Friday, January 20, 2017

Heartbroken



I really haven't been able to post this.  I still can't accept it...or believe it.  It's going to be rambling & messy.

When I heard Carrie Fisher had a heart attack on a plane on Dec. 23rd I broke down and ugly cried.  I cried on & off all day.  I had a knot in my stomach, had trouble sleeping & had no appetite until they announced her passing on the 27th.  Then, I cried all day, again. I cried all week.  I find myself crying on & off as I write this.



 I can't begin to tell you what she meant to me.  I never met her & I don't know her personally, but you don't need to know someone personally for them to mean something to you.

Her death brought up many feelings.  My Grandpa Tucker's death when I was 16.  A fierce & funny personality, not unlike Carrie.  My friend Chris passing in 2012.  Star Wars fan & Leia lover.

Everybody has shared their stories & feelings.  I'm a little late because I truly just don't accept this.  I feel like we've moved into some weird alternate timeline that sucks. Really, really sucks.  I'm going to share my story, mostly for me.  It's nothing special.  It's not an extraordinary tale.  It's probably very similar to millions of others.

When I was a youngling of 3 years of age, my parents went to the drive-in, the Comet Drive-In & took me along.  That movie was "Star Wars". All I really remembered was the horrifying burned bodies of Aunt Beru & Uncle Owen, the twin suns setting & the music as Luke looks out across the desert, the swing across the chasm & the trench run.  I also remember it was raining.  I don't know if these are real memories or just the way my brain put them together.

I was 5 when "The Empire Strikes Back" came out & 8 or 9 when Jedi came out.  I remember wondering if Han was ever going to get out of that Carbonite.  I can remember running through the house shouting that a "Revenge of the Jedi" commercial just came on!  I pleaded with my parents to take me to see this film.  The Drive-In had long since closed.  The closest theater was 30 miles away.



They took me & my brother.  We went opening weekend, I think.  I remember there was a line outside the theater.  I can still remember how excited & anxious I was.

Return of the Jedi is where I thought my love of Leia started.  When she took off that bounty hunter mask after saving Han my mouth dropped open.  It was the single coolest thing I had ever seen.  Princess Leia just saved Han!  To this day, Leia in Bounty Hunter disguise is one of my favorite characters, toys, action figures ever!  A Princess saving a "Prince" long before it was hip or fashionable.



I remember the car ride home.  I cried & cried & cried.  Why?  I thought it was all over.  Star Wars was over.  The characters I loved would never return to the big screen.  Darth Vader was dead, along with the Emperor, Luke was a Jedi, Leia & Han were totally going to hook up & that was it.  The End.  I silently prayed to whatever gods could hear me that Star Wars would return someday & that Star Wars would be forever.



I remember that moment I walked into Barnes & Noble & saw that book.  The book.  "Heir to the Empire".  It had Luke & Leia & Han on the cover!  WHAT!?  I bought it immediately and thus my entrance into the Expanded Universe began.  I've read more Star Wars books than any other type of book.  Star Wars books & comics expanded the characters I loved so much.  I even had my own story of a secret & forbidden relationship between Mon Mothma & Admiral Ackbar.  Leia was fleshed out more.  She struggled to come to terms with her family ties to Vader & her Force sensitivity.  We got to read her being a leader & a politician & a badass. We got to read her using a lightsaber. Timothy Zahn took nothing away from her.



At the same time, in real life, Carrie Fisher began writing books.  Postcards from the Edge being one that eventually became a movie.  My love of Leia made me interested in the person that brought her to life.  My obsession with Star Wars spilled over into the actors real lives.  When people would make fun of Mark Hamill because he "hadn't worked since Jedi", I had a long list of his accomplishments memorized.  When people asked, "What ever happened to Carrie Fisher", I could list off all her books at what number they had reached on the New York Times bestseller list.  I'm almost impossible to beat at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit.  Life Skills.



Luke & Leia were special to me growing up because I had a brother.  People often asked us if we were twins.  That always made me smile because I would instantly think of Luke & Leia.

Above, I mentioned that I thought my love for Leia started in Jedi, and that was partially true.  I always loved Luke.  From the moment I saw him on the screen I wanted to be Luke Skywalker.  It wasn't until much later, as an adult, I realized how influential Princess Leia had been to me.  You see, I never believed I couldn't do anything a boy could do.  I didn't believe gender made a difference.  Why would I?  I grew up & was obsessed (still am) with a movie where a girl, a small petite girl at that, saves the boys multiple times & essentially saves the galaxy.  She was tortured, lost her entire planet, lost her boyfriend, almost lost her brother, found out her father was a murderous tyrant, saved her boyfriend, killed the most dangerous crime boss in the galaxy with the chains she'd been enslaved with & kept fighting until the Empire had fallen.  Why on earth would any girl that was lucky enough to have been 3 to 9 years old & grow up with Leia think any different?  Of course I never questioned what I could & couldn't do.  It confused me when I ran into these situations in real life.



As I got older, I realized that Princess Leia helped shape that attitude.  Then, there was Carrie Fisher. Unapologetic.  Free-spirited.  Not afraid to say she made mistakes. A creative. A writer.  REAL & raw.  It was very hard to separate Leia from Carrie.  They had the same strengths.  If you read the expanded universe stories, they also had some of the same weaknesses.

Carrie was never afraid to call bullshit.  She called people out.  She said what she meant.

When they announced Episode 7, I cried like that 9 year old kid leaving Jedi, but for the exact opposite reason.  My prayers had been answered.

I wondered if we'd get to see the Leia with Force powers from the Expanded Universe.  If she'd weild a lightsaber. If she was a Jedi.  I was pretty underwhelmed with what they gave her.  Cool, she's a General.  In the EU she had basically been the President of the New Republic, but okay...General.  Wow.

I watched every interview.  I stayed up until 5 in the morning watching the Star Wars Celebration live streams.  I was in heaven.

Carrie Fisher stole the show.  She was hilarious.  I don't think she really understood how much we loved her, not just Leia, but Carrie Fisher.  I hope she did.  

I wonder if we didn't ask too much.  I worry that she wasn't healthy enough for all the travel & work. The crash diet they put her on.  We didn't care if she had gained weight. I feel a little guilty for wanting her back so badly as our Princess & General.

I had hopes that we'd still get to see Leia the lightsaber wielding badass, but I think that's Rey's job.  I was heartbroken to hear they had so much more planned for her.  I look forward to her last scenes in episode VIII, but I also don't want to see them.  I don't want that to be the last time I ever see her.  42 year old me is crying because Princess Leia can always come back, but we lost someone way more important.  We lost Carrie.

I still just can't accept she's gone.

Carrie Fisher was a treasure.  She was a voice for mental health in a world that really needed one.  She was an unapologetic woman in a time we really need fierce women.  She was a storyteller.  Make no mistake though, she truly was Royalty.  Our Princess.  Planet Earth's Princess & Princess to every little girl that grew up not knowing she wasn't supposed to be able to do the things she was doing.

Thank you, Carrie.    

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Rogue One Review

(All images Copyright by Disney & Lucasfilm)

I know you've all been eagerly awaiting my Rogue One review (sarcasm) especially after my glowing The Force Awakens review (more sarcasm).  Well, here it goes...

I want the opening scrawl back.  That was weird.  Honestly.  It felt weird & empty.  Didn't you think so?  It was just so plain & there.  Bam!  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  That's it.  At least we got the "A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."  

Some of the stuff Disney is doing is just weird.  

First off let's talk about the trailers.  The trailers made our main hero, who honestly wasn't really a main hero, out to be much more of a badass than I think she ended up being.  Not that she wasn't a badass, she just ended up being less snarky & sarcastic than the trailers let on.  Many of her trailer lines were completely cut from the film.  "I rebel!" was nowhere to be found?  Really?!  Why cut the tag line from our hero?  The only reason would be that she seemed to snarky.  Ugh.  I liked snarky Jyn.  Still, after the second viewing it did appear that they kept the character consistent at least.  The first viewing I was waiting for many of the trailer lines & felt let down that I didn't get them.  That's a bit of bad marketing.  

(What happened to this?!)

(And THIS!?)

I like Jyn.  I don't love her. I wanted to love her for purely selfish reasons (My name is Jen).  Having a Star Wars character share your name is pretty awesome, so of course you want that character to be the best Star Wars character ever.  I did like how brave she was.  Determined & brave.  That's how I'd describe her. Okay...now for the 

***SPOILERS***

I said

***SPOILERS***

You only have yourself to blame if you read any further.

I pretty much figured the entire team would die & I was right.  Her ending was okay, but I'm not sure I buy that anyone that determined & brave would simply sit on a beach & wait for death.  I would try to hunker down or get underground or hide behind a box or something.  I get it, the storytellers had to let the audience know she was dead, for good, dead dead, otherwise all of us fans would have theories out the wazoo of her survival.  So, fine.  I get it.

Cassian, whoa what a surprise!  Not who I thought this character would be at all.  I liked being surprised.  The dude is serious.  His beliefs are serious.  He's a zealot for the rebellion & willing to do whatever it takes.  I'm not sure I understand his sudden attachment to Jyn, though.  He's going to kill her Father, he's going to kill her, then suddenly he's decided to get a gang together & follow her to certain death.  This was a little fuzzy to me & needed more attention, but okay, whatever.

All of the characters needed a little more depth, but I liked them all.  For me, Bodhi was the one I really rooted for.  I'm not sure what about the character grabbed me, but it did.  His desperation, the fact that he understood what was happening, yet no one would take him seriously or listen to him until he met the Rogues, I'm not sure.


I loved how each character was essential to the mission.  Every single one had an important role.  Without each one in place, the mission failed.  This is why I say that Jyn isn't really the hero.  They are all equally heroes.  That is something I really loved & that was something that felt old school Star Wars to me.  

In the originals, Luke might have been the one we followed, but without R2, 3PO, Chewie, Obi-Wan, Han, Leia or Lando, Luke would have failed.  The strength in friendship & working together is what saved the galaxy & Rogue One showed us that again.  Of course, this time with opposite results for our heroes outcomes.  This time everyone dies.  They were all pretty damn good deaths though.

I was so happy to see so many aliens!  Not just one bar scene, but a whole galaxy of them! Familiar & new!  

(A Twi'lek!)

(These guys are super cool.)

(A Frog & a Space Monkey!)

We even got a fun glimpse of Dr. Evazan & Ponda Baba!  Um, awesome.  Those of us that are Expanded Universe, now "Legends" fans had zero problem with those two showing up in another shady place.  It was perfect.

Mon Freakin' Mothma, ya'll!

(Oh hell yes!)

There was a whole lot of fan service, but unlike J.J. Abrams, whose nostalgia was vomited at us in a sarcastic or obvious way, or as I like to say, in a way that the "casual" Star Wars fan would eat up, Gareth Edwards gave most of his nods more subtly & respectfully & to those of us who have been lovers of the expanded universe stories.  It was beautifully done.

I was ecstatic that some of the Star Wars Rebels characters & ships got mentions & screen time.  If you aren't watching Star Wars Rebels...well, what the hell are you doing with your life!?  Seriously, Rebels is great!

(You can see the Rebels ship the "Ghost" here.)

(Chopper!  The funniest droid EVER.)

Now, let's get to the biggest problems I had with the film.  There really aren't many.  My biggest problem was that Cassian shot Krennic.  We saw Jyn with her pistol shooting Stormtroopers & shore troopers left & right, but we get to the pivotal moment when Jyn & Krennic face off & she either doesn't have her pistol or she just can't bring herself to shoot this bastard.  What?!  So, from behind, or to the side, Cassian takes the shot to rescue Jyn from Krennic.  I literally shouted, "UGH, for real!" in the theater. Look, they were trapped & all probably going to die.  They knew that.  What purpose did it serve her character to allow Cassian to shoot him instead of her?  He killed her Mother & enslaved her Father & she just stands there with her mouth open? SERIOUSLY!?  I thought we had decided to move past this type of thing.  Princess Leia would have NEVER just stood there.  Neither would Rey.  So, why did Jyn?  I do not buy it.  Nope, not one bit.  Boo!

The Music.  Alright, Mr. Giacchino only had 4 weeks to compose the score after they booted the other composer & scrapped all his music because he was on another project & couldn't re-score the re-shoots.  We call that BAD MANAGEMENT.  I don't blame Mr. Giacchino, and good lord, how do you follow John Williams?  I missed the themes.  John Williams always gives the characters their own piece of music & it was sorely missed here.  The fact that Jyn didn't have her own sound kinda broke my heart.  There were moments, when you just knew in your heart, that John Williams score would have had you in tears & Mr. Giacchino just didn't quite pull that off.  Still, I get it.  4 weeks. Try to meet John Williams levels.  That was an impossible task.


The other problems were, I wanted more character depth, but it's hard to do that with such a large cast in two & a half hours.  That two & a half hours went by fast & I really wanted to stay longer.

The scrawl omission.  Mistake.  I don't care what you think DISNEY.

Really, that's it.  That's all I have to complain about.

Krennic was a great villian.  Seeing Moff Tarkin was amazing.  I thought the CGI was great.  Even the Leia CGI.

Now, the thing I loved most.  Holy crap, how amazing was that Vader scene at the end?  I mean, holy crap, kids!  You know they get the plans, but that was filmed so well that I was sitting on the edge of my seat, white knuckled, yelling in my head (and sometimes out loud) "OMG! Go! Go! Crap! Crap! %#$@, crap! ^%$#!!!!"  Not only did it put me on the edge of my seat, but it clearly defined Darth Vader as the scariest villain in cinematic history, AGAIN.  This guy is a monster!  A big scary monster with a lightsaber and his own freaking castle! 

 Finally, we got to see Vader's castle.  More fan service for us Expanded Universe fans.

So, yeah, I loved Rogue One.

Thanks, Gareth, for truly understanding Star Wars.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunsets

Sunsets.  Sunsets are unique. Never the same.  Depending on the particulates & other things in the air, they can either be stunningly full of color or just average.

I started taking sunset photos over a decade ago. It's something I'm happy about. My dog & sunsets get me out of the house. I usually wait to take the dog for her walk until half an hour or an hour before sunset.  My dog, Leela, is the reason I started taking the photos in the first place. We'd be out on the walk and I'd just be gobsmacked by the beauty.

I can't tell you how amazing it is to take a long  walk with my pal and end up at a place with a fantastic view of a sunset each day. This is what life is all about.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

CW's Flash, Arrow, Legends

Hey there DC fans and other superhero lovers!

First off, *SPOILERS*  Lots of them if you aren't caught up on your CW shows.

How awesome is it that CW has become this awesome Super Hero channel?!  I think it's amazingly cool!  I just finished watching the second season of The Flash last night and it was amazing!  I was a Flash fan back in the 80's & 90's when John Wesley Shipp was the Scarlett Speedster & I was beyond happy when they rebooted the Flash & included him as the new Barry's Dad.  If you haven't seen the season finale yet, skip down to the next part of the blog because I have a spoiler here.  SPOILER ALERT  This season I got my fan-girl wish and they put Mr. Shipp in the JSA Flash costume as Jay Garrick!  I won't lie, I cried!  Seeing my generation's Flash honored in this Flash was awesome.  Mr. Shipp is one of those people that gave me courage to be me, so it was a little more emotional than just him being the Flash.  There was a bit of controversy after Mr. Shipp was outed and the original Flash was canceled.  To see this new generation embrace him and give him that hero status again just hit me in the feels.  Great job Flash team!



The Arrow finale was tonight.  I have liked Arrow since it started.  I was always a big Oliver Queen fan, but never thought I'd get to see the Green Arrow come to life on the big or small screen.  The Arrow team seems to be having a little trouble this season.  The writing isn't as tight and honestly, it's gotten a bit boring & tedious.  The characters keep making stupid choices over & over, not learning from them.  The woman on the island *Spoilers* Ollie kills because she begs him to because for some reason she can't handle the power, unlike Damien Darhk or the other male character.  Another very tired trope.  Men can handle power, woman cannot.  Now, I give these guys credit.  They have tried & succeeded sometimes really giving the ladies a voice & just as much action & consequences.  It's just hard to get past all that trope/stereotype history when storytelling has relied on it for so long.  Good rule of thumb, trade the characters and see how that works.  If Arrow begged the woman to kill him & she did, would you buy it?  If Diggle was stabbed by Damien Darhk and then taken to the hospital, made it through surgery then seizes & just dies, would you buy it?   Diggle...wow, have they dumbed him down this season.  *sigh* One of the side characters, Felicity,  that became the Arrow's love interest has taken up way more of the show's time than I care for.  Even during these last few episodes where the world is about to be nuked, we've spent at least 15 to 20 minutes watching this side character's parents fight over who is best for her and who she is most like.  UGH.  WTF does this have to do with Arrow or the world ending?  We've got characters making really dumb decisions, like repeatedly allow super villains go, only to have to fight them again & let them go again for very weak reasons.  The finale this season did not deliver and left us with about 10 minutes that the writers didn't seem to know what to do with.  Then, we've got one of my biggest problems of all.  *SPOILERS*  Actress Katie Cassidy played Black Canary.  She's the 2nd Black Canary in the series.  After bringing her up and convincing us all she could be Canary, they killed her.  This was Arrow's last connection in the present to the island incident.  This was the last character we started with to be allowed to put on a mask.  This was Black Canary. If you're a Green Arrow comic fan then this really bugs you.  You see, Canary & Arrow have one of the tightest relationships in comics.  They were made for each other.  Not to mention that, as a viewer I wasn't fond of Katie's character, Laurel, at first, but she really won me over & really came into her own and I just feel like they didn't follow through with her development once they got her to the point where her character & Arrow could really start bonding and we would've gotten to see this amazing relationship start to blossom.  Incredibly disappointing.  Black Canary & Ollie's relationship was one of the reasons I first started watching.  I couldn't wait to see this unfold on TV.  Now we are stuck with this mouthy tech girl who never shuts up and is basically bossing the Arrow around as our only love interest.  The show-runners say they felt Ms. Cassidy's character had reached an organic end, but I really felt like she was just coming into her own.  Those last few scenes between her & the Arrow were some of the best they had written.I'm not sure how much longer I can stay invested in this show.  The flashback scenes have grown tiresome & most of the show seems to be getting incredibly repetitive.  Not a single person I know has stuck with it besides me & T this season.  They are in trouble.



Last, but not least...well, yeah, least, is Legends of Tomorrow.  Good gods, where do I start?!  A villain that Arrow was unable to beat (sound familiar?) is transported to this show to be the main villain. Vandal Savage.  There are so many problems with this show.  Let's take a look at Hawkgirl.  Hawkgirl is the stereotypical "Damsel in distress".  She gets kidnapped, kidnapped, kidnapped and kidnapped.  Her destiny is tied to her lover and the guy that wants to be her lover, who happens to be our villain.  She starts a romance with one of our other heroes once her soulmate is killed.  One of her past selves tells her she will never be happy without the right guy, her soulmate.  PUKE.  Such an old worn out trope.  For a reincarnated leader of Egypt this gal is pretty lame.  She's timid, unsure, and very submissive which is just the opposite of the way she's been portrayed in the past.  I loved hawk woman in the comics and what they did with Hawkgirl in the animated series, but this Hawkgirl is just so sad & pathetic in this series.  Very disappointing.
     Rip Hunter.  We've got the actor that played one of Doctor Who's companions as a Time Master.  Rip Hunter isn't too off the mark.  He's a dishonest ass.
    The Atom.  Ray Palmer was introduced in Arrow, had an interesting relationship starting with Felicity and they killed him.  We find out he isn't dead and then they put him in Legends.  He spends most of the series trying to romance Hawkgirl & sulking.
     Firestorm.  Probably the one of the best characters in the series, but because he requires lots of CGI, we don't use him a bunch.  He's out of the picture either injured or unconscious often.
    Mik Rory.  Great character, used well & the bromance with Snart was fun.
   Snart or Captain Cold.  Wow.  They *spoiler alert* killed the best character of all in a way that I could've figured out to survive.  He had to hold a handle down.  What?!  He could've easily wedged something in there to hold the handle down.
    White Canary.  This was the original Black Canary, played by Caity Loitz.  Everyone loved her so much that they decided to keep the actress on & moved her over to Legends.  On Arrow she was resurrected in the Lazerus Pit & was the girlfriend of Nyssa, daughter of Ra's Al Ghul.  Unlike on Arrow, her acting was slightly cringe-worthy from time to time, but I like the character and loved the crush Snart developed on her.
     The characters not only repeat mistakes in this series, but repeat dialog.  A bunch.  Often.  Over & over.  Not only that, but the writers would use the first 15 minutes recapping that last episode.  It began to make me nuts.  I'm surprised it got a second season.  I seriously doubt it'll get a third unless major changes happen.



Overall, I love that these shows are happening.  They just need to get back to the tightness they had in storytelling like the first season of Arrow as well as Flash.  Flash has been the most satisfying this season.  Next year, we're adding Supergirl to the mix.  I hope they aren't spreading themselves too thin.  I'd rather have one show that was solid & tight then 4 mediocre shows.



What do you guys think?  Which show are you disappointed in this season & which one had you most excited?  Let me know in the comments below!  Thanks for stopping by!



May the 4th, Revenge of the 5th, & Star Wars Rogue One

Hello there!

One of my favorite weeks of the year passed recently! Star Wars day as well as Free Comic Book Day and today is the 39th anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope!  It's always fun to see the world come together in celebration & Star Wars day is one of those times.  People post pictures of pastries & other goodies in Star Wars shapes or themes, dress in costume, or simply wear something that quietly says, " I'm a fan". They make work polos and button up dress shirts with embroidered Star Wars images just for those business casual folks that have to go to work but still want to be a part of the fun.  You can even find ties & bow ties with Star Wars themes.

Check out these Star Wars polos! http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/1389/?i=front


FREE COMIC BOOK DAY is the first Saturday in May every year. What is that you ask?  Well, (almost) every comic shop in the country sets out free comics that publishers have shipped so that readers can get an idea of what they offer.  It also helps get customers into the stores.  It's a win/ win for everyone.  There's often buttons and other swag that you can get as well. It's fun and you often can get into fun conversations about comics or movies with other fans. Cosplayers often make appearances as well. Get out there & support your local comics shop. Comics often open the door for literacy where other books might not.

My favorite free comic this year: 


I have yet to mention Star Wars Rogue One.  OMG! Mon Mothma! Mon "freakin'" Mothma!  If you read my Force Awakens review, you know how much I love Mon Mothma.  Ever since Force Awakens I have been researching & searching and investigating and trying to figure out if Mon Mothma died when the New Republic was destroyed.  Apparently not.  It seems the latest novel sheds some light on Mon Mothma's fate.  It's very close to the original EU, but with a less happy ending.  BOO!  Still, I am ecstatic that I get some Mon Mothma in Rogue One.  Not to mention the main character is named Jyn!  Yeah, I freaking LOVE that.  It's like all my Star Wars wishes are coming true.



I seriously cannot wait to see this film!  What do you guys think?  Did you participate in Star Wars Day or Free Comic Book Day?  Let me know by commenting below!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hey there

I've written and posted and deleted and posted and edited and posted again.

I guess what I'm trying to convey is that things are awesome right now.

Socially, a bit empty, but otherwise, holy moley, things are good. So good.

Expect more art soon.

I wish you all well & hope everyone is doing just as good if not better.

Best,
Jen

Monday, January 04, 2016

Star Wars Force Awakens Review : C minus

UPDATE:

April 2016

I have had the chance to watch this film at least 10 times now.  I would probably move it up to a B-.  I see now that my geekdom had a great influence on how I felt.  I DID know too much.  I WAS too invested in the Expanded Universe and it made it hard to enjoy what they changed.  I still hate what they did with the Force and I still think there were scenes where they didn't need to be all jokey.  The one that stands out now is the first interaction Poe has with Kylo where he cracks the "Who talks first" line.  It completely ruined the mood that had been established there.  Overall, though, it's not as bad as I originally thought.  The emotion did eventually come through and Finn got way less annoying.  I love Rey even more.   (End Update)


First off, if you haven't seen the film yet, leave now. There are SPOILERS. Plot reveals. You will know exactly what happens.  You have been warned.

Okay, I'm going to be up front with you guys here. I am NOT a prequel hater. I admit there are lots of problems in the the prequels, but overall I liked them. George Lucas didn't just copy what he had done before. He didn't use the nostalgia to buy his fans. He tried, rather clumsily, not always successfully, and sometimes cringingly, to create something new and expand the Star Wars Universe.  It was brave & it was crazy & I admire him for it.


Now, that being said, The Force Awakens is not original.  It DOES try to buy the fans with nostalgia, and it has. I have to wonder how many review sites Disney owns because the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.  Some of these people are the same people that constantly berate other movies & directors & writers for copying and not being original. These people scream about originality being a thing of the past. Yet, for some reason they ate this rehash up like it was the last cookie in the jar.


Director and Creater George Lucas is not part of the inner circle of Hollywood.  He doesn't belong to the Director's guild because he disagreed with them.  He's always been a bit of a rebel. I always liked that about him.  He's a true artist.  Maybe things didn't always work, but he never stopped trying to make something interesting & original. I think he thought he'd have more say even though Disney bought the rights.  He fought to keep Kathleen Kennedy as head of Lucasfilm.  I bet he's feeling a little betrayed.  I wish he hadn't felt he needed to sell. 

 

One of my biggest problems with this film is how it utterly destroys everything our original heroes fought for and accomplished as well as their bonds to each other.  Han is a failure. Leia is a failure. Luke is a failure. Even Chewbacca fails. A good storyteller doesn't have to tear down the existing story to tell a better or equal one.  A good storyteller can build on it.  J.J. Abrams destroys the Republic without even batting an eye. As an avid reader of all of the novels, I was devastated by the lack of emotion and simplicity of this destruction.  Our original heroes and the original movies were about restoring the Republic. Friends, family & loved ones of our characters died doing exactly that and "boom!" all of that is destroyed.  Han's kid gets in with the wrong crowd & he just runs back to the bar & criminal activity & blames it on Leia's bloodline.  Luke fails at training Jedi.  Ugh.  Leia fails to protect the Republic, raise a son, learn the Force, find her Brother or save her relationship. Wow. Chewie fails to honor his life debt to Han.  Wouldn't Chewie have helped raise Ben/Kylo?  Wouldn't he have been like an Uncle to him?  It didn't seem that way when Chewie shot him.  No hesitation.  No inner struggle with the situation.  Leia & Han have problems with Kylo, he slaughters the new Jedi and Luke just leaves when his friends and his SISTER when they need him the most?  When they all need each other the most?  These are not the people I grew up with.  These are not the bonds we saw form over the 3 films of the original trilogy.  Leia just lets Han leave?  Really?  She never would've let him leave.  She faced Jabba the Hutt just to get the bastard back.  Clearly Mr. Ford had a death wish for Han and it was finally honored.  It's well know he wanted the character to die in Empire & Jedi and the rumor is that was the only way he'd agree to sign.  Mr. Lucas might not have been an actor's director, but he certainly was a character director.  He knew those characters.  He understood their bond.  With this version, our characters relationships have eroded away to nothingness.  No bond, no love, no unity, no family, no connection.


Let's also talk about those of us who grew up with the expanded universe.  Those of us who found the politics in Star Wars so interesting.  Those of us who saw characters like Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar and so many others fleshed out in print.  The Republic flourish and change and rise and become something better & stronger.  To wipe out the Republic without so much as a tear was blasphemous to me.  I still don't know the fate of many of my favorite characters from the EU, but I was lead to believe that most, including Mon Mothma, perished with one shot, and no one really cared.  Leia would have been DEVASTATED.  Mon Mothma was a mentor to her.  Oh, but wait, Disney clearly said EU doesn't exist anymore.  Well, it's not that easy for me to simply wipe away 30+ years of world building.  I'm sorry.  I'm sure that's part of my own issues with this whole mess, but I assure you I'm not alone.


So, why is everyone else okay with this? Why is this being called an awesome movie? A Success!  Part of it is the psychology put in place BEFORE the movie was released. Abrams & Kennedy kept saying "History repeats itself." "Things always repeat themselves." "It's fun!"  "It honors what came before!" "It takes everything you love from the originals & adds something new!"  I keep seeing reviewers and those who love the film regurgitate these words.  I love Star Wars because it shows us that we can learn from our mistakes and we DON'T have to repeat the past. Star Wars was a hopeful optimistic tale of mysticism & balance & overcoming greed, revenge, slavery, fear, and oppression, but most of all connection.   Connection to each other as well as the greater whole.  The Force Awakens was not.  The Force Awakens tells us we can never overcome these things. We will never reach a higher plane.  We are destine to fail over & over again. We are not connected or bonded & even if we were, those bonds mean nothing.  They can crumble in an instant.  No matter what we've gone through together.  The outlook is bleak & rather dystopic.  Just like every other movie we've been fed since 9-11.  *sigh*  Where's the hope? Where's the strength & love? Where's the magic?


The Force was also misused.  The "old" Force just wasn't cool enough.  Everything now has to be over the top & steroided up. Patience & training are boring.  So, now you can capture and hold laser bolts while fighting a village despite not even having much formal training. You can mind rape people. That's so much cooler than using an interrogation droid.  Actually, I really hate this.  Jedi mind tricks are one thing...mind rape...ugh. The Force has been turned into a weapon & a silly magic trick and an invasive torture tool.  It's laughed at.  No one laughed at the Force before!  The Force was serious. It was something many of us believe in.  It was based on the best parts of all the great stories & philosophies that came before & now it's just a joke.  A steroided weapon to be used to FORCE people to do different things. The snark towards it in the movie turned my stomach a bit.  


Originality is so lacking in this movie. The costumes, the ships, and more are all old McQuarrie designs.  McQuarrie even imagined a female Jedi Skywalker & a spherical droid.  BB-8 uses a flash drive. I say uses, it just sits in a plastic tray. It didn't even plug in.  Lazy writing. Unimaginative. That's now tech.  R2 used a DVD before DVDs existed.  Where's the imagination? Where's the cool new stuff? Even the prequels succeeded there. We have a desert planet that isn't Tattoonie, but it is.  Moisture vaporators & all.  We have an Ice planet that isn't Hoth & a tree planet that isn't Endor. Where's the cool alien planets?  Speaking of aliens, where the hell are they?!  No Rodans? No Nautolans.  No Twi'leks.  No Ithorians.  No Grans. No Gamorreans. No Duros?  Just humans and maybe 5 new creatures?  Whatever Maz is, the big lug on the couch with evil Harley Quinn, the Monsters Han caught, and 3 or 4 aliens on Jakku.  Star Wars has always been filled with interesting and new forms of life.  This was 95 percent HUMANS.  Boring.  Unimaginative. 




 Despite being told we wouldn't be fed tons of CGI, we did get a large dose of it.  Snoke, Maz, and even Unkar Plutt were all CGI characters. Why did they build a costume for Simon Pegg if they were just going to CGI over it? There were more  practical effects in this film than the prequels though. I can't deny that. Yet, Snoke looked like the great & powerful Oz version of Gollum.  I won't even start with the 3rd Death Star thing.  Seriously, no one could imagine anything better?  I bet Lucas did.  We'll never know.


Despite all of this,  there were things I loved. Rey. Rey was a little more fleshed out than everyone else & I won't deny that it was cool seeing a female lead in a Star Wars movie. I did manage to care about her & do want to see what happens with her.  She better be a Skywalker, though.  Star Wars is about the Skywalkers.  If you want to spin off to another story, fine, just do it after the new trilogy.   BB-8 was nice, despite just being a round version of R2. Seeing Luke Skywalker again was awesome.  The nostalgia got me there. I was surprised by how annoying Finn was.  I went in expecting to love Finn, since I found John Boyega so cool in the interviews, but his character came off like an asthmatic fanboy.  Poe was a Mary Sue.  Seriously, the guy was perfect.  Perfect looks, perfect pilot, willing to help a stranger, found the missing piece of the map & destroyed Starkiller base.  All with a gorgeous smile.  I do sort of like Kylo.  I think he could be interesting.  It would have been more interesting to see how he came to this conclusion of Vader not finishing what he intended.  How he discovered his lineage.  What exactly happened to him BEFORE we got here.  Overall, I'm just so disappointed.  Disappointed & hurt.  I went to the movie with high hopes and left in tears.  I literally cried on the way home.

 
I know I'm in the minority.  I was disappointed with Phantom Menace as well, although it didn't make me cry, & I was in the minority then as well. I loved Qui-Gon but was annoyed by Jar Jar. I freaked out at the midichlorians thing, but Lucas went back & revised & explained it a bit.  People denied that it missed it mark at first. Force Awakens isn't a terrible film for a flashy action space film but it isn't great either.  That being said,  I will see the next one because I do care enough about Rey to want to see what happens to her.  I might not go to the theater to see it though.  I probably will.  

I don't buy the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" excuse either.  Maybe try first.  Of course, there is no try.  Do or do not.  They did not.

This review isn't meant to try & change anyone's mind.  It's just a way for me to voice my disappointment & to share my reasons.   Maybe reading all those novels & comics & being such a Luke fan & optimistic person has made my perspective different from the masses. Maybe it's because the Force was the thing that helped me get through the tough spots in my life & it's hard seeing that parodied in such a bad way.   Maybe it's because I refuse to believe people bonded so closely & who fought so hard would just give up on the important things in life & just become sad shadows of themselves..  I just hope the next one is better.  I hope they take it a little more serious.  
 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Exciting Xena News

Dynamite Comics has confirmed they will be producing new Xena Comics.  I'm very excited about this for more than one reason.
     First off, new Xena storylines by one of my favorite comics companies. They did some Xena as well as Xena vs. Ash (Evil Dead) back in the early 2000s, but the art was a little to T & A and the stories didn't feel authentically Xena. It was a good try though.  I really feel many of these companies are starting to catch on to what matters in a property now, so I'm very hopeful.
      I think this fandom is really going to make Xena happen. Nerdist, Huffpo, and numerous other entertainment and media outlets are reinforcing the hard work of Xenites to reunite the Warrior Princess & her Bard. A new comic series will just boost that even more.
     The recent disaster of the "Jem & the Holograms" movie is a clear signal to studios that fans no longer accept reboots or other reimaginings in name only. It must be true to the source material and the people working on it have to understand it, otherwise it will fail.  It will fail hard. Money will be lost. Let's hope both Dynamite Comics as well as NBCUniversal understand this and have been paying attention.