Sonic The Hedgehog Races His Way To The Big Screen

The general rule is that films based on video games are beyond awful; infamous examples include Max Payne or Super Mario Bros. So, when Sonic the Hedgehog was announced most people thought the film would be just as bad and the first trailer that came out last year did not dispute this notion. The design of Sonic was universally panned and fans of the Sega game hero lamented the film was doomed. Well, the filmmakers heard the outcries and went back to the drawing board. Sonic the Hedgehog was redesigned to look like he is supposed to appear but is the film any good? This will come as a surprise, but it actually is a good film.

Sonic the Hedgehog brings the popular Sega character (voiced by Ben Schwartz) to life starting with a brief opening intro taking place on Sonic’s homeworld when he was a child. Pursued by other creatures because of his super speeding powers, Sonic is forced to use these golden rings to teleport to other worlds. At some point, Sonic ends up on Earth and stays hidden while enjoying our culture. However, the alien hedgehog is lonely for company and an accidental overuse of his powers brings him to the awareness of a loony scientist, Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) who wants to capture him. Robotnik’s pursuit forces Sonic to befriend a small-town sheriff, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and the film turns into a buddy road picture as Tom helps Sonic to stay one step ahead of the scientist until the alien can teleport to another world.

By no means is the film groundbreaking or something extraordinary. The plot isn’t unique and fairly standard but it serves its purpose. Also, the film is hampered by some humongous narrative flaws where some subplots were brought up then forgotten and some of the developments were very important but then ignored. Be warned there are numerous and in-your-face product placements littering the film. It is what it is so try to ignore them as much as possible.

But Sonic the Hedgehog is highly entertaining and full of character and spirit. The director Jeff Fowler does a very fine job with the material considering this is his first directing job. The relationship between Sonic and his human friend Tom is surprisingly genuine and the heart of the film. The two characters have good banter and chemistry, which was a pleasant surprise. Not every joke lands but a lot of them do as Sonic is a bit of a call back to a Looney Tunes character thanks to skillful voice acting and silly antics. Sonic has a couple of moments that straight up were “inspired” by Quicksilver scenes in the recent X-Men films, but they work well and are highlights.

The actors in the film do a fine job with their roles, while Jim Carrey evokes vintage Jim Carrey with his over-the-top comedic delivery that was best seen in his films during the 90s. Fans of his work should be thrilled by this.

More importantly Sonic fans will be delighted and thrilled by Sonic the Hedgehog as it captures the essence and fun of the video games and the film will entertain non-fans. In other words, fun for the whole family and anyone else looking for a brief escape from the outside world. There are several references to the Sonic franchise, including a popular character that appeared during the mid-credits scene, which promised more adventures. This origin film does warrant future sequels and proves that a film based on a video game franchise can work.

*Check out this fan tribute video of the film done by a skilled Sonic fan close to the editor of Starloggers!

 

Sam Raimi & Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness

A few weeks ago, many of us lamented when it was announced that Scott Derrickson, the director of Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange, walked away from the sequel due next year. Known for his horror films, Derrickson promised that the sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) first horror film. While this delighted fans, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige quickly walked that back and quipped the film would be more mainstream with “scary” moments like in many 1980s genre hits.

As great as the MCU films are they can be a bit generic when mishandled by the wrong directors. Usually Marvel Studios hires talented if not well-known directors who would rise to the occasion. But for every Russo Brothers we get Alan Taylor or the duo that directed Captain Marvel. After Derrickson walked because of the dreaded and ambiguous “creative differences” reason, many worried the film was in trouble and probably delayed. This would have been a black eye for Marvel Studios because Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was one of, if not the most anticipated of the announced MCU films (seriously, is anyone excited for a Shang-Chi film?).

Who would Marvel Studios hire to take over given the short notice? The film is slated to begin filming this May. There are many terrific candidates, but one stood out and thankfully he may be the best alternative if hired.

Variety reported this week that Sam Raimi was in talks with Marvel Studios to direct Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This would be great if the studio hired him and this must happen.

As we know, Sam Raimi directed the first Spider-Man trilogy, including Spider-Man 2, which is still considered one of the best superhero films of all time. Raimi helped introduced the modern era of superhero films with his successful Spider-Man films. Sure, he directed Spider-Man 3, which was a big disappointment and the object of Emo Peter Parker memes, but it still has its good points. Then throw in the proto-superhero film that he directed, Darkman, a goofy and original superhero film that starred Liam Neeson. So, yes, he has bonafide superhero film credentials.

However, we cannot forget his horror film resume which includes the popular Evil Dead franchise featuring the beloved hero Ash (Bruce Campbell). Raimi even spearheaded the recent TV show Ash Vs. Evil Dead and directed the pilot.

Obviously, Raimi’s experience in both genres makes him more than qualified to take over the director’s chair for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

He has a wildly kinetic directing style which fits in perfectly with superhero films, just look at any clip from his Spider-Man films. Many scenes were clearly inspired by comic book art, some of which paid homage to iconic comic book pages.

Sam Raimi is also a huge fan of Steve Ditko, the artist that created Doctor Strange (and Spider-Man) along with Stan Lee. It would be perfect if he could take on another of Ditko’s creations. Doctor Strange was even referenced in Spider-Man 2 when J. Jonah Jameson considered naming Doctor Octopus Doctor Strange, but stopped because the name was taken!

Being that the film promises a multiverse of madness, this implies out-of-this-world visuals and scenes. This may include looks at alternate versions of Marvel characters and other dimensions. Imagine if Doctor Strange is shown traveling through alternate dimensions including one where Ash is battling the Evil Dead? Or better yet the one where Raimi’s version of Spider-Man exists and is played by Tobey Maguire? Of course, this is wishful thinking but just the thought of the possibility is enough to get us more excited for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

There is the concern that Marvel Studios will try to rein in Sam Raimi and soften his unique style.. But Raimi has proven in the past he can work well with major studios and has worked with Kevin Feige during the Spider-Man films, so the filmmaking experience might be stress free for all parties involved.

But before we start celebrating and get ahead of ourselves, let’s wait and see if the negotiations are successful. Fingers crossed! 🤞

Arrow Hits Its Mark

“My name is Oliver Queen. I was stranded on an island with only one goal, survive. Now I will fulfill my father’s dying wish to use the list of names he left me and bring down those who are poisoning my city. To do this I must become someone else. I must become something else.” — Oliver Queen’s opening intro to Arrow, first season

The long-running superhero TV series Arrow just aired its final episode “Fadeout” on the CW. As series finales go, “Fadeout” was surprisingly well put together and a fitting conclusion to Arrow. The series had its ups and downs during its eight-season run but generally was a solid superhero show that introduced a larger DC universe that was appropriately dubbed the Arrowverse.

When Arrow premiered on October 2012, there was some trepidation over it. Some saw it as a weak version of Batman, specifically the Christopher Nolan version because of its initial grounded feel. Others unfairly complained Arrow’s version of Oliver Queen/Green Arrow was not the one played by Justin Hartley in Smallville. Keep in mind, Smallville ended its run a year earlier and it was hoped then that some spinoff would be created from that show. Instead the character was reimagined by Arrow’s showrunners, Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg.

The Hood

However, thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of actor Stephen Amell as the title hero and the shows’ supporting cast, Arrow quickly won over many viewers. Looking back, it made sense that the show had a grittier and less fantastical feel than standard superhero fare. Amell’s Green Arrow (first called “The Hood”) was an intense, no-nonsense hero who took no quarter. This enabled the showrunners to tell solid stories about crime and corruption in Oliver Queen’s Starling City and his quest to save his city.

Establishing A Universe

In many ways the sophomore season of Arrow was among its best with its ongoing story of Oliver Queen’s confrontation with Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, who was so well played by Manu Bennett. A distinctive feature of Arrow was its use of flashbacks in most episodes that interwove or were relevant with current storylines. The flashbacks during the show’s early days focused on Oliver’s adventures when he was marooned on the island Lian Yu. This structure paid off handsomely in the second season as we saw him first meeting and befriending Wilson on the island and how the two became bitter enemies. Meanwhile, the current storyline in the second season featured the return of Deathstroke and his machinations to destroy Queen and his city.

Naturally, as the show found its footing and gained in popularity, the DC universe was introduced. To Arrow’s credit this was done organically and not rushed. It started with blink-and-you-miss-them Easter eggs and the introduction of more superhuman-related plot devices like the strength-enhancing drug mirakuru or characters like Huntress, Deathstroke and later Barry Allen/The Flash. This introduction of the larger DC universe, as well as its driving plot lines helped propel the show’s popularity late into its first season and during its second.

While the show introduced viewers to the Flash (who was soon spun off into his own series), it also featured other distinctive DC Comics characters like Black Canary, Wild Dog, Ragman Batwoman, and Supergirl, who were often introduced in series crossover events or became important supporting characters.

One outstanding character was Queen’s confidante and best friend John Diggle (David Ramsey). Although Diggle was an original character, many speculated he was a stand-in for the Green Lantern, John Stewart. The showrunners teased fans with cloy Easter eggs throughout the show’s run such as the revelation that Diggle’s stepfather’s last name was Stewart. Finally, in the last few minutes of “Fadeout” it was shown that Diggle was on his way to becoming Green Lantern to the delight of many. However, do not expect more to be made of this. Even though Greg Berlanti is developing a Green Lantern series for the upcoming streaming app HBO Max, it is doubtful Ramsey will continue to play the role or that the show will be part of the Arrowverse. The best we can hope for is that Ramsey will reprise his role as Green Lantern in other Arrowverse shows like The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow. Incidentally, John Diggle is slated to appear in an upcoming episode of The Flash this season, but he won’t be Green Lantern.

Diggle finds green lantern ring

Another notable character introduced in the show was Ray Palmer/The Atom, who was played by Brandon Routh. When Brandon Routh was first announced to portray Palmer, it seemed like stunt casting since he portrayed Superman in Superman Returns. This casting turned out to resurrect Routh’s career as he was promoted to the show lead in Legends of Tomorrow and excelled in his performance as the goofy scientist. As many know, Routh’s redemption came full circle when he reprised his role as Superman in the recent Crisis on Infinite Earths Arrowverse crossover event.

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The Triumphant Return of Jean-Luc Picard

Star Trek: Picard showcases the return of the iconic Jean-Luc Picard to television after Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) ended in 1994 and the film Star Trek Nemesis in 2002 and has an older and somewhat bitter former captain who is in retirement at his family winery in France. Spoilers will be included in this look at the pilot episode of Star Trek: Picard, which is called “Remembrance.”

This show takes place about 20 years after the events of Star Trek Nemesis, which featured the death of Data, an event that plays a part in what happens in this pilot episode. “Remembrance” tells us that Captain Picard led a rescue effort to save the population of Romulus from an impending supernova many years ago and was hailed as a hero for his actions. However, the episode also states that a group of synthetic humanoids went rogue and attacked colonies on Mars, killing thousands. This led Starfleet to abandon the rescue effort, which Picard saw as both dishonorable and criminal and he resigned his commission in protest, and also resulted in the Federation outlawing synthetic life forms. All of this is told during an interview with Picard during a commemoration of the rescue effort and shows Picard’s anger at Starfleet for their actions.

He is then visited by a mysterious girl named Dahj, who was attacked by Romulan assassins in Boston, but she fends them off and makes her way to Picard in France, who eventually finds out that she is the daughter of Data, which was accomplished through some kind of a cloning technique. The assassins eventually tracker her down in San Francisco where Picard was looking through his archives for information about Data. Picard later discovers that she has a twin sister Soji, who is a scientist working on a Romulan reclamation site, which at the end of the episode is revealed to be a Borg cube. All of this is setting up Picard’s return to action shown in the upcoming preview where he will attempt to help Data’s surviving daughter and unravel the mystery behind the assassins and along the way gather a new crew that will help him in his return to action.

Patrick Stewart’s return to his signature role is a real treat to see. He is much older now obviously but can still show Picard’s humanity and strength as well his regrets over how his life has ended up, after a self-imposed exile on Earth. The episode also has Brent Spiner returning as Data, in a dream sequence where Picard and Data are playing cards which is a nice shout out to TNG’s numerous scenes of the crew of the Enterprise playing poker and bonding. All of this hints that ideas like aging and a yearning for the past will be major themes that will be explored. This harkens back to previous Trek movies where Captain Kirk was struggling with his place in the galaxy after losing his ship and friend in Star Trek II and a return to form in later films. It will be interesting to see Picard go through this journey and show how he can get back to his younger, more idealistic self in a Federation that seemed to have lost its way.

The preview for later episodes also show both Will Riker and Deanna Troi returning to help Picard and is something to look forward too, as well as Seven of Nine, the former Borg from Star Trek: Voyager. Her role in all of this is unknown, but the revelation of the Borg cube at the end of the episode obviously means that TNG’s ultimate villainous race will have a role to play and Seven’s history as a Borg will no doubt be a major part of this.

Ultimately, it is great to see a sequel to TNG and to see the Star Trek timeline move forward after many years of series that were set in the past. This show is supposed to take place in 2399, so we will finally see the 25th century in the Star Trek universe, which is something new and highly anticipated. Having the Federation and Starfleet in a different place than what was shown in TNG is also interesting and timely. Meanwhile, Picard’s role in bringing them back to their original idealistic version should be a highlight for Star Trek: Picard.

C.S. Link

 

Ranking The Star Wars Planets, Part II

Continuing our look at the Star Wars planet from the worst to the best, here are the most memorable worlds a galaxy far, far away. The planets on the  list are scored on a scale of 30 points in three categories.

Plot Significance: so, out of these three categories, this the most straightforward; how important is the planet to the plot of the movie it’s featured in, or to the overarching story. In this way, the perfect planet is one that couldn’t be replaced by any other.

Design: Usually related to visuals, but design can go down to the characters, the ships, the animals, and anything related to the planet. The worst type of design is one that is easily forgettable, while the best is one that is visually striking as well as thematically relevant.

The hardest of the three categories to explain is Plausibility, which scores how believable the planet is, usually in a sociological and ecological way. (In theory, none of the planets are really that plausible; no habitable planet would be all desert, all snow, or even all urban sprawl.) So, plausibility is especially relative. In order to be plausible, a planet should have an ecosystem, a society, an economy, and whatever else it needs to feel lived-in. Worlds that change across the movies feel plausible and well-developed. Since plausibility is difficult to gauge, the average plausibility score is about 6. Below that indicates that the planet is not very believable, and above that means it is rather believable.

20. Dagobah

Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith

Plot Significance: 8   Design: 6.5  Plausibility: 5.5   Total: 20

You might be surprised to see Dagobah this far down on the list, and frankly, so am I. It loses some points for plausibility – is this whole planet just jungle with one hut and magic cave? It makes sense to have Yoda hide out here, because it’s isolated and lonely, but that puts it a little further down this ranking.

Also, an important design detail: outside of the creature in the water that momentarily attacks R2D2, all of the creatures we see on Dagobah are just regular Earth creatures. That might have gone unnoticed when Empire first debuted, but with the standards of design post-prequel trilogy, that feels lazy.

Yoda’s hut is neat, but obviously the point of interest here is the cave. Luke goes in there, against the advice of Yoda, and is confronted by an image of Darth Vader. It’s such an exciting and intriguing element of Dagobah that I wished had been a little more developed; what’s this place’s connection to the Force?

There’s nothing wrong with Dagobah, but it all blends together. As a setting, it just feels empty.

19. Kamino

Appearance: Attack of the Clones

Plot Significance: 7   Design: 8   Plausibility: 5   Total: 20

Kamino is very eerie, and that makes me love it. The obvious significance to the plot is that it is where the clones, and later, the Stormtroopers come from.

I think that storms in fiction can kind of be used as an overdone trope; when a character looks out the window and notes “there’s a storm coming,” and it’s supposed to be a brilliant device that symbolizes the upcoming turbulence. But on Kamino, this is done seamlessly, because the entire planet is a storm. It’s subtle enough not to be noticed. Having the clones made on a planet where it’s always raining gives the whole thing a very creepy vibe.

Speaking of creepy, how about the Kaminoans? They look slightly angelic in an incredibly unsettling kind of way. This is some excellent creature design

But also, is Kamino a planet of exclusively water, with a manufacturing plant built on top of it? Sure, Earth at one point was covered in water, but if you found a planet of entirely water, would you build a manufacturing plant there? I do find the whole thing a little difficult to believe, but Kamino is one of my favorite planets in Kamino.

18. Takodana

Appearances: The Force Awakens

Plot Significance: 7    Design: 7   Plausibility: 7   Total: 21

“I didn’t know there was this much green in the galaxy.” – Rey

Let’s go over everything that happens on Takodana; the Millennium Falcon, flown by Han/Chewie/Finn/Rey, they stop by Maz Kanata’s bar, the First Order attacks, there’s an exciting battle, “TRAITOR!” Rey gets taken hostage, Han and Finn leave with Leia.

We get a decent look at this planet; when Rey is being chased by Kylo Ren, we get to see the jungle. The space battle and land-battle which breaks out uses the area’s terrain to a pretty exciting degree, and I really leave this planet with a good impression of it.

17. Kessel

Appearances: Solo

Plot Significance: 6   Design: 8   Plausibility: 7   Total: 21

So, the Kessel Run has been mentioned constantly through Star Wars, so it makes sense that we’d get to see Kessel and the Kessel Run in Solo. I’m still not sold on the Kessel Run and why exactly we needed to see it, but Kessel itself is so awesome! The mine is well-designed, and feels lived-in. Watching the characters interact with the environment, and the environment change in response feels like a real-life situation. The uprising started by L3-37 is a bit silly, but again, it feels authentic.

16. Pasaana

Appearances: Rise of Skywalker

Plot Significance: 6   Design: 8   Plausibility: 7   Total: 21

I saw Pasaana in the early Rise of Skywalker trailers and groaned. “Oh no, another desert planet. Great.” But Pasaana manages to set itself apart with its Life Day Celebration Festival of the Ancestors. My absolute favorite shot from Rise of Skywalker is the one used in the trailer, where our heroes round a corner and see the Festival. It’s visually exciting and feels real. The population celebrating the Festival and the interlude with the quicksand and the snake monster is just icing on this pretty good cake.

15. Scarif

Appearances: Rogue One

Plot Significance: 7   Design: 7    Plausibility: 8   Total: 22

This beach planet makes for an interesting battleground during the most interesting part of Rogue One. It makes for a refreshing change of pace, much in the same way the action in Rogue One is a change of pace from the action in other Star Wars movies. We get to see a battle from the perspective of infantrymen in a way that feels more visceral than similar scenes from the Original Trilogy. Similar to Lah’mu, having the violence of the Empire set against a verdant, green planet only highlights how villainous and destructive they can be.

14. Forest Moon of Endor

Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Plot Significance: 8   Design: 7   Plausibility: 7   Total: 22

Endor! Who doesn’t love Endor? And again, if the scenes on the Ocean Moon took place on the Forest Moon, I’d probably rate this a little bit higher.

But Endor is great. The Ewok village is intricate and fun, and while the Ewoks might be tonally at odds with the end of the trilogy, they’re undeniably cute. And they facilitate the change on Endor during the course of the movie – we watch as the Ewoks and the Rebels band together to fight the Empire. It puts another perspective on the struggle against the Empire; even primitive teddy bears will come together to take down a regime.

13. Exegol

Appearances: Rise of Skywalker

Plot Significance: 9   Design: 8   Plausibility 5   Total: 22

All right, let me get the negatives out of the way first: do you mean to tell me that this entire planet is perpetually stormy and perpetually evil? Introducing Sith as a planetary culture rather than an order raises more questions than it answers.

That being said; the Sith temple is dramatic and over-the-top, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s sinister and creepy, and it’s a fitting place for the end of the Skywalker Saga. The Temple is huge and feels overwhelmingly empty, and the introduction with the Knights of Ren and Palpatine’s chambers properly set the tone on the most sinister planet in the galaxy.

12. Alderaan

Appearances: Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope

Plot Significance: 6   Design: 8  Plausibility: 8 Total: 22

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” – Obi-Wan

I considered saying that Alderaan’s destruction is the only planet whose destruction actually carries any weight but also… it doesn’t really. I don’t think the rebellion would have been any less motivated, and the Death Star likely would have been destroyed. Leia is upset for one scene and then goes back to normal. Alderaan is not mentioned in A New Hope after its destroyed. I get that mentioning the fact that millions of people were destroyed in a fiery explosion kind of doesn’t jive with the light tone these movies have but like… give me one pilot saying “we have to do it for Alderaan,” or anything.

That aside, I have a lot to praise about the planet’s design and plausibility. What little we see of it is really cool, and most resembles Earth. Revenge of the Sith makes me wish we saw more of Alderaan in any of the movies.

11. Corellia

Appearances: Solo

Plot Significance: 7   Design: 8   Plausibility: 8   Total: 23

I like Corellia!

We don’t see too much of it, but it’s a good place to start the action in Solo. It’s shabby, and grimy, and perfectly sets the tone for the type of movie you’re going to watch. All in all, Corellia seems like a pretty terrible place to be, so the chase scene with Han and Qi’ra trying to escape is thrilling, and you really root for the two of them. The speeder moving through the streets make for a great action sequence that shows a different kind of economic disparity. This is Han’s Tatooine, and I think getting to see it is an important part of his story. This planet gave us both Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon (a Corellian freighter). I’d certainly say this planet has earned its place this high on the list.

10. Kashyyyk

Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Plot Significance: 6   Design: 9   Plausibility 8   Total: 23

“But what about the droid attack on the Wookies?!” – Ki-Adi-Mundi

It’s hard to qualify why I like Kashyyyk as much as I do. It’s visually stunning (design), isn’t just one type of terrain (plausibility), and is significant enough (but, compared to the other planets in Revenge of the Sith most feels like a side quest). One thing that does make Kashyyyk feel a little more plausible is knowing how the Empire exploits it for their own gain, enslaving many Wookies. Almost a little too true to life.

Kashyyyk has all of my favorite qualities from Endor – intricate treehouse settlements and a conflict which shows the struggle between technology and nature.

9. Hoth

Appearances: Empire Strikes Back

Plot Significance: 8   Design: 8  Plausibility: 7.5   Total: 23.5

Hoth is spectacular, even though we see relatively little of it. We get little glimpses into its Ecosystem; tauntauns and wampas show a fair amount of how this planet operates, and how difficult it can be to survive. How desperate must the Rebels be if they decided to move their base from Yavin to Hoth?

And the AT-AT attack on the Rebel Base is iconic. When the first one is taken down, it feels like a huge victory, but ultimately, the AT-ATs win the battle. This properly sets the tone for what ultimately ends up being the original tonally darker sequel.

8. Bespin

Appearances: Empire Strikes Back

Plot Significance: 9   Design: 8   Plausibility: 7  Total: 24

“You truly belong with us among the clouds.” – Lando

This is where Star Wars’ biggest moments happen. Bespin’s Cloud City is where Empire’s climax takes place. Lando sells out his friends, Han gets frozen in carbonite, Darth Vader reveals himself to be Luke’s father.

Bespin as a settlement is fine, I appreciate how they have their own little economy of mining, and we get to see the junk traders who want to scrap C3PO. And that economy facilitates the biggest choice in that movie: Lando’s betrayal is motivated by his interest in bolstering Bespin’s economy.

I had thought to take away some plausibility points from Bespin just on the basis that we only see Cloud City and never get to see the planet’s surface, but then I did a little more research and found that Bespin is a gas planet, so there likely is no surface.

But Bespin’s greatest strength is in its set design; the carbon-freezing room is visually amazing. Contrast that with the sterile, stuffy hallways our characters are seen walking through. And the duel between Vader and Luke shows us the interior of the mining facility, which is the only place where such an intense confrontation could possibly take place.

7. Crait

Appearances: The Last Jedi

Plot Significance: 8   Design: 10   Plausibility: 6   Total: 24

Perhaps the most cinematically enchanting planet in all of Star Wars, the battle on Crait gave the studio its color scheme for The Last Jedi poster. This planet easily wins 10 points in the design category. Yes, the color schematic of white salt that turns red when disrupted is a simple gimmick, but it is a gimmick used to a brilliant effect, especially in the “duel” between Kylo Ren and Luke – notice how Luke doesn’t leave footsteps, indicating that he’s not really there. What a clever use of setting!

As far as plot significance, the climax of the movie is set here, and Luke makes his last stand. It’s really tremendous. As far as plausibility, Crait is plausible enough; it’s a salt mining planet that has since been abandoned, and thus makes sense as a hideout for the Resistance.

Crait is possibly the finest examples of the sequel trilogy’s attempts to show us worlds that are new and captivating.

6. Jakku

Appearances: The Force Awakens

Plot Significance: 7  Design: 8  Plausibility: 10  Total: 25

“All right, that is pretty much nowhere.” – Luke

“Why does it always have to be a desert planet?” I grumbled, watching the opening scenes of The Force Awakens. I assumed that just because the trailers showed a desert, that we’d get Tatooine, or worse, a Tatooine knock-off.

But in its small differences, Jakku manages to set itself apart. Jakku was the location of a battle shortly after the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi, which led to a community of scavengers and junk traders. It’s a logical cause-and-effect relationship that gives the planet some verisimilitude that other planets don’t have.

Another small but highly amusing touch is that people constantly comment that the Millennium Falcon is a piece of junk, so to have it in the hands of junk traders is really just exceedingly fitting. This world feels lived-in and thought-out.

And I love all of the design elements, like seeing how Rey lives in an AT-AT and tallies the days she’s been there. It ends up feeling like Tatooine, but more thematically desperate.

5. Tatooine

Appearances: Really, are you going to make me list all of them? Fine. Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker

Plot Significance: 10   Design: 8   Plausibility: 7    Total: 25

“If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.” – Luke

The OG! Tatooine is the planet the saga keeps coming back to. I haven’t done a full count, but I’m sure Tatooine has the most screen time by a pretty wide margin – I’d bet Coruscant is the only planet that almost comes close.

There’s a lot that happens here – Podracing, the attack of the Tusken Raiders, the beginning of Luke’s quest, Jabba the Hutt gets taken down, and Rey becomes a Skywalker. There’s no way this planet couldn’t get a 10 in the Plot Significance category.

Design here is pretty neat; the real-life Tunisian architecture is used to show us Mos Eisley. But then, in light of Mos Eisley, Mos Espa (where Anakin grew up) is mostly forgettable, with the Podracing stadium being the one point of interest there. Jabba’s palace and the Sarlacc Pit are other standout locations.

Plausibility is adequate – we see different societies like the Tusken Raiders and the Jawas, and we see different occupations like droid sellers and moisture farmers, which actually makes a lot of sense in a desert. The only non-plausible thing about Tatooine is why that many people want to live there. Were the property taxes on Alderaan too high?

(Also, I know I said I would stay out of The Mandalorian, but episode 5 of the show gives us some great details about the local economy. After the fall of the Empire, the droids from Jabba’s Palace were out of work, so they went to Mos Eisley where they got work as bartenders, and the cantina which didn’t allow droids in New Hope. I just like to see locations change over time.)

4. Coruscant

Appearances: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

Plot Significance: 10   Design: 10   Plausibility: 5   Total: 25

Is it an exaggeration to say that this planet carried the prequels? I don’t think so.

After the OT, getting to see the Galactic Senate feels like a crucial part of seeing the rise of the Empire. And no matter how boring you think the politics of the prequels are, Coruscant is an important part of the trilogy and the Saga as a whole. It is where the Jedi Council thrived, and let the Empire rise right under their noses.

I like getting to see the different locations, with the Senate Chamber and the Council Room are the obvious things. But the other local spots show more of the planet’s nuance; the theater, the skyhighways, the library, the bar where Obi-Wan does not buy Death Sticks, Palpatine’s office, the Jedi meditation rooms… Coruscant feels like a real city, like the galaxy’s equivalent of Washington, D.C.

Coruscant loses plausibility from only being urban sprawl. The movies only show us locations that are in this intensely clustered city area. Are there any public parks or bodies of water or anything?! If the planet were even slightly less crowded, I’d find it more believable.

3. Mustafar

Appearances: Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One, Rise of Skywalker

Plot Significance: 9.5   Design: 9.5   Plausibility: 7    Total: 27

Mustafar is a planet I like more every time I see it. Rogue One showed us that after his defeat by Obi-Wan, Darth Vader built a castle, which makes the planet and the character both a little bit more interesting. And then, in the opening of Rise of Skywalker, we see Kylo Ren’s attack in the forest, showing us that that planet was more than just lava and manufacturing. (Though to be fair, it’s understandable if you didn’t immediately recognize it as Mustafar, I certainly didn’t.) It doesn’t really gain or lose any plausibility points, it’s a planet that seems to be mostly volcanic, but I’m glad to see it wasn’t the same all around.

But Mustafar is best known for Obi-Wan and Anakin’s duel, and it is a planet that really reflects the conflict that takes place there. The landscape is fiery and violent and is the only fitting place for the end of Anakin’s prequel arc. Revenge of the Sith is a violent and dramatic movie, and this is perhaps the only place violent and dramatic enough for the conclusion of the movie.

2. Ahch-To

Appearances: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker

Plot Significance: 9.5   Design: 9.5   Plausibility: 7   Total: 27

“You think that I came to the most unfindable place in the galaxy for no reason at all? Go away.”-Luke

I considered having an additional category for thematic relevance, and if I had, both Ahch-To and Mustafar would have gotten an additional 10 points. Serving as the ancient birthplace of the Jedi, Ahch-To represents something important in the sequel trilogy; it’s an obstacle for the characters to overcome. First, in Last Jedi, Luke has resolved that he plans to die there (without doing anything else) and spends most of the movie reaching the decision to overcome that. In Rise of Skywalker, Rey resolves to do the same thing, but Luke helps her overcome that. The fact that we are only shown the one island helps solidify the theme of isolation that both characters are looking for.

Somewhat obviously, this world loses societal and environmental plausibility because we see so little of it. Sure, like Earth, it’s a world that seems to be made up mostly of water, which makes it fairly believable. It has a small society of the fish-like nuns and an ecosystem that includes porgs and other animals. For me, that certainly puts it above average on the plausibility scale.

But again, we only see the temple island and its features by design. Ahch-To represents isolation, meditation, and despair. Thematically, the most important thing a character can do on Ahch-To is to leave, thereby overcoming despair.

1. Naboo

Appearances: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones

Plot Significance: 10   Design: 9   Plausibility: 10   Total: 29

“PEACE!” – Boss Nass

While I don’t think there’s an inverse relationship between the movies that put a greater emphasis on the planets, I do think it’s ironic that the best planet on this ranking is from what many viewers and critics consider to be the two worst movies in the franchise. And yet, Naboo is the best-developed planet across all eleven movies.

While Naboo isn’t crucial to the plot of the Skywalker Saga beyond Phantom Menace, the planet has an entire arc across that first movie: the reconciling of two distinct people groups on the same planet.

And that goes to another thing that Naboo does better than the other planets: Plausibility. There are different locations on this planet that feel unique, like a true, biodiverse planet. We see the royal palace, we see the swampy forests, we see the fields, but we also see an underwater city. Love them or hate them (probably hate them), the Gungans are a crucial part of what makes Naboo such an excellent setting.

Naboo’s story in The Phantom Menace is one of two symbiotic societies learning to cooperate with each other to fight an outside threat – the Gungans from underwater and the above-ground natives of Naboo uniting to fight the Trade Federation droids. The movie starts with the Federation’s tanks moving across the forests of Naboo and ends with Boss Nass and Amidala’s peace parade.

It’s almost unsurprising since we spend such a significant amount of time here, but Naboo is highly plausible, carries its own story, changes over time, has different societies and ecosystems, and manages to be beautifully designed. The prequels did not do everything perfectly, but their attention and ambition in the design of planets shines brightest with Naboo.

Of course, this ranking is subjective, and what I look for in the design of a planet. Maybe you look for something else, so I’m interested to hear: what do you look for in a Star Wars setting, and which planet is your favorite?

Special thanks to Andrew Rainaldi at Pop Cultural Studies for providing this guest post.

Andrew writes about Star Wars and a variety of other topics on: popculturalstudies.wordpress.com