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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I hope everyone had the happiest of holidays! My gift for you readers out there are my thoughts about the most recent Star Wars movie! 😉

In the last week, I have read so many thoughtful reflections on the movie, so I will post my observations as character studies as I have in past movies, such as I did in Captain Marvel and Solo. While overall my viewing experience was mostly positive, my thoughts go far beyond what I can share in character reflections, but hopefully, enough is shared for readers to understand my conflicted thoughts on this movie.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Let’s start with the droids: C-3PO, BB-8, R2-D2  and D-O (not pictured).  No Star Wars movie is complete without an adorable or wisecracking droid. In this movie, C-3PO gets a featured role as being able to interpret a needed Sith artifact to find a hidden planet, but his sacrifice of giving up his memories is undone by D-O’s intel. Thus, his whole storyline ended up being filler, when other plot points could have been developed further. Still, it is always good to see these droids as part of the action!

Star Wars did Rose dirty! Obviously, they listened to some toxic fans who didn’t like her possible romance with Finn, and cut her role down to a bare minimum. She was left on the Rebel Base the entire time with little to do and no character development. She deserved more (plus, she almost didn’t get a character poster- this one was released after the rest)! For a thoughtful in-depth analysis of how Rose’s character was treated, read Jeff’s post The (Mis) Use of Rose Tico on The Imperial Talker site.

So instead we got a new character shoved down our throats- Jannah. She is an ex-Stormtrooper, who along with other trooper deserters gets sucked into the action. She is paired with Finn (instead of Rose!) in the last battles because obviously Finn always needs some sort of female side-kick in every movie. While I do think she was kinda cool, it took away from Rose, and what was the deal with her conversation with Lando in the last scene???Zorii is a rebel in a Boba Fett type costume that is from Poe’s past and plays a part in helping Rey, Finn and Poe get some needed information from C-3PO’s memory banks (which later proved to be a waste of time). I love actress Keri Russell who played her and was relieved when she lowered her face mask at one time to see some of her face. I liked the moment in the end when she didn’t automatically get swept up in Poe’s arms for a finale kiss (how very woke) but a bit of romance in this film would have also been welcome.

I’m throwing General Hux in here, although he did not receive an official movie poster. I always liked Hux’s scenes in all the movies, as he always came off as a petulant child, which I found amusing. So when he was revealed as the spy, I was thrilled as he helped Rey, Finn and Poe escape. However his true motivation was not in helping them, it was to screw over Kylo Ren who had disrespected him in front of others. Hux was not redeemed, as many people stay bitter and angry at the end, and I found that angle more realistic.

Chewie- the one surviving character that was in all three of the original Star Wars movies! I laughed when he received the medal that he should have received in A New Hope– there was finally #JusticeForChewie! I do wish he had received more character development in this recent set of three movies, as he was an integral part of the rebel alliance and he should have interacted more with Han, Luke and Leia. At least he was reunited with Lando for some fun adventure in this film.

Thank you for bringing back Lando! This rebel general still wears his capes with aplomb, and he was a needed legacy character to balance what little they did with Han, Luke and Leia. With Carrie Fisher’s death and the fact that Han and Luke’s characters were dead, this fan-favorite helped bring that chapter to a close. But is Lando’s story over? The clunky dialogue with Jannah at the end seemed to point to Disney having more adventures planned for this scoundrel.

I believe that Finn is force-sensitive. Is this what he was planning to say to Rey, or did he want to declare his love to her? Finn always seemed to be connected to a female in the three movies, first Rey, then Rose (did he ghost her?) and finally Jannah. There was always romantic tension with him and these three ladies, and let’s not forget his bro-mance with Poe! There were many fans who were clamoring for a relationship to develop between the men but frankly, Disney would never be brave enough to do that, instead, they had two females kiss in the last scene between characters we barely knew. Finn was my favorite of the new characters, his good nature and loyalty won me over.

Poe was first written as a Han-type, a pilot who could be a bit morally ambiguous but have the classic heart of gold. His leadership progressed in this film, and I finally truly saw him as a leader of the resistance, and someone who deserved the title of General. While Oscar Issac has leading-man looks, Poe never really had a romance developed for him, except for hints that perhaps something with Zorii will develop in the future.

I will always wonder what storyline was planned for Leia and Kylo, had Carrie Fisher not died. He killed his father and was a mass-murderer, how was he possibly going to be redeemed? That a romance with Rey was suggested throughout the movies, and their kiss before his death was part of his redemption was very uncomfortable because it played up a toxic and abusive relationship as romantic. What a horrible message to young viewers that one partner needs to put up with their partner’s abuse, because they can “save” that person. Please read the astute post from Michael of My Comic Relief: Reylo’s Role In Redemption- A The Rise of Skywalker Reflection that goes into much thoughtful reflection on the problems with a Rey and Kylo relationship. Seeking forgiveness and granting forgiveness is not and should not be a one-time conversation or deed by one person. While Kylo’s character was layered and Adam Driver is an amazing actor, his role was problematic from the start.

Rey is a strong character whom I liked quite a bit, but who was tarnished at the end with her family ancestry and with her choice of love interest. And what was the deal with her new healing powers? No Jedi in the past has ever done that. There had been much speculation that Rey would be Luke’s child or even Ben Kenobi’s, but in the end, she was shown to be the evil Palpatine’s grandchild. What?! Why was Palpatine even alive, much less that he had had an adult child who smuggled Rey away from him? While I hated almost all of The Last Jedi, the one thing I did like is that Jedi (or anyone) don’t need to come from an important family, they literally can come from anywhere. That was an important message for moviegoers, but that was erased here for Rey to now be fighting the dark side and her family connection to it. And that she choose Kylo to passionately kiss, over loyal and steadfast Finn? What the fuck! I did like her concluding scene, as she claims the Skywalker name, showing that one can claim their family alliance over blood-ties.

Lastly, and most importantly, let’s go over my beloved original three of Luke, Leia and Han Solo. I was devastated that Luke became a grumpy hermit and later died in the last movie (see my passionate post An Ignoble End to the Skywalker Saga on The Imperial Talker’s site) and in this movie, there was a bit of course correction in his role as a Jedi ghost, but what was done was done. Considering Fisher’s death, director JJ Abrams did his very best with existing footage of Leia to craft her farewell role. She got a good concluding arc, showing how she was helping train Rey as a Jedi, which was a lovely nod to her Skywalker heritage and the flashback to her and Luke during her own training was heartfelt and tied up some loose threads. I believe she was supposed to help redeem Kylo, and at least she did play a small role in helping him turn although I will always be sad that she and Kylo were never able to play a scene together. Han’s cameo came as a lovely surprise, I’m sure in part to push the narrative that Kylo’s parent’s love helped turn Kylo back to the Light. I just dearly wish that these three had been given a scene together (along with Chewie)- it will always be a shame that the directors choose not to have them reunite in some way.

While I’m sure Disney is far from done with Star Wars storytelling, this movie brought to a close the Skywalker saga. There is no way that all fans could be satisfied with any narrative that Disney filmed, but I just wished they had been able to capture the scope and mysticism that George Lucas had brought to his imagined universe. However, I will be forever grateful that these stories were told, and they have captured so many people’s imagination. May the Force be with you!

-Nancy

Star Wars: From A Certain Point Of View

I love Star Wars! I love short stories! Together this anthology was a win-win for me.

Forty authors celebrated forty years of Star Wars by contributing a story of a minor or supporting character from the ending of Rogue One to the finale of A New Hope. I listened to these stories on audio, but also had a copy of the book to refer to when I wanted to double check a detail or if I didn’t like the way a story was voiced. There are a few spoilers, but I did my best not to give it all away! 😉

Raymus by Gary Witta   4/5

Captain Raymus Antilles holds onto hope to the very end that his ship carrying Princess Leia away from the Battle of Scarif will escape from the Imperial Fleet.

The Bucket by Chrsitie Golden   4/5

Stormtrooper TK-4601 begins to have feelings of dissent with the Empire after he meets Leia. Not an immediate deserter, but the seeds are sown…

The Sith of Datawork by Ken Liu   5/5

A fun tongue-in cheek story that will be appreciated by the many of us who feel that paperwork is endless at their jobs and in their homes. Arvira, Imperial Logistic Datawork Officer, knows her forms and helps Bolvan, the gunnery captain who let a certain escape pod go unchecked to Tatooine, cover up his mistake with layers of reports.

Stories in the Sand by Griffin McElroy 4/5

Am amusing tale of little Jot, a Jawa who doesn’t erase R2-D2’s memory like he typically does with other droids for resale. By watching other droid’s chips he sees there is more to the universe than the gritty Sandcrawler he works on.

Reirin by Sabaa Tahir  3/5

We meet Reirin, a female Tusken Raider, who is willing to leave the safety of her clan for the mysterious charms of a green crystal she finds.

The Red One by Rae Carson  4/5

A surprisingly poignant story about R5-D4, the red droid that Uncle Own picked first from the Jawas. His malfunction was truly a sacrifice made for the Rebellion.  It was fun to start getting outsider’s views of Luke as we first meet him in A New Hope.

Rites by John Jackson Miller 3.5/5

Three young Tuskens want to make names for themselves in their warrior society. They meet Obi-Wan, whom they consider a wizard, and Luke whom they call Sandy Hair.

Master and Apprentice by Claudia Grey 5/5

Obi-Wan receives a visitor and because of their conversation realizes he needs “to think of death as only the beginning of wisdom”. While I was surprised at this entry, as he formally was not part of A New Hope, the visitor’s wisdom would have always remained with Ben.

Beru Whitesun Lars by Meg Cabot 5/5

LOVED this story! Author Meg Cabot gave Aunt Beru a beautiful backstory and a voice in how she loved raising Luke. I was tearing up as I listened to this story, for Beru was more than an aunt, she was a MOTHER to him and should have been recognized more for being the loving woman who shaped Luke into the man he became.

The Luckless Rodian by Renee Ahdieh  4/5

Greedo…and his last hours before his fateful encounter with Han Solo.

Image result for from a certain point of view aunt beru

Not for Nothing by Mur Lafferty 4/5

A supposed excerpt from one of the Bith band member’s memoirs about why they were playing at the cantina, after a forced extended stay at Jabba the Hutt’s “palace” . The music must go on…

We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here by Chuck Wendig 3.5/5

A character study of Wuher, one of the bartenders at the cantina. My biggest take-away from this story is learning that Ackmena, the barmaid from the Star Wars Holiday Special,  is now canon!

The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction 1/5

When are we going to leave Tatooine??!! Why was the worst story also the longest story? I did not care one whit about the crime planned to take place at Chalmun’s Cantina.

Added Muscle by Paul Dini  5/5

Luckily the next story balances the previous story by being short and fresh. We learn Boba Fett’s recollections of what happened between Han and Jabba in Docking Bay 94.

You Owe Me a Ride by Zoraida Cordova  4/5

Twins Brea and Senni Tonnika live on the edge of society, unwillingly trapped at Jabba’s palace. The sisters begin to scheme how they can leave the sandy planet forever.

The Secrets of Long Snoot by Delilah S. Dawson  2/5

Are we STILL stuck on  Tatooine??!!  Not every bounty hunter is successful and suave, and Long Snoot skulks along the fringes hoping to pick up easy information he can then pass along to the Imperial Troopers hoping for enough credits to reunite with his family.

Born in the Storm by Daniel Jose Older  4.5/5

Stormtrooper TD-7556 relates his recent mission on Tatooine in an incident report form. Turns out he was one of the soldiers who sent Obi Wan, Luke and the droids on their way- “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”.   This stormtrooper is no mindless drone, he is funny and sarcastic and the story was a fun read.

Laina by Wil Wheaton  5/5

OMG the feels! A widowed Rebel soldier wishes to send his beloved daughter Laina to safety and makes a video for the toddler. He recounts to her information about her mother and the reason why he is fighting against the Empire. Already a poignant tale of a family being separated, it takes an even more heartrending turn at the end. ( I have re-imaged the last bit in my mind to make a happier ending)

Fully Operational by Beth Revis  3.5/5

General Tagge uncomfortably witnesses Lord Vader’s reaction and choke hold of Admiral Motti. Previously believing the Empire’s greatest weapon was the Death Star, he now realizes it is Vader himself.

An Incident Report by Mallory Ortberg   3.5/5

Admiral Motti gets his rebuttal and blusters about his importance to cover up his shame of being humiliated in front of other staff. He refuses to see Vader’s power and relies entirely on the Death Star’s technology.

Change of Heart by Elizabeth Wein  3.5/5

The indomitable Leia unknowingly influences another Imperial soldier to rethink his alliance after he witnesses her strength when Alderaan is destroyed. Having two stories like this was over kill. I have huge Leia love, but to have two soldiers completely change their ways just by observing her was too much.

Eclipse by Madeleine Roux  4.5/5

A heartbreaking look at the last hours of Breha and Bail Organa. Despite them realizing their planet’s impending doom, they cling together in love and with hope in their hearts that their daughter is safe.  On a side note- I had a hard time imagining Leia growing up there. Things at the palace were so ornate and orchestrated, instead I thought of Padme.

Verge of Greatness by Pablo Hidalgo  4/5

Evil Empire leaders are taught not to trust anyone else and to only look out for themselves- but if Tarkin and Krennic had been able to work effectively as a team, perhaps then they could have been more powerful than Vader.  I appreciated the shoutout to Galen and Jyn Erso at the end.

Far Too Remote by Jeffrey Brown 4/5

Surprising and funny one panel cartoon from the author/artist who writes children’s books Vader’s Little Princess and Vader and Son.  See book for dialogue! 😉

Image result for from a certain point of view aunt beru

The Trigger by Kieron Gillen  3/5

Aphra is a dubious archaeologist who skirts the law on Dantooine. Captured by stormtroopers she talks her way out of trouble. She was an unfamiliar character to me, but her fleshed out backstory hinted that she plays more of a role in Star Wars canon, so I wasn’t surprised to realize she can be found in many Star Wars graphic novels. .

Of MSE-6 and Men by Glen Weldon 1/5

Why again are the worst stories the longest stories? Told from the perspective of a mouse droid found on the Death Star.

Bump by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker  3/5

One of the stormtroopers from the Tatooine unit that let the droids by, due to Obi Wan’s mind tricks, is called up to report once that data has been reviewed. He knows he’s in for it, but remains true to the Empire until the end.

End of Watch by Adam Christopher   4/5

Commander Pamel Poul is at the end of her shift on the Death Star and just wants to be off duty. But there seems to be a small problem in one of the detention blocks, and an odd message from an alleged soldier there doesn’t seem to follow protocol…

The Baptist by Nnedi Okorafor   5/5

When a creature is taken from their home planet and taken to the Death Star, I wondered where in the world the story was going. Then I realized it was the garbage disposal monster and I was intrigued. I found this story strangely appealing!

Time of Death by Cavan Scott   3/5

This story had me torn. While in one way I liked having more time with Obi Wan, his after life is a delicate subject matter to tackle. There was one little remembrance that I enjoyed- a missing piece of his lost years at Tatooine when he interacts with a young Luke and his Uncle Owen.

There Is Another by Gary D. Schmidt 3.5/5

This pushed canon a bit too far. While I have always wondered why Leia never trained to use the Force, this story has a certain green somebody quite opposed to training Luke, claiming that Leia would be more suitable. Maybe so, to a degree (see picture below), but he missed Palpatine being a Sith Lord, so maybe just maybe he could be wrong about Luke. (And he was.)

Image result for star wars meme 19 years old anakin leia luke

Palpatine by Ian Doescher 4.5/5

An interesting soliloquy from Palpatine’s perspective that I first listened to and then read to get the full power of his thoughts as it was written in poem form.

Sparks by Paul S. Kemp  4.5/5

Told from the perspective of Dex, a Rebel fighter pilot, during the battle of Yavin 4. This was an action packed story that had an expected sad ending for Gold Two.

Duty Roster by Jason Fry   4/5

Not every Rebel pilot gets to fly when there are not enough ships and Col, aka Fake Wedge (to his chagrin), is not chosen. He is furious at not being picked when newbie Luke Skywalker is selected, but as most of the pilots die, he survives for future missions.

Desert Son by Pierce Brown  4/5

Oh, Biggs Darklighter, we barely knew you…and you seemed so appealing! If only you and Luke had been able to reunite but your heroics helped ensure Luke’s victory.

Grounded by Greg Rucka  4.5/5

Chief Nera Kase, an integral part of the Rebels for her mechanical knowledge, watches as the pilots and ships she cares for head into battle. Not every body can be the flashy hero, but her behind the scenes work is an heroic as any pilot or leader’s contribution. I always root for the solid characters, who often don’t get their due because they are quiet and unassuming.

Contingency Plan by Alexander Freed  4/5

All good leaders should have contingency plans, for even the best laid plans can go sideways in a moment.  Mon Mothma is no exception, and the Rebel victory gives her renewed vigor for the cause.

The Angle by Charles Soule  4.5/5

With the new Solo movie coming out, I couldn’t help but think of our favorite caped scoundrel as being a mix of Donald Glover and Billie Dee Williams. The audio version had this guy voiced perfectly, as he wonders why in the world his fellow rogue Han would risk his life.

By Whatever Sun by E.K. Johnston and Ashley Eckstein  3.5/5

Captain Miara Larte and her crew witnesses the medal ceremony for Luke, Han and Chewbacca. While perhaps it can be argued it was a premature celebration, she feels that the joyful occasion is needed in a time of sorrow. This character was another one I was unfamiliar with, as she is from the Ahsoka book that I have not read yet.

Whills by Tom Angleberger  5/5

Awesome ending! I adored the two Whills scholars debating how to chronicle the Star Wars saga. They debate both where to start the story (Episode IV!) and the wording that we have grown to love.

This book is a must read for all Star Wars fans! It strengthened and filled in gaps in the narrative and this new canon was a treat from beginning to end.

-Nancy

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Guest Post on The Imperial Talker

After watching The Last Jedi I had feelings. So many feelings!

After conversations with Jeff at The Imperial Talker about my disappointment with Luke Skywalker’s arc, he asked if I’d be willing to share my thoughts in a guest post. As Jeff is a consummate Star Wars fan and writes deeply thought out posts about the Star Wars universe, I was flattered he asked. In addition, he has a monthly haiku series on different Star Wars topics that is not to be missed!

Please head on over to his site and read my post An Ignoble End to the Skywalker Saga!

-Nancy

Star Wars ComLINKS: Favorite TLJ Scene

This month’s Star Wars writing prompt from the site Anakin and His Angel is, “After you’ve seen The Last Jedi with your favorite people once, twice, maybe even five times and enjoyed celebrating the most wonderful time of the year, we all want to know what your one favorite scene from the film was. Was it a scene that shocked you? That you hoped for? How did it resonate with you? What made it different from the rest of the film?”

I was so incredibly anxious to have Luke and Leia reunite in The Last Jedi, knowing that with Carrie Fisher’s death, this would be the only movie for it to happen. While I had really adored The Force Awakens, only having a brief wordless sighting of Luke meant that this movie better deliver.

The Skywalker twins have been my favorites since I was a child.  I viewed them as heroes,  plus I loved the public personas of Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Neither became a mega-star like Harrison Ford, but to me they were so much more than that, they were REAL.

Image result for luke and leia the last jedi reunion

*Spoiler Alert*

Luke’s reluctance to leave his self-imposed exile on Ahch-To concerned me, and I didn’t understand his reasoning to stay put. I felt he was letting his family and the Rebels down, betraying the Jedi’s and taking the coward’s way out (but my feelings on that will come soon on a future post). I needed him to reunite with his sister and bring some order into the chaos of the struggling rebellion.

So when he showed up in the cave on the planet Crait where the Rebels were making a last stand, I was heartened. While Luke and Leia’s conversation was much much too brief, the scene was the one that touched me the most, in a movie that overall angered me (again, a conversation for another post). Luke handed Han’s dice to Leia, which I thought was a sweet way to connect the original three heroes. Within minutes they parted and Luke went out to battle his nephew Kylo. When we find out that all of Luke’s interactions were just an astral projection, I felt cheated. I was beyond angry! It took me a second watching of the movie, and some time to cool off, to realize that Leia would have known that Luke was just a projection. So while even if their physical bodies didn’t meet, their minds and souls did. Perhaps the next movie would have given us a better and more complete resolution had Carrie Fisher not died, but we will have to live with this reunion.

As such, my favorite scene was quite bittersweet. The Skywalker twins did not get the ending I felt they deserved, but I will try to believe that their reunion was filled with enough love and acceptence for the two siblings to feel complete.

-Nancy

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