181st Imperial Discussion Group: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace!

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Grey1, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2006
    star 4
    Ah, the Bane stuff is something I hadn't even thought of. The little bits about Darth Bane and the Rule of Two were a treat.

    I noticed something else interesting while glancing through the novelization recently: the Senate scene takes place from Anakin's point-of-view. He's sitting behind the Naboo repulsorpod and watching everything happening, registering the shock on Valorum's face when Palpatine betrays him and all. If by chance this wasn't originally in the script, it's a nice little touch by Brooks, as it brings Anakin closer to the major political events of the story, which seemed to be completely over his head in the film. Brooks really latched onto the character, and it's clear that he tried to make the story Anakin's story. Good stuff.
  2. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    <PREQUEL RANT>

    Honestly, I think prequels are more or less doomed to failure. The only two anyone quotes as good examples, The Godfather part II and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The first is like he's going back to the past in his mind, in a flash. There's got to be a word for that. The second is only a prequel in terms of coming before, not telling us anything we already knew or speculated about Indy, Marion, or the Nazis we love to hate and post pics of when we see something particularly horrifying. Mostly this is because of our speculations, which it will never live up to by virtue of not being 100% identical.

    EDIT: X-Men: First Class was good, but that might be the soft bigotry of low expectations after the last two.

    </PREQUEL RANT>

    I actually liked the novelizations of the prequels better, though. Mostly because I was allowed to imagine it more. No flashy CGI, thanks.
  3. Shepherd492 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2011
    star 1
    I really liked all three of the prequel novelizations. Compared to the OT ones, there was much more character development. In the case of EP1, most of this concerned Anakin, but the two Jedi also had some good scenes. Padme was a bit underexplored, but I guess you can't please everyone. The bonus scenes, all three of which feature Anakin, range from mediocre to good, and only serve to add a bit to Anakin's background. Overall I'd say the EP 1 novelization was probably the "worst" in the sense that I got the least out of the bonus scenes and don't have much interest in young Anakin, not to mention the author had to use Jar-Jar and his near indecipherable dialogue (which was TERRIBLE, more so than in the movie.) The prose was nothing special either, much more straightforward than the more flowery writing in Ep 2 and the downright brilliance that was Ep 3.
  4. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2006
    star 4
    I found Attack of the Clones the least interesting out of the prequel novelizations, in terms of added depth, bonus scenes, etc. The difference between the Ep I and II novelizations in that regard isn't a very large one, though, and I can definitely see any given reader preferring one or the other.

    I thought I read somewhere that the re-release of the Episode I novelization has new material. Is this true? Edit: Within the novelization itself, not Endgame.
  5. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
  6. Shepherd492 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2011
    star 1
    Agree that the difference between EP1 and EP2 is slim. What I appreciated about EP2 was the Lars family dinner scene which shed a light on some of the most overlooked characters in the saga. Also, the romance was substantially better in the book
  7. Alexrd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2009
    star 5
    Really? The novel itself has changed?
  8. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    I wrote that before the other post was edited. I was referring to Endgame.

    ( They probably should have changed a few things in these books, like the reference in the TPM novel to the Sith order having been around for only 2,000 years and the now-obsolete reference in Shadow Hunter where Sidious is called the Master of the Sith... )
  9. instantdeath Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    Not a movie, but Metal Gear Solid 3 is a prequel, and it's fantastic.

    On TPM novelization... not much to say. I read it a few months ago, found it a pretty boring read. I am not a fan of Terry Brooks at all; definitely a popcorn fantasy writer. Probably makes him a good pick for the TPM novelization, actually :)

    I like a lot of things about TPM, and I like most of the characters, but the plot is pretty thin. However, I personally think Attack of the Clones is by far the poorest of the prequels.
  10. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Have to disagree, my friend.

    [image=http://www.njoe.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/ep1_anakin-207x300.jpg]

    This was the first movie novelization in 16 years and it came at a time when EU covers were getting uglier and uglier. First novel with a photo on the cover. A photo without any CGI, even. I thought it was all very original for a Star Wars novel.
  11. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    Well, it does make more sense. (Trade groups with militaries?) I generally assume it's because the GFFA is insane. This is why in 20000 years, nobody's ever thought to abolish slavery. Also why they have militaries, for much the same reason the United Fruit Company (now called Chiquita) has the CIA. Gotta keep our workers from thinking of themselves as sapient beings, after all. Oh, have I mentioned bananas are made with no animal cruelty whatsoever?

    Oh, mine is Padmé. They must've gotten the idea for multiple covers from Liefield-era Marvel, which has four covers of each issue to compensate for low quality. Except the reason old comics are worth so much is because parents threw away or burned comics after a psychiatrist told them how evil they were in the 50s.
  12. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    [image=http://www.saltmanz.com/pictures/albums/Cover%20Scans/Book%20Covers/Phantom%20Menace.jpg]
  13. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    To be fair, so is the sixth Narnia book. One of the few. Actually better than A Horse and His Boy.

    In videogames, I would add Dragon Quest 3 (mostly compared to 1, though 2 had this annoying scene where you lose the Prince of Cannock and if you aren't careful, you have absolutely no idea what to do, and it's easy to get into if you don't have the map) and Castlevania 3.

    AOTC is pretty bad. The only thing I remember about the climax is C-3PO losing his head.
  14. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    So, thanks everyone for the patience. Going online again after the move took a lot longer than expected, and then there's lots to do everywhere and a few days off... but here we are again.

    Glad to see we got the discussion about the movie out of the way in my absence. ;) Thanks to the Lord for intervening...

    There's one thing, though, that came up in the movie discussion that sparked my interest in a novel-relevant way... I did actually watch the 3D conversion, and I got to think about TPM a bit more again. I actually like the movie but am fully aware of its shortcomings, so I always try to find out what happened there, and why the audience reacts in the way it does.

    So, my idea was, Lucas was going for a pulp serial. It doesn't look like one, of course it looks like a regular blockbuster. But still, you go through lots of little episodes with cliffhangers, having a band of characters that are only types and that you root for because they are obviously the heroes. It doesn't need to build anything huge because your attention span for such a thing is limited to 15 minutes anyway. In a way, it's a homage to "bad" or at least "simple" film. Heck, I once tried to watch the Commando Cody serial and never got past the first episode. (I had similar thoughts about the Indiana Jones movies when friends hated the last one because of much of the stuff that roots it firmly in 50s B-movie territory, and I understood that people never really associate the old movies with 30s serials - just with "80s style adventure movie", which explains why Tomb Raider can so easily transfer the storyframe into the present day. Funnily enough, you have lots of Tarantino fans who simply don't get how much of that man's movies is lifted directly from 70s exploitation cinema, because he only uses genres in which "bad" means "cool".)

    Now, what should a novel for something like that look like? I think simply bringing the script to paper isn't good enough - you need a special flavouring to make a certain style of movie come across as special on the page. It should have been written more obviously like a serial adventure book. The novelization of Sky Captain (written by KJA) actually goes that route, opening every chapter with a cheesy summary of what came before, obviously based on the SW opening crawl (which, yes, is ripped from Flash Gordon). I think that would have been appropriate, but instead, they try to do a very "normal" novel.

    One advantage KJA has with that script is that he can invent a backstory that won't ever get into conflict with a sequel, as Sky Captain was a standalone movie. So he can invent outrageously funny b-movie menaces that the Captain fought against before the events of this movie. With TPM, I believe it would have been much harder to not step onto the toes of the next movies while inventing your own stuff (just look at the Ki-Adi comic that him married to several wives at once, oblivious of the fact that Ep2 would explain that Jedi don't love and marry, creating the need for a retcon regarding Cerean culture and Ki-Adi's special status. And speaking of that, Knight on the Council anyone?).


    I think introducing Anakin so early in the book really goes against the movie's story. It's probably an attempt at providing a mirror for Luke's opening scenes on Tatooine, but if you really went that way, the first you'd see of the Naboo fugitives should be when they enter Watto's shop. So the construction seems a bit off.

    As for the multiple covers, back then you had a marketing offensive rivaled by nothing ever since. You got so much merchandise with Episode I written on it, you really couldn't see the movie anymore behind it. I think the toy company who did the micromachines stuff even got toasted by it, because they couldn't sell all the stuff. For the next episodes, while viewer numbers didn't decline drastically, merchandising did and became much more selective, therefore no collector stunts like alternative book covers (and yeah, they actually did alternative soundtrack covers for Ep2, but that's that...).
  15. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

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    Jan 27, 2000
    star 10
    I felt the multiple covers approach with just plain photos came across a bit cheap/tacky. The Maul one is the only one that works, but that's just because he's such a striking image (which is why he was the primary marketing visual brand for the film) and his red/black contrast allows him to blend into the black of the cover well.

    Same reason why the limited edition slipcase version also works as a cover (same goes for the slipcase LE's of the other two novelizations).

    Interesting thought about it having the structure of serials- I've long felt the film's primary issue was that the various stories were decent-to-good but they never meshed well as a whole. If your theory is true, that might explain it.

    I haven't gotten around to reading the whole novelization (yeah, i know, spend like hundred bucks on a book and I don't read it? what's wrong with me? ;)), but from the parts I've skimmed over the years it does seem like the novel tries to address some of the film's structural issues by bringing in Anakin earlier, even if the extra scenes aren't really part of the main plot.

    It does help bring the Tatooine side-adventure a little more front loading, which was a problem with the film compared to the rest of the saga (with possible exception to be argued for AOTC, all the other films front-load their side adventures (Assassination/bodyguards, Battle of Coruscant, droids/Luke/Tatooine, Hoth/Wampa & Jabba's Palace) while TPM's is stuck in the middle of the main Naboo plotline).
  16. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    The trouble is still that the side-adventure doesn't get frontloaded by Brooks, it just gets front-mentioned, and then it's back to the way it is in the movie. I know praising the Ep3 novel gets old, but this one actually went out of its way to concentrate on the important characters of Anakin and Obi-Wan - by cutting out Yoda and the Wookiees. A nicer approach to the Ep1 problem would have been if you had Anakin and Obi-Wan as the main POV characters even before they meet, all through the novel, because we know that Qui-Gon will eventually not be as important as Obi-Wan.

    But again, lots of that might be due to the fact that Brooks didn't have any wiggle room for inventing his own approach with this. Maybe he just wanted to play it safe as it was such a huge deal back then?

    This is, btw, also part of why I asked for opinions on Brooks - is he a famous author with rather conservative writing, or an author who got famous because of his writing? If the former, it's no wonder we got next to no experimentation with this book.
  17. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

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    Oh, I agree, the side adventure still isn't front loaded- but setting it up early on at least helps a tad to make it more organic.

    The only way to fix the issue would be to have the story open with the Tatooine adventure, bringing Anakin in early on as a result, then leave Coruscant & Naboo for the rest of the story's focus. Though to bring the Queen in you'd probably have to open the film with her escape (but mid-invasion, no boarding the battleship, no Gunga City, no planet core, just jump into the action and get us to Tatooine within 10-15 min (which would probably allow Anakin to be introduced roughly the same amount of time into TPM that Luke was in ANH).

    But, such a restructuring would be far beyond the scope of the novelization's capabilities. You'd either have invent an entire Anakin-centric opening relevant to the greater plot or be daring and focus the narrative entirely on Anakin's POV by opening on Tatooine with Anakin and staying with him, not meeting the Jedi until he runs into them at Watto's.

    But I'd suspect having such a narrow focus would not fly as a novelization to the film since you'd have to ommit so much of the film's opening where some degree of elaboration would be expected by the readership.
  18. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Exactly, that would be a bit much. And while a structure that was more like ANH would probably appeal more to the audience, the script actually puts a lot of motives into the earlier scenes. Still, having the courage to identify Obi-Wan as a good POV character to get a balanced and interesting take on the non-Anakin parts would have improved the novel beyond recognition. It would have been a departure from the traditional movie novelization directly-from-the-script mould, but we all know how much good that did for Ep3.

    I actually wonder why the movie novelization is such a huge thing to begin with. ;) I get why movies are popular, but since reading shouldn't be that popular with blockbuster audiences, I find it astonishing that this subgenre survives and apparently sells enough to not die out.
  19. JackG Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2011
    star 4
    The author's prose isn't too bad in this, but the novel certainly isn't enjoyable to read, imo. The huge Tatooine sequence/ segment is far too long and takes away from the political and trade dispute issue greatly. I think the story of TPM is better than that of AOTC, but the podracing didn't excite me even as a child. The events of Coruscant and Naboo are detracted by the ridiculously boring events on tatooine which slow the pace and serve only to introduce Anakin.

    Too be fair the author's lack of EU inclusion is indicative of the time - little was known in '99 of the Republic, Old Jedi Order etc. Any attempts to expand on the movie too much would've no doubt ended with retcons. But when compared to Stover's sublime ROTS novelisation, it really doesn't look good for Brooks(the AOTC author had no excuse, that novel is just as bad) Stover's novel could be considered better than the film just because of the insights it gives to some characters. Dooku's pov aboard Invisible Hand is chilling for example.

    Finally, Brooks did his best with what he got and this poor novel reflects a poorly executed film.
  20. instantdeath Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    I do not like Terry Brooks. At all. Total "popcorn" fantasy writer, I personally can't stand his wowrk.
  21. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

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    I think it falls to three categories: People curious about an upcoming movie. People curious about a movie they've seen and want to know more about it's story (or how the movie differs from the book). And people (usually younger) transitioning from kid books to adult fare, where familiar material like a novelization of a movie they've seen, act a a gateway.

    Myself, I think I was the latter, as most of my early books were novelizations or books turned into movies (besides Star Wars, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and Jurassic Park come to mind).

    I'm still more surprised when there isn't a novelization of a movie, quite frankly. How Tron: Legacy didn't get an adult novelization is beyond me, given how much depth there was to explore in the characters, world and backstory.