Hope for Redemption: Thoughts on Star Wars Episode IX Trailer

Everyone that know me knows I’m a huge Star Wars fan.  I have been one since I could ever remember (aka a really long time).  I loved the films, the novels, the comics, the video games, the toys, everything.  I know the original trilogy by heart.  I went and saw the prequel trilogy films opening night (well at least I and II while I was in college).

Fast forward to the sequel trilogy.  I was super excited about The Force Awakens.  I went and saw it like 5 times in the theater.  Then came The Last Jedi…The most divisive Star Wars film and one of the most divisive blockbuster films ever.  I remember the seeing first trailer and having reservations about the film.  I thought “Oh it’ll be fine.”  Then I saw the film opening night.  And my reservations were warranted.  It…was not a good film.  Objectively and subjectively.  It was not good as a Star Wars film.  It was not good as the middle arc of a trilogy.  It was…bad.  To this day it is the only Star Wars film that I have only seen once and have zero desire to ever see it again.

On top of that was all the noise that developed from it.  You had a group of fans that were angry and hateful about it on one side.  On the other side there were a group of fans (as well as some media and people that work at Lucasfilm) that demanded that you love the film or you were racist, misogynistic, sexist, etc.  It left people like me who were in the middle of all this feeling not wanted by a fandom.

So in the past year or so my excitement for Star Wars waned tremendously.  I became apathetic to Star Wars.  I did go see Solo and it was fine.  And I was planning on seeing Episode IX when it came out in December but I wasn’t getting my hopes up.

Then the trailer dropped today.  That trailer.  It gives me hope.  Hope that the things done in The Last Jedi will be fixed.  Hope that the entire Skywalker saga will end on a good note, one that honors the characters of this fictional universe.  Now I don’t think The Rise of Skywalker can fully repair the damage done by The Last Jedi but I think it can go a long ways to fix the major problems.  But above all I hope that the extremes on both sides that screamed the loudest following The Last Jedi will put down their arms and come together to enjoy a film together, one that (hopefully) honors the story that George Lucas created.

The Five: Five Favorite Film Franchises

It has been a while since my last “The Five”.  But I’m back and got another list of share.  With this being peak movie season, I was thinking about film franchises.  So I thought what are the five film franchises that are go to for me.  When I say “film franchises” there has to be at least five films (works well with “The Five” don’t you think).  As always, these are in no particular order:

1.) Star Wars

If there was a film franchise that would be the first to mention on any list of mine, it would be Star Wars.  Though ironically it took the prequels to qualify for this list.  I have always been a huge fan of the series and holds a special place in my heart.  Unfortunately it’s not without its clunker (The Last Jedi) but every film franchise on this list will have one.  But as a whole, I can go back and watch these films with great joy.

2.) Mission:  Impossible

Interestingly, this is the film franchise that I would say has gotten better with each successive film (which is a rarity).  I loved the TV series (both the 60s version and the 80s version which was what I got first introduced to as a kid)  So I was super interested when it hit the big screen.  Ironically, the first film is the clunker in the series to me (mainly because I hated they turned a beloved character into a villain).  But as time has gone on, the film series has gotten better with the latest film being right at the top.

3.) The Fast and the Furious

If there was an unlikely film franchise, this would be it.  I remember when the first one released and being in college and really enjoying it.  By the time they got to Tokyo Drift (which is the clunker), I figured the series was pretty much done.  But they seemed to reinvent themselves with Fast and Furious and since then have gone in over the top and wild directions and have been really entertaining.

4.) Godzilla

Talk about a long running film franchise that I love, Godzilla is that franchise.  There are essentially four eras of films in Japan (not to mention the American versions…but we’re not talking about the 1998 version..that’s an ultimate clunker) that span decades and yet the films made are ones that I find myself going back to watch over and over again, especially the Heisei era films of the 80s-90s.  Anytime I’m in the mood for watching some big monster battles, Godzilla is my go to franchise.

5.) Rocky/Creed

This film franchise is interesting because it was one I already enjoyed (minus the clunker that is Rocky V) but when Creed came along it added even more layers of depth and enjoyment to the franchise.  Beloved characters continue to be beloved and added along new characters that are just as beloved.  That is what a good franchise does.

MoviePass Adventures: Month 8

Last month was kind of a slow month, not as many films that I went and saw with my MoviePass.  Here’s this month’s entries (which turned out even slower):

1.) Solo:  A Star Wars Story

The latest of the anthology Star Wars films is a prequel of sorts, retelling (or retconning) the origin story of Han Solo.  it goes into the story of how Han meets Chewbacca, how he gets a hold of the Millennium Falcon and the beginnings of his smuggler life.  This was a fun film.  I was very skeptical given how “The Last Jedi” was so bad to me but this film does not make the same mistakes.  It’s a fun film that makes the proper homages to the past, tells a good story and is fun to watch.

 

2.) Ocean’s 8

Set in the same world as the films Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12 & Ocean’s 13:, this one is a spinoff of sorts looking at Danny Ocean’s sister, Debbie and the crew she gathers to steal this ridiculously expensive necklace worn during the Met Gala while at the same time getting back at her ex-boyfriend who was responsible for her landing in jail.  I liked the films (which I wasn’t sure initially).  I didn’t like the fact that they killed off Danny (off screen but still) but overall I liked it.  A good analogy for this film was a band I liked doing a cover song.  I liked the band and I liked the song but after hearing the song it would make me want to go back to listen to the original.  I think the same for Ocean’s 8. After watching it I now want to go back and watch Ocean’s 11.

 

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 42

(Number of unique films seen overall: 40)

Bittersweet Symphony: Thoughts on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

I went and saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth episode in the saga this past Thursday night.  I wanted to wait a few days A) to avoid spoiling for others (warning there may be spoilers in this post) and B) to ruminate on my thoughts of the film.

I titled this post “Bittersweet Symphony”.  Those that may catch that reference it is the title of a 90s song.  And I think that title sums up my feelings on The Last Jedi.  On it’s own, it’s a really good film.  But in comparison to the previous film (The Force Awakens) and even more so the saga as a whole, it is very bittersweet.

This is no fault of director Rian Johnson.  He made his film and I was impressed (that was the word I immediately thought of when walking out of the theater) by the decisions that he made and the path he took.  On it’s own, this film immediately found and went its own path.  In the context of the third trilogy, it feels like in many ways it departed (good bad or indifferent) from what was established in the previous film.  A lot of people have brought up these thoughts (dismissing Rey’s parents as nobodies, killing off Snoke with no real explanation of who he is and how big a threat he is) as well as other thoughts (not explaining where a lot of the resistance leaders were after TFA, killing of Captain Phasma with little screentime, etc) It felt like Rian Johnson took a lot of TFA and just scrapped it to tell his own story.  Which is fine, it’s his right as a storyteller to do that.

Hence the bittersweet feeling.  As I kid, I dreamed about what episode VII, VIII & IX would be like.  As a teenager I heartily read through the Thrawn trilogy and the Dark Empire graphic novels and a lot of the EU (Expanded Universe) books.  Even though it seemed like there would never be that sequel trilogy, there was all this other media that told the further adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Lando, Wedge and the rest.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas and went away from his treatment of the sequel trilogy (he had written up a treatment) and went their own path, I don’t think I realized it at the time but I especially do now.  We will never (unless that treatment is turned into novels/graphic novels) know what George Lucas had in mind for the further Skywalker adventures.  While we get these new films and such (which I’m not complaining about and I do enjoy in their own right) it is sad that the EU that I loved growing up is dismissed and more importantly that George Lucas, the man who dreamed up this universe, never got to finish the story.  That would be like C.S. Lewis not getting to write the last 3 books of The Chronicles of Narnia or J.R.R. Tolkien not getting to finish The Lord of the Rings and someone else coming in to write those books.

I wonder if Disney wouldn’t have been better off just having Johnson direct this entire trilogy (like they’re doing with the new one after IX) than to come in after Abrams like he did and then discard a lot of things Abrams had developed.  Regardless, it is a film that has developed a lot of buzz (positive and negative) as the flashing “Opening weekend” lights have started to fade.

I am sure I will see it more times.  And I’m sure my thoughts and feelings about the film will continue to settle.  But I think the feeling of bittersweetness will stick around with this film (and I think in some ways it will do so with Episode IX as well).  I mentioned this before, for kids growing up, this is their Star Wars trilogy like for me the original trilogy was and for others the prequel trilogy.  They will view this trilogy differently from me and that’s okay.  For me, it reminds me of an “alternate timeline” and that somewhere else the EU or whatever Lucas had in mind are out there as well and are legitimate timelines of how the Star Wars saga continues.

There’s so much of a thought out there now that it’s extremes, you must absolutely love something or hate it.  That shouldn’t be the case.  People can have opinions (especially something subjective like movies and art) that cover a wide range of perspective.  When it comes to The Last Jedi, I can enjoy it as a film and still fill bittersweet about the story it tells in itself and the saga as a whole.

Thoughts on the Second Trailer for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Last night the second trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi dropped.  It dropped with only a few months before the film debuts in December and having watched it several times and had some time to think about it.  Here are some of my thoughts…

1.) I mentioned after watching the first trailer that the film has an “Empire” feel.  This one really cements that  Granted that’s to be expected with the training of Rey, the fight with AT-AT 2.0 (I know they have a name but can’t think of it off the top of the head) and what appears to be Kylo sort of asking Rey to join him ala Vader to Luke at end of Empire.

2.) Showing Finn in battle with Phasma is stark contrast to the first trailer which had him in a stasis pod which is good.

3.) I still don’t know what to think about Luke.  I’m less concerned with how they’ll treat Luke after this trailer but there is still that concern.  I guess part of it is coming in with the “Legends” stories still in my head of how they treated Luke post Return of the Jedi and how it appears he’s treated in the Disneymovieverse.

4). There were a few shots that looked like Rey had a white lightsaber…which I think would be good because that means she built her own lightsaber.  I could be wrong and she still has Anakin/Luke’s old blue lightsaber and the lighting was such to make the blade color seem white in some shots.  If she is to become a Jedi then she should build her own lightsaber.  But then I guess the argument is to be made in the film is she going to be a Jedi or is the order done now.

Overall this trailer sold me more on the film than the first trailer.  I’m still a little wary but we’ll see come December how things go.