Haiku Me Friday! The soulful eyes

Here we go again
Will you love me or hate me?
Big eyes draw you in

Hi all! It’s me! I swear I’m around but we’ve been packing up and moving our house which is…no small feat. Most of my energy has been centered on that which has left whatever remaining energy I have directed to my business and family. This blog has taken the back seat, but you know – once everything settles down, I’ll be writing again.

I did, of course, watch the new TLJ behind-the-scenes trailer and have been keeping up with any D23 news that came out and am now waiting to see if anything comes out at SDCC (word is we won’t get much, but the costume info was a small bit).

I enjoy behind-the-scenes trailers more than real trailers. I remember when the TFA bts trailer came out at SDCC and I went through frame by frame to glean any information that I could. I didn’t do this with TLJ, but I did watch it a few times through and…

Those porgs.

First of all, they are so adorable and cute! I’m not going to deny it. Kinda furry, looks like they waddle and they have big, soulful eyes. I can see why the internet is calling the Furby’s.

But…Star Wars has a funny history with cute elements as I discussed only a few months ago when I rehashed the Ewok hate again. Fans get so worked up and there are such polarizing views on them.

I love the Ewoks. I think they send a good message: small beings you think may be beneath your notice have more strength and courage than you think.

I am neutral but sometimes dislike Jar Jar Binks. I can’t figure out Jar Jar. The Ewoks were definitely cute. I think Jar Jar was an attempt to be cute but it did not come off as intended.

The information we know about Porgs is that they live on Ahch-To, they build nests, and they can fly. Oh, and their babies are called Porglets (so fascinating (sarcasm)).

This is where it gets tricky. My hope is that the Porgs stay almost as a background creature where you think – aw they’re kinda cute but they don’t have too much of a role in saving the universe. I’m not sure why I feel like this, since I love the Ewoks. I believe some of the reason is that I consider BB-8 enough of a cute factor in this new Sequel Trilogy that if we push the cuteness TOO far, it’ll be an annoyance more than anything. (Imagine if a Porg ends up traveling with Rey when she leaves Ahch-To? It’ll be like every single Disney princess movie out there with the main female character and her trusty animal friend sidekick.)

Honestly, I don’t believe they’ll play a big role. Disney has a pattern with TFA and RO where they show these cool creatures and aliens in previews and then they’re on screen for about a millisecond – and that’s what I think they’re doing with the Porgs.

Yet, at the end of this, I totally am welcoming of these Porgs. But mostly because I want a stuffed animal one for ARM’s room. 🙂

 

Anyone got any other thoughts about the TLJ behind-the-scenes trailer? I’m looking forward to the casino scene!

 

 

So Love Has Blinded You?

Over the past week I have come to the realization that if I connect with a character in a deep and meaningful way in a Star Wars movie, I become blind to almost all the other flaws within the movie.

I came to this realization primarily with two movies of the Saga:

  1. The Phantom Menace
  2. The Force Awakens

 

The Phantom Menace

 

With the Phantom Menace, my obsession is with Qui-Gon Jinn. Qui-Gon opened up a world to me that didn’t exist prior to the Prequels, and more specifically, the world of the Jedi as a functioning unit/organization.

I loved it. But it was peculiar because I loved Qui-Gon and didn’t care about any of the other Jedi on the Council or within the movie. Obi-Wan generated a shrug and “whatever” attitude from me, but I was obsessed with Qui-Gon.

I think the reason is two-fold: 1) Qui-Gon is a Jedi so therefore he follows some kind of moral compass , but 2) he is not on the council because he does not completely follow the Code and that is deliberate because he marches to the beat of his own drum.

I adored everything Qui-Gon said and did in The Phantom Menace…and I still do. I don’t understand why people dislike TPM because I’m blinded by the fact that Qui-Gon is in the movie and takes the movie to the next level.

There are flaws in TPM though, just like any other movie but there are glaring issues. I never realized this until this weekend when I saw that I have the same predicament with The Force Awakens.

Here are what I believe are the main issues with TPM. Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m only just coming to these realizations this weekend when I tried to take an objective look at the movie.

  1. The characters. If you’re a fan who grew up with the OT, the characters of TPM seem stale, lacking in warmth and connection, and they are not relatable. Whereas with the OT, we can kind of see ourselves in each of the three heroes shoes, with the PT, unless perhaps you followed a political career path, the characters seem less at ease and more distant. And don’t get people started on Jar Jar Binks (though I don’t really mind him but can understand why some people do).
  2. The politics. I have noticed this one before and have written about it. The movie is bogged down in politics to the point that it may become suffocating for some people. There is no simple (or even really linear) plot as everything is shrouded under Trade Federations, senate issues, etc.
  3. Droids. The droids were not as menacing as they should have been. The Destroyers did the job well but the Battle Droids came off comical. Where’s the fear that people had of the Empire? It’s not there in TPM, in fact, other than Darth Maul, there’s no real fear of the Trade Federation.
  4. No greater cause. With the OT, it felt like they Rebels were fighting for something real and a greater cause for the galaxy. In TPM, that essence is missing. There’s no overarching big bad guy to fight.

 

I’m only trying to play devil’s advocate here as many of you know how much I love TPM. It was the first Star Wars movie I saw in theaters and I thought it was amazing. I love that the main character is a child and there are numerous GOOD things about the movie.

But, I also came to realize that when digging deep on why I like TPM it all comes back to Qui-Gon. I blabber on about the Old Republic and the Jedi, but at my core, it’s all about Qui-Gon. He has blinded me to faults within TPM.

 

The Force Awakens

 

I had a very interesting Twitter discussion this weekend with other Star Wars fans. I learned that most hardcore fans are NOT looking forward to the Han Solo movie (this was also slightly confirmed in blog comments from last Friday). On top of that, what I thought was a minority of fans dissatisfied with Disney and the new movies, it’s actually a lot larger and the frustration runs a lot deeper than I had originally assumed.

I know there are people who did not enjoy The Force Awakens and as I was (am) a lot older when I saw TFA vs. TPM, I’m more aware of the issues in present time, instead of finding out years later.

However, I have a similar issue with TFA that I did with TPM: I love Rey. I love her more than I love Qui-Gon. She’s a female character who is relatable, but she can also fight and use the Force. She is strong without falling into a stereotype of a bland, physically strong female protagonist who has no emotion. I loved the character so much that I named my daughter with Rey as her middle name.

People bring to my attention all kinds of flaws with TFA and I have been able to argue or rationalize all the problems. I try to convince people that the movie is actually quite good and they are being bullheaded. But is the movie good? Or is my love for Rey blinding my love for the movie?

Tweeting this weekend with other fans made me take a step back and realize that TFA has some pretty major flaws.

  1. Too similar to A New Hope. This is obvious and even I couldn’t deny this one. The movie practically copies ANH in every way possible, to the point that even my beloved main character comes from a desert planet. Really? Starkiller Base is a bigger, badder Death Star…that gets blown up by the Resistance. Resistance sounds too similar to Rebellion. At least the Empire got a makeover in their name.
  2. Our 3 main heroes never get screen time. If you are going to go to such lengths to copy ANH and pay homage to the movie, why didn’t you give our 3 heroes some screen time together? If everyone survived, we could have maybe hoped for a reunion further down but that has been revoked with Solo’s death and the real death of Carrie Fisher.
  3. Politics…or lack thereof. Whereas TPM delved into politics TOO much, TFA goes in the extreme opposite direction where we have no understanding of the current political climate. At least within ANH we had some mumbles about the Imperial Senate and we understood Empire vs. Rebellion. In TFA there was Republic, a Resistance, and a First Order…but the First Order sounds kind of small? Or is it large? And is the First Order now the opposition group, like the Rebellion was?
  4. Too much convenience. Rey learns to use the Force very quickly. Artoo wakes up at the most convenient time. Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber magically appears at the right moment with no explanation of where it came from. There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief that you can accept when you see a movie, especially one in the sci-fi category, but TFA leaped and jumped over that line. Perhaps we will get all the explanations later, but if not, this is a glaring problem.

 

I have stood up to people’s complaints about TFA just as I did with TPM, but this weekend, I had to admit and accept that both movies have a lot of flaws. Would I love TPM or TFA as much if Qui-Gon and Rey were not in them? That’s where I bite my lip and think…no, probably not.

Qui-Gon was not in Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith and I do not enjoy the movies as much as I enjoy TPM. I actually reallllly don’t like AOTC and I enjoy ROTS but it’s not something I usually pull out to watch at odd times like I do with TPM.

With the future Sequel Movies, I get nervous that they won’t capture Rey’s essence as well as they did in TFA. I worry that there will be no character development or that she will become the Hollywood stereotype of a “strong female character” instead of, well, just, Rey. At least there is hope for The Last Jedi and Episode IX, whereas the Prequels are over and done with.

 

Tell me – have you ever loved a character (any movie, doesn’t have to be Star Wars) so much that it’s blinded you to shortcomings in the movie?

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.

Book Review: Thrawn

He’s back! A favorite character of the old Star Wars Expanded Universe, now Legends, has been recreated in this new novel by the one and only Timothy Zahn.  I believe Thrawn was one of the greatest disappointments to numerous fans when Disney announced that the EU was no longer going to be canon.  Thrawn is amazing.  Seriously.  His tactical genius made him a beloved character, up there with Mara Jade.  Even fans who were not into the novels, had a general idea of who Thrawn was.

I can speak for a lot of fans that when Thrawn was announced as a new character in Star Wars Rebels, fans were delighted. Then they announced a new book with him as well written by Zahn and the fans went nuts.

This new novel is an origin story of Thrawn. It shows how he came to work with the Empire and evolve into one of the greatest strategist’s and commanders (or Grand Admiral) of the Empire’s fleet, overcoming obstacles along the way.  His chief obstacle was that he is an alien and as the Empire is, you know, kind of prejudiced against aliens, it’s quite a feat that he makes it as far as he does.

 

***spoilers ahead***

 

The novel starts with Thrawn being rescued by the Empire from being exiled by his native Chiss species. I use the word “rescued” loosely because Thrawn purposefully drew them to him to board their ships and let himself be seen and caught by them and we find out later, in typical Thrawn style, that it was never a rescue at all – he had planned everything. On the ship, he encounters a young man Eli Vanto, who is on the road to becoming a supply chain officer. Vanto helps translate for Thrawn at times since his Basic is rusty and also because Vanto was also brought up in the Outer Rim (therefore also slightly disliked by others because he is “backwater”). Thrawn immediately gets taken to Emperor Palpatine who puts him into the Imperial Academy on a fast track with Vanto.

Throughout the novel, Vanto remains at Thrawn’s side through the academy, to commanding posts, and missions. Thrawn sees potential in Eli though it takes a long time for Eli to also see it. Half of the novel follows Eli regretting that he ever met Thrawn as he only wants a quiet life in the supply department.

As a side story, we are introduced to Arihnda Pryce, whom we have also seen from Star Wars Rebels. Her path intersects with Thrawn’s later down the line but we get a fleshed out backstory for her (the later governor of Lothal).  She begins her story working at her parent’s mine – Pryce Mining – which gets ripped from her by the Empire. She resolves to get it back. How does she get it back? Through political scheming and working with the Empire. If you can’t fight them, join them. Her journey to that point is up and down along with lots of petty backstabbing.

As Pryce moves up the ranks in the Empire politically, Thrawn also rises as a commander. Pryce does not have too much involvement with Thrawn, but when she does she helps him and Vanto through favors with connections (the great Tarkin, who was written superbly) and Thrawn also helps her with his tactical, objective way of looking at things.

The end of the novel sees a culmination of a battle (where we know Thrawn will obviously come out ahead) where those who doubted Thrawn are now convinced of his genius, along with understanding the real reasons for…well…everything in the novel that Thrawn has done. The side twist belongs with Arihnda Pryce and how far she has gone down the path of corruption. Thrawn’s beautiful plan gets screwed up by her with unnecessary deaths, but she never admits to it and covers her tracks beautifully, though he knows but can’t prove it. Thrawn still comes out ahead, but it’s interesting to see that this is the beginning of Pryce and Thrawn’s working relationship that we see in Rebels.

 

Pros:

  • It’s Thrawn. Enough said.
  • But seriously, there is not too much changed from the character older Star Wars fans loved reading about. He is still a genius and still a masterful tactician…rivaling Palpatine in some respects.
  • How did Thrawn get in Palpatine’s good books so well that Palpatine fast tracked him through the Academy and military career? Anakin Skywalker. Yes – interesting twist. Thrawn says he heard of Palpatine through his “servant, Anakin Skywalker”. This implies a lot. It implies that 1) Thrawn met Anakin when he was a Jedi and 2) he could have caught on to Palpatine’s game of chess that he was already working on bringing Anakin to his side prior to the Empire existing. It’s not a stretch to believe that as Thrawn is able to deduce everything. The question remains though – does Thrawn know Vader is Anakin? My guess is yes though nothing is confirmed.
  • Each chapter begins with an excerpt of Thrawn’s diary which made for a fascinating read. Chapters are also interspersed with Thrawn reading people’s body language and giving insight on how he picks up on their next moves.
  • There’s a lot on Thrawn in here, obviously. But crazily, I still feel like he’s a bit of a mystery. Well done Zahn!
  • You can read this novel even if you are a Disney-hater; if you love the EU and refuse to acknowledge anything Disney related. It actually fits into both Legends and the current canon, which I admire, especially since it’s a backstory. And, amazingly, this canon backstory actually fits in perfectly with Thrawn’s original backstory in Legends.
  • This novel ties into Rebels nicely as well as the other new canon books, though it’s not hitting you over the head with it.
  • Most of the characters from the movies are spot-on with the writing. Grand Moff Tarkin was eerily written, to the point that I had no problems believing his character (which is unlike how I felt with the writing of Han in Bloodline). Palpatine was done pretty well too, not 100%, but well enough for the time he was in the novel.
  • The new characters are also well written, for the most part. Pryce ended up being one of my favorites after reading, though during the novel I kept wanting to go back to Thrawn and see what he was up to. But once I closed the book and mulled over it for a bit, she ended up being one of the most multi-faceted interesting characters to come out of it. The last scene/battle of the novel when she goes down a point of no return, and sees the look on her parents faces, you have to wonder…is it worth it? She did everything for them and their mine, but you can tell they’d rather she hadn’t if they had to sacrifice who Arihnda had become.
  • There are hints of the Rebellion littered throughout the novel, but for the most part, it’s extremely Empire-driven, which I very much appreciated. It’s hard to write about the Empire in a way that seems positive, or at least neutral, when you’re writing in the Star Wars universe. This novel did it brilliantly…and I feel a little disloyal to the Rebellion for liking it so much!
  • My favorite observation of this entire novel was that I didn’t actually feel like I was reading a Star Wars novel. I felt like I was reading a good sci-fi book. Again, a little hard to do with Star Wars, especially with characters we love in the book. But because there was no mention of the Force (I think; I don’t remember it) or mysticism, Jedi, etc., it felt like a great sci-fi, outer space novel.

Cons:

  • For me, I felt like it took a while for Thrawn to feel like Thrawn. There was a learning curve for him in the beginning of the novel as he learned the Empire, and nuances of politics. In a way, I thought he seemed very much like Spock in the beginning of this novel. It eventually leveled out and got to a point where he felt like the Thrawn I loved and remembered, so I’m not sure if that was a deliberate move on Zahn’s part or if it was him being a little rusty.
  • Some of the book was littered with little side plots that I thought could have been kept out entirely. It’s tough because some of the side plots do end up coming together at the end of the novel, but some had me thinking…oh that’s it? When they were resolved.
  • Not enough time with Thrawn and art. One of the most loved parts about Thrawn (for me) was how much information he gained from observing society’s artwork. Through their art, he was often able to bring them down. It was a final piece of the puzzle that other tactician’s didn’t have time with or feel was necessary. Unfortunately, there was only one scene in this book where art played into the success of Thrawn. It always lingered in the background and was mentioned often, but we didn’t get to see it enough in action. We get in Rebels, thankfully, but I was sad about there was not as much in Thrawn.
  • I didn’t love Eli Vanto. He was a main character but the ending of his story was a little unbelievable to me. I won’t say much, but I don’t think he has the chops for what the end of his character arc bestowed upon him. I believe he was created as a bit of a Watson foil to Thrawn’s Sherlock but I often wanted him cut from the story entirely. I think I may be in the minority here but he was blah.
  • I’m not sure I want to put this as a con but it’s a little interesting. Was there a plot? I’m not sure. It seemed more like a detailed timeline of events. There wasn’t a real antagonist, more of a mystery Thrawn wanted to solve but it didn’t seem too pressing. So if you need a plot and an arc and all that good stuff, maybe you won’t really get into this as much as you’d want to.

I’m giving Thrawn 4/5 stars. It’s hard for me to rate any book 5/5 stars, and Star Wars books usually don’t make that cut. BUT this is still the best book I’ve read from the new canon.  Read it if you have EU nostalgia, love Thrawn, or want a good Empire-driven Star Wars novel.

Haiku Me Friday! An Open Letter to George Lucas

It’s been 40 years
Since George Lucas took the helm
And transported us

 

Dear George,

I’ve wanted to say thank you for years.  Star Wars effects my life every day in small, and sometimes large, ways.  Without you, I would not be who I am today.  I’ve written about it a lot, but sometimes I think people tend to forget the man behind it all.  Well, not really forget, we could never forget.

It’s just that we get so wrapped up in the mythology, the worlds and stories that Star Wars has created.  We are constantly blown away by this amazing sandbox you allow us to play in.  We get so deep in the trenches that Star Wars becomes real to us.  I think we know deep down that it’s only a movie but we forget because Star Wars transverse many different levels of our lives.

Forty years ago, you probably did not yet realize what a sensation Star Wars would become.  Even after it broke box office records, did you think it was a fad?  Did you think the obsession of the public would eventually wane?  Or did you know you had struck gold?  I wish, so badly, I could interview you and dig your mind on what the summer was like 40 years ago.

Before this gets long winded, I wanted you to know that I haven’t forgotten that you are the man behind it all.  That you are the one who gave us this sandbox, filled it with sand, and then let us have fun within your creation.  Thank you for being flexible about that.

I know you tried your best when you gave Star Wars over to Disney, and for that – I’ll follow your lead and trust you as much as possible.  They’re doing an okay job (okay, a pretty good job), but they’re not you.  They could never be you.  There’s only one you – the person whom we love for giving so many of us a reason to be better people.

May the Force be with you.  Always.

xoxo,

Kiri

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