Tag Archives: Natalie Portman

Star Wars Character Review: Kylo Ren/Ben Solo

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the new characters that were introduced to audiences for the episodes seven and eight in the Star Wars franchise. Read at your own risk if you have not seen The Force Awakens Or The Last Jedi.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Star Wars to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Life is often a series of choices. What we don’t know is the the repercussions that may come about from those choices. In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) was introduced as the film’s baddie. Like Darth Vader before him, Kylo was determined with a capital D to destroy the rebellion at any cost, regardless of the ties to the heroes of the rebellion.

Kylo Ren’s birth name was Ben Solo. He is the son of Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), the nephew of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the grandson Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman). With his lineage and natural abilities when it comes the force, he could have followed his uncle Luke to become a Jedi. Instead he took the same path his grandfather took. Seduced by the dark side and Supreme Leader Snoke, Ben Solo becomes a think of the past. He is now Kylo Ren, master of the knights of Ren and supreme leader of The First Order.

In The Force Awakens, while Kylo is committed the destroying the rebellion, there is a part of him that still goes back to the light and the family he left behind. That is, until he kills his father. Even so, the questions about his loyalties still never quite disappear. His interactions with Rey (Daisy Ridley) bring those questions to the surface, especially he has the opportunity to kill his mother in The Last Jedi. But, he makes the split second decision not to.

In the end of The Last Jedi, after Rey has rejected Kylo’s offer to join The First Order, he frames her for the murder of Supreme Leader Snoke and goes after in the rebellion with everything he’s got. He has made the choice to completely give into the dark side.

To sum it up: Kylo Ren/ Ben Solo made the choice to forego any return to the light side and completely become one with the dark side of the force.  In this process, he killed his father, nearly killed his mother and become a younger version of his grandfather. Characters make choices and like all of us, will have to live with those choices. Episode 9 starting filming this week. While we will have to wait until next year to see the repercussions of his choices, he made them and will have to deal with them.

 

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Throwback Thursday-Where The Heart is (2000)

Those who we call family are not always defined by a blood test or a DNA test. Family is defined as someone who cares about us and takes time out of their day to include us in their lives.

In the 2000 movie, Where The Heart Is, Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman) has the unfortunate luck of being a 17-year-old girl who is pregnant (and very near her due date) who has been abandoned by her boyfriend/baby daddy on a cross-country road trip. She is unemployed, has very little money to her name and is temporarily living in a Walmart in a the small town of Sequoyah, Oklahoma. After her daughter is born, Novalee decides to stay in Sequoyah and creates a family from among the strangers who took her and her daughter in.

Before I start my review, I have to state that this movie is based on a book of the same name by that I have not read. The review is solely based on the movie. While the movie is a little schmaltzy, it proves that family is not defined by common DNA and strangers can become family.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-V For Vendetta (2005)

Science fiction and fantasy often has a way of revealing our fears and our dreams.

Set in the future, V for Vendetta (2005) is the story of a freedom fighter, V (Hugo Weaving), who wears a Guy Fawkes mask. V is fighting against a fascist government that has overtaken England. Evey (Natalie Portman) is rescued by V from the secret police. Together, they will become allies to overthrow the government.

Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, this movie is not for children. It  asks some very tough questions about individualism vs. conforming and individual freedom vs. safety via complete government control. It is very dark and has some very disturbing moments. But there light at the end of the tunnel for these characters.

I recommend it.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace

In 1999, it had been sixteen years since Return Of The Jedi premiered. Fans all over the world were clamoring to see where George Lucas would be taking his characters after a nearly 20 year absence from the big screen.

Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace was the first prequel that would eventually connect the story lines started in 1977.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a hotheaded, eager, young Jedi who is eager to spread his wings. But his wiser, older master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) knows that his pupil is not as ready as he thinks he is. The evil Trade Federation is slowly taking over the galaxy. Traveling to Naboo with their new friend Jar Jar Binks (voiced by Ahmed Best), they try to warn Queen Amidala, who has already escaped  (Natalie Portman), but her planet has already been taken over.

Eventually finding their way to Tatooine, they meet a a boy named Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). Qui-Gon Jinn cannot put his finger 0n it, but there is something special about this boy. Now they must get to Coruscant, solve the trade dispute and return the Queen to her throne. But there is something hiding in the shadows, something far more serious and dangerous than any of them realize.

Is it me, or did George Lucas nearly screw up cinema perfection? Episodes 4, 5 and 6 are examples of what fantasy/scifi movies and their sequels should be. George Lucas became just another filmmaker who relies on 3D to keep the audience interested. Which is a shame because he is one of the most respected filmmakers alive. He has some of the best actors in Hollywood in this movie (Portman, Neeson and McGregor) and they are nearly wasted.

Any good filmmaker worth their salt knows that it is not special effects that keep the story moving forward and keeping the audiences interested. It is a good script with interesting characters and a story line that is one step ahead of the audience. Let’s not forget the stupidest character created (Jar Jar Binks) and the use of racial stereotypes that I would have hoped would not be part of Lucas’s writing.

Were the critics wrong? No.

In Fanboys (which I highly recommend), as the characters are waiting to go into the movie theater all decked out in their costumes, one of them asks (please pardon the paraphrasing).

“What if it sucks?”.

While George Lucas partially redeemed himself with episodes 2 and 3, episode 1 will is not a part of the series that I relish.

I do not recommend this movie.

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Thor: A Dark World Sequel- Just As Good The Second Time Around

There are some movies where one movie is more than enough, making a sequel is a waste of time for the film makers and the audience.  Thor: The Dark World, is not one of those movies.

The movie starts 2 years after the previous movie. Thor (Chris Helmsworth) has been fighting to bring peace to the nine realms. When Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is pulled into the conflict between Asgard and The Dark Elves, led by Malekeith (Christopher Eccleston), Thor must choose between his destiny and the woman he loves.  In his desperation, he must turn to Loki (Tom Hiddleston) for help.

Despite what some reviewers have said, this movie is so good. Its just about 2 hours long, but it doesn’t feel 2 hours long.   While Thor is the title character, Hiddleston is dynamic and unpredictable as Loki.

My only complaint is that the Jane Foster is, except for a few scenes, relegated to the traditional love interest/damsel in distress. The only scenes with strong female characters are not as numerous as I would like.  But overall, this movie is excellent and highly recommended.

And don’t leave right after the credits. There is some fun stuff afterwards.

 

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