Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May the Fourth Be with You! - Lauren and Star Wars Today



Beware. Here there be Spoilers.


So, the Fourth snuck up on me this year. Usually I line up Star Wars episodes IV, V, and VI and watch them in a glorious build up to the Fourth.

This year I was distracted by a lot of things that came up and didn't realize until yesterday that May the Fourth was imminent. I still ran around all day saying "May the fourth be with you." And replying "And also with you." As one does.

I was a bit bummed that I'd missed my traditional movie run through, but the truth is, Star Wars is never far from my life.

You see... The thing is...

I just recently dug up and played Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) I and II and I, totally coincidentally, finished my play-through of the second game today, about twenty minutes ago.

I am now filled with unrequited nostalgia for the pre-Disney years of the expanded universe. I understand why Disney chose to make pretty much everything but the original three movies non-cannon. They needed breathing space to write in, they really did.
But I miss Thrawn and his evil blue conquering ways. I miss the mysticism and danger of the New Jedi Order books where the galaxy was under attack by invaders from yet another galaxy, invaders who were invisible in the force.

I even miss LucasArts. KotOR II kind of demanded a sequel and there may never be one now - especially since all the material in the games is essentially just fan fiction.

There were things I liked about The Force Awakens (not the title to be sure, lol), but it didn't give me the satisfied feeling I always got after reading through one of the expanded universe books. I've thought a little about why that is, and I've come to three main points.

1. The Force Awakens DRASTICALLY narrowed the Star Wars universe down and only gave us the familiar old elements to work with. That might be comforting to some after the wretched disappointment of episodes I, II, and III (I could write an essay on all the things they almost did right in those films, which is why they suck so much, actually). But we've had Star Wars for almost 40 years now, and giving us another orphan hero from a sandy planet (even if she's a girl) isn't going to do it for us. It's too much like saying "lets start fresh with absolutely nothing new."
It also feels like the heroes in the original movies accomplished absolutely nothing, which really sucks. Their only legacy is more storm troopers and a brat with a really questionable looking lightsaber that Luke hid from when he got out of control.

2. The Villain isn't compelling. Neither of them. Whichever one is the real villain anyway.
Neither Kylo Ren or Supreme Leader Snoke (however much he looks like damaged Anakin from the Return of the Jedi) can hold a candle to the foreboding figure of Darth Vader. In fact, Kylo's vague worship of his dead grandfather just seems silly.
Vader's introduction as someone holding on to the traditions of the force in a galaxy nearly devoid of those who could channel its power made him interesting. His conviction and brutality toward his people and the rebels alike mad him fear-worthy.
The emperor really gains a lot of his power from the hold he has over Vader. If Darth Vader obeyed the guy, there HAD to be something scary about him. Snoke just pushes around a whiny kid who can't control his temper and destroys five planets that everyone immediately forgets about.

3. The best part of the original movies were the way the characters developed their relationships with each other, and those relationships changed the galaxy. Except now in the new movie, they didn't. And the best part of the new movie was the relationship that Rey was building with Han Solo, but that got cut off before it could do more than hint at something meaningful. Because Rey and Fin are both extremely inconsistent characters, even the hints at friendship and attraction there are watered down. I'm desperately hoping they'll do more with Rey and Leia in the next film... talk about potential for awesomeness, but I don't see it going that way since they tracked Luke down at the end of the film but, once again, there's no relationship there, nothing to make me care about what they might do together going forward.

4. I know I said only three, but I lied. Sort of. This is the part where I admit my own bias a little. I grew up loving Jacen and Jaina Solo and their friends and kid brother, I loved the way Luke and Mara Jade got together, and the birth of their son, Ben, was a HUGE event in my life.
Now Ben is Han and Leia's son, but he goes by Kylo Ren 'cause he hates his parents? It's just tough to give up the old thing when it was so much more satisfying.

I know I griped and maybe that's not what May the Fourth is about, but it's hard not to complain about things that are actually pretty near and dear to your heart. So I thought I'd go out with a list of things I loved about The Force Awakens.

1. BB-8 - he wasn't R2-D2 all over again, but had similar appeal.
2. Poe Dameron - just yes. Totally.
3. General Leia (She's still a princess, dangit! even if Vader blew up her planet. Well, Moff Tarkin did, but anyway).
4. Maz .
5. Rey is a girl (though it sucked that she was a super inconsistent character).
6. Fin (sadly inconsistent character again).
7. Fin and Poe flying and shooting together.
8. The practical effects - thank goodness.
9. Fin using a lightsaber.
10. Han and Leia hugging - though I'm of two minds about their reunion. I liked it better when their marriage was solid.

Now, I think I'll go play some Star Wars Dark Forces before bed...

May the Fourth be with you all!
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