Haiku Me Friday! Snoke and the Force

Twisted, deformed
But I am so much stronger
Should I use the Force?

I haven’t talked about Snoke in a while. But his theme music came on today when I pulled up my blog post to write so now is as good a time as any, especially with TLJ in less than a month.

***Please – I am trying to stay as spoiler-free as possible, so do not list any spoilers if you know them!

I’m interested to see what and who his character is. I have always stated strongly that I really, really hope he is not Palpatine. But at the same time – as we get closer to The Last Jedi, I find that I have more of an open mind. I’m not sure who he is, and some of me doesn’t really care.

Looking at the TV spot/trailer, it seems like he knows how to use the Force – or, it’s implied though it could be some fancy editing. I liked the theories out there that said Snoke is not a Force user, just a crazy manager of the Knights of Ren with extensive knowledge of, well, everything.

I think, in some ways, it would be weirdly delightful to have no explanation on him and he would be like Yoda – just enough info, but most of it is locked away. I know that won’t happen as Disney is going to try to exploit as much as possible – but I thought it would be an interesting turn to just accept a character for once, instead of knowing his entire back story.

I’m dreaming.

And if Snoke is Palpatine, I will be disappointed though I think not nearly as disappointed as when I was first speculating theories almost two years ago. I guess it could make sense, but I believe Disney is trying to lead us down the direction of thinking he is Palpatine (his disfigured face, looming presence, etc.) to throw the fans off.

In the end, does it matter?

Not that much. We’ll probably end up accepting the explanations they tell us.

 

What’s your favorite Snoke theory so far?

Advertisements

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?

Begun, A New Era Has: My review on The Force Awakens

I predicted I would love the movie yesterday and not be able to say anything but great things about it. While I did love and like it a lot, it took a while for me to get into it.  Longer than I thought and I did find some parts that did not sit well with me.

The Force Awakens reminded me of a new pair of shoes.  It was a little uncomfortable at first, something different that I needed to get used to.  But once I had worn it for a significant amount of time, the shoes melded to my feet and I love them.  It tooke a while for me to accept that this movie was the beginning of a new era in Star Wars: new characters, ships, and storylines to get used to.

I felt like the first 2/3 of the movies was story building – a lot of it.  To the point that sometimes I felt that it was a little slow and it was uncomfortable.  Though we were in the universe of Star Wars, it was different.  The galaxy had aged 30 years, the Empire is resurrected in a new form as the First Order, and we aren’t sure what has happened to the Rebellion.  The war that we thought was over is far from over and the Resistance, surprisingly I thought, is still a small faction (albeit more organized) trying to overthrow a large government.

General Notes – Spoiler Territory Ahead

The strengths of this movie pulled from the Original Trilogy with its humorous quips  and little touches that devout Star Wars fans would notice (there were definitely some EU shout outs as well).  The humor mostly came when Han was on screen, so I’d like to see how they are going bb-8to keep the humor going now that he’s dead.  I’m guessing Poe since he had that bad boy funny streak.  The format was like A New Hope in that we followed BB-8 on this journey, similar to how we followed R2-D2 and C-3PO previously.  I loved BB-8 and I understand why everyone fell in love with Artoo when Star Wars first came out.  I want my own BB-8 droid.

The Falcon appeared early in the movie and was the main mode of transportation, but man oh man, does it get beat up.  I cringed every time it hit the sand, but it kind of brought a realness to the situation that I appreciated.

I did not notice the soundtrack as much as I thought I would.  I feel like all the other Star Wars movies had distinct themes that you could go return to and love.  Duel of the Fates, Imperial March, Luke and Leia, Battle of the Heroes, etc.  I didn’t notice anything in The Force Awakens that had me rooting for a new tune.

Once everything was established, and we knew and understood the new characters Finn and Rey, the story began to take off.  The last 1/3 of the movie was Star Wars fun, with a big space complex to destroy (round per usual, but this time in the form of a Death Star converted to a large planet), a lightsaber fight, and some loss of beloved heroes.

In typical Star Wars fashion, there were some plot points that were nicely glossed over that left me scratching my head.  Such as:

  • Where did they get Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber?  Maz Kanata smoothed that over and basically said it was “a story for another time.”
  • Why was the lightsaber “crying” and Rey heard it?  Is this part of the maz kanata lightsaberForce?  Why did it give her all those images?
  • I would have liked to know more about the Republic that was destroyed by Starkiller Base.  It sounds like it was established at the end of ROTJ, but was it an actual governing force in the galaxy?  Is the First Order still the reigning government, or was it similar to a civil war or the Prequel Trilogy with the Separatists and the Republic?  But this time the Republic is the smaller group and the First Order is the larger?
  • R2-D2 basically shutting down didn’t make sense.  It was a neatly thrown in plot point and then he conveniently “woke up” at the end to help the Resistance find Luke…huh?

Characters

I loved Rey.  Rey was my favorite character, no question about it.  They didn’t try to make her a forced “strong female protagonist” as most of Hollywood seems to be trying to do right now.  They made her relatable, a real human being where you understood her actions and the consequences.  She could be male or female, which is what I loved.  There was no push on the romance and even now, I can’t figure out if her and Finn are going to become an “item” or if they are just friends who’ve been through a lot.  I want to know more about her history.  I’m guessing her parents were taken from her?  But who was dragging her away?  Is she somehow related to the Skywalkers?

Mr. Reticent noted that he thought her being captured by Kylo Ren was a Rey Kylo Ren gif“damsel in distress” situation, but I highly disagree.  It made sense with her character.  It allowed her to battle Kylo in the Force, come out victorious, and feel the Force awaken within her.  If they captured Han, it would be a little pointless.  If they captured Finn, there would be so much hullabaloo with him being a previous stormtrooper that there would be too much First Order protocol involved.

I thought Han was still Han, though I did feel like the movie was staged for his death a little too much (who called that?).  I liked his quips, his camaraderie with Chewie was still the same, and I thought it made sense that he was separated from Leia due to their son going to the dark side.  We couldn’t have Han and Leia madly in love because his death would be that much harder.  Abrams and the writers wanted to separate the audience from Han, to not make it *that* hard on us when he died.  Though I didn’t cry when he died, totally expecting it, I did get teary eyed when Rey came off the Falcon and had that moment with Leia.

Though the driving force of the movie was Luke Skywalker, it was frustrating how little they spent on where he had been in the past 30 years.  I know he disappeared due to the failure of his training and starting a New Jedi Order, but it was rushed.  It seems a little out of character for the Luke we know…wouldn’t he have at least stayed in touch with his sister and Han?  I hope we find out much, much more of his backstory in the upcoming films.  When I saw the last shot, I honestly thought, “Oh darn, the movie was just starting to get good.”

Finally, Kylo Ren.  Or, Ben Solo (interesting EU nod).  I went back and forth throughout the movie on whether or not I liked him.  On the one hand, he was not nearly as imposing or intimidating as I’d expect Kylo vs. Finnsomeone on the dark side of the Force to be.  On the other hand, I loved the character struggles he seemed to go through.  It added more layers to a dark side character that we’ve only really seen in Return of the Jedi.  Knowing Kylo was once good and even admits that he’s struggling when it came to his father was an interesting twist for Star Wars.  Vader never admitted he struggled with the light side.  I’m confused as to why he wore the mask, other than to emulate Darth Vader and his obsession with him.  Funnily, and I’m not sure if Abrams meant this, but the tantrums Kylo Ren threw were so much like Anakin that I wanted to pat him on the back and tell him he’s more like Anakin than he knows. I loved Adam Driver’s acting when it came to that moment when he killed his father.  I felt there was a real struggle within him, but when he made his decision, you could see this slight change in his face and oh, it was so perfect.  By the end of the movie, I wish we had more of Kylo and I’m interested to see where he will go in his training with Snoke.

Supreme Leader Snoke.  Where do I begin?  This was my one major gripe with the movie.  I thought he was a horrible addition.  It looks like he jumped straight out of a Tolkien novel/movie, with some zombie thrown in.  I can’t figure out if it was because he was so large or because of his species (whatever he is), but I thought he wasn’t believable.  Every time he came on the screen, the movie felt disjointed and took a step back, instead of forward.  I am curious as to whether it’s because he was so large, which made me think he just looked stupid.  When we see him in future movies, I hope that he is a normal height and not a hologram.  I wanted to see more of Kylo Ren and less of Snoke throughout the movie.

General Hux was like he came straight out of an EU novel: a typical Imperial General.  What I liked most about him was that he seemed to be an equal to Kylo and had no problems calling him out, another difference from the Empire in the Original Trilogy, where everyone was terrified of Vader (shhh…don’t tell Kylo that).  Captain Phasma didn’t have as large of a role as I was hoping, but I appreciate the shout out to female stormtroopers and the fact, again, that Phasma could have been male or female.  Maz Kanata was a nice replacement for Yoda/wise mage, but I’d like to see more of her.  I hope she continues to pop up throughout the new sequels, but is a true guiding force.  General Leia was not given as much screen time as I would have hoped.  She was the same, yet different, but they didn’t explore it much.  She had more of a cameo role than an actual part.  Poe Dameron was interesting and I hope we see more of him in the future.  I think he will be a really strong character, but more please.  More of Poe in the next movie.

star-wars-7-force-awakens-kylo-ren-captain-phasma-general-hux

I believe it took a while for the movie to establish itself, but once the foundation was built, it took my breath away.  Abrams did a great job clearly defining that the baton was being passed onto a new generation, which was one of my highest hopes.  I did not want a movie that only focused on Han, Leia, and Luke again – and this did not disappoint.

The only parts where it fell short for me was the lack of the mystical in the Force and Snoke.  I felt that the Force has always been such an important factor for Star Wars and guides all the movies, so to say, but it wasn’t strong within this movie.  I think we’ll see more of it coming up in the sequels and I certainly hope so.

Overall, I give The Force Awakens a solid B+/A-.  I’m seeing it again tonight so will hopefully have a better understanding and opinion of it once done.

 

Okay, phew, done.  LET’S DISCUSS.