You may recall that Burger King had a marketing tie-in with Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. You may also recall that the movie came out last May. It seems that the Dark Side continues to dominate the destiny of at least one Burger King franchise. This picture was taken today (January 1, 2006):

Half-inflated Darth Vader atop a Burger King restaurant.

OK, it may have deflated a bit, but 7-8 months is a bit long to keep an inflatable Darth Vader on your roof.

(10 points to the first person who identifies the reference in the title.)

I was thinking about Star Wars, the “bringing balance to the Force” prophecy, and RPG character alignments, and realized that while you can neatly map the Jedi and Sith to good and evil (Anakin’s confusion notwithstanding), you can’t map them so neatly to order and chaos.

The Sith are a chaotic organization. They thrive on emotional chaos, they spread chaos to meet their ends… but when they get in charge, they impose order on everyone else.

The Jedi are extremely ordered. They try to purge emotions, they deny attachments. They’re hidebound by tradition. The organization is very structured. And yet they fight not to impose order but to protect it. The Jedi actually strive to preserve the balance of law and chaos.

I’m actually reminded a bit of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series, in which the cosmic balance between order and chaos is treated as its own faction. The Eternal Champion, in his various incarnations, always fights for the Balance, bringing order to Chaos worlds and chaos to Order worlds.

So the Sith are chaotic, but impose order, while the Jedi are ordered, but fight for balance. The problem, of course, is that the Jedi are not balanced themselves. Anakin does three things to correct this:

  1. He destroys the old Jedi order
  2. He destroys the Sith (two decades later)
  3. Destroying the Jedi ensures that Luke and Leia, heirs to the Force, will grow up as people first, Jedi later.

Luke and Leia have the opportunity to re-create the Jedi without all the baggage that dragged the old Jedi order down… and they can rebuild it with Jedi who are actually in balance themselves.

We went to see Revenge of the Sith again last night. Fourth weekend out, and the theater was still packed. (We were able to get tickets 15 minutes before showtime—or, rather, preview time—but it was pure luck that we managed to find a pair of seats that weren’t in the front three rows.)

And now, Decisions that could have changed everything.

  1. Obi-Wan: Certainly, I’ll take down General Grievous. But since he wiped the floor with me last time, I’d like some backup. Anakin, would you care to join me?
  2. Mace Windu: Palpatine is the Sith Lord? Great work, Anakin! I’m going to recommend you for full Jedi Masterhood next week for this! Hey, you’ve been working hard, why don’t you go celebrate and unwind. Here, I’ve got a pair of tickets to the Outer Rim… (I can’t take credit for this one.)
  3. Anakin: (after delivering the report on Grievous’ location to the Jedi Council) *keeps his mouth shut*
  4. Anakin: In my vision, Obi-Wan was trying to help you. You’re right, we should ask him for help.
  5. Obi-Wan: You know, Anakin has been spending a whole lot of time with Senator Amidala. And everyone’s wondering who the father of her child is. I wonder if she’s told him, I mean we were on Coruscant around the time that… oh, blast!
  6. Ki-Adi-Mundi: Relax, Skywalker, I was on the Council before they made me a master, too. Oh, wait, they wrote that out? Never mind.

Finally, some thoughts on viewing order. For a new viewer, I think watching the original trilogy first, then the prequel trilogy, probably works best dramatically. There’s so much in the prequels that has impact simply because you recognize elements from the original.
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We went out to see Star Wars: Episode III last night. And for once, we weren’t disappointed. This is the kind of movie the last two should have been. There was a feeling of urgency throughout this movie that wasn’t present until the first battle of the clone army in Attack of the Clones. A lot of it does depend on having seen the original trilogy, particularly where Anakin/Luke parallels appear… but I have to say, the final shot was absolutely perfect.

We re-watched the previous two movies and the Clone Wars cartoon over the last few weeks, and having seen the entire trilogy, I look at it this way: Lucas gave us 4 hours and 20 minutes of prologue to Revenge of the Sith. That’s all Episodes I and II are: Palpatine setting up his dominoes and getting everything ready to trigger his ascension to Emperor and elimination of the Jedi.

We had already planned to pick up the original trilogy this week or next, and finish the entire series by the end of the month. On the way home I remarked, “You know, I’m not completely insane, so I won’t suggest watching Episode IV now.” Katie replied, “Actually, I was thinking about it.” We ended up watching Star Wars: A New Hope (second-worst title in the series, but it gets a pass since it was tacked on in re-release) starting at 11:00.

It’s strange. The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones didn’t really change my perspective on Darth Vader much, aside from wanting to add “Now this is pod racing!” to the Death Star trench. Having actually seen the transformation, I really do see Vader differently. Probably closer to the way Luke sees him in Return of the Jedi. Especially in the first movie, where Tarkin is pulling all the strings and Vader is more of an enforcer than a leader, he really seems like someone who is doing what he has to do, like Londo in Babylon 5. Katie said that he’s gotten used to power, and is unwilling to give it up.

One of the great things about the prequel trilogies is seeing the Jedi in their prime, at least as far as their martial arts are concerned. The climactic duel between Obi-Wan and Vader above the volcanoes of Mustafar is no exception. Unfortunately, going from this movie to the original makes the rematch on the Death Star look pathetic by comparison.

Oh, yes: Ewan McGregor is seriously channeling Alec Guinness in this movie.

On to spoilers. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Continue reading