Writer/Administrator for FiveGeeks.Blog, Actor, director, and all around Geek, who is way too into Joker and Joseph Campbell's Monomyth. Director of Sillyside Squad improv. group, as well as working on a myriad of other projects. Please, like those groups on Facebook!
Finally, a solo Star Wars movie about Solo. It’ s a heist movie, a Star Wars movie, a prequel, pauper, a poet…well, maybe not the last 2, but it’s good. How good is it? Let’s run through the list.
1. It doesn’t give me chills when he see’s the Millennium Falcon for the first time.
I still get chills when Kirk first sees the Enterprise, EVERY time I watch the 2009 reboot of Star Trek. I did not get that when Han first sees his “home,” as he endearingly calls it in The Last Jedi. Perhaps, it was the score, the angle of the camera, or just how it looked in the hangar. Although, I Am a Big Cry Baby, and I Love Movies, so there is certainly some sentimental attachment for me to Abrams’s Star Trek.
For some (self-included), the lack of panache for our icons in Solo would be a reason to take a star off their rating, which brings us down to 9 stars.
2. Fembot SJW.
There is a droid whose personality some will find endearing, while others might find it to be just more SJW politics they didn’t ask for or want. Some call her the first “woke” robot in the galaxy, others might call her a feminazibot, and take another star off, which could put us at 8 out of 10, so far.
This may be an extension of number 2 (heh, number 2). However, if loving your appliances is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
I found relationship very emotional and endearing, as well as believable for the character, but there might be people that would see the romance between a man and his droid to be a bit forced, which could bring us down to 7 stars.
4. Seemingly forced cameo/reveal.
There is a certain character that shows up, whom I will not name (so that this remains spoiler light) that catches some screen time in a possible jaw-dropping moment. It raises eyebrows AND questions. How will this tie in with the EU? How is he still alive? Where’d Lt. Dan get his magic legs? Oops, I’ve said too much.
However, to some, this may have come off as cheesy, with a hint of pointless gesture, as is mentioned by Dashran Yohon’s Movie Dash review of Solo. Be careful, his review does have spoilers. Either way, it’s possible to include this as a reason to bring it down to only a 6-star rating.
5. Fanservice solely for the sake of fan service.
For some, the emperor’s march, 12 parsecs, Da- (oops, almost revealed number 4), etc. could seem like they were just inserted for fan service and not really utilized to further the narrative like it could have been.
Of course, some of this could be used to further the narrative in a Solo part 2, he says hopefully.
You may be wondering if this is the flick for YOU, though. Here is a list of elements in A Quiet Place that are light on the spoilage to help you decide whether or not to shell out the box office cash, Netflix it, or just completely skip it, so, let’s jump into this full geek.
1. It is heavy on jump scares, but…
It is totally justified in this movie, and it doesn’t rely on them. It is INTENSE! Not only are the quick flashes of the creepy AF creatures shockingly disturbing, but the hiding in plain sight is even more unnerving than being totally immersed in a game of Until Dawn (Play Until Dawn, if you haven’t played Until Dawn. Dead by Daylight is also good. ;)). If you are against jump scares being used at all. This may knock it down to 9 stars.
2. It is a family drama.
However, this is something I’d much rather see than a plot summary beginning with, “A group of Highschool/College kids.” No offense to kids, but half of them in slasher flicks always turn out to be assholes, which makes me root for the killer. It is very important that the characters are likable so that I care about them or even identify with them. THIS is what can make you honestly scared at a movie intended to do just that, but if you don’t go for all the emo, then this may be what drops it down to 8 stars for your review.
3. There are some cliched sound tropes.
I have designed, directed, and performed in haunted houses, and although the old chestnut of a revving chainsaw sounds tired on paper. It NEVER ceases to cause people to crap their pants! It is a MUST have. So, yes, there are creaky floorboards and screechy doors in this movie, but they are not stock sounds, and they are really important since this movie’s terror lies in sound. There are sounds that have been used in numerous films to try to recreate the same results. This has been overdone to the point that even a laundry detergent commercial used some of the same audio clips. This movie has all original sounds. I was very happy to see the new cringe-worthy noises the monsters made. It set the suspense well. The sound was amazing all around, and even the score was phenomenal and only added to the emotion of the piece. However, if you are the type who has stopped going to haunts because the Texas Chainsaw has worn out it’s welcome with you, then the rusty hinges and old wooden planks might be why you knock a star off. This would put us at 7.
4. Survivors should be more clever.
The movie opens 89 days after what basically is an apocalyptic event. Without giving too much away, these people make mistakes, and even I caught that with my overly sheltering parent’s eye, and this causes a lot of the family dynamic issues in the movie that help tell a heart-wrenching tale of guilt, remorse, and …well, I don’t want to spoil it. Personally, I know people, even highly intelligent people, can do really, really dumb things. I’ve been told I’m intelligent, but I see the things I do, and I just can’t agree. These people were smart, but not too smart. There is also a bit of dramatic irony, where we learn what they need to do, and we struggle wishing they would hurry up and learn it, too. Of course, you aren’t being chased by lightning fast bastard sword-toothed…things. That tends to cloud one’s thinking…and underwear. However, you may wish to see what a group of geniuses do in a perilous situation, instead of what everyday people (even ones that can survive for over a year) making mistakes. This may bring your rating down to 6 stars.
5. This movie isn’t about the monsters.
The Walking Dead isn’t about the zombies. They are just a device used to show that Man is the biggest monster of all, and to pose questions, about who the real zombies are, who’s really alive, who’s really dead? Of course, when this hits you over the head too much, you might lose interest much like TWD has (I still watch it.) in its ratings. This is a matter of the Goldilocks effect. How much message is just right? I loved seeing a juxtaposition of a perceived weakness becoming a strength (I’m ADHD, or have I mentioned that?). I love the symbolic way that they couldn’t communicate had more than one meaning. If this doesn’t fit your definition of just right, you might just dock the star rating down to 5.
That’s all I can find that was even remotely “wrong” with it, and I think some of the most scrutinizing moviegoers wouldn’t mark this below a 5 out of 10.
In short, for a horror movie to actually be horrifying, it must have characters that you actually care about, not rely on jump scares, and the effects and situations need to invoke genuine terror; lastly, a truly great horror has a message, likely brought to us with characterization and symbolism. This movie did all of these things for me. I will be buying it, to cry and douse my trousers along with at home.
Black Panther pounced onto movie screens last weekend with ferocity.
Most people gave nothing but the most glowing and raving reviews, such as the fabulous Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl Nerds. “It’s everything I’ve ever desired in a live-action version of this popular superhero and yet so much more,” she beams.
Some, however, like Armond White from The National Review had less positive criticisms. He seemed hard pressed to find something good about the film at all, and even scoffed about the “media’s enthusiasm for this bland action flick.” He continues expressing his distaste, “The problem isn’t one particular movie, but the celebration of the illusion of ‘progress.’”
Of course, this is a movie, and movies are made by people, and as we already know, there is no person or movie that is perfect. Currently, the film has a 97% rating from Rotten Tomatoes with a 77% score from general audiences.
Let’s start out with 10 stars and examine the elements to see if this movie is for YOU. I’ll go easy on spoilers, so it doesn’t affect the enjoyment of those who still want to watch it for the first time. Let’s jump into this full geek!
10 Stars: **********
1. The Acting
The acting was phenomenal, and not over the top like a Key and Peele sketch (which is still phenomenal comedy). Some complain about Chadwick Boseman’s wooden acting in the same way my wife scoffs at the acting of Clark Gregg when he portrays Phil Coulson in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but they are in a leadership role, which requires their characters to show strength and grace under fire, despite tragic pasts. Even then, Boseman totally balances this with his emotional struggles with glorious ease. However, if you don’t like to see leaders attempting to hide their anguish, then this might cause you to dock a star off in your book.
9 Stars: *********
Even so, you can’t deny that this man is expressive when he needs to be.
Costar, Michael B. Jordan’s work was full of range with no sense of restraint. His default setting is “Somebody’s about to get their ass whooped,” resting face.
He brings charisma and passion to a fully developed character that thankfully steps away from egomaniacs hellbent on world domination for the sake of being power hungry. Even Andy Serkis brought a delightful, chaotic, glee to his mayhem. I’ve yet to see much criticism on their acting. Plus, I still can’t get over how buff Andy Serkis got.
No critique of this movie would be complete without mentioning the strong female characters. Every one of them is a powerful warrior in their own right, delivering their well-written dialogue (according to many) with fierce whimsy.
Even the very few lines that Angela Bassett speaks never leave us without the idea of her regalness that rivals that of Judy Dench’s queenly roles. The love interest, Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o isn’t even terribly sappy, either. Danai Gurira’s Okoye is able to make quips better than any male counterparts in the movie, while still having looks that can stop a rhino, literally. Letitia Wright brings the funniest lines and delivers them well, but some criticize the campy jokes that negatively affect the pacing. If you value smoother pacing, this may be a negative for you. She also demonstrates so much technical prowess that many are now claiming she is the smartest person in the MCU, and we never lose sight that she can still knock you out with intimidating rage if need be. Jamie Broadnax points out that Shuri takes up the Black Panther mantle, in the comics. This portrayal does not make me doubt it.
2. The Effects
CGI is still an element many a debate. I suffer from ADHD, so I do notice strange mishaps at times that throw me off, but my mind (at least most of it) was still immersed in the story. No CGI has ever been perfect, but some may take a star off for this.
8 Stars: ********
3: Character Motivations and Themes
The character motivations are believable and heartfelt. They bring us important themes we are dealing with today, which may be something others criticize it for. Armond White didn’t seem to appreciate the blacksploitation, and went further to mention the idealized “spears” with such lines as, “Don’t scare me like that, colonizer!” and “Another broken white boy for us to fix.” Race is, unfortunately, an issue in our world, but I will mention it very little here because neither of those seems to be reverse racism because nothing negative was said about either one, and it adds some expositional hints about one of the after the credits clips. All of this may even be too preachy, political, and somewhat toe the line of racism at some points for some people. If other races were inserted in those lines, it might have been triggering so this may be why some take yet another star off their rating, especially since it reminds them of the real world all too much with lines like, “In troubled times, wise men build bridges while fools build walls.” My daughter, our graphic designer, actually had to point this out to me later, because I didn’t have my political hat on at the time. That is indeed a sick burn, though.
7 Stars: *******
For me, it was powerful and awe-inspiring. The greatest villains are heroes in their own mind, and this villain actually ends up imparting some wisdom to T’Challa by the end, completing a theme of actively doing the right thing for the world, rather than closing yourself off to the rest of the world.
4. Art Design
The set and costume designs fused old world African culture and art with futurist styles in amazing breathtaking views, and the camera framing and angles were on point to help establish just the right nuance of mood. As an art teacher, I was in a heavenly delight of Afrofuturist wonder. For more of the African cultures that were used in this film, I highly recommend HomeTeam History’s video on Youtube, especially if you are a fan of art or African culture.
Much of the designs were brought to us by CGI, and that can put a damper on your experience if not done properly. If it did, you may find a fault in their stars (yeah, pun intended).
6 Stars: ******
It’s a Marvel movie, so we have similar fast-paced scenes. Even though the action scene to exposition ratio was a little light, the comedy and drama were enough to hold my attention and lose track of the fact that this movie has a runtime of 2 hours and 15 minutes, but just as the pacing and humor on The Last Jedi was criticized, this too had some jabs by some audience members. Devil’s Advocrits gives details on their YouTube review about why some may find internet meme jokes jarring after some solemn ceremonial scenes. They also mention that some of the same reveal elements are repeated when an outsider ends up in Wakanda, which could have been avoided by removing much of those elements at the beginning and putting them there. I agree. Their actual opinions are given at the end of the video, though, so watch until the end. If you find such pacing awkward, then your review may look like a meteor shower.
5 Stars: *****
6. Fight Choreography
They used a mix of fighting styles, but a lot of the fight scenes were primarily African Martial arts, which not only brings us something fresh but lends authenticity to these 3-dimensional characters. Check out Youtube’s, Comics Explained video for an in-depth look at the different fighting arts used in the movie.
Some criticisms developed on this subject anyway. “The plotting is predictable and the action sequences for the most part unengaging. Black Panther is a major disappointment,” said Vicky Roach of The Daily Telegraph and other news sites. Sure, I did know which fights were going to be won and which were going to be lost, and if that’s the case with you, that may be what causes falling stars on your review.
4 Stars: ****
Predictability can be a problem, especially when you understand the formula of the monomyth. Yes, you knew I’d mention it, I also teach mythology, and this movie follows Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey almost entire to the letter, which is why I knew which fights would be lost. If you’d like to be able to better predict plot points of movies, watch this Youtube video by CrashCourse Mythology. For others, this may be an issue that causes you to yawn a star off your rating.
3 Stars: ***
This ends up being close to the lowest of ratings you can find on Rotten Tomatoes, but I’m a mythology and art nerd, who loves comics, so to me, this film schooled the rest of the MCU on how to make a movie. I might take half a star off for CGI, and another half for repeated exposition.
9 Stars: *********
If you haven’t seen this movie, hopefully, this review will inform you on whether to catch it this weekend, or whether to wait for Netflix.
Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast, and each will wrestle for the mastery there.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
We often learn more about our heroes, by the villains they fight. By the opposing force, we see where the lines are drawn, what monster they, or we, might become if we don’t take heed.
What if I told you, in my best Morpheus impersonation, that those heroes are just fighting themselves. Their outer struggle is often a metaphor for the torments they hold inside, and we relate to these characters because they are often a reflection of the very real, but unseen, onslaughts we’ve had to endure within our own states of mental health.
Spiderman has to wrestle with his selfish desires, his Venom, but even if he saves the day, he often lets down Mary Jane, Aunt May, or anyone else he loves. This is his gift, his curse, and no, it’s not for the faint of heart. There are negative consequences to even heroic actions.
That’s my role, isn’t it? To be the unrelenting failure. ”
-Morbius, the Living Vampire
Morbius, another Spidey villain, represents addiction, and the continuing struggle many go through with it. What if, in fighting Venom and Morbius, he was really just a guy dealing with his own selfish desires and addictions, and in doing so, even if he won, failed to be there for his loved ones anyway? It takes great strength to defeat those monsters, but what if they were invisible. For much of the time, Aunt May and his love interests don’t know he’s Spiderman. For all intents and purposes, he’s just flaking, and it’s this type of judging that people go through in real life every day when they fight their unseen foes.
Even The Flash has to fight The Reverse of himself.
The Reverse Flash actually leaves negativity in his wake. If that’s not symbolic of self-consciousness, I don’t know what is. The Flash, also, had to literally fight himself. Who wins that fight, really? But again, people do it every day, and they lose. Sometimes, winning one battle means being defeated by another. Clark Kent came to that realization via his own psyche in the form of Jonathan Kent in Batman v Superman. He saved the farm when he was a boy, but at what cost? This was something to ponder indeed, considering he then had to deal with Batman, who couldn’t move on until he dealt with his mother issues.
And, while we’re on the subject of people who are a little batty…
Of course, Batman represents order and fighting for justice so that others won’t have to go through what he did, but Batman is also fighting someone who went through a “bad day” and now has the desire to make sure that others hurt in the same way, to teach them a lesson about life. Yes, that’s right, it is himself.
We all want to be Batman or Superman, but with powers, it’s likely most of us would be Deadpool, on a really good day. The Joker represents chaos, sure, but he also represents giving up on humanity with a “screw it all’ attitude, but with laughter. Yes, THIS is the character that I’m probably the biggest fan of. Scary thought, right?
So, if you lose when you win, then how do you win without losing? It’s simple. You make friends with your enemy.
There are positive ways to direct negatives. There are strengths to be found in weaknesses. Just as Arrow in the CW’s DCU made friends with his enemy, Deathstroke, so can we make friends with our faults and find positive ways to direct them. Addicts are persistent, goal oriented, often creative, and tend to have empathy toward people going through their own struggles because they know what it’s like. Morbius feels like a failure. Sometimes it’s a good thing to let your restraint fail, to let your Hulk smash, in certain situations. Sometimes, it’s good to be selfish or give up with a “screw it all” attitude, especially, if you’re in an abusive relationship.
Until then let that side of yourself out by playing video games, writing, or I don’t know, maybe dressing up like them and acting them out on a stage.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will; -Friar Lawrence
Whoever you are, your feelings about this movie are valid.
Some people like Kevin Smith (and myself) cry happy tears at the emotional impact this movie had on us. Others had more negative things like this to say in the comments thread of Podcast Now, “I buried ALL my Star Wars memorabilia and held a funeral with my wife and two daughters. Yes, I cried like a baby but because the Star Wars that we all grew up on is DEAD!”
And, we thought the DC movies were divisive.
No franchise has as much sway on people’s very soul as Star Wars, and many a fanboy (self-included) and fangirl have their list of expectations of what a Star Wars film should be like. As director, Rian Johnson points out in an interview by Business Insider, “You’re going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up.” What’s important here, is that it’s okay if you didn’t like the movie. It’s okay if you hated it or loved it. None of these things make you stupid, a moron, an idiot, or any other vitriolic comment by a poster that we probably shouldn’t say on this blog.
Here are some elements of the film that people either loved or hated and why it’s perfectly valid to do so, either way.
1. The whole movie was a series of gotchas.
According to Podcast Now, there were too many times when the movie implied one thing and gave us another.
It’s okay to hate this, because you may feel like it’s too predictable in that it was trying too hard to be unpredictable. I know many felt like this was a giant middle finger to the original movies or even previous directors. Some felt like this was an “up yours” to them as fans. It’s certainly possible. High fan expectation has been evident for decades, even before social media really took off. Since it has, these expectations have certainly been known by the producers, writers, and directors, so it’s not unlikely that it was symbolically addressed in the subtext here, so yes, you have the right to hate this. The main contention is that the jump in first, save the day, and head home attitude of Luke and Han is proving to be just the thing that fails. Poe ignored orders and completed the mission, but, gotcha, he ended up getting a number of The Resistance killed off in the process. Finn and Rose are going to save the day, but gotcha, they’re really going to fail and get even more people killed. Hear more gotcha’s on Podcast Now’s video. Although, I really don’t think it was intended as a F*** YOU to the fans or past creators.
It’s okay to love this because maybe you like to be surprised. You may also see this possible dig at fans’ ribs as an, “Okay, we gotcha, and here’s a new wondrous journey we hope you enjoy.” Mystery is a large part of the magic for a lot of us.
The issue is on how much is just right for you, as is with a lot of elements.
2. The humor and pacing were jarring.
This was mentioned to me by a friend of mine, author Lesley Woodral (whose books are available on Amazon), BessY discussed this in depth in their Youtube vid. Geek Versus discussed this, and a myriad of other things, in their nearly 2-hour review of the flick, which is also a fun time that you should check out.
It’s okay to hate this, because a drastic change of pace and mood is not unlike going home after a long hard day of work and flipping on the sleep spa to relax, only to have the heard of elephants stomps made by neighbors or loved ones thump around in your head until a migraine makes you want to join the sith. You also, don’t like it when you’re ready to party, but some pooper wants you to be quiet. Poe Dameron pretends to not hear General Hux right before executing a “your mom” joke. Luke is all serious, then he throws the relic of his father’s lightsaber behind him and trudges off. The list goes on.
It’s okay to love this, because, well, I have ADHD, and this is how my mind is most of the time, jarring. Plus, you might very well have strapped yourself in for a rollercoaster ride and were pleased to get it. Humor IS the reason why the Marvel movies get less hate than the DC movies, but did TLJ not take enough time with the serious moments? I think they did, but then, I loved it.
The issue is subjectivity because humor doesn’t transcend everything, as Mathew R. Wilson tells us in his Ted Talk segment on humor. It’s divisive. I hated Knocked Up but loved This is the End. For others, it’s vice versa. Go figure.
3. It’s Leia Poppins, ya’ll.
This one is all over the internet, yet I don’t think I’ve seen anyone defend it with meaningful detail, so I will do that in a minute.
It’s okay to hate this, because it would have been a great moment for Carrie Fischer to have gone out on, and they wouldn’t have to reshoot much to make that her final curtain. Also, it is too much like a flying superhero, which makes this moment not feel like Star Wars, and Star Wars matters. #SWM
It’s okay to love this moment, because contrary to popular belief, it is scientifically possible if you include the supernatural element of The Force. It can be used to move and manipulate matter. If it can do that, it can pull in the released air around her, containing thermal energy, so she won’t freeze or suffocate to death, at least for the short time she needs to get to safety. It can also be used to Force pull the clothes she’s wearing, and therefore her, to the ship, if you don’t believe that she can force pull her organic body, that is). This would take very little energy, since there is no gravity to slow her down, especially in a life or death survival situation. Even without The Force, Anna Gosline, of Scientific American says, “In reality, however, animal experiments and human accidents have shown that people can likely survive exposure to vacuum conditions for at least a couple of minutes.” Why don’t other Jedi just fly, then? Maybe, it takes entirely too much effort to maintain levitation or flight when gravity is a factor, which is why they only use it in short bursts to jump higher or sprint, and Leia only needed one small push in an anti-gravity situation, to achieve her goal. Also, in Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey, dying and coming back to life is an important stage, even if it’s only a metaphorical death. This is a hearty demonstration of Leia using of The Force, and there is no reason she shouldn’t. Darth Vader is her father, and Luke had plenty of time to teach her a lesson or two. Even then, she went into a coma shortly afterward from all the trauma.
The issue here is whether or not this provides an aesthetic so different that it doesn’t feel like traditional Star Wars, and if it does, whether or not it matters to you.
4. It’s PC.
James Moore’s last column for The Independent illustrates a few examples of people complaining that creators forced diversity at the expense of storyline.
It’s okay to hate this, because reverse racism is still racism, and there are some that claim this is what happened with this movie. If you also, hated the Finn/Rose mission or the mutiny storyline, this may have been a factor for you, as Moore’s article suggests. Even if you were color blind like I was while watching the movie, it is also very politically preachy about the have’s and have not’s of the real world. A lot of people were wanting a ride that took them far far away from reality, not one that reminds them of it. I know I stopped watching American Horror Story: Cult, because it was hitting way too close to home for me.
It’s okay to love this, especially if you felt the positive message, about hope and overcoming oppression, grab at your heartstrings. You can be a Haysian mechanic (Rose is from Hays Minor, and she’s played by an Asian.) or an orphan girl with terrible parents and be a hero. Race, gender, and social standing do not matter, and it shouldn’t matter, and if you loved the storylines, then you likely loved the inclusiveness.
The issue here is if you felt some parts of the storyline that were minority-heavy or partisan driven were just a waste of time, you might have felt like Disney was just shoving overly PC culture down your throat for no other reason than to provide diversity solely for the sake of diversity. If you liked those plots, then you probably adored the choices and themes it presented. It’s important to note, that holding either opinion doesn’t mean you are a bigot, unless, of course, you actually hate it solely, because minorities and women are main characters, which is, thankfully, a minority opinion itself, as the comments section of Moore’s article vehemently highlights.
5. It’s a different Luke.
Den of Geek reported that even Mark Hamill had concerns about Luke’s story arc and motivations, to the point that he had to basically think of this older character as Jake Skywalker rather than the farm boy we all know from A New Hope and the internet is rampant with #NotMyLuke and #MyLuke in response to that. Let’s dive in.
It’s okay to hate this, because traditionally, Luke has been a character who would risk his life and very soul to save the 2nd most evil man in the galaxy, because he believed there was still good in him. The #NotMyLukers didn’t want to see this hero now abandon everyone after giving up on his own nephew, so much so, that he almost decided to kill him, and then go off to hide like a coward in the far reaches of the galaxy, but then leave behind fragments of a map, in different locations to find him, as an attention grab, like a 15 Tweet tirade on why you’re leaving Twitter. Plus, drinking the green tit juice from a beach cow was just gross, and it would have made more sense for him to have found a way to go to Crait in person, rather than kill himself by Force projecting himself.
It’s okay to love this Luke who has struggled with a new father-like role that takes on a lot more responsibility. As a hero, he risked only himself to try to save his friends. As a Jedi Master, he took on the responsibility for the actions of a group of young people, and in one worried moment when he helicopter-Jedied inside Kylo’s soul, he found a budding Adolf Hitler. Even heroes would certainly have the urge to kill a pre-Fuhrer but would be conflicted about it with either decision. In the end, Luke chose not to do it, but by just creepily standing over a sleeping Ben with a sparked light saber was enough for him to lose all trust in the Light Side of The Force. This is a very heavy burden for Luke who feels solely liable for his padawans’ actions, the others (The Knights of Ren) of which, we will likely hear about in the next installment. Luke, feeling like he might have created another dark side using despot, feels as if he is bad for the galaxy, so he hid in an uncharted sector and cut himself off from The Force entirely. He didn’t leave an actual map, but it was believed that he was looking for the first Jedi temple, so when they put it together and some stranger shows up asking him to do the very thing he failed so hard at that he created another Darth Vader, he wanted no part of it. Of course, he threw his father’s lightsaber behind him, told her to go away, and went on about his daily routine, which involved a funny gross-out of drinking green milk. After she showed that she was going to learn whatever and wherever she could, he trained her, but ONLY to show her why The Jedi need to end. Then she, like he did in Empire, left to save her friends, and he went to burn down the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Jedi Hubris, just before ghost Yoda beat him to it and gave him some good old fashioned and much-needed guidance, “The greatest teacher failure is.” He even called him Young Skywalker. *tear* Now that Luke’s re-connected to The Force, he can likely see that The Resistance is all going to die, and he knows he’s not powerful enough to take on all that firepower in person, AND still save enough of The Resistance. For him to redeem himself AND keep the spark of hope alive for the galaxy, he Force projects himself there. This is too much for his physical body to handle, and he becomes one with the force, symbolic of the ancient ascended masters of ancient Buddhism and Taoism, which is awesome for mythology nerds like me. He went the way of Oogway in Kung Fu Panda, and the binary sunset, calling back to the very first Star Wars movie ever, when he contemplated who he was and where his place was in the Universe, and the fact that despite his mistakes in the father role, he not only absolved himself, he became worthy to become one with The Force. It was so beautiful, I cried.
The issue is whether or not you wanted to see a flawed hero dealing with moral dilemmas and regret for past mistakes. This was a major factor of the divisiveness of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman. If you aren’t a mythology nerd, and/or you wanted to see Luke go out, with a REAL lightsaber a-blazin’, you would have been disappointed in the peaceful fade.
6. The mutiny plot could have been resolved with a 30-second sidebar.
It’s okay to hate this, because this entire conflict could have been resolved with a “30-second conversation” between Holdo and Dameron. If you hated this, you might have thought this was an attempt to jam in feminism at the expense of good writing, such as was mentioned above in number 4. Telling Poe about the plan would have prevented Finn and Rose from risking their lives needlessly for a mission that failed anyway, which was made worse by DJ hearing Poe tell Finn that Holdo was fueling up the transport ships. When DJ sold them out to the First Order, all of those lives blown up on transport ships were on Holdo, because she was too headstrong.
It’s okay to love this, because the character motivations were clear and believable. Poe was too Dam(eron) stubborn about “jumping into an X-Wing and blowing things up.” He had a lot of leadership potential, but his jump in head first attitude got too many people killed, at the risk of obsessing over a mission. He was demoted, as a result, and for good reason. Holdo had a mission to complete, as well, and the details were on a need to know basis, in case there was a mole. Poe further reinforces the fact that he can’t be trusted to do the right thing, when he starts a mutiny and blabs the half of what he figured out to Finn and Rose, and therefore, DJ, and therefore The First Order. Poe learns his lesson and one of the major themes of the movie, failure is the greatest teacher. His character arch goes from charging in at all costs, to saving lives and choosing his battles, especially when he decides to follow the foxes out of the caverns.
The issue is whether or not you buy that people really are that stubborn, and even if you do, whether you expect such flaws from your heroes in a fantasy setting far far away from here.
It’s okay to hate this, because we like to see our heroes win. Setbacks are okay, but not when it costs several lives to an already dwindling Resistance. If we didn’t have the #6 problem, we wouldn’t have had this failure of a plot thread that dragged, with a “Jumanji” style stampede and a preach about class warfare. Why was DJ just waiting for others to get arrested to escape, anyway? Their mission failed, and it doesn’t make sense for Rose to fall in love with Finn in less than a day. They could have had a better reason to get Phasma into the movie, and for a much longer time, and her death was disappointing, so was Finn not dying.
It’s okay to love this, because, as Geek Versus says, “Rocky gotta get beat down first.” This subplot didn’t drag, if you believed in the themes presented in it, and the giant horse race getaway was fun for the kid in me. I liked the mention about how rich weapons manufacturers get richer off both sides of a war. This is something people need to take a long hard look at today. They made the mistake of parking illegally for the sake of time and got arrested, so they never got to meet up with the person they intended to. DJ (played amazingly by Benicio Del Toro), having already been arrested, was likely using the opportunity to take a nap, before escaping, when he saw an opportunity in them to make money. Trusting him was another mistake. People are flawed and complex, and so should our art imitate that. Rose adored Finn before she even met him. Finn didn’t want to be the person who did the wrong thing, but he didn’t see himself as the hero that she saw, which is why she met him trying to desert a second group. He eventually learned to do the heroic thing, but he hasn’t learned to choose his battles, something Poe had to learn the hard way a few times in this movie. Phasma’s appearance was full circle for Finn to prove that he is not where he came from, another great theme in this film, and the battle was a good bit of side-action. It’s also very likely that we’ll see “Chrome Dome” in the next film with an eye patch or something. The trip to Canto Bight was a good idea to bring in Finn and a new character. It made sense for them to make the trip, and it wasn’t a loss completely, because their heroism, helps keep the spark of hope alive, as seen in the force sensitive boy with the Rebel ring, who helped them escape by letting all the horse things out. Rose’s line is very powerful, “That’s how we’re gonna win, not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” Yes, that sometimes involves fighting what you hate, but this is a very important approach to life’s battles, and yes, I teared up.
The issue here is whether or not you like flawed heroes that fail, and whether you believe a fangirl can fall in love with her hero, even though she met him running away. The proselytizing on class warfare and choosing your battles is another factor that separates a lot of fans.
8. There were a lot of scenes and lines that were a lot like the original trilogy.
This was another major point of contention for Lesley Woodral and EC Henry predicted some of the themes of the movie in his Youtube video before it even premiered.
It’s okay to hate this, because it’s too much like the original trilogy, even the lines. Changing the color of the throne room doesn’t help. Both Rey and Luke leave their training early to save their friends and confront their rival. They both said to their adversary, “I can feel the conflict within you,” and they had conflict in themselves, too. They were both shown their friends dying through a window by a cantankerous and overly-condescending jerk, who later tortured them. Their adversary eventually killed their evil master. There’s a moment where they’re on a Hoth-looking planet. Having some guy shove bits of the ground in his mouth to tell us, “It’s salt,” doesn’t change that the suped-up ATAT’s don’t look that much different than they did in Empire.
It’s okay to love this, because it helps us understand that this is the same Universe, and in mythology and The Heroes Journey, stories happen in cycles. This cycle is decidedly different. We have a different Luke and very different twists on somewhat similar setups. Just as EC predicted, this is different, with some similarities, and this new theme is expanding the Universe and giving us much more complex characters than ever before, providing a stronger message. Henry points this out in another video. Yes, there are some similar lines and visuals, but the outcomes take us on a, dare I say it, trek that is not like we’ve seen before, and similar narrative structures are a part of any classic storytelling anyway. This isn’t a love letter to the original trilogy, but it does pay it its due homage.
The issue is, again, how much is too much in similarity. There is plenty of similarity, and plenty of variety to choose from.
9. Snoke is a nobody and Rey is a nobody.
Geek Versus had a conversation about this, and many a fan theory was crushed as evidenced by many irate posts.
It’s okay to hate this, because almost any sort of backstory about Snoke would have sufficed, even if it didn’t fit with fan theories. Rey’s lineage was built up very strongly by ber compelling pull to Anakin’s (yes, Anakin’s) lightsaber, as well as, the memory of her parents taking off without her, and blacking out everything else before that. They built it up for a big reveal. Rey has such ability and power with ZERO training and even more with a couple of lessons. Why is this? Shouldn’t there be a reason for this? Nothing was just a letdown, and there was no real character development.
It’s okay to love this, because sometimes, people don’t have a special lineage. Sometimes parents are just awful, and it is a potent message that The Force doesn’t belong to anyone. It was meaningful for us to have that build up, just like most orphans hope about their real parents. We saw the let down through her own eyes and felt the disappointment right along with her. This was her development. This was why she was almost tempted to join The Dark Side. She was let down, and now she has even more questions about what she’s supposed to be. She had to choose her own path, which is even more significant, because, that this means heroes can come from anywhere. Villains like Negan from The Walking Dead can have been ex-Teacher/Coaches. We didn’t know much about Palpatine, either, until the prequels. Also, it’s likely that Kylo is just guessing, and this may not be the truth, but honestly, I hope it is. This is a let down, fitting the failure motif in the learning experience of this movie. Granted, this isn’t her failure exactly, but it took the wind out of her sails about who she is and what she is “supposed to do.” She then has to realize that it’s up to her to decide. This gives strength to so many battling their pasts to overcome and move beyond them. The Force doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s inside all of us, and we are the masters of our destiny. Where we come from is irrelevant. I love this message, and I want more of it.
The issue here is if you wanted your epic story to have important reveals about lineage and backstory, or whether you enjoyed that the mundane and sometimes terrible pasts can motivate to be more, to be saviors in our own right.
This movie is not exactly escapism, which is a let down for some who wanted it. It’s highly symbolic, of not only the common threads of classical mythology, but also classic storytelling. So, just as Friar Lawrence remarks in Act 2 Scene 3 in Romeo and Juliet about the similarities of flowers that heal us by smelling them, but kill us by eating them, there is both good and bad within human beings, and sometimes we need to use a little bad to get some good done. Will we see our heroes tame the Darkside within them to be assertive when necessary? I hope so, but keeping the Jungian shadow inside us in check is the crux. Dr. Who is a good man, but beware when this good man goes to war.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still. In man as well as herbs grace and rude will. And where the worser is predominant. Full soon the canker death eats up that plant. -Friar Lawrence
My father passed away a few weeks before the release of the first Star Trek reboot. I said I would get a ticket for him anyway (My friend, Wesley Williams, actually paid for it.) and leave the seat open for him. At the opening sequence, when George Samuel Kirk, Sr., sacrificed his life, so that his wife and child and the rest of 800 lives could live…
I’m crying now as I write this.
Movies resonate with me, and I see I am not alone. I love that our world is filling with so much art that we can look at it, all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly truth (Yes, that movie title pun was intentional.), and learn from it. We are spoiled for choice in this age of geek fandoms, and I am loving it. We can talk about what we like, what we love, and even what we hate. Either way, films are affecting the masses in a powerful way.
A lot of these stories use similar formulas to the extent that my wife can’t help but point out the number of times she hears the words, “My father,” in an episode of Arrow.
These tales touch our hearts so much, because it’s about growing up, and we have to make the decision to do it every day, even if we keep our hearts young and full of wonder in the process. I talk a lot about Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth (sometimes called The Hero’s Journey), because director’s are, and have been, using this with the fantasies that we love. It’s all about coming of age and making the hard choices that have to be made. We all have our comfort zones we start in, and then we have the decision to either go out on our own or refuse. We inevitably have to go at some point, otherwise we can’t really “adult.” Our adventure has to begin. This is why we identify so strongly with conflicted heroes fighting larger than life problems.
That’s how we feel about our own lives.
We need that inspiration sometimes to keep fighting the good fight, go into the belly of the beast, finally reach an atonement with the father, and eventually let one old part of our lives die, so that another can be born. We do this whether we’re finding true love, getting a new job, losing an old job, raising a child, or just moving out of the house for the first time.
So, I watch Clark Kent’s dads sacrifice themselves for their son, and I cry (Especially, when my son said, “He reminds me of your dad.”). I watch Wonder Woman march across an impossible battlefield, as a symbol of strength that my daughter can look up to, and the overcoming of the ordeal of that part in some of our darkest history, and I cry. I watch a group of people from different races fight together in space, and learn the true meaning of family in each other, and that even though dads can screw up, they can also redeem themselves like Mary Poppins, ya’ll, and I cry. I watch an older Luke Skywalker struggle with being in a new role after making mistakes, as master, as a teacher, as a father, and I watch him fight to not only redeem himself, but to save others, and I cry.
I’m a son and a father, after all. I struggle with both roles.
Movies are more than just something that flashes in front of us for amusement. They inspire us to live life. They are a work created by people inspired by other art, and their own real life experiences, and I believe that grabs hold of people. It changes them for the good, at least for the most part. Despite the copycat murderers mimicking something they watched, many find the strength to not take their own lives, to strive to make the world a better place…to DO better.
I watch that 2009 reboot of Star Trek every year on January 12th, my father’s birthday.
“Your father was captain of a star ship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including your mother’s and yours. I dare you to do better.”