Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse

Remember a few weeks ago when I said I might never love a Star Wars novel because of the mandated third person present tense driving me bonkers?

Such is the power of Poe Dameron my friends because I have found a Star Wars novel I love. Resistance Reborn is fabulous, silly, interested in its characters, tells a rollicking adventure story and even brings back some old favorites. 

Oh, right and it’s basically got three chapters that are just Poe and Finn flirting including a scene where POE TEACHES FINN HOW TO TIE A TIE BECAUSE THEY ARE GOING UNDERCOVER AT A FANCY FIRST ORDER PARTY AND FINN CHOOSES ALIAS’S FOR THEM THAT ARE ACTUALLY THE STAR WARS VERSIONS OF SUPERHEROS AND OMG WHY WASN’T THIS THE OPENING ACT OF THE RISE OF SKYWALKER? (Also they’re in love and Abrams, Kennedy and Iger are cowards. Roanhouse is clearly a Stormpilot shipper because she goes OUT OF HER WAY to have Poe flirt with Finn, Finn grin about it, Finn assure Poe that Rey and Rose are “just his friends” and have Poe be super happy about that.) 

I really very much enjoyed this book, where Poe, and the rest of Black Squadron take Leia’s words of hope and decide to do whatever they need to to rebuild the Resistance. Snap and Kare head to pull Wedge and Norra out of retirement. They are not difficult to sway on this one, although Wedge is allowed a moment of hopelessness when he learns of Luke’s death. Leia and Rey are around in the periphery both knowing something else is coming but unsure what that something else is. Meanwhile, Poe, Suralinda, Finn and a new friend from Ryloth all head to Corellia to get a list of First Order defectors and known critics. (This is where the fancy party and tie tying come in.)

And I love it, y’all, I love it so much. I love the capers and the banter and the Stormpilot of it all. Rebecca Roanhorse’s tone suits my taste almost perfectly and did I mention SO MUCH STORMPILOT, and also more time with Black Squadron.

Just in general it’s great. I liked it a lot. We’ll be touching base next week obviously, with Clone Wars and with Resistance Season 2, which is now on Disney+, and as for Star Wars reading goes, I have the Darth Vader comics from the library and since the library is closed, I’m going to be relying on Kindle & Comixology once I get through my reading pile. I’m not sure what I’m going to read but it will probably be Prequel era. I’ve been eyeing Master & Apprentice, I could use some Obi-Wan in my life right now. 

I also might do an “Anatomy Of A Favorite Post” for Poe. I’ve done these before for Dick Grayson and Ahsoka, started one for Obi-Wan that never got where I wanted and I think Poe has earned it. 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy by Chuck Wendig

This is my first dive into the Star Wars extended universe. (OK, I read a few comics) and I figured this direct sequel to Return Of The Jedi which is meant to bridge that time with the new era of The Force Awakens and beyond seemed like a good enough place to begin.

Also Chuck Wendig is fun on twitter. So there’s that.

The Aftermath trilogy tells the story of Norra Wexley (mother of Greg Grunberg’s Snap! He’s in the books too!) a pilot with the Rebellion, now the New Republic and the waning months of the Galactic Civil War against the Empire. Norra finds herself in the general orbit of Princess Leia and Han Solo, as they prepare for the birth of their son. (Watch out for onion ninjas when all conversations around Ben ensue. But also RED FLAGS all over the damn place regarding the kind of parents Leia and Han turned out to be) She also puts together a rag tag crew of a bounty hunter, an ex imperial torture officer, a clone descended rebel soldier (COOL) and her kid. Her kid Temmin Wexley, who is nicknamed by the one and only Wedge Antilles (who Norra falls in love with) Snap.

On the Imperial side there are various people vying for power though we follow, mainly Grand Admira Rae Sloane. Sloane’s a pretty great villain and I like that we’ve got women as our main antagonist and protagonist.

The book took some getting used to. The use of third person present tense is a lot for someone who does as much reading as I do. I understand this is a hallmark of the EU and does create a sort of propulsive immediacy, but it’s also, a lot. First person present tense is tough enough to take, but third person…oof.

Anyway, the books were fun, from a Star Wars perspective, seeing how the hold the Rebellion had on the Galaxy was shaky from the start, as well as the political differences between Leia and Mon Mothma, really does help solidify the shaky ground that is the New Republic and Resistance schism. They work in concert, but they’re not the same. It makes some sense. Or more sense. It’s still not great.

Also, Sloane ends her journey travelling on The Emperor’s ship towards the unkown reaches. So we know what that’s all about now. Again, kind of.

Overall, I think this was a good place to start. If only for sweet little Temmin, who I continually pictured as Greg Grunberg but small. Not young. (Was Grunberg ever young? He came off middle aged even on Felicity!) Just small. Shrunk down. This was an extremely amusing visual and if you decide to read these books you are welcome to it. He also has a droid friend named Mr. Bones who is also great. Seriously, Disney Era, kicking it out of the park with the droids. from BB-8 on they’ve each been all time.

The rest of the team didn’t quite do it for me. I like Sinjin, the ex imperial, but his narrative of finding his conscience was interesting if a little slow compared to everything else. Wendig writes a damn good Han and a not as good Leia. The visions that Leia gets during her pregnancy are incredible, (including her own birth, though she doesn’t realize it’s that) as well as her connection to Ben in utero and beyond. I liked that.

Up next we’re reading Charles Soule’s Poe Dameron comics series, I mean, not right next, a few things in between, but next for this feature.

Rise, Rey, Rise Up

There’s a lot going on in The Rise Of Skywalker, and I’m actually having trouble articulating how I feel about this movie. I groaned at a lot of it, cried through more, loved it almost completely. It’s thoroughly predictable, and yet manages to satisfy regardless of that.

I’m not a big lover of twist endings, I think they’re often cheap. The predictability of a formula is not something I consider a fault in narrative. Tropes alone aren’t cheap, though they can be employed cheaply. And The Rise Of Skywalker uses tropes that it’s earned and a few that it hasn’t. It’s a mixed bag of a movie.

Like all Star Wars films it lives and dies on it’s performances. Daisy Ridley gives her strongest in this trilogy, Adam Driver gets less to do than the previous two outings. Oscar Isaac and John Boyega are a damn delight and here’s something that I never ever expected to write, Anthony Daniels really runs away with the thing.

And the score, as you may have heard is incredible. People are calling it the best Williams has done in the series. I don’t know about that. Empire and Phantom Menace are pretty high marks, but it gets close. (I need to listen to it without the film.) But it’s very good. Rey’s theme and Kylo’s theme both get mixed with The Imperial March and Force Theme’s in ways that are wonderful. Leia’s theme is also pretty prominent.

I really, really enjoyed myself.

Rankings

  1. Knive’s Out
  2. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  3. Jo Jo Rabbit
  4. Frozen 2
  5. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  6. Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker
  7. Avengers: Endgame
  8. Rocketman
  9. Detective Pikachu
  10. Zombieland: Double Tap
  11. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  12. Downton Abbey
  13. Joker

Trailers

The Jungle Cruise: This trailer does not have enough puns. It otherwise looks acceptable.

Onward: I really can’t wait for this. It looks so lovely and fun and kind of scary. Really great.

Wonder Woman 84: GIVE ME YOUR TIME TRAVEL SHENANIGANS AND CHRIS PINE IN A FANNY PACK!!!!

Anway, y’all ready for Spoilers!  THEY’RE HERE NOW

 

 

 

 

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Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

So, I’m one of those people that gave a hearty shrug to The Last Jedi. I absolutely understood the movie. I got what Rian Johnson was going for, and applaud him for the attempt. Deconstruction of something as woven into the culture as Star Wars is a bold thing to swing for.

And here’s the thing with The Last Jedi, I don’t think he quite pulled it off. Which isn’t to say I don’t admire the attempt, I do. Some of the stuff, well, some of it I absolutely adore, I think it’s wonderful. I really enjoy Vice Admiral Holdo, and the way the movie plays with Luke and Leia’s connection. (Mirroring it in Kylo and Rey.) I think it’s visually stunning. I think Luke’s ultimate fate was brilliant and lovely and deeply in line with what we know of him as a man and his Jedi training.

I do think the movie tries to do too much. Insisting that we have to move forward but doing so at the expense of stories that had been built up in it’s predecessor feels arrogant. It’s also hypocritcal to say “we’re burning down the past” while transforming the more underground Resistance into the outright Rebellion of the original trilogy. (You can’t have both, Johnson!)

Some things that I didn’t like initially have grown on me. I initially didn’t love Benecio Del Toro’s DJ, who I now think is kind of delightful. (Still think he should have been Lando…but ya know…beggars and choosers.) My anger at how Poe became a more cliched “I know better” hothead this time around has cooled so I was able to see what Johnson and Isaac were actually going for with this performance. Poe’s given it all to the Resistance, he’s exhausted and frustrated. His mentor may be dying. His boyfriend (STORMPILOT LIVES!) is off on a dangerous spy mission. He has no information about how this is going to end. He snaps.

One thing that’s held up every time I’ve watched the movie is John Boyega’s performance. It’s mind blowingly charismatic and fun. Finn’s transformation from selfish survivor to team player/leader is beautiful executed. It’s the part of the movie I always liked best.

Which brings us to Kylo and Rey. I think Kylo Ren is a brilliantly rendered villain, and Adam Driver plays him well. He’s all raw emotion and easily triggered anger, with the power to back that up. It’s so different for this series. Rey is desperate here, she just wants answers. And while I’ve had so much fun in the past six years playing with “who is Rey?” theories. While I’ve always been fond of “Kenobi” as a theory, watching The Last Jedi this time, brought me around a bit to  “clone.” (I don’t think she’s a gender swapped clone of Anakin of Palpatine, but I think she might be a clone.) Her lack of answers about her past, her overall competence (almost as if she’d been programmed, like a Kamino Clone), and that scene where she sees herself reflected over and over again in a line while communing in the cave.

Not to mention the “Dark Rey” images from the Rise of Skywalker trailer.

There’s a lot going on in this movie, which is part of why I think it doesn’t work quite as well as it could. Rian Johnson is trying to do a lot here and some of it therefore comes out a little bit half baked. I’m also immensely gratified that J.J. Abrams has insisted he’s not going to walk back Johnson’s decision in The Last Jedi. He could have, but he’s happy with the status quo he’s got to work with.

We shall see in a few months how this all shakes out.

We’re still a few weeks from The Mandolorian so I’m not sure what will go in this spot quite yet. Taking suggestions!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi

The thing about Return Of The Jedi is that I really love it a lot. I like endings, and I particularly like happy endings of the fairy tale variety. Where good triumphs, and evil retreats defeated.

So, I really like Return Of The Jedi that has that in spades, plus a strong theme of family and legacy and the things we need to take. It includes some pretty strong bullshit, (from a certain point of view) and it’s certainly a more clumsy movie than either of it’s predecessors, but I love that ending. I love Luke redeeming his father. I love the rescue sequence in Jabba’s palace.

The main thing though, that again, this project has given me is perspective on the series as an organic whole, and you can really start to see the clunkiness that is Lucas’s style take shape. Luke and Leia’s conversation where he reveals their sibling relationship is about as bad as “I hate sand.” It’s better because Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are better than Hayden Christiansen, but the dialog itself is bad, bad, bad.

Luckily, it’s just the one scene, the rest of the movie feels more natural, clearer and is really lovely. Frank Oz is probably my favorite part of both Empire and Jedi. 

Yoda’s role in the saga is kind of ridiculously great and one of my favorite, “go by the seat of your pants” legacies of Star Wars, his prominence in the saga is something of a fluke because of the great performance in Empire. People love Yoda, so Lucas gave the people what they wanted. (You know, kind of.)

Overall it’s hard to describe what exactly made the original Star Wars trilogy work. It really, really shouldn’t. It’s hokey, and strange and  lovely, and I’m so glad it exists.

Next week we talk about Star Wars: Resistance, which I have already finished as of this writing and that I love with all of my heart.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope

Is there anything left to say about Star Wars, or A New Hope depending on your level of fandom pedantry?

I don’t even remember the first time I watched this movie, that’s how weaved into my life it is. I’m sure it was a rainy Saturday, and I’m sure my dad had his arm around me. I couldn’t have been older than three. I don’t remember this, I just know this is so, because that’s how we watched movies when I was little.

Here’s the thing about A New Hope that I think I, despite talking about the movie constantly, and loving what it has birthed, tend to forget. It’s a basic ass movie that is miraculously not boring. It should be boring. It’s weird that it isn’t boring.

The story is so simple. The dialogue is silly. The acting is very good. The score is sublime and the action is terrific. And this all gels to make something wonderful, something unqiue and beautiful that has since just exploded, like a death star.

I don’t know, I didn’t find anything new in this watch. I was just so happy to be watching this movie again. I was happy to watch Han, Luke and Leia all meet. I was happy to see Obi-Wan become one with the Force. I was just so damn happy. I love Star Wars.

I wish there was more to this post, but I just don’t know what’s left to say. It’s a really good movie and I like it a lot and I will watch it again many times in my life.

Next Week We’re heading into the Star Wars GOAT with The Empire Strikes Back, I don”t know exactly what I’m going to be writing about, but there’s a good chance is that it’s going to rhyme with “Brando.”

Let The Past Die

The Last Jedi

 

*SPOILERS FOR DAYS*

 

 

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Last Jedi is a strange movie. There’s no getting around that. It’s paced oddly. (Poorly in certain spots) It’s full of weird looking creatures and off center character beats, and more weirdo philosophy than the seven movies that preceded it combined.

It’s also Carrie Fisher’s best performance of the five that she’s in, a fitting goodbye to a legend that we all love, allows Mark Hamill to play the comedy that he’s excellent at, deepens both Kylo Ren and Rey, and executes a B-Plot with exactly 0 white guys. (Seriously, the B-Plot heist is centered around Poe, Finn, new character Rose, Leia, new character Vice Admiral Holdo, and a surprise appearance by Benicio Del Toro.)

I need to see the movie again before I really evaluate it. But I enjoyed it immensely, if only for it’s truly spectacular moments. (This is why I want to see it again. I felt similarly about Revenge Of The Sith, so I want to watch it a bit more calmly.) Rey and Kylo fighting off Snoke’s guards after Kylo assasinates him. The force connection between Rey and Kylo convincing each of them that the other can be turned. Luke’s final conversation with Yoda. (Who after 40+ years is finally fed up with the Skywalker boys and their shit) The Star Wars version of the battle of Helm’s Deep. (Just when you thought there was nothing left from Tolkien for this series to mine!) Holdo’s sacrifice. Leia using the force to survive in space. That final moment between Luke and Leia. Luke brushing his shoulder off after a barrage of bullets in the battle.

The plot is what it is. There’s a maguffin, there’s a confrontation, there is, truly the best saber battle we’ve seen yet. The performances are strong, the character beats mostly work. The themes discussed including legacy, corruption and hope are well explored. It’s way too long. There’s definitely fat that could be trimmed, but for the most part it’s worth it.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say. I’ve got plenty of family time to log this week, and talking Star Wars with my family is my favorite thing.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Coco
  4. Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  5. Battle Of The Sexes
  6. Dunkirk
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  8. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  9. Thor: Ragnarok
  10. Justice League
  11. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  12. The Dark Tower
  13. Cars 3
  14. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Like My Father Before Me

I think it’s just my slight contrarion nature that makes me dig my heels in about Empire. I get that it’s objectively from a filmmaking perspective the best movie. But it doesn’t move my heart the way Return of The Jedi does. (I realize that after tomorrow, we can no longer just call it Jedi…that’s kind of weird…)

Anyway, here’s some stuff we get:

  • Jabba The Hutt and his weirdly psycho sexual den of inequity. This also leads to Twi’lek slave girls, and of course, Leia in that damn bikini. (But also Leia the Hutt Slayer)
  • Han and Leia are an official couple! YAY!
  • Luke is a Jedi (almost) though Yoda and Obi-Wan’s ghost claim that he can’t be a real Jedi until he kills his dad. I mean, I love them and all, but that’s a real dick move. (Turns out that in order to be a real Jedi, all Luke has to actually do is stand up and declare it.)
  • Obi-Wan reveals that Luke has a sister. Luke thinks about it and notes that he only knows like one girl, so it’s probably her.
  • We meet the Emperor. So that’s pretty cool. He’s a huge asshole. He no longer controls everyone around him, but he still thinks he does.
  • Yoda dies. After the rebels win, Luke sees his ghost standing alongside Obi-Wan’s, and suddenly, Ooooh, his father, who appears as his sexy-pants, 20-something self. (This is controversial, a lot of people are made very angry by it. I think it’s sort of dumb, but eh.)
  • Vader straight up refers to Luke as “My son” the whole movie. This is because he is awakening to his true self.
  • Luke never attacks in that light saber fight. It’s not the Jedi way.
  • Everytime that I see Luke burn Vader’s body now, I think about how weird it is that Kylo Ren went to Endor and took the helmet all melty like so that he could mope in front of it begging for guidance to the dark side.

That’s it for the original triology! Tomorrow we’ll  talk about The Force Awakens, and then OMG YOU GUYS! The Last Jedi, comes out tomorrow! WHO’S EXCITED!

Do Or Do Not, I Know, I am Your Father

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is largely regarded as the best of all the Star Wars movies. I quibble with that. (I have very strong feelings about A New Hope) But it’s a very good movie, and I always enjoy watching it.

Let’s dive in!

  • Luke is a Commander now. Way to get promoted Luke. He’s also been continuing his Jedi training somehow…instinct? Those holograms that Kanaan and Ahsoka used to teach Ezra? Kanaan or Ezra themselves???? (SHUT UP THIS IS MY HEADCANON!)
  • Obi-Wan’s force ghost shows up. Hello first Force-Ghost!
  • Han and Leia have a thing going on. It develops into a full on love affair. She finally says she loves him as he’s about to be frozen in carbonite. He responds with “I know.” Women everywhere fall on the floor.
  • Speaking of swooning, we meet Lando Calrissian, smoothest opperator in the whole dang galaxy.
  • Luke goes to Dagobah to train with Yoda. Yoda has, kind of lost in seventeen years of exile. He’s still a badass, but he’s on the bonkers side. He and Obi-Wan have some force ghost chats.
  • Luke faces a phantom version of Darth Vader in a cave. When he strikes it down, his own face is revealed inside the mask. FORESHADOWING!
  • Vader is looking for Luke, and decides the best way to find him is by torturing his friends. I assume he comes up with this plan because you know, it’s what he, Anakin Skywalker would do.
  • Luke goes to Cloud City to save Leia and Han, thus falling into Vader’s trap. Vader cut’s off his hand, reveals that he’s his father, and that he has a plan to overthrow the emperor together. (Anakin is BAD AT PLANS. Vader is SLIGHTLY BETTER AT THEM, but this one seems not so great.)
  • Yoda eludes to another who could help with the whole restarting the Jedi bussiness. (This means Leia.)
  • While Leia and Han are on the run, they are pursued by bounty hunters, including one Boba Fett. I wonder, does Vader recognize Boba as the brother clone of his former troops?
  • This is also the first instance of Wedge Antilles! (WEDGE!) And the use of the “Rogue” call sign (ROGUE!)

 

I know.: RIP Carrie Fisher

A lot of people died in 2016. A lot of them were really famous and inspiring, but two of them were my great aunt and grandmother, so that’s keeping the celebrity deaths in perspective. (Seriously, the angel of death seemed really cruel this year.)

But I guess we couldn’t be left very well alone in the last 4 days of the years, because now Carrie Fisher is among them.

Back in the early, early days of starting this blog, I wrote about Princess Leia, and the blurry lines between second and third wave feminism as I saw it then. (I’ve grown a lot in the past five years.) Leia has meant a lot to me as a writer, a fan, a critic and a woman. Carrie Fisher’s writing means more. (I’ve got kind of a thing about acerbic troubled ladies from that generation. I’m also deeply into Norah Ephron, who is also gone. Well, SHIT.) I’ve spent a lot of time in the past decade trying to decide what kind of writer I wanted to be, and it was in finding memoir that it all finally clicked, and Wishful Drinking was a huge part of that.

I didn’t read the book but I watched the one woman show and was blown away by it’s bizarre mix of depressing self disclosure and hilarious self deprication. It was one large step towards the realization that “This is what I want to do.” I still had far to go, and I wound up a good deal less confessional, but my life is also a whole lot less interesting than hers was.

Her fearlessness in the face of aging and mental illness and addiction was remarkable and her wit and strength was incredible.

I’m writing this while watching When Harry Met Sally, because I want to remember that this woman, this indomitable woman was so much more than the one character who defined her. But I do want to talk about Princess Leia Organa, General Organa, the icon the light in every nerd girls life. Yes, we’ve dealt with fridging and Gamergate and being Smurfettes and damsels, but we had Leia. We had this beacon of strength and fire and fight and compassion and joy and love. Leia the Hutt slayer, Leia the princess, Leia the senator, Leia the general.

Every time I write a female character I make sure that she lives up to Leia. Not in the same ways, but she has to have at least as much agency, plot impact and personality. Otherwise, what’s the point?

2016 wasn’t the worst year of my life, but it wasn’t great. I fought through a baseline of depression, a job that I hated and the loss of two of the women who’d inspired me my whole life, right in my own small world. And now the world at large has lost yet another shining light that had meant so much to so many of us.

Yesterday I wrote the following: May the Force Be With You. We Know.

“I know” symbolizes “I love you” second only to “As You Wish” in my book. So that’s what I’m going with to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, We Know. We love you. Thank you for all of it.

Rest in Peace, drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.