Hi, thanks for coming and welcome to The Porg Collective. No, it wasn’t luck that brought you here, it was the will of the Force. Or should that be Whill? My name is Charlie Brigden and I am a huge Star Wars nerd. I’ve been a fanatic since about as far back as I can remember, and was born in the original trilogy era, so was surrounded by the Kenner figures and all that jazz in the early 1980’s and it’s never really stopped. My first actual memory is of a galaxy far, far away, namely a grainy images of snowspeeders from a pirated VHS of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK that Bothan spies managed to smuggle into our house.
It’s been a tumultous journey over the years, with the pure love of the OT, the initial joy and subsequent disappointment from the prequels, and the new hope restored by the Disney era. But I love Star Wars–the serious emotional parts, the goofy parts, all of it, much of it without any pretense of objectivity, so I hope you’ll enjoy reading this, whether you are a hardcore SW nerd or one of those people who’s never seen them (in which case you’ll probably have no idea what the hell I’m talking about).
It seems like a millennium since we left Rey and Luke on Ach-To–a literal cliffhanger–but there is now less than two weeks until we get to see what Rian Johnson has done with a Star Wars movie, and Ponda H. Baba, it’s been a nightmare. Ever since it was announced that he was coming on board, I’ve had a good feeling about this (Brick is a modern classic) and with every snippet of news, trailer, or porg that has come out, I’m feeling more and more confident that The Last Jedi is going to be the best Star Wars movie since the previous one. I don’t want to go on and on about this, as we all know it’s coming and we all have our tickets booked (right???), so it’s more of a yay! than anything. Or an oootini, if you’re me.
The Fandom Menace
One of the things I’ve done with TLJ approaching is turn a bit more of an eye towards the fan community, and, well, it’s kind of mental. I mean, like everyone on the internet, the craziest are also a lot of the time the most vocal, and there are a few different things that seem to get fans either madly in love or up in arms. Porgs are one, obviously (I already have like seven of them), another is the possibility of Reylo, which is the idea that Rey and Kylo Ren might join up in some way, not necessarily romantically. But one I’ve noticed so much ferocity and anger over is what Luke Skywalker will be like in the film, especially with what’s been seen in trailers and what’s been said, notably Mark Hamill saying he initially disagreed with what Rian Johnson had written.
Now, what also comes into this discussion are the gatekeepers; every fandom has them, and they’re the ones who will make sure everyone knows that they know everything, and that everything they say, subjective or not, is 100% correct, including regarding Luke. So you have people saying Rian Johnson is wrong because he’s made Luke into someone who seems fairly reluctant to carry on any training or Jedi heroics, which isn’t surprising considering one of his trainees murdered everyone and burned down his academy. This probably means Luke has PTSD and severe emotional trauma, especially with the murderer in question being his nephew. How exactly do fans expect him to act? It’s been thirty years since the OT and after everything that happened he is not going to be the same person– how could he be? That was one of the points of the sequel trilogy, seeing where these characters were decades after Endor, and to expect everything to be hunky dory and for Luke to still have youthful exuberance isn’t just unrealistic, it’s dramatically inert.
Blood Red Is the Coolest Colour
One thing that’s amazing, especially as the TLJ marketing machine is now steamrolling towards its conclusion (it’s just switched off its targeting computer), is that we barely know anything about this movie. I mean, we know what the characters generally look like, we know Luke is a bit reluctant–that kind of thing happens when you train someone and they go and murder everyone and burn down your academy. And we know that we have space casinos and space racehorses and space puffins and space Kelly Marie Tran, but there is still so much we’re clueless about, and that includes the “Elite Praetorian Guards” aka the red armoured dudes we’ve seen everywhere. Obviously, they’re named after the Roman Praetorian guards who were bodyguards for the Roman emperors, and also follow the Emperor’s Royal Guard, who were introduced in Return of the Jedi right down to the nifty colorur scheme, but somewhat like those guards, we haven’t seen them do anything. But I still find them amazingly cool looking.
I mean, I’ve been obsessed with the Royal Guards ever since getting the Kenner figure in 1984, which was amazing mainly because of the double cloak that came with them, but they just looked so awesome, even though they technically didn’t do anything but stand around looking menacing. Remember the episode of The Simpsons where Marge sold pretzels and Homer got Fat Tony to scare off her competitors, and there ended up being a big fight between the Mafia and the Yakuza on the family’s front lawn? There was a Yakuza guy in a white suit that Homer wanted to watch while Marge was trying to drag him inside (“But Marge, that little guy hasn’t done anything yet. Look at him! He’s gonna do something and you know its gonna be good!”) That guy is basically the Royal Guard.
Let the Stormtroopers do the grunt work, and when something awesome needs to be done they’re there, but you’re not gonna see it. To be fair, there was a deleted scene from Jedi where two of them got uppity towards Darth Vader because he was choking Moff Jerjerrod, but anyway. So I’m now obsessed with these new red guys and I’ve been suckered in by the marketing to the point where I have a bunch of them in different scales and formats.
But you do get the sense that they’re not just there to stand around. There are eight of them and they don’t all look the same; some have different helmets, they all have different weapons, and part of me is wondering if these guys are the Knights of Ren as we saw in the flashback in The Force Awakens. If they are, we know they’re pretty dangerous and fanatic, so hopefully we’ll get to see them have some action in the movie, probably against Rey.
La(c)k of Sivrak
Okay, so this is a feature I’m going to run every two weeks where I’ll look at a gal or guy (assuming we can tell) in the background or in one shot or something and look at who they are, who they might be, and just kind of wax on about them. The first one I’ve picked for a few reasons: he looks awesome, he’s a freaking werewolf, he was created by one of the greatest make-up effects guys ever, and–sadly–he was scrubbed out of the universe in favour of some stupid elephant dude. Lak Sivrak, or the Wolfman of Mos Eisley as he might have also been known, was a Shistavanen and one of the many crazy creatures we meet in the Cantina in Star Wars. He’s one of two werewolf types–the second one is even creepier–and is famously confronted in the film by some sort of lamprey monster.
He looks awesome and was actually designed and created by Rick Baker, the guy who won the first ever make-up and effects Oscar for his work on another werewolf, the titular monster of An American Werewolf in London. Baker actually recreated the Lak mask recently here, and it was an original creation he had sculpted which was drafted in to fill out the Cantina sequence. Despite how awesome this character was, he was annoyingly replaced in the 1997 Special Edition with a much less awesome Pachydermian. But he lived on, and Lak Sivrak had a bunch of stuff written about him in the old expanded universe and the main gist of it is that he had a love affair with the lamprey monster, who was in actuality a Force-sensitive member of the Rebel Alliance named Dice Ibegon. Yeah, me too. Sadly she died during the Battle of Hoth while Lak managed to live to the Battle of Endor before succumbing. But it all ends in a happily because they were reunited as Force ghosts, because no one can stop a werewolf and a lamprey in love.
So by the time I return we’ll all have seen The Last Jedi... what a great note to sign off on.
You can find me on Twitter at @moviedrone, so if you have any questions or comments feel free to hit me up, or just say hello!