Category Archives: Films

Who is Rey’s family? My thoughts

It’s a question we’ve been asking since the premiere of The Force Awakens: who is Rey’s missing family? Is she a Skywalker? A Solo? Or is she…a Kenobi??? Daisy Ridley has claimed the answer is obvious (to her), and we will get a definitive answer when The Last Jedi premieres this December. But until then, I want to share my thoughts on the subject, as some evidence as come to light that (I believe) clarifies who it could be.

First though, I think it is clear that Rey is NOT a Solo. Leia and Han went through a lot, but I’m pretty sure they would recognize their own daughter when they saw her. There is nothing to suggest that Kylo has a sibling (surely he would’ve sensed the kinship when he probed her mind).

And….I’m pretty sure Rey isn’t a Skywalker either, unless she had her mind totally wiped of her memories. Otherwise, why would she think Luke Skywalker was a myth if he was her father? It doesn’t really add up does it?

Now, I never though I would say this but..I actually think that Rey is a Kenobi. And before you let me have it, allow me to present my evidence. For this evidence, you must go all the way back to the Clone Wars animated series (not the 2002-2003 one, but the series after that one), season 2 to be exact. In the episode “Voyage of Temptation”, Obi-Wan and Anakin are escorting Duchess Satine of Mandalore to Coruscant. It comes out (from Obi-wan) that when Obi-Wan was still a Padawan, he and Qui-Gon spent nearly a full year protecting Satine from bounty hunters and insurgents who wished her dead. In that time, Obi-wan and Satine became rather…close. So close in fact, that later in the episode, Obi-wan admits that if Satine had asked him, he would have left the Jedi Order for her. But I digress, mid-way through the episode, after hearing of this earlier adventure, Anakin turns to Obi-wan and begins to ask if their relationship ever got…physical. Obi-wan begins to splutter, which is to be expected…except he then evades answering the question. He doesn’t say “No of course we didn’t!” As inappropriate as Anakin’s question is, why wouldn’t Obi-wan deny it if nothing happened? Well, I think it’s because something DID happen.

Here’s how I think the connection to Rey works: Obi-wan and Satine slept together, which created a child. Knowing Obi-wan’s devotion to the Jedi Order, Satine never told him of this child’s existence (in fact she may have even given the child up for adoption to another Mandalorian family to avoid the scandal of the Duchess of Mandalore having a child by a Jedi). This child, male or female I don’t know, is one of the parents of Rey.

Is the theory tenuous at best? Yes, yes it is, I don’t deny it. But…it would be a way to make Rey a Kenobi without introducing completely new characters into the mix (and everything in the Clone Wars series is considered canon).

But why else could Rey be a Kenobi? For starters, she does seem unusually gifted with the Jedi mind trick, especially since she’s never seen one done before (not that we know of anyway). Mind tricks were one of Obi-wan’s specialties. There’s also her Force vision when she touches Anakin’s lightsaber: it is noticeably Obi-wan who speaks to her, calling her by name no less. As I read elsewhere, why would Obi-wan be taking such a special interest in Rey, unless they’re related?

One last point: a theory quickly gaining ground is the idea that the Star Wars saga is symmetrical, like poetry. I can think of no better symmetry than if Luke ends up training the grandchild of Obi-wan Kenobi, in much the same way that Obi-wan trained Anakin all those years ago.

These are my thoughts on who Rey is related to, and I’m very curious to know what you think about it. Do you agree? Disagree? Who do you think Rey’s family will turn out to be? Less than eight months until we find out!

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Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Lady and the Tramp is another classic Disney film that is sadly falling by the wayside as more and more time goes on, but it has one of the more disturbing situations in the Disney canon.

Set in 1909/1910, the story follows Lady, a cocker spaniel, whose happy life with Jim Dear and his wife Darling is upended when Darling becomes pregnant and has a baby boy. With all of the attention focused on the new baby, Lady begins to feel neglected for the first time in her life. Not only that, but a brash stray named Tramp keeps nosing his way into her life as well.

Now, looking at this film, some might think that the “villain” of this film is Aunt Sarah, the mean lady with the Siamese cats, who muzzles Lady, and later locks her out of the house and keeps her tied in the yard. However, Aunt Sarah isn’t acting out of malice, she’s just being manipulated by her cats and what she believes to be right. No, the real villain of this story…is the RAT!

I can hear it now, “Rat? What rat??”

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THAT rat!! (He’s an ugly thing isn’t he??)

The rat first appears early in the film when Lady is seen going about her morning routine (before Darling becomes pregnant and has her baby). He keeps trying to get in the house, but Lady is always there to chase him off. However, at the end of the film, when Aunt Sarah has Lady tied to the doghouse, the rat is able to slip in with ease, despite Lady barking a frantic warning (that Aunt Sarah ignores). And where is the ugly rat going? To the baby’s room of course!! Yes, that’s right, there’s a disease-ridden rat headed for the baby’s room to do only God knows what. Totally messed up right? Just wait, it gets better.

Lady and the Tramp: The Rat Scene (1955)

Of course Tramp comes barreling into the yard a short time later and Lady is able to tell him about the rat. Tramp goes to make the save and then we see this:

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I wish I could get a zoom in on this rat perched on the baby’s crib, looking down at the infant like he’s going to.. *shudders* oh Disney  why do you DO these things??? It’s not that the rat actually does anything, it’s the implication of what’s going to happen that makes this moment so disturbing. (And there’s also that frightening fight between Tramp and the rat that is done mostly in shadow that is SUPER disturbing too.)

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What do you think about the rat in Lady and the Tramp? Do you find it disturbing as well, or is it no match for what we see in Disney today? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it 🙂

For more Disturbing Disney, see here

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Hans Zimmer talks The Road to El Dorado (2000)

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Hans Zimmer talks The Road to El Dorado (2000)

While it wasn’t a big hit at the time, 17 years later there is still a soft spot in my heart for The Road to El Dorado. The story follows two Spanish con-men, Miguel (Kenneth Branagh) and Tulio (Kevin Kline) as they accidentally stow away on the ship of Hernan Cortes on his way to conquer whatever empires of the New World he may come across, and end up discovering the legendary city of gold, El Dorado, where they are mistaken for gods.

(I wrote about one of the film’s songs here)

And yes, I admit, the music has something to do with why I like this film as much as I do. With the orchestral score composed by Hans Zimmer, the music is a blend of Spanish sounds (heard mostly in the beginning of the film) and a “New World” sound that takes over once Miguel and Tulio discover El Dorado. I was delighted to discover a full length behind the scenes look at creating the score for this movie, with thoughts from Hans Zimmer, Elton John (who worked with Tim Rice on the songs) and also Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh, the voices of Miguel and Tulio.

With my allergies giving me hell today (and most of the week if I’m honest), I’m going to keep this post a little shorter than normal, but I will say you will enjoy this video. And if you haven’t given The Road to El Dorado a try, I sincerely hope that you give the movie a chance. It has terrific animation and, as I’ve said, a wonderful musical score.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Hans Zimmer, see here

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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This is also my 600th post, how cool is that?!

After a long month of delays and “life happening”, I was FINALLY able to go see Beauty and the Beast in the theater and see what all the hype and fuss is about. The short answer is: I liked it!! The long answer…well, keep reading, because I have some thoughts about all of this.

First I will start with what I liked.

The casting: Disney nailed the casting in my opinion, especially with Belle, Maurice, Gaston and Beast. Luke Evans in particular was very believable as the egomaniacal and downright despicable Gaston, though his singing style caught me by surprise (more on that in a minute). I really liked Josh Gad as Le Fou too. And while I initially wasn’t too sure about Le Fou being the first gay character in Disney canon, once I saw it, I realized that it worked super well and it isn’t “in your face” at all! And Gaston is so oblivious to it all that it is really quite funny.

An expanded story: I absolutely loved that Disney filled in some gaps in the story with this version. Showing the Beast’s transformation (including what came immediately before) was well done, as it gave a good idea of what life in the castle was like before the Enchantress came. And speaking of, I liked that we see more of the Enchantress beyond the prologue. Of course in the animated film we don’t get to “see” the Enchantress at all, we only see her depicted in the stained glass pictures. But when “Agathe” rescued Maurice and took him to her home in the woods, I knew instantly that this had to be the Enchantress in disguise, because witches and other magical types would be living in the woods with owls and other magical things, and the only witch in this story is the Enchantress. But most of all, I really love that we finally got a backstory for Belle as to where she came from and why she and her father had to come to “this poor provincial town” in the first place. In this version, Maurice used to be a painter living in Paris with his wife and newborn daughter, when his wife contracted the plague, forcing Maurice to flee with his daughter so they didn’t all die.

Another added twist (that actually comes from the Broadway play) that I liked is that every time a rose petal falls, the castle crumbles a little more and the enchanted servants become ever more object-like. And I have to say that the scene where our enchanted friends momentarily become regular objects made me cry, because for a moment I thought they were going to give us an unhappy ending.

Homage to the past: As I suspected, this film pays homage to Cocteau’s 1946 version of the Beauty and the Beast story, primarily with Maurice’s initial encounter with the castle, and also somewhat in the look of the castle too. For example, those lights out front that are held by stone arms? That image comes straight from the 1946 film. The rose pavilion out front with statues of the deer and hounds on top? That too is copied almost exactly from the film. In fact, the entire arrangement of Maurice being allowed to come in and help himself to food and shelter, only being attacked when he dares to take a rose, is the exact set-up seen in the 1946 film.

The music: Of course I’m going to be all over this music, the original Beauty and the Beast soundtrack is one of my favorite film soundtracks ever, and I was happy to hear the music I loved largely unchanged. And the new songs were all beautiful, nothing felt out of place. I do have one gripe however; when Belle goes to the West Wing, the iconic “West Wing theme” is missing. I was really disappointed as that is one of my favorite musical cues from the animated film.

Now for what I didn’t like:

The fight between Gaston and the Beast: maybe I’m nitpicking, but the entire scene with Gaston, the Beast and Belle at the end of the film didn’t carry nearly the same emotional weight as the original did. I’m not sure why that is, but Gaston’s death didn’t feel nearly as satisfying, nor did his fatal attack on the Beast. For that last part, I think that had something to do with the fact that it was more shocking for the Beast to be stabbed in the side than to be shot in the back at a distance. Also, Gaston standing on the crumbling rampart felt something like an afterthought. Truthfully, when I saw that we were seeing more of the Enchantress, I was secretly hoping that she was going to punish Gaston by cursing HIM instead. Or, barring that, I was curious to see if Disney would use the original plan for Gaston’s death, which involved him being stalked and killed by wolves.

How Gaston gets Maurice locked up, and Belle’s attempted rescue: In the animated original, Maurice really does come across (a little bit) as an insane person raving about a Beast taking his daughter. But in THIS version, Gaston tries to have Maurice killed by tying him up and leaving him in the woods, thinking the wolves will get him. When Maurice makes it back to town almost a week later, he tells the townspeople exactly what happened and they are all suspicious of Gaston (and rightfully so). But simply because Gaston says it didn’t happen, the townspeople just take his word for it? I know everyone is supposed to hang on every word Gaston says, but this really is pushing it. And then there’s when Belle comes racing in, still in her ball gown, to rescue her father. You would think everyone would take one look at the sumptuous clothes she’s dressed in and realize, “Oh my gosh, I don’t understand how, but she’s telling the truth!” Nope! Belle gets thrown in the padded wagon too.

But these are really only minor nitpicks for me. While I do admit that I still like the animated film better, I can also say that this Beauty and the Beast was a well-done adaptation.

Final thoughts:

Le Fou switching sides during the fight in the castle was just epic, as was Mrs. Potts comment “You’re too good for him (Gaston)”

The transformation scene was just wonderful/amazing/spectacular. And I loved the shot where the castle is restored to its former glory.

Once again, I did enjoy Beauty and the Beast, it is a good film, if not quite the equal of the animated original.

For more of my quick and random thoughts on films, see here

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Teaser #1 !!!!!!!!!!

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Behold the epic teaser poster!!!

After months and MONTHS of speculation and wondering, the prayers of Star Wars fans the world over have FINALLY been answered, the first teaser for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is FINALLY here!!!!

If you have not seen it, take a moment and watch it here before going on to my thoughts:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Teaser #1

Now then…*deep breaths* Oh  my god, oh my god, OH MY FREAKING GOD that was a lot they put in there!!!!

Let’s start with breaking down the different things we see:

  • Rey is in the midst of training on the island we last saw her on at the conclusion of The Force Awakens. Luke (in voice-over) seems to be coaching Rey into meditating through the Force, to see what she can see. Rey responds that she can see “The light” and we see a back shot of General Leia (with faint overtones of her immortal line “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi”), “the dark” and we see Kylo Ren’s now shattered face helmet, and most interestingly of all, she can see “the balance” and we get a shot of some unfamiliar dark space with something illuminated on the far side, and then a close shot of what I think is a symbol of the Jedi. And Luke’s voice answers “It’s so much more than that”
  • We see Finn still in a coma, so I’m guessing that this is where he is when the film opens (makes sense).
  • Theory: if the base does come under attack and Finn is still in a coma, is Poe going to rescue him, thus furthering the Poe/Finn story? Hmmmmmmm.
  • Poe and BB-8 are fleeing a place that is under attack. Not sure if this is the base from The Force Awakens being attacked or someplace else.
  • The shot that grabbed my attention the most comes towards the end. We see a shot of a building in flames, with Luke speaking that the only truth he knows is that it is time for the Jedi to come to an end (Oh I can’t wait to see the context of THAT line). I watched the shot five separate times, and I think I know what this is, or at least what it is part of. Look at the extreme foreground of the shot, and you will see a hooded figure slumping next to what is surely R2-D2. If that looks at ALL familiar, it’s because we’ve seen those two already: that’s Luke and R2 from the beginning of Rey’s Force vision when she grabs Anakin’s lightsaber. I believe that this is another vision/flashback that shows the Knights of Ren (seen marching through the flames) destroying Luke’s Jedi temple/school, with Kylo at their head (I’m thinking the shot of Kylo, saber drawn with the flames behind him comes from this scene, but it might not either). If I’m right, it will be interesting to see more of what led to Luke’s school being destroyed.
  • There’s also a shot of Rey running in a dark/twilight place, lightsaber drawn, might be a different planet entirely, the island doesn’t have that much flat space.
  • And there’s a strange shot of a line of fighters, new ones, zooming across a desert plain towards AT-AT walkers in the distance, trailing pink/red smoke for some reason, I guess as some kind of smoke cover?

As a teaser, this one works great by giving us a look at a LOT of things, but also keeping out the finer details, to keep us hungering for more. I can’t wait to see more as the summer begins, and until the next trailer arrives, I will happily pore over this teaser piece by piece, gleaning what I can.

One last note to speak about the music: of course it’s the excellent music from John Williams, but by and large I don’t think anything new has been introduced yet. It was a retread of themes we heard in The Force Awakens: Rey’s theme is interwoven with The Force/Luke’s theme, there’s a brief mention of the First Order’s theme and the latter half of the trailer has the dramatic musical build up that is almost an identical match to the music heard in one of the last trailers for The Force Awakens.

What do YOU think of the first teaser for The Last Jedi? I’m so excited to FINALLY be getting a look at this film, so please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Only 8 months and one day until The Last Jedi is released in theaters!!!

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Alan Silvestri talks FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

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Alan Silvestri and FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

FernGully: The Last Rainforest is one of my favorite animated films that doesn’t come from the Walt Disney studio. It tells the story of Crysta, a fairy who lives in the untouched rainforest of FernGully. She is learning to use magic as she will one day be the leader of the fairies. According to their legends, fairies and humans used to be very close until an evil spirit named Hexxus drove them away, presumably to their extinction.

Of course the humans didn’t go extinct, and they’re very close to FernGully even now in the form of loggers cutting the forest down acre by acre. And when the tree containing the spirit of Hexxus is destroyed and the evil spirit is set loose, it’s up to Crysta and her new human friend Zak to stop him.

I absolutely LOVE the music for FernGully, it was composed by Alan Silvestri (of Back to the Future fame) and it will stick with you long after the story is over. One of my favorite pieces from the score is “The Spirit of the Trees” and I hope to talk about that piece at some time in the future. But for now, I have a behind the scenes look at making the overall score that I think you will enjoy.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Alan Silvestri, see here

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The Two Towers “Last March of the Ents” (2002)

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Last March of the Ents (2002)

I think we can all agree that the Ents are one of the greatest things about The Two Towers. After Merry and Pippin rescue themselves from the Uruk-hai, they head into Fangorn Forest and run straight into Treebeard, de facto leader of the few Ents that remain in Middle Earth. Ents…are like trees, sort of. They resemble different varieties of trees, but they have legs, and eyes and they can talk too. Oh and they live for a really LONG time. So long in fact, that regular events in Middle Earth like war very rarely bother them. They’d just as soon let the humans, elves and other races sort it out among themselves, despite the pleas Merry keeps making to them.

But just as Treebeard is set to take Merry and Pippin to a place where they can safely head off to the Shire, Pippin has an idea: he tells Treebeard to take them south past Isengard, having a fairly good idea of what the Ent will run into on the way.

See, while the Ents have been busy deep in the forest, Saruman the wizard has been busy having the forest surrounding Isengard chopped down as fuel for the furnaces helping to produce weapons and armor for his army. So when Treebeard comes to the slopes nearest the wizard’s tower, he emerges to find that acres of forest have been chopped down and completely destroyed, trees that he had known since they were seedlings.

That does it!! Exclaiming that “a wizard should know better” Treebeard lets out a howl of pain and anger that summons all the remaining Ents to his side as he explains to the hobbits:

“There is no curse in Elvish, Entish or in all the tongues of Men, for this treachery.”

Now the Ents will go to war, as they have not done for ages. But there is no optimism here: as the females of their species disappeared centuries ago, there are no more Ent children. Whatever losses they suffer in the coming battle will only hasten the extinction of their race, hence the reason this is called “the last march of the Ents.”

The Ents Attack Isengard

I love the scene when all the Ents are striding across the ruined plain, the Ent theme sounding clear in the background. This is one of those moments that is absolutely pure Tolkien and I never get tired of it. It’s such a sad theme, sad and bittersweet, but it matches the Ents perfectly.

For more of The Two Towers, see also:

The Two Towers “Lament for Theodred” (2002)

And for The Fellowship of the Ring, see here: Live-action Soundtracks F-L

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