Wednesday, December 30, 2015

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS: The good, the bad, the crazy talk 2 *SPOILERS*

Getting down some more thoughts, observations, and crazy talk after my fourth screening of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Below are more things I love, things I not-so-much, some interestingness, and some mystery from my brain on Episode VII.

Click here for my earlier SW:TFA: Good, Bad, & Crazy.

If you have not seen the movie yet, turn back now, for HERE THERE BE *SPOILERS*

1. A scene from early in the film… Rey is cleaning her day's haul and looks across the workbench at the older scavenger woman across from her. It's a vision of her future that doesn't require a strong connection to the Force.

2. In Rey's vision… I like that the ship that's leaving her on Jakku appears to be flying into a Kylo Ren visor-shaped red sun. Is there a message in it, or is it a clever bit of imagery? Certainly could take on several readings… that Kylo is the reason for her exile on Jakku, that those on the departing ship might be connected to Kylo, or perhaps are fated to confront or return to him.

3. An aspect of the film as a whole about which I'm slightly torn…Do I *love* that THE FORCE AWAKENS borrows so much from the previous films? No, but I get it. I appreciate it. This time around they even let the characters in on it, as shown in the Resistance's shortest mission briefing ever, right? "Ooooo~ An even bigger Death Star! What do we hit to blow this one up?"

New challenges, threats, and relationships would be very welcome, but I see several storytelling, consistency, and fan-satisfying reasons for presenting us with echoes of events and situations with which we're already familiar. I mean, c'mon! What's more STAR WARS than recycling STAR WARS, right?

As both a STAR WARS and a TRON fanbeing, let me put it into an SAT analogy (they still do those?)…
The new movies are both sequels and reboots. Each is a new chapter in its respective story-world that in plot and action allows for an updated/suped-up introduction to elements of the original for a new—literally—generation.


I fully expect that I won't need to be so forgiving or apologist when it comes to the next two films, tho.

Hear me, Disney?

1. The opening shot of the film. The opening sequence of STAR WARS heralded a new era in film and filmmaking in an epic fashion. Descent from space to the skies of an alien planet. First, a blockade runner enters are view, fired upon by some unseen menace, until… Holy F%*&?! A ship that seems to be the size of a city, what we later come to know as a Star Destroyer, something that Takes Time to move from offscreen to fully onscreen, and deafens us with blaster fire and its pulsing, rattlesnake engines. To be fair, in my mind, I can't think of anyone/any film who's topped that entrance, and no doubt forgotten dozens if not hundreds of openings that tried and failed. Each of the other STAR WARS films had a similar opening (although none as powerful), and I fully expected something of the same flavor here, with a little twist of the new.

To be fair, I believe that's what we got. Unfortunately, I think the twist/s subtracted rather than added; the twists being a change in combo of POV and ship's approach that presented us a First Order Star Destroyer's silhouette. Not the drama I hoped for. It succeeds more on paper than on screen: the disc of a bright planet or moon (not Jakku) sliced into by the black wedge of the shadow of the destroyer (with a crucifix at its point?), with a number of smaller shadows detaching themselves to descend to Jakku.

I don’t love the new Star Destroyer, either. But then, we don’t get any good beauty shots of it.

2. The galacto-political state of the galaxy far, far away in THE FORCE AWAKENS is really vague. There's a (New?) Republic, which seems to be a legitimate government for the galaxy, right? There's a First Order, which might be some kind of out-of-control military industrial complex, hijacked by Supreme Leader Snoke. But why would the Republic need to support a Resistance on the sly? Contras? How big is the First Order? Was all of the First Order on StarKiller when Hux held his "Last Day of the Republic" rally? Aside from their system-killing StarKiller base, are Supreme Leader and the First Order the underdogs here? What the flark is the status quo of the galaxy at the start and the end of this movie?

3. I have to say, except for the first appearance of what I think of as Rey's theme when she's sledding down the dune sands from the Star Destroyer on Jakku, I did not leave the theater with any memorable new music. The familiar notes were properly heartstring tugging, but I'm not humming anything new. Full disclosure, the only new (non-original trilogy) music I remember from the prequels is "Duel of the Fates" (which is powerful stuff).

I'm hoping that music from THE FORCE AWAKENS will grow on me, tho. =)

4. Why didn't we see more non-human species that we've already seen in the backgrounds of scenes? Aside from the a rep of the species of plush elephant that that one guy in Max Rebo's band was, all of the sketchy characters in Maz's place were new and different compared to the menageries of previous STAR WARS films.

5. I'd like to know what elements of the film tripped the PG-13 detector. I wish that it was PG, so that more parents could share the experience w/ their youthier kids. Not that there weren't a lot of younglings in the audiences I've been a part of. Was there one vital scene or visual that necessitated it, and then, once the film was on that side of PG, what other elements were added/kept to make the most of going over the line?

Was it red blood appearing on screen? Cuz, honestly, I would be quite happy with a less bloody or non-bloody galaxy. Han's death by lightsaber? Was the Rathtar party on Han's freighter enough to warrant PG-13? The scenes of Force interrogation?

There was a little guy, maybe five years old, in my first screening, who started crying when Kylo Ren killed Han. He seemed to collect himself enough to follow the rest of the film, but when it ended, he was still sobbing, or sobbing again. Poor kid. Not that swords thru the chest are something kids should be watching, but I doubt that the saber violence itself is what affected that boy. It was the loss of Han Solo.

I think the MPAA subtitle is something like "Sci-fi action" (alas, no "teen partying" in the film). I wonder if any of the original trilogy would get PG-13 today.


1. We don't hear it explicitly as a policy or mission, but it appears to me that the First Order may be a humans-first movement. That would make them not just Dark, but a hate group, the "beasts!" Officers are all human (hello there, officers Ferb and Killjoy!). Troopers all seem to be humanoid if not human.

Could the Empire have been built on the same prejudice? Again, officers and troopers seemed to be human, but given the origin story of the Empire—Palpatine taking over the existing Republic, which included hundreds of worlds and species—that seems unlikely. So, maybe this is a new, First Order, directive.

I didn't give it any serious thought until Hux's Adolftastic pep rally performance. Could be very interesting—and complicated—to follow thru on that idea in the SW universe. I'd be pleased to see the introduction of such a real evil into the galaxy.

Supreme Leader Snoke… Leader of the Human Supremacists?

Hrm… Something that even the Dark side might object to. Wow. THAT would be awesome. =)

2. Snoke presents himself as an oversized hologram. I'm hoping that we'll get a man-behind-the-curtain reveal in the next film. Maybe Snoke is Yoda-sized, heh. Maybe he's a cute fuzzy jiggly-puff looking creature. Maybe he's an evil A.I.

Snoke's words could imply that he's had facetime with Kylo Ren at some point, but it's possible that all interactions have been via Force or holoSkype until now. When StarKiller base is imploding, Snope directs Hux to collect and bring Ren to him, to "complete his training," or something along those lines. Ominous lines. The first thing I thought of was that Snoke would use the Force to take Kylo Ren's body for his own, transfer his consciousness from his scarred old form to Ren's scarred young form. That's not something we've seen in the films before, but it certainly seems within the realm of Force-possibility, no?

Looking back at training-completing in the context of the original STAR WARS movies, in ROTJ, Yoda tells Luke that the last thing he must do to complete his training is face his father. But Ren's just done that, right? Hrm… Perhaps the last-last thing Ren must do is face his mother? His… sister? The evening gown competition?

3. In Rey's vision, wee Rey's hand is definitely being held by Unkar Plutt when she is left on Jakku. What is this arrangement? Has she been sold into slavery? That doesn't really jive with what we see of her scavenging young adult life, tho. Perhaps she earned free agency in the years since her family left her?

Hrm… So, Rey's family works a deal to set up Unkar as a foster parent, to make sure she doesn't die or get abducted or whatever until can earn what passes for a living on Jakku and survive on her own. They also work things out so that a certain "garbage" ship ends up in Unkar's possession, on the condition that it's kept maintained and fueled, but always under cover and close by. Perhaps the chain of custody is actually choreographed, or manufactured and fed to Unkar (and Rey) as the truth.

Thusly is Rey set up to live a hard and quiet life on a planet far from the bright center of the universe, until destiny comes calling, at which time Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) could introduce himself and hire young Rey to pilot them both to Maz's world in the garbage ship he just bought from Unkar.

Unfortunately, Tekka met Kylo Ren's saber, but hey, the Force works in mysterious ways, and Rey still ended up on the Falcon and delivered to Maz's world and Luke's lightsaber.

4. Who are the Knights of Ren? For now, I’m betting it’s the six shadowy figures who stand beside and behind Kylo Ren in Rey’s vision. Were they fellow students?

5. Can we agree that Daisy Ridley bears more than a passing resemblance to Keira Knightley? Knightley played Sabé in Episode 1, one of Amidala’s decoys. I honestly can’t remember for certain, but I’m pretty sure she survived the events of that movie and lived on to continue serving Amidala for some time. Could she possibly have been a good enough decoy to fool a hormonal Anakin one dark night on Naboo? Perhaps she left Amidala’s service to raise her child. And this child grew up and started a family of his or her own, and learning that one of Sabé’s grandchildren, Rey, was strong with the Force, contacted the Skywalker Academy. But before Rey would begin her training, Kylo Ren decimated Luke’s school, and Luke activated the Jedi Child Relocation Program protocols, and set Rey up to live her scavenger life on Jakku until the Force called her to her destiny.

Or… Did Master Qui-Gon or his Padawan Obi-Wan steal some romantic and intimate moments with Sabé while on protection detail? Making Rey one of their grandchildren.

I’ve always thought that a great way to scandalously fix the prequels would be to have Luke and Leia be the children of Amidala and Obi-Wan. I always felt there was more chemistry between the two of them than Ami and Ani, and it would add some dark motivation to Obi-Wan. Yeah, it would totally change everything and I might be a sucker for a good space soap opera. =)


Mike tells me that Abrams brought Ewan MacGregor and Frank Oz to read some lines for Kenobi and Yoda in Rey's vision. He also explained however, that Abrams isolated "Rey" from Guinness's original dialogue, from the word "afraid." I originally thought that Ben and Yoda's voices were samples/memories from words they spoke to Luke in the original trilogy. Apparently Kenobi's original line from STAR WARS about Luke taking his "first steps into a much larger world" is not exactly what's heard in the vision. All that I could clearly hear was "first step." And sadly, I can't remember Yoda's words in the vision at all, except that they recalled for me a little deja vu from EMPIRE.

What does this mean for the nature of Rey's lightsaber-induced vision? I do NOT think that it's active communication with Rey. However, that Obi-Wan seems to address her points to Obi-Wan's Force ghost interacting with Rey in the future. Perhaps a Force ghostly Yoda as well.

I think that complicates things, tho. I like the notion that the saber is passing along experiences that it was "present" for. Of course, if we remember what Yoda told Luke in Empire about visions, if the mind is not focused, the Force may deliver events from the past, present, or a future that might be, and the vision DOES include a moment only SHE experienced, her abandonment on Jakku.

Unless, of course, Luke and his lightsaber were on the ship that left her there. =)

So, MAYbe the vision is scattershot and chaotic, and she sees some of Luke's history, some of her own past, and Kylo Ren in her future—BUT—I'd rather the vision is based on psychometry of the lightsaber, and is presenting moments associated with the lightsaber (which, if we allow for future-viewing, would include an encounter w Ren).
I'm pretty sure I could go on and on, but enough rambling for now.

Keep on keepin' on~

Sunday, December 27, 2015

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS: The good, the bad, the crazy talk *SPOILERS*

After a couple of screenings, jotting down my thoughts and observations. Lists (not comprehensive) of things I love, nits to pick, mysteries, and some genealogy crazy talk follow. If you haven't seen the movie yet, turn back now, for HERE THERE BE *SPOILERS*

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1. Rey as self-saving "princess," beginning with Finn ready to bumble to her rescue on Jakku, followed by her chasing him down as Poe's jacket thief, followed by all the moments where Finn takes her hand and asks if she's okay when for the most part, Finn is probably more in need of help than Rey. Even, somewhat, to the moment on StarKiller when Rey's pretty much 90% saved herself and runs into Han and Chewie and Finn and Chewie reveals it was Finn's idea to rescue her.

2. Rey setting Finn up for that straight-on/straight-down shot from the Falcon on Jakku.

3. Finn's origin. Being a Trooper with a conscience who bucks his conditioning and turns all his training against the First Order that made him.

4. Finn and Poe's important roles. Since they're likely not candidates for Jedi training.

5. The Resistance's cavalier attitude toward destroying a new Imperial doomsday device.

6. Han and Leia's son being named Ben. On first screening, THAT's what really got me, more than Han's death (which I totally felt sinking-feeling-telegraphed by an earlier scene). On second screening, tho, it was Han's death that choked me up.

7. The new X-wing designs apparently based on one of McQuarrie's concepts (I remember the single circles on each side of the cockpit split by the wings). I've been loving the way REBELS has been bringing concept designs (and even Kenner products) to canon life and dig seeing it continued in film.

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1. Everyone's a little too ready to be lifelong friends. Bonds are forged at an accelerated rate. Some of that is the nature of the situations the characters are thrown into (foxhole friends, right?) but it still feels rushed.

2. Would've liked to have seen/heard some of the events of the original trilogy as myth/fairy tale (beyond the 14/12 parsec Kessel Run, which *is* lovely to hear =). Maybe Rey and Finn debating what they've heard in front of Han. Or Kylo Ren dispelling some mythic detail about his father (shooting first? =) or his friends during interrogation of Poe or Rey.

3. Deliberately misleading audience about Artoo not having the rest of the map to Luke. What was the point? Especially delivering the zero percent likelihood in STAR WARS's resident oddsgiver.

4. Missed opp: waking Artoo for apparently no reason at all to reveal the map to Luke. When it was happening on screen, I totally believed it was because Luke's lightsaber had been brought into proximity (and maybe that was actually the case, but only explained in Astromech lingo?).

5. Disappointed: to find out that Max von Sydow was NOT Kes Dameron, Poe's father. I thought that would've been a great puzzle piece to Rey's backstory, that she was intentionally stranded on Jakku for her protection, and a trusted friend of the Skywalkers and/or her fam was stationed closeby to keep watch and help/guide should that be necessary (a la Kenobi on Tatooine w Luke).

6. While spacetime seems to be very malleable in STAR WARS tradition (try calculating the time that passes in any of the original trilogy vs. the space that must be covered), it seems a bit above and beyond to have the destruction of the Hosnian system visible from the surface of Maz's world. I did not appreciate that. The entire visualization of the StarKiller weapon beam bugs me. The "speed" of it. Someone in the Resistance described it as a hyperspace weapon, so that's an out, but then it would've been nice to see the beam disappear into and reappear from hyperspace.

6.5 The StarKiller death beam: one stream splitting into multiple?

7. Missed opp: a reaction from a Force-y character—Rey, Leia, maybe Luke?—to the destruction of the Hosnian system. Also, an emotional tie to that system / world / people. In STAR WARS, Alderaan was Leia's home, and painted as innocent and peaceful in just a few words. The disturbance in the Force registered by Obi-Wan also helped create empathy for the planet's destruction.

8. Weapons tech. I have a theory that weapons and ammo have got more material than energy since ROTJ. We see ventral cannons which seem to fire missiles that track. The StarKiller death beam is some kind of plasma, or capsules/warheads. And maybe Ren is the strongest Sith we've seen on screen, or maybe no Sith has ever decided to flex this ability on screen, but this is the first time we've seen any Force-strong individual stop a blaster blast in mid-air. The change in ammo could explain how it's possible now but wasn't in the past. Also, this is the first time we've seen so much literal bloodshed in a battle involving blasters. True, this could be the PG-13 rating, but not reason it couldn't be both. In the past, blaster victims were scorched and knocked out. Now we're seeing them cut up and bleeding.

9. How easy and ready Finn is to jump into battle w/ a lightsaber in hand. I know this can be explained by his training, but I would've loved to have seen that backed up by seeing First Order troopers in the background of a scene on StarKiller base training with staves and swords. Too telegraphed? There was no comment from Han about his skill. That would've been appropriate, and allowed Finn to give him a smartalec and/or dark answer about his training ("comes a little too easy, but glad I can use it to protect instead of kill").

10. Rey's moment of Force clarity when locking sabers w Kylo. That was not the ideal time for an extended pause, The trigger word that leads to this moment—"the Force" when Kylo jabs at her apparently untrained abilities—doesn't really call back to anything in Rey's experience that we know about (maybe something from a book?). Clearly the scene is shot to have a specific effect on us, and we know what it is, but it doesn't add up all that well when I think about it. No one gave her the "energy field that connects all living things" lesson. Was there a callback to the lightsaber vision that I didn't catch? An echo of Yoda or Kenobi's voice?

Was that moment a moment of connection with Luke? Obi-Wan or Yoda?

In any case, I would have appreciated SEEING somehow that Kylo was giving her a moment of respite, perhaps to consider a threat or offer, something to explain how Ren wasn't obviously dismayed and afraid of Rey being able to take a time out during their battle to mentally check her Force twitter feed.

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1. Rey's vision, triggered by Luke's lightsaber. It starts out in that entrance hallway on Bespin, (showing us the last place/battle in which it was held by a Skywalker?). Then jumps ahead to Luke and Artoo witnessing Kylo Ren's murder of Luke's last student. There are bodies on the ground in the foreground, with Ren and six(?) others behind him standing over them. The entire scene seems to be tinted red, no telling if that's an accurate depiction of the environment or mood setting by the vision. You can hear bits of Yoda and Obi-Wan, what I first thought were memories of words spoken by them to Luke, but after talking to Mike, now consider as words addressed to Rey. Weird, tho. This *seems* to be psychometry, a vision or reading triggered by contact with an object, Luke's lightsaber.

If I assigned any logic to it, I'd say that Rey could only read what the saber itself had "experienced." Following that leads to some interesting ideas. Of course, Luke had the saber when Obi-Wan and Yoda trained him. He lost the saber, along w his hand, on Cloud City after his first visit to Dagobah. He must have recovered it (or recovered it from someone who had recovered it) from Cloud City's gutters, probably after ROTJ, had it with him while training new Jedi, had it with him when Ren went Dark, and then left it with Maz on her smuggler's oasis world.

2. When Ren Force-reads Rey, he takes the taunting road, throwing her lonely existence on Jakku in her face. How she can't sleep at night, and she imagines and island in the middle of a blue sea, her version of counting sheep. I forget the exact turn of Ren's monologue here, but he paints this imagined scene as being a vision of her home. It seems like Ren has plucked it from her memory because of that, to amp up the taunting. What he definitely does NOT think it is is the location of Luke Skywalker. But when the end of the movie reveals that that's exactly where Luke is, we know. Does that mean that Rey's home and Luke's location are the same place? Or does it mean that Rey somehow managed to hide Luke's location by couching it in her memory as imagined? Of course, I like to think that they're the same place. That Rey was there with Luke and her mother and happy for a time.

3. In Rey's AT-AT home, she's got few comforts, but one of them is a doll in a Rebel pilot's uniform, orange with white detail. Dad? Or perhaps some post-Yavin Rebellion marketing and fundraising? =)

4. That sidelong look that Han gives Rey when she says, "I didn't think there was this much green in all the galaxy." That moment is built to be a callback, something that reminds us of a similar exchange, an echo of it, but for the life of me, I can't remember an original that it should connect with. If Luke was more expressive (altho, "if there's a bright center of the universe" is pretty great prose) it might've been something that Han heard Luke say on approach to Yavin 4, right? Maybe it's a callback to something from the upcoming Han solo flick? Something that his fiancee says? That would be some remarkable planning.

Whoa. Could it be something that Ben once said in his youth? Which, would mean that until that moment, he would have been raised on a non-green world and then taken to one at some point.

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It certainly feels like we're meant to connect the dots from Rey to Luke. The lightsaber in Maz's cellar seems to call to her (with her own voice, crying out when her family leaves her on Jakku). She sees things in her vision—triggered by contact w/ Luke's lightsaber—that only Luke could have experienced. When Kylo Force-probes her mind he sees her picturing/imagining an island in a sea as a way to find peace in her lonely life on Jakku. It's not a very specific description, but when we arrive at the end of the film, we definitely feel a connection. Is this a subconscious Force-vision by Rey of Luke's whereabouts or her own future? Or a half-remembered memory of where she came from, her home before Jakku?

Anyhow, the old Jedi order, the thousand-year-old one that was brought down in part by its own arrogance, is no longer around. There's no reason that Luke shouldn't find a companion and start a family. Heck, maybe he's playing the field. New Jedi gotta come from somewhere! I always thought that Qui-Gon was doing that in his downtime. Boppin' around the galactic rim worlds, doing Force tricks in cantinas to pick up the (worthy) ladies, and not-so-immaculately conceiving some Force babies.

Next up, in my head at least, is that Rey is Leia and Han's daughter, whom Han doesn't know about. This is kind of tough to see in light of how Leia and Rey interact, or it might fit in perfectly, given that they are BOTH strong with the Force. The only screen time they share is commiserate over the loss of Han, after the destruction of StarKiller base. Whoa, what if they connected during that lull in the saber battle? I'd be pleased with that.

But let's get back to back story. So, Han and Leia have enrolled Ben in Skywalker Academy and he's probably gotten his Womp Rat badge by now. Some minor issue blows up into a ridiculous argument and Leia and Han end up driving each other away, Han once more taking off for the stars. A few weeks later, Leia learns that she's pregnant. Given their last blowout, Leia decides not to let Han know, lest it affect his judgment when it comes to their ever more volatile relationship. She exploits some royal channels and connections, goes on space sabbatical for a few months, perhaps to Naboo, has her child, and returns to the Republic (and Resistance) with an aide who happens to have a newborn baby girl in tow. Flash forward five or so years… Kylo, a fully-fledged Dewback at Skywalker Academy, goes Dark on Luke, killing most of his fellow students, sparing a select few, who presumably become the Knights of Ren, and scarper off to the First Order. Luke alerts Leia and Han, whose relationship has remained rocky, at best. If Leia hasn't told Luke about Rey, well, Luke probably sensed her, right? Together, they enact Skywalker Relocation Program Protocols and set Rey up to be left on a remote world (this time one Vader wasn't born on, Jakku) with a trusted guardian (von Sydow instead of Guinness) and the tools that she would need at just the right moments to lead her to her greater potential and destiny (the map, the garbage ship, her father, Luke's lightsaber, like PAYBACK, but with the Force instead of a time window or whatever it was).

But how about that Rebel pilot doll? I like that as a clue to her father. Who would that point to? Could be Luke. Hrm… Wedge? Maybe Wedge and Leia…? Wow. I like that. I'd been thinking Lando and Leia for Finn for the wonderful melodrama of it, but maybe Wedge and Leia for Rey.

Of course, she could be another Anakin, a pure immaculately conceived Force-baby. Hopefully not, tho.

Frack. I've got a lot more spinning around my so-called brain, but I'll leave you with a summup of my pre-screening Finn theory and then pack it up. For now.

Finn as the son of Leia and Lando. With their tumultuous relationship, no doubt there were several periods where Han and Leia declared themselves "on a space break." And who's the longtime friend of the family with the strong caped shoulder to lean on? Lando Calrissian! Of course, they'd keep it on the down-low. Leia's pregnancy would be hidden by a sabbatical, the child would be born and given to Lando to raise, with regular visits from Leia. I came up with this before the movie opened. Now, after learning of the abduction and training practices of the First Order, well, it becomes a bit more complicated. The Empire would be very motivated to punish Lando and Bespin for their betrayal of Vader by taking his child, but you'd expect some initiative on the Resistance side to rescue him. Unless there are layers of secrecy, or perhaps even a faked death, involved. Hrm…

Well, he could still be Lando's son by a partner we haven't seen or met yet, and made a target for First Order abduction by his father's identity.

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Got tix for another screening tomorrow. May have more, slightly different rambling after that.

Keep on keepin' on~

Monday, December 21, 2015


Gonna do some Q&A vs. myself to work out some inner Sith's advocate dialogue I've had running in my head since Thursday night. *SPOILERS* follow!

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SITH: I feel like the movie is having the audience do a lot of the lifting when it comes to building relationships between new characters. It's okay when a movie does that and does it well—I always think of the marines in ALIENS, how they're such instantly recognizable and known personalities—but I feel like in this movie, it's just passable and maybe too self-referential, counting on us to match up the new characters to old characters in the same universe. Or maybe it's just Finn and Poe. There's some very good development shorthand, jokey lines and looks and quick understandings, that certainly help things along, but if you think about it, it's pretty thin, isn't it?

JEDI: Well, they're both swept up in the rescue, escape, chase, and survival adrenaline. A connection made in that crucible, that's bound to start very strong.

S: I suppose. But there's something about it, about all the new characters (Finn > Rey is kind of easy, driven by a crush, but Rey > Finn, awe at a Resistance fighter? as if she cared about the Resistance?), that seems rushed. When we encounter them, we're supposed to be primed to believe they'll be lifelong friends, somehow skipping the getting-to-know-one-another phases.

J: That may be strategic storytelling. There's a lot going on and certainly a pace to it. These are friendships built in foxholes, under fire, and while some of these individuals may be reluctant to take help or give trust, once they find the others fighting the same enemy, if not for the same reasons, that help and trust is taken and given. And Rey being impressed by a Resistance fighter? That's not inconsistent. She knows of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, even if she considered him more myth than reality. *And* on a shelf in her AT-AT home, she's got a rag doll in a Rebel pilot's uniform! A reminder of a parent?

J: I like that she recognizes Han Solo as a smuggler before a Rebel general. I'm not sure what that's supposed to say about her, but I think it shows the company she's had to keep to survive on Jakku. She seems very much a natural do-gooder, so long as it doesn't take her away from waiting on her family.

S: Okay, new item. What about Finn and his lightsaber skills?

J: Well, of course I want to believe that there's something Force-y about that. But…

S: But there's nothing to back that up, really, right? He holds his own against some kind of electro-hammer expert for a good long while, and then vs. Kylo Ren (injured, but y'know, somewhat psychotically boosted by that injury). He's not victorious, but he does a lot better than someone who'd never picked up a saber before, right?

J: I'm still holding out hope that Finn's got some Force mojo, but let's say he does not. He's your average, non-Forcey, First Order Stormtrooper. Remember what he said about his life thus far. Abducted as a child and then trained and conditioned to be a trooper.

S: Yeah, that called to my mind the notion of child soldier.

J: But Jakku was apparently the first live fire that he experienced, so not quite that.

S: Right.

J: But, trained since childhood (you could see his baby pic on that screen when Phasma reveals that she was sending him for reconditioning when he chose to scarper). I don't think it's a stretch to believe that they are trained to be proficient in martial arts and weapons of all kinds. Blasters do run out of ammo. Well, I think they do. So, I'm telling you that as a trooper in training, Finn and the rest of the First Order minions learned to fight using swords of some kind.

S: Has there ever been mention of it being *difficult* for a non-Force-savvy person to use a lightsaber? It's not like Thor's hammer, but y'know, maybe the wielder needs to use the Force to hold the crystal in proper alignment for the blade to be stable? Like w Jedi Holocrons?

J: Yeah, that would be pretty cool. I don't have encyclopedic knowledge of any version of the SW universe, so can't say one way or the other, but I think based on the movies, we'd have to conclude no. Luke activated Vader's saber w no problem in Ben's place. Han used Luke's saber to cut open the tauntaun. Finn was able to light it up without there being any trick to it (and Han and Maz didn't give him any tips or expect any issues).

S: Okay, so, Finn's a well-trained Stormtrooper, proficient in the use of ground combat weapons (but apparently not trained to be a gunner or pilot, altho he picks it up pretty quickly), and those skills keep him alive when he's brandishing a lightsaber. I guess I'll allow that. All in all, the First Order's troopers certainly seem to perform better than those of the Empire 30 years ago. Still, I would've been pleased if some scenery-chewing by Hux and/or Ren could have happened against the backdrop of First Order troopers engaged in physical combat training. Staves, swords, hand-to-hand.

J: Let me jump back to something you said about Finn. That there's nothing to back up a Force-y pedigree for him. I'm not so sure about that. I think the fact that his conditioning breaks under fire is a tick in favor of Force-ness. True, no one would be surprised if the average galactic citizen panicked or froze when thrown into a deadly battle zone, but these are Stormtroopers. He's one trooper out of four transports who is shocked at the scene. And why? Because he can feel the pain and deaths of the troopers' victims.

S: But Phasma sent him for Reconditioning. That Reconditioning even exists means that this—a crack-up—happens sometimes, right?

J: Maybe, but what about when Kylo's gaze holds on Finn in the aftermath of the village massacre. What is it that he senses in/about Finn? Okay, maybe it's the beginning of a conscience, the cracking of conditioning, which might stand out in a sea of otherwise well-programmed troopers' psyches. But is that something that a Jedi notices in a passive way?

S: Sure, why not? Especially if he's keen on trying to find a Resistance fighter, right?

J: Maybe, maybe. But I think it's at least just as likely that his attention would be drawn by someone who is stronger than average w the Force, or Force-sensitive.

S: And don't forget how enraged Kylo is when he catches up to Finn. He screams at him—Traitor! I'd say that it's that element that Ren senses in Finn on Jakku. Call it whatever you want, conscience, independent thought, whatever, it's betrayal in Kylo's mind, and he sensed the seed of it. When some First Order underling mentions that a trooper helped the Resistance pilot escape, he knew who it was: FN-2187. Not because he's strong w/the Force, but because that seed had sprouted.

J: For a guy who turned on his master, Kylo's pretty ticked off about disloyalty.

S: Ah, but in Kylo's head, he struggles to be loyal—to Darth Vader.

J: Right, right. Okay, before we leave Jakku, I have a theory about weapons technology in the universe of TFA. I think that since ROTJ, modern weapons and ammo have shifted from energy-based to particle-based. Remember anyone (not in some kind of armor) who got hit by a blaster in the original trilogy? I can actually only think of Leia, once with a blaster set on stun in STAR WARS, and once by a random shot on Endor in ROTJ. The stun left no mark. The other shot seemed to leave a burn mark. Oh! And Greedo, of course! There's no splatter in the booth or wall to clean up, just a smoking corpse, right? Smoked, sizzled. Don't know what a stun setting would really be, more microwaves than laser? Something that makes you feel sick? Well, whatever it is, I'm pretty sure the First Order doesn't have that setting on their weapons. So, what kind of effect *does* the First Order's weaponry have? Well, this is the first time since the Mos Eisley cantina that I remember seeing blood drawn in the SW universe.

J: Hrm… Y'know, I wanted to say that it was the First Order's weapons specifically and exclusively that went particle and flesh-tearing, but the only battle bloodshed I can remember now is trooper blood and Kylo Ren's, inflicted by Resistance and Wookiee weapons. Chewie got hit, and ended up being bandaged, but I don't remember seeing blood. In any case, I think this is a sign that most of the ammo in TFA is some kind of charged slug/particulate. Rail guns. Maybe Chewie's bowcaster has always been one, but without some updated recoil buffering tech, so it takes a physically strong individual to use one without falling down.

S: So, Chewie updated his bowcaster at some point and that's why we get to see Han use it without knocking himself on his backside?

J: Sure, why not? That works. Maybe this change in weapons tech happens on several scales. I mean, what the heck is the beam that StarKiller base fires? Some kind of supercharged plasma? Programmable plasma? It's described by the Resistance as a "hyperspace weapon." It's definitely slower than light and a superlaser, right? But Hux crows about how the Republic homeworld is, like, super distant from StarKiller base, so… Huh? In any case, it's got to be physical matter. And what was up with the beam splitting and hitting multiple targets at the end? First I thought it destroyed a single planet and its moons, but given what characters say about it after the fact, it apparntly takes out all the planets in the Hosnian system. Was the tip of the beam actually some kind of charged capsule with multiple warheads?

S: "Magic Missile? Y'know, for attacking the darkness?" Yeah, I got nothing.

J: And how the heck can everyone on Maz Kanada's smuggler's bar planet see the StarKiller beam and the burninating Hosnian system in their sky? They must've been super-close.

S: Well, soon after that, the First Order and the Resistance both show up, so maybe it just works out that every planet we're concerned about happens to be jammed together in the same sector or something?

J: Don't forget Hux's boast about how distant Hosnia is from the technological terror the First Order has constructed.

S: Right. Right. Hey, aren't YOU supposed to be defending the movie?

J: Supposed to. I guess this isn't defensible. Umm… Gravity lensing? Bleah. Someone ask Neil deGrasse Tyson about it.

S: Not sure he's got the cred for it, really. I mean, if we were talking strict science fiction, sure, but I've always thought of the STAR WARS universe as fantasy. It's several leaps removed from a "what if" that you extrapolate from science and history as we know it, right? Not that that's a hard and fast definition of science fiction, but, well, knights, monsters, magic? Fantasy, right?

J: Yeah, but Neil's weighed in on some fantastic stuff, if only to offer a scientist's view-slash-rationalization, consistent w the conceits of the fantastic and the rules of the real.

J: Or something. Anyhow…

S: Right. I suppose "hyperspace weapon," or whatever they called it are the magic words that sort of explain it away. What would be great about a "hyperspace" weapon? It might travel great distances in a short/shorter time, by leaving real space for hyperspace for part of its journey. It might, on contact, send matter it encounters into hyperspace, ripping it apart and scattering it. Maybe the warhead is a hyperspatial bomb, and the beam we see is the energy needed to get the warhead beneath the surface of a target so that when it opens a hyperspace gate, it implodes the planet's core?

J: Sure, why not?

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More later…

Keep on keepin' on~

Saturday, December 19, 2015

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS: rambling first thoughts/comments *SPOILERS*

Just gonna rattle off some random thoughts and comments on/after my first screening of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. If you haven't seen the movie yet, STOP NOW, FOR HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!~

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I do *not* love Supreme Leader Snoke. He appears via hologram to Kylo and Hux. He has a humanoid appearance, but his projection makes him appear as a giant. But these Dark types seem to enjoy magnification, right (see Emperor's holograms)? He looks maybe a little REBELS Inquisitor-y. He's played by Andy Serkis. I wonder if there's a Great and Powerful Oz thing going on here, y'know? That the hologram is a facade, hiding a less imposing figure, or someone who's leading a double life, a la Darth Sidious / Palpatine, perhaps?

But it seems implied at least that Supreme Leader trained Kylo Ren, seduced Ben Solo, so that would have happened in person. And he asks some First Order goon to bring Kylo to him, altho maybe he meant into his holographic presence? Bleah.

Would be interesting if he has not been seen in the flesh by First Order minions. What if he's an AI? Could he be the Emperor, re-animated or inhabiting a spare cloned body?

Maz says something interesting. She's lived a very long time and says there's always evil, in different faces. She mentions the Sith, then the Empire, now the First Order. Differentiating the Sith and the Empire was interesting to me. Also the notion of a repeating cycle or pendulum of history. Maybe a little bleak, too. Would've been interesting if she mentioned a memorable period of peace, tho, wouldn't it?

Only mention of clones/cloning: Someone—Kylo? Hux?—scolds his troopers by threatening to replace them with clones.

Kylo's tantrums are fun.

Han mentions to Leia that Ben had too much of Vader in him. Kim suggested that that might've manifested itself as hurting his sister. That's kind of perfect.

Han calling out to Kylo Ren—"Ben!" *That* really got to me.

Han's death didn't really. For a little kid sitting near Jeff and Kim, tho, it was devastating. I saw it telegraphed in the movie a few minutes earlier. Some bit of dialogue that ended w something like "It would take a miracle…" led into a shot of Han and Chewie making their way into the StarKiller facility they want to blow up. In that moment, I knew he'd die. *sigh*

I immediately flashed ahead and questioned how/whether Rey would get to pilot the Falcon. Am I a cold hearted bastard for that?

Gotta say, as natural a pilot as she is, she failed to follow proper Falcon protocol—she wasn't wearing Han's clothes!

What's up w the blast from StarKiller Base? It seemed like it erupts as a beam of supercharged plasma, but when it got close to the target planet, the beam split, its branches tagging and destroying moons and satellites along with the planet itself. Weird, that. Is it a missile? With warheads? Maybe ammo HAS changed since ROTJ. Heavier on the particle and lighter on the energy? Is there such a thing as "stun" with the First Order's blasters? I would've been just fine with bloodless injuries and deaths caused by blaster fire. Nix that and the land Sarlacc's on Han's freighter and maybe the movie could've gone PG, right? Or are the Force torture scenes on their own enough to warrant the PG-13?

I would've liked more over-the-shoulder looks at just how that base got around and how close/far away it had to be to destroy a planet. STAR WARS gave us the progress of the DS around Yavin when it was getting into position to destroy its fourth moon. Somehow, the Resistance on the ground on Maz's world were able to see the destruction of whatever planet it was (seemed pretty heavily developed) that StarKiller wacked.

The wacked planet was the seat of the Republic, right? (Sorry, can't remember these planet/location names yet.) That's pretty F'd up. So, that was basically Alderaan again (keeping in theme w the movie and callbacks/echoes/deja views), right?

And did StarKiller kill that planet's sun? Was it in the same system at the time? What would we see from Earth if Jupiter exploded or imploded (without creating a singularity). Actually, I guess we'd want to see a planet burnt to a crisp, not exactly explode.

I think that Kes was not on Jakku by chance. He's there to watch over Rey from afar, the way Kenobi watched over Luke. Poe is a most-trusted pilot. Kes is his father, and of Luke and Leia's generation.

Saw a headline about Daniel Craig having a cameo in the film and guessed that he must've been the Jedi mind-tricked trooper!

I knew Simon Pegg was in it as a creature, but did not recognize him as the junk merchant, whom I wasn't all that impressed with, actually. Foo.

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More later. Maybe sooner. May the Force be with you~
Keep on keepin' on~

Thursday, December 17, 2015

STAR WARS: 11th hour pre-show rambling…

My first screening of THE FORCE AWAKENS is about 4 hours away. In this post I'm collecting/copy-pasting some bits and pieces of STAR WARS crazy talk rambling I've posted away from wuzzon…

A Disney-Fox-Lucasfilm ident mashup fix that works for me…

How do you kill a StarKiller (base)?

I've done my best to avoid any and all details about the new nouns we meet in episode 7, but pop culture osmosis of some facts about that big round gun in the background of the poster was apparently unavoidable. So, you’ve got a planet-sized war machine hopping around the galaxy destroying stars. What do you do?

Build a Death Star (or two - and I immediately picture Galactica + Pegasus vs. Base Star), that’s what. Wouldn’t it be something to see the Rebellion/Resistance build its own Death Star?

Maybe the Rebels have collected and saved the bits of the two blown-up ones and assembled them into a working one. Hrm… Perhaps there are significant chunks dumped or hidden on Rey’s scavenging planet? Maybe just superlaser components?

Or the Empire had another one hidden away somewhere. Mothballed in orbit around a hidden planet? Why have just one when you can have two for twice the price? Would’ve been a good jobs-creating project, too.

If we allow for Force manipulation or hyperspace anomaly or superscience device or some combo that enables time travel, a Death Star could be yanked from the past, moments before its destruction, immediately “defused” in the future (TFA’s present) to prevent its explosion, and charged up for use vs. StarKiller. Then, post-victory, rigged to self-destruct and returned to its spacetime point of origin. This could nonsensically explain the ring added to the special edition DS explosions—it’s an artifact of time displacement!

Or something.

Of course, if you can’t get hold of a Death Star, I suppose you could get an astromech to hack its navicomputer so that during a hyperspace jump it flies thru a sun or bounces too close to a supernova. Where’s the fun in that, tho?

Luke has been on space sabbatical, a self-imposed galactic exile-slash-walkabout, composing a new Jedi practice. A study and philosophy built on that of Yoda, but not as binary as the one we’re familiar with. He returns, perhaps with students, in the Resistance’s hour of greatest need.

Luke’s marriage of the Light and Dark is what restores balance to the Force, allowing the Force to “awaken.” It’s like Kirk’s transporter accident. He’s split into what others are quick to describe as “good” and “bad” versions of himself, but the qualities of both are what makes Kirk so Kirk, and thusly, awesome.

Always thought a Star Slammers’ Silvermind (Walt Simonson) would’ve been a great weapon/power for the Jedi in the Clone Wars, but maybe there was too much ego or a certain kind of ethics built into the practice to allow that. Would dig if that was an ultimate possibility, tho. But maybe there’s a will to survive associated with the Jedi version of the ability that’s stronger than winning? Or, it could be directed by one will (that sounds pretty Dark, tho, eh?). Or maybe it’s just true telepathy, like when Professor X or Jean or Emma Frost link up the X-Men for a battle.

Perhaps there is an ultimate expression of the Force, once Light and Dark are no longer branded as Good and Evil. Something evolutionary, like Asimov’s Galaxia (Foundation + Robots series)? Is that a desired endgame for a moisture farmboy, a plucky princess, and a scoundrel smuggler? A Childhood’s End? Maybe if the kids speak for it, describe the experience as positive.

Perhaps it’s the hot dog goal—”one with everything”—and it is still millennia away.

Heh, would be great if that flipped somehow and became the fascist force that had to be overcome/reset by another band of rebels. Circle of life, dude.

So, what happened to cloning tech in a galaxy far, far away after the Clone Wars? In the post-ROTJ/pre-prequel era, “Clone Wars” was a vague historical reference, but it revealed that cloning was possible, altho it may have been outlawed or its tech/science somehow rendered inert in the aftermath.

However, it was just the kind of galaxy-building nugget that planted the idea in my head that the Emperor didn’t truly die at the end of ROTJ. I pictured his Dark Forcey essence escaping his battered body instantly jumping into a waiting “blank” clone of himself. We didn’t have any history of the Emperor back then, so I imagined he might’ve done this regularly, and the technique (along with his Dark Forcey manipulations) did a fine job of eating away at his physical being and health. He could keep living, but wouldn’t be forever young.

I wouldn’t mind seeing cloning tech bring back a baddie or an ex-baddie in the this trilogy. The Emperor, maybe in a still youthy body. Anakin, cloned by Luke. Trippy—Luke could raise his father. No issues there, right?

Perhaps it’s a youthy Anakin clone who will finish what Vader began—which would be what, exactly? Extermination of all the Jedi? All Tusken Raiders? The boxed set of THE WIRE?

And either of these guys could be behind one of the masked baddies, revealed to be even badder, or perhaps just chaotic neutral?

A dopey thought: Luke is Kylo and he’s Kylo to play a part. To draw out and test the mettle of potential Jedi. A little X-Men Apocalypse-y, but maybe in that role he’s also mitigating the damage a First Order might do without his guiding robotic hand.

Or something…

No doubt whatever I see tonight will be way better, smarter, cooler, and more sensible than my rambling. Consider the bar set to Unreasonably High! = )

I'll leave you with a flashback to the Life Day 2014 Holidaze thingamabob, inspired by and cobbled together atop a certain teaser trailer…

Keep on keepin' on~

Saturday, December 12, 2015

STAR WARS : Episodes 1 thru 6 as an alternate timeline…

I've had this notion in my head for a couple weeks now and I kinda love it and kinda hate it at the same time. At first it seems like a maddening deus-ex, an excuse for a story that doesn't matter, but—oh, I just thought of a horrible way to frame it, too, bonus!—if it's done in just the right way (which I don't exactly know what that is) it could be awesome.

Okay, here it is: alternate universe created via time travel.

See? You hate it. Yeah, me too a little bit. Especially given the STAR TREK reboot, right?

But give the crazy talk a chance here. Let's say there's an original STAR WARS timeline and an "alternate" that is created by a change to the original. Both are basically identical until a specific moment in ROTJ. This way the history of the timeline of TFA, set 30 years after ROTJ, makes sense to us in the audience.

However, the events and history of TFA belong to the *original* timeline, and are decidedly darker than one would hope and expect. In the course of events, a Jedi—maybe Luke, maybe one of the ghosts, or perhaps an untrained Force-ful civilian like Leia—recalls a vision of a brighter future, based on a slight difference in how events unfolded in the story we know as ROTJ. And things are bleak enough that the Resistance have come up with a plan to take advantage of a device or spacetime phenomanomaly to make that difference happen in the past, and thusly reset things from that moment on.

Does that make sense? Not a lot, probably.

Okay, let me try it w some specifics. Let's say in the history of TFA, Darth Vader saved Luke on DS2 by killing the Emperor. However, instead of being mortally Force-lightninged in the process, he survives, seriously wounded. So, the Emperor is dead, the Rebels destroy the second Death Star, and Luke and Vader fly away to hide out on a not-sandy planet on the Galactic rim. With Imperial government and military leadership destroyed, the Empire is leaderless. The Rebels attempt to keep the Galaxy together with an interim government and senate, but can't sustain it, and the New Republic fractures into territories run by local governments, many led by ex-Imperials, criminals, and warlords. The Galaxy is in chaos. For years, Vader trains Luke in secret, and when he eventually succumbs to his wounds and dies, Luke returns as a shadowy figure who seeks to reunite the Galaxy thru military might and fascist rule, to finish what his father started (balancing the Force? ruling the Galaxy? exterminating the Tusken Raiders?). His identity is a mystery to most, but Leia senses that it's Luke. She does whatever she can to meet him face to face and confronts him with the Force vision that she once had of a better Galaxy. Things could go a lot of ways, but in the end Luke realizes that Leia's vision is worth fighting for, and breaking a lot of Jedi rules and physical laws for.

So Luke, along w Leia's children, use their abilities in conjunction with some creative navigation of the Falcon thru hyperspace to send a telepathic message to, or otherwise influence, the past. The result is that the events surrounding the Battle of Endor play out as we've already seen them in ROTJ. ROTJ takes place in the new/alternate timeline, not the original. The Emperor is dead, the Rebels destroy the second Death Star, and Luke flies back to Endor with his father's body, not completely a Sith Lord, but certainly in touch with his Dark Side.

Yeah, not great. I haven't figured out a great and perfect critical event that creates a divergent timeline and is also practically tweak-able somehow from a moment in the future. Ideally, the event that creates a brighter timeline would be some time-shunted act of sacrifice. For instance, that A-Wing that plows into the bridge of the Executor (if the Executor seriously crippled the DS2). So, in the original TFA timeline, the Executor is unmolested. But in the course of TFA, someone in an A-Wing is sent back to Kamikaze into the bridge, thusly destroying the super star destroyer.

I want the critical event to be part of ROTJ's story so that when TFA starts, we can't easily tell that this future is divergent, but maybe the event is earlier. Like maybe the gunners on Vader's Star Destroyer in STAR WARS blast Threepio and Artoo's escape pod and the Rebels never figure out how to destroy the Death Star. In TFA, the Jedi manage to influence that gunner into being more concerned with policy and conserving ammo than free target practice.

I know on the surface it seems like just the kind of thing that would cause fans to feel cheated by a gimmick, but I think if the story telling was good enough, it would be pretty satisfying, and enlightening. You get to see characters you know in wackadoo situations, unusual/unexpected relationships, but hopefully true to the selves that you already know. Love it when notions of fate and destiny are explored. Isn't there some truism about character being destiny? And hey, who doesn't love seeing the good guys with goatees? At least, y'know, if it's done right, right?

Or maybe it's some kinda sci-fi sideburn dimension. = )

Keep on keepin' on~

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

STAR WARS : Rey & Finn : All in the Family?

I know I’m gonna short circuit some power converters with my crazy talk here, but I’ve just gotta get it out of my head and into words in front of me…

First, let me say that I’ve done my best to limit my exposure to anything related to STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS online, official, rumor-milled, or fan-tastic. So, it may be that some of my nutty notions are already contradicted by some official something or other or in sync with other fan conjecture. I honestly do not know.

The trailers do seem to be everywhere online, but I’ve always preferred to see my trailers on a big screen before a feature. I admit I *did* click to watch the teaser trailer online last year. The second one I saw on the big screen before a feature earlier this year. So far I have yet to see the third one, but hope to see it as a big screen preview soon. No interest in watching it during halftime of sportsball. I was at the movie theater waiting for tickets to go on sale when it premiered anyway = )

Crazy talk begins after the art…

Okay, there are two apparently Force-strong youngsters featured in the next film: trooper Finn and speeder Rey. Of course, behind that mask, Kylo Ren might very well be a third (twins run in families, right?), but I'm just gonna focus on these two for this post. Now, we know that the Force has been strong with a certain bloodline for six movies.
The Force is strong in my family…
Sure, Luke may have met someone special in the 30-ish years since ROTJ, but we know that Leia and Han were already in “I know” back then, and it’s not difficult to imagine their romantic trajectory leading to space matrimony and family, right? And thusly, young Rey joins the Solos.

But, given their personalities, and 30-ish years, it’s also not impossible to imagine there being some bumps in the relationship, right? Maybe even a space divorce or separation? Who might be around to comfort and charm a freshly un-Solo-ed hot-to-trot Princess?
You truly belong with us here among the clouds…
Welcome, Finn Calrissian! Crazy talk? Maybe. But I *like* it. Think of the possibilities. Note that I’m just playing w the last name here.

Is FORCE AWAKENS set actually 30 years after ROTJ? I have it in my head that it is, but can’t think of where/how I picked that up.

Maybe Finn is the older half-sibling. How much time passed between EMPIRE and RETURN? I mean, how long was frozen Han hanging in Jabba’s palace? Could Leia and Lando have hooked up sometime then? And Leia disappeared to a spa world for a few months or so? Leaving her son with a decent family (maybe an aged clone?) to be raised in safety, as seems to be the accepted practice in this far far away galaxy.

Or, he could be the younger. Perhaps Rey was conceived on Han and Leia’s space honeymoon. Some years later, while on a routine mission or beer run, a bounty hunter catches up w Han and Chewie in a bad way and in the wake of the ensuing chase/confrontation/battle, the pair were presumed killed. Maybe they even faked their deaths.
We’re home…
And Lando was the good friend of the family until he became something more and along came Finn!~

Of course, a long time ago “defense of marriage” might not have been such a big deal, and Leia being involved with Han and Lando could be part of a completely non-scandalous triangular relationship and/or union. No big whup. Still, I like the potential for drama.

Perhaps Leia and Luke (and Han) keep the their sibling connection a secret from everyone else. Might not be the best PR to advertise that Luke and Leia are the children of the Emperor’s Sith Lord enforcer, right? A secret even from Han and Leia’s (and Lando’s) children, who begin to discover their abilities and destinies when thrown into whatever dangerous adventure Episode 7 holds for them.

Yeah, Yoda would say they’re too old to start any training, but I think Luke’s school of Jedi training disagrees. Having more life and living done before training should be seen as a plus. I think that Luke will be responsible for a Jedi Reformation. While there’s a dark side and a light side to the Force, it’s not natural for any sentient social being to only live in one.

Remember, in eps 1 thru 3 (if you acknowledge them), there was a prophecy about One who would restore balance to the Force. Whether that One is Anakin or Luke is debatable I think, but consider the assumption that prophecy is built on: the Force was out of balance. The polarization of its character was impressed upon it. The teachings and training were effective, true. The Force “worked,” it flowed, it obeyed its wielders’ wills on both sides, but is a near-monastic culture really the best kind for individuals who are so connected to a life-force? And if drawing exclusive from the so-called dark side does whatever it did to Sidious/the Emperor, becoming more of a gaping maw than powerful being, well, what’s really the point?

Sorry, I could probably ramble on and on, and not at all eloquently, bleah. But if any of that sounds interesting, feel free to ask me about Anakin’s supposed divine conception. =)

Keep on keepin’ on~
May the Force be with you~

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Spider-Man - The Original Web Surfer

This is my entry in the WeLoveFine Spider-Verse Design Contest: The Original Web Surfer

Conceived in the spirit of punny Peter Parker's gifted gab, the idea is that your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man first swung into action in 1962, which would indubitably make him the first true web surfer, right?

He's *also* the first person to create the web digitally! Cuz—hey!—he used his digits to trigger his shooters, right?

This is the part where you groan in appreciation.

Well, if you don't hate the idea of seeing this design on a tee shirt, please rate it here—thanks!

And if you're a fan of any of the Spidey family and the heroes of the recent Spider-Verse crossover event, you should check out all of the fan-made designs.

Oh, Webhead is meant to be flashing his very own Twhip-Shaka while hanging ten on his webs, not throwing a double goat. =)

* Note that you need to be signed in via WeLoveFine, Steam, or the Facebooks to rate designs. The rating period is open from September 22 thru October 20, 2015.

Keep on thwippin' on~

Thursday, July 09, 2015

"Wright On!" and the Cornetto Trilogy this weekend at the Brattle! =)

Yeah, I know it's been a way long while since I've dropped any blogging here, it's true. I'm happy to tell you that you can blame the Brattle Theatre for my return (for at least one post)—the Brattle and their "Wright On! Edgar Wright and His Influences" series, screening this weekend. If you're not already familiar with writer-director Edgar Wright, I kind of envy you. If I could watch his stuff for the very first time all over again—Man! It's like… It's like…

It's like when Dorothy wakes up after her house lands in Oz and the movie goes from black and white to color…

Leave it to me to describe a real-life experience with a movie reference, right?

And then leave it to me to describe seeing a movie as a real-life experience. =)

So, it's some seriously good s#it is what I'm saying.

Maybe you've enjoyed a couple of his films without knowing that they're his? There's…

SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (co-writer + director)


SHAUN OF THE DEAD (writer w Simon Pegg + director)

HOT FUZZ (writer w Simon Pegg + director)

THE WORLD'S END (writer w Simon Pegg + director)

These are all playing this weekend on the big screen at the Brattle, along with films that resonate with and/or inspired them, and you should see ALL of them if you can. The "and His Influences" films…

RUN LOLA RUN. A modern classic. One of those films that while I was watching, I felt had carved my experiences into before this movie and after (HARD BOILED is another). For lovely kinetic choose/chase-your-own-adventure show-don't-tell storytelling, can't be beat. Hrm… Now that I think of it, could be an exciting double feature with FURY ROAD.

DEAD AND BURIED. This is one I haven't seen yet, but—hey!—a small town sheriff vs. walking dead? What more do you need to know?

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978). The title pretty much says it all. A different kind of zombie threat, social sci-fi at its best. Also, how can you *not* want to see this sexy-nerdiness?

HARD BOILED! O. M. G. When I first saw this in 1993, it totally flipped the poles of my movie-going world. Mind-blowing. This is John Woo at the height of his brotherhood bonding, cops and killers with codes-creating, bullet-ballet choreographing powers. And w Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong, and Philip Kwok as his dancers! Of course, it's over 20 years later, so if you've had your eyes open at all in that time, you may end up with some deja vu to more recent action fare that's attempted to re-create bits and pieces of Woo's HARD BOILED firefights and motifs, but very few filmmakers and films can make it all work. Y'know, it's such a rare opportunity to get to experience HARD BOILED in the theater—I kind of hate to say it, but if you can only see ONE of these movies this weekend, it should be this one.

I really love it when Tequila sends his girlfriend flowers. Brilliant. =)

If you get the chance to see some of both the influences and Wright's films, you'll see that the films pair off as "alternate universe" versions of each other: RUN for PILGRIM, DEAD for DEAD, HARD for HOT, and INVASION for WORLD'S END. Such cinematic candy! =)

The three films playing on Sunday—SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ, and THE WORLD'S END—have come to be known as the Cornetto Trilogy (I'll explain AFTER you've seen them all =), a trio of hilariously brilliant genre-loving/busting/crossing/redefining films Wright conjured with front men and co-creators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. If you can, I *highly* recommend you grab some friends and commit to the triple feature. It is a joyful ride. Sitting down to watch these films is like when a friend would bike over to your place, ring your doorbell, and ask your mom or dad, "Can [your name here] come out and play?" And you can! It is a damn good time.

So! Your mission—and you SHOULD choose to accept it: see any and all of these movies this weekend if you can. They are Good.

That number again: Wright On! Edgar Wright and His Influences at the Brattle Theatre!

Keep on keepin' on~

P.S. If you'd be so good as to look beyond the weekend, you'll see that three badass cinema classics will be screening on Monday and Tuesday: CASABLANCA (bring your best gal or fella, and some tissues, cuz, umm, high pollen count, yeah), GASLIGHT (perhaps you want to send a message to your gal or fella? =), and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (in honor of Harper Lee's new novel, GO SET A WATCHMAN, which will be on sale after the screening at midnight).

And on Wednesday, Edgar Wright returns (for a couple of minutes) for the full GRINDHOUSE (aka PLANET TERROR + DEATH PROOF + trailers)!

Friday, May 01, 2015

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON rambling w *spoilers*

Unbuffered brain dump, post-AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, mostly comics nerdy bits, not so much on filmmaking and character dev…


What was that pool that Thor and Skaarsgard/Selvig visit? Looked like Selvig was carrying something resembling the Casket of Ancient Winters with him, no? The pool allows Thor to re-enter his dream/vision, the one that reveals the collection of the Infinity Stones and the gauntlet. The gauntlet is not something new in the MCU, tho. You'd think he'd recognize it, call it by name, what with it sitting in his father's vault, right?

Thanos end-credits scene. Is Thanos in the vault in the end-credits scene? Or has he fashioned his own?

I don't love that the Mind Gem turns out to be in Loki's scepter. It all fits together nicely except that it was in the presence of two Asgardians on Earth (Loki and Thor), and must have been described to if not seen by other Asgardians as well, without anyone guessing at its nature. Maybe a little more exposition would've helped sell it to me—something about the encasing gem/energy being designed to camouflage its true nature. There was *some* talk by Thor of how the Mind Gem's true power has not yet been released, but it was vague, warning of how dangerous it would be to have in the open.

It was a nice final piece of a Vision puzzle. I'm not sure how logical it is, but it's nice. I feel like there was a positive conflation of the Adam Warlock + Soul Gem into the origin of MCU's Vision. Does this mean there won't be an Adam Warlock? No soul gem? Was the Knowhere cocoon a pulsating red herring? Or perhaps rewritten as the chrysalis for some other cosmic super?

What’s the MCU calling the Infinity items? Stones? Gems? I feel like we might’ve heard each used in different movies. The comics use Gems.

Why do the Avengers use "enhanced" and the Agents use "powered." I prefer "enhanced." Unless you just use "power" as the noun, like in Bendis/Oeming's POWERS.

Joss. You had to kill Quicksilver. Dammit. That was nice. And you disarmed me so that I wasn't *looking* for it, just like w Coulson. I mean, I recognized the moment when it came, when Pietro sees Hawkeye in Ultron's sights, but I wasn't looking for it.

Nice. Heroic. Cool, even, if you will.

The updated roster: Cap, Widow, Falcon, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Vision. Interrresting. I wonder how everyone will split come Civil War time.

I like that Vision saves the Witch when the city is in free fall. I also like that extra little look/cut to the Witch when the Vision first reveals himself. A little somethin’ somethin’…

A smart and strategic rewrite of Scarlet Witch's powers. She's more Jean Grey than Wanda Maximoff. No "chaos magic" (altho I always liked the idea of the probability-altering hex, despite being annoyed with the imaginary details of it =). TK and a kind of Danielle Moonstar-flavored telepathy, that works nicely.

I would've liked some exposition of Pietro's training or enhancement beyond speed. He seemed to be fine actually smashing his fists into Ultrons, not, like, taking them apart with a can opener, or shaking them to bits, y'know? His fists vs. flesh, or even body armor, hundreds of times a second, okay. Vs. titanium? Not so much okay.

I *love* that Thor and Cap did the "Liberty Bell" Mjolnir-on-Shield combo in the field! =)

Love love love that sword-from-the-stone Mjolnir contest, and the payoff with Vision (altho I'm still not sure what it means). The Vision is pure of heart? Something to do with Thor’s Asgardian energies helping with his creation? When he picks up the hammer, he isn’t imbued with Thor-ness the way you’d expect, a la Beta Ray Bill, Thor the Frog of Thunder, and the most recent incarnation of Thor from the comics.

I'm afraid I might have missed some line or two between Banner and Stark about the AI they discover and want to use as a basis for Ultron. What is its origin? Was it created by Strucker and Hydra? Was it being studied by them? O well, guess I'll have to see it again!

I felt like Ultron was built on an already existing consciousness. Something extraterrestrial. Got me thinking of a mad Spaceknight, or maybe even the Phalanx.

AGENTS OF SHIELD. Nice to see Segovia, Strucker, and List, dovetailing with the latest AGENTS OF SHIELD. Maybe a little clunkily. Was hoping to see Coulson on the bridge of the carrier, foo. In this week’s ep, Coulson says something like "Time to call in the Avengers" and that’s when in our heads, we should cut to AVENGERS 2, right? It happens. I guess thru Maria Hill, who along w Fury, must be keeping Coulson's new life a secret from the Avengers. Altho I do like to think that Thor knows and is keeping mum as well. I mean, Heimdal can see him. Sif's worked with the Agents (I can't remember what Sif agree to tell and not disclose).

My hope of seeing a possibly CG-d Spidey and Daredevil, protecting Hell's Kitcheners from Ultrons in Manhattan in the film—alas, not meant to be.

Nice to see Linda Cardelini in the MCU. The safe house was a good break geographically and cinematically for regrouping, for the characters and audience.

Interesting to hear Ultron talk about Scarlet Witch doing damage "from within." Hearing that played into my limited fanboy knowledge of Ultron's early plans involving Vision. Planting him among the Avengers, y'know? Got me thinking that the idea was to have Wanda and Pietro join the Avengers now (this movie?) to betray them later (a later movie?), in a long game/con sort of way. Alas, for pretty awesome or excellent, turns out he was using "from within" or "from inside" to refer to each Avenger's own minds and fears.

Spader was a great choice smarmy choice for Ultron's voice.

I appreciated the slight hints at Ultron's imprinting on his creator, Tony Stark. I might've liked it if that was pushed more, along w the father-son relationship (regularly used between Hank Pym and Ultron in the comics), but I also might've not have liked it. As it is, the way it was handled, it's definitely there for us to walk away with and play with as we like.

Thanos end-credits scene. As cliche as it would've been, I guess I've kinda been trained to expect that that mass of sculpted metal was gonna be a piece of Ultron (a la Terminator) and not the empty-gemmed Gauntlet. Having a piece of "live" Ultron collected by a baddie is something we can see later.

I *do* kind of like to think that the final encounter between Vision and Ultron might've been that scene. Vision, on the side of life, finds it abhorrent to exterminate Ultron. I think he might have absorbed his code or consciousness into some part of himself for imprisonment and safe-keeping. Not sure when he'd be useful again, but hey, if the Avengers face off against an enemy fleet, wouldn't it be nice to spike their network with some Ultron (who's maybe been converted to the church of Vision, maybe? =).

More crazy talk later, no doubt.

Keep on keepin' on~

Friday, April 10, 2015

12 MONKEYS: paradoxical rambling…

Gonna beb-bop and scat-a-ma-tat on the timey-wimey goodness of paradoxes as encountered in 12 MONKEYS so far…

Oh, hey. What was the title of that last episode again…?

Oh, right—”Pair o’ Docs!”

Ha! Nice one, Terry, Travis, and company. Gen-gen-gene-genio-genius. Loved the road movie buddy-doc feel of this team-up. =)


When an item or being from one moment in time is placed in close proximity to that same item from another moment in time, a reaction occurs. Having these two instances of the same item in the same time and place is an affront to the natural order. A paradox. The universe wants to resolve this paradox—interaction of a future instance with a past instance will change the experience of the future instance, creating a wack-a-mole causality loop (apologies, I'm pretty sure I'm misappropriating a phrase that otherwise does solid and respectable work in reality). Just sharing the same time causes some instability, but when two such instances come in contact with one another, Science happens! And *voila* the two items are destroyed / disintegrated and then reassembled to create one new original version of the item that will reconcile itself with the known/experienced past and future history of the item and a remainder of discarded bits (down to subatomic particles and history) are destroyed releasing a massive amount of energy.

Or something.

The watches. Cassandra's present-day 2015 watch and her future 2043 watch (taken by Cole from Cass's body) are placed in close proximity. The paradox reaction releases energy in light and some kind of explosion. We see everyone and everything except Cole slow down while he pulls a caffeinated Fry and rushes Cass to the relative safety of the hallway. Afterward, one watch remains.

The pendants. Tall Man's present-day 1995 pendant and his future 2043 pendant (given to Ramse by Jennifer) are placed in close proximity in the center of a garden. The paradox reaction releases energy in light and again in an explosive way (we see the trees bend to the pressure wave). No one seems to slow down (or speed up), altho it all seems to pass in "real time speed" relative to Olivia, Ramse, and Tall Man, so maybe all three of them are sped up or slowed down at the same rate. We know that Ramse has the serum in his blood. Olivia and Tall Man may have it in some form, injected or perhaps passed on down a bloodline. Afterward, one pendant remains.

Cole. James the Younger's present-day 2015 blood is injected into James the Elder's 2043-aged body. The paradox reaction releases energy in light and an explosive force (knocks down Tall Man and the Monkeys and blows out the windows of Cass's bookstore). We don't observe any wonkiness in the experience of time (slowdowns or speedups), but who knows what Cole was experiencing as he was being retconned? Afterward, one adult James Cole remains. I'm not certain of the why of it, but I suspect that in sorting thru the bits of younger and older Cole, the Universe discarded the serum and extrapolated from his DNA (cuz, why not?) what a healthy adult James should be like. And that's what was left deposited on the floor of Cass's bookshop. A newly minted James Cole, and naked as a Terminator, ladies!~

So, without the serum in his blood, he can't get yanked back to 2043. At least, not until he gets a hold of some of young Katarina's prototype.

Sadly, we know he's not around in 2017, when Cass leaves her message (when will they clean up that thing and play it back in its entirety?) and dies. Or, he's hiding somewhere nearby, ready for this visit from memory, having prepped Cass with a certain amount of knowledge/warning, too. And when his past self Splinters back to the future, he will inject Cass with an antitoxin for the toxin she'd been administering to herself to simulate the virus's symptoms, and she and Cole will get bonus lives from 2017 to 2043, working and living under aliases and changed appearances until AFTER 2043, when they can step out from behind the curtains of Jennifer's Daughters' nomadic culture and get back in the game in the open.

Or something completely different…

A kee-razy thing I'm hoping for is that the older Cole, now living forward from 2015, will surprise his past Splintering self on that visit. *THAT* would be a timeline-busting paradox! A universe-in-which-the-game-is-being-played-changer! Maybe it will be a reset that will save the actually plagued Cass? Maybe it will cleanse the world (or the immediate area) of the virus? Maybe it'll just blow Cole into an alternate, parallel universe, and the paradoxical remains will be a virus-infected husk, slingshot back in time to a cave in the Himalayas…

Or something…

Question: What are the limits/rules regarding what a Splinterer can have in his inventory while skipping across time? Size? Mass? Organic vs. inorganic? A force field extending so many millimeters from the surface of his/her body?

Question: Did the Cosmos force Jones to forget her encounter with Cass and James in 2015? Or did that meeting not happen the first time? But then, what happened instead of that encounter that led to her keeping Hannah?

Question: Did the Cosmos force James to forget his encounter with Cass, James the Elder, and the death of his father? Allowing him only flashes we saw in his visions? Or did he get these flashes because of his unique status as a chrononaut? Did he live through a childhood in which he never met his older self, Cassie, or Katarina? Never saw the Tall Man execute his father? I like that idea. Cole says that Katarina will always have will have had to come, but maybe not, right? I love that we can't be sure from inside the story. I do love a good time travel yarn. =)

The universe doesn't only deal with matter in the moment. It's dealing with matter across its "lifetime." In a… meaningful way. The universe / cosmos / time seems to have a will or judgment. If it was just physics as we know it, it would be about the same subatomic particles meeting themselves from different times. But it "knows" that young James's blood in the syringe is connected to adult James's life. With the watch and the pendant, those are fixed, static objects, but Cole is a living breathing creature, composed of cells that live and die and decompose into molecules that are then reconstituted in the soil, other plants, other creatures, and maybe even flung into outer space. Odds are, no atom of young James's blood is actually in old James's body.

Randomish tangent to one of those questions that's like a lesson, y'know? You have a car, every part of it breaks down and gets replaced over time, and it looks the same, runs the same, feels the same. In the end, is it still the same car?

Oh, oh oh oh oh! I’ve got another 12 MONKEYS jokette for you… Ready?

When Cole lands in 2015 for the second time, he finds a note in his jacket pocket. Placed there by someone before he Splintered out of 2043. What did it say?

No time for love.
             —Dr. Jones.

Keep on keepin on~