Category Archives: Star Wars

New developments with the Han Solo film

Wow, things have gotten weird with the Han Solo film!! First came the news that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had been let go from the project due to “creative differences” with the powers that be at Disney and Lucasfilm. As if that wasn’t shocking enough (having two directors let go from such a high-profile project during filming no less), today the news has come down that their replacement will be none other than Ron Howard himself!!

That’s right. Ron Howard is officially directing a Star Wars film. And…I’m not sure how I feel about that. Don’t get me wrong, some of my favorite films are directed by Ron Howard: Apollo 13, Cocoon, A Beautiful Mind, all of these are films I enjoy. In fact, it is entirely feasible that Howard will do a fantastic job and the Han Solo film will go off without a hitch a la Rogue One. And yet…his recent efforts do not inspire me with confidence. I mean there was Inferno (2016) which hit theaters with a dull *thud.* And then there was In the Heart of the Sea the year before that, and it didn’t go over well either. I’m not saying Howard can’t do it, but I don’t feel as confident about the film now.

What do you think about Ron Howard being chosen as the new director of the Han Solo film? Is the project doomed? Or are we all fretting over nothing? Let me know in the comments below. Tomorrow marks day 1 of the Remembering James Horner Blogathon!! Don’t forget to tag my blog at the start of the post (this post is part of the Remembering James Horner Blogathon hosted by Film Music Central) so I can include you in the daily summary that I will keep updated as best I can 🙂

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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!

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page 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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“Jyn Erso and Hope” from Rogue One, my thoughts…

I can’t believe it’s been nearly two months since I saw Rogue One. Since then, I have been turning over portions of the score in my mind, particularly “Jyn Erso and Hope”, the main theme for our badass heroine.

From the moment I first heard it, something wiggled in the back of my mind and said “I’ve heard something like this before.” But for the longest time I couldn’t think of what that something was.

Then I went back and listened again, and finally it dawned on me: I know EXACTLY where I’ve heard this melody before (granted it wasn’t the exact same, but the core is still intact).

“Jyn Erso and Hope” is, to put it simply, a variation on “Across the Stars”, the love theme for Padme and Anakin from Episode II/III. Here, let the music speak for itself:

Here is “Jyn Erso and Hope”

and here is “Across the Stars”

To my ears, it sounds like Giacchino took components from “Across the Stars” and rearranged a few notes. But if enough of a similarity remains, the mind will remember and try to supply the missing parts (that’s how I knew I’d heard the theme somewhere else).

I don’t think there’s any hidden symbolism behind this, as it makes no sense for there to be any connection between Anakin/Padme and Jyn (though part of me does wonder if Jyn’s mother was a Jedi, she DID have a kyber crystal after all).

I’m not particularly surprised that Giacchino borrowed from another piece of Star Wars music; this is a practice that dates back to the dawn of film music (they don’t really talk about it, but everyone knows about it), but a part of me wishes that he had done a better job of disguising the theme if he wanted to do something like that.

I’m interested to hear what all of you think about this: do you hear the similarity? Or do you hear a connection to another piece? I love discussing film music like this 🙂

Star Wars Episode VIII has a title!!!

Of course they would announce the title of Episode VIII when I’m away on vacation. If I’d been home I would’ve jumped on this so fast…oh well, let’s get to it!!

star-wars-the-last-jedi-poster

It’s official, Episode VIII will be titled The Last Jedi. I like this title, even if it does remind me of Return of the Jedi a little bit. Of course the million dollar question is, who is The Last Jedi? In my mind there are two possibilities: the obvious (and most likely) choice is Luke Skywalker, who probably is the last Jedi after Kylo Ren took out his Jedi training school. Less likely, but still possible, is that this is referring to Rey, who will be trained by Luke, making HER the last Jedi.

I’m glad we’ve gotten the title for the latest installment, if nothing else. I still want to see a teaser of some kind, even if it’s just 30 seconds. Now that the title is out, maybe this means we’ll be getting that soon??

Regardless, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is due on December 15th (just under 11 months away).

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R.I.P. Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)

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She’s gone. Our Princess Leia, heroine extraordinaire of the Star Wars Universe, has passed away several days after suffering a heart attack en route from London to LAX. And she was only 60!!

I’d actually thought I was numb to the loss that this year has inflicted. After all, think of everyone who has been taken: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, George Michael, Anton Yelchin, Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson, John Glenn, Zsa Zsa Gabor, the list stretches on and on. There’s been so much death and there’s only so much of it I can process before my mind retreats for the sake of its own sanity. But then THIS happened and it hurts like a knife plunged straight into my heart.

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I actually thought she was getting better, reports had said she was stable (which is good) and I was looking forward to hearing word of her recovery. And then, not even ten minutes ago, I saw the news…that she was gone.

I’m probably going to spend the next few days raging at the injustice of it all, not to mention binging on the classic Star Wars films.

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The other role I loved her in: Jake’s jilted bride in The Blues Brothers

As raw as this wound is, i can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen with Episode IX (filming having wrapped for Episode VIII). Before Rogue One, I presume they would’ve tastefully either explained her absence or killed the character offscreen (or something of the sort), but after Rogue One….I hope and pray that they don’t do what they did with Tarkin. I don’t care if the actress gave permission for her image to be used for such a thing, if they attempt to “resurrect” her for Episode IX, I won’t forgive them, ever.

I’m hurt, I’m angry, and most of all I’m upset that yet another amazing, talented person was taken away from us by a cruel year. Rest in peace Carrie Fisher, to me you’ll always be Princess Leia.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, My Thoughts!!

Warning!!! This review spoils EVERYTHING about Rogue One, if you haven’t seen the film and DON’T want to know, stop reading NOW!!!

Still here? Okay, continue!! (But remember, you were warned!!)

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, OH.MY.GOSH!!! Thursday night, 9:45 p.m., the long wait finally ended and I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first stand-alone Star Wars film in the Anthology series. And oh boy did it deliver!! The film does have one flaw, but I’ll get to that after a bit, let’s start with one of the best parts of the film…

DARTH VADER IS BACK!!!

Let’s all be honest, I think most of us who have gone to see this film did it because Vader was showing up (I know that certainly helped to sway my decision). This is the first time Vader (in all his armored glory) has graced the cinematic screen since Revenge of the Sith in 2005 (though granted that was a very short appearance). In Rogue One, Vader is at the height of his power and general nastiness. Believe it or not, he’s in the film for not quite ten minutes (split into two appearances): his first scene takes place on the lava planet Mustafar where he’s since built an imposing castle-fortress to reside in when he’s not on some mission for the Emperor. I THOUGHT I recognized the planet, but I wasn’t sure until a YouTube review from @StupendousWave (my favorite source for Star Wars news) confirmed my suspicion. Not only do we see this amazing fortress, we also see Vader, briefly, as we’ve never seen him before: completely armorless in a bacta tank. It’s only a few glimpses, really, but it was more than enough to show how little remains of Vader’s human body before he re-armors in order to greet Director Krennic properly.

Speaking of Krennic, he’s the main antagonist for most of the film, or at least he tries to be. Krennic comes across as one of those villains who assigns to himself more importance than he actually has. For instance, a major sticking point (with Krennic) is that he receive the proper credit for developing the Death Star for all these years. When this credit is about to be taken away from him (by a certain character that I will discuss shortly), Krennic dares to whine about this to Vader, who Force chokes him for his troubles. I really thought that Krennic would meet his ultimate fate at Vader’s hands, but what really happened was almost as good. The film’s climax takes place on the tropical planet of Scarif, where the Death Star plans are stored in an archive. The Rebels, led by Jyn Erso and company, infiltrate the base, and Krennic (arriving around the same time) moves to stop them. Ultimately, the Death Star arrives and after a long engagement with the Rebel fleet, the Death Star is ordered to fire on the base, destroying it. Krennic, badly wounded from a blaster shot, is trapped on the base’s communication tower and witnesses the weapon he helped create firing on the planet, knowing there is no way he can escape the shockwave in time. Talk about irony!!

And who orders the Death Star to fire? Who is taking the credit for this great achievement away from Director Krennic? Why, Grand Moff Tarkin of course! You know, the villain portrayed by Peter Cushing in the original Star Wars film in 1977? Yes, him!!

But wait, I hear you all say, didn’t he die back in 1994? Yes, yes he did! And yet, here he is! I confess, I did NOT see this moment coming. I partially blame this on being buried in dissertation work, but also on a slight misunderstanding on my part. I, of course, heard the news very early this year that Disney was working on a CGI replication of Cushing’s character. However, when the main villian was announced to be Director Krennic, I was under the impression that they had scrapped the CGI-Cushing idea. It never dawned on me that they were going to do both!!

I mentioned that the film has one flaw, and, please don’t be upset, but that flaw is Tarkin. Don’t misunderstand me, the character as he appears on screen is a remarkable achievement. Digital creations of a human character have come lightyears in terms of appearance and believability and Tarkin is so realistic it’s scary. But…it doesn’t quite work. The first time we see Tarkin, he has his back to the audience (though you know instantly who he is). The big reveal comes when he turns around, and the moment I saw him, I KNEW what they had done. You can see the CGI elements in the way Tarkin moves his head and speaks. The “uncanny valley”, as it were, is still in effect. I WAS able to suspend my disbelief some of the time though, so for me it wasn’t a fatal flaw. I am curious to know what you all thought of seeing Tarkin brought back to life again.

Moving on to the rest of the story and our heroes, Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and K-2SO make a great trio. Jyn is the daughter of Galen Erso, a brilliant scientist forcibly returned to the Death Star project by Krennic, and also the man responsible for placing the fatal flaw inside the Death Star that leads to its destruction in Episode IV. Jyn, his only child, has lived on her own for years, and loves her father very much. She is initially recruited to the Rebellion because the Alliance is searching for her father, and a Rebel extremist named Saw Gerrera has in custody a defecting Imperial pilot who came from the installation where Galen works (it’s a little complicated, but still good!)

Outside of Jyn, K-2SO might be the best character on the side of the heroes: he’s an Imperial droid reprogrammed by Cassian and he has the snarkiest sense of humor you’ve ever seen, but his loyalty to Cassian (and the Rebellion) is unquestionable. He and Jyn do not get along for most of the film, but by the end, they’ve earned each other’s respect.

My other two favorite characters are Chirrut and Baze Malbus. They were formerly Guardians of the Whills (they served at the local Jedi temple on the planet Jedha, they can feel the Force, but can’t actively control it the way a Jedi could) before the Empire, and now they are inseparable. Chirrut still believes in the Force after all this time, while Baze has become more of a skeptic. Chirrut has this habit of praying over and over “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me, I am one with the Force and the Force is with me, etc.” He’s actually blind, but is so in tune with the Force that he can fight as well as any sighted person.

And speaking of the end, deep down, I think I knew this was going to happen, but I was secretly hoping at least one of them would get out alive. Yes, you heard right, in the end, none of them make it off Scarif. Jyn, Cassian, K-2SO, Chirrut, Baze, even Bodhi (the defecting Imperial pilot who has been helping them), one by one, they all die. Jyn and Cassian are the last, they successfully transmit the Death Star plans up to the fleet, but immediately afterward, the battleship fires on the planet. It’s not enough to break up the planet itself (the weapon isn’t quite finished yet), but it is enough to destroy the base. The blast is set out in the nearby ocean so it takes a few minutes for the destruction to reach the pair. Jyn and Cassian have just enough time to reach the beach, reflect on what they’ve done and embrace before they meet their end in a fiery cloud of death. It’s terrifying to me because as they sit meeting their end, Jyn is facing the shockwave as it comes, and you can’t help but wonder what she’s feeling, knowing her death is seconds away.

And the Easter eggs in this film boggle the mind, simply because there are so many of them! Let me see if I can name more than a few: there’s several sightings of Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits reprising his role from the prequel trilogy); Jyn and Cassian (literally) bump into the pair that tries to assault Luke in the cantina on Tatooine (“He doesn’t like you, I don’t like you either…”); R2 and C-3PO pop up for a split second at Yavin base; in possibly one of the best Easter egg moments, the characters of Red Leader and Gold Leader are featured, briefly, in the climactic battle over Scarif in a clever re-use of some footage from Episode IV; and there are several references to the Star Wars Rebels series (listen for the page asking for “General Syndulla”). There’s more, but that’s most of them.

Lastly, I have to talk about the music. I was so nervous about Michael Giacchino composing the score for this film, and I was terrified it wouldn’t be any good. While I still need to go back and analyze the score, my first impression was very favorable. It definitely helps that Giacchino re-used several of Williams’ themes at key points in the story (particularly the Imperial March, I would’ve been furious if he’d left THAT out). The music definitely isn’t bad, but how GOOD it ultimately is I can’t say just yet (I need to listen to the soundtrack separate from the film before I can give a definite opinion).

Final thoughts:

Rogue One is a worthy addition to the Star Wars canon, though it tread dangerously close to the line with its use of CGI to recreate certain characters. The Easter eggs make this film a fun watch for any Star Wars fan.

It was WEIRD having no opening crawl (and no Star Wars fanfare), I almost wish they would go back and recreate the opening to have a crawl anyway.

It was cool (and a little freaky) to see Peter Cushing’s Tarkin walking and talking again, they’ve almost nailed recreating a human character in full CGI (but NOT QUITE)

Ending the film moments before Episode IV begins was a nice touch, though I am somewhat not okay with how they recreated Princess Leia. I would have preferred seeing her from the back only.

I am so happy we got to see Vader use his lightsaber!!!!! After the first scene, I was terrified that we weren’t going to get any more Vader, not even with his lightsaber, so seeing that at the end was fantastic!

And those are my thoughts on Rogue One. What did YOU think of the film? Loved it? Hated it? Already in line to see it again? Let me know in the comments below (first chance I get I’m going to see this film again, that’s for sure). Just to let everyone know, I’ll be heading home Friday for the holidays, so I’ll probably post a few more times this week and then hang it up until Christmas is over 🙂 Have a good one! -Becky

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