The Last Jedi and Me

luke-last-jedi-posterIn the weeks since I shared my first impressions of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Episode VIII has become the most divisive film in the Star Wars canon. Professional reviewers, who tend to prioritize the acting and themes in a film, have overwhelmingly praised the way director Rian Johnson deconstructs Star Wars tropes and subverts expectations. By contrast, fans, who often care more about the characters and story continuity, have been much more mixed in their response. Some love that the film takes the franchise in new directions, while others complain about the self-aware humor and the slow middle act. The Last Jedi has become a sort of Star Wars Rorschach test in that each viewer’s response says as much about that person’s relationship with Star Wars as it does about the film. Continue reading “The Last Jedi and Me”

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First Impressions of The Last Jedi through other Sci-Fi

the-last-jedi-theatrical-blogOne of my biggest critiques of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was that it relied too much on nostalgia. At times, it seemed like a soft reboot of A New Hope. Naturally, this led me to worry that Disney was too reluctant, too concerned with profits to take risks with the franchise. When promotional images for The Last Jedi included vehicles that looked suspiciously like AT-AT walkers, I worried that Director Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars film would again play it safe by retreading the plot of The Empire Strikes Back.

I was wrong. I am glad. Continue reading “First Impressions of The Last Jedi through other Sci-Fi”

“Star Wars: Thrawn” by Timothy Zahn

Star_Wars_Thrawn-Timothy_ZahnStar Wars fans who never read the Expanded Universe novels might not recognize Grand Admiral Thrawn, but he’s become one of the most popular characters in the franchise. Thrawn initially appeared in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy, which was in the early 1990s as the official sequel to the Original Trilogy. For the first time, we learned what happened to Luke, Leia, and Han after Return of the Jedi. With Vader and the Emperor dead, Thrawn took lead the remnants of the Empire against the New Republic government. Thrawn was a new type of Star Wars villain, a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Erwin Rommel who used brilliant military tactics to defeat his opponents. Moreover, he was an alien who rose through the ranks of the xenophobic Empire. Continue reading ““Star Wars: Thrawn” by Timothy Zahn”

“George Lucas” by Brian Jay Jones

I read Brian Jay Jones’ biography of Jim Henson when it first came out and found myself captivated. Jones conveyed Henson’s passion for his work and his joie de vivre. When I saw that Jones had written a book about George Lucas, I was cautiously optimistic. I was interested to see what somebody with Jones’ talent could do with one of the most influential filmmakers in history. On the other hand, I wondered if the world really needed another biography of George Lucas. Continue reading ““George Lucas” by Brian Jay Jones”

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

rogue-one-poster-october

When news broke in 2012 that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm, some fans worried that Disney would “Disneyfy” the Star Wars franchise by making it too kid-friendly. After all, despite George Lucas’ protestations that Star Wars was made for kids, the original six had some very dark moments. Lucas even consulted a psychologist to make sure the big revelation in “The Empire Strikes Back” would not scar young children (the psychologist concluded most kids simply wouldn’t believe that Vader was Luke’s father). Would Disney dare to tell a story with shades of gray and dark undertones? Continue reading ““Rogue One: A Star Wars Story””

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Teaser Trailer First Reactions

Rogue-One-A-Star-Wars-Story-3Originally published on Legendarium Media

Ever since Disney announced Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last March, fans haven’t seemed sure what to expect of the film. All seven previous Star Wars films focused on the Skywalker family saga. However, Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Felicity Jones, has been advertised as something different. It’s the story about the Rebellion’s attempts to steal the Death Star plans before A New Hope. No Skywalkers or Jedi are expected to appear in the film (with the possible exception of Darth Vader). How would fans react to a Star Wars film lacking many of the elements that made the franchise what it is in the first place? Continue reading “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Teaser Trailer First Reactions”

Adding The Force Awakens to the Star Wars Ring

This article originally appeared on Legendarium Media

The Force Awakens is clearly soaked in nostalgia, to the point where some critics allege that it’s little more than a copy of the original Star Wars film. I addressed this claim in my last post. The film isn’t just a remake, reboot, or “requel” of A New Hope. The film mirrors the past, but often does so in new and interesting ways. Other times, the parallels do come across as straight up copying. Here, I attempt to understand what those similarities between the Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens do for the overall story. Continue reading “Adding The Force Awakens to the Star Wars Ring”

Did The Force Awakens Plagiarize Star Wars?

This article originally appeared on Legendarium Media

Every four years, Americans are confronted with a basic question during presidential elections: change or more of the same? In the 2016 presidential campaign, the winning mantra definitely seems to be “change” of some sort, whether on the extreme left or the extreme right. In Star Wars fandom, audiences voted with their wallets for “more of the same” in The Force Awakens. At least that’s the most prominent criticism of the film that otherwise earned over $1.9 billion at the box office and has a 93% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The basic plot points of the film mirror the original Star Wars and, to a lesser degree, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi). Continue reading “Did The Force Awakens Plagiarize Star Wars?”

First Impressions: The Force Awakens (*Spoiler-Free*)

star-wars-force-awakens-official-posterI finally had a chance to see The Force Awakens! This review is intended to minimize the risk of spoilers for readers who have not had a chance to see the film yet. Later next week, I will write a more detailed review with spoilers to discuss some important moments in the film. [originally posted on Legendarium Media]

The Force Awakens feels very much like a representation of the transition currently underway in the Star Wars franchise. Disney and Lucasfilm realize they have to appeal to old fans of the Original Trilogy as well as attract new fans. One of the biggest obstacles the Prequel Trilogy faced was that it was too different from the core of what people loved about the original movies. Given the public backlash against the Prequels, it must have been tempting to simply rehash the original films in order to appease fan nostalgia. J.J. Abrams chose a different path, clearly harkening back to the old but using it to ease the transition into the new. Continue reading “First Impressions: The Force Awakens (*Spoiler-Free*)”

Retrospective Review: Return of the Jedi

In preparation for The Force Awakens, I’m rewatching all six Star Wars films and sharing my thoughts here. This week, I look at Return of the Jedi, the final film in the story… until now!Star-Wars-Return-Jedi-VI-Poster_a10501d2

For almost 30 years, Return of the Jedi was the end of the Star Wars saga. Sure, there were the books and comics of the Expanded Universe, but those always had a troubled relationship with the Star Wars canon. While Lucasfilm promoted them as the official continuation of the story, George Lucas was never directly involved and always seemed to consider them separate from his creation. Despite some suggestions in the late 1970s that Lucas might write a sequel trilogy, by 1983 he clearly intended to end with Return of the Jedi. Yet, as of next week, it will no longer be the final film in the Star Wars saga. So, before we all see The Force Awakens, I wanted to spend some time thinking about the plot threads Return of the Jedi leaves unresolved. Continue reading “Retrospective Review: Return of the Jedi”