughnuts to the auditorium to feed the rest of our schoolmates. So along with two other classmates, I carried the tray of doughnuts through the pouring rain. For the most part they were shielded by notebooks, so they didn’t get too wet. They turned out to be a huge success and everyone ended up loving them…except for the three people that we missed, the guys from the apprenticeship board. And boy did they know that we forgot to give them their doughnuts.
Every question I asked during the assembly was met with ‘will you give us a doughnut if we answer?’, since I’d sort of made myself the ringleader of the doughnut tray. Seven weeks later everyone was getting ready for their exams and the apprenticeship board guys were back. As I was passing the gymnasium on my way to the train I ran into one of apprenticeship board members and he asked if we were bringing any doughnuts, I told him we weren’t but I could bring some if they wanted. Instead, he told me to make sure I passed my exam.
On test day the board members gave us our instructions which mainly included under no circumstances can you bring a cell phone into the exam, and of course I was grilled about not bringing doughnuts.We proceeded to the exam, which was one of the harder tests I’ve ever taken since it didn’t involve a whole lot of what we learned in school, instead more so on what we would have learned at work. As I handed my paper in one of the board members asked, “How’d the test go Donut?” to which I responded, “Pretty good.” And we decided that Donut (I like the american spelling better because it looks cuter…at least for a nickname) was a pretty good nickname. I like donuts, they’re cute, tasty and just a little bit bad for you. Plus it could have been a lot worse, I could have gotten the all popular cinnamon bun, which after years of making them is my least favourite of the baked goods. Seriously, I get really frustrated when someone or something is referred to as a cinnamon bun too good for this world. In the grand scheme of baking cinnamon buns are low brow and don’t require any real skill, doughnuts are high tech compared to cinnamon buns. Plus I think they’re gross, cheese buns on the other hand are a work of art.
So there’s school in a nutshell, not the most interesting of stories, but the experience was well worth my while and now that that’s out there, maybe I’ll get back to posting more than once every eight months.
This past winter was unusually warm this year, which has lead straight into summer. Spring might have happened, but it was so fast I missed it. As a baker this means that hot dog and hamburger season has started a lot earlier than expected, before the school sliced bread glut has had a chance to die down. So work has been busier than usual for this time of year, which is good and bad. Good because even during a recession people still love our product and that makes me feel good, bad because within the next few days I’m going back to school and I love my job enough that I’m worried how they’ll hold up without me for a couple of months.
So a while back (the timeline seems hazy, looking back) I was in these two absolutely toxic relationships. This first was with my, then, husband and the second was with my job. In hindsight, the relationship with my ex always had some level of unhealthy toxicity, but the job hadn’t always been that way. At that point I’d been in the print industry for almost twelve years and I honestly thought that I was going to be in it forever. The company I worked for had really shitty upper management, whose philosophy seemed to be spend a dollar to save a dime. There was one time where the general manager made a foolish (and ill advised by everyone, including the far superior floor manager) choice that cost the company the equivalent of giving every employee a dollar raise for a year. This was all because he didn’t know what he was doing and his ego refused to listen to the people who did.
I’d had a series of amazing floor managers who not only knew what they were doing, but were great bosses and that was why I stayed. During the end of my print career my life ended up falling apart and I was fired, offered my old job back and refused. I tried one more foray into print and it was the worst job experience of my life and the shortest I’d ever been employed. Every so often I’ll get a call from a print shop looking to hire me, either from people I used to know in the industry or an old resume that I posted online. So I guess there’s that.
Long story short, instead of doing something that I was learning to hate but was good at, I decided to try something I love, but didn’t know a thing about. Luckily for me, I picked things up fast and found that even if I was baking professionally, I still loved it. I worked through the hell of corporate bread, learned the motions and was able to land a job at a really awesome legitimate bakery (legitimate bakeries are the typically the ones that aren’t chains, if you want real bread don’t go to a grocery store or Cobs). It’s the kind of job where I actually want to better myself, thus the apprenticeship and going back to school.
See, I never went to college after high school. I took college courses for fun and a lot of courses pertaining to print, but I never actually did to college thing. I happened to fall into something I liked at seventeen and did it until I didn’t like it anymore. So here I am, thirty-two and preparing for college. I know a lot of people that went back school far older than I am now, but I’m still nervous. I’m worried at how much older I am than the other students, I’m worried about my pace (from what I’ve heard school pace is painfully slow compared to work pace and I’m not known for my patience) and on the flip-side, I’m worried about the workload(in my school handbook most of the quotes are about people failing and how much harder it is than people thought.). What if I can’t do this? What if it’s too hard? What if I’m too old to pull this off? When I say it aloud or write it down it seems silly and fickle, but when I hear it in my head it’s terrifying.
I’ve already paid my money, taken the time off of work and gotten my back to school shoes (industrial baking shoes!), so I guess I’m doing this no matter how much self doubt I have. So no matter what happens I’m glad I’m doing this, because despite what Yoda says there is a try and I’m going to try my hardest. Who knows, I might just pull this off.
I’ve been getting over a horrible plague that makes my lungs feel like they’re full of slime and I want nothing more than to pull them out and itch them. It’s been a slow go getting better, much slower than when I casually get a cold, but for the first time in about two weeks I can look at the computer without getting a headache.
It was during my down time that I ended up marathoning Fuller House, the sequel/follow up/ continuation of 80’s/90’s hit Full House. Now, I didn’t watch much Full House when it first aired, I was more a fan of Family Matters and Boy Meets World in the big TGIF lineup. I remember it being way too smaultzy for my liking , but during a phase of unemployment in my late teens I watched most of the reruns on TBS, you know because I was going places. However, with hoe much this show was parodied, I could have never watched a single episode and I’d know that Full House that is the story of the recently widowed Danny Tanner, his two heterosexual life partners Jesse and Joey and his three unnaturally adorable daughters DJ, Stephanie and Michelle.
So remember how when Jurassic World came out and it was pretty much the same thing as Jurassic Park only with fake dinosaurs and less likable characters. Fuller House is kinda like that, only its not pretending to be something new. It picks up where the previous show left off…only twenty-nine years later, but that’s irrelevant, it might as well be the very next day. It’s the exact same thing, save for the Olsen Twins not being involved and after watching the whole thing, that might be one of the better things about it.
The first episode is horrible and outside of nostalgic purposes, should not be watched. I get it, I get nostalgic too, but after the fifth or sixth original cast member has shown up and the audience has screamed itself hoarse, it gets really irritating. And then the catch phrases start happening…oh the catch phrases…oh dear god the catch phrases. From what I remember Michelle, being the youngest and most marketable of the children, had a slew of fun things she would say that would get a laugh and cheer out of the studio audience. She had so many insufferably cute things to say that I’d forgotten the rest of the cast was just as annoying, just in smaller doses.
If you can get past the reunion special, which I think is what most people watched, you get a show that’s not great, but interesting. Interesting in a sense of current pop culture vs the late 80’s/ early 90’s pop culture. We were so over saturated by the TGIF shows and their ilk that for the past twenty years, sitcoms have been everything that Full House isn’t…or at least the ones that I’ve had the misfortune of tuning in to.
Fuller House is the story of DJ Tanner-Fuller, who has moved back into her childhood home after the untimely and gruesome death of her noble, self-sacrificing, firefighter of a husband Tommy (other than a plot point he’s not all that important. The series takes place a year after his death and everyone’s moved on. He’s only mentioned to remind us that DJ can be sad or stressed out. His death never brings a sense of tension or sadness. DJ says that she misses him, but the kids don’t really seem to care and for the most part DJ doesn’t either. Other than a firefighter friend, I’m not sure that he’s mentioned by name.), with her three sons, whom just happen to fall into the same age brackets as DJ, Stephanie and Michelle. Because being a single parent doesn’t lead to a lot of humorous situations, DJ is aided by her sister Stephanie and wacky friend Kimmy. If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s the same plot as Full House, only genderbent.
From what I’ve read Kimmy’s role in the show was originally meant for one or both of the Olsen twins, which would have given us show that wasn’t a carbon copy of the original, but probably not nearly as satisfying. One of the biggest problems with Full House was that once Michelle started talking and had the five or six things she said each episode, she quickly became over saturated and the show became all about her. I don’t think Fuller House would have worked as well as it did with Michelle being there, not only would it have lost its best character (which is surprisingly Kimmy) but it would have lost it’s two best jokes, which poke fun at the Olsens and their success. (Plus, why would the Olsens come back? They’re beyond successful and haven’t shown an interest in acting in years.) I really like the idea of the show’s most over saturated character becoming an unseen character, like Maris Crane on Fraser or Ugly Naked Guy on Friends or even Gwen on American Dad (before they wrecked that joke…and the whole show.).
Outside of the premise the show follows DJ, Stephanie, Kimmy and their kids as they adjust to their new life, which seems to be the best thing that could have happened to any of them. They live in this strange benign world where there are no emotional consequences for any of their actions. This might be to avoid the old sitcom trope of the classic misunderstanding, lies that backfire or the heartfelt speeches of the original. At one point DJ’s kids find out that she’s started dating again, a big deal is made that she doesn’t want them to find out until the time is right, but when they catch her kissing love interest #1, they don’t care and wish her well. At one point Stephanie pretends the kids are hers to pick up a guy and nothing comes of it. It’s not even a lost plot thread either, she keeps on lying and the episode ends and in a later episode it’s revealed that they’re still seeing each other. I’m not sure if this is refreshing or not; it seems like people in the Fuller House Universe can do whatever they want without worry and become closer because of it.
I mean the original Full House had more tension, there were arguments, misunderstandings, liars were punished. Fuller House is largely tension free. At one point DJ calls Kimmy out on some bad parenting choices (rewarding her daughter for skipping school and making friends) and instead of an argument Kimmy full on admits that she’s making poor choices and changes her ways. When Kimmy confronts her daughter about skipping school and punishes her, her daughter is pretty cool with it and everyone hugs. No tension whatsoever, but it works. The show does try to add some tension via a love triangle with DJ’s new business partner and her Full House love interest Steve, but everyone’s so likable that it just ends with the two guys admiring each other and going out for beer and pizza. I’d actually really like it if in a later season if those two hook up, because why not. It’d be a fairly tension free way to introduce new love interests for DJ. Hell, they already kissed.
The whole thing is a little surreal and it almost feels like a dream. It’s a world filled with people that we wished existed, everyone’s the nicest person you’ve ever met, kids are super sweet and never bad, but when they are no one gets hurt and everyone learns a lesson. There’s a part of me that thinks that DJ is actually in a facility somewhere, recovering from the shock and horror of her husband’s brutal death and all of Fuller House is in her head. Everyone from her past is there, she gets to reconnect with her best friend, first love and sister and everyone looks great and is super successful. Either that or there’s a curse on the family where the first born’s spouse will suffer an untimely death, meaning DJ’s eldest should hold off on the girls until he can get in touch with a medium or demon hunter…or something.
If you liked Full House or at least watched it or can tolerate Millenial nostalgia, give a few episodes a try. It’s not as bad as you think, it’s not as bad as Full House. Hey, if Fuller House does as well as Girl Meets World, then maybe we’ll get one step closer to my dream of a Family Matters Reunion. Let’s face it, the best non-animated television family of the 90’s were the Winslows.
I don’t know much about the film industry. I know that I like movies, usually bad ones. I also know that in the early months of the year movie types gather together to pat each other on the back and give each other little gold statues. The best films, actors and all around movie types rarely win or are even nominated. I’ve only seen one of the films that’s been nominated for best picture, granted, it was a pretty awesome movie. If you’ve read any amount of this blog, then you know that I much prefer animation to live action.
Luckily, there’s an awards show just for animation. The 43rd annual Annie Awards are happening this Saturday and I wish that there was a way that I could watch it. On top of working a double shift, I’m not even sure if it’s a televised event. Either way, I much prefer reading about the Annie’s to the Oscars. One, it covers a wider range of movies and two, it’s about more than what people are wearing. Last years Oscars didn’t even bother to show clips of each of the films nominated for Best Animated Feature. This only leads to my suspicion that the Academy doesn’t really care about the category, but with everything that’s been going on with them lately, we all know they suck.
So awards show, I’m bad at predicting them. Last year I was convinced that Lego Movie was going to take the Oscar and it wasn’t even nominated. Then I was sure that How to Train Your Dragon 2 was going to win because the original How to Train Your Dragon, should have one instead of Toy Story 3(and it won the Annie). While I was pleasantly surprised that Big Hero 6 one, Song of the Sea was the best animated film hands down and I really wish it would have won. Which brings me back to my earlier point that the best film rarely wins.
I want to say that I think the Good Dinosaur was the best animated film of the year. It was so heart warming/ wrenching and it was every western ever made and it had dinosaurs and it was perfect. So I was pretty choked that it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, but at least it got a nob at the Golden Globes and is nominated for the aforementioned Annie. In the case of both the Oscars and the Annies, I think Inside Out will win. Not only is it superbly animated and a really innovative idea, but it’s also a feel good movie that helps erase the stigma of depression. But I’m pretty awful at picking winners, so I’m probably dead wrong. So in the likely chance that I’m wrong, so for a runner up I’d pick Anomalisa. Personally I found this film a little disappointing, but it’s probably one of the most technically impressive animated movies ever made. It’s one of the few films that came out this year where the characters actually look like real human beings instead of automated fashion dolls.
So here are some thoughts on the films nominated for Best Animated picture in both the Oscars and the Annies.
I like to find themes in things and last year there was a specific theme in the films nominated for best animated picture last year and that was loss. Four of the five films dealt with the death (or apparent death in the case of Boxtrolls) of a family member, while the tale of Princess Kaguya dealt with the loss of self. This year the theme of the best animated films is largely about identity, finding out who you are and where you fit into the world (All except for maybe Boy and the World as it’s the only one I haven’t seen).
Boy and the World: This is the only film of the nomanies that I haven’t seen. It looks amazing and I want to see it so badly. I’m hoping that it will get a limited release in Calgary like Anomalisa did, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I’m looking forward to it’s DVD relase, which I will snap up the second I can preorder it.
Shaun the Sheep: This is by far the cutest movie of the year, about a group of sheep lead, by the titular Shaun into the Big City, to find their farmer who has lost his memory. This is the movie that Postman Pat should have been, it stays true to its roots, pokes fun at our shallow society and stays relevant. It also doesn’t need dialogue to make a point and is all the stronger for it.
The Peanuts Movie: This is probably the weakest of the films, but boy is it pretty. The animation in this movie is so gorgeous and true to its source material that it alone is worth watching for. The story is simple, pretty much what you’d get out of any given Peanuts television special. The best thing about the Peanuts Movie is that Charlie Brown never compromises being Charlie Brown, even while trying to reinvent himself. There are several moments that Charlie Brown has the opportunity to be a jerk for personal gain, but he never gives in and always does the right thing.
Inside Out: Inside Out is the simply complex story of a girl and her emotions as she’s moved from everything she knows and cares about. It’s probably one of the most clever films I’ve ever seen and it’s one of the few movies I’ve seen in theaters where people were openly weeping.
The Good Dinosaur: I think that this might be the perfect movie for me. It has everything I love, dinosaurs, tragedy, over whelming cute and amazing animation. This is the best thing Pixar has done. Good Dinosaur is every western ever made, particularly the Boy and his wolf narrative. It does an amazing job of matching dinosaurs with western tropes, which are two of my favourite things in the world. It also made one of my favourite dinosaur movies, The Land Before Time, look like annoying garbage. Seriously, I would not recommend watching those two back to back, it hurts the nostalgia.
Anomolisa: I wanted this movie to be a lot weirder than it was, but it’s still great regardless. It’s the story of a successful sales writer and the way his mind warps things to justify his awful behaviour. I might have been disappointed with this film when I first saw it, but I’m still talking about it with friends. So there’s that.
When Marnie Was There: Much like Inside Out, When Marnie was there follows the emotional journey of a young girl and she goes through a bit of an identity crisis. It’s part ghost story, part love story and full of magic and whimsy. There are a lot of twists and turns and it never quite went where I expected, yet the twists never feel forced. It is one of the weaker films that was nominated, but with everything it’s up against that’s not a bad thing.
In keeping with my resolutions, here is the first finished sketch book of my big pile of half filled drawing tomes.
It’s a little Moleskine that I picked up shortly after a bad break up and a bag containing most of my life had been stolen…three years ago. It’s filled with a lot of lists of things I needed at the time, mainly concerning finding an appartment. There’s also a lot of pages commited to my last print job AKA the worst job I ever had.
While a lot of the book is lists, most of it is tiny sketches and doodles.
And Finally What Was Hiding in the Back Pocket
I know what you’re thinking, New Years was weeks ago, shouldn’t you have posted this then. Well…I procrastinate sometimes.
2015 was an interesting year. For a lot of people I know it was one of the worst years in recent history, while it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t a great one either. On the good side of things, I got my act together and decided that Baking is what I want to do with the rest of my life and have took the steps to start my apprenticeship and go back to school. I figured out a schedule that keeps my cluster headaches to a minimum and an aftercare treatment that keeps me from turning into a zombie after a cluster. I managed to train my dog to the point where he actually listens, I can now take him on small walks without a leash. It may not seem like much, but he’s a stubborn little bastard. I asked my boyfriend to marry me and he said yes! We’re planning on tying the knot in the summer of 2015.
On the bad side of things, I put my health, sanity and safety on the line to draw, ink, shade, format and print my comic in a span of two weeks…while working two jobs…during one of the biggest baking holidays of the year. I pulled this off for a book that, other than me and a few people close to me, no one cared about. I didn’t deal with this all that well and I went into a downward spiral where just looking at the damn thing became painful. I went into a sort of slump where it was a little hard to keep on track, I didn’t even like posting things to this blog. It hurt a lot more than I was willing to let on, but after months and months of letting it eat at me, I’m starting to get over it and looking towards the future.
Back in the day, when I worked in print, I asked a co-worker if he’d made any New Years Resolutions. I asked this mainly to make conversation, because I hand’t been there that long and it seemed like good small talk. This lead to a rant about societal pressure and conformity and why I shouldn’t be a sheep. There was a lot of ‘Edwards, you shouldn’t make goals because of some arbitrary date, you should do it because you want to,’ he liked to rant about things, even things that contradicted the things he was ranting about. He had a point though, goals should be made because of a sincere want to improve ourselves, not because it’s the New Year and that’s what we’re supposed to do. However, I like the idea of starting fresh and having a big bold deadline to finish my goals by. So here are some of the things I resolve to do before 2017 rolls around.
- Fill up all of my old sketch books. I have around ten half finished sketch books just lying around collecting dust. I love drawing, but I’m not great at it, just look at any of the comics I’ve posted here. But I think if I make an effort to fill up those books, I’ll improve. I mean I can’t get any worse.
- Apprenticeship. This is an obvious one, since I’ve got most of my hours and have signed up for all of the classes, but I’m really looking forwards to learning new skills and perfecting some old skills.
- Wedding. I’ve been married (extremely unsuccessfully) before, so I know that there’s a ton of things that you don’t think about when you decide to get married. I’m gonna stay on top of things, make sure the stress stays to a minimum.
- Produce a draft of my novel that I’m satisfied with. This will be one of the hardest goals I’m trying to do this year, because I can be extremely critical of myself. I love to write, but dislike almost everything I produce. So on top of finishing a project I’ve got to build up the confidence to like what I’ve finished.
- Read 50 Books. Self explanatory, I like reading.
- Blog once a week. When I first started this blog, I used to post once a week. This was partly because wordpress used to have a little reminder that would tell me that I hadn’t updated. I’m also going to finish all of the half started posts, seriously there are like thirty reviews, stories and whatnot that I’ve started and half finished. This includes my very much ignored Disney Retrospective!
- Finish my Yoda Book or Yobo Book, since Yoda is not only the name of my dog, but a wise green alien. A while back I started a children’s book about my dog that was all construction paper cut outs. It’s too cute to pass up on.
- Eat seven new meats. Once again self explanatory, I love meat and I’m a bit of hedonist at heart.
- Work on a short animated film. This one falls into life goals, I love animation and one day I want to have my name on an animated film.
- Go on a trip. Traveling is awesome and I need to do it more.
- And finally, work on my comic more. Because even when it breaks my heart, I still love it and I still want to finish it. So part of actually encouraging myself to work of it more, is to get people to actually read it. So if you want, the whole thing is available here to read and if you like your comics in physical form and have two dollars, you can buy a copy here. Expect a lot more about this particular goal over the coming weeks.
So I guess the big thing now is actually doing all of this stuff a goal to keep goals. So for all of you who have trudged through this thanks for reading!
The Phantom Menace gets kind of a bum rap for being the worst of the prequels. While not being a good film or even a mediocre one, it’s still miles better than its follow up Attack of the Clones. In fact, I strongly believe that the much belittled Star Wars Holiday Special is the stronger entry in the franchise. What? you might say, that’s crazy; the Holiday Special is a cheap cash in forcing the original cast and seventies celebrities to act out the worst made for TV fare ever, where’s Attack of the Clones is a legitimate film that was nominated for awards and stuff. To that I respectably disagree.
For the most part, both films are unwatchable, contain gaping plot holes and performances that no one should be proud of. There are some talented people involved in these films too, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, James Earl Jones, Diahann Carroll, Art Carney and my personal hero Bea Arthur, on the Holiday Special side. While Attack of the Clones is star-studded with Ewan MacGreggor, Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman, Christopher Lee and Ian McDiarmid. Based on those casts alone, these movies should me phenomenal, but they’re not. Both of these movies are examples of everything that’s wrong with film making, on both a made for television and theatrical level.
Picking the better of the two is like asking which was a more pleasant experience, dysentery or an appendicitis. So why bother? Because I like to talk about silly things and I’m waiting to put my thoughts down on the Force Awakens once I’ve seen it five times. So here we are at the crux of awfulness.
For all of the special effects, top tier actors and over the top lightsaber battles, I’d argue that Attack of the Clones is the worst thing that bears the Star Wars name. Yes the Holiday Special is atrocious in its own special way and is hated by fans and Lucas alike, but it tells a story that’s more in line with what Star Wars is all about. In short, the Holiday special kinda feels like it belongs in the Star Wars Universe. Where’s Attack of the Clones, with all of its political mumbo jumbo and forced love story is creepy and kind of boring and doesn’t fit with the world established by the original trilogy.
Still don’t think the Holiday Special is better? Here are a bunch of reasons why.
1. The Plot
Attack of the Clones is the story of a young Anakin as he stalks and eventually tricks Padmé into falling in love with him. It also spends an unreasonable amount of time on politics and voting. Seriously, the opening crawl talks about voting. You only get six sentences in that crawl, that is a huge waste. There is also a subplot about a clone army, a chancellor who is probably a sith lord and some more political stuff involving a trade federation.
The Holiday Special is about the Empire trying to ruin Life Day, the wookiee amalgamation of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a simple plot, but its not really all that bogged down by anything heavy. It further shows that the Empire is awful and oppressive and we get to see a little into Chewbacca’s home life (as irritating as that can be). Now there are a lot of pointless parts and the direction is very unfocused, but it sticks with the themes present in the original Star Wars.
2. It serves as a better origin story for Boba Fett
Attack of the Clones gives us child Boba Fett as we never wanted to see him before. Part of what makes Boba Fett (and any iconic villain) is that we don’t know a lot about him, we don’t see a human side to him. He’s a cold, calculated badass, we don’t need to see his face, we don’t need to know about his daddy issues and we certainly don’t need to know why he’s a bounty hunter in the first place.
In one of the better parts of the Holiday Special, the budget for live action becomes too large and the whole thing shifts to animation. This is actually one of the more watchable parts of the special because it’s a little more coherent and the animation isn’t all that bad. Here we meet Boba Fett for the first time; he befriends Luke by saving Han’s life and if it weren’t for those meddling droids he would have found the Rebel’s hideout for the Empire. The Special frames Boba Fett as a true deceiver willing to do anything to get his bounty. It’s also the most Boba Fett has ever done in any of the Star Wars Films.
3. The Love Story
Attack of the Clones and I’d even argue the Clone Wars after it, has one of the most convoluted, passionless and down right creepy love stories ever put on film. Anakin peruses Padmé as though he’s written the MRA handbook. Every action that Anakin has towards Padmé is super creepy, restraining order creepy. The M’lady scene alone makes me want to shower in bleach. I don’t buy that the determined and for all intents and purposes protagonist from Phantom Menace would behave this way or fall for Anakin. Yes, he is an old friend, but he’s also grown up into a whinny twit who does nothing of note, save for making audience uncomfortable. If Anakin had stuck the the Jedi principles that the prequels had set up, he might been a colder, more mysterious and desirable character. There could have been subtle moments where he fights his feelings towards Padmé because of his Jedi bonds and not only would there have been more romantic tension, but the end pay off would have had a bigger impact.
The Holiday Special gives us a look into Chewbacca’s home life and the strain that his life of adventuring and saving the galaxy has put on his marriage. There are no subtitles for the wookie dialogue, but you get the impression that Mala is miffed that Chewbacca is always away and that his actions can sometimes bring danger and Jefferson Starship into their home. Yet she’s shown to be deeply concerned for Chewbacca’s well being; her worry is even an excuse to bring the rest of the cast into the movie. Their marriage may not be perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot more believable than anything we’re given in the prequels.
On a side note, Itchy (Chewbacca’s father) is given a weird fantasy chair as a Life Day Gift, which contains Diahann Carroll. It’s implied (or maybe even stated, its kind of hard to watch) that this is a fantasy of his creation and it’s a human woman singing about how much she wants a wookiee…CREEPY! Yet not as creepy as the courtship of Padmé and Anakin. There’s also a man at the not quite Mos Eisley Cantina who relentlessly hits on the amazing bartender Ackmena, but still doesn’t get his creep on like Anakin.
4. The Setting
Attack of the Clones spans the Galaxy through several CGI worlds that never quite feel tangible. The best scene is night club on Coruscant when Obi-Wan mind tricks some poor schmuck into giving up his life of petty crime. the reason this is one of the few scenes that really work is because most of it is real and it’s a little reminiscent of the cantina scene in a New Hope. It’s also one of the few scenes that feels organic to its setting, everything else is CGI and politics, but that bar scene is pretty Star Wars.
Most of the Holiday Special is centralized on Kashyyyk, the wookiee homeworld, in Chewbacca’s home. I’m not going to lie, this gets grating. Wookiees aren’t the most eloquent of creatures and without subtitles, it starts to feel like an awkward family dinner. However, in one of the watchable parts, it cuts to a cantina on Tatooine (I’m not sure if it’s Chalmun’s Cantina, but it’s likely in Mos Eisley, given the bar fly’s). The cantina looks and feels like something out of a New Hope and even allows us to see what some of the cantina have been up to since a New Hope. Ponda Baba can be seen on the dance floor grooving out with one arm. We also get to see the grim reality of the empire enforcing curfews on pirate space ports and why it sucks.
5. The Characters
The prequels contain some of the most wooden lifeless performances that you’ve ever seen and it is 100% not the actors fault. The prequels have amazing actors who are great in everything else they’ve ever been in, save the prequels. However, it’s these off performances that make it hard to form any sort of connection with the characters. The only character, in my opinion, that makes an impact is Obi-Wan and even then the only emotion we really get out of him is exasperated.
The Holiday Special sees the return of the original cast and even though Harrison Ford doesn’t seem happy to be there, Mark Hamill had recently been in a bad accident and Carrie Fisher seems a little out of it, they’ve got great chemistry together and are still playing the characters we all know and love. The wookiees can be irritating, but a lot of the new characters that we run into are fun or at the very least wacky. I’d personally like to see more about Ackmena the bartender, I wish there was a comic or a short story about her. If someone out there wants to prove me wrong, you will have made my year.
6. It’s less annoying
An hour or more of wookiees grumbling at each other is far less annoying than ten seconds of Jar Jar Binks doing anything.
7. The Villain
The Villain of the Holiday special is ultimately Darth Vader, even though he’s seen very little. If that’s not enough, there is still plenty of Empire dickery to go around. Attack of the Clones has Palpatine, but it’s still pretending that he’s not the Sith Lord everyone’s so scared of. There’s also the trade federation and Count Dooku, but it’s all so muddled it’s hard to care. Give me Vader any day.
8. It’s Tangible
Because of the time it was made in the Holiday Special, other than the animated portion, everything is tangible and likely recycled from a New Hope. It looks low budget, but everything is real, could have been touched at one point. Nothing in Attack of the Clones is real, there wasn’t even a single piece of clone armor made. It feels like an animated picture with people spliced in, which would be fine if it were charming, but it’s not. Say what you will about the quality of the Holiday Special, but it does have that made for TV charm.
There’s a lot more I could go into, but I think that pretty much sums it up. Yes, the Holiday Special is so bad its good, but Attack of the Clones is so bad its bad. If you have the patience, give them a watch back to back and you might just agree with me.