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

A Random Fandom Update

Thought I’d take a step away from my musical blogs (don’t worry, already got the next one planned) and mention the elephant in the room: staying at home because of coronavirus. I work retail, so I have not been to work in several weeks. For the most part, I’m handling it fine; I’ve managed to work on other writing projects, I’ve crocheted several afghans, I’ve gotten back to my books (huzzah!), and I’ve caught up on some movies and shows.

So let me go ahead and state: SPOILERS ALERT!

Finally watched Frozen II; I liked the story. I don’t think the music was quite as memorable as the first and I still can’t stand Olaf, but the sisterly bond was great and very interesting to delve into their family history. (Puts to rest the fan connection between Frozen and several other Disney movies, including Tangled).

Also finally watched Crimes of Grindlewald. Excellent. Though while watching, I had to remind myself that Leta Lestrange was not a direct relation of Bellatrix (same family, but distant cousins). And the Dumbledore angle was better than I feared it to be; I thought they would focus entirely on Dumbledore’s infatuation with Grindlewald, but SPOILER a blood pact is a more solid excuse. And I totally do not believe Grindlewald about Creedence’s real name; the only plausible way he is a Dumbledore is as a cousin.

Supernatural has put filming their final season on hold, but it’s ramping up to be a doozy. News was just released that the final seven episodes will air in the fall. Jack is back, yay I guess. I have loved seeing some old favorites again; Benny was seen briefly. Loved that Eileen was back (then dead, then back!) and I really wish that she could get together permanently with Sam. (Then we find Dean someone, unless they make Destiel canon, which would be cool). And it was hilarious to have both Daneel Ackles and Genevive Padalecki back and in the same episode! The alternative universe Sam and Dean were hilarious as well (though can’t beat their father coming back; love that episode and cried along [unless you watch the blooper where Jared hits Jeffrey somewhere with the pearl; everyone is on the floor in laughter]). I really want to punch Chuck in the face and I hope Amara may come back to help. The boys are shaping up to fight God; I believe they will win and save the world because that is what they and the show are all about; but it’ll cost them. I still figure there is a decent chance the show will end with both boys dead; unless they are serious about producing a film later. If not, the only way for the fans to accept that it is over, is for our beloved boys to die. Even then, we’ll still write fanfiction.

Speaking of fanfiction; I was reading something on Facebook the other night about how fanfiction started. I mean, I had an idea, but it was interesting and a little unnerving. I realized why disclaimers are always posted at the top because you don’t want some bigwig suing you, but to find out that fan writers were punished… Some of the more recent successes give me hope; but I still am not likely to post what I have written. I share with a few friends, but I use it for my own practice. And some of this may end up as an essay or article. In case you’re interested, Supernatural accepts its fan writers and the fandom that has sprung up around it, which makes me love the fandom and the stars even more.

MacGyver just finished its fourth season, which went in a different direction than I originally imagined, and has been renewed for a fifth season. Yay! Their season got cut short due to the virus, but they must have filmed enough ahead to finish things up. I personally miss Jack and wish they would at least mention him in the story. Mac’s spiraling a bit and the fans know that Jack would help him. Still not a hundred percent sure of Russ’s motivations, but he at least tries to keep Mac alive; and Matty is still there, yay! I adored the episode with the plane and Mac in Tesla’s house; the writing has been excellent this season. Personally, I have never been fond of pairing Mac with a woman because I feel it detracts from the story and female characters should exist in shows outside their connection to a man. I’ve warmed up to Desi, but still not wholly sure. I like Riley, and I’m liking the Riley – Mac dynamic, but this triangle is only going to end badly. I shed tears when SPOILER James died. And I’m even sad that Auntie Gwen died; because she had just decided to protect Mac and it would have been great for Mac to have a familial connection, particularly to his mother. Though, baby Angus MacGyver is the cutest baby in the world! (And I refuse to believe that he’s named Angus because of a sign for beef; that’s demeaning to the character). Fanfiction should keep me occupied until it’s back.

Also been re-watching Hallmark’s Good Witch, going through the most recent episodes and the movies and now starting at the beginning of the show. Some days I can handle Hallmark and some days I just get annoyed; real life does not give us the right guy and the right job to keep us happy. But I love the magical elements of Cassie and the story. She and Sam are adorable. I’d love to live in Middleton. And when things get rough, there is a comfort in knowing that things will turn out alright; it’s Hallmark.

My mother and I have also managed to catch up on Outlander; we got behind. I miss them in Scotland; that was a reason I loved the show. Not fond of the time they were in the Caribbean, but now that they’ve settled in the colonies, my interest is peaking again. I’m glad Brianna has joined her mother and is bonding with her father. And proud that Roger has followed (though at times he was a bit of an idiot). I’m glad Stephen Bonnet finally was stopped; though I wished it had happened sooner. Whenever I would see Billy Boyd, I kept commenting “bad Pippin!” though I had to explain to my mother what I meant. I like the family that is growing at Fraser’s Ridge, and Ian has returned. Brianna, Roger, and Jemmy have also ended up staying, yay. The final episode; they actually found Claire sooner in the episode I thought they might, but we did get to see Claire’s struggles with the aftermath. I’m sure the time-traveling Native American will return; we’ll have to see what sort of time jump there may be before the next season.

Also enjoying watching the original MacGyver series with my parents and catching episodes of Race to the Edge (still love the show!). We’ve put on a few other movies, like some older James Bond (which was a bit weird), and re-watching the Librarian films (I’ll be covering all of those and the show upcoming. And it also gave me a writing idea). We are also going back and re-watching the newest Star Wars movies in preparation for finally getting to Rise of Skywalker (never fear, they are on the list to cover…down the road; MCU stands between us and them).

As for books; since I am first and foremost a reader; I have made a tiny dent in my “to-read” pile (and bought a few to add). Finally finished Raging Heat, a Richard Castle book (based on the show Castle that I don’t think I’m going to be covering, due to length) and Ireland’s Pirate Queen about Grace O’Malley, which have been on the back burner for a while. Enjoyed Castle and Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Read Jeffersonian Key by Steve Berry. Few other books in there that weren’t great, but a relatively quick read; got around to Sense and Sensibility and that was a bit boring; the movie helped make sense. Just finished a Philippa Gregory book, The Lady of the Rivers which is a prequel in a way to White Queen (my mother and I have watched the first episode of the series). Parts are interesting and it is relatively well-written, but parts are now appearing a bit implausible (which happens with her books). Now I can move on to other books on my list. My Richard Castle, Nikki Heat series is up to date, but I want to get to some others first. I’ve got half a shelf of romances that I need to catch up on, so I can go looking for those newest books. Picked up another Librarians novel (based on the show) and some Peter Jackson/ Lord of the Rings books (like I need more of those). Some history series and the first book to a couple fantasy series I’d like to try. Some fun books I am holding off on as a reward, like behind the scenes of MacGyver, the last How to Train Your Dragon art book (I am that much of a nerd).

What are you guys doing to keep your minds occupied? Any good movies or books? Creative projects?

“‘Stead of treated, we get tricked, ‘stead of kisses, we get kicked!”

Annie

Another musical that most everyone has heard of; the little curly red-headed orphan girl. I think my high school put on a production years before I was in high school; I vaguely remember a classmate when I was in elementary school being one of the orphans. It’s gone through a few iterations, but the most famous is the 1982 movie starring Albert Finney (Kincade in Skyfall [the Bond film], John Newton in Amazing Grace) as Oliver Warbucks, Carol Burnett (classic comedian with her own show from 1967 to 1978; she even made a few guest appearances in the rebooted Hawaii Five-0 ) as Miss Hannigan, Tim Curry (Clue [which happened to have been my senior class play; I was the dead cook], Rocky Horror Picture Show [that was just about the weirdest movie I ever tried to watch], Cardinal Richelieu in Disney’s Three Musketeers) as Rooster Hannigan, Bernadette Peters (would later be a part of Disney’s production of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella) as Lily St. Regis, and Aileen Quinn as Annie. Edward Herrmann (Gilmore Girls) also appears as FDR.

The story is set in 1933 New York City, at the Hudson St. Home for Girls. Annie is singing Maybe to herself, wondering about the family she has waiting out there and when they’ll come get her. One of the younger girls in the room, Molly, wakes up from a nightmare and calls for Annie. The other girls wake up and fight for a bit. But before they can all fall back asleep Miss Hannigan enters and orders them awake and to start their chores. She has trained them to say “We love you Miss Hannigan,” instead of any backtalk. The girls start It’s a Hard Knock Life for Us (some are skilled gymnasts). Annie hides in the laundry basket as another escape attempt. Outside, she meets a scruffy dog being tormented by a bunch of boys. She punches two boys in the face (she is a tough little girl) and adopts the Dumb Dog. She’s caught by a police officer and taken back to the orphanage where the girls name the dog Sandy. Miss Hannigan locks Annie in her closet, but before she can punish her, Miss Grace Farrell shows up, looking for an orphan to live at Oliver Warbucks’s mansion for a week. Annie comes out of hiding to persuade Grace to take her.

The staff take a liking to Annie right away and outline her new life for a week, after they correct Annie’s misinterpretation that she is there to work . Annie gleefully says I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here. Oliver Warbucks arrives and breaks up the song and dance. Grace namedrops Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and Rockefeller, along with the President. He’s surprised by Annie and wants to exchange her for a boy; hosting an orphan is only done to help his image, but she charms him to keep her.

Back at the orphanage, Miss Hannigan is despairing over Little Girls (she spends a lot of her day drinking). Her brother, Rooster stops by with Lily St. Regis, asking for money. She sends him away; he steals from her anyhow.

Annie starts to endear herself to Warbucks, Sandy even helps stop an assassin, along with his two bodyguards. Grace explains to Annie that the man was a Bolsehvik. Another evening, Warbucks is persuaded by Annie and Grace, Let’s Go to the Movies. (Yes, those were the Rockettes dancing before the film). Annie falls asleep at the movie, so Warbucks carries her home and to bed, with some help from Grace. The next morning, Grace approaches Warbucks, well, he’s asked her to call him Oliver, and wants to adopt Annie. Oliver insists he is a businessman; he loves money and power, not children. But Grace is very pretty when she argues and he gives in. Grace cheerfully tells the others, We’ve Got Annie. Oliver takes the paperwork to the orphanage and argues with Miss Hannigan to get her to Sign the papers (Miss Hannigan also has a habit of attempting to flirt with any man that comes near the orphanage). But when Oliver presents a new locket (from Tiffany’s) and tells Annie the good news, she quietly informs him that she’s waiting for her birth parents to claim her. So Oliver issues a reward ($50,000).

Warbucks pitches the idea on the radio, after the catchy You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile ditty (reprised by the girls at the orphanage). As expected, a crowd appears at the mansion, so Oliver takes Annie to Washington D.C., to meet President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Oliver and the President argue over the New Deal and Annie cheers them up with her signature Tomorrow tune.

easy street

Rooster and Lily come up with the idea to pose as Annie’s parents and go to Miss Hannigan for specific details on Annie so they can easily claim and split the reward. Molly overhears the plan, as well as Miss Hannigan revealing that Annie’s parents died years ago and the front piece to her broken locket has been sitting in a box since the fire. It’ll be Easy Street for the trio. (Yes, they’re the bad guys, but it’s such a fun song; they let the actors have some fun). Once they have the money, Rooster intends to drop Annie in the river. Molly rallies some of the other girls to tell Annie, but they’re caught and locked in the closet while the adults head to the mansion. Oliver does not trust them, but they have the locket and Annie agrees to go with them. She’ll send her new clothes to the orphanage. Rooster and Lily pick up Hannigan once they’re outside the mansion and Rooster keeps a hold of Annie.

The girls manage to escape and run the length of Fifth Avenue to warn Warbucks; but they’re too late. He’s immediately on the phone with the police and his bodyguard, Punjab takes the copter. Annie talks Lily into stopping the truck so she “can go to the bathroom.” Instead, she grabs the check and runs. When she rips it up, Rooster swears he’ll kill her. Hannigan realizes her brother means it; she chases after him. Annie comes to a raised railroad bridge and begins climbing. Rooster knocks his sister down when she tries to talk him out of killing a little girl. Rooster climbs after Annie. At the top, he tries to drop her, but Punjab flies in and rescues Annie. With a kick, Rooster slides down the bridge to the waiting police.

Oliver throws a party for Annie, themed for the Fourth of July (the show typically ends at Christmas, but it would have cost too much to get that much fake snow during the summer filming schedule). He presents her with the new locket and when she takes it, she proclaims, “I love you, Daddy Warbucks.” Now, I Don’t Need Anything But You, the pair duets and Annie shows off her tap skills. The other girls are in attendance, nicely dressed, as is the president, and even Miss Hannigan. A reprise of Tomorrow closes the show.

Some of the songs are so much fun from this show, like Easy Street (probably my favorite song due to Curry, Peters, and Burnnett selling it), Hard Knock Life, and Fully Dressed Without a Smile. And every musical student knows how to belt out Tomorrow. It’s a family friendly show, certain to put a smile on your face.  The grouchy businessman develops a heart, there may or may not be a budding romance between him and his secretary who is a fully fledged character in her own right, and I believe that Annie’s rough edges are softened by having people who honestly care about her.  Miss Harrington isn’t completely bad, but she’s certainly not nice.

In 1999, Disney produced a version with Victor Garber as Oliver Warbucks, Kathy Bates as Miss Hannigan, Alan Cumming (Boris in GoldenEye, Spy Kids, X-2) as Rooster, Kristin Chenoweth as Lily, and Audra McDonald (Broadway star and Madame Garderobe in the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie) as Grace Farrell. This version cut several songs and included NYC (which featured an appearance by Andrea McArdle, who originated the role of Annie on Broadway in 1977) and Something Missing. It keeps the Christmas timeline and the imposters never make it out the door with Annie. I am aware that there was another update made in 2014, but I haven’t seen the film and not keen, especially if it doesn’t keep the songs. In terms of the Disney productions of some musicals; I would personally rank them Cinderella, Annie, Music Man. Music Man is not a favorite show anyways, and Cinderella is happier.

Up Next: A more modern classic, Grease

(Anyone else think Queenie Goldstein looks like Lily St. Regis?)

Let’s Start in the Eighties

I have discovered I am not a rom-com person; though that’s not to say I don’t like romance. I just don’t like romance as the pure focus of a film; I adore the relationship between Hiccup and Astrid in How to Train Your Dragon series, and I will watch shows for romance, where the characters can develop. So, in the interest of carrying on to more exciting films that I can delve deeper into, I shall quickly summarize a few romances that I enjoy, but not quite worth a whole post.

fancy pretty womanPretty Woman, was pointed out to be its 30th anniversary this year. Of course, there is the iconic song. It’s the film I best know Richard Gere and Julia Roberts from. Jason Alexander (much funnier in the Wonderful World of Disney presentation of Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella) shows up, as does Hector Elizondo (we love him in Princess Diaries as well and he is now the boss on Last Man Standing). I think part of the reason I was not terribly fond of this film growing up (because it’s as old as me) is that I was never comfortable with the hooker aspect (once I knew what that meant). But the transformation sequences are the best.

overboardOverboard, an 80s film starring Goldie Hawn (fun note; her daughter is Kate Hudson) and Kurt Russell (Colonel Jack O’Neill from the original Stargate movie [before they switched to Richard Dean Anderson for the series]); the two have actually been together since 1983. Edward Hermann (Gilmore Girls) also appears in the film. It’s a fun story where a rich socialite falls overboard, loses her memory, and a struggling carpenter takes advantage. He has her be his wife and raise his rambunctious sons. Of course, they actually fall in love along the way, though she initially leaves when she regains her memories. Yet she ultimately decides to stay with the family because she cares about them; she wants a daughter at the end due to the number of boys. Basically, the whole film is “breaking the haughty,” as TV Tropes would say.

the_american_presidentAmerican President, is one of my mother’s favorite films and has an all-star cast. Annette Bening (she’s Dr. Wendy Lawson in Captain Marvel) is the lead female, a professional political strategist; Martin Sheen (after he was Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg, and he would later play the president in the hit show West Wing) is one of the president’s advisors. Michael J. Fox is another advisor, and the president, Andrew Shepherd is played by Michael Douglas (son of famous actor Kirk Douglas and husband to Catherine Zeta-Jones, he shows up in the MCU as well as Hank Pym, but I know him from the films Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile).

It’s a well-written movie that shows and widowed president attempting to have a relationship with a woman he finds intelligent while avoiding the media. It also shows that some of the major issues have not changed in twenty-five years. Gun control global warming are the two issues that are called out in the movie…and we’re still dealing with those.

prince and mePrince and Me (a combination that Hallmark loves in their movies) stars Julia Stiles and Miranda Richardson (Rita Skeeter) shows up as the queen of Denmark with James Fox (he’s shown up in Downton Abbey, Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes, BBC’s Merlin, and Patriot Games [I’ll be covering that film in the action section]) as the king. The film has three sequels, though never getting the original cast fully back together. A common storyline now, prince comes to America (hoping to sweet-talk unsuspecting college girls into taking their tops off), hiding his identity. Paige is focused on her goals and wants to become a doctor. She and Eddie get off to a rough start, but then begin helping each other out. Their relationship is discovered and splashed across the news causing Eddie to return to Denmark. Paige eventually follows and accepts his proposal of marriage and begins training to become the new queen. But she doesn’t want to put her life on hold, so she breaks it off and returns home. But Eddie comes after her, willing to wait to marry. There is an adorable part where Paige takes Eddie home for Thanksgiving. Fairly light-hearted.

princess diaries makeoverIn similar vein are the two Princess Diaries movies that Disney put out. Now, I read the books by Meg Cabot before the movies came out, but they also came out when I was a teenager, the age the movies are geared for. This was Anne Hathaway’s first big role as Mia. Teen heart-throb (though I was never into him) Erik von Detten was in the film, along with Mandy Moore (later plays the president’s daughter [the president was Mark Harmon] in Chasing Liberty and voiced Rapunzel in Tangled), and Sandra Oh. Hector Elizondo is back and the ever-lovely Julie Andrews as the queen of fictional Genovia. There is the iconic “shut up” scene when Mia finds out she is the princess of Genovia. She now must attend lessons with her grandmother. There is also the hilarious makeover scene involving broken hairbrushes and glasses. Mia learns who her true friends are and she does have it in herself to become a princess.

princess diaries 2A sequel came out subtitled Royal Engagement, taking place five years after the first. An old law comes into play, where an unmarried woman cannot rule. Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies, though not as nice in this film as in others) brings up the fact that there is another possibly heir, his nephew, Lord Devereaux. It is passed that Mis has thirty days to marry or she must abdicate. Lord Devereaux happens to be the charming Nicholas (Chris Pine, yep, before he was Captain Kirk). While Mia courts the dashing Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue and he appeared in The Tudors), Nicholas attempts to woo her as well. Raven Symone also drops by (oh, and a Stan Lee cameo, way before MCU). Mia and Nicholas develop feelings for each other, but Mia decides not to marry Andrew and abolishes the marriage clause and Nicholas decides to give up his right to the throne. The film ends with them possibly starting a relationship while Mia takes over as queen.

I adore Julie Andrews whenever, so she makes a perfect queen. And Chris Pine really should have more roles as a romantic lead because he was quite dashing in the sequel. There are rumors of a third movie coming out, but nothing confirmed.

A few more rom-coms are left, but I shall post those in another block.

Let me know what you think of romantic comedies 🙂

Disney’s Second Attempt at the Robin Hood Legend, or, That Time Disney Tried to Re-Write English History

Princess of Thieves

Produced by the Wonderful World of Disney, it tells the tale of the daughter of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Stuart Wilson (who is Don Rafael Montero, the antagonist of The Mask of Zorro) is Robin Hood and Kiera Knightley is Gwyn (ironically, she will play Guinevere in 2004’s King Arthur). This is the movie that really got me thinking of a kickass heroine who fights like a man, the starting point for my fantasy series [it will get written, someday] This is also the movie that really got me into the legend of Robin Hood.

Opening narration claims that history has forgotten the tale of Robin Hood’s child. It places the story in 1184, which is oddly before a lot of other Robin Hood tales take place. And historically, before King Richard even took the throne. (But, we don’t tend to count on Disney for historical accuracy). Cardaggian, the Sheriff of Nottingham’s man, reports to his master that Robin Hood has had a child, should they put a price on the infant’s head. Equal to the one on his father’s, the Sheriff declares. “Robin Hood will not have a son.” The Sheriff misunderstood Cardaggian, the baby is a girl. They laugh and apparently do not put a price on the infant’s head. We never see Marian, but we hear her ask Robin to protect their daughter. I am assuming this is a polite way to show that Marian died as a result of childbirth. We do see a cute transition of Gwyn growing up; she appears to have lived at an abbey with Friar Tuck. Her best friend is a young student, Froderick (and reminds me a bit of Ever After, which came out three years prior to this film); she later tells Friar Tuck she does not view Froderick as husband material, though it is evident that Froderick has developed feelings for Gwyn. Gwyn has grown to hate how often and how long her father is gone and wishes he was not so loyal to the king. She can count his visits on one hand, now she’ll need two for he and Will Scarlett are on their way home.

However, their world is about to be thrown into chaos; Richard is dying. And the king has apparently stated he wants his illegitimate son, Phillip to take the throne over John. John disguises himself as a messenger and rides to Nottingham to deliver the news to the Sheriff. Phillip is due to land in England soon and the natural assumption is that Robin, as supremely trusted by Richard, will greet the boy and secure his passage through England. John wants Phillip dead. The Sheriff charges Cardaggian with the task. They will know the young man by his signet ring.

Gwyn happily greets her father, who is surprised to see how much his daughter has grown. But he quickly passes her over and cheerfully greet his friends. Robin gets the notice to help Phillip and so must leave again. Gwyn begs her father to let her accompany him; he refuses and even makes comments that she will have other chances to meet the prince. She doesn’t want to go to meet the “absent son of an absent king;” she wants to help her father; she’s as good as a son. She’s willing to fight, and possibly die, for his cause. He orders her to stay at the abbey, where she belongs. Later, to Frodrick, she complains that father and daughter shouldn’t be fighting each other, they should be fighting side by side against Prince John. She’d rather be the master of her own destiny, than a slave to her fears. So, she cuts her hair that evening and sneaks into Frodrick’s room to borrow his clothes; she can pass herself as a boy (that only works if you do not have a lot of curves).

Gwyn princess of thieves

In France, Phillip is journeying to the coast to make his way to England. He’s in the company of a French countess and his valet, Conrad; the two men share a strong physical resemblance to each other. Phillip has no desire to wear the crown; as king, he would be expected to do something about war and plague and uprisings. When they stop for the evening, Conrad overhears their escort discussing Phillip’s murder. He sneaks his friend out and they make the crossing on their own. Phillip lends Conrad his jacket when the other man gets cold.

In the neighboring shire where Phillip is to arrive, Gwyn mimic’s her father’s heroics and stands up for a hungry child to a nobleman. She leads the guards on a merry chase, which ultimately acts as a perfect distraction for Will and Robin to sneak in. Frodrick followed her and they meet up in the forest, where the Sheriff’s men are searching for Phillip. They have to separate and Gwyn is soon outnumbered. Two men jump to her rescue; Will and Robin. Robin is displeased at his daughter’s disobedience. They agree to find Frodrick. The young man was captured, but Nottingham has him released and followed, figuring he’ll lead him to something. Robin meets Frodrick in the chapel that evening, which turns out to be a trap. Frodrick and Gwyn escape, but Will and Robin are captured and taken to the Tower of London for questioning. Gwyn sends Frodrick back to the abbey for help, she will follow her father.

Phillip and Conrad have landed in England and go to meet “Robin Hood.” Cardaiggan stands in, giving the secret phrase. Phillip had let Conrad lead the visit and they’re about to switch back, passing off the signet ring, when Conrad is shot in the back. Phillip escapes. Gwyn eventually comes across his horse. They scuffle for a bit, but Phillip quickly realizes that Gwyn is a woman, not a man as she appears. He’s willing to give her the horse; a lady should not have to walk, he states. Do women not have legs and feet, Gwyn argues. Very well, they will share the horse.

In London, John and the French countess examine the body of “Phillip.” The countess realizes that it is Conrad they had killed; Phillip is still alive. John is furious. He tortures Robin for Phillip’s whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Gwyn and Phillip end up in an argument over Robin Hood. Phillip believes that he killed his friend; he’s continuing the charade that he is the valet, Conrad. Gwyn states that it’s not possible and reveals that she is Robin Hood’s daughter. This carries on into a discussion on John and England. “Conrad” (aka Phillip) feels that John may be the better king, since he knows England and Phillip doesn’t want the crown. Gwyn tells her companion about the hardships the English people face under John. A prince has an obligation to his people. They hear about an archery tournament in Nottingham, where they assume Robin was taken. The winner will be able to get into the castle. In true Robin Hood style, Gwyn ultimately wins by splitting the Sheriff’s arrow. The Sheriff notes the similarity in style. At the feast that evening, Phillip recognizes Caradiggan and they have to leave before he’s spotted. They run into the friars. Phillip ends up in a discussion with Frodrick and thinks that the two are brother and sister. Frodrick claims they’re betrothed; he sees the way Gwyn looks at Phillip.

The friars have managed to capture the Sheriff, who is out looking for Phillip. Frodrick is tasked with guarding the Sheriff overnight. The older man wiggles his way out of the ropes and knocks out Frodrick. (Um, he didn’t get hit that hard, I don’t know why he didn’t just get back up and was out until morning). Gwyn is angry at Frodrick. “Conrad” keeps his promise to rescue Robin and still heads out for London. “Conrad” and Gwyn step away for a few quite moments; Gwyn sets the record straight that she is not betrothed. Conrad is pleased and kisses her. However, when they get back to the main camp, word has spread amongst the people that Phillip is still alive. Conrad reveals himself to be Phillip, the proof is his signet ring. He had hoped to get back to France quietly and live out his life. But they have shown him that he needs to take the crown and help them. Prince John’s army attacks. In the fray, Gwyn notices that the Sheriff takes aim at Phillip. She calls out a warning, but Frodrick is closer and takes the arrow for the prince (the lad lives, ’tis a shoulder wound).

Phillip and Gwyn continue to the Tower to rescue Robin while John proceeds with his coronation. They find Gwyn’s father, and he orders them on to stop the coronation. He’ll find Will. In the castle yard, the friars take on the guards and Robin battles the Sheriff. Caradggian catches Robin and suggests the Sheriff shoot him with an arrow, how poetic. But the arrow is caught by another, by Gwyn. The Sheriff is now the one outnumbered. Phillip breaks into the coronation and demands the crown, as Richard’s chosen successor. John is correct that he is king by law (and historically, Richard never had Phillip crowned king; there has never been a King Phillip of England [queens have married a Phillip, Mary I did, as has Elizabeth II]). He then shouts for everyone to kill Phillip. They won’t listen to him anymore; they have another prince to back, one who won’t tax them into poverty.

The film ends with Phillip about to be crowned. Gwyn has her hair done prettily and is wearing a fancy dress. Phillip has give Frodrick a job on his council, but Gwyn will not marry Phillip, claiming she is a commoner (a bit of a break from traditional lore, since Robin is typically viewed as a noble and Maid Marian is almost always viewed as nobility and a relation of some sort to Richard). Phillip wishes they could be Conrad and Gwyn again, if only for a minute. Gwyn vows to serve Phillip the same way Robin served Richard. Phillip accepts, and Robin and Gwyn will both serve their new king. Closing narration states that history will forget Phillip (um, yeah, cause he was never king) and he never married, instead, he pledged his heart to a common woman, of uncommon valor.

The movie is good as a Wonderful World of Disney production. The fight sequences are nothing spectacular. Costumes are closer to period accurate than some. Gwyn and Phillip were well developed; it’s a Disney production, so of course, there had to be a bit of romance. Honestly, the film would have been completely fine without that little niggle. Gwyn is aware of her shortcomings and apologizes when she does wrong. Robin learns to accept the child he has; even though he wanted a better life, his daughter grew up to be just like him; he cannot protect her forever. I like Gwyn’s spunk and as I already stated, it was an inspiration to characters I write. An enjoyable watch, but not a favorite.

Up Next: 2010’s Robin Hood