Darth Plagueis

Taking place before the events of the Star Wars prequels, “Darth Plagueis” is a political drama about the story of Hugo Demask’s and his apprentice, Darth Sidious’ rise to power.

While not part of the new canon, established by “Star Wars Episode VII,” it does have a few problems with pacing. At times the politics can get boring, but unlike the prequels it’s not sloppily mashed together with kid-friendly moments that don’t make sense given the galactic scale conflict. In a way, “Darth Plagueis” is almost what the prequels could’ve been, as the politics are given much more detail and aren’t constrained by the length of a movie.

The story itself mostly focuses on Sidious and his rise to the position of Supreme Chancellor. Aside from the opening chapters, the title character of Darth Plagueis (Hugo Demask) barely has any point-of-view scenes. Sidious steals the show in both the story and the narrator’s portrayal of him.

By far the best part was the soundscape. Little things like blaster and lightsaber sounds make this more than an audiobook and fully immerses you in a galaxy far, far away.

Trying not to compare this with the prequels is hard, because the story takes place before the events of The Phantom Menace, but it does drag on in–mostly due to the political scenes where very little happens. On the plus side, it does explain a lot of the backstory behind the Phantom Menance’s convulted plot.

Overall, the story is much better than the prequels, but with dozens of Star Wars novels out in the world, with more coming on a regular basis, there are certainly better ones available for purchase. However, if you’re one of the people who liked the concept of the prequels, but hated the execution, this might be a good alternative. At the very least it gives you some insight into the world George Lucas had in his head, but didn’t get explained on the screen.

4/5 Stars

Darth Plagueis (Patreon Exclusive Review Preview)

With the relatively recent release of the seventh Star Wars film, I thought it was time to review another Star Wars story. However, instead of doing the Return of the Jedi, I decided to do something different and review an audiobook.

Taking place before the events of the Star Wars prequels, “Darth Plagueis” is a political drama about the story of Hugo Demask’s and his apprentice, Darth Sidious’, rise to power.

While not part of the new canon, established by “Star Wars Episode VII,” it does have a few problems with pacing. At times the politics can get boring, but unlike the prequels it’s not sloppily mashed together with kid-friendly moments that don’t make sense given the galactic scale conflict. In a way, “Darth Plagueis” is almost what the prequels could’ve been, as the politics are given much more detail and aren’t constrained by the length of a movie…

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The Empire Strikes Back Episodes 6-10

If there’s one thing I noticed when listening vs. watching The Empire Strikes Back, it’s how much of Han Solo’s rogue nature and pigheadedness is exemplified in the radio drama than in the films. Harrison Ford does a great job, but watching the films a long time in a galaxy far, far away he never acted as despicable as the actor playing him in the radio drama. It wasn’t bad, simply different but his character was what stood out the most. Even if some of the lines were the same, the way this actor delivered them was creepy. Like Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler kind of creepy. Han is a bit of an asshole, but there was charm to his character.

Moving past Han Solo’s ego, Luke begins his training under Yoda. The furry green Jedi master is played by a different actor, but there are still remnants of the original voice. At times it was odd listening to a different interpretation of the voice. Even more so than Darth Vader, whose voice took a while to get used to in A New Hope. I mean let’s face it, James Earl Jones is the voice of the iconic star wars villain. However that does not mean someone else can’t do their own interpretation of the character. It will just be a harder obstacle to overcome for a good portion of the population. By this adaptation I was already sold on this acting interpretation of Darth Vader. To be more specific, it happened in A New Hope.

Perhaps one the most memorable moments in cinema history is when Darth Vader tells Luke that he is his father. That revelation paved the way for sites like TVtropes.com to exist. It’s become a cliche, sure, but back then it was a WTF moment of epic proportions. Of course at this point we already know the revelation is coming. It’s sort of like the Sixth Sense in that once you know the ending it’s hard watch the movie without that reveal in mind, acting as a sort of one trick pony.

All in all Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is a fun ride with little deviation from the movie. In fact 98% of it was taken straight from the screenplay it seemed.

4.5/5 Stars

Star Wars Episode IV

Star Wars Radio Drama. Need I say more? Perhaps one of the greatest science fiction movies of the twentieth century, Star Wars has captured the hearts of millions and lost a few of them along the way as the series went back in time. Of course I’m talking about the prequels, but that’s not the purpose of this review.

This adaptation of Star Wars IV: A New Hope was released on NPR back in 1981. Many others, have been fortunate to get it on audible.com, years after its original broadcast. Those expecting the movie but in audio form, will be presently surprised.

The runtime of the audio drama is 5+ hours and the the movie is less than 3. That means there’s at least 2 hours of extra story that adds more dimensions to the characters. We spend more time on Tatooine in the beginning, getting to know Luke as more than just a whiny farm boy. Or, at least, he has a bigger motivation for wanting to leave the planet than originally portrayed in the movie.

The acting done by Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Anthony Daniels is top quality. However, most of the cast from the first film do not make an appearance. That being said, the only actor who felt out of place was the person playing Darth Vader. Even so, near the end I came to accept the voice.

If there was one flaw early on that drove me up the wall it would be the unnatural timing of Darth Vader’s respirator. It went on and off constantly without any rhyme or reason. Thankfully it became background noise after a while, but when first introduced to one of the greatest villains in history, it came off as a grown man with breathing issues.

Fans of Star Wars and audio drama will be sure to get their money’s worth