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.