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.

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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.

Ready For Endgame: Black Panther

What is Black Panther?

Is it a boilerplate superhero blockbuster? Is it an important film about colonialism and black diasporan identity? Is it another cog in a corporate machine designed to take our money? Is it an important moment in social discourse?

Yes.

Black Panther is all of these things, and also just a rocking good time of a movie. It’s kind of hard to believe it’s been only a little bit over a year since it came out and the world exploded around it.

I’m the kind of idiot who sits around with her loved ones and identifies, “the next *fill in the blank*” depending on what we’re talking about. I like tracking where things place in history, and it’s always fun to see how people react to things. So at Christmas when I said I was pretty sure that Ryan Coogler was the next Spielberg (capable of both deeply felt personal art, like Fruitvale Station and crowd pleasing spectacle like Black Panther and Creed.) I didn’t expect everyone to agree with me.

Black Panther cemented Coogler as a blockbuster guy. (Creed cleared the brush away.) and it also made Michael B. Jordan into a certified movie star, reminded people that Angela Basset should be Queen Of Us All, let Lupita N’Yongo and Danai Guirara do their thing and intro’d us all to Laetitia Wright.

And that’s before we even talk about the way Chadwick Boseman’s poised and coiled T’Challa holds all these moving parts in place around him. Black Panther is a masterful example of the superhero medium, and the fact that people don’t talk more about what Boseman does in this movie is criminal. It’s a calm collected and altogether wonderful performance, than grounds the whole enterprise emotionally.

There’s of course a million angles to take when talking about Black Panther because there is a lot going on here. That’s part of why it resonated so hard, and got nominated for Best Picture. (The first superhero movie to do so! SUCK IT THE DARK KNIGHT! Incidentally, I don’t know why I feel the need to tear down the The Dark Night over and over again in this series of posts, it’s a great movie, that I like a lot.)

Black Panther 2 is coming and I’m deeply looking forward to it. I think there’s also a Dora Milaje film in the works. That could be very cool. But the way that this film connected with audiences was so special, and I was so grateful to be a part of it.

Next week, we talk about Avengers: Infinity War, and likely detail all of the reasons that I am not OK even a year later.

What’s The Sitch?: Kim Possible 2019 D-COM

It’s been just over three years since I rewatched Kim Possible, the seminal (to me at least!) Disney Channel cartoon about a teenage superhero, her friends, and their beloved Naked Mole Rat pal. Kim meant a lot to me as a teenager, and I came to really love what the show did as I rewatched it, and I was super eager to see how Disney Channel brought her into a new generation with this movie.

KP Movie

The movie was delightful. It executed Kim perfectly. She’s here in all her butt kicking, overly confident, but insecure when it counts, good friend, heart stopping glory. We also get fun takes on Shego and Drakken, and a slightly minimized roles for Ron and Wade at the expense of a new character.

Kim’s been working as a superhero for a few years as she prepares to start her first year of high school. The opening mission is Kim and Ron rescuing a kidnapped scientist from Proffesor Dementor. (Patton Oswalt! He voiced Dementor as well. This sparked joy!) It’s followed up by Kim running for the bus, after her mom, played by Alyson Hannigan! talks to her about high school. Kim’s got it on lock, though because OF COURSE SHE DOES.

She doesn’t. Barkin rearranged the school, Bonnie informs her that cheer squad isn’t the cool thing anymore, and no one knows her from her adventures.

Not Baddical, y’all, not baddical at all.

Shego breaks Drakken out of prison and he decides he’s going to enact a plan to destroy Kim.

Meanwhile, Kim and Ron meet and befriend a hapless new girl named Athena, and takie her to Bueno Nacho, and then on a mission. (I should note that this was around when I realized we were pretty deep into things and hadn’t met Rufus and I started to get pissed. (He showed up like two scenes later. And it was perfect.)

The mission, which involves Shego taking an energy source from a a museum, goes well, because Athena is a great fighter. Kim gets insecure, Athena becomes a big deal, turns out Athena is a robot programmed to make Kim insecure and steal her essence?

(This plan was an episode, btw. But it’s a good rough outline, so I’ll allow it.)

In the end, Kim learns to be a better friend, Athena joins the team, and Drakken is shrunk down to a middle schooler and enrolls at Middleton, setting us up for a sequel.

Boo-Ya’s And Nacos

  • I really really enjoyed the cast, Sadie Stanley and Sean Giambrone bring Kim and Ron to life with such joy and precision. Giambrone doesn’t get quite enough to do, and while de-aged Drakken is a decent set up for a part 2, I think a stronger choice would be Monkey Fist, which would give Ron a solid B story. Taylor Ortega was also great as Shego, and the rest of the cast followed suit.
  • Christy Carlson-Romano played a pop star who owed Kim a favor and gave her a lift to the mission, Nancy Cartwright stayed on as Rufus. Will Friedle was not to be found. (Yet another reason for Monkey Fist…just sayin.)
  • Nana Possible, Bonnie, Barkin, The Dr’s P, and the Tweebs all made appearances. And Drakken name drops Duff Killigen and Senor Senior Senior. The lack of Monique, Brick and Josh Mankey is a bummer, but understandable given the time constraints.
  • One of the big things I took away from the movie is how tight a concept Kim Possible is and how charming the best DCOMs are. The good ones always had oodles of charm, usually centered around their humor and strong casting.
  • In conclusion, the movie was good, but there was something very important missing:

Monkey Fist.gif

Grown Ups Always Forget

Mary Poppins Returns

There are moments during Mary Poppins Returns where it feels like the whole precarious exercise is about to go off the rails and Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda pull it back from the brink with sheer charm.

Like the very large shoes the pair are stepping into, Blunt and Miranda are just so damn likable, you find yourself fully tapped in to this movie, even when it maybe doesn’t all hang together cleanly.

There are genuine joys in this movie. “Imagine That,” Mary Poppins’s first number with the new generation of Banks children is a technical wonder and Blunt delivers it beautifully. A few of the songs get the music box style quality of The Sherman Brother’s on point, though I’m perhaps a little bit too familiar with Mark Shaiman’s style to not see the seams there.(Hairspray! And also Smash….but mostly Hairspray…) “The Cover Is Not The Book,” uses it’s music hall styling to organically allow Miranda to rap. (I mean, they hired the man, they had to find a way to work it in, right?)

I didn’t quite connect to grown up Michael’s story, which involved losing his wife and giving up his artistic dreams to go to work at Fiduciary Fidelity Bank in order to support his young children. (And taking out a loan on the house. Michael had a lot going on.) But I adored Jane’s story, which has her picking up her mother’s social justice causes (Mrs. Banks was a sufragette you may recall) as a union organizer,  and resuming what must have been a lovely teenage flirtation with Miranda’s Jack.

The new kids, John, Annabelle and Georgie are sweethearts, forced to grow up before their time due to the family’s financial difficulties. Colin Firth is the villainous banker trying to foreclose on the Banks house which is a perfectly fine use of him, I guess. A few other cameos do the hard work of selling that this is the same world, that’s just moved on a bit. Even if it’s very clear that Angela Lansbury’s balloon lady was clearly written with Julie Andrews in mind.

Rankings:

  1. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
  2. Aquaman
  3. The Incredibles 2
  4. Bohemian Rhapsody
  5. A Star Is Born
  6. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  7. Creed 2
  8. Mary Poppins Returns
  9. Deadpool 2
  10. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
  11. Ocean’s 8
  12. Infinity War
  13. Ant-Man And The Wasp
  14. Venom

Trailers:

Many the same as Spider-Verse, but also The Lion King! Which, I will see. Whether I like it or not is a different conversation, but I’ll see it.

My Top 10 Random Spots In Disney World

So, I spent this weekend pricing and doing some Disney research. I’m not planning a full on trip in the next year, but I have decided that I’m going to do a weekend, (taking either Friday or Monday off from work) to see Toy Story Land and see Illuminations one last time since it’s likely going away soon.

But I’ve been trying to avoid reading and researching much to try to off set that urge I get to just book a trip and head off. (For one, I can’t afford it, for another I have other travel plans for 2019…)

But during this research I started thinking about the trips I’ve taken in the past few years. (8 in the last five.) (Again, I totally don’t have a problem…) and the park exploration and the random spots that I’ve found and loved in the resort in that time. Some of these are weird out of the way spots, others are really really obvious, and others only make sense if you’re me.

10. The Waiting Areas At The Jungle Cruise: Skipper Canteen

I love the Skipper Canteen, I think it’s a wonderful restaurant with an even more wonderful menu, and fun service filled with puns. But my favorite part of eating here has very little to do with the meal and is actually while you’re waiting for your table. There are two spots that you wind up waiting, the first is the porch, where large rocking chairs sit beneath giant fans. The second is actually inside, where a few tufted chairs and a water cooler, filled with cold h2o and various fruits await you, plus a letter from Henrietta Falls and a portrait of Doctor Albert Falls hang on the wall. Both are quiet and relaxing and phase you into the great themeing of your dinner perfectly.

9. Outside Patio At Backlot Express

I actually love everything about Backlot Express, it’s a big ass quick service restaurant with a basic but well executed menu and  lots of air conditioned seating (as a quick reminder this is where I ate Star Wars themed Chicken and Waffles, and got my BB-8 souvenir cup.)  But I especially love taking some time to eat your lunch on the patio here, in view of the At-At at Star Tours and watching the Jedi Training show. It’s a nice little moment of Star Wars themed joy, which is always appreciated, when you’re me.

8. Any of The Side Gardens In Pandora

Like half this list is going to be spots in Animal Kingdom, just FYI. But wandering around Pandora, at any time of the day, but especially at night, it’s worth wandering into weird corners and seeing the plant life. But be sure to follow the trails, because if you don’t do that, you never find this particular spot.

7. Top of The Stairs In The Canada Pavillion

I think that Canada might be the most underrated of the World Showcase Pavillions, but there’s a spot right up at the top of the stairs, that looks over a waterfall and has some benches and it feels like you’re far away from the chaos of the park below you. It’s also the spot of my favorite picture of Mary, maybe ever?

6. The Rose Gallery At Be Our Guest

To be honest, there are not going to be many Magic Kingdom spots here, because I very very rarely stop to smell the roses in that park. (This is also proof that I rarely spend ENOUGH time in Magic Kingdom), but I love The Rose Gallery, if all of Be Our Guest were just this room, it would still be spectacular. (The West Wing and The Ballroom are also spectular and it makes the whole place magical) I love the music box, and the “paintings” and banquette tables. It’s the only room that really feels like a French bistro. And fun fact, I wrote the scene where Lefty and Marina dance for the first time while eating my Croque Monsieur here.

5. The Patio At Spice Road Table

Spice Road Table is my favorite restaurant at Disney World, and sitting on the patio, drinking Sangria and eating hummus fries while watching Illuminations is probably my favorite thing to do while at Disney World. (Besides ride The Haunted Mansion) It’s a thing I gently manipulate everyone who joins me at Disney into sharing at least one part of this experience. (no one has been disappointed..btw…)

4. The Porch At The Nomad Lounge

Nomad Lounge might be my favorite bar in the parks. (Not on property, we’ll get there) and sitting on the porch, with a beer, (while Mom and Kristi pussied out and drank tea…) is easily one of my favorite moments I’ve ever had. It’s just a solid and beautiful space, with a great view and excellent drinks and a pretty good menu. Although it changes a lot and the fish tacos that I adored are now gone…but still, grab a Night Monkey (this is a rum drink that also has espresso in it!) or a Safari Amber and watch the water good past.

3. The Terrace At California Grill

Watching Wishes at California Grill was one of my top ten favorite moments of my big Disney year, but it’s also a beautiful spot, with an incredible view no matter what, and to quote Gonzo, I’m going to go back there someday.

2. The Aviary On The Mahrajah Jungle Trek

To explain the incredible moment of magic that was walking into this room right after feeding time when Juli, Dom and I were there is impossible. It was so incredible. And the other times I’ve walked the Trek, this is still a beautiful space full of gorgeous creatures.

1. The Fireplace Chairs At River Roost

I’ve now stayed at Port Orleans Riverside twice, which makes it my most stayed at Disney Resort, and I will likely stay there again. I like the rooms, and the food court and the proximity to Disney Springs, but I really really love River Roost lounge and those big leather arm chairs by the fireplace where Tommy and I sat, laughing about our adventures while drinking wine remain my favorite place in the whole resort.

You’re going to be great

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I had a lot of trouble starting this review.

The Incredibles 2 is a breathlessly wonderful movie, fully of great jokes, stupendous action and more heart than every character ever played by Sean Astin.

Also, if one more person writes a “hot take” about how Brad Bird’s work reflects Objectivism, I’ll lose it. (There’s a moment in Incredibles 2 where Mr. Incredible, his mind hijaked by the villain Screenslaver, starts talking like John Galt about the mediocrity of most people and their failure to thrive, but you know, it’s the bad guy. Hell, even Tomorrowland is mostly George Clooney and those kids yelling at Hugh Laurie for not helping the world with his future tech, or whatever…) (Also, I maybe only read half of Atlas Shrugged, because even in my “rah rah conservatism, the free market will save us all” days Rand’s writing was boring af and also she thought charity was disgusting and I you know…have always felt opposite of that…)

Anyway, this movie, is delightfully funny, and the final fight is one of the best animated action scenes ever, topping even it’s predecessor. It’s also ridiculously funny, both Holly Hunter and Craig T. Nelson anchor everything beautifully. (Although the best comedy moments come from Violet, and her early teen rebellion renouncing superheroes!) (Not because she goes bad or anything, but the boy she likes gets his memory wiped, and it’s a whole thing.) There are some fun new supers, including the delightful Voyd, voiced by the one and only Sophia Bush. (Remember that time, Brooke, Haley and Quinn dressed up as superheroes and chased away the bullies at Jamie’s school? No, just me? OK…)

There’s so much about family, and marriage and love in these movies, that I think it would be a crime to talk more about it unless it’s really in depth, which is why I had so much trouble getting started. (Also, I was exhausted…and watching The Lord Of The Rings…) 

Anyway, it’s a good movie, people should go see it. I think most people already have but if you haven’t I do recommend it.

Short:

Bao is a beautiful piece of storytelling and what the hell is wrong with people?

Rankings

  1. The Incredibles 2
  2. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  3. Deadpool 2
  4. Ocean’s 8
  5. Infinity War
  6. Ant-Man And The Wasp

Trailers

The Grinch: Why the frak is the abomination happeneing?

How To Train Your Dragon 3: Looks beautiful, as these movies have always been. Also Toothless courting the light fury is delightful.

I don’t remember any others, which I guess speaks to how not really interesting they were, huh?