Third Times the Charm

(Please, please, please…if you have been reading all the spoilers on the internet – do not write about them here!  These are all my own theories and I want to be happily correct or incorrect WHEN I SEE THE MOVIE and not beforehand.  Thanks.)

Okay.  So.  This:

This happened last night.

These are my thoughts in no particular order and I am spoiler-free so these are all just MY theories:

  • The most obvious question on everyone’s mind is…where’s Luke?  He was not on the trailer poster released Sunday.  He had a voiceover in the 2nd trailer but it was revealed at Celebration that he recorded that later, so it may not be in the movie.  My theory is that Luke is missing or he’s locked himself away for some reason and the plot revolves around finding him.  I do not think he plays a large part in this movie.
  • Rey is crying and it looks like she’s crying over a body (possibly dead?).  I believe she’s crying because Han dies.  I’ve believed from day one that Han will die in this movie only because it took a lot of convincing, and money, to get Ford to come back to Star Wars.  I think for that reason alone, his dragging feet, he will be written out of the story line.
  • L. Palmer refers to Poe Dameron giving Finn a “bro slap” when he goes off to his x-wing…but I kind of interpreted it differently.  I’m not sure that looks friendly to me, nor do I think Finn thinks it’s friendly.  He looks a little thoughtful and definitely not happy after Dameron walks away.  It could just be that they’re heading into battle so everything is serious, but I’m curious.
  • And speaking of Dameron…dude what are you doing hanging out with Kylo?  What is that all about?  There has been so much speculation since character names were announced that Poe is evil because of his name but I’m not seeing any evidence of that – until now when he’s chilling with Kylo.  Okay, he looks like he’s in a lot of stress and may be getting tortured, but he’s still with him.  finn gif tfa
  • Rey’s accent is English, Finn’s is American.  I was sure, and still am leaning towards, that Rey is the daughter of Han and Leia.  I also have this wild theory that Kylo and Rey are siblings (maybe twins) and she’s hiding from him on Jakku (which I believe is actually Tatooine, but renamed after the Empire fell because it’s WAY too similar to Tatooine and we go to Tatooine in the first movie of both trilogies).  That could be why she’s trying to be “no one”.  Maybe she doesn’t want Kylo to know where she is.  Not sure how all this ties into my theory of her being Han and Leia’s daughter unless she got hidden at birth (like some other twins we know!!).
  • Kylo Ren wants to finish what Vader started.  What the heck did he start?
  • Nice juxtaposition in the trailer of Finn being aimless versus Kylo who seems to have a very clear direction.
  • Kylo will whoop Finn’s butt in the lightsaber battle at the end.  Finn looks nervous and not confident at all.  Maybe this is where Luke comes in and saves the day?  That would be awesome.
  • How does Finn get the lightsaber?  It sounds like, from all the trailers and the title, that the Force can “awaken” in you if you know how to let it in or let it emerge.  So does this get rid of the notion from the Prequels that you are either born with the Force or not born with the Force?  That’s a lot to erase from something that is officially canon…
  • Not sure if anyone has noticed over the trailers and the cool San Diego Comic Con clip that was released – Finn and Dameron share/switch jackets.  To me, it looks like the jacket belonged to Dameron, maybe Finn helped rescue him, and gets the jacket from him?  I only say this because of that brief, split second clip from SDCC when we see Poe being hurtled off in Starkiller Base (or a Star Destroyer) by two stormtroopers and he’s wearing the leather jacket.  Perhaps Finn is one of the troopers leading him away?
  • I think it might be Lupita/Maz doing the majority of the voiceover in this trailer.  “Who are you?…The Force…it’s calling to you.  Just let it in.”
  • It’s kind of cool to see how Han did a 180 from ANH to this trailer.  Now he believes in Jedi vs. telling Obi-Wan to shut up on his nonsense.
  • Lots of other Kylo Ren peeps standing around Kylo Ren…probably the Knights of Ren we’ve been hearing about.  But why don’t they get lightsabers?
  • Anyone see the cool Mandalorian skull on the flags around that temple?  Also, a droid!  JJ is not completely ignoring the Prequels!  It definitely looks more Prequel than OT.
  • Did you notice BB-8 is all over the place?  He’s with Rey, Finn, and Poe during this trailer.  Which makes me think that maybe he doesn’t really “belong” to anyone, or he plays a more pivotal role that any of us suspect.
  • I hate the name Captain Phasma, but she’s starting to grow on me because she looks BAD ASS.  Bring it.
  • Another trench on Starkiller Base.  Another blowing up of a gigantic battle station?  Please no.  Let’s try to be more original.

And finally, here is what I think the timeline of events is based on the trailers:

Dameron gets captured by the First Order.  Finn is a stormtrooper, has a change of heart, rescues him. Gets in trouble, rey the force awakens with bb8escapes via TIE and the Star Destroyer shoots it down.  He ends up on Jakkooine (my friend’s and I term for Jakku) and meets Rey. He’s a wanted man so they escape on the Falcon (still hazy on how she ends up with the Falcon other than she has been repairing it in her junkyard? Maybe?) to the Resistance.  Somehow they have to go find Luke because Kylo and his Knights of Ren are being talked about.  Finn and Han go to find Luke.  End up at a temple where maybe Maz or Luke is.  Finn gets a lightsaber.  No idea what happens to Rey.  There is a climatic battle at the end where Finn ends up facing Kylo, Han dies, Poe blows up battle station (boo).

As you can see, lots of holes!  But that’s my basic prediction…and I’ve got less than two months until I find out!

I got 7:00pm Imax tickets for December 17th.  Woot.  Excited.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS??  SHARE!

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Book Review: A New Dawn

a new dawn book cover

First of all, if anyone wants my copy of A New Dawn, I will gladly send it your way for free.  Yup, I’ll pay for shipping too.  If I’m not going to read a book again, I like to share the love and give it to someone else who may appreciate it.  And from there, I hope the book karma continues.

A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller follows the life of Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla before they had formed the crew of Ghost as we know it in Star Wars Rebels.  The novel shows how they met and how they decided to stay together as a team.  Watching SWR, I always loved Kanan and Hera’s relationship.  They have a great friendship and my hope is that Disney does not take it in the direction of a romantic relationship only because I think that it’s so rare to see examples of male/female friendships on TV and in movies…so I love seeing this one that works.  And it works so well.

But how did it get to that point?  When did they first meet?  That’s what A New Dawn goes to show us.  The novel has its moments, and I enjoyed some of it, but there were parts that really bothered me as well.

**Spoiler Warning**

We start off by following Kanan and learning that he’s kind of this lone ranger guy (didn’t see that coming).  He works hard at very standard, physical jobs but doesn’t stick around in a place long enough to make lasting friends.  At one such job, there’s a man named Skelly, a former Clone Wars veteran who knows how to build explosives and understands the workings of the planet Cynda and the damage the Empire is doing to it by mining out thorilide.  Kanan realizes it’s finally time to start leaving this planet because he’s been there too long when the Empire starts showing a special interest in its raw material and sends Count Vidian (cue bad guy music) there to make use of it.  Skelly makes a mess of things and Kanan is forced to stick around a little longer than he would have liked, and by mistake, gets attached to Skelly as the story goes on.

Hera enters the story because she is already part of the Rebellion and they want her to find out what Count Vidian’s up to.  Now, it might not officially be the Rebellion yet, but let’s keep it at that for simplicity’s sake.  As she follows around Count Vidian, she inevitably meets up with Kanan and Skelly where they have a bunch of adventures trying to stop Vidian from destroying Cynda.  Skelly dies, as does Vidian (naturally), and Kanan and Hera go off and form a team together.  Though reluctant to have Kanan as her partner, as she also operates alone in missions, Hera does eventually give in and see the advantage of having Kanan with her due to his personality, ethics, and quick thinking in tight spots.  Having the Force probably helps too.

There’s the basic story.  My real thoughts are:

Pros:

  • Kanan and Hera’s relationship stayed strictly as friends. You can tell Kanan wants something more and finds her SloaneKananattractive, but Hera keeps him at a good distance.  Going into this novel, I was most worried about a romantic back story, but none of that happened.
  • A good amount of female characters. We see a female commanding officer of a Star Destroyer in the Empire: Captain Sloane.  There’s also Hera, Lal Grallik (a woman Besalisk manager who mines thorilide), and Zaluna, a Sullustan Imperial spy, but not by choice. She ends up turning on the Empire and helping out Kanan and Hera.  She was my favorite new character in the novel.  Oh yeah, and there are female stormtroopers. Not sure how I felt about that one as I’m not sure it makes sense.  I always assumed the Empire was largely misogynistic at that point in the timeline.
  • Weirdly, you kind of root for the Empire in a strange way towards the end. Miller does a good job at showing the reader that it’s not always cut and dry, good and bad.  When Sloane plays a part in stopping Count Vidian, despite all the promises he threw to her, you cheer for her even though you have a moment of, “Oh wait – but the Empire is bad.”
  • Kanan does a good job at hiding his abilities in the Force. I think as an author, it can be tempting when you have a character with “superpowers” to bring these into the story consistently.  If I remember correctly, Kanan only showed his Force abilities 3 times in the novel, and twice would make it seem questionable to an outsider.  The last time, he saves him and Hera from impending death (of course) and it makes her see him in a new light. Though the last instance was somewhat predictable, I didn’t mind as much because I knew it had to happen eventually.

Cons:

  • Not enough time with Hera. We did get into her point of view occasionally, but didn’t find out much about her background. There was a lot more of that with Kanan and I felt that though the author could have set out to make this a Kanan/Hera story equally, it felt like there was WAY more emphasis on Kanan.  So in the end, it was a male driven story.
  • The story line as a whole seemed like it was trying just a little too hard and playing a little too safe. Miller wanted to make it as Star Wars as possible, but instead it got boring at times and felt predictable. The plot was very convenient and set up in a way that things fell nicely into place.  He wrapped it up in a nice little box that says “Star War Novel”, when instead, the stories that stand out in the EU are the ones that broke new ground and gave us something different, but felt similar.
  • Speaking of predictable, the main nemesis, Count Vidian was not that interesting. I felt like he was General Grievous all over again.  Intelligent, cyborg-ish, and ruthless.    Whenever we were in his point of view, I realized I just didn’t care.

My main gripe with this book is that I wanted more Hera involvement.  I wanted to understand her character, what drove her to ANewDawnbe so passionate about getting rid of the Empire, and what her past was like.

The best thing out of this book is getting to know a lot more about Kanan and understanding that while the Empire is evil, there are some beings within it that make it even more evil.  And sometimes you have to pick between a lesser evil and greater evil, which was what happened at the end of the novel.  You may not be able to take out the entire Empire, but maybe taking out one horrible Count is enough of a small victory.

I’d give A New Dawn 3/5 stars.  It’s a solid book and there are parts of the novel that felt really Star Wars to me, but there were also quite a few times when I thought Miller was trying a little too hard.

Want to read this book?  Let me know.  I’ll mail it to you.

Book Review: Choices of One

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

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

Scene it on Friday – ESB Scene #96

Admiral_piett

(So guys, I swore I had posted this yesterday, but looks like I still have to figure out WordPress’s new posting feature. Sorry about that!  I guess it’s a Scene it on Saturday now.)

Let’s talk about this scene. Why didn’t Vader kill Piett? Clearly Admiral Piett fears that his death is coming. They disabled the hyperdrive on the Falcon, were planning on capturing the Rebel leaders, and then…the Falcon heads into hyperspace and they wiggle out of the Empire’s grasp once more.

And Vader does nothing? He doesn’t even glance at Piett for this mistake, but yet killed Admiral Ozzel and Captain Needa previously for their blunders. The only reason I can think of is that he was just talking to Luke through the Force.

Was Vader so engrossed in thinking about Luke, the revelation he just made, and thinking he may have a chance to take down the Emperor, that he doesn’t mind so much that they got away? Sure, he didn’t capture Luke as he intended, but his purpose was still basically completed. Was he already thinking of the next steps in his larger scheme that he didn’t pay much mind to the Falcon’s escape?

The only other option I can think of is that Admiral Piett was actually somewhat competent and he knew he would need his best men in the upcoming days. Maybe Ozzel and Needa just weren’t that good and made too many mistakes.

Whatever the reason, Piett looks just as surprised as everyone else. I mean, his face! When they lose the Falcon! Priceless. Such a great moment of acting on his part. You feel the fear with him as he knows his death has just come (as does everyone else if you watch them). And then…Vader keeps walking. WHY?

Please feel free to chime in.

vader loses the falcon

INTERIOR: VADER’S STAR DESTROYER — BRIDGE 

Admiral Piett and another captain glance at Vader in terror. Vader turns slowly and walks off the bridge, his hands held behind his back in a contemplative gesture.

Scene it on Friday – ROTS Scene #51

fire the emergency booster grievous

Ohhhhhh, Lucas, why must you have such short scenes in the Prequels? Especially AOTC and ROTS. I can’t write anything about them when you do this to me!

Here are some interesting tidbits about the ship:

  • Operated by 600 droids, commanded by real people, aliens, etc.
  • The ships were easy to modify to suit someone’s desire because of modular compartments. An example of such ship would be the one in this scene, General Grievous’ ship named The Invisible Hand. Modifications include:
    • Aft reactor bay rearranged to provide more hanger space, dorsal fin refitted into spacious quarters.
    • Turbolasers, 34 dual laser cannons, two capital scale ion cannons, 12 point-defense ion cannons, and 8 proton torpedo batteries.

In reference to the booster engines from wookiepedia:

The thrusters could be arranged to provide different emergency settings, the main one using blast shields to redirect the ion particles exiting the thrusters, and provide a breaking thrust which slowed the ship’s movement during an atmospheric descent. A similar setting utilized emergency booster engines to slow the ship. In addition to thrusters, a Providence-class ship could utilize airbrake panels that lined the ship to slow descent in an atmosphere.

Little trivia tidbit: in the commentary behind the scenes, good ol’ Georgie refers to the Invisible Hand as a “Star Destroyer”. Gotta love him.

Okay, I tried. Have a great weekend!

Invisiblehand

INTERIOR: BRIDGE – TRADE FEDERATION CRUISER

GENERAL GRIEVOUS: Fire the emergency booster engines.

PILOT: Leveling out, sir.