Tag Archives: Star Wars: Episode VI-Return Of The Jedi

Bloodline Book Review

When it comes to Star Wars, it’s easy to get sucked into the world. Especially the narratives and characters that are not covered in the films.

In 2016, Claudia Gray published Bloodline, filling in the timeline in between The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens.

It’s been decades since the old Empire was defeated. The dream of a true intergalactic democracy has dissolved into partisan infighting among the leaders of The New Republic. With decades of political experience under her belt, Leia Ogana has become a respected senator.

Leia hopes that peace and co-existence will return to the galaxy, but hope turns to dread, especially when forces within and without are threatening to destroy The New Republic. Will Leia’s hopes turn into reality or will her instincts and her family history return the galaxy into the war zone that it once was?

I really liked this book. I enjoyed it not only because it is well written, but it fits into the previously established timeline between the original trilogy and the newer movies. It’s nice to read a fanfiction that feels unique to the writer while not disregarding the original characters and narratives that the fans are loyal to.

I recommend it.

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Carrie Fisher-Gone A Year Today

 

A year ago today, Carrie Fisher passed away.

Writer, actress, mental health activist, mother, daughter, sister, feminist, Fisher was an icon to many for many reasons. Playing Leia Organa in the Star Wars film franchise, Fisher helped to change the way women are portrayed in film, especially in science fiction and fantasy films. Leia was not just the heart and the brains of the rebellion, she was whip smart and in charge.

Leia grabbing the blaster from Luke’s hands and shooting at the storm troopers was a small moment in A New Hope, but a big moment in the history of women on-screen.

After Star Wars and in between her other roles, Fisher became one hell of a writer, publishing her own work in addition to gaining the envious title of one of the most in demand script doctors in Hollywood.  She was not afraid to speak openly about her addiction and mental illness issues when others were still in the closet about their addiction and mental illness issues.

The thing that will always stand out for me, is that she was herself, warts and all. Unapologetic, unafraid and upfront. We should all be so brave to be ourselves and not give a sh*t what someone else thinks of us.

For that, she will always be my hero.

RIP Carrie. A year still seems like yesterday.

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Star Wars Character Review: Lando Calrissian

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the original Stars Wars trilogy. Read at your own risk if you are just now discovering the original trilogy.

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 the original Star Wars trilogy to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In previous posts, I have examined Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan (the late Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford),  Obi-Wan Kenobi (the late Alec Guinness) and  Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones and acted by David Prowse). In this post, I will be writing about Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams).

Every adventure story has at least one shady character. While this character is there to help the hero on their journey, both the hero and the audience are unsure if this character is trustworthy or if the smooth promises they are making are actually going to come to fruition.

In The Empire Strikes Back, fans were introduced to a new character: Lando Calrissian. Lando is Han’s best friend and former compatriot. He is also the former owner of the Millennium Falcon.  Now the leader of Cloud City that hovers over the planet Bespin, Lando gives sanctuary to Leia, Han, Chewbacca and C3P0  as they try to hide from Vader and the Empire.

Our heroes believe they have found a temporary safe haven, but they have walked into a trap. Lando makes a deal with Vader, he will turn over the rebels to the Empire if his people are unharmed. But like any evil empire and any evil overlord, Vader is not to be trusted. When Lando realizes that Vader is not going through on his end of the bargain. In the end, Lando joins the rebellion and helps to defeat the empire.

Like Han, Lando appears to be only out for himself and his needs. He may do something to add to his wallet,but  it is for his needs alone that he acts. As The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi continue on, Lando proves himself to be a true hero of the rebellion and a fighter for a greater cause than himself.

To sum it up: When a character changes from fighting for their needs alone to fighting for a cause greater than themselves is  a character arc that has been done time and again. The question is, is the arc predictable or is the a plot twist that adds a new layer to this done to death character arc? In creating Lando’s character, George added to the traditional character arc and allowed the audience to not see Lando as a villain, but as a man who made choices and then, when realizing that he made the wrong choices, righted those wrong choices.

 

 

 

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Star Wars Character Review: Han Solo

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the original Stars Wars trilogy. Read at your own risk if you are just now discovering the original trilogy.

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 the original Star Wars trilogy to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Two weeks ago, I examined the character of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Last week I examined the character of Luke’s twin sister, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan (the late Carrie Fisher). This week I will be talking about Han Solo (Harrison Ford).

The bad boy or girl. The pirate. The lone wolf who appears to be only be out for themselves. The character who is as quick with a charming smile as he or she is with their weapon of choice. This character has been adapted time and again over the centuries. Standing in contrast to their counterparts that are more innocent and less world weary, this character has seen quite a lot in their life.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, this character was played the likes of such actors such as Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power. In the Star Wars universe, the pirate is Han Solo.

The audience is introduced to Han in the bar scene in Episode 4. Han and his co-pilot, Chewbacca the Wookiee need a lot of money fast. His business relationship with intergalactic mob boss Jabba the Hutt has soured and Han has a bounty on his head. He agrees to help Obi-Wan (Alec Guiness) and Luke rescue Princess Leia for a handsome financial reward. What starts out as a job will change Han.

As a result of helping to rescue Leia and destroy the death star, Han becomes far more than the space pirate. He becomes part of the rebellion. In the Empire Strikes Back, not only does Han fall for Leia (and she falls for him), but the audience also learn more about Han’s back story. In meeting Han’s old friend Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), we learn a little more about Han’s life before A New Hope. Lando betrays our heroes and Han is frozen in carbonite. In Return Of The Jedi, Han is freed by his friends and leads the final battle on the planet of Endor, which finally destroys the Empire.

Like his predecessors, Han Solo is and will forever be the bad boy. But over the course of the three films, Han becomes so much more. He is not  only bound to himself and Chewie. In joining the rebellion, he finds love, family and something greater than himself.

To sum it up: Characters need to grow. Without growth, their story is implausible. Han’s growth from rogue space pirate to rebellion general reflects life and circumstances change. Without change and growth, the audience may find it hard to grasp onto a character and follow them on the journey.

P.S. I don’t know about anyone else, but the exchange  between Han and Leia “I love you/I know” just before Han is frozen in the carbonite is one of sexiest romantic exchanges I’ve ever seen on film.

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Star Wars Character Review: Princess Leia

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the original Stars Wars trilogy. Read at your own risk if you are just now discovering the original trilogy.

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 the original Star Wars trilogy to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Last week, I examined the character of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). This post will about his twin sister, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan (the late Carrie Fisher).

It’s no secret that the science fiction genre is a boys club. Female characters are usually relegated to the background or to the predictable role of the love interest and/or the damsel in distress. When the audience is introduced to Princess Leia in Episode 4 , she appears to be the standard female character that often appears within the genre. She is young, wearing white and is the prisoner of the evil Empire and it’s overlord, Darth Vader.

With just the initial introduction, it looks like Leia’s role within the narrative is predictable from the word go.

Then she grabs the blaster from Luke, shoots down a few storm troopers and aids her own rescuers by shooting a hole that will lead down to the garbage pit. From that moment on, not only did the world change, but women’s roles in the science fiction genre changed.

Leia is feisty, intelligent and takes no prisoners. She is the natural daughter of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Padme Amidala, Luke’s twin (and a Jedi in her own right) and the adopted daughter of Senator Bail Organa and Queen Breha Organa of Alderaan. While she may have some of the narratives and characteristics of predecessors, Leia is a game changer character.

In A New Hope, Leia does not flinch when her home planet is destroyed and resists the torture heaped upon her by Vader. In The Empire Strikes Back, while she does fall in love with Han Solo (Harrison Ford), she is still his equal. In Return Of The Jedi, not only does Leia rescue Han from the carbonite, but she kills Jabba by strangulation. I don’t know about anyone else, but the speeder bike chase is still one of the coolest movie sequences I’ve ever seen.

 

Leia could have easily been the standard damsel in distress/love interest. George Lucas could have taken the easy way out when writing the character. While she has her standard character trope moments (i.e. the gold bikini in Return Of The Jedi), she is so much more than the standard character trope. For many women, young and old, Leia is a role model. While she is in the company of men, she is not the quiet, subservient woman, sitting in the background. She is equal, she is powerful, she is intelligent and she is in charge.

To sum it up: Women need other women to look up to. We need strong, capable intelligent women who can take charge. Leia was one of those women. In creating the character of Princess Leia, George Lucas not only brought a new audience to the genre, but showed that women are as capable as men. Sometimes, as writers, its easy to get lost in tropes and standard characters. By creating a character who goes against type, the writer is not only inviting the audience to look at the character with new eyes, but the world that the character inhabits with new eyes.

RIP Carrie. It’s only a month since you left this world, but it feels like an eternity.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

I think it is a fair statement to say that the buzz surrounding Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is palpable.

Filling in the gap between Revenge Of The Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977), Rogue One takes place just as the empire is tightening its grip on the universe. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of a scientist, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who has appeared to turn his back on rebels. She is raised by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) after her mother’s death and her father’s abdication to the dark side. We meet Jyn when she in imprisoned by the Empire. After being rescued by rebel forces, she joins the fight against the empire. Joining a team of rebels that includes Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), Jyn is not only fighting to free the universe from the empire’s grasp, but is also seeking to find her father.

I’ve heard this movie being compared to The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. While both films are the best of the best of within the Star Wars series, this film certainly comes close. The two qualities of the film that I especially appreciated and loved was not only how badass Jyn was, but also the film talks about the true cost of freedom and the cost of rebelling against tyranny to attain that freedom. And for me, as a Janeite, the cherry on the top of the cake was knowing that I first was introduced to Felicity Jones when she played Catherine Moreland in the 2007 Northanger Abbey.

This film is a must see and one of the best of 2016 for me.

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Ranking The Star Wars Movies

With the release of Episode 7 of Star Wars this weekend, I think it’s time I ranked all of the movies in the series so far. From worst to best, below is my definitive ranking of the Star Wars movies.

7. Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Everything that is wrong with this movie can be summed up in three words: Jar-Jar Binks.  George Lucas nearly turned what was a respected and beloved film series into just another overblown, special effects driven, weak on plot and character science fiction film. Even with the likes of respected actors Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor could not save this film from being just plain awful.

6.  Episode II: Attack Of The Clones (2002)

In attempting to placate fans and make up for the awfulness that is The Phantom Menace, George Lucas moved the story forward. Replacing Jake Lloyd as a young Anakin with Hayden Christensen as a teenage Anakin did nothing for this film. It continued to be just another overblown, special effects driven, weak on plot and character science fiction film.   Thank you, George Lucas for nearly killing what was good and pure and true in Star Wars.

5. Revenge Of The Sith (2005)

In the final prequel of the Star Wars Series, George Lucas makes the second attempt to placate fans, again making up for the awfulness that is Episode I and II, while  tying up the story lines that will lead to the Episodes 4, 5 and 6. While this film was the best of the prequels, it still does not hold up to the first three films.

4. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) 

This movie is an icon by itself. Without it, the movies today would not be what they are. In a sense, the story is a copy of the science fiction novels and books of the past, but it is so much more. It is entertaining, it is fun and it takes the audience out of their world and into a new one for a couple of hours. In short, it is perfect.

3. The Force Awakens (2015) 

Finally, Star Wars fans have a worthy successor to the first three films. Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams took out what did not work in the prequels and returned Star Wars to what it was. Practical effects, a nice mix of older cast members and newbies and a plot that feels true to the Star Wars universe makes for a dam good film.

2. Return Of The Jedi (1983)

The final film of the first three in the series begins with the rescue of Han from Jabba’s lair. It ends with a satisfying conclusion.  The empire is defeated, Darth Vader has returned to the light side and our heroes have won. All of the strings are tied together perfectly. But that did not keep fans from wanting more.

1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Empire is the best of all of the films for a reason. Expanding the universe and the plot lines, the characters feel less 2-D and more 3-D. Breaking from their 1940’s science fiction molds, each character is given the chance to grow and change in new ways. And of course, there is one of the most famous revelations in film history:

Here’s hoping to episodes 8 & 9 are just as good as 4-7 and not a repeat of 1-3.

 

 

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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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