Doing What’s Right

I’ll be back with my haikus eventually, but for now…

This is more of a personal thing that I’m throwing out there and would like everyone’s thoughts/stories on.

 

Has there ever been a situation where you had to do the right thing even though it was really hard? It could have been unpopular or people could have judged or even had loved ones disagree with you?

In the past week or two, I’ve had to do things that I know are right in my personal life, but it hasn’t been winning me any favors. It’s been hard – especially as people close to me say, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that,” or “Do you have to do that?” or “Why are you doing that?”

But I know, in my heart, it’s the right thing to do.

I think it helps that I was raised by two very conservative Christians who always were about doing “the right thing”. However, Star Wars has been such a huge influence in my life that I often turn to that legacy and story to see what my favorite characters would do.

One of my favorite moments is when Luke leaves Dagobah to rescue Han and Leia. Both Obi-Wan and Yoda warned against it and thought he should stay to complete more training. He didn’t listen to them and decided to go his own way. It was hard and I wonder if when he was dangling from Cloud City, he thought, “Oh man, I was an idiot.”

I also think about Queen Amidala, who stood up to an entire senate to fight for her people. When she decided to go back to Naboo and was warned against it, she went anyway because that’s where her people were.

I think about Qui-Gon who defied the Council and took Anakin on as his Padawan learner. It’s still debatable on if that was a good choice, but he followed what he believed was right and I give him credit for that.

I think about Leia whose belief that good can conquer all is why she is still in the same battle years after she thought the war had been won. She faces down her only son on the opposite side of the battlefield because she believes in what she is doing so strongly. In all honesty, I’m not sure I could do that. Would I be able to stand against my own child in such strong opposition? I’m not saying I would join them, but I could remove myself from the situation as I’d be too emotionally linked to make good decisions. But the Resistance has so much faith in her that they still accept her leadership without question, knowing that she is on their side.

I look to Rey who has become one of my favorite characters. She left Luke and his subpar training (yes, I believe it was subpar) on Ahch-To because she believed that she could save Kylo Ren. Her belief in doing what was right mirrored what Luke did all those years ago when he left Yoda on Dagobah.

 

So. Tell me. Have you been in a situation before where you had to do what was right even though it was hard? I need some…support.

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TLJ: The Resistance Story Line & Characters

This is Part I of IV in an ongoing series where I review The Last Jedi.

 

I watched The Last Jedi again over the Christmas break and I came away feeling much happier with the overall movie. The first viewing definitely felt disjointed for me, but it flowed a lot better the second time around. I understood both a) Johnson’s direction and why he could have chosen certain routes, or b) character motivations.

Now that I have two viewings under my belt, I’d like to go into a TLJ series and delve a little deeper into the different storylines and characters we met or got to know better.

 

The Resistance

The Resistance was pummeled again and again in TLJ. It’s a very dark, desperate movie for most of our protagonists. The wins for the Resistance are small, and even though they ended up destroying so much of the larger ships of the First Order by the end, I still did not feel like the Resistance by any means won or came out ahead. It felt more like they barely escaped, which essentially, is the truth of it. I think this movie showed us more about the “wars” in the Star Wars title than Rogue One.

I felt a slight stab to my heart when they released the beacon at the end of the movie but no one had come to their aid. I wonder how that will play into the next movie. Were other supporters tracking what was happening and saw them lose more and more members and realize it may not be worth it? Will they rally around when they see Rey with her lightsaber, a sign that a Jedi has returned, a sign of hope?

With the main Resistance plot, I had two slight issues with the First Order tracking the them through hyperspace: 1) It reminded me strongly of the first episode of Battlestar Galactica, almost to the point of a rip-off and, 2) it takes away the strength of lightspeed. With ESB, this was cleverly done by having the Falcon’s hyperdrive malfunction/break. With TLJ, it seemed like a cheap way to spin old plotline.

That aside, we’ve never had the Rebellion/Resistance stuck. Just stuck. Nowhere to go, losing fuel, with more and more members being killed off by the First Order. It was very painful to watch. I think this movie drove home the fact that you lose lives in war more than any other Star Wars movie. It’s something that underlies the other movies but not something that is blatantly obvious. With TLJ, you get that point in the first 15 minutes and it breaks your heart. I thought the beginning battle sequence had a slight ROTS similarity, but the death of Rose’s sister and her sacrifice for the Resistance was gut wrenching. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I was punched in the stomach that quickly into a Star Wars movie.

Poe

Poe is given a larger role in TLJ than he has in TFA and I enjoyed his character more. Thank goodness they gave him that scene in the beginning of the movie because otherwise he would have been a sitting duck the rest of the two hours. I’m glad we got to see some more of his pilot skills and some slight humor once more when he was bantering with General Hux.

I liked having Poe as a brash pilot who thinks and knows he’s that good that he can get away with what he wants. But he also strongly believes in taking the chances they have, which unfortunately ends up losing more lives than General Organa would like.

What I enjoyed immensely was how often he was put in his place by both Leia and Holdo. I feel like a lot of fans were upset about Poe’s treatment, which I understand, because we glorified the cocky, handsome pilot with Han but are punishing Poe. It’s easy to romanticize characters like Poe who are awesome at what they, but Poe is a working member of a military organization. If you are not obeying the rules of unity of command, then you are putting lives at stake and deserve to be demoted. He made constant mistakes throughout the movie by not being patient and it cost lives repeatedly. I believe that it was nice to see his behavior is not allowed and there are consequences for what he did. He lost too many lives for one chance. Was the chance worth it? Yes. But what if every good pilot was taking chances and not listening to orders? It can’t be allowed. And if it happens, there must be consequences.

Vice Admiral Holdo

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Vice Admiral Holdo. I thought she was a good addition in the sense that it was nice to see Leia have a female friend and I liked seeing another high-ranking member of the Resistance be a female.

In my first post after watching TLJ, I could not understand why Holdo did not tell Poe her plan and strategy. I was upset about it. Yet after reading some tweets between fans, I realized that the only reason I wanted her to tell her plan was because Poe is a main character. At the same time, it contradicted what I have just mentioned about the military organization. Why should a high-ranking officer tell a brash pilot their plan? Especially someone like Poe who can’t seem to be patient and respect a higher rank?

Holdo’s sacrifice towards the end of the movie drove home again the desperation of the Resistance. They finally catch a break and head toward Crait in transports only to find themselves getting destroyed. Holdo turns around and saves the remaining members of the Resistance by sacrificing her life. I wanted to cheer and cry at the same time.

As an addition to the movie, I’m not sure if Holdo was the strongest character, but I did appreciate her end. I went from being annoyed at her to admiring her. For a short amount of screen time, that’s impressive.

General Organa

The first time I watched TLJ, I was waiting for Leia to die the entire movie which made the movie a little distracting. Some of me wishes I had known she was not going to die, because then I could have watched her scenes with more interest, instead of trying to become slightly detached because I knew her death was imminent.

There is always one scene in each of the new movies that I can’t stand, and in this one it was Leia floating through space to get back to her ship. In a way, I thought the fake-death was a fitting ending for Leia’s character. Her son does not kill her, but it still gets her death out of the way early in the film. I also think it would have made Vice Admiral Holdo’s character stronger. Instead, she survives her stint in space while somewhat frozen, and propels herself back to her ship using the Force. It was just…silly. This is one of those scenes where people tend to either love it or hate it. I am going for the latter.

I enjoyed Leia’s character development for most of this movie. We saw her as a mother, a leader, and a friend. I don’t think we’ve ever seen that combination before. In TFA she was a mother, a lover, and a leader. It was nice to see her friendship with Holdo, another woman, as I mentioned previously. Her connection to Ben showed her strength in the Force, so much so that she knew he was going to shoot her ship, but then decided not to. When she demoted Poe in the beginning of the movie, it also kind of reminded me of her leadership in ANH, when she was being rescued by two kids who needed her rescuing more than she needed theirs.

My only disappointment with Leia, and I know so many people felt like this, is that the movie did not give her a satisfying death. Since we know she will not be in Episode IX, it would have been appropriate to find a time where she could die and work that into the storyline.

Crait

The last scene on Crait was interesting, mostly because it reminded me of a Star Wars Rebels episode. I’m finding as I continue to watch these movies under Disney, I see traces of how they are pulling the canon into a cohesive unit. Together, but separate. I liked that it was in old Rebel base so it tied back to the Original Trilogy and the Vulptexes (crystal foxes) also reminded me of how Rebels often finds ways to bring animals into their storylines. The most important part to take away from this scene/ending (other than the Luke/Ben showdown), was that Poe was taking over in command. It’s almost as if Leia gives her blessing when she tells everyone to follow him instead of looking to her. It’s a small moment, but I believe it will be critical to how we view Poe in IX.

One of the most important lessons I took away from TLJ was to always do the right thing, no matter how hard it might be. I talked with a lot of people who thought the overarching sentiment was to never give up hope. Yes, I believe that is true, but I came away with the fact that you never, ever give up doing what you believe is right. Even when all the odds are against you, you keep at it because that is what will produce the hope that others need.

 

What was the lesson you took away from watching the Resistance and it’s characters in TLJ?

This is Not Going to Go How You Think: My review on The Last Jedi

I wanted different.  I craved different. When they announced Disney would be buying Lucasfilm, I wrote about how I wanted them to pass the baton to a new set of characters and give me something fresh in the Star Wars universe.

Oh, they did. The Last Jedi is different. It’s similar, yes, to Star Wars, but they shook up the universe.

I felt that the first ½ of the movie was confusing, slightly forced, and didn’t really find it’s groove well. There were too many plot lines to follow (I counted four major ones) and it jumped around too much. The latter half more than made up for it. Once the main characters wrapped up their smaller plot lines and convened together (mostly), the movie got a lot better. Better, but very different than what I expected.

1.5 hours later…

I wrote a whole 5 page review  on a word doc that had such in depth feels and whatnot…but I’ve decided that instead, I will save them for separate posts for the next few months. That is much more easily digestible. No one would read 5 pages of my thoughts in this day and age.

Instead, I’ll highlight quick thoughts/feels/disappointments.

I liked:

  • The new twist on Star Wars. They gave us more to explore and more to think about. They opened more of the Force with the visions and the ability to be in more than one place – it almost had a TCW/Rebels feel that way. TCW and Rebels were always exploring new aspects of the Force and this just gave us more to chew on.
  • I’m glad her character didn’t fall to any kind of petty stupidity or need any man to rely on. That said – her chemistry with Kylo Ren! Oh man, they’ve got some good chemistry. When he asked her to go with him, the sensible part of me was saying she should not but the emotional part of me was saying GO GO GO! Her showdown against Snoke showed how untrained she is, but when she battled with Kylo Ren, it was one of the best scenes in the movie.
  • Do you think it’s true that her parents were nobodies? At first, I didn’t want to believe it, but now I’m becoming okay with it. They are trying to move away from the Skywalker legend (which they banged over our head a million times) so perhaps this is a way to show that the new hero can be a nobody (possibly a nod to Anakin who was also a nobdy).
  • Speaking of Snoke – he is no more and no explanation on who he is either. Great death though. I liked how he kept manipulating Kylo Ren. In the beginning he mocked him for his mask and said he felt the conflict, but when he needed something from him, he immediately turned the tables and said he was completely turned to the dark side. Butttt he didn’t see Kylo Ren killing him. Alas.
  • I loved how this movie explored that the Jedi Order was a horrible institution. I like how Rey was unafraid to confront the dark side, but still stay true to the light side of the Force. The fact that Ren’s conflict continues to grow is an interesting aspect to explore. With the Jedi order ending, we can now observe how the Force interacts with people, as could have been shown with that little kid at the end of the movie.
  • The little boy – how important of a role do you think he is going to play? Or do you think he’s only to show that a nobody can be strong in the Force?
  • I loved DJ. I loved seeing a smuggler, who was out for himself and went with the money. I must admit that I kept waiting for him to turn good or help them, but he didn’t, and I liked that he didn’t. We had that with Han and seeing someone only wanting to save their own skin for once was, strangely, refreshing.
  • The emphasis on animals. Anyone else notice that and find it interesting?

I didn’t like:

  • Leia’s floating scene. I think this went up there with the Rathtars for me. A few of my friends liked it because they said it spoke to the mysticism of the Force. I thought it was laughable. It also was a very appropriate place to kill her character. We all know at this point that Leia is not going to be in IX unfortunately. It was said that VII was for Han, VIII was for Luke, and IX was going to be for Leia. But now it’s turned on its head and IX will be … none of the three original heroes. So instead of ending her character in an appropriate place, they instead had her Force float back to the ship and live through the entire movie. Agh.
  • Maz. Why was she needed in this movie? Just because she was in TFA doesn’t mean she had to also be in TLJ. And being on the run while trying to talk to the Poe, Finn, and Rose? What? The whole sequence was bizarre.
  • The multiple storylines. Four storylines was a lot for the first half! I think Canto Bight could have been very interesting, but instead it felt forced due to the fact that the movie was constrained by time. If they had expanded it, made it more of a nod to Ocean’s 11 or a James Bond movie, it could have been fascinating. Instead, I think we lingered far too long with Poe and Vice Admiral Holdo and the Finn/Rose storyline was crammed into the movie.
  • I am not completely sold on Luke’s reason for becoming a hermit. I understood Luke’s shame and his reason for ending the Jedi Order. What I don’t understand is why he deserted his friends and family because of this. I could not match that up with the Luke from the OT. Even in ROTJ, where he is much more serious than the previous movies, he still has that optimism about himself. And for someone who spent 20 years of his life yearning to know his real family, I doubt he would have given up on Leia and disappeared on her.
  • Why didn’t Holdo tell Poe of her plan? Everyone is dying and no one has hope and she keeps this a secret? It doesn’t make sense. Can anyone shed some light?
  • The Force hologram/being in 2 places at once? I liked it and didn’t like it. I liked it because, like I mentioned, it gave us more things to explore and understand about the Force. What I didn’t like (and I might be in the minority here) is that I think it kind of cheapened the ending. It would have been so much cooler if Luke was actually there in person with all the blaster bolts trying to destroy him and facing Kylo Ren. Instead when I realized he was not there, it made me feel a little cheated.

Now that I have those brief thoughts out of the way, get ready for my super long post that I just wrote to be broken down into segments over the next few weeks.

 

Let’s discuss! Can’t wait to see what everyone else thought.

Machete Theory: Review

I did it. I watched 7 Star Wars movies over 7 weekends. You may be thinking, “Really? That’s a feat?”

Yes. Why yes, it is.

I have a 19-month-old toddler. I run my own business and I’m up early in the morning working and late at night working. We bought a new house that we have been working on. It is the Christmas season.

Dammit, yes, 7 movies in 7 weekends is a lot!

If you remember, I decided to prep for The Last Jedi by watching every Star Wars saga movie in the Machete Theory order.

To recap, I watched them in this order: IV, V, I, II, III, VI, VII. This is not the original Machete Order, but my version because I love TPM and TFA is a new addition.

I also tried to pretend I was watching these movies for the first time and being introduced to Star Wars as a rookie. (This is important as many people suggest showing your children the movies in this order or to people who have not seen the movies.)

My verdict? I was not impressed. In fact, I’m not sure I liked this viewing sequence. I’m happy I did it, to finally get it out of the way because I’ve been obsessed with it for a while, but I won’t do it again.

There are few reasons here. (Excuse my lists lately on blog posts; they help me organize my thoughts cohesively)

  1. It doesn’t make sense.
  2. The flow is horrible.
  3. You can’t get strongly connected to the characters.

 

Before going more into detail on the above points, I do want to point out one tremendous pro to the Machete Order: You get more invested in Anakin as a character.

This is, after all, the point of the Machete viewing. You follow Anakin’s story much closer than you do if you split the trilogies up. I find the character fascinating but I’ve never had the connection I feel for, say, Luke or Rey. Yet over these past few weeks, I’ve understood more about Anakin than I ever have when I watched the movies as single one-offs.

For that reason alone, I do say every fan should try watching the movies in this specific order at least once in their life.

Now onto why I wouldn’t watch it in this order again.

 

It Doesn’t Make Sense

This was the biggest surprise for me. If you are watching the order in Machete style for the first time, you do not know who Anakin Skywalker is.

Think about it:

  1. ANH – Kenobi mentions a pupil named Darth Vader betrayed and murdered Luke’s father.
  2. ESB – It is revealed Vader is Luke’s father. We don’t know his first name. (***Please note, I am referring to the ORIGINAL THEATRICAL version of ESB. The scene when Vader speaks to the Emperor via hologram is later edited in the DVD versions to include Anakin’s name)
  3. TPM – Anakin’s full name is not mentioned until…get this…the podracing scene where they refer to him as a “late entry” to the race. He introduces himself as Anakin quickly to Padme in the angel scene and his name is mentioned when Padme says goodbye. It’s not until the podracing scene that they say his full name is Anakin Skywalker. There are a lot more mentions of his last name during the podracing scene, which helps, but right now, I would believe we were following Obi-Wan’s life, not Anakin’s.
  4. AOTC – Suppose I skip TPM and follow the original Machete order. We still run into the problem that Anakin’s last name is not mentioned in relation to him! It’s worse than TPM as the only time we run into his last name is when he is looking for his mother.
  5. ROTS – By this point, it evens out and we understand that Anakin’s last name is Skywalker.

As you can see, this is a big problem. If you are watching Star Wars for the first time, it is essential that you understand that Anakin is Luke’s father. The Leia surprise can wait, but it’s vital to the viewing of the Saga to understand who Anakin is. By watching the Machete Order, it would take a long time to understand that Anakin was the father to Luke. Like I mentioned, while watching it this way, I believed I was seeing the story of Obi-Wan’s life, not Anakin.

The Flow

There is a reason the audience should watch them I-III or IV-VI, and then VII separately. The most obvious reason are the special effects. The special effects make such a big difference on how we view the movies and I often forget that since I’m so entrenched in the mythology and story of Star Wars.

The Original Trilogy has more of a slow, plot-driven feel to it. Even though the special effects are good, it’s an older movie now and I find myself trying to follow along with figuring out who the Empire is versus the Rebellion. The redeeming part is that the basic plot is easy to understand and the characters are very relatable.

After watching ANH and Empire, I jumped into TPM, AOTC and ROTS. It was very jarring and slightly absurd. With ANH and ESB, I felt like the plot was relatively easy to follow. When I went into TPM – I couldn’t understand a thing. It was much faster; the effects they used made the movie seem like BANG! KAPOW! ZOOM! It made the saga seem disjointed and there are so many new characters. Most of the characters we focus on from the OT are Luke, Leia, Han, Vader, Kenobi, the droids, and Yoda. In The PT we have bounty hunters, the Jedi Council, multiple senators, Jar Jar, and a new species in each movie.

The flow when watching in this order didn’t fit well together. Lucas created these pieces of art in two different times in his life and wanted them to represent two different times of the galaxy. When watching it as a newcomer, it is irritating and it was hard to get into the PT after coming from the OT.

 

Connecting to Characters

This relates to my above point about the flow. One of the greatest parts about Star Wars are the characters. It’s very hard to get a lasting connection to the characters when they are chopped up from their trilogies. There is a lot of character development in the OT, and by taking ROTJ out of its place following IV and V, you get disconnected from some of the greatest feelings you may have when watching the OT whole. By ESB, you are really rooting for the characters. When you turn heel, and move to the PT, you must rework your feelings and do a 180 to understand a completely new set of people.

As with the different flow, the variety of environments and new faces make it hard to really feel for anyone except Yoda and Obi-Wan in the PT. I would also argue that it’s harder to connect to characters in the PT than in the OT. I believe, again, this is because the OT feels a lot more plot and character driven than the PT, which relies more on events to drive the movies.

 

As for TFA, I did not feel strongly one way or another about it, as it followed in the correct sequential order. The one note I did have, however, was I believe it is more different from ANH than I sometimes think. Broadly, yes, it pulled from ANH often. But minutely, not so much. There are enough differences to make it feel like the start of a new trilogy, but still within the same universe.

 

All that aside, if you watch the Machete Order as a seasoned fan, I think it can be enjoyable. I gained new experiences and felt deeply for Anakin in a different way than I had before.

If anything, if you choose not to explore watching the movies this way, I do recommend at some point watching ROTS followed by ROTJ. It was refreshing to watch Anakin’s fall and then his redemption within those two movies.

 

And now ladies and gents…onto The Last Jedi.

Haiku Me Friday! Han and Leia on Hoth

I watched ESB last weekend, and I’ve always loved this image of Leia:

 

Her beauty is cold
Like Hoth, I’m frozen by her
I can’t run away

 

I based this week’s haiku off of that picture…I like the thought of Han’s conflicting feelings over Leia. She is beautiful, but in this instance, she has a very cold beauty about her – she doesn’t lend warmth. When Leia overhears that Han will be leaving the Rebellion and he comes to say goodbye to her, Leia stands there like an immovable piece of ice with no reaction. Yet, Han is paralyzed by it and some of me wonders if he really was going to leave. I think he was, but if she revealed any feelings or asked him to stay (because of how she felt, not his help to the Rebellion) he may have postponed his trip.

It’s so reflective of the environment they both are in: the ice cold planet and their cold relationship. She refuses to show Han any emotion, but you can tell he’s entranced by her. He’s very honest in their exchange later in the hallway (which, by the way, is so awkward – have you guys ever thought about the Rebels passing in between their exchange?) that he thinks she likes him.

Unfortunately, the problem with the exchange is that Han doesn’t share his feelings…he automatically flips them and places them on Leia. He points out that SHE wants HIM to stay because of her feelings for him. Though that may be true, I believe he also wants to stay because of the emotions he has developed for her. He feels trapped (frozen) by his feelings toward her and can’t run away. His declaration for leaving may have been a sham.

 

I think Lucas, at times, was very deliberate in the environments he chose. They reflected portions of what was going on with the heroes. In this specific instance, it reflected a relationship.

 

What is one of your favorite Han/Leia scenes?