Tag Archives: The Empire Strikes Back

The Last Jedi Movie Review-Spoilers Ahead

Warning: This movie review contain spoilers for The Last Jedi. I will not be offended if you choose to read this review until after you have seen the movie. 

The Star Wars trilogy created the movie sequels as we know them to be today.

In The Last Jedi, the resistance, led by General Leia Organa (the late and very missed Carrie Fisher) is on the run from The First Order. Leia’s son, Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver) is hell-bent on destroying the resistance, as per the command of Snoke (Andy Serkis). Kylo’s second in command, General Hux (Domnhall Gleason) is as eager as his bosses to see the resistance blown to smithereens.

Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), but Luke is not happy to found. However, at the same time, he sees the power in Rey and knows that she must receive some sort of training.  At the same time, Finn (John Boyega) has woken from his coma and is teaming up with previously unknown Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) to find a way to defeat The First Order. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is all for the plan, but he has been rebuked for his wild ways by Leia and Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) for his wild ways.

Director Rian Johnson has hit it out of the park with this film. A throwback to The Empire Strikes Back, Johnson is a fanboy who has used his love of the franchise to create a remarkable film.

While all of the cast were at peak performance mode, my favorite performances belonged to Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Adam Driver. Luke, who was only seen briefly and without any dialogue at the end of The Force Awakens, is a man who is torn apart by his past and the decisions he made.  His twin, Leia is watching the resistance fall apart and is trying to lead the remnants as best she can.  Kylo is unsure as to the path he has taken. While he has sworn loyalty to Snoke, there is still a part of him that clings to the light side of the force and the family he left behind when he flipped to the dark side.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Last Jedi is presently in theaters. 

 

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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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Failing

For all of the dialogue in the Star Wars movie series, the following quote from the Empire Strikes Back always seems to stand out:

Do or do not, there is no try-Yoda

Failure is not easy. No matter how hard we work, we will fail at something. The key is how we respond to that failure. Do we let that failure hold us back or do we pick ourselves up, remember what the failure taught us and move on?

One of the truths of life that I have learned is that the true failure is not doing. Failure leads to growth, change and maybe, if we continue to fail and learn from our failures, we may eventually succeed.

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