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?

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Haiku Me Friday! Krennic’s Obsession

 

Honor and glory
For me or for the Empire?
I’ll get what is mine

As much as I wasn’t a fan of Rogue One, I did love Director Krennic. I thought he was one of the best characters. Like General Hux, he is obsessed with the Empire and himself. The Empire is a way to bring him power, prestige, and honor so he exploits it and uses it to his advantage.

Both Krennic and Hux rise up through the ranks through their obsession for power. The loss of innocents doesn’t concern them or bother them as both have been in charge of mega battle stations with the ability to wipe out planets.

With Hux, I’ve already discussed that he was basically brainwashed by his father into believing the First Order was the “be all, end all”. Hux went through life replicating what happened in his life into the lives of the Stormtroopers legions he created. He took them from birth, brainwashed them with First Order doctrine, and they became loyal servants to the First Order (not FN-2187 but I guess not even Hux is perfect).

Krennic’s life was slightly different. He grew up in the age of the Republic and joined their Special Weapons group. He met Galen Erso during that time. When the Clone Wars ended, Krennic merged with the Empire and worked on the Death Star. There are a lot of nitty gritty details in there, but it seems like Orson Krennic became obsessed with seeing the Death Star through to completion. To Krennic, the Empire was merely a tool that helped aid him in bringing the beloved Death Star to life.

Though Hux and Krennic are different, they both are out to prove something and gain power. Hux was more entrenched in the doctrine of the First Order from birth, whereas Krennic didn’t seem to care about Republic vs. Empire, as long as whatever the reigning government was, it allowed him to work on the Death Star, and in turn, gain power and recognition for it.

Though I’m fascinated with both characters, I always found it hard to imagine being in their shoes (thank goodness). How are you able to destroy planets with thousands of innocent people on it with no hesitation?

In a way, these characters are only feeding their obsessions and working towards them with such a driving force that nothing gets in their way. They have no balance in stability. What they want, they will get.

With Krennic, we saw where that got him. His need to prove that the Death Star could blow up an entire planet and was the “ultimate power in the universe,” cruelly and ironically blew up in his face, LITERALLY YES PUN INTENDED.

But Hux? I’m interested to see what the end is for Hux, if there is one. I love Hux more than Krennic, though I find I’m an anomaly amongst other Star Wars fans. Where does his ambition for power take him? And will it be his undoing like it was for Orson Krennic?

 

Ranking the Soundtracks

I’ve been sitting on writing this post for a while.  I thought it would be fun, in follow up to the post I wrote years ago on the best compositions in Star Wars (here and here), to instead write my rankings of the soundtracks.  Instead of individual pieces, I wanted to look at the soundtracks as a whole.  Which do I think are the top and which do I think make it to the bottom?

The only reason I’ve been sitting on it for so long is because IT’S SO HARD.  It changes often but I wanted to imagine someone asking me to give my final answer, as if I were playing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and something was on the line.

After much thinking (like two months, seriously), here is my own personal Best of Star Wars Soundtracks list:

8.  Rogue One.

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I didn’t really like Rogue One as a movie or it’s the fact that John Williams did not write the soundtrack that caused this movie to be on the bottom, but there you go.  The second time I watched it, I did come away feeling slightly more kind towards the music, but I think both having a different composer and not enjoying the movie was a double whammy that landed this at the bottom of the list.  Plus, it never had the wonderful themes that we love so much played enough throughout it.  I am planning on listening to it more, but for now, it ends up on the bottom.

7.  Attack of the Clones

One of my favorite pieces is Across the Stars.  It wows me and moves me every time I listen to it.  But as a whole, AOTC is slightly underwhelming.  There are probably about 2-3 tracks that I would want to listen to that on the soundtrack and if I were being perfectly honest, none of them stand out like Across the Stars.

6.  A New Hope

Agh, I hate even ranking this soundtrack so low because A New Hope introduced the world to Star Wars music.  Some of my favorite tracks of all time are in ANH.  But if I was looking at it as a whole, ANH involves too much brass in it’s soundtracks to make me rank it any higher.  The staccato, brass music is not my style and I don’t like listening to it too much and often skip most of the tracks.

5.  The Force Awakens

Number 5 and 4 are in close competition.  I love Rey’s theme and it was my top listened to track of 2016 (according to Spotify).  Currently, my most listened to track is The Jedi Steps.  Clearly, I love some of the pieces.  March of the Resistance and Kylo Ren’s theme (okay not really called that but it’s played whenever he comes on screen) are also really well done.  I originally did not like the soundtrack that much but as time has gone on, I have listened to certain tracks at least once a week.  I love it, but the reason it’s still ranked lower than most is that I believe I love it because I’m a Star Wars fan.  When leaving the theater, there were not many pieces that made me want to run home and figure out which music was playing when.   My love affair with the TFA soundtrack grew over time as a fan, but I don’t think there is anything in the soundtrack that stood out to the casual viewer.

4.  The Phantom Menace

I love TPM’s soundtrack.  It was a fresh new sound to the Star Wars music and set the Prequels off on the right foot.  The Naboo Palace was one of my favorites, and I loved the battle droid music.  Anakin’s theme was softer than expected but had hints of darkness at the end.  Duel of the Fates is unbeatable and is still one of my favorite tracks of all time.  I probably also rank it higher because it was the first Star Wars soundtrack I ever owned (on cassette!) so nostalgia plays a big part in this decision.

3.  The Empire Strikes Back

There are some great pieces in ESB, namely of course, The Imperial March.  That track is SO GOOD.  I love the Imperial March and could listen to it over and over again.  I also love Yoda’s theme and the music played throughout Cloud City at the end of the soundtrack.  The Asteroid Field and Han and Leia are excellent tracks that round out this soundtrack and brings it to the next level.  I feel like this soundtrack is balanced well, but again, not something I could probably listen to over and over again.  The key pieces are amazing but there are some others in there that bore me.

2.  Revenge of the Sith

I think ROTS is one of the most underrated soundtracks out of all the Star Wars movies.  The expanse of what the soundtrack covers is breathtaking.  Some of the most moving pieces in the Saga come from ROTS.  Battle of the Heroes is the most prominent track, but Padmé’s Ruminations still stands up there as one of my favorite compositions of John Williams.  Every time I listen to it, I actually DON’T want to listen to it because of the breadth of emotions it pulls from me.  I think General Grievous’ theme is brass done well.  The soundtrack flows in a way that even without seeing the movie, you can follow along with the music and feel your soul move.  It starts out fast, clipped, and semi-dangerous.  By the end, your heart is broken and full of foreboding.  If I had never seen the movie, I would still be able to feel the emotions I am supposed to.

1.  Return of the Jedi

I place ROTJ first because it’s a soundtrack where I like almost every single one of the compositions created by John Williams.  Not only does it flow well, but it mixes some of my favorite music throughout the entire soundtrack.  We have the Force theme, the main theme, Luke and Leia, the Emperor’s theme, some of the Imperial March, the second Death Star battle, the Ewok’s forest battle music, and the celebration at the end.  It’s bittersweet in some places, we find resolution in other pieces, there is fear, hope and tension woven throughout the soundtrack.  If I had to listen to one soundtrack from the Star Wars universe for the rest of my life – it would be this one.

 

I’m surprised that I picked ROTJ as my favorite of all time (for now).  I didn’t expect it when I first started out with this project.  Yet out of all the movies, it’s soundtrack has most of the compositions that I enjoy.

 

If you had to – how would you rank your favorite Star Wars soundtracks?

The Highs and the Lows: 2016

Another year has come and gone.  I always feel like 12 months is so long in the beginning of the year and then at the end, I feel like it was a blink of an eye.  “The days are long, but the years are short,” is what someone told me when ARM was a newborn and I totally get it now.

This blog didn’t have so well of a year as it did in 2015, primarily for two reasons:

  1. I posted a lot less, and
  2. TFA really helped out my blog last year.

That said, it didn’t do as badly as I feared either!  Only ~7000 views less than last year.  My most viewed post was Costuming & Characters on Princess Leia, followed by the Han Solo, and lastly Luke’s costume analysis.  I remember how long those took to write last year so I’m happy to see they are still getting traction.  My most viewed post that I wrote in 2016 was In Which I Defend General Hux and Speculate on Supreme Leader Snoke.

When searching the Internet, most people came to my site by way of “pregnant Padmé”, “Boushh Scene” and “Princess Leia Endor Ewok costume”.

 

2016, overall, was a great year for me personally.  In fact, there were more highs than lows which is always a GREAT thing, but I feel like the lows had longer effects.

 

The Highs of 2016

  • Obviously my daughter’s birth. With a middle name of Rey, I’m hoping this child grows up strong in the Force, independent; open to change, and a kind hearted person.  After having two failed pregnancies, it was nice to see this come to fruition and meet our own
    One of my favorite photos taken in Ireland

    One of my favorite photos taken in Ireland

    child at last.  I really was hoping she would come to this world on a Star Wars date, but alas, that didn’t happen.  I love her anyway though.  😉

  • We still traveled quite a bit this year: Florida in the earlier part of the year, Ireland and London in October, and Nashville in November.  I went by myself to NYC last month as well.  I’ve wanted to go to Ireland for years so it was nice to finally have that dream of mine come true.  I loved the Western Coast the best and we stayed in a beautiful, relaxing Airbnb right on the coast.  The backyard was a cliff to the ocean! London was way more fun than I thought it would be and I sincerely hope that I get to go back one day. We visited family and stayed for two days and I really wish I had stayed longer!
  • My business continued to thrive, despite having to figure out an unpaid maternity leave. I lost some clients, but also gained some!  I have also learned how to be picky on who I bring on as a client as my new schedule with a young baby does not give me as much availability as before.  But on the other end, I now am working very early in the morning and until late at night, so there is a darker side.

 

The Lows of 2016

  • The election. I actually had a whole post devoted to this, but then scrapped it because I don’t want my blog to be about politics.  But I can write about it briefly here!  In a nutshell – I am a registered Republican, but was/am appalled by Donald Trump.  I am trying to keep an open mind now that he’s been elected, but I do worry about the direction our country is headed.  That said, I did not think padme-gifHillary Clinton was a good choice either…but I thought she was the lesser of two evils.  Trump reminded me of the Empire, in fact, many times uncannily so.  I am hoping I will never need to say Padmé’s famous line of “So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause,” during the next four years.
  • My health. My health has taken quite a beating this year and I am still having issues.  I got the flu back in March and let me tell you – when you have any kind of sickness and your pregnant and/or breastfeeding – life gets a whole lot harder!  Being pregnant with the flu was horrible.  You can only take Tylenol, and not a lot of it, but it doesn’t help much.  If I got a coughing fit, I would pee my pants due to the baby sitting on my bladder/extra pressure.  It took a good month and a half for me to feel well again.  Fast forward to mid-October, I get another cold…that hasn’t gone away.  I found out I had strep throat for a few weeks without knowing it.  I took the antibiotics and broke out in a horrible rash.  I stuck with them and though I am slightly better, I am not 100% and it’s been 3 months now.  I went to a naturopath Monday and am hoping I start to get better.  We are experimenting with cutting out lactose for a few weeks (ugh) and she has me on a few different supplements as well.
  • The death of my grandmother and godmother. I was not especially close with my grandmother and she lived in Australia, but it’s still a family member.  I have funny memories of her and she was quite a quirky woman (the complete opposite of my dad).  However, she was older, in a nursing home, and it was an unspoken thought that it was only a matter of time.  But I was close to my godmother, despite the distance.  She died unexpectedly and that is always hard to deal with.  I still have all her texts on my phone and even now, a few months later, I can’t believe she’s gone.
  • This blog and learning a new life with a baby. I’ve definitely been posting a lot less since having ARM.  I knew it would happen but it’s funny how fast the weeks go by.  I’ll have a draft started and it may take me 2 weeks to finish it!  Or, I work on a post and by the time I’m almost done, I change my mind and decide it’s now irrelevant (a lot of Rogue One posts had that happen).  I also haven’t been able to keep with other people’s blogs on WP as much as I would have liked either.  Having a baby is a total adjustment.  Not only with blogging, but with life.  If people joke around that marriage is a ball and chain, life with a baby is that x10!  My life revolves around her nap time.  If something wakes her up too early during her nap time…ugh, I’ve almost had break downs.  Nap time is my time and it’s interesting at how much I cherish those few hours now.  I love her, but it’s hard to take time for yourself.  (Please note that this is barely a “low” of my life – it’s more of a big change)
  • Carrie Fisher’s death. I guess 2016 was not content with the death of Kenny Baker, our beloved Artoo, it also had to take our beautiful princess from us.  I think anyone my age knew that we would be alive to see the main 3 OT characters die, but no one wants a shocker death.  I’m curious as to what this means for the other saga films (she was done filming VIII, but was slated to also appear in IX) and what they are going to do with it.  I don’t want more CGI Leia, but it may be the only option at this point.  Killing her off-screen would be cheap and CGI would suck.  So we’re left in a no win situation.

 

MTFBWY Carrie Fisher on your next adventure

MTFBWY Carrie Fisher on your next adventure

2016 was overall a much better year for me than the past two.  I had very little lows that actually connected to my life, other than the death of my grandmother and godmother.  The birth of my daughter, though an adjustment to my life, has been so amazing.  Now that she is past the newborn stage, I’m loving her more and more every day.  She’s the joy of my life and I look forward to hanging out with her (isn’t that weird?  She can’t even talk).

In 2016, I learned that time passes even when you think it’s going so slowly.  There were moments of doubt, days with little sleep, fatigue due to sickness, and so much but I did learn that the “days are long, but the years are short.”  It’s so, so true.  My goal in 2017 is to appreciate more, love more, complain less.  Easier said than done, but it’s been so easy for me to fall into the complaining trap, especially when sleep deprived.  Is a positive attitude that hard?  Is smiling a struggle?  My goal is to fly a little bit more casual.  I have so much to be thankful for; I am so blessed.  I need to remind myself of that every day.

Thanks to all you guys for sticking around as I posted less in 2016 and my life has continued to evolve.  Here’s to Episode VIII.  Let’s hope Rey is as awesome as she was in TFA and has more personality than Jyn (teehee).

 

MTFBWY.

Haiku Me Friday! Luke’s Solidarity

A single Jedi Alone for most of his life Will Rey bring a change?

A single Jedi
Alone for most of his life
Will Rey bring a change?

I had a strange realization last night.  Luke is alone as a Jedi for most of his life.  The fate of the Jedi rests on him as soon as Obi-Wan died.  It’s such a strong juxtaposition compared to the Prequels where we see the Jedi in numbers.  In TFA it’s worse than it ever was – he’s a hermit on Ahch-To with no other human beings around.  He retreats due to failures and it seems like he may not want to train Jedi again…perhaps it’s come full circle and he has the same feelings as Yoda?  Perhaps he will also tell Rey he’s too old to train another Jedi?  Too scared of failure?

From reading Bloodline, the book indicated that he spent time with Ben Solo and worked to train him but it didn’t seem to imply that he had ever gone off in search of other Jedi to build a Council or anything similar to what they had in the PT.

Will Rey change this?  I wonder if this next Sequel Trilogy will leave us with the feeling that the Jedi will eventually expand in numbers?  Or will it only be Luke and Rey taking on the world?