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Posts tagged “The Force Awakens

Gripes, Likes & Theories: Rogue One

If you haven’t seen Rogue One yet, consider yourself warned… ***SPOILERS***

Pardon the stream-of-consciousness post; it may get a bit messy. I’ve seen Rogue One five (yes, 5!) times in the theater now. The latest was on my 13th wedding anniversary (yes, 13th!), which happened to be the same sad day that our favorite Princess passed away.

Though I never had the honor of meeting her, Carrie Fisher always felt like a friend. It never occurred to me as a child that she was old enough to be my mom—she was Princess Leia, and she was my friend. As an adult, of course I appreciate the many facets of her career, advocacy and person. Her biting sarcasm and quick wit balanced with sincerity, something I will always admire. Watching Rogue One hours after learning of her death was harrowing (ironically, my 4th viewing was just hours before her heart attack). The public display of emotion got a bit uglier than I had hoped, what with the heaving shoulders and snot snorting. On the bright side, the Vader bit is impressive even with tear-blurred vision.


Things I loved about R1:

Literally everything in the last hour or so of the film. The battle, the tragic ends*, VADER. Seriously, when the lightsaber illuminates Vader in that dark corridor…ugh, I love it all so hard. That scene is everything I’ve ever wanted from Vader. And it all makes me cry. A. LOT.

*yes, even my Imperial sympathizing heart hurt over that. That said, this should lay to rest rumors of Jyn being Rey’s mom.

For me, the part in which the film really starts feeling like a Star Wars story is as they’re escaping Jedha. From there, I find myself far more engaged in the plot and connecting more with the characters. I really thought at least one of our heroes would make it out, but this ending was much better from an urgency and storytelling angle. That last scene with Jyn and Cassian is soul-crushing in the best way possible. Their chemistry was a brilliant mix of platonic and maybe-could’ve-been-more. I LOVE Cassian! I thought he was as well written as he was acted, which is impressive for a complex character. I would be compelled to watch anything with Diego Luna in it now. Really enjoyed Donnie Yen’s performance as well.

I so appreciate how Gareth Edwards worked it into a piece that’s so layered and nuanced that it feels like a sort of love note to Star Wars. The many thoughtful, lovely references in this feel less nostalgia-gimmicky than TFA (which I also loved but still). It’s a beautiful bridge between the prequels and original trilogy that makes both Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope better.

I think subsequent viewings really do make a big difference for this movie since there just so much to absorb. The first time around, I was delighted to see the original Red Leader and Gold Leader (if you haven’t seen how they made that happen, read this)…though I’m not sure I needed to know how/why Luke inherited the Red Five call sign. I also got a kick out of the complete-fanservice-but-still-fun cameos by Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba. Took me until the third viewing to finally notice the blue milk in Galen & Lyra Erso’s hovel. I think the CG is also less bothersome after the initial shock. Is ‘shock’ the right word? Whatever.

Except for the vaguely cartoonish mouth movements, I thought the CG on Tarkin & Leia was surprisingly good. My only complaint is that there was perhaps too much full-face Tarkin; it took away the “is it really him?” intrigue and turned it into “oh look, CG!”

K2-SO is probably my favorite droid now (he and BB-8 blow the originals out of the water for me). Not only is K2-SO better than C-3PO, but Alan Tudyk knocks the socks off of Anthony Daniels.


Things I didn’t love about R1:
Saw Gerrera/Forest Whitaker. His existence beyond rescuing Jyn as a child seemed overly contrived and almost entirely unnecessary. Every scene that he’s in makes me eye-roll, and I wasn’t sad when he ‘sacrificed’ himself to the imploding planet. In fact, I would have been glad that he bit it, except that I was eye-rolling so hard from his over-the-top acting that it really just annoyed me. Maybe part of the reason I didn’t like him was the way the character was written, but Whitaker’s melodramatic delivery of the lines didn’t help. His “save the dream” line was arguably the worst in the movie, too—even worse than Vader’s pun about choking on aspirations. And the “truth monster” was just awful. That was definitely the parallel to the rathtars in TFA that should’ve found the cutting room floor.

The score. I will say my frustration with this has diminished a bit with each additional screening. My understanding is that Giacchino had very little time to compose, and for that I am in awe with how relatively good it is. Nevertheless, it lacked a lot of the emotional weight of a John Williams score. It felt particularly lackluster in the title sequence after the prologue.

Speaking of the title sequence, I really missed the opening scroll and classic Star Wars theme. I do understand that Lucasfilm is trying to make it clear that these are not Skywalker-centric stories but I’m not sure how chopping out the expository scroll and iconic strains are supposed to do that.

R2-D2/C-3PO cameo. I guess I didn’t really dislike this, per say, but I think that scene felt really shoehorned on Yavin. Had we seen them on the Tantive cruiser, it would’ve made (more) sense. It seems Threepio has worn out his welcome with me.


Outstanding questions about R1:
Do Death Troopers speak a different language, or were they just suffering from Bane unintelligible syndrome? Friends have speculated they utilize a spy-code that scrambles their transmissions outside of their helmets. I’ll buy that, but I also would’ve liked to hear them speak actual words instead of garbled zombie sounds.

Just how did Evazan & Ponda get off Jedha so we could eventually meet them at the cantina? I assume they were already headed to their departing ship.

Also, why didn’t they show the Mustafar planet ‘tag’ like all of the other planets? Probably just trying to surprise everybody with Vader’s lair but the inconsistency bugged me ever so slightly. Regarding Mustafar, I LOVED seeing Vader’s castle and half expected it to be Hayden Christensen’s head in the bacta tank!

During Jyn’s flashback aboard the U-Wing, we saw her family enjoying drinks with Krennic. Did the view out the apartment windows look like Coruscant to anybody else? Started reading the “Catalyst” novel today and it mentions Galen & Lyra marrying on Coruscant so I think we can assume it was supposed to be.

I want to know more about the relationship between Krennic and Tarkin—I’m currently reading “Catalyst” and hoping to find out more about this. It seems a nice parallel to the dynamic of Kylo Ren and Hux in TFA; almost like a sibling rivalry.

And I guess that about sums it up for the moment…largely because my lunch break is over and I have to get back to work. What say you? Did you love Rogue One, hate it, feel conflicted? Let’s chat in the comments!


Gripes, Likes & Theories: The Force Awakens

My last post was sentimental, so here’s the nitty gritty. SPOILERS FOLLOW. Proceed at your own risk. And for the love of Luke, go see the movie already!

First things first: I am historically an Imperial Apologist and Sith Sympathizer, but I’ll be danged if Rey, Finn and BB-8 (and to a lesser extent Poe) aren’t wooing me over to the good side. Like Kylo Ren, I’m being torn apart, tempted by the light.
Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are so darn charming! And BB-8—contrary to my initial thoughts from way back in November 2014 when the very first teaser trailer released—is utterly adorable. I hate that I love them so much.

Oh, and I 100% support the idea of Rey being Luke’s daughter. At this point, I will be terribly disappointed if she isn’t. Luke’s lightsaber (from his father before him) calls to her. She’s a fine pilot with mechanical aptitude. She beckons the saber to her during the snowy duel at Starkiller Base, to the strains of the Luke/Jedi theme music, which made me openly weep. R2-D2 clearly reactivates when she comes on the Resistance base [yes, I know JJ said it was because BB-8 woke him up, but he also said that Benedict Cumberbatch absolutely was not Khan so I don’t believe anything he says that could potentially reveal a spoiler]. And, most importantly, Luke himself gets a little bleary-eyed when he sees her at the end*. Though I do have a love/hate with that ending. I wish the movie was more self-contained rather than a near-literal cliffhanger ending. I do, however, love that we didn’t actually see Luke until the end. So many feels!

*I hypothesize he thought her dead along with his wife and the rest of his Jedi academy. My dearest thinks that Kylo Ren (Rey’s cousin) spared her life and dropped her off on Jakku. I’ll add to his theory and suggest there was probably some sort of Force memory-wipe involved such that she doesn’t remember him.

As for Kylo Ren, I was pleasantly surprised with him. The physical manifestations of his instability with regards to the janky lightsaber and temper tantrums…brilliant! I also love that he’s struggling to fully embrace the Dark Side; it makes him so much more dimensional than your everyday villain. Do wish he would’ve kept his helmet on longer—a big reveal on the bridge with Han would’ve been a nice touch. And holy tauntauns, I want his hair!

Speaking of the son of Solo, I’m curious what you good people think about a particular line when he’s interrogating Rey: “Don’t be afraid, I feel it too.” Adam Driver delivers it in a very nuanced, compelling way and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. In fact, I think that entire scene works very well, save for the quasi-rapey “I can take whatever I want” bit.

Apart from Kylo Ren, I was rather disappointed with the First Order. I had HUGE love for Captain Phasma going into this, and I left feeling deflated. I don’t buy that the character would’ve just complied with Finn/Han/Chewie’s demands without putting up a fight [this is the part of the show where people write in the comments about how she had an angry Wookiee with a crossbow staring her down].

They sibling-rivalry dynamic between Hux and Kylo Ren leaves me wanting more information about the structure of the First Order. Did they both join ranks about the same time? It seems, of course, that Supreme Leader Snoke is in the position once occupied by Emperor Palpatine but we know nothing else about him. I side with those who think Supreme Leader Snoke is really Darth Plagueis. In fact, I’ll be rather disappointed if we don’t learn that he cheated death at the hands of Palpatine then pulled all of the subsequent puppet strings.

With regards to storytelling, it didn’t hit all of the beats I expected or hoped. The fact that it parallels Episode IV doesn’t bother me so much as the fact that it feels like the lazy version of it. Whereas plans were carefully stolen—huzzah, Rogue One!—and analyzed to identify the first Death Star’s weakness, Starkiller Base was surveyed for just a couple of minutes and then off they went. It all felt overly contrived. Moreover, the destruction of the Republic planets had no emotional weight, as we knew nothing of them. At least we felt Leia’s emotion when Alderaan bit the dust.

I was also a little bummed that the John Williams score didn’t hold more stirring treasures than it did. Rey’s theme stands apart, as does Kylo Ren’s, but it’s otherwise pretty forgettable. And while I initially hated the song from Maz Kanata’s watering hole (composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda), I was bummed when it didn’t show up on the soundtrack. It has grown on me in ways I would rather pretend didn’t exist.

Maz Kanata herself wins a spot on my “likes” list for the film. During the course of production, we were told only that the lovely Lupita Nyong’o was performing a motion-capture creature; I sensed a disturbance in the force. When rumored concept art surfaced, I was sure it was bad news. When the movie released, it was as if the skies opened and we were granted a gift. Maz is wonderful! She’s one of the better CG characters I can recall seeing, matching up to the likes of Groot or Rocket Raccoon. To top it off, her personality is affable and her wisdom hearkens back to the Yoda of yesteryear rather than the obnoxious prequel Yoda.

Something wholly unrelated that bothered me ever so slightly is Finn’s status within the Stormtrooper ranks. At the beginning of the film, we’re lead to believe the troops on Jakku are an elite squad. Later, however, Finn says that he worked in sanitation and defected on his first mission. Doesn’t add up.

The opening scene between Poe and Max Von Sydow felt like a missed opportunity, too. Title crawl reference an old ally, so I assumed it would be someone we recognized (if only by name). Alas, just a random old guy. Of all places, that felt like a good time to throw in some fan service.

Another missed opportunity…in fact, one that I believe should have been wholly scrapped, was the Han scene with the Guavian Death Squad, Kanjiklub and rathtars. It was so obvious it had been considerably chopped down for time that it should’ve just gone away altogether. It was the one scene where I felt Harrison Ford didn’t deliver, and I can’t say I blame him since it was so silly. The only redeeming moment was Rey closing the bay doors on the monster that held Finn and then her response of “that was lucky” when he told her about the apparent miracle. Okay, the moment where Chewie agreed that Han had let them down on more than one occasion was pretty fun, too.

Chewie was a far better addition to this film than any prior. In fact, this was probably the first time I felt any real affinity for him [ducks to avoid flying bottles and tomatoes]. The “You must be very brave” scene with the Resistance-base medic checking his arm cracked me up. The dejarik/chess game felt a bit forced (ha!), though I did dig Chewie’s reaction to it. I also enjoyed seeing the crossbow get some love. And the way he hugged Leia…awwwww.

Dear, dear Leia. Carrie Fisher is a galactic gem, and I was glad to see her back in the sass. Her role in the film, though, felt like it was written a bit flat. And that “fashionable gas-station attendant” outfit, oy! I wouldn’t trade her for all of the Meryl Streeps in the world, though.

So I guess that kind of sums up my thought process…though there are roughly a billion other opinions and related musings that I haven’t managed to dig out of my brain yet. What say you? Comment below & let’s discuss!


Star Wars Is Like My Cat

It’s been over a week now since The Force Awakens (TFA) came into our lives. And after 4 viewings, including the 7-movie marathon on opening day, I feel like I can finally summarize my feelings about the newest addition to the Star Wars saga.

Growing up, I had the sweetest, most gentle cat in the world—his name, ironically, was Goliath. He was there for every milestone, every moment of joy, every pang of sadness, snuggling and unleashing the full power of cats’ magical calming agent: purring. He was loyal and faithful and wonderful. Just like the original trilogy of Star Wars.

Goliath became one with the Force, so to speak, when I was 16 years old in 1999. Coincidentally, that was the same year that the prequel trilogy dawned.

In 2002—the same year Attack of the Clones released—I adopted a feisty little kitten whom I named Storm (middle name Trooper). Storm was the exact opposite of Goliath; where he had been solid black with yellowish-green eyes, she was a cream and gray tabby with piercing blue eyes. His utter devotion and love was answered with her indifference and bitey-ness. Like Goliath before her, she too was a remarkably good snuggler with an even stronger aptitude for purring me to sleep.

Over the next 12 years, Storm and I had an undeniable love/hate relationship. She exhibited violent mood shifts that usually ended with a new set of bloody teeth marks on my arms or legs. In spite of the scar-inducing teeth, we grew into a codependent pair. When she was good, she was heartbreakingly good, and when she was bad…well, most people would’ve put her down. Not unlike the prequel trilogy, if you catch my meaning.

Too mean to go out any other way, Storm succumbed to colon cancer in January. A long-haired tortoiseshell fluffball named Rue joined our family a month later. You won’t be surprised by this point in the post to find that my feelings about her virtually mirror how I feel about The Force Awakens.

When I first met Rue at the shelter (her name was Zeda then…no thanks), it was a wholly bittersweet experience. I was super excited at the prospect of getting a new kitten but I was emotionally exhausted from losing Storm. Rue, to her credit, was ridiculously wonderful on her own accord and gave me no choice but to enjoy her presence…and yet, I came away perplexed. I wanted to love her, there was little reason not to, but I needed time to process.

I got time, as Rue needed her spay operation before we could bring her home. When we picked her up a couple of days later, I made a conscientious effort to look at her with fresh eyes.

Rue, like The Force Awakens, isn’t here to replace the previous “friends” who helped shape my being, but rather to supplement. Some of her behavior recalls that of my earlier loves and my heart swells with nostalgia. Her personality and quirks are uniquely hers, which brings me utter joy. And some of the things she does…well, they kind of irk me. She’s not perfect, that’s for sure. Some of the irksome behavior is just bad and some of it is largely because it falls flat compared to the grand narrative I’ve created in my head.

There’s a lot to love about TFA, and I think I can say now with certainty that I do love it. Even with last night’s 4th viewing, it coaxed tears out of me during several scenes; some happy, some sad. That’s something few films can boast. But cats, man, cats hit me in the feels every time!

Rue is not impressed with Leia buns

Rue is not impressed with Leia buns

Spoilerrific ‘Gripes & Likes’ post coming soon!

 


SW WEEK IS HERE!

It’s finally here, you guys!!!!! In just a couple of sleeps we’ll be getting our first full look at The Force Awakens, and I’m downright giddy. GIDDY!

Because we’re this close I’m steering clear of social media until after the 7pm Thursday (CST) showing. I might make some remote posts during the movie marathon on Thursday, but I’m sure as heck not reading anything that gets posted. With friends and fellow fans across the globe getting their glimpse before I get mine, I don’t want to chance anything. Here’s a little variation on what I posted to my Facebook account yesterday in advance of my quarantine…

’Twas the week of new Star Wars, and in the Amethystos house
One girl couldn’t stop stirring—You guessed it, Severus’s spouse. (that would be me)

The tickets were purchased with months left to spare,
And now the time came, it so soon would be there;
Even when nestled all snug in my bed,
Visions of TIE Fighters danced in my head.

With trailers, tv spots and internet on tap,
Avoiding the spoilers feels like IT’S A TRAP!
Driver, Ridley, Boyega, Ford, Fisher and Hamill,
Old heroes, new villains and droids, worlds and mammals,

In J.J. we trust, it won’t be too long now,
Prepare the tears, gasps and the re-sound-ing “WOW”s.
Of course, if it’s bad, you’ll hear all of that too,
As if millions of voices cried out a “screw you!”

So now hear me exclaim as I log out of sight—
“Happy Star Wars to all, I’ll be back Thursday night!”

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH US


#TheWardrobeAwakens

One month from today I’ll be sitting with a bunch of kindred spirits in a movie theater watching a 7-film Star Wars marathon. The fact that we are only a month away from the 7th installment has me more than a little excited!!!

As such, today marks day 1 of #TheWardrobeAwakens, wherein I will don Star Wars attire every day leading up to the new film. The goal is to wear something different each day, though I may have to recycle a couple of shirts as some have apparently shrunk in the wash…or something like that.

I’ll have to get a little creative tomorrow and Thursday as I take in the wonder of Mockingjay Part 2 (advance screening then opening night). After all, I’ve got Hunger Games fangirling to express, too.

Lead the way, Captain Phasma!

UPDATE: I’ll be posting daily pics on Instagram. You can find me there or check out the widget to the right of this page.

Phasma Her Universe