Fangirl Love Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Oh boy howdy, The Empire Strikes Back is a good movie. Just appallingly and spectacularly good.

I went in to this watch not sure what I wanted this essay to be, and found myself thinking about a million things, especially in connection with my having watched Clone Wars and Rebels recently. Mostly, thinking about The Force.

The Skywalker family’s strength in the Force, is undisputed, they’re in it deep, connected possibly pure force beings of some kind. Anakin turning his back on his role as the keeper of balance was a big problem, as laid out in the wonderful (though I have learned controversial) Mallus trilogy of episodes in Clone Wars. But what’s even more important here is the way that Luke repeats that mistake here, and Yoda and Obi-Wan know it.

Luke chooses to go after Han and Leia in Bespin rather than continue his training. Anakin chose Obi-Wan and Ahsoka over his destiny as the chosen one. And he chose Padme’s life over everything, the galaxy, even his own soul. Yoda and Obi-Wan want to spare Luke this, and spare the galaxy the fall of another Skywalker.

It’s an intriguing dynamic in the saga and one that’s illuminated by looking at things as a whole, even if that isn’t how they were originally meant to be. Filoni, and JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson, build a lot from the dynamics Lucas and Kershner set up in this movie and it’s quite impressive.

As for all the other stuff, I’ve mentioned that The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite love story ever, right? Han and Leia’s half of the movie is masterful. From the first look across the control room on Hoth to “I know,” everything is done subtly and gorgeously and naturally, and knowing as we do now that Carrie Fisher was the one writing it (for the most part) just makes the whole thing even stronger.

And then there’s Lando. If there’s one thing that my since the Disney acquisition full on embracing of Star Wars thing has taught me it’s that I really, really like Lando Calrissian. It’s almost non sensiscal, but I just really love seeing him on screen, in comic books. (Charles Soule!) Billy Dee Williams is awesome as Lando, and you guys, I’m just so happy that he’s going to be coming back. Aren’t you? BE HAPPY ABOUT IT! Also I think they should give Donald Glover his own Lando movie.

(That was a real, “Ma’am, this is an Arby’s,” moment.)

Next week we wrap up the Originals with Return Of The Jedi, which I secretly like better than Empire because it has more dance parties, and all movies should have dance parties.

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Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope

Is there anything left to say about Star Wars, or A New Hope depending on your level of fandom pedantry?

I don’t even remember the first time I watched this movie, that’s how weaved into my life it is. I’m sure it was a rainy Saturday, and I’m sure my dad had his arm around me. I couldn’t have been older than three. I don’t remember this, I just know this is so, because that’s how we watched movies when I was little.

Here’s the thing about A New Hope that I think I, despite talking about the movie constantly, and loving what it has birthed, tend to forget. It’s a basic ass movie that is miraculously not boring. It should be boring. It’s weird that it isn’t boring.

The story is so simple. The dialogue is silly. The acting is very good. The score is sublime and the action is terrific. And this all gels to make something wonderful, something unqiue and beautiful that has since just exploded, like a death star.

I don’t know, I didn’t find anything new in this watch. I was just so happy to be watching this movie again. I was happy to watch Han, Luke and Leia all meet. I was happy to see Obi-Wan become one with the Force. I was just so damn happy. I love Star Wars.

I wish there was more to this post, but I just don’t know what’s left to say. It’s a really good movie and I like it a lot and I will watch it again many times in my life.

Next Week We’re heading into the Star Wars GOAT with The Empire Strikes Back, I don”t know exactly what I’m going to be writing about, but there’s a good chance is that it’s going to rhyme with “Brando.”

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Of the four “Disney/Kennedy” era Star Wars flicks, Rogue One: A Star Wars story ranks a steady third from me. I don’t love it love it, the way I do Solo or The Force Awakens, and while I recognize from a formal standpoint The Last Jedi is interesting, it’s never tugged at me the way the others have. So, there’s that.

Rogue One, grows on me everytime I watch it. I smile at Jyn Erso’s transformation from cynicism to hope, at Cassian’s dedicated whatever it takes attitude, I’ve love K2-SO from jump, so that’s not really fair. The rest of their ragtag team is great too, especially Donnie Yen as Blind Force Monk who’s just Donnie Yen.

I really like Kroenig as an adversary, and frankly, I love the whole idea that this is about a lower level of the Galaxy, it’s about the people who set the stage for the grand melodrama that is The Skywalker Saga, the guys that built the Death Star, the spies and cells that became The Rebellion. It  was a great idea for a movie that was beautifully pulled off, and that, as I said, I’ve grown to like more and more.

It’s a pretty subtle piece of work, especially for a series that I’ve always loved for it’s broader strokes. Part of the deal with the Stories (and Clone Wars and Rebels) is that you get to play around in the grey a little bit more, which is a good deal of fun. I do wish the characters in Rogue One were a bit more distinct, but I’m otherwise always happy with the film.

It also gives me the thing that I love the most, which is room for Jimmy Smits to do his thing. I really like Jimmy Smits.

I have no idea if I wrote that tweet while I was watching Star Wars or The West Wing or Brooklyn 99. I like the guy a lot. And he’s fun in this, Bail Organa showing up a few times and making cryptic references to “his Jedi friend,” and “Someone he’d trust with his life.” Bail and Leia make a good  contrast to Jyn and Galen, two people who died for the rebllion, and two who didn’t have to.  (Well Bail died, but in a pointless genocide, not for the sake of the rebellion.)

Next week we get to where this all started, A New Hope. Also, I apologize for the lateness of this post. I had a bit of a time this weekend. (Cancelled vacations, bachelorette parties, evacuated air line terminals.) (There was actually a minute there where this column MIGHT have been about me seeing Galaxy’s Edge.)

Speaking of! It’s looking like we’ll be talking about Black Spire Outpost and Batuu by March. I want to solidify a few other things, but there is just NO WAY I’m skipping a week in points sunny this winter, even if it means I eat nothing but rice and beans for the forseeable future. And if those points sunny wind up being the Sunshine state, well, we’re going to Batuu.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 4

Rebels played a long game that I got impatient with when I watched it the first time and I now deeply regret bailing on.

Ezra’s story is a deeply interesting take on coming of age, and actually reminded me of my beloved The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce (also about a mystical teen who has a magic connection to animals.) Ezra’s connection to the force in the end feels more akin to Yoda’s than any other Jedi we’ve seen in the series, he feels the world around him the way that Yoda does, especially on Dagobah, or in Ezra’s case on his home world of Lothal. (Also, he saves Ahsoka with Force time travel and concept that now exists in my universe and I’m so grateful for it.)

Sabine and Zeb also get strong supporting arcs, becoming leaders in their own rights, as they move along in the world. They’re both savior figures for their people which is cool and dedicated warriors who fight for the freedom of the galaxy.

And now it’s time, we need to talk about Hera and Kanan and the deep tragedy of it all. Hera Sandulla is a remarkable character. She’s strong and brave and awesome and she becomes a hero of the Rebellion and even fights in the battle of Endor! This is of course after the tragic loss of the love of her life, Kanan Jarris, Caleb Dume, Mediocre Jedi Knight. Also he becomes a force wolf.

It’s great.

Look, as I said to Jess on facebook last week, I’m ALL IN for Filoni and his mystical Force hoo-ha. And Season 4 is full to the brim with it. Especially Ezra’s ending, where he uses his magical Force connection to the space whales to shoot off into the unknown.

The show ends properly with an epilogue by Sabine, talking about how the Ghost crew made it through the main trilogy, fighting on the rebellion side. Hera and Rex were even on Endor. Also, Hera was pregnant! I hope that Jacen didn’t have the Force and go to Luke’s Jedi Academy and get murdered by Kylo Ren…and…I just gave myself a sad. Anyway, with the Empire defeated Sabine decides to go off in search of Ezra, with Ahsoka at her side.

The show ends with a bright white light of hope which is amazing.

It’s incredible how quickly I turned and loved these characters. I was so lukewarm on the show when it started, and I was devastated by the time it ended. (To be fair, Kanan was always the part of the show I was all in on, so that makes sense.)

Next week we’ll talk about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the Disney era movie that I like the least, but recognize on a technical and critical level is actually the best.

From D23

I might just do a separate post about the D23 news. Mainly, you know OBI-WAN. But as I wrote this up, I realized The Mandalorian takes place after the main trilogy. And a certain Mandolorian of our acquaintance jetted off into the unknown after Endor…I’m just saying…Pedro Pascal should cross paths with Sabine.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 3

It turns out I’d watched more of Season 3 than I thought. Mostly because I remembered everyone buzzing about Saw Guerrera being in Rogue One and the return of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

It’s not as strong a season, though Ezra has a fly new haircut, and Bendu the middle way Force-beast is badass. Plus Admiral Thrawn. (Though Thrawn’s inclusion is really just another thing for Fanboy Types to get yelly about, and insist that Mara Jade be a thing. Look, we have a new side female character we want in everything now, and it’s Ahsoka.)

Speaking of. She dead.

I don’t like it. But functionally I get it. It’s a deeply important story decision, and she needed closure to her arc.

Oh and Kenobi. Ezra chases a vision of Maul to Tatooine and getting lost in the desert, he is saved by Kenobi, who basically tells him he’s in the wrong story. (This is ridiculous, what am I doing here?) It’s a nice way to put up boundaries between Ezra and Luke, who by all reasonable metrics are peers. Ezra leaves to return to his family, the crew of the ghost. Maul finds Obi-Wan, they duel and Maul dies. (Probably. I’ll never count Maul out for Filoni. If he pops up in Resistance I’ll note that it tracks.)

That was the last episode of Rebels that I watched. And there was plenty this season that I didn’t have much memory of. Kallus taking over as Fulcrum is cool, and Sabine taking her place in Mandalorian politics, while wielding the dark saber is also neat. Hera coming to terms with her father.

But for the most part, I prefer season 2. Ezra’s growing up is a relief and his excised angst makes him more watchable but also a lot less distinct. His competence is cool but without that edge he just becomes Luke, with different hair. We already have Luke, a different take on the Jedi trainee would have been welcome.

Maybe that’s why the fandom latched on to Ahsoka. She’s different, she’s new.

Or maybe I’m projecting. I don’t know. I’m enjoying watching the show, and it’s doing what I want for this project, which is get me excited to watch and think about Star Wars again. I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I’d lost my enthusiasm for this world and that made me sad. With The Skywalker saga ending I wanted to at least be excited.

And I am excited about Star Wars again. And Clone Wars and Rebels helped get me there. (Though it was mostly Solo if I’m honest.) Anyway, next week, we’ll talk Season 4, which I have not watched any of. (I don’t think.) Hopefully the show pulls off a cool ending.

My girls have a way of getting into mischief

To say that Little Women has had an impact on my life is a deep deep understatement.

Louisa May Alcott’s novel of sisterhood didn’t just influence me, it got into my insides when I was seven years old and I grew up around it, twisting my voice and personality to it. I’m a writer because of Jo March, I know I can always come home despite my differences from my family because of Amy March, I desire deep profound love because of Meg March and I cherish innocence because of Beth March.

I’m not alone in this. Most women I know have their own profound connection to Little Women. Maybe because it was a story about girls that didn’t privilege romance (though it’s there), maybe because it’s always been there, I don’t know, but it’s a special story.

Watching nearly every woman I follow on social media lose their minds in the last few days over the Little Women trailer has been an incredible blessing. Also, after Ladybird, I’d trust Greta Gerwig to tell any story that resonates with me, since she told a story so close to mine so well.

I’m infatuated with the cast as well. Saorise Ronan has made the world better for Irish named lasses everywhere, and for a change we’re getting a competent Amy. (Well, Kirsten Dunst was great but whover played grown up Amy SUCKED HARD) and I think Meg will be a great change of pace of Emma Watson, and Thimotee Chalamet is FINALLY what I’ve always wanted from Laurie. (Most adaptations lean into his dreamy side, totally forgetting that he’s kinda a weird dork.) (Not to say Chalamet isn’t dreamy, but he’s also a weird dork, not something you could say about say, Christian Bale.)

Mostly, I’m just really really psyched. And once I finish my 60 books, I plan to pick it up again. (Soon ish! My current TBR takes me to 51 and I’m travelling over Labor day weekend.) I haven’t read Alcott in a while, so I’m looking forward to it here.

 

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 2

Ahsoka’s great right? Like she’s really great. I feel like I could write this whole essay about her. (Except I already wrote that essay back the first time I watched this season.)  

So instead we’re going to focus on something else this season.

We’re going to focus on Kanan Jarrus: Mediocre Jedi Knight.

Kanan’s a pretty shitty Jedi. But he’s a great character. Freddie Prinze Jr. does excellent work too. But Kanan is a different kind of character for Star Wars which is after all, the joy of both Clone Wars and Rebels, and, at least on paper the Story series, exploring different corners of that galaxy, far far away. Kanan isn’t a hero. He’s not a great warrior like Anakin. Or the best teacher ever like Obi-Wan. Or a wise sage like Yoda. He’s not the savior like Luke. Or power awaking anew like Rey. He’s just, a guy, who got lucky one time, and has been surviving on his wits since then.

He’s got his issues, (guilt mostly) but he’s in love, he’s doing his best to make the galaxy a better place, and he doesn’t really think he has what it takes to whip this kid into shape but he’s giving it his all anyway.

You wanna know who else comes back this season? (Besides Ahsoka? And again, she’s great.) Rex. Rex is great too. Kanan doesn’t care for him. (The thing about seeing everyone you care about getting murdered, it does a number on you and when a guy with the same face as the murderers shows up, you might not love having him around.) Ezra likes him though. Ezra is still super annoying. I forgot about the internet calling him Space Aladdin, but he is that. Also, back? Darth Maul. Dave Filoni loves bringing back Darth Maul so much he wants to take the concept out behind the middle school and get it pregnant, but he’s good here too, since his appearance at a Sith Temple eventually leads to that most devestating of showdowns. (That had me sitting on my couch rocking back and forth with tear streaming down my cheeks.)

That brings us to our villains! Hooray! Kallus is still around and still kind of a shit. But mostly this season is centered around The Seventh Sister, a new inquisitors who answers directly to Vader, who is also around. The Seventh Sister is eery and bad ass and, BEST OF ALL, voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Listening to Sarah and Freddie fight/flirt is super cute and also, there’s the whole Buffy factor adding to her badassery. And Vader being more directly involved so that he can kill Ahsoka is a necessity.

The moment where Ahsoka shouts, “I am no Jedi,” and declares her refusal to leave Anakin behind again is stunning. Ashley Eckstein is really wonderful. And knowing Ashley a little bit, I’m even more impressed by latter day Ahsoka, as she’s so straightforward and badass and Ashley is so giggly and bubbly and huggy. (Seriously I’ve met the woman four times and she always greets me with a “Reenie! IT’S SO NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN! OMG YOU LOOK GREAT! HOW ARE YOU?” and a giant hug. She’s amazing. I would follow her into battle.)

Next week we’ll deal with season 3, which will be fun, because I remember watching a few episodes, but little about them.