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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Episode VII- The Force Awakens, a Review

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... 

The kids and I just back from viewing Episode VII the Force Awakens. In general, all three of us liked it, but like a lot of people I found there were definitely some weak points in the story. I will say to start off that my earlier trepidation here was largely incorrect, but not entirely unfounded. I liked Episode VII, it was good, but not Empire Strikes Back good. I will also note I was fairly accurate on my initial musings from a year ago.

Some Brief Notes
Note: if you haven't seen Episode VII yet, you'll want to stop reading now as its spoiler time. Also of importance is that while I'll be mentioning the Star Wars Expanded Universe in passing, I'm doing so for two reasons: 1 to provide contrast and 2, to delineate where some ideas may have been used from. Its been years since I read the EU and I certainly did not read all of them.

The Movie itself
Before I kick off my review: A few points off the top of my head: the movie is really well done in terms of look and feel, the cinematography is excellent. Its noticeable right from the beginning as it was actually shot on film as opposed to digital, its warmth shows throughout. In fact the Kodak logo was prominently displayed in the end credits.

The familiar screen crawl was great to see on the big screen for the first time in more then a decade!
  • The start of the movie with the focus on Finn was nice touch as for his "origin story" as it were. It progressed well and reminded me of Episode I, II and III as well as IV where they got to the action right away. 
  • I also liked the introduction of Poe Dameron right off the bat too; bad that he wasn't in the film more. I have a feeling we have our "Core Three" characters going forward. 
  • The Storm troopers actually hitting something was a nice surprise!
  • Max Von Sydow's appearance and the initial village were well-done as was the fight and the introduction of the New Order and the fact that they too were looking for Luke Skywalker. It was cool to see he knew of Leia, but it isn't implicitly said how. He was a minor character so it didn't have to be spelt out.
The early sections were great for their visuals of the crashes Star Destroyers and other detritus littering Jakku. Even if it is just a clone of of the desert world of Tatooine, the weathered look,

coupled with the shots on actual film made it look directly from original trilogy. The haze of the desert looks very believable, the sand, the dust. But again we're talking about Tatooine II.

I did like Rey's initial reluctance to embrace her destiny and her "home" inside of a AT-AT. She is looking to the past, counting days until... what we don't know (later on we know she is hoping her parent(s) come back for her. Rey's isolation is palpable as she lives alone and scavenges alone. A fringer for sure and a very closed one, well done. Even Luke as orphan at least had has Aunt and Uncle in the Lars family, she has nothing.

The initial interactions with Finn and Rey were good as were the depictions of how they meet. Finn in a rare moment is fast on his feet (more on that below). The referring to the Falcon as junk when Finn and Rey "acquire it" was a good nod to "What a piece of junk!" in a New Hope. The initial battles with the Falcon and the Tie Fighters is very good and visually stunning. But after that the action slows...

The middle sections tended to drag a bit (at least it seemed that way to me), but Han and Chewy getting the Falcon back was cool to see if a bit jilted in its execution. Han trying to talk his way out of the situation is heartwarming in the sense the old scoundrel is back and sets the stage for references to the previous movies throughout.

One middle section scene I especially liked the various factions/gangsters having the same opinion of Solo and the dialogue matching perfectly. Solo has gone back to his old ways and owning money seems to be a big part of how he operates, even thirty years later!

Leia's reunion with Han was over all too quick and felt too rushed, as if JJ Abrams was pushing the story through that particular plot line; knowing he had to have it in but was in a hurry to get it over. with. I don't think it really helped in the tracking down of Kylo Ren as it was up to Han not Leia to redeem him. Her dialogue while understandable is not really necessary.Then again she is barely in the movie so they had to include her. A quick point: some people have been dogging Carrie Fisher for any number of reasons in regards to the movie, but news flash. She is not the slave girl from 30 years ago anymore... If anything it was her voice that made me pause, it was gravely. Other then that she was good , not sure about great.

The biggest part that stood out in the middle is the finding of Luke's saber and the implication that it means going forward for the next movie. The dream sequence and Rey's reluctance were well played. The imagery was very vivid as it the movie viewer was right there in her place.

Then there is the death of Han. To a point, this was all known going in for anyone paying attention: all of this was alluded to thirty years ago when Harrison Ford wanted Han to go out in blaze of glory in Return of the Jedi only to be denied. The scene left me a bit mixed in terms of reaction, in some regards it was emotional in others it seemed a tad contrived. If anything the emotion is carried by Chewbacca throughout the scene.

All of this builds to the ending which is rather like: "Haven't we seen all this before... twice even?" Indeed it was. The problem is that because its Star Wars we're going to watch it again regardless. So we have the space battle going on while we have a light saber duel, re-hashedx3. I hope going forward this is the last time we hear about planet killing weapons. Poe and his interactions with BB8 were cool; I hope the two of them pair up to allow for the familiarity of the two droids, R2 and 3PO to shine through going forward with the new characters.

Then there is the end which takes place in a whirlwind and certainly a minuscule amount of time compared to the rest of the story. But in the end it is somewhat satisfying: there he finally is: Luke Skywalker, the Jedi Master; looking every bit the part and looking at Rey and his father's light saber...

One of the bad guys. Strangely, despite the weak name I liked the concept of Snoke; I rather disliked Kylo Ren. After the physically intimidating presence of Vader we get a watered down version. Snoke was mysterious, obviously derived from the Emperor in terms of imagery, but Kylo?

Kylo suffer from an uneven character and his powers, like-wise precisely because his eventual antagonist in Rey was so unskilled he is largely has to be brough down to her level. In the movie we have him force mind reading, stopping blaster bolts, raging out and having been trained by the only Jedi left in Luke, to get "beat" by Rey? Think about it, he has abilities never seen before, flings her about and dispatched Finn with ease, but then they have to bring him down to almost a neophyte. If anything the fight was a "tie". I get he was wounded, but the story could not have progressed as a New Hope did with Rey just learning her force abilities and having to face the new "Vader." So in a way the "Jedi fight" is a let down here which for me is a shame as that is what I look forward to in each movie. With no Obi-Wan to kill off, (Han takes that role) but for a different reason.

So we get this uneven bad guy with what level of power exactly?

The New Order. I liked the idea of the Star Killer base (warmed over as it is) but the whole organization left me cold. They seemed rather stiff and not that interesting which is odd given how they were envisioned (what would have happened if some factions survived Nazi Germany after World War II). The speech by General Hux was anything other then inspiring or threatening to me.

Gwendoline Christie (aka Brienne of Tarth in the TV adaption of Game of Thrones) as Captain fan-boy sake (which I never got)

Phasma was definitely underused. I hope there is more of her going forward but I also hope she doesn't get the "Boba Fett" effect of being popular for the sake of it...  Suffice of to say she looks more bad-ass then Kylo Ren.

The soundtrack was uneven throughout to me. This was unusual as in most cases music at its best fits the movie and you don't think much about it but there were times where it was actually making me notice it, and not in a good way. In fact it might have been the weakest soundtrack out of all of the movies.

Predictions for Episode VIII
These will hardly be "earth shattering" or is that Starkiller/Death Star caused? :)

1. The likelihood that Rey will not be named Skywalker as her surname? That approaches zero in my opinion. There are just too many things point to the fact that Luke is her father: the innate piloting skills, the innate mechanical aptitude just like her grandfather Anakin and her natural understanding of the Force without any training?  The ability to grab the light saber with the Force, the unskilled use of a Jedi mind trick, the intuitive understanding of BB8 and Chewy. All of these and many more equal one thing: Rey Skywalker.

An aside on Rey: with everything she can do so well she could slide into Mary Sue territory, Daisy Rey plays her well, but it does happen. I don't have strong feelings on this per say, but it was a bit over the top at times. It doesn't detract from her character in terms of warmth, but there it is. Some like it, some don't, but she excels at everything and fails at nothing? Seems dull.

While this movie is not based on the Star Wars Expanded Universe per say, (aka the flood of books after Return of the Jedi), there is the fact of Jacen and Jaina Solo who were twin brother and sister who appeared in a number of stories. Jacen turned into a Sith Lord (Darth Caedus) and then Jaina kills him in a duel. Why do I mention this in relation to the new movie? A movie that has little to do with the EU? Simply because if Rey is Luke's daughter, then she will be facing off against her cousin Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo) in Episode VIII. Which if not a direct lift is a rather striking parallel.

2. Finn- Finn is well positioned to become the new Han Solo. The Millennium Falcon needs a new Captain, he's already a wise-cracking bit of a rogue and he does not seem to be force sensitive (that's Rey's path). He can't seem to do anything on his own right now (Rey does literally everything) but perhaps that's so his character can grow, after all he worked in sanitation as a Storm Trooper...

His back-story being a large blank canvas means that they will be able to take his character in any direction they choose. I'm also pleased that he really had "little" to do with the storm troopers per say. A huge section of Episodes II and III had to do with the creation of the clones who would become the Storm Troopers. I think having him as part of the New Order storm troopers make sense as he was "raised" by the New Order not cloned (as was alluded to in the movie no less).

Plus they already have him interacting with Chewie. I think he'll be a good fit. I also think they did a good job by throwing a curve ball of showing him with a light saber. As I noted above, he's probably not the one who becomes heavily involved with the Force, but that was to deflect attention away from Rey.

3. While Episode VII was a passing the torch movie with the death of Solo I wonder if the same fate is in store for Luke? I think not. Episode VII really revolved around Han, but I imagine that Episode VIII will have far more to do with Luke being the central character. He was barely on the screen but his presence was felt throughout the whole movie and Daisy Ridley as Rey performed beautifully here with her reaction to the name of Luke Skywalker, you could feel her wonderment.

4. R2!!!!!! Damn it, I understand he was vital to the way Episode VII unfolded but he's the real hero! BB8 was nice and all but how magically was it when R2 finally wakes up! Its as if you feel the passage of time R2 has been in a low powered state at Luke's orders waiting for the right time and then bam!

With that BB8 was missing his 3PO. What made R2 so memorable in the first six movies was his interactions and how ridiculously brave they were, more so when pointed out by C3PO.

5. The Resistance AND the New Republic?  I'm unclear as to the relationship between the two. One thing is for certain that after millennia of rule of the Old Republic and then a several decades by the Empire that there is no one singular over arcing authority as there was in the past. I think this will be a benefit going forward for future film installments. Sweep away the New Republic to set the stage going forward for Episodes VIII and IX?

In summing it all up, I was entertained by it and despite knowing what was coming in terms of the story. I liked it l,but it certainly wasn't great. It also did not fit with my expectations that it wouldn't feel like Star Wars, it did but in a sort of reheated fashion.

Lastly, with all this said, this is how I rank the movies  as of now after viewing Episode VII.

1. Empire Strikes Back ('natch).

2. A New Hope

3. Revenge of the Sith

4. The Force Awakens

5. Attack of the Clones

6. Phantom Meance

7. Return of the Jedi*

* For those that follow by blog, you know why I rank RoJ so low... '

To close, those calling it "A Newer Hope" are right, it certainly derivative, but an entertaining movie none-the-less. 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

STAR WARS Episode VII, still not sure what to think.

Less then 17 days to go til The Force Awakens hits the big screen and I still don't know what to make of the reboot. That's right I said reboot because that's basically what it is. Now that Disney has the keys to the kingdom, err...galaxy you can bet they are going to run with it for all its worth.

But why say reboot?

Because I have a feeling this movie is going to be nothing more then a "pass the torch" movie. By clearing out the old characters Disney and JJ Abrams are going to be able to create what they want: a generation of fans unencumbered by the expectations of the original movies. If (and that's a mighty big if) Han makes it out of the last scene will be shocking. I know this is hardly controversial as Harrison Ford wanted Solo to die in Return of the Jedi. I know the internet has been rife with the speculation and in some cases for years, but to me I have this feeling that Episode VII will revolve around tying up the loose ends of the old generation of characters.

The main thing that makes this fee "re-booty" is the character of Rey, why don't we call her Rey Skywalker? I have a suspicion that we will be very shortly. And if not, expect her character arc to be the present day telling of Luke Skywalker. And if Kylo Ren does indeed turn out to be Luke, will we see Kylo/Luke telling Rey "I am your father" in Episode VIII? If that happens I promise you I won't be surprised.

To close I'm still on the fence on this one. I wonder if like a previous generation of fans with the prequels this will be "the bridge to far" for me. Maybe I'm getting old, but I wanted to see the further adventures of Luke, Leia and Han and I am left with this feeling that based on Abrams work with Star Trek he's going to do the same thing with Star Wars. The difference(s) compared to what changed in Trek is this is going to be much more massive in my opinion.

It looks, like Star Wars, it sounds like Star Wars, problem is it doesn't feel like Star Wars. I expect it will be a big hit (any Star Wars movie is). But to counter and paraphrase Han in trailer #2 "Chewie, it doesn't feel like home." I'll be taking the kids to see it, but for the first time I'm actually not looking forward to seeing a Star Wars movie, weird but true.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The case for the Snake

As those who follow my blog (and know me in real life) sometimes life gets crazy busy. But,  I wanted to take a moment off the beaten path and talk about the passing of man whose life was a legend in the NFL and sadly did not live to see his enshrinement in the NFL Hall of fame.

I'm talking about one man: The Snake, Kenneth Michael Stabler.

 The Snake played in one of if not the best eras of all of pro football. It was a time where the rules were no where near as restrictive as they are today. A time ruled by such team as the "Steel Curtain" Pittsburgh Steelers, the undefeated Miami Dolphins, the NFC has teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, the Purple "People Eater Defense" of the Minnesota Vikings and the "Over the Hill Gang" of the Washington Redskins. Then there were the next tier teams like the Browns, Patriots, Bills and Denver who were above average talent wise. In short this was time when there were teams that would DESTROY some of today's teams. A time where you could actually touch a QB or hit a receiver. 

Unto this stage came the winningest team in not only football, but from 1966 to 1985 the winnigest team in all of professional sports: The Raiders. And from 1972 to 1979 the man leading the Silver and Black offense was Ken Stabler. 

The Snake was the first left-handed QB who rose to real prominence in the NFL. The Snake was also known to call his own plays, to have a great command presence, and to know where to put the ball. He was also the QB with the fastest time to 50 wins, a QB other teams feared and fearless in the 4th Quarter.

But here is the rub: he is also the only QB of the All-Decades team- 1970s, NOT in the Hall of Fame, and one of only two players with that accolade, the other being Drew Pearson, WR of the Cowboys. Let that sink in. One of the best QBs of the decade when the NFL eclisped baseball as America's sport is not enshrined. What the Hell Hall of Fame?

The prevailing reason why he's not in is usually he only had a few good years in Oakland? What???? there are QBs I'll talk about in a minute who didn't have a single good season or even win a Super Bowl, yet they are in. To put it sustainably the sports hacks who vote on the Super Bowl are a bunch of idiots or worse.

Now people will talk of his mediocre to sub-par years in Houston and New Orleans. To me if Archie Manning is in playing for the hapless Saints of the 60s and 70s or the injury shortened career of Gayle Sayers allows him in the Ken should be in, let alone Joe Namath (see more below).

To get a sense of how good he was during his run with the Raiders, lets look at his time with the Raiders as a starter via his stats. While his stats look pedestrian today, keep in mind it wasn't until the late 1970s that the "Mel Blount Rule" was enacted.

Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk
1973 28 OAK QB 12 14 11 8-2-1 163 260 62.7 1997 14 5.4 10 3.8 80 7.7 7 12.3 142.6 88.3 34
1974 29 OAK QB 12 14 13 11-2 178 310 57.4 2469 26 8.4 12 3.9 67 8 7.9 13.9 176.4 94.9 18
1975 30 OAK QB 12 14 13 10-3 171 293 58.4 2296 16 5.5 24 8.2 53 7.8 5.2 13.4 164 67.4 19
1976 31 OAK QB 12 12 12 11-1 194 291 66.7 2737 27 9.3 17 5.8 88 9.4 8.6 14.1 228.1 103.4 19
1977 32 OAK QB 12 13 13 10-3 169 294 57.5 2176 20 6.8 20 6.8 44 7.4 5.7 12.9 167.4 75.2 16
1978 33 OAK QB 12 16 16 9-7 237 406 58.4 2944 16 3.9 30 7.4 49 7.3 4.7 12.4 184 63.3 37
1979 34 OAK QB 12 16 16 9-7 304 498 61 3615 26 5.2 22 4.4 66 7.3 6.3 11.9 225.9 82.2 34

In his time in Oakland he went 68-25-1 as a starter. To put his playing time in career consider those of his contemporaries during a 10 year span of their careers: Ron Jaworski, Terry Bradshaw*, Steve McNair, Joe Namath*, Steve Grogan, Brian Sipe, Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo, Ken Anderson, Randall Cunningham

The most notable is Kenny Anderson who was the FIRST West Coast Offense QB under Bill Walsh when Bill was the OC of the Bengals, but that's for another time. Two other names jump out: Bradshaw and Namath...The  others? He was as good, if not better.

Now its as simple as this, if Joe Namath is in the Hall of Fame there is no reason to keep the Snake out. Joe is in for guaranteeing a win in Super Bowl III, that's about it. "Joe Willie" was a big as they come, but outside of Super Bowl III he didn't do much including some dreadful seasons with the LA Rams, like Stabler's dreadful seasons with Houston and New Orleans. NOTE: I'm actually a fan of Broadway Joe, I am glad he conquered his demons, but Hall of Fame?

Consider Jim Kelly, QB of the Buffalo Bills from 1986-1996 who is in the Hall of Fame. And I ask for what? Losing four straight Super Bowls? For holding no passing records at his retirement, for having one of the most dismal playoff records of any QB in modern history? Simply put, Jim Kelly being in the Hall of Fame is a huge injustice to Stabler. Basically the Hall of Fame Voters are saying its a greater achievement to lose four straight Super Bowls then win one in what might considered the mostly highly competitive era the NFL has ever seen.

Every argument to keep him out has a precedence for someone who is in that I can think of in more detail:

Too short of a time where he was good: The knock is he "only" had 5 good years. Fortunately there is a precedence for this: see Gale Sayers, he's in the Hall of Fame. Gale was a phenomenal player who had basically two good seasons. As electrifying as they were he's marginal career wise. If you put him in whats the case for keeping out Terrell Davis? Ugh and I'm a Raiders fan saying that!

Didn't win enough Super Bowls: Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and Fran Tarkenton who are a combined 0-9 in Super Bowls (and Fouts never made it to a Super Bowl). All are in the Hall of Fame. Fouts is particularly puzzling because like Kelly he was a dismal playoff QB. At least the argument can be made that Fouts had no defense worth anything, unlike Kelly who actually had a very good D.

Tarkenton was 0-3 in the big game. He scrambled like crazy, and like Kelly he had a very good D so its largely moot from the excuse department. Tark held most of the QB passing records on his retirement so perhaps you can apply the "Dan Marino rule" as to why he is in.

The Snake on the other hand had the "misfortune" of playing at a time when the AFC had two other powerhouses in Miami and Steelers. Oh and look at that: Twice when the Steelers won the Super Bowl they had to beat the Raiders in the AFCCG to do it. Oh look in 1979 when the Steelers won the Super Bowl, who was the QB they faced in the AFC Championship Game? Ken Stabler.

Oh and one more point on this they made it to 5 straight AFC championship games against the likes of the Dolphins and Steelers with the winners going on to win the Super Bowl. "Jim Kelly lost 4  straight Super Bowls" that's at least better then the AFFCG loses I hear some wags say, Kelly didn't play teams anywhere near as good as the teams of the 1970s in the AFC championship games.

He was bad in New Orleans and Houston: Even Archie Manning was bad in New Orleans; they wouldn't become good for another 30 years after the Snake stopped playing for them. To lay that at Stabler's feet with no weapons around him? Oh and by the way? Manning is in the Hall of Fame despite never having a regular season better then 8-8 and having a dreadful TD to INT ratio as well?. Now his teams in New Orleans were terrible... but he sure didn't help. None of that has to do with the Snake. But to take another tack, Manning's career win/loss record is 35-101-3 and you get into the NFL Hall of Fame? Yeah... See Joe Namath above.

As far as Houston who did they have outside of Stabler, Earl Campbell and Dave Casper? Crickets... They peaked in 1980 and went downhill from there. Houston was a never quite made it team in the late 1970s.

His career stats particularly his TD to INT ratio is bad: Joe Namath is in for stats that are about even and Joe only had two winning seasons over his entire career.

Jim Kelly threw a rate of 1 INT once every 19.5 passes attempted in the post season which is downright horrific. Stabler has 194 TDs vs 222 INTs at a time when receivers and QBs could actually be hit.Stabler was a big time QB, Kelly was a big time dud.

Stabler was money in the playoffs Kelly threw a pick in 14 of his 17 playoffs starts...

He didn't win enough "Big Games": The Raider played against some of the greatest dynasties of all time during the Snake's time in the 70s at the helm of the Raiders: the a-fore mentioned Dolphins, Steelers, Skins, Cowboys, etc. Tom Brady would be crying in his Uggs or to the officials (more then he usually does) if Jack Lambert dared to hit him. But, Stabler was 1-0 in the Super Bowl. So which is it NFL Hall of Fame voters? Either a SB win matters or it doesn't. Oh that's right, you selectively apply criteria for one player then not for another. 

Until the injustice of his snub of the Hall of Fame is corrected the Hall will continue to be a joke, and even when I visit this upcoming August, I will be holding my nose. The vindictive sports writers who kept him out due to an incident "allegedly" involving Stabler and a reporter has no basis of proof, but the likes of Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated used this to foil Ken from making it in. I was only around 8 when this happened, but it seems to me that certain NFL writers (Zimmerman) with the "Ken Stabler will never make it into the Hall of Fame as long as I'm alive") quote on record should have never been in the position to decide or wield that much power. Stabler will long be remembered after people forget the douch-baggery of Paul Zimmerman.

To add further to his legend consider the some of the plays he was a part or his participation led to: the Immaculate Reception (or As we Raider fans call it the Immaculate Deception), the Holy Roller, Ghost to the Post, and the Sea of Hands. And to add further, while I can't stand Alabama he did have the Run in the Mud.

And way you slice it Ken Stabler was a QB for the ages. RIP Kenny. you will be missed, and you rode astride the NFL like a Colossus, towering over all. You'll get your due one day, too bad you weren't around to see it when the injustice is corrected.

To close, a video:

Postscript: My only personal bias regarding players or QBs are Kelly and Fouts. Kelly was/is massively overrated, and Fouts played for a division rival and was/is an ass-hat in regards to his announcing of Raiders games, hey I'm human. Gale Sayers, awesome player but HOF?

Monday, March 16, 2015


This one has puzzled me for a while: How come Elfquest hasn't been made into a movie? There has been talk and rumors of this for years, yet nothing. There have been various fan trailers (you can find at least one on youtube) made and the elves of Elfquest seem to enjoy a good measure of popularity at comic and cosplay conventions, but so far zilch on the big screen.

If you're like me (early 40s) then you'll probably remember the excellent four volume series that the was/is Elfquest. Elfquest written by Richard and Wendy Pini was a seminal moment for me as a pre-teen and I read all four multiple times. Wendy's art was incredible throughout and the story well done. It also had the benefit of being in the midst of AD&D's popularity in the early 1980s. I don't think there was anyone my age who hadn't read it once.

Elfquest tells the story of the elves known as the Wolfriders and their fight for survival against humans on the World of the Two Moons. Very quickly the tribe is forced to flee their woodland homeland which sets them on the path to find the legendary palace of the High Ones; the progenitors of the elves.

The thing that makes Elfquest great is the believably of the Wolfriders; compared to the rest of the tribes of elves who are presented as near perfect beings for the most part. It is the Wolfriders alone who adapt to the world of the two moons and thrive. Their passions are believable and they are mortal having mingled with the wolves of the world to adapt and survive.

One would think with the mega success of the Lord of the Rings and the Narnia movies that the studios would be looking for other material in the fantasy realm. I think it would be quite easy to make it into a trilogy. Cutter's quest for the Palace of the High Ones has a great arc to it with a beginning middle and end. To me Elfquest of Dragonlance makes the most sense for the "next" trilogy. Elfquest could be done very easily in my estimation.

As I almost always do how does this apply to gaming:
  • Of course back in the day there was the RPG from Chaosium that went through two revisions that I'm aware of. Never played the system so I can't comment on the game as a whole.
  • The Quest for The Palace of the High Ones is much like the War of the Lance in Dragonlance: a dividing line between the story. To some this might not matter, but for me it makes it feel as if its two different eras in a way; a game set before and game set after. 
  • In my 2nd edition campaign world I borrow the idea of the High Ones coming to the world via silver ships. This eliminates the standard trope of "the oldest and wisest firstborn race". They may be old and wise, but are alien to the world. By doing this I've also placed them as at best neutral to humans and at times they have warred with each other. Further since they were the last race "on the scene" as it were, there is no need for the traditional animosity to dwarfs either. This gives them a bit of a different flavor in my opinion.
I'm not necessarily looking at this as a gamer with over 30 years plus experience expecting it to appeal to me, but a gamer who has kids. I haven't read it in years, but it always seemed part of the "scene" as it were. There were right ups of the main characters in Dragon before the dedicated RPG came out and then adds thereafter. Minis were produced and it made it to a second edition. It didn't reach D&D's popularity, but what did?

To close, without getting stereotypical I could see my daughter enjoying the read, my son probably as well. One would thing with some of the craptastic movies that do get made this would be a winner.