My Super-Spoilery Thoughts On The Last Jedi

Ok.  It’s Saturday night on 16 December 2017.  I’m watching my boys while my wife is off doing some girl stuff, and I’m going to share with y’all my thoughts about Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

This will be chock full of spoilers.  If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want spoilers, come back when you’ve seen it.

Got it?

Ok, let’s do this.


I’ve always loved Star Wars.  It’s the first movie I ever saw: in the theater, when I was 2 (or maybe 3.  I was born in ’75.  My parents can’t remember if they brought me to see it when it was first released in ’77 or during its re-release the next year; regardless, I was young).  So you can imagine it had a big impact on how I developed.

I grew up on Star Wars toys, watching the rest of the Trilogy (there is only one, and hallowed be its name) as they came out, and watching Star Trek in syndication.  I remember being completely psyched for Empire, and later for Jedi, and loving all of both of them.  Same with all things Star Trek too, to be honest.

I was also super-psyched for the Special Edition releases, which began as I was getting ready to finish college.  But I was a bit disappointed with them.  Most of the embellishments were dumb, and some (Han shot first, motherfucker!) downright insulting to the characters and the story.

I wanted to like the prequels when they came out.  I failed (or rather, Lucas failed me), except for the third one.  Revenge of the Sith almost came close to being worthy of its name.  Almost.  I actually enjoyed it, more or less.  Still, if you catch me in real life I do not admit said prequel movies actually exist.

But I still loved the Trilogy.  Alas, the only way I could find to own it was DVD versions of the crappy Special Edition.  So I went on E-Bay and bought a laserdisc player and the original THX Surround Sound encoded Laser Discs of the Trilogy in its true form.

I’m not screwing around when I say I love Star Wars.

When Lucas sold Star Wars off to Disney, I had mixed feelings.  On the one hand, how could they possibly screw it up more than he had with the prequels?  On the other hand, Disney isn’t exactly a media company with a soul, if you know what I mean (and I think you do).  But they quickly announced their intention to make more Star Wars movies, and I for a while was psyched.

Then they killed the entire Expanded Universe because reasons.

Now, I hadn’t read much of the EU.  Only the Thrawn Trilogy – and oh boy is THAT an awesome trio of books.

I had held out hope that maybe they’d just turn those into movies, because that would have been epic.  But they crushed that dream.

Still, when The Force Awakens came out, I was excited.  And I mostly liked it.  I had some quibbles, and some more-than-quibbles.  But overall I thought it was a decent re-start.  I even had some theories about some of the mysteries in the film, which I posted about and then recanted after a couple re-watches.

Rogue One didn’t do that much for me, though.  I wanted to like it but just came out as “meh.”

Which is all a long, drawn-out way of saying I’ve been a Star Wars fan for a long time, and though I’ve experienced disappointments over the years I had hopes for this latest release.


The Last Jedi Pretty Much Sucks


There, I said it.

Now, I didn’t hate all of it.  There were some cool gems.  I’ll end with those, so we can head out on a positive light.  But here are my objections to this movie, in no apparent order.

Stupid Humor That Undermines The Story And The Characters

The Trilogy was funny in many places.  But it never came off as though it was trying to be funny.  The humor flowed naturally from the interaction of the characters and the circumstances of the story.

The Last Jedi begins undermining itself from the very beginning.

The first scene: Po is flying his X-Wing, alone, to intercept the First Order fleet.  General Hux (is that the right spelling? Whatever, let’s go with it) is on the bridge, ready to unleash hell.  But he deigns to parlay with the upstart rebels.

And then we’re treated to Po acting like a teenager doing a crank call on his High School Principal.  Hox is taken aback, and why shouldn’t he be?  No serious military commander would ever act that way.

All around me in the theater, people are laughing at this interchange, but it’s a hesitant laughter as though they’re unsure what they should think about it.  Myself, I’m resisting the urge to give myself a concussion from facepalming so hard, because WTF, this scene is so stupid I can’t believe it.

Every other interaction we’ve had with Po to date shows that yeah he’s cocky and a bit of a wise-ass, but he’s super competent and a professional.  So much for that.

If this was the only instance of this sort of idiocy in the movie, it could be forgiven.  But it keeps on happening!

One scene that stands out is when Chewie is roasting his dinner, and those stupid chicken-things look at him all scaredy-pants like, and it makes him feel guilty.  Funny scene.  Kind of.  Not really.

FFS Chewie is a fucking Wookie!

Wookies are fierce, savage, tough, and smart.  Do you see those fangs?

In Jedi, Chewie was ready to rip the raw carcass down from the tree and eat it right there in front of everyone (that got them caught by the Ewoks, but still…).  But now we’re supposed to believe he feels guilty over eating some (cooked?  seriously?) annoying-if-cute chickens, and then later decides to turn them into pets????

The idiotic and undermining attempts at humor go on and on.  They’re not funny, and they never end.

Stupidest Primary Plot Ever

General Hux sums up the idiocy of the movie’s main plot line quite nicely in a scene early on, when he waves his hands at the expansive bridge of his Star Destroyer and asks, “What’s the point of all this if we can’t take out three little cruisers?”

He is right, of course.

That was clearly meant to be another one of those stupid humor moments.  And it did evoke a laugh.  But it also pulled the rug right out from beneath the movie.  Maybe it was intentional, Rian Johnson sort of poking fun at himself in a weird sort of meta self-reference.  But I don’t think he’s smart enough to realize he’d actually done that.

Clearly they intended to parallel Empire with this movie.  But also clearly they didn’t want to match it beat for beat, like JJ did with Force Awakens, so they decided to riff on the theme but do some variations.

They would have been better off going beat for beat, because what they came up with was stupid.

The Resistance (I always thought this was the stupidest thing ever.  How could they possibly be the resistance when the New Republic is ruling the Galaxy?  The First Order would have been the resistance, not the other way around.  But Disney in its unimaginative “wisdom” decided that they had to exactly match the setup of the original movies, so the good guys had to be rebels.  Or something.  Anyway…) fleet is running away.  They have no idea where the hell they’re running away to though, because for some unknowable reason they didn’t have a contingency plan for a backup base that was ready to go.

And somehow the Resistance, which apparently was the undercover arm of the Republic trying to undermine the FO from within or something that makes no sense at all because WTF, despite being an official arm of the Republic military has less than a dozen ships at its disposal, and no resupply capability at all.  Because that makes total sense.  Or not.

And somehow the FO is chasing them through lightspeed, and now the fleet is getting low on fuel as they run away to nowhere because they have no plan to speak of because they suck at life and make the North Korean military look well-trained and competent by comparison with themselves.

But hey, all’s not lost!  Luckily they’re faster than the FO’s big star destroyers, so they can keep just out of range of the FO’s really big guns and fighters.  Which means it’s a chase, and a ticking timebomb plot as the Resistance fleet slowly runs out of gas.

Except…the FO is not constrained by fuel, at least not in the way the Resistance is.  And they have a great big fleet to call on, much bigger than the Resistance’s three little ships.

What’s to stop them from lightspeeding just ahead of the Resistance fleet and cutting them off?  Or just lightspeeding in a whole bunch of other ships to encircle them completely and cut off any route of escape?

Oh.  Right.  That would end the movie with nothing else to do.

*facepalm*

If your main plot makes that little sense and is that easy to break, it needs to be thrown out, and something else done in its place.

The other problem is that this plot traps everyone who is not Rey (who went to find Luke) in a no-escape situation, with not a lot to do.  That leads to further stupidity that I’ll talk over below in order for Po and Finn to not languish in useless misery.

This is a script that needed to be gutted and completely rewritten two years ago, well before shooting began.

Military Idiocy

So after Po is done undermining his character in the movie’s first scene, the Resistance sends in a counter-attack.  Po’s idiocy was designed to lull the FO people into catatonic annoyance, or something, until he was close enough to take out their ship’s point defense systems.

Ok.  I guess.

But then the Resistance sends their attack…and it’s UNGUIDED GRAVITY BOMBS?

SERIOUSLY????

You mean to tell me that a military force that is capable of faster than light travel can’t develop guided standoff weapons?  They have to fly right over their target and drop bombs that won’t go anywhere because they’re already in freefall (these are space ships, remember)?  That’s just unbelievably stupid.

So the resistance gets its butt kicked.  Deservedly so.

Leia is almost killed (we’ll get to that later), and the second in command takes over: an apparent civilian wearing a condescending expression and looking like she got pulled away from the Debutante’s Ball.  Except she’s a Vice Admiral?  Um…ok.  She then proceeds to give the worst pep talk in all of human history, tells them all to piss off, and goes to the bridge.

Po is a little skeptical, as are we.  But he attempts to allay our confusion by mentioning her performance in some battle or other, as though that’s supposed to make it all good.  But it doesn’t, because who the hell is this person and what the hell is the battle he mentioned?

You might say this has been done before, and you’d be right.  In Jedi, Han walks up to Lando and says, “Look at you, a General!”  Lando shrugs and says, “Someone must have told them about my little maneuver at the battle of Taanab.”  And that explains how he got to be a General.

But we already knew Lando.  In Empire, we learned he’s a responsible leader with good management skills (he’d been running Cloud City successfully for years).  And yeah he made a bad deal with Vader, but after he pulled his head out he spent the last part of Empire and the first part of Jedi showing that he’s a stand up guy who’s brave and good in a fight.

Who the hell is this girl?  If we’re to believe she’s a competent military leader, we need a better entrance than she had.

And it gets worse.  She proceeds to completely ignore her senior staff, telling Po to piss off even though he’s quite reasonably asking what’s the plan.  She then shuts herself away on the bridge and doesn’t tell anyone a damn thing until it looks like she’s getting ready to surrender.  As a result, Po gets so desperate he has to do his thing and take command.

And then of course Leia comes back and zaps him (and how TF is she walking around after having been exposed to the vacuum of space for nearly a full minute only a couple hours ago?????).  She and Admiral Airhead have their little “Isn’t he so cute” moment as they load – THE MUTINEER! – into the transport, and they smile at his Alpha sexiness (that at least is believable).  He wakes up on the transport and then the plan is revealed.  The transports have cloaking devices and we’re going to the new base!  How stupid do you feel now, Po?

WTF ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

I call her Admiral Airhead not because she’s a girl but because her actions are so unbelievably stupid and incompetent as to defy belief.

If you’re a military leader, you do NOT make secret plans that only you know.  For one thing, you don’t have time to make the plans; that’s why you have a staff.  They make the plans for you and you approve them.  But discounting that, you don’t keep your plans secret because if you do, your people will be unable to execute them.  You especially don’t keep them secret in dire circumstances like this because you’ll inspire the exact kind of desperate action that Po took, and that’s the last thing you want because it’ll mean everyone dies.

All it would have taken was a one minute conversation.  “Hey Po, we’ve got these cloaking devices, see?  We’re going to run until we get near this other world, and then put them on the transports and sneak over there.  Then we’ll set up our new base and call for help from our allies.”  Then Po would have said, “Roger that.  What do you need me to do?”  And they would have all worked together as a team to solve their problems.

But then Po would not have had anything really substantive to do, being trapped in this stupid ticking timebomb situation as he was.

So instead, the Admiral looks disdainfully at him, acts all high and mighty in true Queen Bee fashion, and very nearly gets them all killed.

But hey, at least she kills herself later to save everyone.  That’s cool.

And good riddance, you stupid bint.

They Ruined Po

This will be quick because I’ve already touched on parts of this.  The movie begins by undermining Po’s character completely.

Later, his actions on the ship under the command of Admiral Airhead are actually fairly reasonable.  But not really.  He stages his little mutiny.  But does he have the sense to talk to the others, get their support first?  No, he just does it and then hopes that folks will go along.

Amazingly, they do.

But then, after he has Admiral Airhead in custody, he just leaves to go to the bridge alone.  He doesn’t tie her up, or put her in a locked room.  Doesn’t really leave any instructions to his (two) people.  He just goes.

Total shocker that his mutiny gets put down in like, three seconds.

(side note – this is one of the few places in the movie where the attempts at humor actually worked, and were in character.  C-3PO on the bridge during the mutiny was awesome!)

Then later, we see his supposed character development.

Leia reprimands him after the attack at the beginning of the movie, rightly pointing out that he just got a lot of people killed and equipment destroyed for no real gain.  He counters that they took out a Dreadnaught!  But really, when you’re on the run for your lives with not a lot of options, you need to preserve your resources.  You don’t go off onto a suicidal mission for no real gain.

Leia was 100% correct on this.  Except you don’t slap your subordinates in a military organization.  And frankly,even were that not the case doing that is out of character for Leia, completely.  She would rip him a new one verbally, and that would be more than sufficient.

Anyway, fast forward to the climax of the film, and we see he’s learned his lesson.  They’re making their assault in those idiotic ski-craft whatever-the-hell-they are things against the FO assault force, and Po realizes they’re overwhelmed and cannot succeed.  So he orders a retreat.

Wow, he really learned from his earlier mistakes, right?

NO!!!!!!!!!

They’re stuck on Hoth-clone, in the Hoth-clone base with only one way out, and the FO is setting up their mini-Death-Star laser to blast a hole in their big-ass door.  Their only hope is to destroy the laser and buy time for their allies to arrive.  This is when you pull out all the stops and go for it.  Only an idiot would pull back to preserve forces that will surely be killed in moments if they don’t achieve their goal right the hell now!

Apparently Po is an idiot.

Thing is, he’s not.  The Po we met in Force Awakens is cocky and a wise-ass, sure.  But he’s completely professional and incredibly competent.  Leia trusts him implicitly (she sent him off on his super secret mission), and he puts the mission and the big picture first.

So who in the hell is this guy impersonating Po in The Last Jedi?  Cause it sure ain’t the guy we met in the last movie.

They Ruined Finn

I like Finn.  Yeah he’s a little bit too clownish, but whatever.  He’s likable.  And in Force Awakens, he has a pretty good character arc.  He starts off as kind of a coward and a weakling, running away from his problems.  Then he meets Rey and does some posing to try to conceal that, but his inadequacies catch up with him and he wimps out again.  But when Rey gets taken by the FO he mans up.  He comes through in the end, overcoming his weaknesses and stepping into the role of a hero.

Pretty great, right?

Forget about it.  Didn’t happen.

In this movie, he’s back to being a clown and a coward, and his first act is, once again, to run away.  Until Rose zaps him, and then she leads him by the nose through their whole side quest.  He only finally starts to be a real character again at then end, when he goes for the suicide run to take out the mini-Death-Star laser.  But Rose fucks that up for him, too.

And then he ends up fawning over her stupid ass.

So he went from being someone who decided, against his own natural instincts, to be a stand up guy to being a pussy who exists solely to serve the whims of an unattractive and annoying girl.

*facepalm*

Moronic Side Plot That Accomplished Nothing

I thought when the puzzle of “How the hell are they tracking us?” came about that there would be a great quest to solve the mystery.  Someone planted a tracking device on the ship.  There’s a traitor aboard.  Something.  And Po and Finn have to figure out what’s going on and solve the problem.

That would have been interesting.

But no, Finn and his new master – sorry, friend who zapped him with a stun gun – figure out the deal without any research just by brainstorming.  And it’s a thingamajiggy on the FO flagship that they have to disable, and Finn knows just where it is because he used to sweep the floors there, or something.  But they need a code breaker to bypass the security system.

Naturally, on an advanced warship such at this, there is not a single person who knows cryptography onboard.  Such a thing would be unheard-of.  I mean warships never…have…people…..like….  Oh.  Never mind.

Yeah, there totally should have been at least a couple Cryptography people attached to the ship.  But whatever, they have to find someone else.

So off they go to the rich casino world (and if they were able to get away from the fleet so easily how come everyone else just didn’t go along too?  Problem solved with much less trouble) to find the code breaker.  Except they never meet the guy they’re looking for.  After wasting time waxing oppression about how evil rich people are, they get arrested…for a parking violation?  Seriously?  They come halfway across the galaxy but they can’t think to land in a parking lot?

And hey look, there’s a random guy in jail with them who is able to pick the lock on their cell, so they bring him back with them instead of the guy they need because reasons.

And then we get more pseudo-intellectual discussion about how nothing matters, and everyone plays everyone, and arms sales blah blah blah blah ugh shoot me now.

But hey, the random guy IS able to get them into the room with the thingamajiggy, except half the FO is there waiting for them.  Along with our old pal Captain Fasma (where the hell has she been all movie?), who gets commended for something.  And then the random guy gets a bunch of money for arranging a deal to betray them (I guess with Fasma but who the hell knows because it’s never shown, foreshadowed, or explained) and he rolls out saying it’s just business.

And then Finn and Fasma fight and he kills her because why not.

At that same time, Admiral Airhead does her self sacrifice thing, cutting the flagship in half as she goes into lightspeed.  And Finn and Rose have to make an escape since their whole reason for being there has now been rendered moot.

This whole lame, uninteresting, and tiresomely pedantic storyline did nothing to advance the plot, added nothing to the movie except 30 minutes that could have been better used drinking beer somewhere else, and accomplished nothing except make us stop liking Finn and wish we had a blaster so we could shoot Rose in her annoying face.

It all should have been cut out in post.  Or better yet, removed from the script during the massive rewrite that I mentioned before was so desperately needed.

Excessive Force Forciness

We all know what the Force is, and we know what Jedi can do with it.  Kind of.  Using it gives a person powers well beyond what any normal human can attain.

But always before, it’s been kind of subtle.

Ben Kenobi twisted the Storm Troopers’ minds a little to get them into Mos Eisley.  Vader did his Force Choke on uppity Imperial officers.  Luke pulled his lightsaber out of the snow.  Later, he learned to move rocks around and see visions of the possible future.  Vader threw boxes at him in Cloud City.  The Emperor shot lightning bolts out of his fingers.

These were all impressive things, but they were not stupendous.  They were limited; being able to tap into the Force did not make a person a God.

No longer.

In this movie, Rey blows apart an entire hut.  We see a scene of Ben doing the same when he and Luke fought.  Rey and Ben communicate telepathically, or something, over the span of many light-years.  Snoke pushes people around at whim, making them float all around the room like balloons.  Luke sends a holographic illusion of himself, real enough that Leia can feel his touch and take the hanging dice from the Falcon when Luke offers them, and fights Ben in real time over the span of many light-years.

And don’t even get me started on the “Leia flying through the vacuum of space like Superwoman as she Forces herself back to the airlock hatch despite her not having trained in the Force at all” bit.  (That was probably the single stupidest scene in the entire movie)

It’s too overpowered.  Not the subtle power that it used to be in the Trilogy.

FFS, Rey makes a tunnel out of dozens of floating boulders at the end so the good guys can escape.  Not one, or a couple, like Luke did while he was training with Yoda, but dozens.

But wait, you say!  Yoda lifted an X-Wing fighter out of the swamp!

True.

He’d been a Jedi Master for 800 years.  Rey has been using for Force for, what, a week?  Two?  It seems like this movie pretty much starts immediately after the last one, since at the beginning they’re evacuating the same base they used in Force Awakens.  So she can’t have been growing in the Force much longer than that.  And she has had basically no one teach her anything about how to do it.

In this movie there is no proportionality in the power of the Force.  No subtlety.  No training required to master it.  It’s just there, and it’s BIG.  And there doesn’t seem to be any limitation to it.

That kind of ruins the Force a bit, if you ask me.

They Ruined Luke

Luke Skywalker is the everyman, from nowhere.  He wants to see the universe and do great things, and he has no idea he has family ties to the great struggle going on in the Galaxy.

He rolls out, takes some lumps, learns great and mystical things, becomes strong and wise, and literally saves the Galaxy from tyrannical evil matched only by the US Government.  Along the way he learns about his family and is forced to confront his fallen father.  He could have killed his father, but instead he chooses to risk himself to save him from the Dark Side, and it is that willingness to sacrifice that pulls Vader back from the brink and induces him to take the Emperor down.

Luke is a hero.  He goes on to establish the Jedi Academy, marries Mara Jade and has some kids, and yeah he struggles with the Dark Side later on but he overcomes.  He has a good life, and leaves a lasting positive mark on humanity and the Galaxy.

Er….

Ok, scratch that last.  That’s from the Expanded Universe that got destroyed.

Now, Luke is fallen.  All of his good qualities gone, as though they had never been.  He’s a loser who was a heartbeat away from killing his own nephew instead of putting forth the effort to guide him toward what is right.  You know, the exact opposite of what he did with Vader, a guy who had directly or indirectly ordered the death of the only family Luke had ever known, tortured and killed Lukes friends and comrades, and cut off Luke’s hand.  That guy.

Luke had ample reason to not want to put any effort into Vader at all, but he did, and it saved Vader’s soul.

But he couldn’t bother to try to reach Ben at all?  He just gave him up to the Dark Side?  And then he slinked off to die instead of trying to right the wrong he’d done?

Ooookaaayyyyy…..

This is not the Luke Skywalker we know and love.

I get it.  People change.  They screw up.  The years press down and folks can become bitter.  But seriously?

Mark Hammil is quoted as saying he hated everything that Johnson had done with the character, thought it was totally wrong, but it was his job to make the director’s vision work so he did.

Have to say, Mark was right.

Captain Fasma Is Useless

So everyone’s favorite girl Stormtrooper is back.  She accomplishes even less than she did in Force Awakens (and that’s saying something).  But hey at least she got killed.  That’s a positive.

Seriously, though, I don’t get the whole “Captain Fasma is so awesome!” thing.  She’s a nothing character who does nothing.  Remove her from the script and you’ve lost…nothing.  So what, is it because she’s a girl?  Ok, but there are other girls who actually matter to the story.  Is it because she looks flashy?

It’s baffling.

Someone will point out that Bobba Fett is way up on the list of most popular Star Wars characters ever, and he really didn’t have much screen time.  True.

But look what he did with that screen time.  He’s the only person in that entire Imperial fleet who was smart enough to figure out Han’s gambit with latching onto the Star Destroyer.  He was sneaky and clever, tracked them to Cloud City, and earned his pay.  Then, when all hell started breaking loose, he was calm and cool, and got his prize away so he could earn his pay again.

Granted, in Jedi he didn’t do squat, and he died in the stupidest way possible.  But still, compare that with Fasma.

What has she actually done to earn any regard at all?  Nothing that I can see besides being a girl.  Sorry, that ain’t good enough.  I was actually hoping we’d get something more substantive out of her in this movie, because her character concept is cool and she does look fairly bad-ass.  Plus I like the actress who plays her and hate to see her talents not used as well as they could be.

But alas….she’s lame.  Again.  And dead.

Oh well.

Fan Service….Because

Yoda had no business being in this movie.

That wasn’t the only jarring fan service that irked me, but it was the most blatant.  They really need to stop this crap.  You can’t just regurgitate the same crap over and over and over.

Well…I guess you can if your only goal is to leech as much lucre out of the franchise as possible before it withers away and dies.  But that does not make for good storytelling.


Geez, What Did You Like?


Like I said, it wasn’t all bad.  It was obviously well made, and there were a number of things I liked, and thought worked really well.

Luke

I know I just said they ruined him. Not taking that back.

But given what the character now was, Hammil did a good job and it worked.  Some of the only attempted humor parts in the movie that actually worked involved Luke.  The “No one’s from nowhere,” “I’m from Jakku,” “Ok that’s pretty much nowhere,” interplay was fun.

The utter panache with which he carried out his gambit at the end with Ben was awesome.  Especially when he walks out of the smoke and flicks the dust off his cloak.  Totally money.

I really like how he and Rey played off each other.  The utter seriousness with which she handed him the lightsaber, followed by his, “Fuck this” carelessness as he tossed it over his shoulder.  Great.

Ruined though the baseline character was, his arc worked well.  He’s depressed, despairing even, but he comes through and finds himself again, triumphing in the end.  It worked.

Snoke

Snoke was awesome, except for that embarrassing first scene on the bridge as he’s chewing Hux out in public (you do that shit behind closed doors, moron!).

I really loved his first interaction with Ben: “You pansy, you got your ass kicked by a girl who never held a lightsaber before!  WTF is wrong with you!”  It entirely answered my single biggest issue with Force Awakens: namely that Rey was far too powerful, far too quickly.

Consider Luke.  In A New Hope he had a little touch of the Force, just enough to let him make a shot that he already knew he could make.  Five story years later, after a bunch of self-training, he can barely pull his lightsaber out of the snow.  Then he gets some more training with Yoda, and after a while he’s gotten stronger.  Just strong enough to get his ass kicked by Vader.  It’s only after another five story years that he’s finally come into his own, able to best Vader and meet the Emperor eye to eye.

Rey, on the other hand, was pulling mind tricks, doing telekinesis, and fighting off mental attacks having not known the Force even existed less than a day before, with no training and no guidance whatsoever.  And then she beat Ben, who had been training with a lightsaber and the Force for years.  Bull.  Shit.

So it was nice for this movie to at least remark on how jacked up that was, even in a backhanded sort of way.

I liked Snoke’s utter confidence and comfort with his position and capabilities.  That said, I didn’t like how quickly he went straight to the mailed fist with Rey.  No attempt at seduction or persuasion, straight to force.  I also don’t get his obsession with Luke.  Luke’s been out of the picture for years.  Seems like he’s no threat.

I don’t like that he died.  I like how he died, but it felt a bit like Darth Maul, losing him so quickly.  We finally see him as an actual character and not some weird holographic image, and he’s interesting and cool.  And then he dies.  There could have been a lot more done with an interesting character like him.

Ben and Rey

Ben’s character is vastly improved from in Force Awakens.  The brattiness is gone, and it’s a lot easier to take him seriously.  We get a lot deeper into his motivations and mindset, and we understand him a lot more.

I would have burned Luke’s school to the ground and run off to Snoke too, if Luke had pulled that crap on me.  Screw him.  At least with Snoke you know he’s a bad guy and where you stand: the knife in the back would not be a surprise.

Rey is better as well, more likable and more believable.

And their interaction is awesome.  They start out as enemies, but not really because there’s this weird bond between them.  And for a while there I thought sure my initial theory about her parents was going to be proven true.

I’m actually glad it wasn’t.  The fact that her parents were just some nobodies, with no connection to anyone – scumbags who sold their daughter for beer money – is actually refreshing, in a way.  There is a little too much incestuous everyone’s-tied-together-somehow schtick in Star Wars sometimes.  And it’s nice that is not the case with her.  She’s not special, except that for whatever reason the Force is strong with her.  Great!

By the end when she goes to Snoke’s ship they’re almost but not quite friends, and you can tell there’s a mutual respect and affection between them if not trust.

I thought it was awesome that they teemed up to take Snoke down.  That fight scene was the coolest scene in the movie: not just because of the choreography (which was cool) but because of the subtext of what was going on between the two of them as they had each others’ back.  But though they had each others’ back, they weren’t on the same page.  Rey thought she’d gotten through to him and he was going to be a good guy now.  Ben just was sick of Snoke’s crap and wanted to break free from him, but he had no desire to help the Resistance at all.

Frankly, I can’t blame him.  And I can’t blame the Resistance’s allies for not showing up either.  Let’s face it: the Resistance sucks.  They’re unimpressive and incompetent girls (seriously. Po’s the only guy in their command structure and they spent the whole movie ignoring or pushing him aside. Yay feminism…I guess?) who went from ruling the Galaxy to being on the run in a single star cruiser over the span of, what, a week?  That’s not confidence inspiring; why would anyone want to back that horse?

Here’s where the movie flopped, yet again.  Rey should have taken Ben’s offered and joined him.

No, seriously.  Why is the FO the evil bad guy?  Poor leadership.  But Snoke’s gone and though Ben’s done some bad stuff he’s not a raving psychopath.  With a calming influence at his side, that FO ship is completely rightable.  It could have been turned from its path into a force for good.   Or Rey could have just gone along and played him.  “Ok let’s do it.  But do something for me: spare my friends.”  And then she could have worked on undermining the FO from within.

That would have been an interesting story.

“But she would have turned to the Dark Side!”

No.  That’s determined by what you do, and why you do it.  Being good =/= being stupid.  Being on one particular team doesn’t mean you’re on the Light side or the Dark side.  That’s a personal thing between you and the Force.

But it doesn’t matter.  The chance for something interesting is gone, and instead we’re back to the same boring underdog rebel thing that’s already been done.  Because no imagination at Disney.  And as a result it looks like Ben’s going to lose the depth of character that he got in this movie and become that raving psychotic.

*sigh*


Ok, I’ve rambled enough, and spent way more time on this than I should have.  This screed is already way up over 6,000 words – that’s a short story, or a couple chapters in the novel I’m working on.  Time to close it up.

Obviously, I was supremely disappointed (but actually not surprised) in this movie.  It just…didn’t work.

Not sure if I’ll be going to see any more Star Wars movies in the future.  Force Awakens, for all its flaws, was still decent and it captured the vibe well.  Rogue One was meh.  This was just bad.  Not a good trend.

Maybe they’ll turn things around, but with the Disney crew running the show, I doubt it.

It’s kind of sad.

I’m on Team Jacob

I’ve never read the Twilight books, but I’ve been curious for a long time.  Both from a professional point of view and from a personal one.  Professionally, because holy shitballs, Batman, did she make a lot of money from those books!  Personally because I always love a good story, and if these books sold that many copies and have that many rabid fans, they must be awesome, and that makes me want to see what all the fuss is about.

I’ve read (ok, listened to) all the Sookie Stackhouse books.  But for whatever reason, not Twilight.

Maybe it’s because so many people (who wish they were as awesome as Stephany Meyer) make fun of them.  I could say no, it’s because of lack of time.  But I had the time for the others, so that’s a BS argument.  Really, I wasn’t all that interested.  And the mockery didn’t help

But I was curious, so I occasionally toyed with renting the movies.  In fact, my wife had also expressed curiosity.  But we didn’t do anything about it, until this week.

The other day, she declared that we were renting and watching Twilight.  So…we did.

I had some issues with actions the characters took, and was forced to roll my eyes in several places.  But you know what?  Despite that, I rather liked it.  The story pulled me in.  It pulled both of us in, and our daughter too (she’s 9).  So we watched the sequel, and then the third.  We haven’t watch the two-parter of the conclusion yet, and I’m sure I’m missing a lot from not having actually read the books.

That said, I’ve come to a few conclusions.  The most important is this: Edward is not just a creepy dude (I recall Dean once described Twilight as the story of a hundred-year-old man taking advantage of a sixteen year old girl.  And you know what, that’s 100% right.  In a way), but he’s freaking pathetic.  “I can’t stand to live in a world without you in it!”…but he refuses to take the one step that would ensure Bella never leaves it.  “You’re my only reason for living!”

Gah!  It’s beyond cringeworthy to being an absolute gag-fest.  Only a teenage girl could find such slobbering obsequiousness appealing.  Except in reality, most of the time they hate it, too.

And it’s not just that.  The dude has no personality, just one constant mope after another.  He’s not fun.  Hell, he can’t even fight all that well.

Truly, Edward sucks.

Jacob, on the other hand, is in shape, fun, bold.  Yeah, he’s a bit excessively fawning as well, but at least he’s assertive about it.  And…damnit, he’s masculine.  On no planet does a guy like Edward get the girl over a guy like Jacob unless he’s rich.

Plus, the werewolf pack is cool and fun.  They kid around with each other and with their friends, they’re vibrant and alive.  Whereas the Cullens, and really the vamps in general, are dull.  No fun, no nothing.

And…seriously.  Why in THE HELL would the Cullens spend all their time in freaking High School, of all places?  I mean, High School sucks, and they are all at least a hundred years old.  They can’t think of any place better to be?

Well, I guess there is that.

Oy.

Yeah, it’s an easy pick who I’d want to hang with.

I’m on team Jacob, lost cause though it may be.

I Was Wrong

Back in December, after watching The Force Awakens, I came away with a theory.  I posted about it here.

When the movie came out on Blu-Ray, we bought a copy because we liked it and we wanted the kids to see it.  I’ve happily shown them the other three Star Wars movies, and the kids all loved them.  So we were eager to see their reaction to the new one.

Of course they loved it.  So we’ve watched it again.  And again.  And again. And…

You get the picture.

With these repeat viewings, a couple things have happened:

  1. I find my objections to the more silly and infuriating parts of the movie have lessened.  Yes, Rey is a total Mary Sue who got way too powerful way too fast for no good reason.  And yeah a lot of the fan service is cheesy.  And yeah it makes the galaxy look like it spans about a hundred meters from one end to the other.  But you know what?  It just gets more fun with each watching.  And some of the things that irked me make a little bit more sense.  So that’s ok.
  2. I’m pretty sure now that my theory, which I was so proud of back in December, is wrong.  Maybe not entirely wrong.  (I’m still thinking it was Snoke, not Ren, who trashed Luke’s school; Ren and his posse just helped, or joined up in the end, or something.)  But wrong enough that I felt the need to come out and say it now, for the record.

We’ll see just how wrong I am when the next one comes out.  In the meantime, Rogue One looks promising, head-scratchingly cliched chick-who-can-beat-up-6-big-tough-guys-at-the-same-time aside.  If it’s done well, even that well-worn cliche can be fun.  And the story looks promising.  So I’m looking forward to that.

So anyway, that’s all I’ve got right now.  I’m going to make it a point to post here more often from now on, because consistency.

Talk to y’all later.  🙂

My Star Wars Theory

Warning: SPOILERS!

I went, with my wife, to see The Force Awakens on 19 December, in Imax 3D.  Because Imax.  I’m generally not a 3D fan, and the first couple minutes (fortunately just previews) reminded me why.  But I will say the 3D thing did add a bit of coolness to the show.  Certainly the Imax HUGE screen did.

So…did I like it?

Duh.

Of course!  It was pretty awesome, and great fun.  Was it repetitive from the first Star Wars (don’t tell me that’s not the first.  There are only 4 Star Wars movies.  We do not acknowledge any others in my household.)?  Completely.  Were there some head-scratchingly contrived and cheesy moments?  Absolutely.  Were there things that made no sense at all (like how the hell did the computer-generated-lady get Luke’s blue lightsaber when it fell down the hole at Bespin after Vader cut his hand off, and was lost in the clouds of that gas giant)?  Yup.  Was Rey a total Mary Sue?  100%, without a doubt, no question, utterly cannot be argued, what are you nuts if you don’t agree, yes.

The movie was still great.  I never thought I’d have a Star Wars movie to like, after the abortions we don’t mention.  I now do.

More than that, it sucked me (and the Admiral at home) in, and we left the theater discussing the many questions left by the movie.  Specifically (duh) who the hell is Rey?

It’s immediately obvious that she’s part of the family.  Not just because Star Wars is, at its core, a family saga.  But also because of all the clues dropped in the movie.  But what part of the family is she?

After the movie, the Admiral and I went to a bar and discussed it, at length.  In the end, we came up with a theory that I think holds the water completely.  I’ve since read many inane and, frankly, idiotic theories on the internet.  And one or two that closely approximate our theory.  In the interest of being able to say “I told you so and I knew it before XXXX posted it on the internet”, I present it here, for your evaluation.

And remember, we came up with this at about 1600 on 19 December, 2015.

Just saying.  😛

So here goes:

Han and Leia had two children: Ben (who later became Kylo Ren) and a daughter (who we know as Rey but who probably was not born with that name).  Ren was the older brother, but both were blessed with talent in the Force (just as Luke and Leia were…and why didn’t she train, like it was implied that she would in Jedi and like she did in the EU books?  But that’s another question).

When Luke started his school, Ren and Rey went, despite their very young ages.  At the school was another student that Ren began to look up to as a surrogate father figure because for some reason he was angry with Han (maybe because Han sent him off to the school at just the age when he needed his father most?  Or maybe something else.  Ren’s a gamma-male emo bitch, so it could just be because Han disapproved of his hair style.  I presume we’ll find out why later in the movies).  That student was the man who we now know as Snoke.

Snoke betrayed Luke and destroyed his school.  Ren helped him, for the reason I stated above.  Or maybe he just stood by, and in the midst of the carnage, followed Snoke.  Either way, Ren followed Snoke instead of Luke.

In the process of overthrowing the school, all the other students were killed, and Luke barely escaped with his life.  Both Ren and Snoke believed Rey perished, and they went off to gather the remnants of the Empire and form the First Order.

When he came to his senses, Luke found Rey and spirited her away.  He would have brought her back to Han and Leia, but by then they had split up in their grief and anger over what happened, and he feared that leaving Rey in the midst of that anger would cause her to grow up already fallen to the Dark Side.  So he left her with Leia’s trusted ally on Jakku (The guy Poe went to see at the beginning of The Force Awakens) with instructions to keep her safe until Han and Leia straightened things out.

But they never did.  And for some reason, Rey and the ally (what’s his name anyway?) got separated (maybe she got pissed at him when she hit puberty or something…or maybe he dropped the ball…who knows).

Still, the ally kept tabs on her in the vain hope that, when the time came, he would be able to help her get back to her parents.  And so she languished there on Jakku until BB happened to come across her in the desert.  And we know what happened from there.

 

And that’s our theory.

 

Think about it, and consider these things:

  1. The immediate connection between Rey and Han.  Han thinks his daughter’s dead, but he sees something of her in Rey and can’t help feeling close to her.
  2. The apparent, and immediate, connection between Rey and Ren.  Same reason.
  3. Why does no one in the general populace know that Luke was actually real?  Apparently he’s only remembered as a legend, which means he vanished quite a while ago.  Which means Ren COULD NOT have been his betrayer, because he’s far too young to have done that and have enough time pass that Luke’s not remembered as a real person.
  4. Rey’s flashbacks.  She saw the end of Luke’s school.  She saw a spaceship flying away from her at Jakku and a voice telling her to stay there.  Now, I’ll admit when I first heard that voice I thought it sounded like Kylo Ren in his mask suit.  Which makes one think maybe he was the person who dropped her off.  But as I said in #3, he’s too young.  And really that could have been anyone’s voice, really.
  5. Han tells Leia that he saw their son, but neither mentions a daughter.  This checks, because they thought their daughter died in Snoke’s rebellion.  They wouldn’t discuss their dead daughter, because that would tear the scab off the not-totally-healed wound that was her death.

 

So…what do you think?

Star Trek: Axanar

About a month ago, I was on Facebook (Yeah, yeah….I know) and I saw a post, I think from George Takei, linking to a Kickstarter for a Star Trek movie.  I was like, “Star Trek?  In Kickstarter?  I HAVE to check that out.”

That’s how I discovered Star Trek: Axanar.

When I saw the video that was posted on the kickstarter page, I was floored.  This is FREAKING AWESOME!

See what I mean?

Of course, that left me wondering.  Why was it up on Kickstarter?  Paramount/CBS had been producing Star Trek movies for a while, and they’d been doing well.  Why go to Kickstarter?  Was it sort of like the Veronica Mars thing, where the creators wanted to make a movie but the studio wasn’t sure and said if they got enough movie from fans the studio would back it?  And then the Veronica Mars fans completely CRUSHED the studio’s requirement?  But that didn’t make any sense at all.  Why would Paramount need to do that?  They have confidence in Star Trek, obviously.

Then I scrolled down the Kickstarter page and saw the was a freaking fan film!

Now, I’ve known for a while that fans have been making their own Star Trek episodes, even entire series, and putting them out on the web.  As a life-long Star Trek fan, I’ve checked in on them from time to time.  But I’ve never really taken a shine to them.  Yeah they’re cool, but…  I dunno, I guess partially I was busy and had a lot of other things that caught my attention.  But mostly those fan things did not.

But…Axanar…

Come to find out, Alec and Christian, the guys behind this, ran a previous Kickstarter to get funds to make the Prelude (the video posted above, the one that’s on the main Axanar Kickstarter page).  They asked for $10k and raised $100k.  The prelude video cost them about $75k to make.

Yes, that AMAZINGLY AWESOME totally professional-looking, with WICKED COOL special effect sequences, short film cost only $75k.  Holy shitballs, Batman!  And look who’s in it: Richard Hatch, of Galactica fame, Tony Todd, the rest.  Turns out Alec and Christian have been working in Hollywood for a while, and they got other top-shelf people working on it, too: their makeup guy won an Academy award!

So holy smokes, if these guys could do that.  On their own.  For that little money…

I totally had to back that Kickstarter.

But alas, I couldn’t.  Because it had already finished.

They asked for $100k, so they could book a sound stage and get started on pre-production, with the notion that they would do more Kickstarters to get the rest as they showed they were making progress.  They got over $600k (which is about what they estimated it would cost to make the entire thing)!

And I couldn’t donate!  ARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

But wait!  Turns out I could!  On their webpage, they have a donate button, and if you donate there you get the same rewards as if you’d backed the Kickstarter to begin with!  Sweet!  I’m there!

And so I am.

Why do I bring this up?  Well, obviously because I think it’s awesome.  And because I think if any of you folks out there are like me and love Star Trek (or even just like it….or think it doesn’t suck), or if you just appreciate what they did on that prelude movie, you totally should go and donate some cash.  With all the extra money they’ve gotten they’re ramping up their plans for the film (which is now in pre-production for a scheduled 2015 release), and obviously the more $ they get the more cool it will be.

But the best part?  The freaking studio’s not involved.  Dude, this is true indie film-making.  Yeah, they have to be careful not to actually use any CBS-owned IP so they don’t get in trouble, and from all appearances they are.  But how cool is this, that people who love a thing can just decide to make a movie about it, and that they can raise the money from fans so they can make it happen (and really quickly too)?  I think it’s awesome, which is why I’m backing it and why you should too.

If I were a CBS studio exec, I would totally be calling these two guys to make Axanar a fully-licensed piece of work.  But I’m not.  And I guess I’m glad I’m not, because just as going with a big publisher can more often than not be a really bad move for a writer these days, I wonder if going with the studio wouldn’t be a bad call for Alec and Christian, too.  It might end up ruining the entire thing.  Maybe?

Regardless, CBS isn’t involved, so it’s moot.  And the project’s awesome.

Go give money!

Now!

Big Trouble In Little China

…is just about my favorite movie of all time, second only to Aliens.

Maybe.  Depending on the day and what kind of mood I’m in, it may even cast Aliens from the throne and stomp on it.  That’s how awesome that movie is.

For that matter, it’s really hard to go wrong with any mid-80s John Carpenter movie.  They Live, anyone?  Brilliant!  But nothing compares with Jack Burton and the Porkchop Express for sheer fun and bravado.  It’s just so full of awesome, I don’t even know how to describe it.

It’s also a little sad, because I can’t see Hollywood making fun cheesy movies like that anymore.  Cheesy, yes.  But fun, the way Little China is fun?  No way.  They’d CGI it up, or worse try to make it relevant or some jackassery like that, and ruin it.

But why do I bring up this timeless classic?  Two reasons.  One, I watched it last night via Amazon Prime streaming, for free!  🙂  Now, I own the DVD of course, but the BluRay player in my PS-3 died (I’m waiting on the box from Sony to send it back for repairs).  I was really in the mood for the adventure of Jack and Wang, though, so in desperation I checked Amazon…and it was in the prime streaming library!  Score!

That made for a fun evening.  The kids loved it too.  🙂

Second, I encountered this last night, and it is so full of awesome I just had to share it:

So yeah, that’s all I had.

Have a great day.  🙂

Two Completed Stories

The title gives away the big secret of this post.  But what the hell.  You guys hate secrets, right?  🙂

First, I finished the Writers of the Future story.  I still have not figured out a title yet.  I finished earlier today.  Err…make that yesterday now (it’s after midnight).  Total word count: 18,162 words.  Total time (this is an estimate since I didn’t start tracking until almost 5,900 words into it; it probably took a little bit less time than this in reality): 13.93 hrs.  Avg words/hr: 1303.49.

Not too shabby.  But there is one tiny problem.  Those of you familiar with Writers of the Future will figure it out very quickly.  The length.  The limit for WotF is 17,000 words.  So I’m going to see if I can trim 1200 words from the story.  I started working on that this afternoon and got down below 18,000 words.  But there are several hundred words left to trim.  We’ll see if I can manage it.

So that’s one.

My in-laws came over this afternoon, since my little guy Vasili (the guy who had the heart surgery last year) turns 3 on Sunday.  The better half and I took advantage of their presence to have a date.  We went and saw Act of Valor at the movie theater!  I gotta say, you must go see this movie.  It kicked some serious ass, almost making me wish I’d become a SEAL instead of a submariner.  Almost.

After we got back, we hung with the in-laws for an hour or so, then came upstairs to bed.  Ericka read Catching Fire for a while.  We’re reading this one together since we both loved The Hunger Games.  I got ahead of her, though, so I stopped reading for a few days.  She caught up earlier today, but I decided to write some more tonight, so she’s now ahead of me.  But that’s ok. 🙂

Instead of reading, I wrote a story that I thought of in a flash of insight yesterday.  It’s called Who Ate My Sock?  It came in at 2,064 words (bringing my total for the day to 3,446 – not too bad).  Total time to write: 1.1 hrs.  Avg words/hr: 1876.36.  The story’s premise is simple: have you ever wondered why socks tend to disappear in the wash?  Well, when Justine’s mom asks her to go into the basement and switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer, she finds out the reason.  And it is scary.

I liked this story a lot, and it’s been a while since I sent a story to a magazine.  So I went ahead and submitted it to Apex.  We’ll see what they think of it in 20 to 30 days (their advertised response time).  Maybe they’ll like it too!  🙂

Ok it’s now getting late.  I’m calling it a night.  Later, all.

Game of Thrones Premier

Since I started talking about HBO’s new series, Game of Thrones, based on George R R Martin’s books, I guess I might as well comment on the first episode.  It just finished, and I gotta say: it rocked.  I might be biased, of course, since I love A Song of Ice and Fire.  But I thought the show was quite well done, and as far as I can tell, true to the books.  Which stands to reason, considering Martin is an Executive Producer on the show.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.  And, of course, to A Dance with Dragons.  The release date is advertised to be 12 July.  No offense to Mr. Martin, but I’ll believe it when I see it.  The date has been pushed so many times now that I can’t really bring myself to count on an advertised release date until it actually happens.

Anyway, I liked the first episode.  My wife was taken aback, in several spots.  But then, what can you expect when you see Cersei and Jamie at their best, right?  Ah, the things he does for love….

Making Progress and Burning Flicks

With just shy of 1,500 words written tonight, I’ve topped 52,000 total on Masters so far.  I didn’t get that much done in the writing world yesterday, only 300 or 400 words.

But that’s ok.

Yesterday, I rode 46.3 miles on my bicycle.  It was tiring, but felt good.  The other guys on the Team assure me they think I’ll have no trouble with the Century, but it’s quite a bit different riding a hundred miles than riding fifty.  I’m glad the race isn’t until June: there’s still plenty of time to train.  🙂

Then last night, we watched Tron: Legacy on our Apple TV.  I love Apple TV.  That thing just rocks.  The Netflix app on my PS-3 is awesome too, but for new movies in HD and surround, Apple TV is great.  Plus I really dig the photo slideshows you can display on it.

I gotta say, though, I was a little disappointed in Tron.  I absolutely LOVE the original.  The new one, though, while freaking awesome in special effects was, IMHO, a bit lacking in plot.  There was a lot they COULD have done with it, but in the end it was a bit cheeseball and predictable, to me.  Plus the characters were a bit flat, and a couple things happened that were just SO far beyond the realm of plausibility that I had to say “No, can’t suspend THAT disbelief”.

Another recent movie that disappointed me was The Tourist.  We actually watched that on Thursday.  I figured with Angelina and Johnny Depp it would be awesome.  In fact, my wife has been aching to see it for the same reason.  But I was very underwhelmed.  The movie just never grabbed me.  It just happened.  There were one or two twists that were like “Oh?  Ok then.  Whatever.”  Not a big deal or shocker, in other words.  Then there was a really jacked up deus ex machina near the end: where the hell did the supervisor guy come from?  Finally, the end twist was completely unsatisfying.  It came from nowhere, with no foreshadowing, but at the same time was completely predictable.  I just never got to really care about the characters, or what happened to them.

Both these movies had potential for greatness.  Tron did better than Tourist, but both were lacking.

Alright.  That’s enough babbling for now.  Time to hit the sack.

Clever Lady

My wife is too clever by far, sometimes.

Saturday afternoon, we were talking about movies, and the conversation turned to Kevin Spacey.  I mentioned how he rocked in Seven and in The Usual Suspects, and she replied that she had never seen The Usual Suspects.

My jaw hit the floor.

How could she have not seen that movie?  It’s a classic!  Plus, we own the DVD!

That did it.  As soon as the kids fell asleep, in went the DVD.  I sat back, prepared to enjoy, not just the movie, but her pleased amazement over the reveal at the end.

But then, she ruined it.

She figured out that Kevin Spacey’s character really was Kaiser Sozei about 1/3 of the way through the movie.  I mean, who the hell figured THAT out?  I sure didn’t.  Neither did anyone else I know.

The next day, we were driving around, and I complimented her on her astute call.  She replied that it was obvious.  I scoffed and replied that next she was going to say she knew the whole time that Bruce Willis’ character was actually dead in The Sixth Sense.  She said, “Duh!  That was obvious too!”.

Facepalm.

I am officially outmatched, when it comes to figuring out movie twists.