Haiku Me Friday! Taking a Brief Look at Han Solo (and a rant about recent movie news)

Will we get through this?
Such a ridiculous scheme
Let’s hope my luck holds

I like Han Solo, but I was never in love with him like other fans seemed to be. I see the appeal – he’s confident (or cocky depending on how you look at it), got a badass streak, and is very handsome.

(In my opinion, that’s a recipe for a disaster if you fall in love with someone like that.)

Yet Han has a lot of experience in getting out of trouble. You can’t be a good smuggler without being able to get out of tight spots and talk your way out of sticky situations.

So how did he feel about taking on this mission to Alderaan, only to be trapped in the Death Star and trying to get out? Rescuing a princess wasn’t part of the original bargain either. I wonder if he stumbled along, desperately hoping that something changes and his luck continues to pull through. I feel like you can sense Luke’s desperation in those scenes, along with a bit of Leia’s frustration and angst as she tries to organize all four of them into some semblance of a small mission.

But Han? He clearly gets annoyed at Leia and thinks Luke is too green, but his confident swagger never changes. The only doubt we see him show is in relying on Obi-Wan to disable the tractor beam. Though Han likes to “fly casual”, I’m sure leaving such a big part of this impromptu operation to someone he barely knows and thinks is slightly crazy is difficult for him.

The funny thing is – I feel like Han Solo is one of those characters that we know the least amount of information on. And I like that! A lot. He manages to get his way out of most situations because, well, he’s Han Solo. Part of the joy of his character is that we don’t need to delve into who he is, as we do with Luke and Leia. He’s a steady character that we definitely see changes within, but he’s a supporting character. Though people may argue differently as Solo is part of the original three heroes, he’s still not the main story line as the main story line follows the Skywalkers .

(Now I’m going to go on a rant. I did not expect this so I apologize in advance.)

It bothers me that we are getting a Han Solo standalone movie because I’d rather his history not be explained, like Yoda. The latest news of the directors being fired and replaced by Ron Howard makes me cringe. I thought the one saving grace of this Solo movie was the directors: Phil Lord and Chris Miller. They know how to do funny, and sometimes quirky, comedy. I thought this could be an interesting twist on a movie. You can look at Disney as either a Sith Lord or Jedi Master, but either way, they are holding the reins tightly on the new Star Wars franchise (sounds so weird to even call it a “franchise”) and I know what happened. Lord and Miller were probably too used to having creative freedom on the set to do what they want and Kathleen Kennedy needs to have the last word. And last sentence. And last paragraph.

While I appreciate that in some instances and I understand the delicate line Disney is walking, I disagree completely with a Han Solo movie. Therefore, if you are going to make a movie that I have yet to hear any fans be excited about (if any of you are out there – please pipe up!), let’s have it be creative. Let’s have it be different. If it’s a flop, then oh well. It’s not like a flop is going to stop Disney from churning out more Star Wars movies. They’ll still make money. Ron Howard is as different of a director as you’re going to get.

So where does this bring us with the Han Solo movie? Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised? I went in expecting to enjoy Rogue One but instead was really let down. Maybe if I go into the Solo movie expecting a horrible movie, I’ll enjoy it instead.

Or not.

I wish I could see the movie Lord and Miller were going to create. I’ll probably be forever wishing I saw it.

 

Over and out. MTFBWY on this summer weekend.

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Book Review: Choices of One

I like that I started 2015 off with a Star Wars novel.  I find that somehow fitting, seeing as this year is going to be a huge Star Wars year, what with the amping up of The Force Awakens.

Mei-Mei suggested Choices of One (by Timothy Zahn) to me almost 1 years ago in a random post, and Null definitely mentioned it as well…so thanks to you both – it somehow ended up on my reading list!  What makes it choices of oneso spectacular that it’s my first book of 2015 is that I have a reading list that ranges anywhere from 30-40 books on it at a time and I use random.org to pick the book I read next.  I had 34 books on my list, therefore giving me a 3% chance of actually getting this novel.  Anyway, I found that interesting because I’m looking for reasons that 2015 is going to be awesome and Star Wars filled.

I liked this novel SO much better than my last Legends book (still trying not to write EU), Dawn of the Jedi.  Which is funny, because if I think about what I’m looking for in a Star Wars novel it’s generally something that happens either way before the movies or way after the movies and therefore has no connection to the main characters.  Instead, Choices of One takes place between ANH and ESB and involves the three main heroes as well.

The first third of the book was boring for me.  I struggled with getting into it and found the character interactions between Han, Leia, and Luke to be halting and didn’t flow naturally.  On the flip side, I enjoyed the scenes with the commanders on the Star Destroyer and the scenes with Mara Jade…they kept me reading when I wanted to give up.  I forgot how much I missed reading about Mara.  Though loyal to the Empire and the Emperor at this point, there are still glimpses of the woman we will see her become through her relationship with Luke.

As the novel went on, I thought our three heroes began to find their groove and Zahn did a better job of reflecting what we saw from their characters in the movie onto his paper.  Particularly, I thought he did an amazing job with Luke.  At this point, Luke is not as serious or knowledgeable of the Force as he is by the end of the OT.  He brought to life a struggle Luke had with everyone thinking he is a competent Jedi just because he has a lightsaber and blew up the Death Star, contrasted with how he feels that he knows absolutely nothing except the small training from Ben Kenobi.  I loved reading it and found it weirdly relatable as it can happen to many of us, especially if we start a new job.

When the novel started to all come together toward the end and we find out that Mara, the Hand of Judgment (a group of stormtrooper deserters), and the Rebels are all going to be at the same planet at the same time, I got a little nervous.  I was afraid of Luke and Mara having an interaction pre-Heir to the Empire and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle that.  Thankfully, Zahn threw them in a situation together where they actually do not have a conversation and only briefly glimpse each other.  It’s hard to say too much without spoiling the novel for anyone that wants to read it, but suffice it to say that my fears were unwarranted.

Pros:

  • Overall, Zahn did a good job with keeping the three heroes true to form with personality quirks and attitudes.
  • I liked that there were a lot of larger issues and questions that were brought to life and made you think. For instance, Han’s moral struggles at the end of the novel when he is incognito as an Imperial Officer.  He faced a decisions where he did not have to help the Imperials in their emergency situation and they would all die, which is a benefit to the Rebel cause, or he could help them because in a sense they were a ship full of innocent people facing a common enemy.
  • Null would be happy about this: I actually really, really enjoyed all chapters that had to do with the back cover choices of oneHand of Judgment, a band of deserter stormtroopers who are this murky shade of grey. Are they good or bad?  I loved reading personalities!  In stormtroopers!  Mind blown.  But seriously, that was something I didn’t expect to like so much and I’m actually considering adding Allegiance to my book list because of how much I enjoyed them.
  • It was great revisiting Thrawn and Mara Jade again (though separately). I was afraid of overkill on Thrawn, but he was written in there just enough that there was no overload.
  • My favorite chapters/sections to read was actually Commander Pellaeon’s storyline on the Star Destroyer Chimaera. I loved how he wanted to take everything one step further on his job and showed that there was competency within the Empire.
  • I liked the setup it played between ANH and ESB. For instance, the relationship and conversations Han has with General Rieekan explains more of ESB.  Little moments like that were a nice touch.

Cons:

  • The first third of the book dragged. I couldn’t get into it and was frustrated whenever I had to read chapters with the three heroes.  I felt like it took a while for Zahn to get into the groove of depicting them well, but it could also have been my resistance to actually reading them.
  • It was easily guessable. Don’t go into this novel actually hoping for a surprise at the end.  This is mara jade choices of oneno Game of Thrones and I had figured everything out by the halfway point.  Still, there’s something to be said that I kept reading even if I pretty much knew what was going to happen.
  • Is it just me or was Mara a little less harsh in this book? This could very well just be me since I haven’t read the original Thrawn Trilogy in 10+ years, but I have a distinct memory of her being a little less reasonable.
  • The Luke/Mara scene where they almost-meet-but-not-quite seems a liiiiiitle far-fetched. I was obviously happy they didn’t meet but it still seemed slightly unbelievable.  I also thought it out of character for Mara to just brush aside the name “Skywalker” that she references Vader was obsessively hunting.  I feel like Mara would have done a more thorough investigation on who he is if the name linked to someone Vader was searching for.

Overall, I was much happier with this novel than with Dawn of the Jedi.  It showed that I can read Legends books with the main characters and not give up entirely.  I would rate this 3.5/5 stars.  I liked it more than average, but I couldn’t love it enough to give it 4 stars.

Scene it on Friday – ANH Scene #58

ANH lightsaber battle

I never got the impression that Ben was “under increasing pressure and strain, as if an invisible weight were being placed upon him.” I just rewatched the clip on YouTube, but didn’t see anything to really signify this tension.

I think it would have been interesting to actually see that weird spaz. It would have shown us how Sith and Jedi not just fight with lightsabers and weapons, but with something much more invisible. It would have given us a slightly larger view into how the Force worked…especially this early on, presuming you saw it in 1977.

Also, notice how the script calls for Ben Kenobi taking the offensive stance and Vader taking the defense. Knowing what we now know with the Jedi, Sith, etc., shouldn’t it have been the other way around? According to Yoda, “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack”, which I also briefly touched upon on another Scene it on Friday post. Since this is the first Star Wars movie and maybe Lucas hadn’t fleshed out all the kinks with the Jedi yet, I’ll let it slide.

old ben obi wan vaderCan you imagine what it must be like? For both of them…seeing each other after 19 years? The last time they saw one another, Vader had just taken part of the Jedi Purge and was screaming hateful words at Obi-Wan after a heated (pun!) lightsaber fight. Now Vader is this towering monster of calm, dark energy, which is almost scarier than his tumultuous emotion at the end of ROTS.

Do you think Obi-Wan is nervous in this scene? Frightened? I have always thought that he was, but I’m not sure if I’m projecting my own emotions onto him. When I first saw this, I was frightened by this confrontation of Vader, so maybe I assumed Obi-Wan would also be frightened. He just moves so tentatively toward Vader, as if knowing that this might happen, but hoping it wouldn’t. Maybe he dreaded the confrontation, but when he finally met Vader, he was calm.

Why does Vader say that Obi-Wan’s powers are weak? How can they be weaker? It’s not like a car, which gets rusty after too many years of neglect. (I should really read Kenobi by John Jackson Miller) I’m sure Obi-Wan is just as strong in the Force as he was 19 years ago.

Perhaps, Vader’s strength in the Force is now so completely in tune to the dark side that Obi-Wan’s power feels so much weaker. Though Yoda tells us the dark side is not stronger, I’m sure it seems stronger to those wielding it.

I feel bad for Luke in this scene, as he watches Obi-Wan just disappear. How was he to know that Old Ben would be able to come back and still mentorLuke NO! him through a Force ghost? It’s been a hell of a 48-hour period (I’m guessing, I don’t actually know how long it was) for Luke. His Aunt and Uncle have been viciously burned to their deaths, he’s had to escape Tatooine with an ex-Jedi (that’s a death sentence from the Empire, fo sho), and then gets trapped in the Death Star. Now he’s running around evading stormtroopers and trying to rescue a princess currently scheduled to be terminated. He probably assumed that everything was going to be okay because Obi-Wan will make everything okay.

So I always felt this pang of empathy for him whenever he shouts that “No!” in the docking bay. It’s also a completely stupid thing to do, but I think he’s just in shock. Like…WHAT?! Everything is just changing so fast for him. He’s only known Kenobi a short time, but I feel like he felt like he was going to be with him a long while.

But what I don’t completely understand is WHY would you stay there? Get to the Falcon, kid! I’ll blame it on the shock factor again. Maybe he has some of his father’s anger that consumes him for a small time period and all he wants is revenge…against his father. LOL.

I enjoyed reading the script for this scene. It gave some more in depth insight to the making of this pivotal moment and after reading this, it’s interesting to see what was translated onto the screen.

obi wan duels vader

INTERIOR: DEATH STAR — HALLWAY LEADING TO MAIN FORWARD BAY.

Ben hurries along one of the tunnels leading to the hangar where the pirateship waits. Just before he reaches the hangar, Darth Vader steps into view at the end of the tunnel, not ten feet away. Vader lights his saber. Ben also ignites his and steps slowly forward.

VADER: I’ve been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete.

Ben Kenobi moves with elegant ease into a classical offensive position. The fearsome Dark Knight takes a defensive stance.

VADER: When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master.

BEN: Only a master of evil, Darth.

The two Galactic warriors stand perfectly still for a few moments, sizing each other up and waiting for the right moment. Ben seems to be under increasing pressure and strain, as if an invisible weight were being placed upon him. He shakes his head and, blinking, tries to clear his eyes.

VADER: You should not have come back.

Ben makes a sudden lunge at the huge warrior but is checked by a lightning movement of The Sith. A masterful slash stroke by Vader is blocked by the old Jedi. Another of the Jedi’s blows is blocked, then countered. Ben moves around the Dark

Lord and starts backing into the massive starship hangar. The two powerful warriors stand motionless for a few moments with laser swords locked in mid-air, creating a low buzzing sound.

VADER: Your powers are weak, old man.

BEN: You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

Their lightsabers continue to meet in combat.

INTERIOR: DEATH STAR — MAIN FORWARD BAY.

Han Solo and Chewbacca, their weapons in hand, lean back against the wall surveying the forward bay, watching the Imperial stormtroopers make their rounds of the hangar.

HAN: Didn’t we just leave this party?

Chewbacca growls a reply, as Luke and the princess join them.

HAN: What kept you?

LEIA: We ran into some old friends.

LUKE: Is the ship all right?

HAN: Seems okay, if we can get to it. Just hope the old man got the tractor beam out of commission.

INTERIOR: DEATH STAR — HALLWAY.

Vader and Ben Kenobi continue their powerful duel. As they hit their lightsabers together, lightning flashes on impact. Troopers look on in interest as the old Jedi and Dark Lord of The Sith fight. Suddenly Luke spots the battle from his group’s vantage point.

LUKE: Look!

Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie look up and see Ben and Vader emerging from the hallways on the far side of the docking bay.

INTERIOR: DEATH STAR — DOCKING BAY.

Threepio and Artoo-Detoo are in the center of the Death Star’s Imperial docking bay.

THREEPIO: Come on, Artoo, we’re going!

Threepio ducks out of sight as the seven stormtroopers who were guarding the starship rush past them heading towards Ben and The Sith Knight. He pulls on Artoo.

INTERIOR: DEATH STAR — HALLWAY.

Solo, Chewie, Luke, and Leia tensely watch the duel. The troops rush toward the battling knights.

HAN: Now’s our chance! Go!

They start for the Millennium Falcon. Ben sees the troops charging toward him and realizes that he is trapped. Vader takes advantage of Ben’s momentary distraction and brings his mighty lightsaber down on the old man. Ben manages to deflect the blow and swiftly turns around.

The old Jedi Knight looks over his shoulder at Luke, lifts his sword from Vader’s then watches his opponent with a serene look on his face.

Vader brings his sword down, cutting old Ben in half. Ben’s cloak falls to the floor in two parts, but Ben is not in it. Vader is puzzled at Ben’s disappearance and pokes at the empty cloak. As the guards are distracted, the adventurers and the robots reach the starship. Luke sees Ben cut in two and starts for him. Aghast, he yells out.

LUKE: No!

The stormtroopers turn toward Luke and begin firing at him. The robots are already moving up the ramp into the Millennium Falcon, while Luke, transfixed by anger and awe, returns their fire. Solo joins in the laserfire. Vader looks up and advances toward them, as one of his troopers is struck down.

HAN: (to Luke) Come on!

LEIA: Come on! Luke, its too late!

HAN: Blast the door! Kid!

Luke fires his pistol at the door control panel, and it explodes. The door begins to slide shut. Three troopers charge forward firing laser bolts, as the door slides to a close behind them, shutting Vader and the other troops out of the docking bay. A stormtrooper lies dead at the feet of his on rushing compatriots. Luke starts for the advancing troops, as Solo and Leia move up the ramp into the pirateship. He fires, hitting a stormtrooper, who crumbles to the floor.

BEN’S VOICE: Run, Luke! Run!

Luke looks around to see where the voice came from. He turns toward the pirateship, ducking Imperial gunfire from the troopers and races into the ship.

Scene it on Friday – ESB Scene #85 (and other ramblings)

i know where luke is

Yo.  Lando.  You have absolutely no say on what goes on here.  And, by the way, why aren’t you in handcuffs locked away in some small room on the Falcon?

I mean, that’s what I would do if I had been stabbed in the back.  I can’t believe you’re even allowed in the cockpit to give your opinion.  Sure, we can say he managed a sneaky little rescue operation through Lobot, but he still hosted Darth Vader in Cloud City, froze Han in carbonite, and sold him off to the legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett.

This scene is more significant, though.  Here we have Leia using the Force for the first time.  Luke is calling out to her from his precarious position on the weather vane…and she hears it.  How in the world could she hear it/sense it without the Force?

It’s a great moment because it teases at the movie to come.  Obviously, I never saw ESB when it was first released, but I can imagine the questions that came out of this scene.  How did she know where Luke was?  How did Leia hear him call for her?

More interestingly, and I didn’t pick up on this until I was older, is how did Luke know to call to Leia?  Obviously he tries to call to Ben first, but it doesn’t work and I think he knew it wouldn’t work.  Ben told him he couldn’t help him if he decided to go after Vader.

But why choose Leia?  Did he sense that she was strong in the Force?  Did he know she was his sister subconsciously?  Did he know that Han was already in carbonite?  Was it his lingering feelings for her (not as a sister) that made him think of her first?

backstage millennium falcon

My week has been so busy this week! Wrapping up before I go to Australia next week has left me very little time for blog posts.  I can’t wait though.  A week from today I’ll be on my way there.   I just want to be done with work, done with packing, done with stressing, and in Sydney!

Anyone else have big plans for this summer?

ready player oneAlso, I just finished reading a great book and it’s easily the best book I’ve read this year (though we still have 6 months left so it may be overtaken).  It’s called Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.   Look it up, I recommend it.  I mean, I am always reading a novel and rarely do I take time out of this blog to actually say…hey check this out.  So it resonated with me.  I heard they’re making a movie of it, which makes me sad because I love the visuals I have in my imagination.  Anyway, I recommend the book if you like video games, computers, 80s geekery, Star Wars, anything along those lines.  I mean, heck, I’m not even that into video games (the entire book was one long video game) but I still loved most of it.  Let me know if you’ve read it and also like it.

 

INTERIOR: MILLENNIUM FALCON — COCKPIT

Leia seems to be lost in a fog, her expression troubled.  Chewie is busy operating the ship. Lando stands next to the Wookiee, watching a readout on the control panel.

LEIA: Luke…We’ve got to go back.

Chewie growls in surprise.

LANDO: What?

LEIA: I know where Luke is.

LANDO: But what about those fighters?

Chewie barks in agreement with Lando.

LEIA: Chewie, just do it.

LANDO: But what about Vader? 

Chewie turns on Lando, the newcomer, with an ominous growl.

LANDO: All right, all right, all right.

EXTERIOR: CLOUD CITY — MILLENNIUM FALCON — DUSK

The Falcon makes a graceful banking turn back toward Cloud City.

Scene it on Friday – ANH Scene #35

Scene it on Friday – ANH Scene #35

My favorite thing about this scene is how casual it is.  It’s a scene that you would see in any other movie, with some kid just trying to sell his old Camaro that’s a piece of junk to a sleazy used cars salesman.  It’s this little detail that I give George so much credit for.  Of course Luke had to sell his landspeeder!  I mean, for all we know, Obi-Wan could have been sitting on a bunch of money in his little cave, but instead George has them come up with the money for transportation off of Tatooine by themselves.

It’s such a small thing, but so essential in making this scene so real for viewers.  It’s one of the reasons Star Wars resonates and connects so strongly with many people – you can see actions and moments that are familiar to what we’ve gone through in our own lives.

Other random information about this scene:

As for the landspeeders, another small detail that George throws in with his master storytelling that gives more credibility to the scene.  Luke had an X-34 landspeeder (if anyone cares) and the XP-38 is just so much cooler.  Sportire and sleeker than Luke’s old landspeeder, you can see why they no longer were interested in his model.  Pictures here:

XP-38 landspeederX34-landspeeder

One of my main questions is…why didn’t Obi-Wan sense the other creature (a Kubaz) following them?  That seems so obvious, especially as we see in the prequels that he was very adept at sensing everything around him.  Or maybe he did, and that’s why he was hurrying so much?  If you remember, Old Ben was constantly hurrying and speedily walking all over Mos Eisley.  Perhaps even if he didn’t sense the Kubaz, whose name was Garindan, he sensed the Empire was on their tails (but then again – it doesn’t take a Sherlock to guess that either).  I guess he had to weigh his options in whether to deal with the Kubaz spy directly and have a confrontation, which would draw more attention to himself, or if he was hoping to get out on the Falcon ahead of any attack from Stormtroopers.  In the end, his plan barely succeeded.

My overall thought on this scene is that it can easily be overlooked as a connecting scene between main events in ANH, but it’s definitely not unimportant.  George Lucas does a great job in making this scene relatable and you feel like that could have been you selling your old vehicle, not some farm boy off in space.

star wars kubaz

EXTERIOR: TATOOINE — MOS EISLEY — ALLEYWAY — USED SPEEDER LOT.

Ben and Luke are standing in a sleazy used speeder lot, talking with a tall, grotesque, insect-like used speeder dealer. Strange exotic bodies and spindly-legged beasts pass by as the insect concludes the sale by giving Luke some coins.

LUKE: He says it’s the best he can do. Since the XP-38 came out, they’re just not in demand.

BEN: It will be enough.

Ben and Luke leave the speeder lot and walk down the dusty alleyway past a small robot herding a bunch of anteater-like creatures. Luke turns and gives one last forlorn look at his faithful speeder as he rounds a corner. A darkly clad creature moves out of the shadows as they pass and watches them as they disappear down another alley.