“They fly now?!” “They fly now.”

The Rise of Skywalker

Richard Grant (he’s been in Downton Abbey and Doctor Who) joins in as General Pryde.  Billy Dee Williams is back as Lando Calrissian!  Yes, that is Dominic Monaghan (Charlie in LOST and Merry in Lord of the Rings [I forgot he was in this and looked and told the screen “Hi Merry!”]) as Beaumont.  Denis Lawson makes an appearance as Wedge Antilles once again and even John Williams, the composer, cameos in the festival.  And yes, Ian McDiarmid is back as Emperor Palpatine.

We open finding out there are mysterious broadcasts of the Emperor making their way into the galaxy.  Leia sends Poe and Finn to gather intelligence.  Kylo Ren also searches for the Emperor, determined to destroy any threat to his power.  We find him slaughtering a group in order to obtain a Sith wayfinder (I thought it was a Holocron because I know those exist).  It leads him to a Sith Temple and Palpatine.  Kylo voices his vow to kill the former Emperor [while the young man is determined to follow in Darth Vader’s path, he still has several reasons to be rid of Darth Sidious; I’m sure some part of him recalls stories his parents and uncle told him that boil down to “this man should not be allowed to live.”].  But Palpatine explains that he is the mastermind behind everything.  He created Snoke; he’s been every voice inside Kylo’s head.  (So just like Anakin, Palpatine brought about the turning of a Skywalker.)  He reiterates: “The Dark Side of the Forces is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.”  Like, creepy cloning.  The Sith Lord promises to give everything to Kylo; they’ll make a new Empire (which is the last thing we want to hear).  He raises a massive fleet of ships that have been worked on in secret and the Imperial March plays again.  But first, Kylo must “kill the girl,” and end the Jedi.  Only then will he become what Vader could not and rule as the new Emperor (and no one believes that.  He promised that to Vader…again, Sidious has a habit of breaking his promises once someone new comes along).  And the big question of the hour, who is Rey?

Poe and Finn discover that there is a spy within the First Order, who passes information through a middle man.  Have to say, it’s nice to see Finn, Poe, and Chewie working as a team on the Millennium Falcon.  Poe’s even got crazy moves to pull, like lightspeed skipping.  Meanwhile, Leia is training Rey.  Rey’s attempting to contact previous Jedi, whispering “be with me.”  They don’t answer.  And the connection between Rey and Kylo still exists and may be influencing Rey.  She has visions during her training run and doesn’t possess the quiet calm of a true master.  But she vows to Leia, “I will earn your brother’s saber, one day.”  For now, she banters with Poe about the Falcon being on fire (this bit is fun).  Poe argues that they need Rey out fighting, not training.  But he does confirm that Palpatine is alive and is coming for the rest of the galaxy.  They need to find Exogol, the hidden world of the Sith.

Rey recalls that Luke had been attempting that before he went into hiding.  He left notes, including about a Sith wayfinder.  Finn and Poe insist on going with Rey.  There is a touching farewell between Leia and Rey; hugging and Leia whispering to Rey “never be afraid of who you are.”  [Leia was achieved in this film with unused footage from Force Awakens and her role had to be downsized due to the passing of Carrie Fisher.]  Our heroes land on another desert planet and run into an old friend; Lando.  He rescues them when the First Order gets on their trail.  They’re tracking an old Jedi hunter and Rey vaguely recognizes the ship.  A serious of mishaps lead them to a Sith dagger, inscribed with the location of the wayfinder.  3PO can read the dagger, but it’s against his programming to speak the language of the Sith.  Chewie is sadly captured and Rey faces off against Kylo, who is still speaking to Rey, asking her to turn to the Dark Side.  Palpatine wants to kill her.  They fight over the transport carrying Chewie and Kylo pushes Rey.  She inadvertently uses lighting and blows up the carrier.  Poe, Finn, and Rey do manage to escape and Rey begins to fear where her path is leading.  She admits to Finn she had a vision of herself and Kylo both on the throne of the Sith.

Lucky for us, there was another transport and Chewbacca is alive!  Unfortunately, he’s now a prisoner aboard Pryde’s ship and they have possession of the Falcon.  Our trio of heroes take 3PO to bypass his memory so they can get the directions (and Poe’s backstory gets changed).  The downside is, it would cause a complete memory wipe, so 3PO takes one last look at his friends.  They get their information and yep, 3PO is back to introducing himself.  And Rey senses Chewie is alive!  So they mount a rescue mission.  Rey goes after the dagger and finds it in Kylo’s quarters.  There is a face off between them (through the Force since Kylo is on the planet).  Finn and Poe manage to free Chewie, then they’re captured.  They are in turn freed by the First Order spy, General Hux.  He’s not in it for the Resistance; he just doesn’t want Kylo to win.  Hux doesn’t last long after that; Pryde figures it out and shoots him.  But the Falcon manages to escape, Rey jumping aboard at the last second, still resisting Kylo.  He has managed to pass along useful information; Palpatine wants Rey dead because she is a threat to his power.  She has his power; she is his granddaughter.  Between Rey and Kylo, they make a dyad in the Force.  Kylo figures together they could kill Palpatine and rule the galaxy.  Rey is disinclined to acquiesce to his request.

The path to Exogol starts in the Endor system, with the crash site of the second Death Star.  Rey’s very determined to destroy Palpatine and plows ahead alone.  Finn discovers there are other stormtrooper defectors and they all rush after Rey.  [I do wonder what it would have been like if Luke had discovered the wreckage, considering all that had happened.]  She manages to find the second wayfinder, but receives a vision of herself as a Sith, with a double-edged lightsaber.  That leads her to Kylo.  He points out how the Dark Side is calling to her; neither of them can return to Leia now.  He crushes the wayfinder, so the only way to Exogol is with him.  They duel; it’s an angry duel, with little of the finesse the prequels or original trilogy carried.  This is about stunts and new moves.  Rey is tired, which Leia must sense, so she reaches out to her son, causing a moment of distraction for him.  Rey capitalizes on it and stabs Kylo.  And instantly regrets it.  This is not the way of the Jedi; she’s giving in to her anger and hate, like a Sith.  She heals him (which uses a bit of her own life…just like magic, these deeds have a price).  Afterward, she can sense that Leia has passed.  Rey admits that she wanted to take his hand, but as Ben.  Instead, she takes his ship.

Finn, Poe, and Chewie return to their base and are informed that Leia has passed.  Gosh, you want to cry alongside Chewie with his howl of grief.  Back on the destroyed Death Star, Han appears to Kylo.  “Hey kid.”  Father and son have another conversation, Han telling him to come home.  While Leia may be gone, what she fought for is not gone.  Ben repeats “I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.”  A mirror of their last encounter, Han reaches out for his son and Ben holds out his lightsaber.  “Dad,” he pleads.  Then tosses the lightsaber away.  When he turns back around, Han is gone.

Poe struggles to accept the position that Leia left for him.  He doesn’t know how to do what she did.  He’s not ready.  Lando comforts him; none of them were ready.  All they had were each other and that’s how they won.  Rey’s taken Kylo’s ship to Luke’s island to burn.  She throws Luke’s lightsaber, but Luke’s Force ghost catches it.  He was wrong to hide away and it is wrong for Rey to hide now.  They’re just running for their fears.  Rey is afraid of herself.  But Leia always sensed who Rey truly was; she saw past the name of Palpatine and saw Rey’s spirit and heart.  [Leia had her own struggle accepting herself as Vader’s daughter, detailed in Tatooine Ghost.]  There are some things stronger than blood and confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi.  Luke guides Rey to Leia’s lightsaber, hidden away when she sensed Ben’s fall.  Rey pulls out the wayfinder, but she still needs a ship.  Luke raises his X-Wing from the water (to the same music as Empire).

Rey sends her course to the Resistance so they can follow to Exogol.  (Oh, and R2 restores 3PO’s memories.  Yay, cause that was sad when he didn’t remember.)  Poe and Finn are now generals; they’ll lead the Resistance fleet.  Their plan is to knock out the navigation tower.  Chewie and Lando will take the Falcon and raise hope (and reinforcements).  Poe rallies the fighters:

“Good people will fight if we lead them.  Leia never gave up.  And neither have we.  We’re going to show them we’re not afraid.  What our mothers and fathers fought for, we will not let die.  Not today.  Today, we make our last stand.  For the galaxy.  For Leia.  For everyone we’ve lost.” 

They will take the war to the First Order (cue triumphant theme!)

Rey arrives on Exogol, the Resistance behind her.  They begin their ground assault on the command ship (a bit odd), aided by the other former stormtroopers (turns out, they were children stolen from their homes; one First Order officer referred to it as “harvesting the young.”)  The fleet will fire on the cruisers while they’re stuck in atmosphere for a few minutes.  And these new ships all have the power to blow up a planet, making it even more important to wipe them out.  Rey discovers the Sith throne, and life-supported Palpatine.  He didn’t want to kill Rey, he wanted her to join him.  “Strike me down,” and his spirit will pass into Rey, along with all the spirits of the Sith.  She will be the new Empress.  Rey refuses; she won’t hate.  Palpatine warns that he is her only family and turning will be the only way to save her friends.

Ben arrives (in an old TIE fighter) and faces off against the Knights of Ren.  At first, armed only with a blaster (yeah, that’s Han Solo’s kid).  But when it looks like Rey will strike down the Emperor, she instead passes Luke’s lightsaber (they managed to fix it at some point) to Ben.  Now it’s an even match between him and the Knights.  Rey then pulls out Leia’s saber and takes on the Red Guards.  Ben makes his way to Rey’s side and they face the Emperor.  “Stand together, die together,” he declares and sucks the life out of them, rejuvenating himself since they are more powerful as a dyad.

Just when Poe begins to lose hope that they are outnumbered, Lando arrives with an entire host of ships (apparently, the Ghost from Rebels is in that crowd, as is Tantive IV from the opening of New Hope).  Even Wedge Antilles is back.  But Palpatine is winning against the young couple.  He throws Kylo into a pit, “so falls the last Skywalker” (and getting revenge for Anakin’s final act against him), then shoots electricity into the Resistance, causing their ships to fall.  Rey murmurs “be with me.”  She hears the voices of Jedi past [reprised by their original actors]; Mace Windu, Qui-Gon Jinn, Ashoka, Kanan Jarrus, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi (both as Ewan McGreggor and Sir Alec Guiness), urging her to rise.  “These are your final steps, Rey,” Obi-Wan starts.  Anakin tells her to bring balance, like he did.  Mace and Yoda both assure her she’s never been alone.  “Every Jedi who has ever lived, lives in you,” Qui-Gon tells her.  Kanan encourages “in the heart of a Jedi, lies their strength.” And Luke gives her the last words of wisdom: “the Force will be with you, always,” like Obi-Wan told him before blowing the Death Star.  [This is the most epic part of the entire movie.]  Rey rises up against Palpatine and calls the first saber to her hand.  She stands against his onslaught of lightning, bringing the second saber to her hand as well.  Palpatine declares “I am all the Sith!”  Rey retorts, “and I am all the Jedi.”  Palpatine disintegrates in his own lightning.  The Resistance can fly again and they hit the fleet hard.  Finn and his buddies knock out the command ship.  Poe goes after them to rescue Finn, but Lando is faster in the Falcon.

Palpatine’s destruction also brings about the destruction of the Sith temple.  Rey collapses and Finn can sense it (it’s been confirmed that Finn is Force-sensitive and that’s what he wanted to tell Rey before they were swallowed in the desert.)  But Ben climbs up and crawls over to Rey.  He takes her in his arms; she’s limp and her eyes are unseeing.  He calms himself and Rey eventually rises again.  She’s surprised and touches his face, calling him Ben.  They share a kiss and Ben even smiles (he looks better when he smiles).  But then Ben falls back.  His body disappears, as does Leia’s back at the base [point of reference, not all Jedi do that.  Qui-Gon didn’t, Dooku didn’t, Vader didn’t.  Probably got something to do with their power in the Force.]  Rey flies away and we once again see celebrations on Endor (complete with Wicket), Coruscant, and Jakku.

Back at the base, everyone is hugging.  Chewie finally gets a medal.  And it is so good to see Rey land Luke’s X-Wing.  The trio share an emotional hug (and it’s wonderful.)  Rey has one last errand; the Falcon flies over Tatooine again.  She finds the old Lars homestead (back where it all started…so heartwarming), wraps up Leia’s and Luke’s sabers and buries them in the sand.  She has a new saber made from her old staff, with a yellow blade.  An old woman passes by and asks Rey “who are you?”  “Rey,” she simply replies.  “Rey who?”  Luke and Leia’s Force ghosts look on as Rey chooses to name herself “Rey Skywalker.”  She’s found her family.  The theme plays and we once again look at twin sunsets.  (And a magnificent finale theme on the soundtrack; you want to cheer when you hear the original theme play again.  I’ll admit The March of the Resistance has grown on me.)  And I certainly hope that Rey is not staying on Tatooine long; she needs to get back to her new family with Finn, Poe, and Chewie.

I liked that Finn and Poe got more main action in this film; they felt like side characters in the last one.  Yes, Rey is the main character, but it would be bland if she’s the only one who does anything.  They all had their own mission in this film and important ones.  Poe and Finn work well together and while they’d prefer to have Rey nearby, they can survive without her.  In regards to shipping…I know there are wars going on amongst fans; I’m fairly open minded.  I did not mind the kiss between Ben and Rey because it was Ben, not Kylo.  Totally appropriate considering he just saved her life.  And if it was Ben, I could see a relationship between Rey and Ben.  It would have been a fun story to see those two grow up together.  I’m also okay with Rey paired with Finn or Poe (or both, or Finn and Poe together because they totally give off those vibes.  And Finn revealing he senses the Force is a much better reveal than him being in love with Rey because that’s a bit too cliched).  The movies are written well enough that there are a lot of options.

My thoughts on Palpatine being the ultimate big bad…it does bring all nine episodes into one arc; he was the big bad of I through VI and with VII, VIII, and IX being a direct continuation of those, it makes some sense.  On the other hand, it feels like a bit of a cop out.  Though I guess it makes more sense than figuring out a whole new villain, since Snoke was killed in Last Jedi.  But it does make one scratch their head because how did he survive the second Death Star?  He got thrown down a reactor (or something) and then the thing blew up.  Is this one a clone?  Was that one a clone?  And the whole cloning thing; the universe already proved that stable clones could be produced, so why are Palpatine’s all messed up?  Is it the Dark Side of the Force?

On the revelation that Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter; first, ew.  On so many levels.  Technically, it makes it a compelling story when Rey won’t turn and instead defeats Palpatine.  However, I’d much rather go with the fan theory that she was Obi-Wan’s granddaughter; it would explain her strength in the Force.  And give her a connection to the Skywalker clan considering Obi-Wan’s presences in Anakin and Luke’s lives.  There was also the theory that she was Leia and Han’s second child, which has some basis in the Extended Legends universe.  That would make the kiss at the end of the movie very awkward, but they’ve already gone there once.  But, Kylo would know his own sister.  Then there was the theory that she was Luke’s daughter (and in the Extended Legends universe, Luke married Mara Jade and had a son, so again, weaving in those elements fan were already familiar with).  There is a strong connection between Luke and Rey and she is incredibly strong in the Force; but Kylo’s knowledge is again a sticking point.  Some fans would argue that it would make a more compelling story for her parents to be completely unrelated to any of the main characters; there are more Force-sensitive beings out there than just the Skywalker clan.  But Anakin did have an incredibly high midi-cholrian count and was destined to bring balance to the Force.

I would have to say this is my favorite of the sequel trilogy.  It has the most compelling story and I love all the bits and pieces they brought in from the original trilogy (though someone give Chewie a hug).  Gotta smile when Luke raises his X-Wing like Yoda did.

Up Next: I start the Superhero section.  I’ll begin with DC, since there is a lot to unpack with Marvel.  X-Men will get thrown in the middle.  To start, let’s dive into Batman, with the animated series Batman Beyond.

“Some things never change.” “True, you still drive me crazy.”

The Force Awakens

The first of the sequel trilogy.  We’re introduced to Daisy Ridley as Rey, Oscar Isaac (he was Prince John in Robin Hood with Russell Crowe) as Poe Dameron, John Boyega as Finn, and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren.  Domhnall Gleeson (eldest son Bill of the Weasley family in Harry Potter) is General Hux, Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia in Black Panther) voices Maz Kanata, Andy Serkis (Gollum in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, as well as making an appearance in Black Panther…and apparently in the new Batman movie coming out) is Supreme Leader Snoke.  Gwendolyn Christie (Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones) is under the helmet of Captain Phasma.  Also from Robin Hood and Game of Thrones is Max von Sydow (he was Sir Walter Loxley in Robin Hood and the Three-Eyed Raven in Game of Thrones) as Lor San Tekka.  Familiar faces from other franchises include Simon Pegg (Scotty in Star Trek) is Unkar Plutt and Kiran Shah (he’s been scale doubles in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, and Ginarrbrik in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) is Teedo.  Warwick Davis also pops up and yes, Daniel Craig hides out as one of the stormtroopers.  Anthony Daniels returns as C-3PO, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, and the old gang of Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill is back together (I find it interesting in the ending credits that they appear first) …and honestly, this is why I watched.  J.J. Abrams of the NuStar Trek films directed this film.

The film opens with “Luke Skywalker has vanished.”  (That certainly catches our attention.)  “In his absences, the sinister FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi [thought he was first of the new as of the end of Return of the Jedi?  Wasn’t that the whole point?  And fans know there are others out there!] has been destroyed.”  General Leia Organa [pretty sure there should be a “Solo” in there] leads the brave RESITANCE with the support of the Republic and hopes to “find Luke and restore peace and justice to the galaxy.”  [Pretty sure they already did that.]  Anyways, a pilot is sent to Jakku [a desert planet, cause there’s more than Tatooine] to find and old ally who has a clue to Luke’s whereabouts.  We continue the trend to open a Star Wars movie with a large ship.  And we still have stormtroopers, though their helmets have changed a little (and now a car mimics that).

We’re introduced to the BB-8 droid who brings us to the pilot speaking to an old man.  With no Jedi, he cautions, there is no balance to the Force [um, wasn’t that solved by the whole Anakin/Vader storyline?  Seriously, why is this an issue?]  The old man gives the pilot an information stick and warns him to leave.  The First Order has arrived.  And lays waste to the village, led by a black-robed figure.  We do see one trooper get startled and not fire on the village.  The pilot attempts to escape, but his ship is damaged.  The information is given to BB-8 and the pilot is captured.  The old man (Lor San Tekka) stands up to the dark figure; he knew him before he took the name Kylo Ren, he was not originally from the Dark Side.  He cannot deny the truth of his family (hint hint).  However, he is impaled by a red lightsaber.

We follow the new stormtrooper as they return to a Star Destroyer and briefly meet his female captain.  We can already sense he is not like most stormtroopers and are later rewarded when he breaks the pilot out, after interrogation with Kylo Ren.  Kylo and the Frist Order, led by General Hux, start hunting for the BB-8 unit.

Which is still on Jakku and meets a young scavenger.  There is a crashed Star Destroyer and AT-AT on the planet and the young woman wears an old Rebel helmet at times.  She rescues BB-8 and won’t sell him even when she would be given more food.  But, someone calls in that the droid is on the planet and events really kick off.  The pilot, Poe, and the trooper, now named Finn manage to escape, but soon after crash back on Jakku.  They’re separated and we fear Poe is dead.  So now Finn is taking up the mission to find the BB-8 unit…well, mainly he wants to get away from the First Order.  But he literally runs into the young woman, Rey, and BB-8.  And they keep running when troopers land.  They need to get off planet and the garbage ship will have to do.  Turns out the “garbage ship” is the Millennium Falcon [and fans cheer!].  Finn and Rey work well together to escape the First Order.  Finn doesn’t admit to Rey that he’s a former stormtrooper and plays along with being from the Resistance.  Then they’re captured.  By Han and Chewie [more cheers and just about the best scene of the film!  Cue old theme!]  “We’re home,” Han tells his old friend. 

They discover Finn and Rey and then have to escape from trouble that followed Han (that hasn’t changed).  Finn knows Han as the Rebellion general and war hero.  Rey knows him as a smuggler (he’s both, and we love him for it).  Rey proves very useful onboard the Falcon, though when she asks Han if his plan will work, he retorts “I never ask that until after I’ve done it.”  The information still gets back to the First Order and the Falcon races off.  Han fills in a few questions.  Luke was training the new generation of Jedi when one betrayed him.  He felt responsible and so he hid [not a smart or wise move, Luke], under the guise of looking for the first Jedi Temple.  Han has also come around to the Force; he used to disbelieve, but he saw too many things.  So yes, he will help Finn and Rey.  He even offers Rey a job, but she counters with the need to return to Jakku.

Within the First Order, Hux and Kylo report to Supreme Leader Snoke (well, the giant hologram of him).  Snoke tells Hux to use their new weapon on the Republic.  His conversation with Kylo centers on the concern of new Jedi rising.  “There’s been an awakening.”  And acknowledgement that Han Solo is the father of Kylo Ren.  Kylo apparently turned to the Dark Side to honor his grandfather, Darth Vader.  He even dug up Vader’s old, mishappened helmet from the funeral pyre on Endor [dude!  Did you learn nothing?!].  We hear a few notes of the old Imperial theme and Kylo Ren vows to finish what Vader started.

Han takes his young companions to Maz Kanata.  She jokes that Chewie is her boyfriend (which is adorable), but is intrigued by Han’s companions.  Finn just wants to outrun the First Order and walks away (and two separate side characters inform both the Resistance and the First Order).  Maz is more interested in Rey.  She has seen darkness with the Sith, the Empire, and the First Order (and we wonder how old she is and if she’s Force-sensitive).  All must fight.  When Rey hears a child’s voice, she wanders down an old hallway and finds a chest.  It’s calling to her.  Inside the chest is a lightsaber.  Rey sees and hears the past [this scene is also very cool; though it also calls into question, how does Maz have Anakin/Luke’s old lightsaber, the one he lost with his hand on Cloud City?  But we do get to hear Alec Guiness and Ewan McGregor for a second].  Rey does not want the lightsaber, even when Maz tells her that the people she is looking for are not returning to Jakku.

Their discussion is interrupted by the arrival of the First Order.  Hux has stirred them into a frenzy [very reminiscent of Hitler].  He claims that the Republic will fall [already tried that] and they have a new weapon, even bigger than the Death Star [cause that worked so well the last time…and honestly, that bit confuses me].  Finn takes the lightsaber from Maz and faces some of his old friends.  Rey runs into the forest and BB-8 follows her.  She sends the droid into hiding so the First Order can’t get ahold of the map he holds.  Finn, Han, and Chewie are briefly captured, but the Resistance is to the rescue (led by Poe, hurray)!  [The music is similar to the bit the occurs in the Attack of the Clones soundtrack where we pan over the clones before the Imperial March kicks in…I’ve obviously listened to the soundtracks too much, but it’s a nice tie-in to the prequel trilogy and a very “good guy” sound].

But Kylo finds Rey in the forest.  He senses that she has seen the map, so he takes her.  Finn sees them briefly, but can’t get to them.  Leia arrives with the Resistance and reunites with Han [and I’d really like to know how exactly things broke up].  Chewie comes up and gives her a hug.  Han admits that he saw him; he saw their son.  BB-8 is happily reunited with Poe, as is Finn.  Those two even exchange a hug [release the shippers!]  The Resistance begins their plans.  Finn says he knows the base that Rey was taken to.  Han is trying to help, but Leia doesn’t quite believe him (she doesn’t count the Death Star).  We get a glimpse of R2, but 3PO doesn’t have much hope of him waking up, the droid shut down after Luke left.

Han and Leia continue their conversation.  Han feels there is too much Vader in their son.  Leia hoped that Luke could train him; however, she should have never sent him away because she ended up losing both her son and her husband.  It seems that when their son turned, the couple split and they both went back to what they knew.  But they haven’t been truly happy since.  And much like her brother, Leia believes that Kylo can be saved; and Han is the one to do it.  He’s the boy’s father.

We see Kylo take his mask off and he’s not disfigured; he doesn’t wear it for the reason that Anakin/Vader did.  However, he most likely wears it to hide his true identity and a black mask with a deep voice is intimidating, Vader proved that.  Kylo tries to persuade Rey to give him the information he seeks.  He could take it by Force (literally), but he’s also trying to bring Rey to the Dark Side.  Rey uses her burgeoning powers (she has to be Force sensitive to sense Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber and to have Jedi from the past speak to her) to read that Kylo is afraid he will never be as strong as Vader.  Snoke instructs Kylo to bring Rey to him to teach [just like Sidious/Palpatine instructed Vader to bring Luke.]  Rey is able to influence a stormtrooper [Daniel Craig] in freeing her and escaping on her own (you go girl!)

Han takes Finn to the First Order base [which is a planet, somehow?  Powered by the sun?  Still so confused] in hopes of destroying it while the Resistance fleet follows, much like a Death Star run.  Leia hugs Han goodbye; she hates watching him leave, but she asks him to bring home their son (and we’re treated to a reprise of their theme, yay).  Han crashes the Falcon a bit and Kylo senses his father has arrived.  And then throws a tantrum when he realizes Rey has escaped.  However, Finn’s true plan was just to rescue Rey.  But he figures they can “use the Force.”  Han bites back “that’s not how the Force works.”  [Ok, that part is funny.]  They end up capturing Captain Phasma and bring down the shields.  Han suggests putting her down a garbage chute and through a trash compactor [also funny].  But Rey’s got everything under control.  The guys find her and they decide to stay and blow up the base.  “Escape now.  Hug later,” Han tells the young people.

Kylo meets up with his father.  And turns out his name is actually Ben.  Han tells him to take off his mask and show him his son’s face.  Kylo retorts that Ben is gone, he was weak and foolish like his father (and he had remarked to Rey earlier that Han would disappoint her as a father…I really want to know what happened while they were a family).  Han tries to get Ben to see sense; Snoke is only using him and he’ll dispose of him one his use is completed.  Kylo insists it is too late.  Han tells his son, “no, come home.”  And the young man is so confused; he has tears in his eyes and he feels like he’s being torn apart.  All is wants is to be free of the pain.  “I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.”  He asks his father for help and Han answers “yes, anything.”  And Ben drops the mask and holds out his lightsaber to his father.  Han steps closer….And Kylo runs him through.  Chewie shouts.  Rey cries out.  Leia senses her husband’s death.

But they must complete their mission.  The detonators go off and the base begins to crumble.  The Resistance fleet hits it.  Kylo goes after Rey and Finn.  Rey calls him a monster and Kylo knocks her out.  Finn takes up the lightsaber again.  Kylo feels it belongs to him, he wants it back.  They duel for a minute, but Kylo is better trained and burns Finn’s shoulder and slices his back.  Rey is back up and there is a Force face-off between her and Kylo for the blue lightsaber (and we hear the Force theme).  Rey wins and attacks.  Kylo is wounded but still tries to turn Rey; she needs a teacher, she doesn’t understand this power she has.  She attacks again and manages to strike Kylo and scar his face.  Before she can wield a final blow, the planet begins to break apart and a gulf erupts between them (also very metaphorical.)  She runs back to Finn and Chewie rescues them in the Falcon.  They lead Poe and the other pilots away from the explosion.  Kylo has survived and Hux retrieves him per Snoke’s orders.  Snoke will complete Kylo’s training.

Back with the Resistance, R2 has woken up.  He has the rest of the map, so with BB-8’s piece, they have a complete route to Luke.  Leia sends Rey; an echo of A New Hope theme from the end of Revenge of the Sith plays as Leia wishes her “May the Force be with you.”  Chewie and Rey take the Falcon to a series of islands [actually the Skellig islands in Ireland, a UNESCO World Heritage site and they had to get special permission to film…also, that seemed like a short lightspeed trip].  Rey climbs up one to a cloaked figure and holds out the lightsaber.  The figure turns around with a metallic hand; it is Luke.  The Force theme swells, then switches to the main theme and credits roll.

My main issue with The Force Awakens and the sequel trilogy as a whole is that it recycles so much of the original trilogy.  It takes place thirty years after the Empire fell; why have things not changed or gotten better?  And if the New Republic opposes the First Order, why is there the need for the Resistance?  Isn’t that redundant?  The prequel trilogy at least had a different story line.  And more awesome music.  It’s great to hear the familiar themes after a decade, but Phantom Menace brough us Duel of the Fates.  There’s no new signature piece for Force Awakens.  Still love John Williams (and super stoked that he may be writing the music for the Kenobi series, which I eagerly await…that is about the only new Star Wars show I plan on watching [considering I don’t have time to re-watch shows I love and I still need to catch up on Marvel, Star Wars falls to the wayside]).

There are admittedly elements of the film that I liked.  I like that the lead is a female.  I think the young stars performed well.  I loved seeing Han again, but I wished we could have seen the other two a bit more.  Luke and Han don’t get to reunite.  However, this is supposed to introduce the new generation, so they should be the focus.  You should check out Jill Bearup’s video on YouTube about the fight between Finn, Kylo, and Rey (her videos are just awesome in general).  For a minute, I truly thought that Kylo would turn back to the Light and I think it still could have worked story-wise, that Han’s love as a father could bring his son back.  It worked the other direction, though admittedly it took several films.  And this technically makes sense story wise as well; just, seeing Han die made me sad, it truly was a shock the first time.  Harrison’s been asking for it since Empire Strikes Back; at least he played a good-sized role in this film.  I also appreciate that some elements from the former Expanded Universe are used in the sequels; such as a son of Han and Leia’s turning to the Dark Side.  In the books, it was Jacen, twin of Jania.  He also leads Ben Skywalker to the Dark Side.  Though, I have to shout “have you learned nothing?!”  Like, how do you not know that this is a bad idea?

Next Time: The Last Jedi  [I cannot keep these straight]

“I’m out of it for a little while and everyone gets delusions of grandeur!”

Return of the Jedi

The film was originally planned to be titled Revenge of the Jedi, but George Lucas decided that revenge was not the Jedi way.  That title got recycled as Revenge of the Sith, because revenge is definitely the way of the Sith.  Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick and Griphook in Harry Potter; he was in an episode of Merlin; Nikabrik in Prince Caspian) joins as Wicket [he was eleven years old].  Kenny Baker (R2) joins as another Ewok.  And my apologies, I forgot to mention in the previous write-up that Billy Dee Williams is the rascal Lando Calrissian.

While the Empire builds another Death Star (because the last one worked out so well), Vader arrives to put them back on schedule and announces that Emperor Palpatine himself will be joining him.  Luke returns to Tatooine to stage his rescue of Han and sends C-3PO and R2-D2 to Jabba’s palace.  His message gives them as gifts to Jabba and they are put to work.  Then a bounty hunter shows up with Chewie to collect the bounty.  They haggle over price and the bounty hunter wins when he threatens to blow everyone up with a thermal detonator.  Turns out, the bounty hunter is Leia, who sneaks down to free Han from carbonite in the evening.  Han is temporarily blind due to hibernation sickness, but he recognizes Leia’s voice when she says “someone who loves you.”  But their reunion is interrupted by Jabba.  He imprisons Han with Chewie and takes Leia as a slave (complete with impractical attire).  Han is a bit disbelieving when Chewie informs that Luke has a plan; “Luke’s crazy!  He can’t even take care of himself, let alone rescue anybody.”  Luke shows up the next day dressed in all black (interesting style choice) to once again barter for his friends, introducing himself as a Jedi Knight and using their tricks.  But mind tricks won’t work on the Hutts and so Jabba dumps Luke into a rancor pit (and that this is creepy).  Luke’s still got his old tricks and throws a rock at the controls to bring the gate down on the creature.  The gang is all back together and Jabba sentences Luke, Han, and Chewie to death in the Sarlacc pit.

When Luke is about to be pushed into the pit, he salutes R2, who ejects his new green lightsaber, and Luke flips into action (cue hero theme!).  Lando gets to take his mask off, but falls overboard while fighting, so Han and Chewie try their best to rescue him.  Han even inadvertently knocks Boba Fett off the barge and into the pit (he survived somehow, and that was even before these new shows started coming out).  Leia seizes the opportunity, and her chain, and chokes Jabba to death.  Luke boards to rescue her and they swing away as they blow up the sail barge (call back to A New Hope).  Luke returns to Dagobah to complete his training, but Yoda is dying.  “When 900 years old, you reach, look as good, you will not,” he comments.  He also tells the young man that he has all the knowledge he needs to become a Jedi Knight, except he must complete his destiny and confront Vader.  Luke insists he needs to know if Vader was telling the truth.  Yes, Yoda admits, Vader is Luke’s father; and the wizened Master repeats his warning about the Dark Side.  Do not underestimate the Emperor, or Luke will suffer the same fate as his father.  Yoda’s final words to Luke are “there is another Skywalker.”

Obi-Wan pays another visit to Luke and the young man questions him why he didn’t tell him the truth.  Obi-Wan’s argument is that the young man he trained, Anakin Skywalker was destroyed by Vader when he fell to the Dark Side; so it was the truth from a certain point of view.  “You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”  [You could write an entire article on how true that is; no, I’m not volunteering at this point, but I think I tried back in college.  I don’t think it turned out well, since I don’t remember]  Obi-Wan urges Luke to complete the task that he could not (when we go back to the prequels, Obi-Wan argues with Yoda that he cannot kill Anakin).  Luke replies that he cannot kill his own father [maybe Obi-Wan was hoping that if Luke lacked an emotional connection to Vader, it would make the task easier].  Obi-Wan confesses that yes, Luke has a twin sister; they were split up and hidden for their protection from both Vader and the Emperor.  Luke can sense that Leia is his sister.  Obi-Wan’s final warning is for Luke to bury his feelings; they do him credit, but they can be used against him.

The Emperor boards the Death Star and counsels Vader that young Skywalker will come to him.  When he does, Vader is to bring the young man to the Emperor and together they will turn him.  Everything is proceeding as he has foreseen.  However, later, the Emperor cannot sense when Luke is near, not like Vader can.  Palpatine is wondering if Vader’s feelings are clouding his judgment, but insists that Luke’s compassion for his father will be his undoing.

The Rebels prepare for their final attack.  Word has gotten to them that the Death Star is not complete and even better, the Emperor is aboard.  This is the perfect time.  Lando is now a general and is tasked with leading the attack on the Death Star to blow it up (again).  Han is also a general now and is tasked with leading the forces on the forest moon of Endor to knock out the shield generator.  Leia quickly volunteers to accompany him, as does Luke when he shows up.  Han insists that Lando take the Millennium Falcon, it’s the fastest ship in the fleet.  Though he has a strange notion he may not see his beloved ship again and makes Lando promise, not a scratch.

This is me, on a speeder bike display in the Star Wars section of Disney (circa 2007)

There is almost a slight hiccough while the Empire delays granting the stolen ship’s request to land.  And Han’s helpful instruction to Chewie is to “fly casual.”  They run into a bit trouble on the moon when they find some troopers scouting the forest.  Leia and Luke go after two of them and speed through the forest.  They’re separated and only Luke makes it back to Han.  Now they go searching for Leia.  Leia, in the meantime, has met the cute natives of the world, Ewoks (specifically Wicket, but they’re never named on screen).  Wicket helps her escape from more troopers and takes her back to his village.

Chewie gets the men caught in a net (“always thinking with your stomach!”) and they’re surrounded by Ewoks as well.  Who believe that 3PO is a god.  And “it would be against my programming to impersonate a deity,” the fuss bucket tells Han.  So Han, Chewie, and Luke are carted off to the village as well.  Luke uses a Force trick to mimic “magic” and get the Ewoks to set them free before Han can be roasted for dinner.  Leia and Han share a brief kiss and later, 3PO entertains the tribe with a brief retelling of their tale, complete with sound effects.  This gains them membership into the tribe, and some help.  Luke steps out and Leia follows.  Luke reveals that he can sense Vader is near; Leia urges him to run away.  He also reveals that Vader is his father and furthermore, the Force runs strong in his family; his father has it, he has it, and his sister.  Leia muses that she had sensed a connection as well.  Luke wants to try to save Vader; he can still sense good in him.  They part with a kiss on the cheek.  Which Han witnesses.  But Leia can’t tell him what she’s learned, but begs for Han to hold her.

Luke turns himself in to Vader, accepting the truth that Vader is his father.  Well, that Anakin Skywalker was his father.  Vader retorts that “that name no longer has any meaning.”  He examines his son’s new green lightsaber and declares his skills are complete.  But the Emperor will finish his training, in the Dark Side.  Luke cannot underestimate it; Vader must obey his master.  Luke even asks Vader to come away with him.  He tells his father “I will not turn and you will be forced to kill me.”  He feels the conflict within his father.  Vader insists it is too late for him.  And he still takes Luke to the Emperor.  Luke tells Vader “my father is truly dead.” 

The Rebels begin their space attack, but it’s taking a bit of time for Han and his team to get into the shield bunker.  The Ewoks create a distraction by taking one of the speeder bikes.  They make it a few steps in, except there are reinforcements.  (There is the notion amongst the fans that the older guy in Han’s attack group is actually Rex, who we know and love from the Clone Wars series.)  This is all a trap for the Rebels, laid by the Emperor.  Palpatine taunts Luke with the knowledge and urges him to strike him down in anger and descend into the Dark Side.  Luke retorts “your overconfidence is your weakness.”  “And your faith in your friends is yours,” Palpatine hisses.

But the Ewoks are clever creatures and attack the invading Imperials.  They have primitive weapons and for a while, things look bad.  But once Chewie helps a few Ewoks take control of an AT-ST (All Terrain Scout Transport), they gain momentum.  They use ropes to spin a speeder around a tree and clothesline another trooper.  Logs crush one of the walkers [Mythbusters tested this and it worked].  But this is still taking time and Lando urges Admiral Ackbar to give Han more time.  And the fighters unfortunately discover that the Death Star is fully operational when it blows up a large cruiser.  So they have to take on the Star Destroyers first.

Luke can’t take more of watching his friends die, so he calls his lightsaber and aims for the Emperor.  His blade crosses with Vader’s red one and the Emperor chuckles.  Then begins another duel between father and son [and the best one of the original trilogy].  But Luke stops fighting his father.  Vader doesn’t hold back long, even as Luke repeats he feels the conflict within.  Eventually, his thoughts drift back to his friends, and to his sister.  Vader was unaware there was a second child.  Perhaps she will turn easier than her brother.  This enrages Luke and he aggressively attacks, eventually knocking Vader down and slashing at him until he cuts off a hand.  He sees the wires in Vader’s limb, similar to his.  Palpatine laughs.  Luke’s hate has made him powerful.  Now, strike down Vader and become Palpatine’s new apprentice (see how loyal he is to Vader?  He did this with Dooku, if you recall.  This is the problem with the Sith, always backstabbing, completely untrustworthy the lot of them).  “Never,” declares Luke and throws his lightsaber to the side (bad move).  “You failed, your highness.  I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”  Palpatine cackles again and shoots lightning at Luke.

Han and Leia have victory on the moon and blow up the shield (reversing the “I love you”/ “I know” lines, which is adorable).  Now Lando and the fighters can launch their attack.  Wedge is leader of Red squadron and accompanies Lando.  Luke pleads “father, please.”  Vader studies Palpatine and when his master declares “now young Skywalker, you will die,” he shouts “No!” and picks up the maniac.  Lightning surrounds the two and Vader tosses the Sith Lord down the shaft.  Lando and Wedge’s shots ring true and the Death Star begins its’ destruction.  But Vader’s last stand has cost him.  His wheezing is worse and by the time Luke drags him to a shuttle Vader asks his son to help him take this mask off.  He knows he will die, “just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes.”  Anakin has aged, but the scars remain from his last battle.  The Imperial theme plays softly in the background, no longer menacing.  Luke pleads he has to save his father.  “You already have.  Tell your sister, you were right,” and Anakin Skywalker breathes his last.  Luke pilots them out in time.

Leia and Han watch the Death Star explode and Han is quick to assure Leia that Luke wasn’t on it.  She knows.  Very well, he won’t get in the way of the two of them when Luke returns.  No, it’s not like that, Leia reassures Han.  Luke is her brother.  Han gets a delightfully puzzled look on his face and has the most adorable realization after Leia kisses him.  He kisses back enthusiastically, until Wicket interrupts them.  The Ewok horns herald the celebrations, though Luke gives Anakin a funeral pyre alone.  We catch glimpses of Cloud City, Tatooine, Naboo (I’m glad they added Naboo), and Coruscant, where a statue is toppled.  Everyone hugs and Leia and Han cuddle.  Luke glances to the side and see the Force ghosts of both Yoda and Obi-Wan, then joined by Anakin (the new editions use Hayden Christensen, though I kind of agree they should have used the older Anakin from the original release; they used older Obi-Wan.  If you’re going to use Hayden, then use Ewan and heck, throw in Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon.)

A happy ending!  The evil Emperor is destroyed, his henchman is gone, and our heroes are one big happy family.

The story continues “officially” with the sequel trilogy in 2015.  However, before that, fans had the Extended Universe, now called Legends [because Lucas had to throw all that development out the window].  As I’ve stated, this was how I got into Star Wars.  I’ve already mentioned the Jedi Apprentice series by Jude Watson and Dave Wolverton, detailing Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s adventures while Obi-Wan was a Padawan (including how they were almost not paired up).  Truce at Bakura literally picks up where Return of the Jedi ends, Luke is undergoing treatment from his exposure to Force lightning when they receive a distress call (Han and Leia are looking for alone time and don’t get it because there’s always something going on).  Our heroes answer and meet a new race of aliens and Leia begins forging peace between the Rebellion and the Empire (Luke almost dies, again; he needs a vacation).  There’s The Courtship of Princess Leia (self-explanatory) where Han and Leia make it official. 

Timothy Zahn brings us the epic trilogy of Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command.  He introduces Grand Admiral Thrawn (the only non-human Grand Admiral and he’s appeared in Star Wars: Rebels, meaning he’s actually present-day canon) and Mara Jade.  Mara Jade is Force sensitive and worked as the Emperor’s Hand, a trained assassin who could hear her Master’s call anywhere in the universe.  And his final instructions are for her to kill Luke Skywalker, planting the image in her mind that Vader and Luke turned their lightsabers on Palpatine.  She does kill Luke, a clone made from his cut-off hand made by a crazy clone of an old Jedi Master, Joruus C’baoth (Zhan delves more into that backstory in Outbound Flight and Survivor’s Quest).  Mara and Luke actually end up married and Han and Leia have twins over the course of the first trilogy, Jaina and Jacen.  Later, they have a son, Anakin.  Leia becomes okay with that name after Tatooine Ghost by Troy Denning.  Zahn also wrote Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future.  I highly recommend any of his books.

The trilogy of books that actually got me into the original movies was the Jedi Academy trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson, consisting of Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice, and Champions of the Force.  These chronicle Luke’s early attempts to rebuild the Jedi Order (it doesn’t go quite according to plan, he almost ends up dead, again.  Kid, seriously!)  I discovered these at my local library before I found the Zahn books.  Anderson also wrote the Young Jedi Knights series and I remember that is where it really caught my interest.  Oh, fun afternoons of exploring the science-fiction shelves in the back of the library, looking for more Star Wars novels.  Crystal Star by Vonda N. McIntyre is very interesting; the kids get kidnapped and Leia goes off to find them, and Jaina has certainly inherited her father’s sass.  [When I get a chance to pull all my books out, I’ll have to find out which ones I have and which ones I need, because I’m remembering how much I loved these books; and these were my first introduction to “fanfiction,” one could say].

I got out of the Star Wars novels when Vector Prime, and the rest of the New Jedi Order books started coming out.  They just ended up weird, in my opinion.  There’s another alien race that invades and wants to take over the galaxy.  Chewbacca dies, Han blames Anakin, Jacen turns to the Dark Side, taking Ben Skywalker with him.  That just killed the fun.  The galaxy still had its own problems, it didn’t need more.  It took time to dismantle the Empire and build the New Republic, which had its own problems (reading these books made me hate politics).  But yes, I’m a bit put-out that all of this development got thrown out the window when Lucasfilm decided to make the sequel trilogy.  There were great characters already developed and I would love to see Mara Jade on screen because she kicks butt and has no problem telling people off when they’re being stupid, including her husband. 

My overall opinion of the film; it’s fine.  Leia’s main accomplishment is to kill Jabba (which we cheer for).  Luke seems so old; which yes, he’s matured, that’s a good thing, but we also liked the puppy-like Luke from the first film.  Now he’s all serious; he’s caught up on saving Vader.  Part of it is the dialogue is so reparative.  You’ve said it, now move on.  Han is fun, love that cocky smile he gives “hey, it’s me,” and he’s so proud of himself when they trick the Imperials.  And that’s why we love him.  The redemption of Vader is another good twist and if anyone would get through to him, it would be his son.  There is a message of hope that someone who has fallen can rejoin the Light.  And yes, there is a plothole created by Leia’s memories of her mother because in Revenge of the Sith we learn that Padmé died directly after giving birth; that’s a continuity error due to writing the movies in reverse order.

On a fun note: if you have never gotten the chance, go watch Carrie Fisher’s roast of George Lucas when he was awarded the AFI Lifetime Achievement in 2005; it is hilarious!

Next Time: The Force Awakens

A Wee Bit of Fandom

I promise, I have not dropped off the face of the Earth! Life is just…hectic, chaotic, all those words. I most certainly will continue with my blogs on Star Wars (I want to share some of my favorite Extended Universe [now termed Legends; we’ll get into that later] novels). Sadly, those will most likely come after the new year. I don’t know what it is these past few months, but free time has floated by. I’m sure it’s a trait of adulthood, that when a day off rolls around, it gets filled with errands and chores and everything else; it’s just getting annoying.

On a happy note, I did accomplish some writing that made me happy…nothing publishable because my brain still refuses to concentrate on that work. Nevertheless, the stories have made me happy and a few plotlines are still floating about in my head. Heavily influenced by re-watching Disney XD’s show Lab Rats. [If adults can like Spongebob (I hated that show when it was out and I still don’t get it), then I can like Lab Rats 🙂 ] The show featured three bionic siblings who saved the world on missions. Adam, the eldest, had super strength, Bree, the middle child, had super speed, and Chase, the youngest, had super intelligence. The show ran for three years, and there was a half season of a spin off Lab Rats: Elite Force which added characters from another show, Mighty Med. The show was just getting interesting when it was cancelled. Chase is my favorite character; I like smart guys, though he could be egotistical at times and could probably use a smack upside the head.

I just needed something fluffy to occupy the time after work and before I fall asleep. It works.

If you happen to be interested in Lab Rats fanfiction, I can recommend: “A Slow Poison and a Final Straw” by WolfenM on AO3 and a whole slew of works by MoonlightMystery13.3 over on Fanfiction.net. 88keys has some good stories as well and “Because Family Matters” by Scribbler123 is worth a read.

I do want to thank everyone who has continued reading these blogs! And I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween! (One of my favorite holidays; I love dressing up in costumes, but kindly keep your gore and horror far away from me. You’re lucky I managed to watch Supernatural.)

I promise, Empire Strikes Back is coming!

Rebellions are Built on Hope

Rogue One

Felicity Jones leads the cast as Jyn Erso, Mads Mikkelsen (the bad guy in Doctor Strange, Rochefort [the bad guy] in The Three Musketeers from 2011, Le Chiffre [the bad guy] from Casino Royale, Tristan from King Arthur, and he will appear as Gellert Grindlewald in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3 and is supposedly in the upcoming Indiana Jones film) is her father, Galen [not a bad guy].  Jimmy Smits reprises his role briefly as Bail Organa, and if one of the senators looks familiar, that’s Jonathan Aris, who plays Anderson in Sherlock.  Alan Tudyk voices K2.  They made good use of CGI in this film considering that this takes place directly before the original trilogy and many of those actors are too old to reprise their roles, or sadly passed away.  Grand Moff Tarkin came across excellent.

The Imperials are coming.  A family tries to run and hide, but the father stays back to deal with their visitors, after assuring his young daughter that all he does is to protect her.  Her mother turns back, but tells the girl to hide and “trust the Force,” fastening a crystal around her neck [okay, could she be an old Jedi Initiate or similar?  As revealed later, that crystal is a kyber crystal, which was the heart of a Jedi’s lightsaber…and we know that some Jedi managed to escape the Purge.  She could be hiding in plain sight, married to an Imperial scientist, or else, no one is that dumb…two minds]  But the girl watches her father greet the visitor, an Imperial governor, Krenic.  Galen is instructed to return to the Empire to continue his work.  His wife, Lyra steps in to threaten Krenic, but she’s quickly dispatched.  The child, Jyn flees.  There’s a secret hide-out she curls up in until a family friend retrieves her.

We jump ahead fifteen years and meet Jyn briefly again in a prison.  She is rescued by the rebellion and taken to the rebel base on Yavin 4.  They need her help; news has come out that an Imperial pilot has defected and is searching for the rebel Saw Guerra.  Jyn has a history with Saw; he was the one to rescue her after the incident with Krenic.  The pilot is also said to be acting on instructions from Galen.  Mon Mothma sends Jyn with Cassian to find the pilot and information he carries about an Imperial weapon.

Grand Moff Tarkin visits Krenic to oversee the final assembly of the Death Star above Jeddha [why do these all look like Tatooine?].  They are harvesting the kyber crystals from an old Jedi temple.  The pilot has made his way to Saw Guerrra, but Saw is a paranoid extremist and doesn’t believe the pilot.  Cassian and Jyn begin their search, but get caught in an attack by Saw’s men.  They also meet a blind guardian who speaks of the Force: “The Force is with me and I am with the Force.  And I fear nothing for all is as the Force wills it.”  Impressive fighting from both Chirrut and Jyn [which that staff is totally part of a lightsaber hilt].  Chirrut is followed by Baze who carries an arsenal to keep them safe.  All four are eventually taken to Saw’s headquarters, but only Jyn is allowed to see the man.  The other three find the pilot and when the attack comes, they hightail it out of the compound. 

Jyn finally gets to see the message from her father.  He obeyed the Empire because he knew that was the only way to destroy them.  He designed a flaw in the Death Star; Jyn only needs to recover the plans and get them to the rebellion.  Above the planet, Tarkin wants to make an example of Jeddha, so he has the Death Star fire on the holy city; also testing Krenic whether the station is operational.  Luckily for Krenic, it is, but Tarkin is also taking over command.  Krenic leaves to discover the depths of treachery that came from his science base.

The ragtag crew heads to Eadu to possibly rescue Galen, but we also know that Cassian carries orders to kill Galen.  But he hesitates.  Then an alliance squadron bombs the area anyway, almost hitting Jyn and mortally wounding Galen.  Cassian does rescue Jyn, but they have words later.  Director Krenic discovers Galen’s treachery and manages to get away.  He appeals to Darth Vader (who may be on Mustafar, not sure since it wasn’t label and why would he return there?).  Vader cautions Krenic “be careful not to choke on your aspirations.”  Krenic needs to ensure that the Death Star was not sabotaged.

The Alliance is not willing to trust the word of either Erso’s and will not commit their fleet to going after the plans.  So a volunteer squadron gathers and they head for the Imperial information station, giving themselves the call sign Rogue One.  Jyn and Cassian make it inside the building and Cassian’s sarcastic droid, K2 helps them find the correct data file.  But they have to beam out the information; it will be difficult to get it off world.  In the meantime, Bail Organa is heading back to Alderran and sends a trustworthy woman to speak to an old Jedi friend.  The Alliance finally decides to scramble part of the fleet, led by a few daring leaders (we even see R2 and 3PO for a brief moment.  And that is the same Red Leader we’ll see in A New Hope [they used unused shots from New Hope]).  A battle takes place over Scariff crashing to Star Destroyers into each other to take out the shield while Jyn tries to align the dish.  Krenic is about to  kill her, but Cassian limps in to save the day.  The couple sits on the beach as the planet is destroyed by the Death Star to protect the Empire’s data.

Vader boards a rebel ship, using his red lightsaber to slash through the men.  The disc manages to escape and is beamed to a familiar Rebel Runner with a familiar young woman aboard (another example of CGI).

This all leads directly into Episode IV: A New Hope

My thoughts on the film are mixed.  We could guess that it was a foregone conclusion that the new characters introduced would all die by the end of the film because they weren’t in the original trilogy.  Cassian [who apparently is getting his own Disney+ show] is not a wholly nice character, which some people would applaud as it builds dynamic.  But he’s trying to come off as a cross between Luke Skywalker and Han Solo (look at the shirt he wears in the last few scenes) and he has none of the charm.  I applaud him for following his conscious finally but you also want to smack him a lot in the beginning.  Jyn is very much like Rey from the sequels which makes it a bit confusing.

Overall, the movie is very slow.  It also relies on the audience knowing the current expanded universe; like I had no idea who Saw Guerra was before this but everyone in the film does.  [After watching some of Rebels, I did catch the shout out to General Syndulla (Hera), but it’s so small that you don’t notice it if it means nothing to you].  I wish we saw more of the battle at Scariff (it has been noted that Star Wars finally made a tropical beach base; then blew it up with the Death Star…this is why we can’t have nice things)

Speaking of Rebels, I have watched some of the first two season (and I hesitate to continue because I am aware of some things that happen and not sure I really want to actively sit and watch that) and it is hilarious.  Lots of good banter, wonderful to see some familiar faces.  And the family dynamic of the crew is heartwarming.  This is why Jedi should be allowed to have families!  I totally recommend the show.

Up Next: The one that started it all, A New Hope

You’ve Become the Very Thing You Sought to Destroy

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Let me include a few thoughts about Clone Wars first.  While I have not watched the whole series (and not entirely sure if I want to due to some plot points I’m aware of), it does come up in fanfiction a lot.  I watched most of the traditional animated series when it came out, and it was weird.  So no, I did not want to watch the animated film that came out later and I objected to the idea that Anakin had a Padawan.  And, by the way, the film is still weird.  The series, once I gave it a chance, it better.  I learned to like Ashoka and was pleased with elements they included in parts of Rebels that I happened to catch.  I agree with some plot points that occur in the series (SPOILERS); I thought it was interesting to give Obi-Wan a possible love interest (and if you’ve read some of the Legends books, you know this isn’t the first time).  I adore his sassiness; because my favorite characters tend to be snarky, so much fun!  Anakin isn’t as whiny, huzzah.  We see clones in action and bond with certain ones (which comes to bite us in the butt later).  I was not fond of them bringing Maul back because, really!  Obi-Wan sliced the guy in half and he fell down a shaft [I could make a comment regarding the sequel movies here…apparently that does not mean death in the Star Wars universe…I also disagree with that; more of that rant later].  Can we be nice to Obi-Wan, please?  There are some plot lines that I understand needed to occur, but wish they hadn’t because we’d rather see our characters ultimately happy (after we whump them a bit)

I am interested in reading the Wild Space novel, which has been referenced in several stories (which will be listed at the end of the blog), but for now, on with the main event!

All the familiar faces are back: Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan, Natalie Portman as Padmé, Hayden Christensen as Anakin, Christopher Lee as Count Dooku, Samuel Jackson as Mace Windu.  Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Kenny Baker as R2-D2 are the only two actors to appear in all of the original and prequel movies; in fact, the characters appear in all nine films, plus Rogues One, as well as two of the cartoon series, Clone Wars and Rebels.  A fun note about the title of this episode; originally, Episode VI was supposed to be Revenge of the Jedi, but George Lucas decided that revenge was not the Jedi way, but completely acceptable for the Sith.

After the title crawl, the film opens with a huge space battle; you really get a feel for the scope; there are layers and levels and feels a bit like a roller coaster…so be careful if you have a bit of a squeamish stomach.  Also, we now realize fully where the stylistic designs for the Empire originated; those certainly look like Star Destroyers and it doesn’t take much to see the similarity between clone troopers suits and stormtroopers.  Our heroes are in the thick of it and Obi-Wan’s starship gets attacked by buzz droids, so he’s not happy.  Anakin tries to help and R2 is cool; they ultimately end up crashing into General Grievous’ ship [I’m not a fan of Grievous; he was totally unnecessary, you’ve got Dooku]…Obi-Wan does a totally awesome flip out of his fighter and slashes through droids.  Now, time to spring the trap and rescue Chancellor Palpatine.

Anakin and Obi-Wan confront Dooku together this time; Sith Lords are their specialty, but Dooku is quick to take Obi-Wan out of the picture, throwing him into a walkway.  Anakin gets a bit cocky and Dooku can sense fear, hate, and anger in Skywalker, but he doesn’t use them.  Anakin manages to disarm (literally) Dooku and crosses a red and blue blade at the Sith Lord’s neck.  Palpatine orders Anakin to kill Dooku (Dooku was not aware that that was part of the plan); his Sidious voice comes out when he growls “do it” [and that throne looks awfully familiar…fast forward to Return of the Jedi].  Anakin decapitates the Sith Lord and frees Palpatine.  [Ok, seriously, you’ve got Christopher Lee and you use him for about ten minutes, to make room for some mostly-droid being that should have been hacked to pieces the first time he crossed someone’s path]  The Chancellor then tries to get Anakin to leave Obi-Wan (all part of his plan), but Anakin will not leave him.  All three manage to get captured by Grievous, for about a minute, then Anakin and Obi-Wan escape their bonds.  Grievous is a coward and abandons ship.  Anakin manages to land the wreckage of the ship, or as Obi-Wan puts it, half a ship, and calls it “another happy landing.” 

Obi-Wan leaves the politics to Anakin, who sneaks away as soon as possible to visit his wife.  Padmé quietly reveals that she is pregnant.  Anakin is happy (though note the brief hesitation).  Their happiness is soon marred by nightmares Anakin has of Padmé dying in childbirth.  He will not let what happened to his mother happen to the other woman he loves.  Now he’s on a search to find a way to save her.  He even seeks help from Master Yoda, with no details revealed.  Yoda once again counsels Anakin that fear of loss will lead to the Dark Side; attachments lead to jealousy and greed.  Anakin does not seek help from Obi-Wan.

Instead, the Council is concerned by the powers that Chancellor Palpatine is amassing.  Palpatine puts the next step of his plan into action and appoints Anakin as his personal representative on the Jedi Council, planting doubt in Anakin’s head [along with the dream about Padmé, no doubt].  The Council reluctantly accepts the appointment, but will not grant Anakin the rank of Master.  After the meeting, where Yoda states he will help the Wookies on Kashyyk, Obi-Wan and Anakin talk.  Anakin may not have asked for the position, but it is something he has wanted and Obi-Wan tries to get his former Padawan to see that Palpatine is interfering with the Jedi.  The Council, against Obi-Wan’s protests, are asking Anakin to spy on Palpatine (which is what Palpatine is asking of Anakin, but he’s too blinded by loyalty bought at a young age to see that…Palpatine tells Anakin what he wants to hear, so the young man keeps coming back).

Anakin visits Palpatine that evening.  The Chancellor feeds the young Jedi the information on where Grievous is hiding.  Then their conversation drifts to the Sith; Palpatine claims they are similar to the Jedi in their quest for greater power.  “All who gain power are afraid to lose it.”  He also knows a Sith legend on Darth Plageus, who could manipulate the midi-chlorians in a life form and create life [hmm, maybe that’s how Anakin came to fruition], and also, how to keep from dying.  That perks Anakin’s ears, his thoughts are on Padmé.  Palpatine claims that the Dark Side is a pathway to many abilities that would be considered unnatural (and Anakin is so consumed with thoughts of his wife he doesn’t question how the Supreme Chancellor knows Sith legends, or why, or why he’s telling him these things).

The Council decides to send Obi-Wan, who has more experience, to Utapau to capture Grievous.  Former Master and Apprentice bid each other good-bye; Anakin apologizes and thanks Obi-Wan for his training and Obi-Wan declares his pride in Anakin; he’s a far greater Jedi than Obi-Wan could ever hope to be [we’ll get to some Obi-Wan appreciation in a bit].  “Good-bye, old friend,” Obi-Wan says in parting.

Obi-Wan engages in a duel with Grievous on Utapau, leaping down and quipping “hello there.”  Grievous, proving to be a lazy coward, first instructs his guards to kill the Jedi (and weird opening lightsaber stance), Obi-Wan quickly rids himself of the pests.  Then quickly removes two of Grievous’s extra limbs to even the fight.  Obi-Wan’s division of clone troopers [the 212th] arrive to take on the droids, and Grievous runs off.  Obi-Wan pursues him and loses his lightsaber.  When the pair fall onto a platform, Obi-Wan first uses an electro-stave, then decides that hand-to-hand combat is a brilliant way to take on a heavily machined opponent (Obi-Wan, dear, don’t kick the droid) and he gets thrown around a bit.  He manages to grab a hold of a blaster while he’s dangling and a few well-aimed shots ignite what is left of Grievous’s organs.  “So uncivilized,” he quips when he regains his feet (call forward to A New Hope when he refers to a lightsaber as a weapon of a more civilized age).

Meanwhile, Mace Windu senses a plot to destroy the Jedi, the Dark Side surrounds Chancellor Palpatine and there is a fear that he will not set down the extra power he has been granted.  Now the Jedi Council is treading a dangerous line, planning to take control of the Senate.  At the same time, Palpatine is speaking to Anakin, making him believe that everyone else is out to get Palpatine and then he blatantly tells Anakin “only through me can you achieve a power greater than any Jedi,” only the Dark Side holds the power to save his wife.  The young Jedi finally realizes that Palpatine is the Sith Lord they have been looking for all these years.  He wisely goes to the Council.  Windu orders Anakin to remain at the Temple while they arrest Palpatine; Anakin argues that the Masters will need him.  Well, one point for Anakin for finally making a good decision and Windu has a point that Anakin would be comprised, facing Palpatine, but Anakin does not handle sitting still well.

Palpatine continues to weave his influence over Anakin and Anakin leaves the Temple for the Senate building, walking in on the arrest.  Palpatine has finally drawn his own lightsaber and killed the three Masters who accompanied Windu.  Windu has Palpatine cornered, Force lighting reflecting off his blade back onto the Sith Lord.  Anakin pleads that he needs Palpatine in order to save Padmé.  Palpatine pretends to be feeble and Anakin still argues to do the right thing, then takes off Windu’s hand when the Master goes to strike down Palpatine.  Palpatine strikes back, shouting “unlimited power!” and tosses Windu out the window.  Anakin realizes he’s made another mistake and promptly agrees to be Palpatine’s apprentice and turn to the Dark Side [because that’s very logical; let’s negate the good decision made with the worst possible alternative].  Palpatine is now fully Sidious, scarred face and deep voice.  We hear the Imperial March when Sidious names his new apprentice Darth Vader.

That’s not terrifying at all

Sidious proclaims the Jedi an enemy of the Republic and sends Anakin to the Temple to kill all the Jedi there.  Afterwards, he is to go to the Mustafar system and destroy the Separatists leaders.  Anakin leads the 501st division of clones on the Temple, he’s gained the yellow eyes of the Sith, and they murder all there, including Younglings (our hearts start breaking).  Sidious issues Order 66 and the clones turn on their Jedi generals [oh boy, after learning to love these clones and see that they love their Jedi commanders in Clone Wars, yeah, stomp on our hearts why don’t ya…we also discovered in the cartoon that this order is compulsory; the clones were essentially under mind control and didn’t have a choice…bar a few we find out later].  Yoda, already reeling from feeling Anakin, manages to sense his attack and escape, with the help of a familiar Wookie (Chewie!).  Cody and his men fire on Obi-Wan, after he gave his general his lightsaber back.  Obi-Wan falls into the water and does not emerge.  We see him steal a fighter and escape.

Bail Organa investigates the commotion at the Temple and is lucky to escape alive after witnessing the clones kill a Padawan who tried to defend his home.  He boards his ship (the Rebel runner we’ll see in the opening of A New Hope) and goes to rescue Jedi.  He makes contact with Obi-Wan.  Padmé cries when she sees the Temple in flames and is thankful that Anakin is alive.  Anakin reports that there was a Jedi rebellion and they must stay loyal to the Chancellor [deleted scenes show that Padmé was already doubting Palpatine and was part of the group that would become the foundation of the Rebellion, including Mon Mothma and Bail Organa].  Obi-Wan joins Yoda at the Temple and they take down some clones and change the outgoing message to turn the Jedi away from the Temple [we eventually discover most notably in A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller that Caleb Dume/ Kanan Jarrus was the young Padawan who recommended this to Obi-Wan].

Palpatine calls a special Senate meeting that Padmé and Bail attend where he blames the Jedi who have left him scarred.  But his resolve is stronger than ever.  So, in the name of security and stability, he will dissolve the Republic and create the Galactic Empire!  As Padmé puts it, “this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.”  [There is a can of worms here that I am not brave enough to open.]

Obi-Wan doesn’t want to believe the security recordings when he discovers it was Anakin who marched on the Temple, or that he has turned.  The two Jedi Masters must face the two Sith Lords; Obi-Wan begs Yoda to allow him to go after Sidious, he cannot go after Anakin.  The young man is like his brother, he cannot kill him.  But Yoda fears Obi-Wan would not survive Sidious, so Yoda takes on the Sith Master himself.  Obi-Wan goes to Padmé; he must find Anakin.  But Padmé won’t say where he husband has gone; and Obi-Wan knows she’s pregnant, and Anakin’s the father.  [Side rant here, it’s made clear in Clone Wars that Anakin and Padmé are not as subtle as they believe they are; Obi-Wan has probably known for a while that there is something between them, maybe not marriage per say.  And how does no one else know Padmé is pregnant!  Look at how she dresses now!  (Mind you, they are pretty gowns, and I love her more natural hairstyle, but that’s beside the point).  And she’s have to be a far ways along; it’s stated at the beginning that Anakin and Obi-Wan have been gone for months in an Outer Rim Siege, meaning her baby was conceived the last time Anakin was home.  How do her friends not guess?]

Padmé flies off to see her husband and Obi-Wan stows away on the ship; he knows his friends.  Anakin has executed all the Separatists leaders but is still excited to see his wife.  Until she questions his actions.  Anakin now believes that Obi-Wan has turned her against him; it’s back to being all Obi-Wan’s fault.  Then Obi-Wan reveals himself and Anakin turns on his wife.  He chokes her (cause that’s a real smart idea with a pregnant woman) and Obi-Wan tries one last time to talk sense into his former Padawan, but his mind is lost to Palpatine’s machinations.

Thus begins the Battle of the Heroes [another stunning masterpiece composed by John Williams.  I can remember Jimmy Smits introducing this piece at A Capitol Fourth, referring to the orchestra as “some friends,” I thought it was funny and totally cool that they played it in Washington D.C. for everyone].  It’s blue lightsaber versus blue lightsaber (a first for the series), brother versus brother.  This is the most epic duel of the entire saga [I will fight you on this].  It is fast, and no, that was not digitally altered, Hayden and Ewan performed this duel themselves and are skilled enough now to fight at that speed.  This is a fight between foes that know each other’s fighting styles intimately.  They’re often a blur of blue and will use the same move against each other.  Heck, they even throw in a bit of Duel of the Fates at one point.

At the same time, Yoda faces Sidious in the Senate building.  Sidious resorts to throwing the Senate seats at the diminutive Jedi and it ends as a stale mate.  Yoda escapes and tells Bail Organa he must go into hiding, failed, he has.

Obi-Wan expresses his own failure to Anakin.  Anakin is now immersed in the Dark Side and feels that the Jedi are evil (goes back to everything Palpatine has fed him for over a decade).  Obi-Wan gains the high ground and cautions Anakin to surrender.  Anakin is still cocky and flips over his former master, but he’s still in reach of Obi-Wan’s blade and loses the rest of his limbs.  The heat of the lava lands on him, burning and scaring him as Obi-Wan releases his pain: “You were the Chosen One!  It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them!  Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!”  Anakin shouts his hatred at Obi-Wan.  “You were my brother, Anakin.  I loved you.”  [Excellent acting by Ewan]  Obi-Wan cannot bring himself to end his best friend (which could be argued was a mistake, but we love Obi-Wan too much to judge him too harshly), so takes his discarded lightsaber and walks away.  He takes Padmé to Bail Organa where the medical droids deliver her twins (a bit of a shock to everyone, except us).  Sadly, she’s lost the will to live but tells Obi-Wan as he holds newborn Luke that there is still good in Anakin.

Palpatine senses Vader is in trouble and saves him, but that necessitates a large black suit to keep him alive.  This is where that iconic look comes from and that distinctive breathing.  When Vader asks about his wife, Palpatine tells him that he killed her.  Construction begins on the Death Star [why it takes nineteen years to build the first one, unless there were large-scale prototypes first…there are a few plot holes between the ending of III and beginning of IV].  Padmé’s family buries her on Naboo.  Yoda recommends that the infants be split up for their protection; Bail offers to take Leia to Alderaan.  Obi-Wan will take Luke to his family on Tatooine (cue theme from Episode IV).  Yoda has one final lesson for Obi-Wan; Qui-Gon has kept his identity in the Force and offers to teach the remaining Masters.  We also get a quick scene that shows C-3PO’s memory was wiped before working for Bail Organa, but R2-D2’s was not…meaning that little astromech knows everything.

So now, all we have to do is wait for the next generation to grow up.

This movie, like the other prequels, has its good and bad points.  Anakin’s Heel-Face Turn was too sudden when it finally happened.  Yes, the ground work has been laid, particularly since Attack of the Clones.  But it seems within the space of a few hours, Anakin goes from ‘I trust the Jedi Council to handle this threat I discovered’, to ‘I kill the Jedi Master and boom, now I’m a Sith Lord’.  And then he takes it out on his wife.  Of course, this is majorly influenced by Palpatine’s schemes, but I really want to smack Anakin upside the head.  [And this is why there exists many fix-it fictions].  And all Padmé does it sit around, being pregnant.  She took charge and kicked butt in the previous two films and now, nothing.  She loses the will to live after giving birth…yes, this obviously had to happen because she’s not around in the originals (and begs the question, how did Leia have memories of her…plot hole), but still disappointing.  Grievous was an unneeded character; you already had an extra bad guy and why build up Count Dooku if you’re not going to use him.

The banter was fun; Anakin was a bit better, at least at the beginning of the film; not so whiny.  The massive duel at the end was epic!  That sells the entire film; it’s fraught with emotion.  Obi-Wan may not have been planning on killing Anakin, but he did plan on stopping him.  What makes it even more interesting is that the two characters (and actors) were evenly matched.

Up Next: Solo

I’ll put my musings on the Jedi Code here:

As the extended universe wrote out, the Jedi Code declares There is no emotion, there is peace.  There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.  There is no passion, there is serenity.  There is no chaos, there is harmony.  There is no death, there is the Force.  I’m sure someone has done a paper somewhere comparing this to different philosophies or religious beliefs and this as it is written out is a mindful way to live.  For a while, I felt that the Jedi Code was meant to make Jedi into unfeeling beings, which is the opposite of what humans are.  As humans we have emotions, we are emotions.  And as a teenager, just getting into the fandom, I went along with the idea that the Council was denying Anakin’s basic needs as a human; of course he should feel love.  But there is a difference between love and attachment.  It circles back to that saying “if you love something,  let it go.”  The attachment rule is to prevent the Jedi from putting one thing or being or whatever about another.  Like Anakin putting the fate of Padmé above the rest of the galaxy.  Of course Jedi should love and have a compassion, but they have a larger duty to the galaxy.  In Clone Wars we see Obi-Wan tempted due to love, but he resists.  Is the Council flawed?  Yes.  It’s a bit odd to look back and see that wise Master Yoda made some mistakes.  Like, instead of simply telling Anakin over and over that fear leads to the Dark Side, how ’bout some actual help? And it pains me to say this, but technically Palpatine had a point in telling Anakin to completely understand a subject, he must study all aspects, not just the dogmatic, narrow view of the Jedi. There is obviously a fine line (and someone could make the connection between magic and the Force and compare Harry Potter to Star Wars…I do not have the time for that, lol), but simply excluding something because it is “dark” without understanding it is asking for trouble. Caution is urged, of course.

It is heavily implied within the extended universe that Qui-Gon Jinn loved a fellow Jedi Master, Tahl and his decisions regarding her were not wholly logical.  It caused a rift between him and Obi-Wan more than once while Obi-Wan was a Padawan. …Yeah, I’ve come to realize that Qui-Gon was not the greatest Master and this is where fandom has declared Obi-Wan deserves hugs. I once thought Mace Windu cold and unfeeling.  While he too was flawed, as is any good character, he also had his depths.

Some Obi-Wan Kenobi appreciation [can you tell he is my favorite character?]:

He’s referred to as the Ace on TV Tropes [a lot of this information came from there, but I certainly agree with their points]; one of the best Jedi that the Order ever had.  Third strongest Council member after Windu and Yoda; tactical genius, top diplomat (Negotiator), expert pilot (out flew Jango Fett), master of multiple forms of lightsaber combat (particularly Form III [Soresu] and Ataru).  Considered to be the single best defensive duelist in the galaxy in his prime.  In canon, the only battle he loses is against Vader in A New Hope and he most likely threw that as a distraction to help Luke.  He faced off against the Sith, killing an apprentice when he was only a Padawan and Grievous.  Became a broken ace after the death of Qui-Gon and most of the Order, and (SPOILER) his love Satine by Maul [I disliked that bit].  Saw the death of Padmé and spent nineteen years in hiding on Tatooine with guilt and trauma. 

Sees more combat that most of the other Jedi in canon.  More of a brother relationship with Anakin, less of an age gap; bicker like siblings (and it is hilarious).  The one who started the trend of Jedi generals wearing clone trooper armor in order to relate more closely to their troops.  Primary enemy of Maul and Grievous, but greatest enemy was Anakin.  Took a Level in Badass: goes from getting very lucky against Maul to a Master who defeated Grievous and bested the most powerful Force User in the galaxy.  Badass Bookworm – intelligent, cultured gentlemen, who can kick a lot of ass when the time comes for it (love this!).  Bash Brothers and Big Brother Instinct and Mentor with Anakin.  The fandom is quick to point out that while Obi-Wan undoubtedly made mistakes in training Anakin (and he beats himself up for it), he went directly from being a Padawan to having a Padawan and one who was already too old to begin Jedi education yet young to be a Padawan.  And had several members of the Council who disagreed with training the boy, so cut him a little slack.

Is described as “the ultimate Jedi” partially because he is modest, heroic, focused, and kind.  Nevertheless, if you push him far enough (like taking part in the murder of almost his entire “family” aka Jedi Order, including innocent children) he is prepared to hack off your limbs and leave you alone to slowly burn to death.  Calm facade breaks while fighting Anakin in Revenge.  Anytime the emotionally controlled Obi-Wan get emotional, something is wrong.

Humble Hero [fanfic authors recognize this]: It seems that Obi-Wan is the only being who doesn’t understand how great a Jedi he is – when the Council proposes to send their ‘most cunning and insightful Master’ after Grievous, he has no idea who they mean.  He’s also surprised when Mace Windu (the guy who created his own form of lightsaber combat) refers to him as ‘the master of the classic form,’ note, the master, not simply a master.  He is easily the nicest and most immediately personable member of the Jedi Order in Prequels.  Overall, maintains a kind demeanor and strong moral code in spite of the vast amount of hardship he faces.  Slightly aloof and snarky and times, but also polite and compassionate.  The Paragon: stands as pinnacle of heroism; selfless, morally upright, humble, and inspires others, in control of his impulses and emotions.  Not perfect, but closest to embodying ideals of Jedi Order.  Extremely clever, worldly, intelligent.

Does get beaten up at times (Attack of the Clones where he jumps out window and then the arena).  Combat Pragmatist.  Sharp wit and sardonically sarcastic sense of humor (could be a result of seeing death and destruction…I believe somewhere in Legends canon, young Obi-Wan suffered from visions).  Gentleman Snarker [I love that]: Obi-Wan’s polite, diplomatic demeanor can mask some pretty biting snark.  Poster boy for Snark Knight; he also likes to flirt with his enemies. Mainly meaningless, but still funny.  Refuses to give up after learning about the occurrences of the Jedi Purge and Anakin’s betrayal of the Order.  Still hurt years afterward, still believes Luke will save the Jedi.  Jedi are fettered as a rule, but Obi-Wan explains the strength that comes from resisting the temptation of the Dark Side while confronting Maul later.  Makes up for lack of character growth with the sheer amount of action he goes through.

Foil to Anakin, both skilled and famous Jedi with troubles love lives: Anakin and Padmé obviously.  Obi-Wan and Duchess Satine (Legends: Siri).  Obi-Wan takes firm hand training Anakin, more of a gentle touch training Luke.  Throughout Prequels and Clone Wars, Obi-Wan has several good reasons to turn to the Dark Side, but resists.  Cannot be corrupted.  Has Innocent Blue Eyes that symbolize his heroic, righteous, and pure nature.  Mentor Archetype.  Morality Chain to Anakin: Anakin respected Obi-Wan enough that Palpatine had to get him off the planet before turning him to the Dark Side, and Anakin still tries to (threateningly) talk Obi-Wan out of fighting him.  Morphs into dark version of Worthy Opponent.  Dooku  considers Obi-Wan a worthy opponent (Hardeen plotline; foil an attempted kidnapping by disguising himself as a bounty hunter and sabotaging the plot from the inside)

Implied friendship formed with Padmé and turned blind eye to her relationship with Anakin.  Good is not Soft: prefers to settle conflict diplomatically.  But will fight.  Demonstrates some of the most powerful Psychic Powers in canon.  Also prone to passively enhancing his physical strength and durability with Force; shot straight up four feet by arm strength to beat Maul; shook off blows from Grievous that sent him falling thirty feet; and fought Anakin within inches of lava.

Similar position to Han Solo in Prequel Trilogy; they both serve as older brotherly figures (Han to Luke, Obi-Wan to Anakin…I’ll get into more of the former when we hit the original trilogy because I love that part).  Obi-Wan is Anakin’s Jedi Master and partner who Anakin also saw as a Parental Substitute while Han is Luke’s partner and closest friend, who later becomes his brother-in-law.  Conversely, Anakin and Obi-Wan’s bond is destroyed, while Luke and Han have a rocky start but become family (even before marriage).  Belligerent Sexual Tension with love interests (Satine, Leia).  Obi-Wan Ideal Hero, Han Anti-Hero.  (SPOILER): Both are murdered by someone they had a complicated father-son relationship with.  Driving force behind the Prequels, but still major character in New Hope.

Disagrees with (SPOILER) dismissing Ahsoka [and another reason I’m not keen on finishing Clone Wars].  Also believes the Council should be more open with Anakin about their concerns over Chancellor Palpatine and the Sith, but overruled.  The Stoic: has one of the most unpleasant lives (and afterlife?) of any character in fiction, but remains clam, never complains, and usually keeps his emotions well in check.  You Didn’t Ask: rather sad one, only reason didn’t stay with Satine is she didn’t ask.  Oh, and Leia is Luke’s sister.

Later in life, the Atoner for training the man who destroyed the Jedi Order and never recognizing the threat Anakin really represented.  Will still cut off arms if need arises.  Even after all the trauma he went through in his younger days and having spent almost twenty years living as a hermit, Obi-Wan is a remarkably kind and patient man.  Explanation for fight against Vader; stalling and Vader’s powerful attacks.  Starts off as a young and brash apprentice to Qui-Gon, becomes more wise and experienced Jedi Master, culmination in teaching Luke, his former pupil’s son.

And thus I am totally excited for the upcoming show on Disney+ and very glad they kept Ewan McGregor for the role.

Some fanfiction recommendations, all from AO3:

Check out

Both Lost Destiny and Crossroads by Nihes are interesting, but you end up wanting to punch something at the end.  However, Jedi Babysitting for Professionals is hilarious

I certainly hope that Big Fat Bumblebee’s Found is continued because it is certainly time that someone takes care of Obi-Wan.  Brothers care for brothers, Infuriating Man, Battle of Wills, and Enforced Convalescence are heartwarming (apparently the only thing Anakin and Mace Windu agree on is caring for Obi-Wan, not the Order, or the Republic, or even the Force, but yes to Obi-Wan).

Meysun’s There is no Pain is rather poignant, and you certainly want to wrap Obi-Wan up in a hug afterwards.

As I Fall and A Long Way Down by KCKenobi include some Obi-Wan whump.  Some Things You Just Can’t Speak About is another one that makes you want to wrap Obi-Wan up in a hug.  We get some protective Mace Windu in Old Wounds.

Must_Be _Thursday’s Just Surrender is rather good.

AndyHood’s Fought for Him really emphasizes why Obi-Wan needs some hugs.

Siri_Kenobi12 gives us some Obi-Wan whump in TestedMemoirs of Kadavo is wonderful and I already told you I love It Takes a Village from the write-up on Phantom Menace.

You Are Wanted Obi-Wan Kenobi by allwalkfree is my new favorite story.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You…Maybe

A Random Fandom Update!

Since this topic of conversation came up, thought I might go over my musings on some upcoming films.

Enola Holmes: Saw the ad for this, coming to Netflix September 23rd.  It looks exciting!  The premise is Enola is the younger sister to the famous Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes.  Her mother (not sure if it’s their mother as well) has gone missing and she’s called them in for help.  Sherlock, played by Henry Cavill, seems nice.  Mycroft looks like a prick who wants to turn their younger sister into a “proper young lady.”  And I love that Enola is decidedly not.  Looking forward to this!

Black Widow: I will admit, I was excited when this was first announced.  Black Widow totally deserves her own film and Marvel did great with Captain Marvel.  Then the trailer released and I finally read that it takes place between Civil War and Infinity War, which helps make sense.  Yes, I totally want to see Black Widow’s origins and her kicking butt, however, the armor looks out of place.  Black Widow wears sleek suits so she can slide between her opponents and she’s trained to avoid hits.  And the “family” aspect…seems a bit out of place.  Honestly, we want the movie that is Hawkeye and Black Widow in Budapest, teased in Avengers. Will I see it?  Of course.

Mulan: I am not going to pay the higher premium to watch in on Disney+, I’ll wait till it’s properly released and you can rent it like normal.  I get that Disney is taking the story back to its more original roots, but I feel like it’s going to lose that Disney touch.  It’s not a musical, though they seem to be using the Reflections theme.  And with the more serious tone, they’ve probably lost Mushu and he was half the fun!  At some point I’ll watch it.

Wonder Woman 1984: Still excited about this one because I love the first one.  Steve Trevor is back and I’d love to know how.  The most recent trailer shows Diana’s adversary who transforms into a cat somehow?  I will admit, I am not up on Wonder Woman lore, but it just makes me cock my head and go “huh.”  The gold suit looks ridiculous, especially after how awesome they made her armor in the first film.  Will still see, possibly in theatres.

No Time To Die: The twenty-fifth James Bond film and appears to pick up after Spectre.  Bond has retired with Madeleine Swann, though they don’t appear to still be a couple in the trailer.  Bond is called back to action.  I mean, now that I’m caught up on the new Bond films, I definitely want to see this and see how things play out.  I am currently enjoying a slew of James Bond/Sherlock crossover stories; some of the dialogue is absolutely hilarious.

Of course there is also the final seven episodes of Supernatural due out in October and November.  I guarantee I will cry.  I go back and forth on how I think they will end it.  I believe Jensen Ackles has stated he would be willing to come back and do a movie; so they can’t fully kill the boys off, but then how else are you going to end the show?  In case there isn’t a film?  Pretty sure their destiny is to die, saving the world (as long as you make sure idiot Chuck goes first)

We shall eagerly wait and see how all these stories play out.

Bond film blogs will continue.

“The biggest word/ you’ve ever heard/ and this is how it goes!”

Mary Poppins

An iconic Disney musical.  And it so happened to have been on television both the night my brother was born, and the night I was born, twenty months later.  The original book series was written by P.L. Travers.  For the film, music was composed by the Sherman brothers and production was overseen by Walt Disney himself, as showcased in Saving Mr. Banks.  I have seen the film and it was an interesting look into how the film was created, though a bit sad as well.  Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were excellent in it.  The classic movie stars Julie Andrews (Sound of Music, The Princess Diaries) in her first major movie role (though she was already experienced on the stage) as the titular Mary Poppins.  [And a note about that; Julie had starred as the original Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady on stage and had hoped to earn the role again in the film.  But it went to Audrey Hepburn.  Mary Poppins won the Oscar that year.]  Her co-star was Dick Van Dyke (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as Bert, David Tomlinson (Bedknobs and Broomsticks) as Mr. George W. Banks, Reginald Owen (Bedknobs and Broomsticks) as Admiral Boom, and Arthur Treacher (yes, of the Fish and Chips restaurant line; he also appeared in several Shirley Temple films) as the Constable.

The establishing shots of the London skyline tell us we’re in England and we see Mary Poppins sitting on a cloud.  Bert is a one-man band, entertaining a crowd, until the wind blows by: “something is brewing/ about to begin.”  Then he addresses the audience, as we asked for directions to Number 17, Cherry Tree Lane.  We pass by Admiral Boom, who has rigging on the top of his home, as well as a canon to mark the time.  The world takes its time from Greenwich, but Greenwich takes its time from Admiral Boom.  There is an argument brewing at Number 17; seems Katie Nana has lost her charges, but blames them, so she is leaving.  Mrs. Banks arrives home from her Sister Suffragette rally, though it takes several tries to inform her that her children are missing.  She quickly puts her things away so as to not upset her husband.

Mr. Banks arrives home cheerfully, it’s 1910, “King Edward’s on the throne/ it’s the Age of Men,” and he is pleased with The Life I Lead.  Everything is on schedule, his servants and family treat him with the respect he deserves as head of the household (noblesse oblige) and it takes several minutes before he realizes his children are missing.  The kindly constable brings them home and tries to encourage Mr. Banks to not be hard on them, but Mr. Banks dismisses him.  With the same tune, he has his wife take down an advertisement for a new nanny.  No-nonsense is the first requirement, “tradition, discipline, and rules/ must be the tools/ without them/ disorder, catastrophe, anarchy/ in short, you have a ghastly mess.”  Jane and Michael have their own advertisement and though their mother follows her husband’s commands, she does insist that they listen to their children.  Their first requirement is a cherry disposition, and a desire for games, all sorts.  After the children are sent to bed, Mr. Banks tears up the notice and throws it into the fireplace.  What he doesn’t see are the pieces float out the chimney.

There is a queue of nannies in the morning, but before Mr. Banks can begin interviewing there is a large gust of wind that blows them all away.  Mary Poppins gently floats down and lands at the door.  In her hand are the children’s qualifications, not Mr. Banks’ and so he wonders over at the fireplace what happened.  Mary gives herself the job, but Mr. Banks seems suitably impressed and takes credit for it when his wife asks.  Mary does the most extraordinary thing and rides the banister up.  She quickly takes control in the nursery, putting her things away, after pulling them out of an empty carpet bag (loved that part as a kid).  Michael thinks she’s tricky.  Jane thinks she’s wonderful.  Mary also pulls out her tape measure, to see how the children measure up.  Michael is extremely stubborn and suspicious, while Jane is prone to giggling.  Mary Poppins is “practically perfect in every way.”  Time for their first game, tidying up the nursery.  “In every job that must be done/ there is an element of fun/ you find the fun/ and snap, the job’s a game.”  A Spoonful of Sugar helps the medicine go down.  Snapping puts the toys and items laying about away, though it takes Michael several tries.  It gets a little out of hand and Mary Poppins puts an end to it, but the children eagerly join her for a walk afterwards.

Today, Bert is a street artist and the trio arrive.  He recognizes Mary Poppins and knows Jane and Michael from their adventures nearby.  He tries some magic to pop the children into a drawing, but Mary Poppins steps in to do it properly.  Now the children run off to a fair in new outfits and Bert remarks to Mary “it’s a Jolly Holiday…when Mary hold your hand/ it feels so grand/ your heart starts beating/ like a big brass band.”  Animated animals come up to them and even join in the singing [animation style reminds me a bit of 101 Dalmatians].  The pair end up at a cafe with dancing penguins (I love this part!)  Bert joins in the dancing and it’s wonderfully hilarious.  He is quick to insist “cream of the crop/ tip of the top/ is Mary Poppins/ and there we stop.”  They do join the children on a merry-go-round, but Mary has the horses jump off the carousel.  They join a fox hunt, with Bert rescuing the Irish fox and that leads to a horse race.  Mary’s manners lead her to the front and when the interviewers congratulate her, she reveals there is a word to use when one does not know what to say.  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (just about the best song of all time).  “Even though the sound of it/ is something quite atrocious/ if you say it loud enough/ you’ll always sound precocious.”

Rain ruins their day and they’re back in London in their regular clothes.  Mary shows further magic when her medicine changes color and flavor for each person’s preference.  When the children insist they are much too excited to go to sleep, Mary lulls them to Stay Awake.  Of course, they drift off, but are cheerful the next morning, to their father’s chagrin.  He feels Mary Poppins is undermining the discipline in the house; indeed, everyone is in a good mood except him.  But he goes off to work and Mary takes the children out on errands.  The dog, Andrew, barks he needs Mary’s help; so the children meet Uncle Albert.  Bert is already there, and oddly, Uncle Albert is floating near the ceiling.  I Love to Laugh, he declares, “loud and long and clear.”  “The more I laugh/ the more I fill with glee/ and the more the glee/ the more I’m a merrier me.”  Everyone joins him on the ceiling, though Mary simply floats up.  She raises the tea table, but a little later, insists they must get home.  And that is the secret to getting down; one must think of something sad.  Bert stays with Albert.

Mr. Banks confronts Mary Poppins at home about the nature of her outings.  He dislikes filling his children’s heads with silly nonsense.  If they must have outings, they should be practical.  Like taking them to the bank, suggests Mary.  She tells the children that she never puts notions in someone’s head; it’s just the logical following of what they were saying.  She urges the children to look for the bird lady at St. Paul’s Cathedral and to hear her cry of Feed the Birds (one of Walt Disney’s favorite songs).  The song lulls the children to sleep again.  They eagerly accompany their father, but he won’t let them use their money to feed the birds.  Instead, he shows them to the leaders of the bank; several old men who use financial terms that confuse the children.  The eldest, Mr. Dawes Sr (played by Dick Van Dyke as well) wants Michael to give his tuppence to the Fidelity, Fiduciary Bank.  One must think prudently, thriftily, frugally, patiently, and cautiously.  Of course, these all go over the children’s heads (and mine).  When Michael is a bit confused, Dawes Sr. grabs the tuppence.  So Michael shouts “give me back my money.”  The other customers hear and start demanding their money as well.  In the chaos, Michael and Jane run off.  It’s a bit scary for a moment and they run into a man covered in soot.  Luckily, it’s Bert.  He calms them down and leads them home.  Today he is a chimney sweep, “you may think a sweep’s/ on the bottom-most rung/ though I spends me time/ in the ashes and smoke/ in this whole wide world/ there’s no happier bloke.”  Chim-Chim-Cheree  “Good luck will rub off/ when I shake hands with you/ or blow me a kiss/ and that’s lucky too.”  At the house, Mrs. Banks is off for another rally and asks Bert to look after the children since it’s Mary Poppins’ day off.  The children are interested, until Michael shoots up the chimney when Mary walks in.  Jane quickly follows, so Bert and Mary join them.

They get a beautiful view of the rooftops of London and march about.  They run into Bert’s pals, all of whom are chimney sweeps as well and they entertain their visitors with a Step in Time (love this dance).  Mary even joins in with a rising spin [I wonder what effects they used to film the sequence, since it had to be safe for the dancers.]  Admiral Boom spots the dancers and has his assistant shoot firecrackers at them, chasing them off the roof.  They all end up in the Banks’ home until Mr. Banks returns.  After the exodus of chimney sweeps from his house, Mr. Banks gets a call from the bank; they want him to return later.  He has a conversation with Bert, who points out that it is admirable to want to provide for your family, but soon they will grow and he won’t know them.  Jane and Michael apologize to their father and Michael gives him his tuppence.

The board wants to dismiss Mr. Banks, for causing a run on the bank.  They invert his umbrella, tear his flower, and punch out his hat.  When they ask if he has anything to say, he recalls “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”  He even repeats the joke Michael taught him; for he’s seen what good Mary Poppins has done in his family and has made the decision that they are more important.  He gives the tuppence to Dawes Sr, who starts pondering the joke and then begins to laugh.  He laughs so much, he begins floating and his grown son cries out “Daddy!  Come back!”

Mr. Banks gives his family a bit of a scare; they’ve called the constable because they can’t find him, until he emerges singing from the cellar.  He’s mended the kite and asks Jane and Michael to join him.  Mrs. Banks adds a sash for a tail and they are all excited to Let’s Go Fly a Kite, an absolutely heartwarming number.  The wind has changed, and it’s time for Mary Poppins to go.  The children are sad at first that she’s leaving, but their father’s good mood cheers them up and Mary leaves once the family does.  Bert nods to her and she smiles at her friend.  Her talking parrot umbrella insists that Mary Poppins does love the children, but she states it is proper that they love their father.  “Practically perfect people never permit sentiment to muddle their thinking,” and she rises back to the clouds.

Mary Poppins is a lovely family film and is cherished in our home.  We did watch the late sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, which stars Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, with appearances by Dick Van Dyke, Angela Landsbury, Ben Whishaw, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep.  Did not like it.  It was trying too hard and didn’t have the charm that the original had; there’s just no repeating the magic.

Up Next: The last musical, The Sound of Music

“Anything and everything/ a chap can unload/ is sold off the barrow/ in Portabello Road”

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

A Disney live-action film from 1971 that mixes in animation like Mary Poppins did.  It is based on a book by Mary Norton and is a beloved movie from my childhood.  It stars Angela Landsbury (the original Mrs. Potts and star of Murder, She Wrote) as Miss Eglantine Price, David Tomlinson (the father in Mary Poppins) as Professor Emelius Browne, and another Mary Poppins‘ alum is Reginale Owen; he played Admiral Boom in Poppins and General Teagler in Bedknobs.  The Sherman brothers also wrote the music for this film.  The 25th Anniversary Edition DVD release runs longer than the theatrical version; some songs had been cut and were now restored.  Oddly, the most recent Blu-ray release goes back to the theatrical version.  Sadly, there is no good soundtrack for the musical available; the most noticeable difference being in Portobello Road.

The opening credits run against a medieval tapestry backdrop, similar to the Bayeux Tapestry.  It takes place in 1940, during WWII, near the White Cliffs of Dover.  “Again – A time for valor.  A time of whispered events.  Now faded with the passing years.”  A town stands in the shadow of an old castle; they are currently taking care of the children evacuated from London due to the bombings (similar to the main characters in C.S. Lewis The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).  We’re briefly introduced to the Soldiers of the Old Home Guard, led by General Teagler.  Miss Price shows up for her package and is forced to take three children.  She’s very busy with important work and does not traditionally get on well with children, but she’ll do her duty until more suitable arrangements can be made.  The local preacher fawns over Miss Price, though he flounces off when the postmistress points out he’s making moves because he admires Miss Price’s nice house and land.

Miss Price lives alone, aside from a black cat that came with the name Cosmic Creepers.  When the children are asleep, she takes her package to her workshop and unwraps a broom, from Professor Emelius Browne’s Correspondence College of Witchcraft.  She manages to successfully fly for a bit with a spell, until she topples over.  The children see her when they attempt to sneak out back to London.  Charlie thinks it is a wise idea to blackmail Miss Price, but he goes a little too far and she turns him into a white rabbit.  But her spells never last very long and he quickly turns back, after being pursued by Cosmic Creepers.  Miss Price lets them in on her secret; she plans to use magic to help the war effort.  And to win over the children, she charms a bedknob with a traveling spell.  Then persuades the children to go to London so she can get the last lesson from Professor Browne himself when he stops the course.  Charlie initially doesn’t think the bed will work and Miss Price remarks he is at the Age of Not Believing.

But the bed works.  Except they discover that Professor Browne is a street magician and self-admitted fraud and charlatan, though he does everything With a Flair.  Miss Price ends up turning Professor Browne into a white rabbit when she confronts him.  He is surprised that one of his spells worked; he simply put together words out of an old book.  He then takes Miss Price and the children to the abandoned home he is squatting in (it’s abandoned because there is an unexploded bomb in the front yard).  The children explore the nursery while he shows Miss Price the library.  Except, instead of getting the desired book for Miss Price, he wants her to join him in a stage show.  She’d be an assistant who could really do magic.  But Miss Price, who reveals her first name is Eglantine is determined to find the book.  She turns Browne into a rabbit again and he finally shows her the book, The Spells of Astoroth; of which he only has half.  And the five magic words for the substitutiary locomotion spell; an “ancient and mystic art of causing objects to take on a life force of their own” are missing.

Miss Price demands they find the other half of the book and Browne takes them to Portobello Road, “street where the riches/ of ages are stowed.”  This is one of my favorite parts of the film.  An impromptu dance party breaks out and features several music and dance styles from around the British empire.  They don’t have much luck finding the other half of the book until a slightly scary man leads them to the “Bookman.”  He in fact has the other half of the book and is looking for the same spell.  Except the book only states that the five words are written on the Star of Astoroth, worn by the sorcerer.  The Star is now on the fabled Isle of Namboobu.  The adults don’t believe such a place exists, but young Paul found a children’s book on it.  So the children, Miss Price, and Professor Browne are able to use the bed to escape the Bookman and travel to the Isle of Namboombu.  Well, the lagoon first and they are “bobbing along/ on the bottom/ of the Beautiful Briny sea.”  This is where the animation comes in, for the animals dress and talk like humans.  A bear catches the bed, but wants to throw the five humans back into the lagoon because the king has issued a “No Peopling Allowed” law.  Well, they want to see the king.

Professor Browne manages to ingratiate himself to the king (a lion; in fact, the animation is very similar to Robin Hood) when he offers to referee the soccer match [note how they refer to is as “soccer,” rather than “football” as Europeans call it.  You can tell it was produced by Americans despite most of the cast being English and the story taking place in England.]  My brother and I loved the soccer match as kids, Browne getting trampled by the animals throughout the game.  And they discover that the king wears the star.  Browne manages to pocket the star and they’re chased off the island.  Sadly, the star is of another world and cannot be brought back to ours; it simply disappears.  But Paul saves the day again; his book has an illustration of the star and the words for the spell (technically, would have been helpful to know that before, but, kids love the animation).  Browne suggests that Miss Price use the words “Tregura Mekoides Trecoru Satis Dee” with a flair.  And she’s got it!  She’s managed Substitutiary Locomotion!  This is another beloved part of the film.

The little domestic scene is broken when news arrives that another family has offered to take the children.  Miss Price has changed her mind and the children start to think of Professor Browne as a father figure.  That scares him off a bit and he starts to head back to London, but the trains are finished for the day.  Miss Price sings of Nobody’s Problems; she has it in her mind that she doesn’t want or need anyone else around, she’s quite comfortable with her life.  But we all know she misses Browne [this part was cut from the theatrical release].  Except there are more important things to worry about now; the Germans have made a landing.  They enter Miss Price’s house and stage their minor raid to induce panic and spread mischief.  Miss Price’s memory fails her and she can’t turn the commander into a rabbit, but Browne manages to get away and sneaks into the house.  He finds the spell and uses it on himself so he can get away again and find Miss Price and the children.  They’re being held in the old castle.

sub loc battle

Once he transforms back, he and the children convince Miss Price to use the substitutiary locomotion spell again.  And this is my brother’s and mine absolute favorite part.  The spell starts small, just the banners waving, but then a drums and horns start and the whole castle comes alive!  The knights and Redcoats are reanimated and join together.  Miss Price flies at the head of the army and they chant the spell.  The Germans don’t know what to make of the phenomenon in front of them; Scotsmen and bagpipes stretching across the cliff.  Their bullets only go through the empty suits of armor; they keep marching.  A few minutes later, the Germans start retreating.  The commotion has also woken the Home Guard and they rush to the coast.  But the Germans manage to blow up Miss Price’s workshop as she flies over; the army falls, un-animated now.  The Guard fires a few shots to warn the Germans and Miss Price is relatively unharmed.  She’s pleased she did her part of the war effort, but has always known she could never be a proper witch with the way she feels about poisoned dragon’s liver.

They are now all a family; the children will remain with Miss Price and Professor Browne has decided to join the Army.  The Soldiers of the Old Home Guard give him an escort to the station and he gives Miss Price a kiss farewell.  The children at first fear that the rest of the time will be boring now, but Paul still has the bedknob.

This is the first film I ever saw Angela Landsbury in.  I loved the children’s adventures and of course wanted to visit an island where the animals talk and play soccer.  And even as a child, I was excited to see these reanimated knights face off against the Germans.  And the budding dancer in me was fascinated by all the dancing in Portobello Road.  I think the movie is now a forgotten gem; overshadowed by Mary Poppins (though I absolutely adore that movie as well).

Next Time: Another beloved childhood favorite of mine, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

“Pulitzer may own the world/ but he don’t own us/ Pulitzer may crack the whip/ but he won’t whip us.”

Newsies

This was the movie that spawned the idea of doing a blog. Though released in 1992, I didn’t see Newsies until I was in junior high, about ten years later. My music teacher, Mrs. Ellenberger put it on in class for a few days. I remember my friends liking it; I believe the rest of the student populace didn’t really care. We thought the actors were cute; I know Spot Conlon was a favorite, the newsie from Brooklyn. We learned a choral arrangement of one of the main songs Seize the Day as part of junior high choir. Later, in college as part of my Historical Development of the English Language course, I did a paper on the accents in Newsies (because yes, I am that big of a dork and always tried to incorporate films and stories I loved into class projects. I referenced Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean in separate papers in my Intro to Writing course).

I didn’t realize at the time that it had several well-known stars among its cast, not the least of which is Christian Bale (Batman in Christopher Nolan’s ‘verse; as well as voicing Thomas in Pocahontas and a list of other movies) in the starring role of Jack Kelly. Kenny Ortega directed and was one of the choreographers of the movie. Yes, the same man who directed High School Musical, which took over my same group of friends when we were in high school. The music is composed by the great Alan Menken. Ann Margaret (Carol’s mother in Santa Clause 3) appears as vaudeville star Medda Larkson; Bill Pullman (Lonestar in Spaceballs, famous for the Independence Day movies, he’s also the commander in Disney’s Tiger Cruise original movie) is Bryan Denton, a reporter; and Robert Duvall (General Robert E. Lee in Gods and Generals and over a hundred other films) is the evil Mr. Joseph Pulitzer. One of the other newsboys, Mush, is played by Aaron Lohr who was Portman in The Mighty Ducks franchise, part of the “Bash Brothers,” and also in RENT as Steve and voiced Max in A Goofy Movie (I recognize him more from Mighty Ducks, a favorite movie of mine when growing up)

The premise of the story is based on the 1899 newsboy strike in New York City, claiming to be “based on actual events.” “Based,” yes. Historically accurate? Not so much. Carrying the Banner explains the life of the newsboys. They’re out in the elements every day, hawking newspapers for bigwigs like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer for a few pennies. “We need a good assassination/we need an earthquake or a war. How ’bout a crooked politician? Hey stupid that ain’t news no more!” Jack Kelly is the leader of this group of newsies; he protects the smaller and weaker newsies and is well respected by the rest. At the distribution center for the World newspaper, owned by Pulitzer, brothers David and Les Jacobs join the newsies for the first time. Les is in awe of Jack, nicknamed Cowboy. David (who looks like the kid from Growing Pains, but is not) agrees to a partnership with Jack to learn to sell “papes,” though he is disgusted by the spit handshake. Jack’s first piece of advice is “headlines don’t sell papes, newsies sell papes.”

On their whirlwind first day, David and Les follow Jack running from the warden of the local refuge, Snyder. Jack escaped from the refuge previously and Snyder is out to put him behind bars again. They also learn that Jack wants to get out of New York and once he’s saved enough, he’ll take a train out west to Santa Fe “to be a real cowboy,” as Les eagerly puts it. We meet Medda, the vaudeville star and friend of Jack, and the boys eagerly listen to her serenade the crowd with Lovey Dovey Baby. David invites Jack over for dinner where the rough and tumble newsie puts on his best manners for David’s parents and sister. Turns out, David and Les are only working as newsboys while their father is off work due to injury; once he gets his job back, the boys will be back in school. (Cue the looks exchanged between Jack and Sarah.) Jack declines staying overnight and croons Santa Fe, wistfully thinking about the freedom out West; “I want space/ not just air/ let ’em laugh in my face/ I don’t care.”

When the newsies return to work the next day, they’ve found out that overnight, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, owners of the newspapers have decided to up the price the newsies pay for papers by ten cents a hundred, so they, the owners will make more money. When one of Pulitzer’s advisors argues that it would be rough on the boys, Pultizer fires back that “they will view it as a challenge,” and be grateful for it. No, as Racetrack comments, Pulitzer is just a tightwad and the man even admits he wants to know how to get more of the money off the streets.

The boys argue amongst themselves that it’s unfair and they have no rights. Then they get the idea to strike from a local trolley strike that had been dragging on for weeks. As Jack pumps up his friends; are they going to take what they’re given, or are they going to strike? First, they have to organize. If only a handful decide they aren’t selling, other newsies could simply come in and take their work. “Even though we ain’t got hats or badges/we’re a union just by sayin’ so,” Jack (taking the more educated David’s words) tells the boys. There’s a lovely play on words during The World Will Know; world in the traditional sense versus the New York World newspaper owned by Pulitzer; they occasionally throw in references to the New York Journal owned by Hearst. “We’ve been hawkin’ headlines/ but we’re making ’em today…now they’re gonna see/what ‘stop the presses’ really means.” “And the world will know/ and the world will learn/ and the world will wonder/ how we made the tables turn/ and the world will see/ that we had to choose/ that the things we do today/ will be tomorrow’s news.”  The dancing has an element of fight to it, which is fun and interesting to watch. So, hurrah, the Manhattan newsies are going on strike; they still have to spread their plan to the rest of the newsboys in New York.

Enter Spot Conlon, leader of the Brooklyn newsies, and makes other newsies “nervous.” Jack, David, and another newsie, Boots, trek out to Brooklyn where there’s Irish music in the background and boys diving off the piers…just because (or maybe it’s to show off their toned physiques…teenage girls did appreciate it). Spot’s voice holds power amongst the newsies of New York and he wants proof before he throws his lot in with Manhattan. And the rest of the boroughs are waiting for Brooklyn’s backing before they join.

newsies

They get their opportunity to prove themselves the next morning, David urges them to Seize the Day (probably the most famous song from the film) before facing off at the distribution center again. “Wrongs will be righted/ if we’re united/ let us seize the day…proud and defiant/ we’ll slay the giant.” The police arrive and most escape, except for Crutchy. One adult has been paying attention to the newsies efforts; Bryan Denton, reporter and previous chief war correspondent [the Spanish-American War that ended the previous year, since they never tell us specifically] for the New York Sun. We’re shown the refuge that evening when Jack attempts to break Crutchy out. The boy was beat pretty badly and refuses to be carried. Jack explains to David that the more orphans Warden Snyder has in his refuge, the more money the city sends him, the more he puts in his pocket (hmm, we know corruption when we hear it).

Another day, another fight at distribution led by a reprise of Seize the Day. This time, the World is aided with thugs. Racetrack calls out to Jack, “it’s the Crib!” The gates have been locked and the police are keeping people away. The “bad guys” are almost winning, until back up arrives. Pretty much everyone’s favorite line in the movie: “Never fear, Brooklyn is here!” The newsies beat back the thugs and topple the newspapers. Denton writes a front page article for the Sun which features a photograph of Jack, David, Les, Spot, and several other leaders. Denton treats the boys to a celebratory lunch and the boys eagerly share what being on the front page means. It means they’re famous. Racetrack spouts that being famous means you get whatever you want, “that’s what’s so great about New York!” These boys are King of New York, “fortune found me/fate just crowned me” and they give credit to Denton and feature a bit of tap dancing.

But bad news; Snyder sees the article and picture of Jack (slightly aided by Cructhy giving him Jack’s name) and goes in search of the boy. The other newsies and the owner of the lodge house help keep Jack out of sight, but he chooses to safely sleep on the roof of David’s apartment. Sarah wakes up early and gives him breakfast and we get the only bit of romantic development in the whole movie. Jack isn’t used to having people care whether he stays or goes.

While the newsies plan a big rally to keep their strike going, Pulitzer wants an example made of the boys, especially Jack. Hearing that Jack is a wanted criminal, he pressures the Mayor to send police to break up the rally and further sweetens the deal with the promise of a poker game with the other newspaper owners. The newsies hold their rally at Medda’s hall and David urges the boys to stop hitting the other boys who continue to sell the newspapers; it’s playing into the adults’ hands. Jack simplifies by saying “we’ve got no brains,” and no respect. Spot agrees and Medda cheers everyone up with High Times, Hard Times. Snyder and the police arrive and it’s chaos. Everyone is trying to protect Jack, they’re leader; David even urging him to go once they’ve gotten Sarah and Les to safety. Denton even tries to help, but a well-placed punch sends Jack into the arms of officers and he’s carried out.

The boys appear in court in the morning, Spot jokingly objects “on the grounds of Brooklyn,” and they’re saved from a fine or jail time by Denton. But Jack is tried separately and Snyder convinces the judge (again, more corruption) to incarcerate Jack until he’s twenty-one (he’s now seventeen). Furthermore, Jack Kelly is an alias. His real name is Frances Sullivan; his mother is dead and his father is imprisoned in a state penitentiary. The judge rules in favor of Snyder. Denton meets with the rest of the newsies and informs them that he has been reassigned; his old war correspondent job. The Sun didn’t print the story on the riot, meaning in essence, the riot didn’t happen (what really happened what Pulitzer pressured the owner of the Sun during their poker game). David is mad. New plan; they break Jack out tonight and no longer trust anyone.

But Jack has been taken to Pulitzer, who offers him a deal. Jack works for him until the strike dies, which is will, particularly without him. And then Jack can leave, with money in his pocket; more than he’ll ever make as a newsie. And a lesson on power of the press; Pulitzer holds the power and newspapers being the main way anyone found out about anything in that day, he tells them what to think. Jack realizes Pulitzer is scared; Jack threatens Pulitzer’s power. And he won’t take the deal. Until Pulitzer threatens David’s family. The man sends the teenager to think about it and Jack runs off with David for a minute, but sends his friend away. He won’t say why, only refrains Santa Fe to himself as his mulls over his choices.

Come morning, we all discover he has taken Pulitzer’s deal. The newsies are furious, especially David. He calls his friend out and declares he has found the guts to attach his name to his words (instead of using Jack as a mouthpiece). Sarah finds Denton’s article and tries to give David hope, but her brother storms away. Les thinks Jack is spying and the older boys don’t have the heart to tell him the truth. Then the Delancy brothers, who have always picked a fight with Jack, go after Sarah and Les on the street. David jumps in, as does Jack when he hears Sarah’s yells. The brothers are about to completely knock David out when Jack breaks it up. He can’t be something he ain’t; smart. The teenagers go to Denton. His article tells how the city thrives on child labor; lots of people make money that way. And they’re worried that the newsboy strike will spread. Well now they have a plan. They use Pulitzer’s old press, which Jack knows about, and print their own newspaper, Once and for All. They get the newsies to deliver it to all the kids in the city; “can you read? Read this.”

“Joe, if you’re still countin’ sheep/ wake up and read ’em and weep/ you’ve got your thugs/ with their sticks and their slugs/ but we’ve got a promise to keep…This is for kids shining shoes on the street/ with no shoes on their feet everyday/ This is for guys sweatin’ blood in the shops/ while bosses and cops look away/ This is to even the score/ this ain’t just newsies no more/ This ain’t just kids with some pie in the sky/ this is do it or die/ this is war!”

Denton recruits the governor. The boys wait. So far no one has shown up and without everyone, they’ll lose. All the boys have forgone their put-together looks, all down to their undershirts even David. They reprise The World Will Know, and they are joined by a million voices. All the child laborers are marching. Spot leads Brooklyn. Jack is shown to Pulizter, with David. David points out to the man that he’s losing money every day with the strike; it’s costing him more than the tenth of a cent he’s trying to squeeze out of the newsies. Jack opens the window so Pulitzer can hear all the kids. The man shouts for them to “go home!” A lot of them don’t have homes. And they’re not going away. This is real power of the press. Jack cheekily answers Pulitzer when asked that they used his machines to print their paper. The previous leaders of the distribution center are led out in shame and Jack yells, with Les on his shoulders, “we beat ’em!”

The warden is driven into the crowd and Jack starts to make a run for it, but Denton cautions him he never has to run from the likes of Snyder again. The boys from the Refuge are released and Snyder is locked into the police wagon. Crutchy reunites with Jack and cheerfully tells him that the Governor came storming into the Refuge [previously, the Governor had toured the Refuge and the truth had been hidden; that is how Jack had escaped, underneath his carriage]. The Governor being none other than Theodore Roosevelt, whom Denton had befriended covering the war. And now Roosevelt is thankful to Jack and is offering to take him anywhere he’d like. Such as the train station. Jack rides off cheerfully and David and his family are sad to see him go. But David is now head of the newsies and takes his hundred papes as the reprise of Carrying the Banner starts. But a commotion: the carriage is back. As is Jack (and the score of Santa Fe). The boy thanks Roosevelt for his advice; he still has things to do and a family in New York. He greets David, who responds with a spit handshake and echoes “headlines don’t sell papes, newsies sell papes.” And Sarah gets a big kiss from Jack. Everyone is happy now and dances their way out (Spot hitches a ride back to Brooklyn with Roosevelt).

The film did not do well at the box office when it was released and Christian Bale has remarked he’s been embarrassed to admit he was in the movie musical. But it gained a cult following when it hit video (like my friends and I) and Disney decided in 2012 to transform it into a stage show. It did so well that way, they took it on Broadway and ran for two years and won two Tony awards. I did watch the performance when it was on Netflix. Several changes were made; such as switching Denton to a female reporter, Katherine Plumber [SPOILER: she’s Pulitzer’s daughter], cutting the role of Sarah and making Katherine Jack’s love interest. That story line is better developed than in the film, but I still don’t see the need for a romance. It’s also slightly awkward when there is a lot of “bromantic” undertones in the film and the stage show. Yeah, Jack reacts badly to Crutchy being in the Refuge in the show. And there are hints between Jack and David in the film (supposedly intentionally put there). I was not fond of the changes in lyrics in the stage show; I know the film soundtrack nearly word-for-word and I got attached. I will admit, it’s a good show and does follow the history of the actual strike better. But the film kicks up my nostalgia.

Overall, the film is fun, especially the music. I don’t know why Disney doesn’t show it more; it’s got Batman in it! Though they don’t show a lot of their older films, unless it’s part of the animated collection. It think it’s fun that it’s almost an entirely male cast, which brings a different element to the dances. As I pointed out, there’s a bit of a fight element; I don’t mind the rough and tumble bits. And yes, as a teenage girl, most of the boys were cute in this movie.

I have read a couple fanfictions on Newsies; there’s a trio of stories For Brooklyn by AmbrLupin that spotlights Spot Colin. Another is The Brooklyn Version, also about Spot by WinterhartZahneelCalina. His little “birdie” is actually a girl.

Next Time: Another New Yorker, The Greatest Showman