Back in 2003, my friend Nathan Butler penned quite a few guest reviews for this site including a complete, episode by episode review of The Clone Wars mirco-series by Genndy Tartakovsky that aired on Cartoon Network. Lucasfilm had ventured into animation before with the likes of Ewoks and Droids, not to mention the Star Wars Holiday Special, but this series of shorts was different. Nathan’s reviews were posted as individual articles dated November 2003 to March 2005, but I’m going to compile them all here into one big retro-review. Here’s Nathan…
From 2001-2003, Nathan P. Butler penned reviews of all ten issues of the then-new magazine Star Wars Gamer for this site. After years of moving the site around, much of the old content was lost but as I come across old files, I like to repost them as “retro” articles. Nathan’s reviews were fun, entertaining, and truthful. They also bring us back to a time when the Prequels were still being created and give us a different snapshot in time of Star Wars fandom. If you like old magazines or gaming, these reviews might interest you enough to go find some old copies on eBay for nostalgia’s sake. These reviews were originally posted individually as the issues were released, but I’m going to compile them all here into one big review for readability. Unfortunately, due to a technical error, the review for Issue #2 was lost. All apologies. Here’s Nathan…
It’s what long time Star Wars fans like myself have looked forward to since the 1980s. It’s what younger fans have looked forward to since experiencing the first two prequels. It’s the culmination of nearly 30 years of hard work and dedication by George Lucas and his various crews and companies. It’s the end of an era and the bittersweet farewell to Star Wars on the silver screen (as far as we know). It is Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and it is good. In this review/commentary I will tell you my thoughts on the film but I will also address some of the common concerns about Episode III based on reviews I’ve seen and fan gripes I’ve heard. Some are understandable but there are some with which I disagree.
It’s become clear that Star Wars has almost become a genre unto itself. There’s drama, romance, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, non-fiction—and then there’s Star Wars. It’s hard to just drop it under Sci-Fi because it’s more of a dramatic space opera than a futuristic fantasy book. That said, the Star Wars brand demands its own classification and one has to embrace a certain stylistic approach to write within that universe. This approach was created by George Lucas but ultimately expanded to include outside influences. All these styles combined make up this Star Wars genre and Matthew Stover’s adaptation of Revenge of the Sith quite handsomely takes them all and puts forth a cohesive and compelling novel which bridges many gaps in the saga’s timelines.
I’m not a huge follower of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which consists largely of printed publications. Very few Star Wars stories that were not concocted by George Lucas himself pique my interest anymore. I liked a few in the beginning, like Tim Zahn’s first trilogy and a few others, but it takes something a bit more epic to make me me to go out and buy a Star Wars book these days. A book that directly leads into one of the films would be a good example, and that’s what Labyrinth of Evil is—so I picked it up.
We’ve all waited patiently for three years for the follow-up to The Phantom Menace, and now it’s here. Yes it’s good, yes it’s an improvement, and yes people still care. I guess being a longtime fan can sway your opinions a little, but I really loved this film. Even people who aren’t that into Star Wars are telling me it’s really cool. Everyone loved Yoda, and that seems to be all they’re talking about—that and how his big fight scene was too short. Everyone wanted more Yoda kicking Sith booty.
I’ll just come right out and say it—I liked this adaptation. It seemed right to me. It wasn’t overdone, yet it wasn’t underdone. It wasn’t filled with long-winded descriptions of the tiniest minutiae. It moved at a good pace, never leaving me bored at any point. It read like a movie, and that’s what makes a good adaptation work.
It’s what we’ve been waiting for for 16 years. It will no doubt reel in fans of all ages once again just like it did to me when I was seven years old. It will break all kinds of records and make all kinds of news. It will be torn apart by critics who refuse to open their minds. It is Episode One: The Phantom Menace and it is good.
I was pleasantly surprised after reading the Episode I novelization by Terry Brooks. He’s done a fine job with making this book easy enough to read for kids yet interesting and well-paced enough for adults. I was never bored. The chapters did not drag on. The dialogue was reworded just enough so as to not interfere with the characters’ personalities. I found it hard to put down.