Another Happy Landing: The Endings of Star Wars Films

One of my favorite things about Star Wars, ever since I first saw it when I was a child, was the endings of the movies.

As I got older, I saw the endings as slightly corny, but they still satisfied me. Why? Because while George Lucas created endings that were corny or too-nicely-tied-up-in-a-bow, there was a sense of hope and happiness…sometimes more weighted on one than the other – but still there, nevertheless.

With ANH, Lucas did not know if he would be able to continue Star Wars or if it would be a big flop. He opted to make a story that had a clear and decisive beginning, middle, and end. Sure, he left some ties open (we don’t know the fate of Darth Vader) but overall, the Rebellion won. It had hope and happiness handed to us on a silver platter. It was an ultimate feel-good ending.

I believe that ESB is the only film under Lucas’ hands that has the most question marks. We have no idea if Luke and Leia will be able to get Han back. We don’t even know if Han is alive. In a more subtle way, we don’t know if we can still trust Lando. What about Luke’s training on Dagobah? Will he go back? Is Darth Vader really Luke’s father? How did Leia sense where Luke was? Does she also have the Force?

Yet, despite all these questions, we watch Luke get a new hand and exchange smiles with Leia. They move to look out the window to an infinite galaxy. Threepio and Artoo stand on one side. It is one of my favorite shots of all time. Instead of looking at the camera, everyone is facing away, and it gives more credence to the loose ends of the movie. But it’s beautiful. And it’s an ending. When they look out into the galaxy, I have a feeling of hope and inspiration.

ROTJ is the corniest, in my opinion. Lucas thought this would be his last (or at least for a while – he did continue to have thoughts about telling Anakin’s entire story) Star Wars film and everything is nicely tied together in a bow. The Rebellion won (again)! Darth Vader was redeemed! Leia and Han are together! The Emperor was destroyed! We see almost the entire cast surrounded by dancing Ewoks and smiling benevolently into the camera. Happiness! Hope!

When Lucas filmed the Prequels, he continued his trend of concise endings, using the themes of hope and happiness.

With TPM, the ending is almost as exuberant as ROTJ or ANH. There are some lingering questions in the background presented by the Jedi at Qui-Gon’s funeral, but overall, the celebration of Naboo is nothing short of glorious. Everyone is looking at the camera and the corny level is quite high.

AOTC is the only film out of every Star Wars film under Lucas that strays furthest from the theme of hope. I think it’s happy, yes, but in a bittersweet way. You are happy for Anakin and Padmé but the hindsight you have as an audience member, pangs you with bitterness. I do not think hope is lost entirely however. It may not be the first emotion you feel, but you know this union is necessary because “a new hope” is what arises from this wedding. Without this marriage – there would be no Luke and Leia who end up saving the galaxy further on down the line. In some ways, I think the Jedi were headed towards combustion, Anakin was the catalyst, and I believe the wiping out of the Jedi had to happen. It was doomed. So knowing that Luke and Leia are coming out of this ill-fated love match is one of those strange things where hope is present in this scene, though it may not be dominant.

As an ending, ROTS leaves us complete only because we know the entire story already. The sunset gaze by Beru and Lars evokes hope and the weight of responsibility as well. Lucas deftly wraps it up with that Tatooine sunset and closes the film and saga with a sense of satisfaction. We see baby Luke and know that the new hope has arrived.

And where does this leave TFA and Rogue One?

TFA breaks the tradition. It’s such a small thing, the ending of a movie. Yet, if you think about it, you expect a satisfying ending to probably 95% of the movies you watch. There has to be a conclusion of some sort.

Disney leaves me a little jaded with TFA. Their over-confidence (…is their weakness) in knowing that they don’t have to really give us an ending frustrates me. Unlike the other films in the saga that were under Lucas’ direction, TFA does not leave me with hope or happiness. I’m not sure what feelings I take away from it now. It’s neither negative nor positive. I am apathetic for this ending that is not an ending but more like you are putting a bookmark in a book. I know Finn will survive because it’s too early in the Sequel Trilogy to kill him off. Rey is standing there with a strange look on her face and an outstretched arm to an older, grizzled Luke Skywalker who has an even stranger look on his face. Then we have this strange moment where the camera spins around them on the island where Rey is standing there with the arm outstretched trying to hand Luke his lightsaber. Too much movement compared to the other endings!

I didn’t notice the lack of an ending at first. In fact, the first time I watched it, I remember thinking as the shot spun around Luke Skywalker and Rey, “This had better not be the end because we just saw Luke for the first time.” But it was. I was discombobulated but I chucked it up to seeing the new Star Wars film and having a lot to think about.

Yet every time I watch it again, I get more annoyed and I blame Disney and Kathleen Kennedy for most of this. I did not realize how entrenched the Star Wars endings are in my psyche and how much I yearn for them until I compare the Lucas films to the new Disney films.

Rogue One has an ending, but I find it contrived and forced. A CGI Leia says, “Hope,” and it’s a good whack on the head of forcing us into what we should feel. Their effort on the ending of the film should have been less focused on a CGI Leia and more emphasis placed on a beautiful shot with a decent ending that evokes feelings instead of shoves it down our throat. You could argue that the hyperspace jump right after Leia says that is the shot but…it’s action. It’s not a still moment where we appreciate the end of a Star Wars movies.

When I compare the endings, I almost see George Lucas as a more humble director who wraps up each film nicely…just in case. Just in case no one wants to see another Star Wars movie or he never gets to do one again. He gave us a small moment at the end of each film to reflect on what we had just seen. There was no crazy spinning shot, no ships jumping to hyperspace – only his way of saying, “Did you enjoy my movie? I give you time to digest your thoughts and what you saw.”

We have now broken that with TFA and RO and I miss my feeling of hope and happiness at the end of a Star Wars film. I miss the ending being clear cut. I miss the beautiful, panoramic shots that were breathtaking. I miss that still, quiet moment of reflection.

Will we never have that again? Since Disney is planning on creating Star Wars films until I’m old and grey and no longer blogging, is their overconfidence going to extend to the point that we’ll never have that corny Star Wars ending again?

If so, RIP endings to Star Wars films that brought me hope and happiness. You will be missed.

 

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Star Wars ComLINKS: Most Emotional Scene

Apparently I was supposed to get this done by March 22nd – oops, I completely missed that note the first time I read through the post!  I’ll be better next time.

First, thanks to Graphic Novelty2, I re-discovered the blog Anakin and His Angel.  I remember I had it saved at some point on an old computer and then when I switched to Chrome, I think I lost it.

Anakin and His Angel does a monthly topic and invites other blogs to participate.  I love this…I get to write my own blog post without thinking about a topic!  Lazy me celebrates!  (Except lazy me got in the way of getting it done on time…)

 

Most Emotional Scene in Star Wars

My vote for the most emotional scene has to go to Han getting put into carbonite.

I picked this scene for four reasons:

  1. Han’s vulnerability,
  2. Leia’s realization of love,
  3. Chewie’s anger and sense of helplessness,
  4. Lando’s regret,
  5. The music.

That’s a heck of a lot of emotion to pack into one scene!

Let’s start with Han’s vulnerability – this goes back to my assessment of his clothing choices throughout the trilogy.  When he is stripped down to only that shirt, it’s not the Han we know and love.  He is not cocky or over-confident, but instead vulnerable.  Vulnerable is not a word we often associate with Han.  He’s about to be put into carbonite and he has no idea if he’ll survive.  That look on his face when he looks to Leia and Chewie before the steam rises…what is it?  Sadness?  Unspoken feelings?  Despair?  It’s something we don’t see on Han’s face very often.

Then we have the classic interchange between Han and Leia of, “I love you.” And “I know.”  Who doesn’t enjoy those lines?  We knew Princess Leia was hiding her feelings for Han during most of the movie but in this moment, she knows she has to say it.  If she doesn’t say it, she will kick herself every moment afterwards.  Watching her step forward with anguish on her face to tell Han those deeply personal words…I wouldn’t want to be in her position.  She’s seeing the man she realized she loves being put into a situation where he might not live.  And let’s not forget her moment of abject fear and disgust right before those moments when she looks over at Darth Vader.  *shudders*

This scene is often overshadowed by Leia and Han’s exchange, but I think one of the most emotionally moving parts is Chewie’s scream when the carbonite takes effect.  He starts off the scene by throwing Stormtroopers over the edge of the chamber in a last effort to save Han.  Han calms him down by saying he has to look after “the Princess”.   He acknowledges he might not live through this ordeal but is transferring Chewie’s life debt from Han to Leia.  But this is not something Chewie wants to hear.  Han was his best friend, the smuggler who saved him and to whom he owes a life debt.  I’m sure Chewie thought that if Han ever died, he would go down screaming with him (though we saw how that played out).  Instead he has to stand by helplessly in this whole scene, clinging to Leia until the deed is done and his roars are one of despair, anger, and frustration.

Lando, oh, Lando.  The moments the camera is on him during this scene are few and far between.  And when they do steal a moment to look at him, you have to watch closely.  But you can see it.  It’s there.  The “What have I done?  Was this the right thing?” look.  He looks at Leia and Chewie and his thoughts are clear.  I’m sure he’s feeling that deep uncertainty and regret…that gut feeling when you know you should not have made that deal.  Too late now, buddy.

Finally, the music.  Oh my gosh.  I get goosebumps every time I hear the music by John Williams for this scene.  Even when I’m not watching the scene and I’m only listening to the music, I get transported away to a tense place.  Everything in me stops and I’m filled with emotions of dread and anxiety.  I can’t concentrate on anything I do when hearing that music.  It’s the cherry on top of this whole scene.

 

That, my friends, is why I think the carbonite scene is the most emotional.  Hopefully I’ll get on my game faster next time and participate in ComLINKS before it expires.

 

What do you think is the most emotional scene?  This can include Rebels, TCW, anything in the Star Wars universe!

 

Five Ways to Expand the Current Star Wars Universe

Five Ways to Expand the Current Star Wars Universe

Hi folks, Nathan here, filling in for Kiri while she gets into the groove of this whole motherhood thing. All the best to Kiri and her little Jedi as they start this journey. May the Force be with you for sure!

Okay, so let’s talk about the old Expanded Universe. It was just over two years ago that this collection of novels, comics, and game narratives loved (and occasionally loathed) by Star Wars fans was relegated to the status of “Legends”. In that time, a great deal of digital ink has been spilled decrying Disney’s decision as well as talking about all the critical pieces of the EU that should have been kept canon.

And none of it has mattered. At the end of the day, I understand why Disney made this call. The EU became a convoluted collection of Galaxy ending disasters occurring every other week and an indistinguishable knot of interpersonal relationships. Some of it had to be jettisoned in order to create stories that were still fresh and compelling and accessible to new audiences.

However, the EU was still home to a bunch of great ideas. No small indication of that is how The Force Awakens borrowed some of them, at least conceptually, to fill out its characters and places. One example is Starkiller Base which certainly recalls The Sun Crusher. And of course there’s the reveal that Kylo Ren is in fact Jacen Solo, er, I mean Ben…

In the wake of The Force Awakens, I want to look at aspects of the EU that are ideas that can still be used to fill out that Galaxy far, far away. The idea here isn’t that Disney should lift these five things whole cloth from the pages of our favorite Star Wars novels. Rather, I believe these five concepts should be used to help flesh out the new canon, even if not in the exact form we’re familiar with.

Lando’s Bad Luck

You remember the bustling mineral business from Nomad City on Nkllon? Or the Galaxy famous theme parks of Cloud City? Or the time Lando fought a rancor for priceless Meek artifacts?

No? That’s because in the EU Lando had a long history of betting big, and failing bigger. It was part of the old space pirate’s enduring charm. He was always out for the big score, even if that was going to land him in more trouble than it was worth.

It does appear that so far in canon stories of Lando will fall along the same vein. His appearance on the Rebels show involved many shenanigans leading to the revelation that he’s going to be using puffer pigs to root out valuable minerals. Also the Lando comic series (I’ll be talking more about this soon!) starts with Lando acquiring a certain trinket to pay off a debt, only to have the term familiarly “altered” at the last minute. Let’s keep Lando out in front of some of the Galaxy’s most magnificent schemes, and maintaining his winning smile when the dust settles from the eventual crash.

Black Sun and Prince Xizor

In the late 90’s, Lucasfilm was looking thinking about releasing new Star Wars films into the world. There were ideas floating around, but the Prequels were still a few years off. The media company had formed many relationships in the nearly two decades since the Original Trilogy, but questions were being asked how these various media entities could work around a single big release. Could they work in conjunction to release materials in multiple formats that would compliment each other and continue to build on the Star Wars fan base? The answer to those questions was the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project.

It started as an experiment to see if Lucasfilm and its partners were ready for a major motion picture release. For the first time, we as fans received new stories that explored the period between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. We were introduced to new heroes and new villains. Among those were the Black Sun crime syndicate and its indomitable leader, Prince Xizor.

Black Sun exists within the current canon. They were a faction with Darth Maul’s Shadow Collective, but I feel like they lack some of the teeth they had when introduced through Shadows of the Empire. Perhaps that has to do with the enigmatic, over the top Prince Xizor. Xizor was written to be the ultimate badass. And while I don’t think the canon needs a character exactly like him (pure evil complete with rapey seduction pheromones), a powerful crime lord that rivals the Hutts and is confident enough to scheme around the Emperor would be a very cool addition.

The Courtship of Princess Leia

The Courtship of Princess Leia was the first EU novel I read as teenager. The story of a lovesick Han Solo essentially kidnapping Leia, to woo her on a planet he won in an underground sabacc game. A planet that just happens to be home to rancors and a lost race of “magical” force users that leads to squaring off against the strongest of the Imperial Remnant, Warlord Zsinj. All the while Han is pursued by Luke and the jilted Prince Isolder attempting to prevent civil war within the fledgling New Republic.

It was truly a soap opera in space writ large, and I devoured it as a young Star Wars fan. Courtship was a fun, fast read. It had its flaws and these days doesn’t rank quite as high among my favorite EU novels, but it was really my first big introduction to the EU and for that it will always be adored.

What I would love to keep from The Courtship of Princess Leia is that it is going to take a big, raucous adventure, and maybe risking everything our heroes have fought to build, for Han to admit his feelings and decide to ask Leia to marry him. Because one thing about Han Solo, and this has been established in the canon, its going to take an awful lot for him to consider family life. You know.

Grand Admiral Thrawn and the Chiss.

You knew he would make the list. Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the most enduring elements of the EU. Timothy Zahn’s seminal trilogy elevated the Expanded Universe. No small part of that was due to the strength of Thrawn as such a fascinating character. He was a brilliant strategist and a blue skinned alien that had risen to Grand Admiral in the notoriously xenophobic Empire. Next to perhaps the reborn Emperor, Thrawn was the Empire’s best chance at reestablishing its former glory.

With the First Order’s clear similarities to the Empire, it seems obvious that the Imperial Remnant didn’t fade away after the events Return of the Jedi. Having a strong, brilliant presence similar to Grand Admiral Thrawn would go a long way to explaining the Empire’s continued influence 30 years later.

If that character were to have ties to a mysterious faction in the Outer Rim that has its eyes set upon extending its dominance into the Core Worlds, that would add even more intrigue. The Chiss Ascendancy would be a fascinating foil to both the plans of the Alliance and Empire.

Add to that the fact that Luke, Leia, and Han appear to have a less influential roles in the Galaxy after Ben Solo’s betrayal, and threats from the Imperial Remnants and the Chiss would require a new set of heroes to face them. Some of those heroes could be members of…

Rogue Squadron

Talk to me about Star Wars fandom, and it won’t take long for me to reveal my love for Rogue Squadron. I’ve said before that Wedge Antilles is possibly my favorite character. He certainly is outside of the Original Trilogy’s main heroes. In my late teens and early twenties, I just could not get enough of these scrappy men and women who accomplished the impossible without any Force to aid them (mostly). They relied solely on their Incom T-65 X-wings, their exceptional skill on the stick, and each other. Corran Horn said it best, “I’m with Rogue Squadron. Impossible is our stock in trade, and success is what we deliver.”

Rogue Squadron does exist in the current canon. Technically. It was the designation used by Luke and Wedge’s snowspeeder group on Hoth. I’m going to be watching the development of Rogue One very closely. I hope the use of the moniker there can somehow develop into a collection of the Rebellion’s best fighter pilots. I also like what I’ve seen of Black Squadron in the Poe Dameron comic series, but it’s not quite the same to me. I’m really hoping for a Star Wars universe that includes the Rogues.

What about you? What from the Expanded Universe would you like to see make the jump to Disney’s current canon at least conceptually?

Haiku Me Friday! Scout Trooper Cloud City Edition

Good, good things going on in my life right now guys…which is much needed since the first half of this year has been like I  was thrown unexpectedly into the Rancor pit.  I feel like I’ve finally fought him off and I’m catching a break.  Not sure if I killed the Rancor yet, I guess that will only become clear later, but right now I’m breathing better than I have in a long time and feel good about the way my life is headed.  You know what I mean?

Do you ever have that instance where you write about 4 paragraphs and just delete it all?  Yeah, that just happened.

Onto Friday fun!  Happy Friday everyone!

We creep in slowly Do we pass on by or shoot? It’s hard to decide

We creep in slowly
Do we pass on by or shoot?
It’s hard to decide

My first thought was, “Since when would scout troopers ever be needed on Cloud City?”  This picture completely baffled me so I looked up some more information on scout troopers over at Wookiepedia (to think that I used to buy new editions of Star Wars encyclopedias whenever they came out!  I was constantly buying the latest editions because the EU was always changing. Now we have the internet and I am so thankful):

Scout troopers, light armored and far more mobile than regular stormtrooper units, were usually assigned to planetary garrisons where they patrolled perimeters, performed reconnaissance missions and identified enemy positions. As scouts, their mission profile often positioned them far from Imperial resupply. As a result, the scout troopers received special training in order to become efficient survivalists who were equipped with an array of equipment and supplies to aid in their military role.

Okay, so here I’ve been for the past 17 years of my life thinking that scout troopers only served in forest-like locations due to Return of the Jedi.  This is where I know I have huge gaps in my Star Wars knowledge.

I like to think I know a lot, and yes, compared to an average human, I do know way more about Star Wars than I should.  But I am the first to admit that my knowledge is very limited and it’s starting to bother me.  I focus on what I love most: the Jedi and how they inadvertently brought down the destruction of the Republic, the tormented feelings of Padmé, Palpatine’s master scheming, and mostly just detailed movie knowledge.

I know very little about the Empire and focus very little on their troops, systems, organization, and politics.  Over the past year and a half, I have made a concentrated effort to read more Star Wars novels (though I swore I never would lol) that are now canon and be more open minded about parts of Star Wars that just don’t interest me.  For instance, one of my goals this year is to watch Attack of the Clones and find 10 things I like about it.  Notice that I still have not done it yet?  I keep procrastinating.

But this news about the scout troopers really interests me because I had no idea how specialized they were.  Anyone with half a brain could have figured it out, because, well, “scout” is in their title.  “Scout” does not equal “forest” last time I checked.  This knowledge of scout troopers being so specialized really does open up a whole new world of imagination for me.  They were complete idiots in ROTJ, but perhaps that was an anomaly.  I kind of want to be a scout trooper and go on cool missions.

So when does this picture take place?  ESB?  Well, that doesn’t make complete sense because it sounds like the Empire made a straight out deal with Lando so there would be no need for them to sneak around.  Do you think these scout troopers are going to actually kill the guy sleeping on duty?  Or do you think they already shot him?

What’s your passion when it comes to Star Wars?  Have you ever been surprised by information you’ve taken for granted?  Have you ignored other aspects of the Star Wars universe because you like something else so much more?

8 Reasons I Loved the Star Wars Rebels Season Two Premiere

I’m honestly in shock at how much I liked the SWR season 2 premiere that aired this past weekend.  Not that I didn’t like Season One (you can see my thoughts here and here), but I thought the beginning of Season Two blew all of Season One out of the water.  I kind of wish I went to see it at SWCA with all the other fans now.

Here’s what was downright awesome about the premiere.

  1. Darth Vader. I was really, really nervous going into Season 2 that they would try to humanize Vader in some formdarth vader ezra SWR season 2 because, well, this is a kid’s show at the heart of it.  But they didn’t.  He was evil and ruthless and whooped both Kanan and Ezra’s butt.  When they fought him in the end, I thought there was no way the writers could have both escape without compromising Vader.  They couldn’t defeat him (they are both not even close to strong enough in the Force or Jedi training to take him on); nor would he let them easily escape.  Filoni and his team did a great job by letting Kanan and Ezra escape but still showing Vader as the complete badass that he is.
  2. Ahsoka did not have much screen time. Don’t get me wrong – I love Ahsoka and I’m so glad she’s back.  But this is a new storyline with new characters.  While I’m happy she’s back, I’m also extremely pleased to see she is less feisty and quieter, which shows character development and I’m happy she is not central to the Rebels team.
  3. There was dissention within the Ghost crew. Now, this was no mutiny but I think it’s smart to show children, and us, that working with a team is not always perfect. Kanan did not want to be part of the Rebellion…he wanted to be on their own again, whereas Hera wanted to be part of the larger cause.  She spoke to Kanan about it quietly on the side and maturely.  When he stormed off, she didn’t push the matter.  I really admired that.  Further, she later brought the subject up with the whole team to see what everyone thought.  Stay with the Rebellion or continue solo as they had been?  The vote was 3 to 2 to stay with the team.  But it showed us an important lesson that working as a team means that sometimes there are disagreements on how to move forward and talking about it without getting angry is a good way to resolve matters.
  4. Ezra showed major character development. Ezra is an awesome character and those that disagree clearly don’t remember what it was like to be a child.  He’s is slowly figuring out right versus wrong, good versus bad, just like many of the children watching the show.  He wants to be a Jedi, but he struggles in grasping the Force and controlling his anger.  Sometimes he’s unsure if he even wants to be part of the team, but in this first episode we saw him realize that there’s more to life than just him and his friends.  There’s a bigger cause and sometimes it’s worth fighting for, even if it means helping someone who was once your enemy (Minister Tua) and you’re unsure if they can be trusted.
  5. It was good, classic Star Wars fun, very similar to the OT. Throughout this episode, there were moments where I was just nervous and on-edge, not knowing how it would turn out, especially when they were trying to get off of Lothal.  Vader was this looming presence that seemed to guess their next move at every turn, something I was not used to with SWR.  I’m used to the good guys winning and getting away with it, with their cocky assuredness.  That was not the case with this episode.  Yes, they got away, but it was not a victory.
  6. The Empire is cruel. In this episode we see Minister Tua blown up and killed as she enters her ship because she contacted the Rebellion for help.  It’s also used as a trap to extract and possibly capture the Ghost   Later, we see an entire town burned to the ground.  Though the show was clear in pointing out that they had taken all the citizens out before burning it, I don’t think that’s what happened.  I think that’s what they had to say because it’s on Disney but the sense I got from it was they burned the entire town, civilians included.  It drives home the point that the Empire was an oppressive government and to take it on would be a huge undertaking.
  7. What about the people just doing their job? I always think I would be a character similar to Minister
    I'm just trying to do my job!

    I’m just trying to do my job!

    Tua if I lived in the Star Wars universe.  I would be good at my job, enough to get me promoted and make me think I have some power.  I would probably help the Empire because I wouldn’t want any trouble and it is what it is.  But when I failed or got sucked in too deep, what would happen then?  Would I pull a Minister Tua and ask for help?  Gosh, knowing my personality, I doubt it.  I would just continue to hope for the best and that I’d be forgiven.  And end up dead.

  8. “The apprentice lives.” This brought so many questions with it.  Did Ahsoka know that her and Kanan’s connection was with Darth Vader?  Vader definitely knew it was Ahsoka, hence those words.  All Ahoska does is faint, yet she gets even more quiet for the rest of the episode and seems very unsettled.  What does this mean??

I really wish most of Season One was like this first episode.  I couldn’t help but love almost every minute…even Lando’s random appearance didn’t completely rankle me.

ahsoka star wars rebels

If you saw the premiere, what did you think?  Share!