The Princess and the Scoundrel Book Review

A wedding is supposed to represent a new chapter in our lives. It is an opportunity to walk hand in hand with our new spouse for what hopefully will be the rest of our lives. That doesn’t mean, however, that everything will be sunshine and roses.

The new Star Wars novel, The Princess and the Scoundrel (not to be confused with the similarly named podcast), by Beth Revis, was published last month. It takes place just after the events of Return of the Jedi. There is obviously a reason to celebrate. The Empire has been destroyed and democracy is being returned to the galaxy.

After everything he has been through, Han Solo is ready for a fresh start. That fresh start includes settling down with Princess Leia Organa. When he proposes, she says yes. Though she knows that she wants to marry Han, Leia is still burdened by her experience during the war and her newly discovered bloodline.

After their vows are complete, they hope that their honeymoon on the Halcyon will be the break they both need. As usual “hope” is the keyword. Leia is still in work mode and Han stumbles upon a plan to kill his wife. With the remnants of the Empire still fighting for their cause, Han and Leia learn one thing: that they work best as a team.

I loved this book. It goes without saying that you have to know the characters and the narrative from the original trilogy to have a basic understanding of the story. That being said, there is more than enough (including plenty of easter eggs) to keep the fanbase happy.

It is a lovely extension of where their relationship, taking it in new directions while remaining true to the groundwork that has already been laid. In addition, knowing how their marriage ends, it’s nice to know that they had a few good years before everything fell apart.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Princess and the Scoundrel are available wherever books are sold.

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The Book of Boba Fett Review

From the outside looking in, it may appear that the Star Wars franchise begins and ends with the Skywalkers. But, as any fan knows, that is only the beginning of the story.

The Book of Boba Fett premiered Wednesday on DisneyPlus.

When we last saw Boba Fett (Temeura Morrison), he had been swallowed by the Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi. The opening shot of the series reveals that Boba is still alive. After fighting to get to the surface and to civilization, he takes the throne and the power from the deceased warlord Jabba the Hutt. Unlike Jabba, Boba does not want to rule via fear, he wants to rule via respect from the local communities. Beside him is his second in command, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Though it appears that he and Fennec are welcomed by the locals, there are some who would prefer to eradicate them.

Like any first episode of any new series, there are more questions than answers. But so far, the questions are more than enough to keep me coming back for me. It proves, in my mind at least, that the number of narratives that exist within this universe is endless.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Book of Boba Fett is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

Throwback Thursday: Little Fockers (2010)

When we go, we want to know that our legacies and our families are settled for the future. But there can be a point in which this desire overwhelms our relationships and makes us forget what is important.

The 2010 film, Little Fockers, is the third movie in the Meet the Parents trilogy. After the chaos of Meet the Parents (2000) and Meet the Fockers (2004), Greg and Pam Focker (Ben Stiller and Teri Polo) have settled down into a happy life as spouses and parents. All is right with Pam’s father Jack (Robert De Niro). Before the entire family comes into town to celebrate the birthday of Greg and Pam’s twins, Jack finds out that Greg has a side gig working for a pharmaceutical company due to finance issues. Once more, Greg has to prove himself to his father-in-law that not only is he worthy, but will be able to lead the family one day.

A final movie in a film trilogy or series is supposed to once and for all, tie up the loose ends while maintaining the magic that brought audiences into the theaters. Unlike Return of the Jedi or Avengers: Endgame, which were both able to keep the narrative going and fans engaged, Little Fockers falls flat on its face. The jokes that elicited laughs in the first two movies are empty shells of what they once were. While the chemistry still exists between the actors, the honest truth is that this film illustrates once more why sequels have a bad name.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

The Mandalorian Review

The expansion of any science fiction universe straddles a very thin line. It has to stand on its own two feet. But, it has to also fit in with the existing narrative and characters.

The Mandalorian premiered last year on Disney Plus. The title character, known as Mando (Pedro Pascal) earns his bread as a bounty hunter. Set in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, his latest job is to retrieve Grogu (otherwise known as Baby Yoda or The Child). He starts to walk away, but his conscious gets the better of him. Now he has a target on his back.

I am almost done with the first season and loving it. It has enough Easter eggs to keep the fans happy. But it is not so imposing that a newbie viewer has to understand every nuance about the Star Wars Universe to enjoy the program.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Mandalorian is available for streaming on Disney Plus.

P.S. Baby Yoda is absolutely adorable.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Review

*-This review will be spoiler free. Loose lips sink star ships and anger fans who have not seen the film.

When Star Wars: A New Hope premiered in 1977, it appeared to be nothing more than a hokey space adventure aimed at a young audience. 42 years later, Star Wars has become part and parcel of our culture with millions of fans around the world.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker premiered this weekend. Picking up from where The Last Jedi ended in 2017, the members of the rebellion are licking their collective wounds and gearing up for battle once more. Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training with the help of General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher).

On a distant planet, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is connecting with the universe’s ultimate evil: the returned from the dead Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). The Emperor has one goal: to finally destroy the rebellion once and for all.

While Leia maintains the rebellion from home base, Rey, Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) go on a journey to stop the First Order in its tracks.

The reviews of this film have been mixed. I don’t agree with them.

The only flaw that this movie had is that it could have been cut down by a few minutes. Other than that, this film is perfect. It was the perfect ending to the Star Wars saga. I loved the new characters, I loved the ending and the seamless way that Carrie Fisher’s scenes from The Force Awakens were integrated into this movie.

I absolutely recommend it.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker is presently in theaters.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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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