Star Wars Day 2014: May the 4th be with you

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 29th April 2014.

It’s almost the fifth month of the year, so that means it’s time to brush off your Stormtrooper outfit. International Star Wars Day is almost upon us. May the fourth be with you. Get it?

Here are my suggestions to celebrate arguably the greatest trilogy ever made. And no, the ones with Jar Jar Binks don’t count.

1. Several non-specific cinema chains will be screening the original and prequel trilogies on the big screen over the weekend of May 3-4. What’s better than a Star Wars movie? About six hours of Star Wars movies. If driving to Mos Eisley or another city is not your thing, the next best option is to crack out the films in high definition blu-ray and crank up the sound. Unfortunately, the blu-ray editions still show Greedo shooting first. My suggestion is to watch the scene backwards to show what was depicted in the original release.

2. Dig up one of the skeletons in George Lucas’ closet. Jump on YouTube and enjoy the Star Wars Holiday Special. Screened on US television just once in 1978 and thrown into the sarlacc pit forever, this is simply the most craptacular TV event ever. Witness Han and Chewie visit the Wookie home planet of Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day. Block your ears as Carrie Fisher attempts to sing the Life Day song to the Star Wars theme tune. Meet Chewbacca’s family including his son, Lumpy. It is truly as bad as it sounds.


3. As a kid growing up with Star Wars in my blood (I don’t mean midichlorians), I had a copy of the brilliant Luke Skywalker’s Activity Book, published in 1978. Inside the book were instructions and diagrams on how to construct your own x-wing fighter with toilet rolls and drinking straws. This May, google the instructions and celebrate Star Wars without adding to George Lucas’ (and Disney’s) magical castle of gold.


4. Throw a Star Wars costume party. There are hundreds of licences costumes available ranging from ultra cheap Jedi robes to extremely expensive replica Darth Vader outfits. My favourite is the Jabba the Hutt costume, complete with a built-in fan to keep the outfit inflated. Why eat when you can spend $100 on this?

Wookie Cookies

5. Typing of food, no-one in the Star Wars universe seems to eat much. That doesn’t mean that your favourite characters don’t have a recipe to share. In 1998, the Star Wars Cookbook: Wookie Cookie and Other Galactic Recipes was unleashed. Next Saturday, enjoy C3PO’s pancakes (do droids eat?), Obi-Wan kebabs and Greedo’s burritos.


6. Finally, spend the weekend devouring a Star Wars book. There are literally a few hundred novels taking place five thousand years before the events of the original trilogy right through to forty years after the second Death Star was destroyed. If non-fiction is your thing, I highly recommend the coffee table book, Making Star Wars. Loaded with a plethora of behind the scenes photos and the real story behind the original epic, it cannot be beaten. The $20 Kindle version is great value.

Celebrate Star Wars next Saturday. May the fourth be with you, and live long and prosper.



The Empire Strikes Back: Disney Purchases Star Wars

Disney Star Wars 2

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 13th November 2012.

On October 30, the Walt Disney Company announced that they would be acquiring Lucasfilm, home of the Star Wars franchise. George Lucas, creator of beloved characters such as Yoda, Darth Vader, C3PO and R2D2, as well as Jar Jar Binks, was apparently contemplating retirement and had four billion reasons to sell his company. The first reason was a dollar. The second reason was a dollar. And so on.

Come to think of it, when you want to retire in the Star Wars universe, don’t you just disappear into thin air like Yoda and Obi Wan? I guess it’s a bit hard to spend your retirement nest egg when you’re a smiling glowing ghost.

Almost immediately after the announcement, the internet went into hyperdrive with opinions, jokes and amusing pictures from fans worldwide. As I didn’t have the photoshop skills to add Mickey Mouse ears to a picture of Darth Vader (plus half of the planet had already done it) here’s my hilarious contribution to the twitterverse:

Peter Young @chipsareready

What would Disney possibly want with the Star Wars franchise? They already have the successful Black Hole property… #DisneyStarWars

For those of you who don’t speak Geek, I’m referring to Disney’s woeful 1979 Star Wars ripoff, The Black Hole, starring Anthony Perkins (Psycho) and Ernest Borgnine (McHale’s Navy), and featuring the rather craptastic robot duo of V.I.N.C.E.N.T. and Old B.O.B., as well as the Vader-ish Maximilian.

In my head, Disney and Star Wars have been closely linked for years. Way back in the early 90’s, I lined up for hours to ride the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland. One of the first motion simulator rides, Star Tours offered space tourists a trip to the forest moon of Endor which inevitably goes awry when Imperial Star Destroyers attack. The ride has since been closed and replaced last year with a new attraction, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, which incorporates high definition 3D graphics. Like all great intergalactic adventures, both the original and new Star Tours attractions end in the gift shop.

I don’t think Star Wars devotees have anything to worry about from the takeover by the (Disney) Empire. The Muppets have enjoyed a cinematic revival that satisfied long time fans under the House of Mouse. You also may have seen a small, low budget superhero flick called The Avengers earlier this year. And the name of the production company was…Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company.

A new Star Wars movie, Episode VII, will be released in 2015. Screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) has been attached to the project with the director yet to be named. The rumour mill suggests that the storyline may involve characters from the original trilogy.

As a big Star Wars fan, I have no concerns with Disney producing further Star Wars instalments. It’s not as if Lucas was particularly successful with his woeful prequel trilogy. It would be hard for Disney to do any worse. As the Star Wars franchise passes from the control of one Empire to another, rest assured that one universal constant will remain. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together… It’s the pursuit of profit.