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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Nerdish Musings

Aldy’s Nerd Blog 2: Age of Adulthood

Mae Govannen, mellyn nin!

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting a lot lately. I’ve encountered a number of life changes over the past two months. Without going into details, I’m having to become an adult rather fast. New apartment, new job, the whole shebang. And acting like an adult is shockingly time-consuming. I hope to start posting regularly again now, but my posts will look a little different.

The Fandom of the Month format has been a lot of fun for a long time, but I think it’s time to retire it. My reasons are twofold: First, some months are busier for me than others. As a result, some “fandoms of the month” get more attention than others, which doesn’t seem quite fair. For example, I posted a lot about Star Wars in May, but the poor superheroes only got about three posts in June. It’s not that I like Star Wars any better than superhero movies, it’s just that I was away from my home laptop, state, and/or country for most of that month and didn’t have time to write.

Second, and I really hate to admit this….I’m running out of fandoms. I like a lot of nerdy things, but after two and a half years of trying to highlight a different fandom every month, I am nearing the bottom of the barrel. If I keep going at this rate, I’ll end up posting about – *shudder* – anime!

I also enjoy lots of things that don’t fit neatly into a fandom, as you may have noticed. I like writing movie and book reviews,, and it’s hard to find a place for those on this blog. Or at least it has been, until now. From now on, I’m going to take a somewhat looser approach to blogging. Instead of sticking with one fandom for a whole month, I’ll blog about whatever nerdy thing I’m most currently interested in – whether it’s a 100-year-old book of poetry, a 50-year-old TV show, or the latest Marvel blockbuster. I’ll also do a few posts about nerd culture itself, since that’s something that’s always interested me. And in August and September, I will be taking a fangirl’s tour of the UK, so expect to see some reports about all the awesomeness I encounter.

Anyway, I hope nobody is too disappointed by the change! Don’t worry, there will still be lots of silly lists and long rants about why X movie/book/show/album cover is the BEST THING EVER and why X thing about it bugs me regardless. I’m just mixing things up a bit.

As always, stay tuned!

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May 2015 Fandom

How Star Wars *Could* Have Ended

A wise man once said, “In my experience there is no such thing as luck.” You got that right, Obi-Wan. Someone must have been orchestrating the events of Star Wars in order for things to line up the way they did. If even one of the following things had happened, the rebellion would have been doomed.

Star Wars Quotes That Would Have Saved The Empire // funny pictures - funny photos - funny images - funny pics - funny quotes - #lol #humor #funnypictures

On second thought, maybe everyone in the Empire is just stupid. Either way, Luke and Co. have a lot to be grateful for.

Namarie,
Aldy

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May 2015 Fandom

A Question to the Expanded Universe

Like I’ve said before, I have yet to read any of the Star Wars novels–except a few of the young adult ones a loooong time ago. This is not because I have anything against them, but simply because there are ten bazillion of them, and I’m sure they’re not all good, and I don’t want to waste my time wading through trash to find a decent book. So I’ve got a question for my more knowledgeable readers:

Which Star Wars books should I read? Which are the most exciting, best written, and closest to the spirit of the movies?

Whoever answers first gets a prize! Just kidding, I don’t have anything to give away. But you will get my gratitude and affection, and I’ll be sure to mention you when I later review the book. 🙂 So, suggestions?

Namarie,
Aldy

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May 2015 Fandom

Revenge of the Fashion Designers

I was wracking my brain to think of something positive to say about the prequel trilogy–I mean it IS technically Star Wars canon, so I guess it deserves some mention this month–and I think I finally found something.

Padme Amidala’s outfits are spectacular.

The royal makeup, too. It’s so unique and interesting.

I mean, she’s like Queen Elizabeth I in SPACE!

She even looks good when she’s “undercover”…

…or dead. Ophelia in space!

Now with all those fabulous dresses, you’d think she’d be a mildly interesting character, wouldn’t you? Ah, well. At least her hair had personality.

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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