Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Star Wars Trilogy Review – part four

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Written by James Kahn

I don’t know why none of the novelizations of the original Star Wars Trilogy are written by the same author. Was someone displeased with the work of the authors? Whatever the reason, I would have like it if Glut has also written the third novel. James Kahn’s style is not unlike the style of Alan Dean Foster which is unfortunate. Kahn writes clunky descriptions in his adaptation of Episode VI. His descriptions feel forced and unnecessary.

Throughout the book Kahn annoyingly spells out sounds such as Chewbacca’s growling, Artoo’s beeps and whistles and other alien languages. Normally, I don’t think such a technique would work well but in this particular case it’s absolutely disastrous. Chewie’s growling and Artoo’s electronic speech patterns have, by this third chapter in the Star Wars sage, become iconic sounds. Everybody is able to recognize those sounds and many other sounds from the Star Wars universe (the hiss and hum of the lightsaber is another example). In the novel Kahn gives us such gems as “Roo roowfl” and “Ararh gragh” to quote while dressed up as Chewbacca next Halloween. It’s ludicrous.

Luckily for Khan, Return of the Jedi, more than the other parts of the trilogy, strengthens the relationship between evil and technology and good and biology. This is also present in the other parts but more so in Episode VI. For examples in Episodes IV and V you need only consider the stormtroopers. They are nearly identical in their white battle armour with their rigid, inexpressive faces and their electronic voices. Compare them to the Rebels who wear more supple armour, often have their faces displayed and also count various aliens in their group. They’re individuals, all unique, forming a group as opposed to identical pieces fighting at the command of a few individuals.

These elements are also present in Luke and Vader’s respective struggle with the Dark Side of the Force. Vader gave in to the Dark Side, a more powerful side of the Force but more volatile, and it took not only most of this body but also his family and his greatest friend. The Dark Side comes at a price. The Dark Side doesn’t want an ally, it wants a disciple and it likes them as obedient as a machine. Vader reflects this in his appearance. He looks more like a humanoid robot than he does a real man. After Luke flirted with the Dark Side in Episode V, he lost his arm and it was replaced with a cold mechanical hand. Although he ultimately rejects the Dark Side, he will forever bare the reminder of his dark temptation.

Return of the Jedi also demonstrates this theme in its climatic Battle of Endor where the Eworks and their rudimentary weaponry help the Rebels fight off and defeat the Empire’s highly advanced TIE fighters, Star Destroyers and destroy the second Death Star.

It’s unfortunate that the writing was bland, uninteresting and at times simply odd. At times it was difficult to read, not because of the story which is very good but because of the quality of writing. I a similar problem with A New Hope but it bugged me more this time around.

Now that I’m done reading the Star Wars Trilogy, my introduction to the Expanded Universe novels, I’ll continue to explore a few other novels and write about them. I just finished a book that takes place during the time between Episodes IV and V and I will be posting my thoughts shortly.

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