Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Poe Dameron (Comics) by Charles Soule, Phil Noto & Angel Unzueta

Um, I don’t know if you know this or not, readers, but I really am fond of the character Poe Dameron.

That might be an understatement…

What’s the word for a character who’s life story you’ve dived into, who you’ve written tons of secret fanfiction about, who you’ve spend hundreds of dollars to create cosplay for, and who’s actor you’ve decided you must watch his entire filmography?

OH! Is the word, obsessed? Yes, I think that’s the word.

Never forget the tagline of this blog is “Saving The World One Obsession At A Time!”

And while my obsessions wax and wane and sometimes go away entirely. (I no longer feel the need to purchase every Billy Joel album, for example! And I never even got The Nylon Curtain or Cold Spring Harbor.) But ever since that night watching The Force Awakens five years ago, Poe Dameron and by extension Oscar Isaac’s have been pretty steady.

Poe Dameron the Comic series was written by Charles Soule who is very good at writing comics. (READ SHE-HULK! He made her comic into a David E. Kelley show and it was great and perfect) He was also very nice to me once at ACBC, so you know, there’s that.

Poe Dameron covers the time before and between movies. First we get the lead up to The Force Awakens where he is trying to find Lor San Tekka (Remember how Kylo Ren killed Max Von Sydow? That guy) because Leia said so.

Seriously, one of the best things about Poe, which is preserved here is that when Leia says jump, his answer is, “How high? Also can I do a barrel roll?” Anyway, our self proclaimed best pilot in the galaxy is not alone, he’s got a great group of friends in his Black Squadron. Snap Wexley (there’s a moment where Snap’s childhood droid friend, Mr. Bones from Aftermath makes a comeback and I said, “Oooh YAY!”),  Jessika Pava, Kare Kun and Suralinda Jones. They’re a good team, and also Snap and Kare are in love and great and now I am even more sad about how Snap died. (This is not even getting into the great tragedy of him being shot down right before his step dad Wedge Antilles showed up on Exagol. My friend Jess warned me of this, but it is ROUGH y’all.) There’s also a bunch of stuff about C-3P0’s spy network, which is BADASS, and BB-8 rolling around being the best.

The art is good. There’s something a little off putting about photo realistic art of characters who’s actors I know well, but the likenesses are quite good, and once I was used to it it got easier.

But mostly it’s a lot of piloting and character building which is cool. It makes Poe’s disposition in The Rise Of Skywalker make a lot more sense. He’s given up everything for this fight, he’s lost friends and he’s kind of done.

Anyway, I’m glad to have picked up this one. Our next visit to a galaxy far far away will be the novel Bloodline. First I’m going to be hanging out where no one has gone before…because y’all Picard starts tomorrow! New Clone Wars not far behind btw. Lot going on at the moment.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy by Chuck Wendig

This is my first dive into the Star Wars extended universe. (OK, I read a few comics) and I figured this direct sequel to Return Of The Jedi which is meant to bridge that time with the new era of The Force Awakens and beyond seemed like a good enough place to begin.

Also Chuck Wendig is fun on twitter. So there’s that.

The Aftermath trilogy tells the story of Norra Wexley (mother of Greg Grunberg’s Snap! He’s in the books too!) a pilot with the Rebellion, now the New Republic and the waning months of the Galactic Civil War against the Empire. Norra finds herself in the general orbit of Princess Leia and Han Solo, as they prepare for the birth of their son. (Watch out for onion ninjas when all conversations around Ben ensue. But also RED FLAGS all over the damn place regarding the kind of parents Leia and Han turned out to be) She also puts together a rag tag crew of a bounty hunter, an ex imperial torture officer, a clone descended rebel soldier (COOL) and her kid. Her kid Temmin Wexley, who is nicknamed by the one and only Wedge Antilles (who Norra falls in love with) Snap.

On the Imperial side there are various people vying for power though we follow, mainly Grand Admira Rae Sloane. Sloane’s a pretty great villain and I like that we’ve got women as our main antagonist and protagonist.

The book took some getting used to. The use of third person present tense is a lot for someone who does as much reading as I do. I understand this is a hallmark of the EU and does create a sort of propulsive immediacy, but it’s also, a lot. First person present tense is tough enough to take, but third person…oof.

Anyway, the books were fun, from a Star Wars perspective, seeing how the hold the Rebellion had on the Galaxy was shaky from the start, as well as the political differences between Leia and Mon Mothma, really does help solidify the shaky ground that is the New Republic and Resistance schism. They work in concert, but they’re not the same. It makes some sense. Or more sense. It’s still not great.

Also, Sloane ends her journey travelling on The Emperor’s ship towards the unkown reaches. So we know what that’s all about now. Again, kind of.

Overall, I think this was a good place to start. If only for sweet little Temmin, who I continually pictured as Greg Grunberg but small. Not young. (Was Grunberg ever young? He came off middle aged even on Felicity!) Just small. Shrunk down. This was an extremely amusing visual and if you decide to read these books you are welcome to it. He also has a droid friend named Mr. Bones who is also great. Seriously, Disney Era, kicking it out of the park with the droids. from BB-8 on they’ve each been all time.

The rest of the team didn’t quite do it for me. I like Sinjin, the ex imperial, but his narrative of finding his conscience was interesting if a little slow compared to everything else. Wendig writes a damn good Han and a not as good Leia. The visions that Leia gets during her pregnancy are incredible, (including her own birth, though she doesn’t realize it’s that) as well as her connection to Ben in utero and beyond. I liked that.

Up next we’re reading Charles Soule’s Poe Dameron comics series, I mean, not right next, a few things in between, but next for this feature.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian“Chapter 8: Redemption”

I’m assuming that Mando is off to find Luke Skywalker (although the ending of this episode is something else)

Let’s go back. After learning that Moff Gideon’s Storm Troopers Jason Sudekis and Adam Pally (!) are guarding Baby Yoda, Mando, Cara, Griff and IG-85 go to get the baby. Moff Gideon knows who they all are, and it’s really creepy, also, Cara notes that he was supposed to have been executed for war crimes so what’s happening there?

Anyway, they fight him and flee, Mando is wounded and IG-85 heals him which is the work around we get for him to remove his helmet. He can’t remove it in front of a living being, IG reminds him that he’s not a living being. So he gets healed, and we see Pedro Pascal’s beautiful wonderful face. HOORAY!

After looking for the Mandolorians, and learning they were slaughtered by the client, Mando has a conversation with the armorer, who tells him that Baby Yoda needs to be returned to his people. Mando is skeptical before being told that this is the way, he agrees.

I present a hypothetical scene that happened in my head:

Me: So I guess they’re going to be looking for Luke’s new Jedi academy. If we learn that Kylo Ren killed Baby Yoda I will find Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau and slap them across the face.

The Mandolorian: Reenie, you seem to have forgotten something, there are other Jedi at this point in history besides Luke and Leia.

*Moff Gideon Emerges from his ship with The Dark Saber*

Me: AHSOKA AND EZRA! FILONI YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN YOU BEAUTIFUL BASTARD.

End Scene

Look, I’m all for finding the home planet of the Yodas. I will be very into that, if that’s where we’re going. But I think, by adding such a specific detail from Mandalore, as the Dark Saber, which was so important to Clone Wars and Rebels and the stories of this culture, when you’re looking for Jedi in order to surrender the baby, perhaps it could be to a young Jedi who disappeared into the unknown regions on a Space Whale, and one Not A Jedi who has reached Force Nirvana via time travel and confronting her evil former master.

What I’m saying is, I think Mando should hand Baby Yoda over to Ahsoka and Ezra and then he and Sabine can argue Mandolorian code adhearance like a couple of Rabbis.

I’m still not sure about the overall storytelling of The Mandolorian, I appreciated almost everything it did, but I don’t know that 8 episodes works for what they were doing. Twelve would have been better. My two favorite episodes, Episode 2 & Episode 7 were both directed by Deborah Chow, which I think is pretty important for me personally, since she’s going to be running Obi-Wan and I like what she does. Hooray!

That said, we won’t know this for over a year. We know season 2 is coming next fall, in the meantime, I’m not leaving this world behind. The past six months have given me so much and I’m not ready to move along. The next Fangirl Loves Star Wars will be in a few weeks, where we’ll talk about The Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

All creators have preoccupations, certain themes that most of their work circles back to. In reading reviews and thoughts on The Rise Of Skywalker people kept talking about nostalgia as JJ Abrams’s particular niche.

As I watched it for a third time on Saturday, I tried to see that, and I understand why people think of that for Abrams, if you look only at his film work.

But that would be ignoring a pretty big and important piece of his creative output, and frankly one that I think informs what he was going for with The Rise of Skywalker and Rey’s story in particular much more than anything he’s done on the big screen.

It’s ignoring Alias.

Sidney Bristow’s story, as convoluted as it got, was always thematically about having to untangle herself from the web of lies and violence left as a legacy from her parents and mentors, and standing on her own two feet as her own person at the end of that.

I don’t like the decision to make Rey a Palpatine. I think it’s hugely unnecessary, and creates more questions than it answers. But I get it, as a story decision, especially, when I had the realization about Abrams, Alias and the theme of building your own identity both within and without a legacy.

Rey’s moment of triumph comes when she embraces the Jedi way, the “thousand generations” that live in her, and the voices of the Jedi come to her. It is my favorite moment in the film, not just because it’s movie acknowledgement of Ahsoka, but because it’s the moment that to me provides the most context for Rey’s journey. She’s already rejected her Grandfather’s path for her, she’s already provided Ben Solo his path to redemption, she is choosing in that moment which legacy she wants to continue, the path of the light.

There are plenty of things wrong with The Rise Of Skywalker. I mentioned not loving Rey’s heritage reveal, the retcon of Poe Dameron’s past to make him a smuggler, no real role for Rose Tico and no confirmation of Finn’s force sensitivity (Plus, all those ships in the Hidden Regions and no Ezra riding in on a Space Whale? What gives?) are all writing choices I’m not crazy about.

But Rey’s story is good at the core, the fight against a destiny chosen for her by others to carve her own way is great and fits with a pattern of JJ Abrams’s work. Felicity though a very different genre is also about young people figuring out who they are, rather than who everyone expects them to be. It’s even a little bit there in Star Trek, where he basically says, “this is not the story you know, these characters are making their own way,” Lost was always more Lindeloff’s than his, but it still has themes of identity over destiny deeply embedded in it.

And I think this is the part that got to me. I like stories about family and legacy and finding your place in the world, so I liked this story for Rey and for Kylo Ren, they both carved out a place on a path that had been trod before, but it wasn’t the place prepared for them. I think that’s good.

Next week is the finale of The Mandolorian, and as I said a few weeks ago, Fangirl Loves Star Wars isn’t going anywhere. Next year we’ll have season 2 of Resistance the return of Clone Wars and I’m going to do some EU reading. I love our Galaxy Far Far Away, and I don’t ever want to leave it.

 

Rise, Rey, Rise Up

There’s a lot going on in The Rise Of Skywalker, and I’m actually having trouble articulating how I feel about this movie. I groaned at a lot of it, cried through more, loved it almost completely. It’s thoroughly predictable, and yet manages to satisfy regardless of that.

I’m not a big lover of twist endings, I think they’re often cheap. The predictability of a formula is not something I consider a fault in narrative. Tropes alone aren’t cheap, though they can be employed cheaply. And The Rise Of Skywalker uses tropes that it’s earned and a few that it hasn’t. It’s a mixed bag of a movie.

Like all Star Wars films it lives and dies on it’s performances. Daisy Ridley gives her strongest in this trilogy, Adam Driver gets less to do than the previous two outings. Oscar Isaac and John Boyega are a damn delight and here’s something that I never ever expected to write, Anthony Daniels really runs away with the thing.

And the score, as you may have heard is incredible. People are calling it the best Williams has done in the series. I don’t know about that. Empire and Phantom Menace are pretty high marks, but it gets close. (I need to listen to it without the film.) But it’s very good. Rey’s theme and Kylo’s theme both get mixed with The Imperial March and Force Theme’s in ways that are wonderful. Leia’s theme is also pretty prominent.

I really, really enjoyed myself.

Rankings

  1. Knive’s Out
  2. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  3. Jo Jo Rabbit
  4. Frozen 2
  5. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  6. Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker
  7. Avengers: Endgame
  8. Rocketman
  9. Detective Pikachu
  10. Zombieland: Double Tap
  11. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  12. Downton Abbey
  13. Joker

Trailers

The Jungle Cruise: This trailer does not have enough puns. It otherwise looks acceptable.

Onward: I really can’t wait for this. It looks so lovely and fun and kind of scary. Really great.

Wonder Woman 84: GIVE ME YOUR TIME TRAVEL SHENANIGANS AND CHRIS PINE IN A FANNY PACK!!!!

Anway, y’all ready for Spoilers!  THEY’RE HERE NOW

 

 

 

 

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Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian “Chapter 7: The Reckoning”

PROTECT LITTLE BABY YODA! YOU MUST PROTECT HIM!

I’ve mentioned that there are elements of The Mandolorian that aren’t clicking with me on Monday. But this second episode of the week. (SO MUCH Star Wars THIS WEEK!) feels stronger. I like the team that Mando puts together in an attempt to outwit The Client and save LBY and himself from running around with a price on his head. The return of Cara Dune and IG-11 is good. Their plan to get The Client off their butts is a good one, except it turns out the imperial presence around him on Nevarro has been beefed up.

Also it turns out, The Client isn’t in charge at all, it’s Moff Kargin (GIANCARLO ESPESITO) pulling the strings. While we’ve been trained that there’s nearly always a man behind the curtain with Imperial types, I’m glad the big bad has been revealed.

And watching this episode and being in to it. (THAT ENDING! Thank god we only have a few days to wait and see what’s happening. Also the sneak peak of The Rise Of Skywalker we get was also great. The movie is getting mixed reviews, but if there’s more of Poe making reckless decisions while flying the Falcon I’m all in.) I realized that while I like the old fashioned TV approach to the story here, that is each episode being relatively self contained, except for the ones that aren’t, (Monsters of The Week/Myth Arc, if you will!) it’s not an approach that’s particularly effective with only 8 episodes.

I love episodic TV and miss it very much, but frankly, you need at least 12 to make it work and that’s in the HBO one hour episodes each sense, for 40 to 45 minute episodes you need 20 or more for it to do what it does best. When you only 5 or so hours verses thirteen, and 2.5 of those hours aren’t contributing to the narrative, everything feels like wheel spinning.

And also, I’m just not feeling this show. Maybe this project was a mistake, maybe I’ve OD’d. (It’s happened before, remember last year when I barely did any Superhero stuff because I’d done too much the year before? Or the beginning of this year when I couldn’t even look at a speculative fiction book?) I don’t know, tonight might tell. I’ve never walked out of a Star Wars movie anything but totally hyped. (Yes, even Episodes I and II, second viewings were immediate let downs there, but I was psyched on first viewing.)  I doubt this will be different.

That said if they don’t save that baby next week, I will be very upset. I love that baby.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian: Chapter 6: “The Prisoner”

“The Prisoner” is what I personally wanted The Mandolorian to be from the beginning, because as I’ve noted a thousand times, I love a heist. I love getting a crew together, I love the conflicting goals, I love the way they tend to twist and turn. And also, this had some fun cameos. Bill Burr! Natalia Tea! (Tonks/Asha) Clancy Brown! Matt Lantner (The Voice of Anakin from Clone Wars!) Mark Boone (Bobby Elvis from Sons Of Anarchy!) Dave Filoni himself!

Mando goes to get the Razor Crest repaired and finds himself sucked in when old friend Ran recruits him with a bunch of other scum to break a prisoner out of a new republic prison cruiser, one of them X’ian and Mando have clearly fucked and it’s awesome. Anyway, the team gets aboard the chip they break in and things go sideways. They betray Mando. (SHOCKED, Shocked I tell you!) and he strikes back. (Your winnings, sir?)

Shocked.gif

It’s a Casablanca joke. Watch a movie

Anyway, after returning to base with the titular prisoner, Mando also leaves his tracking fob with those who would have seen him blown up and a crew of X-Wings show up and blow up the place and Mando and Baby Yoda fly away home.

Seriously, it’s all pretty rote. The show in general had been pretty rote but well executed. I’d rather well executed rote-ness than poorly executed vision. (I mean I’d rather both, but I’ve got Watchmen so I can’t ask too much of genre TV at moment.) (Speaking of HOLY CRAP Y’ALL! HOW GOOD WAS WATCHMEN?) I’m sure on rewatch I’ll have more to say. But I wish that things would have congealed a bit by now. I know we’re getting a season two, and while I love that we’re also getting a good episodic Sci-Fi show with a premiere budget, I’d like a bit more of an arc. When Arrow has more thematic cohesion in it’s eighth and final than your $15 million per episode, billion dollar IP, I don’t see all being well.

While we were getting dressed for Mary’s wedding, Cha, Joanna and I discussed the show and what we’re looking for from Star Wars. We landed on a Rogue One/The Last Jedi, Solo/The Force Awakens divide, and we all land squarely on the Solo/TFA side. The Mandolorian, for as great as it is, and it’s very good, is much  more on the Rogue One/The Last Jedi side. With the exception of LBY it’s done very little that touches my heart. In case the past six months haven’t made it clear, I want Star Wars to be in my heart.

On Friday, we’ll talk about the end of the Skywalker Saga with The Rise Of Skywalker. I’m hopeful and excited for the movie, it looks spectacular and I’ll take spectacle in heaps from my Star Wars. I have tickets for Thursday Night and Saturday afternoon, so one Friday we’ll do the Movie Season review and Monday’s Fangirl Loves Star Wars will cover both Mandolorian and The Rise Of Skywalker.

May The Force Be With You.