Star Wars, Uncategorized

May the Fourth Be with You!

Happy Star Wars Day! I hope you’re all having a grand time watching the movies…you lucky sods who own the DVDs and the televisions to play them on. All I’ve got is a picture of Han Solo:

…And also this lovely video, which is currently fulfilling two of my needs because “Hamilton: An American Musical” is my latest obsession. If you haven’t listened to the cast recording yet, go do it now.

Okay, I feel better now.

Namarie,
Aldy

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Star Wars, Uncategorized

A New Hope Awakens

It’s been well over a week since Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, and I figure you’ve all seen it by now, so it’s pretty safe to air my spoilerous opinions on it. But out of respect for the truly remarkable commitment by the entire Internet to avoid spoiling the movie (seriously, if we humans could work together like that on issues that really matter, the world would be a happier place), I will write a spoiler-free review first.

And it isn’t too hard to do. Story-wise, not much is new in the latest Star Wars installment. Once I got over the whole “oh-my-gosh-I’m-seeing-an-actual-new-Star-Wars-movie-with-no-JarJar-aaaaahhhhh!!!!” stage, which lasted me the first third of the film, I realised I was basically watching A New Hope, 2015-style. You’ve got the young hero living in poverty on a desert planet, who gets caught up in a galactic conflict courtesy of a beeping droid. You’ve got the masked, black-cloaked villain with a planet-destroying superweapon, and an evil army that, apart from being called “The First Order” and having even more Nazi imagery than its predecessor, is no different from the OT’s Empire. Even Han Solo, Chewie and Leia are back in the game, although this time Han is playing the hero’s elderly mentor (and still getting in fights, ’cause that’s what he does best).

The real breaths of fresh air in the new movie come from the characters it introduces. The Force Awakens begins about thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi, after Luke Skywalker’s attempt to set up a new Jedi Order and Republic have gone awry, and Luke himself has disappeared. Rey, the movie’s new protagonist, has only heard about Luke’s exploits as distant rumours, but she ends up becoming an important part of the new “Resistance’s” race to find him (yes, re-labelling the “Rebellion” was a weird move, but not too distracting). Helping her along the way is a runaway stormtrooper, newly christened Finn, an adorable beach ball droid named BB-8, and, of course, Han and Chewie.

Rey is an absolute delight. She’s like a female Luke, but without the whinging and WITH a British accent. And she joins an ever-growing number of recent action heroines who are treated as well-rounded characters and not overly sexualised. Also: yay for more female Star Wars cosplay options! The other new people are just as good. I’ve said before that I love the idea of a reformed stormtrooper actually getting some character development, and Finn delivers. He ties with Rey as the most likeable member of the cast, and he manages to do pretty well in battles with Force-wielding folk, considering he has no special powers himself. As for the villain of the movie, he may be a Darth Vader ripoff, but that’s intentional. He’s portrayed (very well, by Adam Driver) as a young, angsty Vader fanboy with waaayyy too much power on his hands. And although he’s a bit conflicted about his allegiance to the Dark Side, he actually outdoes Vader in terms of sheer evilness. In spite of having a rather handsome actor and a cool costume, he probably won’t get too many fangirls.

Overall, the movie met my expectations. I expected it to be, by far, the best Star Wars installment to be released in my lifetime, and it absolutely is. I also expected that it wouldn’t quite measure up to the originals, and it didn’t, if only because so much of its plot was derived from them.

SPOILERS BEGIN HERE. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

All right. I have to talk about this. HAN DIES?????? 😦 😦 😦

I was worried ol’ J.J. might kill off one of the Big Three of the Original Trilogy. After all, the actors are all getting up in years, and not even the brilliant Harrison Ford can do action movies forever. But I was kinda hoping it wouldn’t happen, at least not to my beloved Han. He has always been my favourite character, and the first two-thirds of this movie only served to remind me why I love him so much. Even in his sixties, he’s still cool as ever, and now he’s a bit of a wise mentor to boot, a role that sits surprisingly well on him.

And, man–his death scene messed me up. I was just staring open-mouthed at the screen for a good fifteen minutes after it happened. That’s my childhood that just got stabbed in front of me! And Chewie’s rampage, and Leia’s face, and, and….it was just a really hard thing for a Star Wars fan to watch, all right?

 This was my face.

But it was well done. If Han Solo had to die, at least he died trying to heal his family and help his son turn back to the Light Side. It was a heroic death, but one perfectly suited to Han. Shows how far he’s come since he was only in the hero business for the money. And it was beautifully filmed, and it cemented Kylo Ren as the new face of evil in the Star Wars galaxy. After that, his fight with Rey and Finn suddenly had so much more at stake, and it was so much more satisfying when Rey won. As hard as it was to witness, it did make the movie better.

And now we’re left to ponder the questions raised by TFA: what is Rey’s true lineage? What has Luke been up to all this time? Does Leia use the Force to hold up her hair, or has she found other uses for that power? Only time, and the 2017 instalment, will tell. In the meantime, I think it’s safe to say Disney hasn’t ruined Star Wars.

Namarie,
Aldy

 

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May 2015 Fandom

The Force Awakens…Again

Okay readers, it’s time to talk about Star Wars Episode VII. 

This is the one movie I’m really looking forward to this year, now that I’ve seen Age of Ultron (twice). I was apprehensive when I first heard that Disney had bought Star Wars and they’d be making more movies…but then I realized that there was really nothing to worry about. After all, we already know two things about this movie (and its inevitable sequels):

1) It will not live up to the standards set by the original Star Wars trilogy.

2) It will be much, much better than the prequel trilogy.

Obviously, there’s no way for a 21st-century sequel to single-handedly revolutionize the sci-fi genre the way Star Wars did, or even to be as exciting and wonder-filled a story. After all, even Harrison Ford is starting to show his age. But on the other hand, the new movie would have to be a colossal failure to even approach the level of badness that the George Lucas-run prequels gave us. My most vivid memory from those movies is watching a “romantic” scene between Anakin and Padme near the beginning of Revenge of the Sith and thinking “I could write a better love scene than this.” I was thirteen at the time, and I really think I could have. Those movies had no soul.

At least, with The Force Awakens, it looks like the film-makers will be using some real props as opposed to bad CGI, they’ve cast at least three excellent actors, and the script will not be written by George Lucas. So it will automatically be better than any Star Wars movie made in my lifetime. But there are even more reasons to get excited. Let’s break it down by what we know so far:

The Title

“The Force Awakens” seemed like a pretty generic-sounding title to me at first, but now that we’ve seen the trailers and it’s been confirmed that the movie takes place several decades after Return of the Jedi, the word choice sounds quite promising. I’ve always wondered about the fate of the Jedi Order after the original trilogy. Like, sure, they’re free to do their thing now that the Empire is gone, but it seems Luke and Leia are the only Force-sensitive people left in the galaxy. And what exactly do Jedi do in times of peace, anyway? Given the title and the few glimpses of lightsaber wielding in the trailers, it seems likely that this movie will focus on a whole new generation of Jedi–some of whom will probably be Luke and Leia’s kids. Yay!

The Power Trio

Yes, it definitely appears that Han and Luke, at least, will have significant roles in the new movie. Carrie Fischer has been cast as well, though we haven’t seen her in the trailers yet. And may I say that today’s Mark Hamill looks %1000 better with a beard? I was worried Luke would look too much like a creepy uncle in the movie, but it seems my fears were in vain. Anyway, this means we finally get to find out what they all got up to after toppling the Empire. I’d especially like to know if Leia became a Jedi. And, of course, I’m just excited to see Han and Chewie onscreen again. Admit it – you got chills when they showed up at the end of the latest trailer. EVERYONE did.

The Director

There are many who will disagree, but I’m glad J.J. Abrams is directing this movie. Yes, I know, the die-hard Trekkies hated his Star Trek movies, but face it: at least he has a track record of successfully rebooting a popular sci-fi franchise in a way that appealed to mainstream audiences as much as the cult fanbase. And, judging by his other movies and TV shows, the guy actually wants to be Steven Spielberg. Choosing him to be in charge of the new Star Wars makes all kinds of sense. And I, for one, liked the new Star Trek movies. Who cares about a few gratuitous lens flares or a laser crossguard, as long as the story is fun?

The Stormtroopers

I’m also pretty excited about the new characters being introduced in this movie–the guy in the Stormtrooper suit especially. One of my pet peeves about the old Star Wars movies (and lots of other action-based films, for that matter) is that the Stormtroopers are never treated like people–just faceless “bad guys” who exist to be blown away by the good guys. What do they look like under those helmets? Do they have families? Did they sign up for this job? Nobody ever thinks to ask. So I really hope this new guy is an actual former Stormtrooper who will answer some of those questions.

Even with two trailers out and just six months left to wait, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the future of Star Wars. All I know is, I can’t wait for Christmas!

Now excuse me while I watch the latest teaser a thousand more times.

Namarie,
Aldy

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May 2015 Fandom

Her Worshipfulness

One of the up-sides to Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars is that it’s much easier now for me to decide on my favourite Disney princess. Princess Leia wins, hands down.

I’ve always felt a special connection to Leia. We’re the same height, for one thing, and it’s always nice to see that someone as tiny as myself can still make herself heard. She was also the first sci-fi heroine in my life, so in my mind she sets the standard for all the others. And now she sets the standard for Disney heroines, too.

Allow me to elaborate. First, very few Disney princesses come close to being as interesting and active as Leia. At no point in the trilogy does she have a screaming/fainting fit or wait around passively for someone to rescue her. She does need to be rescued in the first movie, of course, but that’s because she was already working against the Empire when Luke was still a whiny farm boy and Han was still a scoundrel. And sometimes people who stand up to Darth Vader get kidnapped and mind-probed.

And sometimes they resist the mind-probe long enough to throw sarcastic insults at their rescuers.

But from the moment Luke walks into her life, she’s as much a part of the rebellion as any of the other heroes. In fact, she often surpasses the others. While Luke is busy angsting over his parentage and so forth, Leia’s getting stuff done. Like finding the Death Star’s weak spots, leading the Rebel armies, rescuing her boyfriend, killing a slimy crime lord, and taking down the second Death Star’s shields. She’s brave, funny, intelligent, a little annoying sometimes, and, deep down, every bit as idealistic as her brother. In short, she’s a fully-developed female character, which is a rare and wonderful thing in Hollywood.

And yet, a lot of people don’t remember her that way. Thanks to a certain stupid, unnecessary costume design in Return of the Jedi, they only remember how she looks in a bikini. Ah, fanservice, how I loathe thee.

But at least Leia ends up with the best Disney prince of them all. This is another area where I feel a connection to her, because I would have fallen for Han Solo, too. (Except it would only have taken me five minutes, not a whole movie.) Their romance is one of the best things about the Star Wars trilogy–and that’s the only time I will ever say that about an action movie romance. Leia and Han are perfect for each other–they’re both kind-hearted heroes wrapped in stubborn, arrogant jerks. And the more we get to know them as individuals, the better they are as a team. It’d be stupid not to make Leia fall in love with the only other character who can match her awesomeness.

And attractiveness.

And finally, you know how everyone talks about Disney princesses having unrealistically perfect hair? Well…Leia outdoes most of them in that area, too. And she’s not even a cartoon. She also wears several fabulous outfits (minus the slave-girl costume, of course–grrrrr).

Ladies, can YOUR hair pull off that style? Nope, because YOU don’t have the Force.

So yeah, when it comes to being a fantastic princess, Leia was ahead of the game even before she was officially competing. In fact, you know what, forget princesses. All hail the queen!

Namarie,
Aldy

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May 2015 Fandom

Star Wars Life Advice

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life so far, it’s this: there is a Star Wars quote for every occasion.

You will seldom find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

Is he talking about Mos Eisley…or YouTube?

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

It’s the perfect comeback for anyone who thinks you can’t finish an assignment in one night, get caught up on a five-season show in a week, or read 50 books in a year. Darth Vader knows how to shut up the haters.

No! Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try.

Actually, in all seriousness, I say this to myself all the time. If you’re going to do something challenging, you better commit. There’s nothing worse than trying and then giving up halfway through because you didn’t want to actually work at it.

Anyway, Yoda is great when you want mystical guru advice, but for a good insult, one must look to Princess Leia.

Aren’t you a little short for a Storm Trooper?

Will somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way?

Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking…nerf-herder!

Han, on the other hand, is good at inspirational pep talks…as long as he’s talking to/about himself.

Never tell me the odds!

And nobody’s better at avoiding awkward conversations.

Sorry about the mess.

*blasts intercom* Boring conversation anyway.

Shut him up or shut him down!

Fly casual.

Then there’s the all-purpose:

I have a bad feeling about this.

And the universal greeting/farewell:

May the Force be with you.

And the ultimate pickup line/marriage proposal:

I love you.

I know.

Yep, you know you have a major problem if it can’t be fixed with a cup of tea and a Star Wars quote. And if you’re unfortunate enough to run across a problem that big, you can always resort to crying:

We’re doomed!

Namarie,
Aldy

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May 2015 Fandom

Fandom of the Month: Star Wars

Happy Star Wars Day, to time travellers everywhere!

Sorry–I really did mean to start this month’s fandom on May the Fourth, but you know how it is when you have three jobs and a Star Wars marathon to watch. Anyway, the merry month of May will indeed be dedicated to what, for many people, was their first fandom and their earliest introduction to the whole sci-fi genre. This franchise is such a fixture in Western culture that it’s not even all that “geeky” to own a Darth Vader t-shirt or say you’ve watched Star Wars X amount of times. It’s just kinda normal and expected, like an unhealthy obsession with football. You’re only a true Star Wars geek if you know the species and backstories of all the creatures walking by in the background, the names of all Luke Skywalker’s kids, and what exactly a “parsec” is. (It’s a unit of distance equal to 3.085677586 x 10 to the sixteenth meters–which raises all kinds of questions about the Falcon’s kessel run.)

Now, before I post anything about this fandom, I must make a disclaimer: I have not read any of the books in the Expanded Universe, except a few Jedi Apprentice novels when I was a kid, nor do I play video games (SW-related or otherwise). I did watch the prequel trilogy years ago, but I have been trying to forget about it ever since. For me, Star Wars is the original trilogy–the one my parents grew up with, starring my soulmate Han Solo, made in the days when the innocent ears of sci-fi lovers had not yet been sullied by the words “Jar Jar Binks.”

So you may say I’m not a full-on Star Wars fan, and you may be right. But I’m sure my love for the movies that first led me to look up at the night sky and imagine all the worlds that could be waiting in a “galaxy far, far away” is enough to rival that of any “true” fan.

Plus, did I mention Han is my soulmate?

This month, look for fun and games relating to the original Star Wars trilogy, its characters and worlds. Also look for speculation about the upcoming EPISODE VII (!!!) and perhaps–perhaps–a few forays beyond the core of the galaxy and into the EU. Stay tuned!

Namarie,
Aldy

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