“…Star Wars has always been a welcoming, comforting presence. It is the great equalizer in a sense. Whether or not one would admit it to you is one thing, but unless they were a feral child, there is a 99.9 percent chance that every man, woman, and child alive today has made a lightsaber noise with their mouth and pretended to swing around the most iconic weapon in cinema history.”
-Dan Casey (from 100 Things Star Wars Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, page xi)
What is there to be said about the eight-letter cultural phenomenon, one that has inspired a quasi-religion and an informal holiday, which has not already been expressed on blogs, chat rooms or podcasts? No matter the culture, country or language, when you say “May the Force be with you,” everyone knows what the deal is. In the weeks leading up to the theatrical release of The Force Awakens, I posted countless previews and articles about the film on my Twitter and Facebook accounts. A second cousin of mine in Greece messaged me something interesting: Apparently we have another cousin in common with the exact same name I do who is a huge Star Wars fan and was at the time endlessly posting his eager enthusiasm for the upcoming movie on his FB page as well! I guess The Force does have the power to bind together the universe (in a figurative way). It is that same “sad devotion” that is the subject of the latest revised and updated edition of the book 100 Things Star Wars Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by entertainment reporter Dan Casey.
Just as the book promises it consists of a brief introduction and 100 essays about Star Wars, both the movies and the expanded universe of TV shows, novels and comics. Each piece runs from 2 to 8 pages long and covers one aspect of the saga, including bios of actors, special effects artists (and others involved in the production and marketing of all things Star Wars), and sadly the same old lame, tired, clichéd jokes about the saga, like incessant references to the famous blue milk Luke Skywalker drinks in A New Hope.
I’m not exactly sure why the cover emphasized that the book was “Totally Unauthorized” because there was little in it that I haven’t seen before, and nothing controversial; when he does let Jar Jar Binks and the Star Wars Holiday Special have it, the author is not exactly going out on a limb. Throughout the effort Casey’s writing never reaches beyond the quality of an above-average blogger.
I cannot recall any new original ideas or observations in the book. (For example: I’ve often wondered why R2-D2, who met and knew Yoda in the prequels, did not recognize him on Dagobah? When they landed there, he should have said “Hey Luke, we need to find a short old green dude!” And Chewbacca worked with Yoda in Revenge of the Sith, so why didn’t he growl and yelp to Luke “You want be a Jedi? Cool I can help you, ‘cause used to I know a guy!”? And how about John Boyega? He is British, but in the movies he does not speak with a British accent. Why did they ask him to change that? Why did Daisy Ridley and Gwendoline Christie get to keep theirs? No answers here.)
For me the book was mostly old hat, especially the first half which was primarily plot and character synopsises. Like The Phantom Menace it picked up in the second half, but also like The Phantom Menace not enough to get me to really recommend it. 100 Things Star Wars Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is not worth anyone’s time unless you are a neophyte who wants to get up to speed on the Star Wars universe in less than 12 parsecs.
And by the way Han shot first!