A Summary Of Star Wars : Rise Of The Resistance And The First Order Era

Star Wars Resistance : Everyone’s Battle

Resistance is a bit of a tough story to place on the timeline as it begins in the six months leading up to the events of The Force Awakens, and wraps up around the events of The Rise Of Skywalker.

This show has a lighter touch in some ways than the very-heavy Clone Wars series or Star Wars Rebels. Still, it’s provides an hugely important perspective to the story line as a whole, especially for the new territory covered in The Sequel Trilogy.

A thought that was begun in Rebels, given a spotlight in Rogue One, and then extended into a primary theme in the Sequel Trilogy is this:

This fight belongs to everyone, and we all have something to contribute.

Resistance plugs directly into that theme with the main character of Kazuda Xiono. He’s a skilled pilot from the New Republic Navy and the son of a wealthy senator. He’s a nice kid but horribly naive and inexperienced.

Still, he’s got potential, potential that is recognized by everyone’s favorite hotshot, Poe Dameron, who recruits Kaz to become a spy for the Resistance. He is assigned to The Colossus, a large oil platform on a water-covered planet. Intrigue and shenanigans ensue, but the shadow of The First Order and the grievous events that are about to take place slowly move into the show’s plot.

The beauty of this series is that we get some new perspectives on a story where we, the audience, have far more information than the characters themselves. We know how all of the dots connect. We know what we believe about the Empire, the Jedi, The First Order, the Resistance, etc. Not all of our characters know where they stand on these issues. Most of them only have half of the story.

Watching the oh-so-normal character of Kaz progress from a raw recruit to someone who is suddenly thrust into a place of leadership under heartbreaking circumstances is actually rather encouraging. It’s a reminder of what each of us is capable of given the chance. We also see other characters that could easily be underestimated using whatever gifts, talents, and experiences they have to pool together into a common goal.

The key to defeating the Empire, and then The First Order was always one thing above everything else. This HAD to become everyone’s battle, the Rebels/Resistance could only keep this evil at bay for so long. Eventually, all kinds of people across the galaxy were going to have to rise up and do their part.

Star Wars Resistance does an excellent job of showing us how that kind of a movement begins, and how it feeds into a New Age of Resistance in Star Wars.

Everyone’s Battle.

The Force Awakens : Awakening, Old And New

I think this is my favorite Star Wars movie.

It was the first one I saw in theaters, it was an unforgettable experience and the wealth of emotions I walked away with were intense.

It’s an aptly named movie. The job that this movie had to fulfill was to blend into an already established story line but cover new territory. It had to give us a sense of nostalgia while also laying a path for new plots and characters. J.J. Abrams had to awaken a whole lot of stuff.

He was successful. This movie reminded me of the best parts of what I loved from the Original Trilogy, especially in how he brought back the physical elements of the settings, props, and alien characters.

Story-wise, we experience an awakening on multiple levels.

Finn discovers that the life of a Stormtrooper sucks and he isn’t okay with the job requirements. While we now know that he is Force-sensitive, so that makes him stronger in his will and choice to change, this was a big decision for Star Wars.

The Stormtroopers had been faceless minions for so long, I have wondered since I was a kid if they had any feelings or thoughts of their own. Finn proved the stereotype otherwise.

Finn instantly became a delight to me as I saw him not only fly in the face of brainwashing and discipline, but he also opens himself up to caring about another person (Rey) and facing his biggest fears to protect her.

Poe Dameron is a vital plot-mover in this chapter but he doesn’t experience his biggest challenges and growth until the following two movies.

Han Solo, Leia, Chewbacca, and Luke Skywalker. This movie is described as “Han’s” movie as he is the Original trio-member most featured here.

Clearly some poop has hit the fan in the past 30 years and Han hasn’t been at his best in a long time. Grief can do a lot of things to a person. But while we are saddened to discover how many things have gone wrong, we also see Han again decide to be the man we know and love. The guy who runs into a mess because he’s just crazy enough to think he can make a difference. He still loves deeply, and his actions still change lives around him. Even in death, Han’s presence still lingers in the air.

Chewie is Chewie forever and we love him to pieces.

General Leia is probably the OT character doing best right now, but even she has her regrets. I found the conversations she and Han share about their son and the choices they made honest and humble. They both made mistakes, they’ve both been hurting, but their love is still strong, and they want to fix it.

Luke Skywalker. He’s kind of a disaster. But at least we found him.

Clearly the strongest awakening that happens in this story is for Rey and Kylo Ren.

Rey was just minding her own business, scavenging in the highly-sought after resort location of the deserts of Jakku. She had a thriving community of fellow scavengers and people getting more than enough to eat, and her boss was in the running for Galactic Boss of The Year. Or…not.

The whirlwind of events that catch Rey up out of her lonely life and pull her into a world of myth-turned-reality, new friends, old emotions, and the awakening of her Force abilities is incredible. I love how Rey works her way through this movie, she responds well (mostly) to each thing; but it’s not like she planned for any of this. Everything is a surprise! She’s flying by the seat of her pants this whole movie. It’s kind of nice, she has no expectations and very little pride, so her reactions are genuine. It makes her victories sweeter.

In contrast, Kylo Ren’s awakening is a bit ruder and definitely more uncomfortable for him. He is reprimanded multiple times by his mentor, Snoke, he fails many of the tasks given him, and his family issues are all up in his throat. He discovers someone new who he is both drawn to and afraid of, because he can sense her power.

He kills his dad (not his finest moment) and then gets his butt kicked by a little lady who grew up in a junkyard.

It’s not exactly a fun few days for him, but the truth is something had to be stirred in order for him to advance as a character. We walk into his life and immediately see the amount of daily turmoil he exists in. Kylo Ren is not exactly a likable character in this installment, but we had to start somewhere.

Loss and victory, new friendships, old problems, and a whole bunch of X-wing fire make this movie both a familiar song and a new dance. It awakened the Star Wars fandom and reinvigorated the big screen story that had been silent for well over a decade.

Awakening, Old And New.

The Last Jedi : Challenging The Status Quo

The Last Jedi was controversial if nothing else.

Some people loved it. Some people hated it.

I have parts I love, and parts I’m not overly impressed with. But I think the real purpose of this movie and the strongest theme was this :

Challenge the status quo.

This plot of this movie has some very definable holes. Admiral Holdo’s BIG SECRET PLAN and Finn and Rose’s sideline mission are among the very worst.

Although, Holdo’s brilliant purple hair is definitely something to write home about.

Still, I think this movie did accomplish something important for the Star Wars universe.

Poe and Leia’s relationship. We have seen the mentor/trainee role played out with Jedi and their padawans multiple times, but rarely have we gotten to experience this relationship in a different context.

Leia’s disgust with Poe’s reckless behavior almost seems contradictory in the face of how many sacrifices we’ve seen her and other Rebels make. But perhaps that’s a part of the bigger picture, she’s matured enough to know what missions are worth giving your all, and when it’s time to live to fight another day. An idea that Rose Tico echoes. Perhaps it’s hitting close to home for her since we saw her sister Paige die in Poe’s reckless mission.

Obviously sacrifice and commitment is a part of any endeavor like this, but it’s wise to challenge the idea that we always must go as far as we can, especially when talking about how many casualties you incur. This new approach saves the Resistance’ bacon at the end of the movie where Poe proves he’s been listening by readjusting his mentality, and leading the Resistance out the back door to freedom.

The Force

Sometimes people over-complicate the problem. I’ve been one of those people before so I get it, but still. The Jedi are notorious for over-complicating the problem, and unfortunately Luke himself fell into that trap.

Did anyone else notice in the Sequel Trilogy that as soon as Han Solo contradicts Finn’s adorably naive “misconceptions” about the Force, suddenly everything about the Force changed?

That’s not how the Force works.

Uh, wait, maybe it does.

From Leia’s amazing space flight, Rey and Kylo’s strange “Force Time” calls, to Luke’s Force-projection of himself across the galaxy, some pretty wacky stuff happened with the Force.

I guess that sometimes the Force is more mysterious and bizarre than we think. And then again, sometimes you just use it to pick up rocks.

I know this offended some people, but I don’t see why it should. Just because something has been known about for thousands of years doesn’t mean it’s always understood, or used properly. We’ve seen that time and again throughout real human history, it actually adds realism to incorporate it into this fictional universe.

Sometimes mentors are wrong.

The status quo of wise older mentor training the overeager trainee was upheld with Leia and Poe, but it was contradicted with Luke and Rey. Rey earnestly seeks guidance and aid from Luke, but he has little to offer her. By the end of her stay on Ahch-to, Rey is the one schooling Luke. Her wisdom comes from her heart, much like he lived in his younger years. He’s been spending too much time in his head, and he’s tasted the bitter results.

Luke has the maturity and humility to admit his mistakes at the end of this movie and actually help Rey from making the same ones later on. But it was her example that helps to inspire him to action.

No, the good girl can’t always change the bad boy.

Rey and Kylo’s interaction throughout this whole movie gives you a hope that she might be getting through to them. They are tender and vulnerable with each other, Kylo’s betrayal of Snoke and their teamwork to defeat Snoke’s Praetorian Guards makes you believe he will change. It would seem the old belief that “good girls can save the bad boys” is real.

It’s not, Kylo isn’t ready to change yet, Rey can’t get him there. It’s a broken concept that is exposed here for its dangerous flaws. She does her best, it doesn’t work, so she leaves. #timetowipeyourownnosebuster

Even in the next movie when Kylo does change, he makes that choice on his own. Rey was definitely a positive influence on him, but she does not change him. He chooses to change.

You can lose everything and still win.

Failure is not an option. Does that thought ever echo in your mind?

Do or do not, there is no try. What the heck does that mean and does it even make sense? I’m not sure it does.

The Resistance is a disaster at the end of this movie. It’s the lowest point our hero characters have been at since Order 66 and Revenge of The Sith. Sometimes you think you’ve gone as low as you can go, and then you find out there is a sub-basement under the regular one.

That’s where the Resistance is at. Broken, but not beaten. This is a challenge to the status quo that we as humans carry as a great burden on our shoulders.

I can’t lose my house. I’ll die without this relationship. I’ve put everything into this business, it can’t end. I need my car to be okay. Etc.

We have people holding onto things for dear life with the belief that failure is not an option. And a lot of them are missing the bigger picture, holding the wrong priorities, and burning themselves up.

Losing things, relationships, jobs, etc, it’s not fun. But it’s not the end of the world, and you can come back from something like this. You are still alive and that is a gift. We would do well to recognize how many things do not actually define our success or our ability to go on. We would do well to be carriers of hope instead of fear.

The Last Jedi challenged many status quos for Star Wars and wrongful culture in general. Like it, hate it, you have to admit it accomplished that much.

Challenging The Status Quo.

The Rise Of Skywalker : Endings And Beginnings

The Rise of Skywalker was many, many things. Seriously, so much happened in that movie. Some of it was well done and some of it was half-baked. I neither love it to death nor do I hate its guts. I’m not going to try to unpack every detail of the movie, I’m gonna stick to a few specific things.

Endings

Leia’s Legacy Is Complete

This was “Leia’s movie”. The devastating death of Carrie Fisher a few years ago caused some major difficulties in giving Leia the ending she richly deserved. But with the miracle of modern technology and people who would not quit, Leia was honored properly.

Leia held on to hope when others lost it. She stayed in the fight when others ran. Leia forgave herself for her mistakes even while she felt the grief of them. Leia worked hard to instill good values and wise judgment into another generation.

Leia absolutely succeeded. She poured herself into people who were willing to receive what she had to offer. Poe was practically a second son to her. His love for Leia and respect for her leadership made him the right person to become her successor.

Rey had raised herself up to this point and did a decent job. But she was so, so hungry for some parenting! Both Han and Luke contributed to her growth, but Leia gave an entire year of her life to training Rey. She was the mother Rey had never gotten to experience.

Both for the Rebels and the Jedi, Leia kept the fire lit and passed on the torch to the next generation.

And even with her dying breath, she called out to her wayward son, and his mother’s voice brought him home.

Princess General Leia Organa Skywalker Solo is a legend, and the legend was honored well. Her legacy lives on in the hearts of those she loved and nurtured.

Chewbacca got a medal. It’s about time.

Palpatine was destroyed by his own flesh and blood, and she was saved from death by the very family line he’d spent decades controlling. #poeticjustice

Kylo Ren is dead, Ben Solo is alive. Ben’s final choice to change and become the person he was made to be was triumphant and honest. He made selfless choices to do the right thing, he gave his own life to save another, and he helped repair much of the damage he had caused. He was forgiven, and he forgave himself. The son of Leia Skywalker and Han Solo was restored and put to rest.

The Voices of the Jedi Returned

It was a stunning moment when beloved voices from Jedi friends of the past were heard in Rey’s head. This nod to all the heroes who had come before her and done their best was a great way to bring this saga to a close. They’d done their part, now it was her turn, and they had her back. It was a nice fan moment that tied in all previous Eras of Star Wars.

Ships from every era of Star Wars could be seen when the mismatched fleet from across the galaxy arrived. I’m sure the super nerds have already torn that scene apart and you can find multiple YouTube videos on the subject. It was a great place to celebrate the larger universe.

Beginnings

Finn and Jannah both represented a group of people that have largely been viewed in one way – unchangeable, evil minions. But their transformations from Stormtrooper to Rebel warriors has proven that change is possible. Just like The Clone Wars series dove into the lives, ideas, and destinies of the clones as individuals, it’s possible that this move could open up new stories about redeemed Stormtroopers.

Finn is Force-sensitive. I’m kind of a Finn fangirl, I’m gonna talk about this a lot. Finn represents a character we’ve seen little of, someone who is Force-sensitive but does not have Jedi training. His growth from a scared deserter to a calm military leader was epic, and honestly, it feels somewhat unfinished. The potential that this character alone represents for future stories and Star Wars storytelling is immense.

The Galaxy is owning this battle for freedom for the first time. It’s no longer just a fight between Rebels vs Baddies, it’s everyone’s fight. I don’t even have to go into detail on this one, the potential speaks for itself.

Poe is a general. As we have learned the hard way from the Galactic Civil War and New Republic Aftermath, victory over an enemy doesn’t always mean life is easy. You have to have strong leaders in place to help with the messy rebuilding process. It would be neat to explore how someone rebuilds a galaxy and does it right.

Rey Skywalker. I’ve seen some complaints about this moment. One person who replied to my positive comment about this character choice said,

Right, because we can now just say a name and its ours. #sarcasm

Uh, yeah, buddy, that’s kind of how adoption works.

Part of the point of Rey’s entire character arc is that her family line and heritage should not define her, for good or bad. When she was an unknown she feared her own worthlessness. When she discovered she was a Palpatine, she feared her own power and importance.

Everyone kept telling her who and what she was and what that had to mean for her.

But Rey made a choice, and that choice was opposite of her blood, and in line with the people she had chosen to call her own: the Skywalkers and their Rebel family.

Rey taking the name Skywalker was her way of adopting herself into her chosen family, her chosen path, and her identity. It’s not like Luke and Leia were available to sign adoption papers, but an adoption it was.

This isn’t stupid, it’s beautiful. It was redemptive to the Skywalker line because their legacy will live on with this beautiful woman who took their name. The future of the Jedi will be directed by someone who has seen and tasted both the Dark and the Light, and she still chose the Light.

Rey carries herself with a humility and wisdom that is just what the doctor ordered. Her identity can not be blown away in the next sandstorm, she’s rooted in something bigger than herself.

The potential for what Rey could create, should anyone choose to continue her story, is something very fresh and inviting. She could create a whole new generation of Jedi who are far less trapped by useless tradition, and more involved with relationship and choice. She could help others who feel lost find a home and a family.

The Rise of Skywalker ended a saga that has stretched over 5 decades. It worked to try and bring a satisfying ending to many of those story lines, but also left us with a few tantalizing threads to discover in the future.

Endings and Beginnings.

For my full summary of Star Wars, check out,

The Prequel Era

Height of The Empire, Early Rebellion Era

Galactic Civil War, New Republic Aftermath Era

A Summary Of Star Wars : Galactic Civil War, New Republic Aftermath Era

A New Hope : The Seeds Bloom

When introducing someone to Star Wars, this is it.

If I wanted to show someone the entire story line with all of the details and timeline, I would go chronologically. I always like chronological when it comes to stories.

However, this movie WAS Star Wars! This movie changed history. If you only have time for one film to wet someone’s appetite, A New Hope is it. It can stand alone. The story is comfortingly cliche-filled about a small town farm boy who’s actually special and a band of mismatched beings who take on the evil local government, and win. A classic underdog story.

Star Wars proves that we don’t really fear cliches themselves, we fear them being done poorly. Star Wars plays with cliches regularly but it uses them well. The excitement of this movie is something special. Running up and down corridors shooting blasters! Han’s unexpected lines and bits of humor! The garbage compactor! Obi-Wan’s grand sacrifice! And that delicious space battle with the horrifying countdown is unforgettable! Timeless. This movie gets my heart pumping every time.

This is what the world fell in love with, and its magic continues to bring new viewers under its spell. Whether we had more than the Original Trilogy or not, this movie would not lose a single inch of its ground. It’s special.

But now we do have more than the Originals, so we can now view this story as a chapter in a larger timeline. What A New Hope represents in the framework of the larger story-line is the movie where the seeds planted in earlier, more tragic years begin to bloom.

Luke’s sheltered existence on Tatooine, as much as he hated it, accomplished Obi-Wan’s intended purpose. He grew up safe and strong, undisturbed by the Emperor or Darth Vader. His enthusiasm and big dreams for the future are a welcome open door for Obi-Wan to step into his life at the right moment and beginning training him. He learns fast and puts what he’s learned into practice almost immediately.

Leia, though a bit less safe, is already a backbone member of the Rebel Alliance. Her mother’s courage and ferocity for truth lives on in her daughter’s spirit. She is reunited with her brother and meets the future love-of-her-life and they form the trio that is required for every Star Wars trilogy. But they are the trio.

Han’s big heart is dug out of the drawer where he tries to stuff it and is dusted off. The boy we met in Solo is still in there somewhere, and his skills and, uh, really bad ideas that sometimes work are exactly what the Skywalker twins need to succeed. He completes them.

The Death Star plans that our Rogue One crew worked so hard to send to the Alliance have been recovered and will be put to use. The horrible sacrifice was not in vain. Can we also take a moment to recognize how incredible it is that this “overlooked plot hole” such as a small ventilation shaft was fixed with an entire, glorious movie nearly 38 years later? That’s cool!

Obi-Wan’s years of walking the galaxy in the flesh are gone, he sacrifices himself to join the Force and get to be a voice in people’s heads for years. This really stirs up things in Darth Vader that have remained dormant for a long time.

Add to that the defeat of The Death Star and this young pilot who is strong in the force, Vader’s sense of equilibrium is rattled. It’s the beginning of the end for Vader, and the beginning of the return of the Jedi, Anakin.

When seeds bloom you begin to see the tender green shoots sticking up out of the soil. It’s exciting after you’ve been staring at little heaps of dirt forever. For all you know that seed you buried died down there in the darkness and you’re looking at its grave. Maybe nothing will grow. But the baby plants, the little shoots of hope, they are the proof that life remains, and it is growing stronger.

A New Hope is aptly named, life remains, and it is growing stronger.

The Seeds Bloom.

The Empire Strikes Back : Success Born Out Of Defeat

This was one of my most favorite movies in the world. It’s one of the best sequels in film history.

At first glance this movie looks like, “The one where the Rebels get their butts kicked by the Empire.” And to some extent, that is true. However, most of the battles lost in this movie actually lead to the eventual overthrow and defeat of the Empire, so in truth, the Rebels win the war.

This plays out in a few specific ways.

Han Solo is clearly very attached to Luke and Leia and The Rebellion, but he has a divided attention. Understandably so! If I had a price on my head I’d be concerned about it too. They also really need him, Luke would have ended up as a popsicle without him. Still, there are questions hanging in the air about how long he’ll stick around and it causes some tension. Tension, and the cutest hallway argument + accidentally kissing your twin brother moments! #scruffylookingnerfherder #idratherkissawookiee #youcoulduseagoodkiss

But the events of The Battle of Hoth, the following chase across space, and the climactic loss at Bespin push Han to a conclusion.

I love you.

I know.

Even though both Han and Leia have no idea what happens next, Han has made a choice. These are his people, and if he gets the chance, he’s sticking with them. He’s resolved, and when Han is resolved good things happen. Now its his turn to be a popsicle.

Princess Leia is struggling with feeling that she can trust in the relationships she has built with Luke and Han, especially Han. She knows that she will be committed to the Rebel cause until she wins or dies, so that’s not a question on her mind.

Her adventures with Han and friends give her the courage to commit, “I love you.” As warmhearted as Leia clearly is, those words came hard. She’s probably scared to love deeply after all she’s lost, but she does. It’s a big moment for her character.

Her connection with Luke is established when Luke calls out for rescue through the Force and Leia hears him. While she doesn’t understand the full weight of this experience at the time, she will eventually. Progress has been made to fuller “twinhood” and their rightful inheritance as Skywalkers.

Lando Calrissian Joins Something Bigger Than Himself

Lando has a pretty scummy showing in his first introduction to this movie. No amount of cape swishing and pretty smiles can cover his betrayal. The double-crossing card shark we met in Solo seems alive and well.

But through the loss of an old comrade, Han, His oil platform being overwhelmed by the Empire, and a good punch/choking or two, Lando makes a new choice. No more going alone, no more pretending not to care, it’s time to be a part of something bigger than his own selfish desires. Another scoundrel (though not the scoundrel) has been brought on board.

Luke Discovers His Father

One of the biggest reveals in movie history, it’s a powerful scene. As shocking as this scene is to Luke’s character, it’s hugely important to his growth. The truth will set you free. As much as Obi-Wan and Yoda feared Luke knowing the truth, he really did need to know where he stood. The decisions Luke will make from this point on are entirely different because he now knows Vader is his father. And they are good ones, ones that will make a difference.

Still, at the exact moment that he is told the startling truth, Luke is bleeding, weak, and hanging off of a pole. Emotionally he’s a train wreck, Vader senses his vulnerability and tries to take advantage of it. It’s Luke’s lowest moment thus far, so what does the kid do?

He lets go and free falls into a shaft. It’s one of my absolute favorite Luke Skywalker moments. Funny, I know, he’s not exactly a pretty picture at this moment. But this choice to just let go and get-the-heck-out-of-Dodge is one of the smartest, humblest choices Luke ever makes. It takes wisdom and maturity to know when you are not strong enough for a certain situation and you just need to get some space and perspective.

Luke charged into Bespin all cocky and ready to take on Vader. He did fairly well, but he got his butt kicked, lost a hand, and he just got a punch right in the daddy-issues.

The choice to just get out of there is so wise. If only Luke had used this same humble wisdom years down the road when he faced problems with his nephew, Ben Solo. Rather than panicking and reacting as “the great Luke Skywalker should”, he could have gotten some space and requested some backup support. He didn’t, and so many suffered because of his arrogance.

Han’s frozen, Leia’s brokenhearted, and Luke has been put through the wringer. They’re all separated and unsure of what comes next. It feels like a crushing defeat, but the lessons they learn in this chapter and the wounds they are given become some of their greatest strengths. They are more united than ever and more determined to see this thing through. The days of the Empire are numbered.

Success Born Out Of Defeat.

Return Of The Jedi : Redemption

The very title speaks of such triumph. It’s one thing to win by just destroying your enemies, it’s another thing to actually be able to save one of them and restore balance to the Force.

The rise and fall of the pacing and victories in the Original Trilogy are well done. A New Hope contains some heavy losses and tragic moments, but it ends on a high note with the destruction of The Death Star and that iconic medal ceremony. The Empire Strikes Back picks up on that high note and delivers an action-packed sequel, but it ends on a low note where we are nervous for the outcome.

Return Of The Jedi does not start the strongest beginning. The whole sideline tour on Tatooine was rather slow. And don’t get me started on Leia’s disgusting outfit, that was a shameful choice on the part of Lucas! Carrie Fisher hated that outfit for the rest of her life and who can blame her.

We are shown a new Luke Skywalker though, one who is calm, collected, and peaceful. He’s confident in his capabilities as well as his compassion. This is the Luke that can face Darth Vader.

Once we get back to the Rebellion things start to pick up, and fun adventure leading to an epic battle of the mind and galaxy ensues.

The Force is strong in my family. I have it, my father has it. My sister has it.

The moment when Luke and Leia discuss their twin-hood and legacy in the Force is one of my favorite scenes. It’s tender, gentle, and raw. Luke loves Leia as he loves no one else in the world. He also comments on the fact that should he fail, Leia is the future for the Rebel Alliance. And she is strong. Down the road in the Sequel Trilogy we see just how accurate his predictions are about her.

Luke’s confrontation with his father is a bit of a gamble, and it’s not easy. The Emperor never makes anything easy; his arrogance, his manipulation, and his touching every tender and dear thing in Luke’s heart is its own form of torture.

This part is made even more angering by Vader’s submission to his sick master. It’s like there is no will in him, he’s never looked weaker. In contrast, Luke has never been stronger.

My favorite moment is when Luke chooses to throw his lightsaber away, refusing the temptation to end his broken father.

I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You’ve failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.

One of the best lines in film history. He’s not struggling, he’s resolved. He affirms his faith in his father and his love for him even though Vader is a pitiful mess on the floor. It’s beautiful, it’s redemptive, it’s loving. And Palpatine doesn’t know what to do with it.

It’s truly delightful that love conquers hate. Luke’s love for his father and Anakin’s love for his son brings him back to the Light. The satisfaction of seeing Palpatine throw into a chasm while screaming is fantastic.

I could see how some people would want to throw this whole movie out after the events of the recent Sequel Trilogy. What good did it do? Palpatine survived! The First Order emerged, Luke became Oscar the Grouch!

They’re missing the point. This moment was about conquering the evil before them, and about Anakin’s redemption. None of us knows exactly what comes down the road, we aren’t supposed to! All we can do is do our best with the times we’ve given. #lordoftheringscrossoverline

And our friends do their best and they do well.

They destroy the Empire. Anakin Skywalker dies in his son’s forgiving arms. Han and Leia succeed in their mission on Endor (not bad for a popsicle and a princess), the Millennium Falcon emerges unharmed, and Leia gets to have a moment of peace with the people she loves. Anakin rejoins his friends in the Force and all is well for the time being.

You can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Palpatine spent years trying to drag himself out of this pit he was thrown into, he wasn’t a threat for a long, long time. The Empire was overthrown, the Rebel Alliance gained ground, and new potential emerged. It was a victory.

Redemption is often a messy road, but it is always a road paved with love. There is no other way to get there. Return of The Jedi is a triumph for the individual characters we love and the galaxy as a whole.

Victory isn’t defined by never having to struggle again, it’s defined by ground that is gained. Ground was gained, redemption happened, and love paved the way.

Redemption.

The Mandalorian : Meaning In The Midst Of Chaos

A stark truth is focused on in this brilliant Disney+ series that reveals a whole new side of Star Wars.

Just because something good happened doesn’t mean that the hardship is over. The Empire has been defeated, the Rebel Alliance won, and the New Republic has been formed. And the galaxy is a hot mess.

It’s a discouraging thought, but I have experienced this reality in my own life in some painful ways. Just because you conquer one hard, long-lasting thing doesn’t mean that life is immediately all sunshine and roses. There’s cleanup, there’s rebuilding, and there’s trauma to work through. The whole galaxy is in that place, everyone is trying to survive or one-up each other. It’s madness.

The Mandalorian himself is a character who carries and represents trauma in multiple areas. To some extent, he’s still the brokenhearted little boy who’s parents were murdered in The Clone Wars.

Still, he’s tried to make the best of it. He’s an A+ bounty hunter who strikes fear in the hearts of all of his quarries and those who oppose him. He’s holds to the Mandalorian creed, but his profession doesn’t make him the most popular person. There is a sense of emptiness to his life that no amount of cool moves or successful bounty missions can fill. He’s a lost soul wandering.

Enter, Baby Yoda.

I wrote an article on fatherhood and how Mando steps up to the plate to care for a child who is entirely dependent upon him. He exhibits sacrificial love when he puts his own needs/wants and sense of freedom aside to care for someone else.

In this drastic choice, Mando finds a whole new level of peace and purpose. You can live your whole live just trying to survive, but you may not like the person you become or the decisions you make. Mando is surrounded by people who make all kinds of horrible, selfish decisions in the interest of survival. He once was that person.

But at the same time, Mando as a character seems to find the characters in the galaxy who are living for more. Kuill, Cara Dune, Omera, even the other Mandalorians who hold fast to the creed. These individuals have all suffered in one way or another, they are all faced with hard circumstances, but they are making different choices. They stand up for the little guys, and they don’t back down from a fight if it’s for a good cause. Sometimes they do the right thing just because its the right thing.

In Episode 6: The Prisoner, we see the kind of life Mando used to lead. And it was naaasty! The kindhearted, measured person he is now shows just how far he has come. More than any other episode to me, this episode shows how Mando has chosen to live for more than money or bloodlust.

They could have a made a show about this incredibly cool character and his adventures as a bounty hunter, and people would have watched it. But it wouldn’t have had the impact it did.

By adding in a sense of responsibility and the glorious and hard journey of fatherhood, The Mandalorian struck home to our hearts in a special way. The chaos of the galaxy we love is brought into balance with a reminder of what really matters.

We are all looking for meaning in life, and true meaning is found in being loved and loving.

It’s a testimony to the strength of the storytelling that we can learn such a precious and tender message from a man who’s face we’ve barely seen, but who’s heart we’ve already fallen in love with.

Meaning In The Midst Of Chaos.

Next up, Rise Of The Resistance And The First Order Era.

Check out, Height Of The Empire, Early Rebellion Era

Check out, Prequel Era

A Summary Of Star Wars : Height Of The Empire, Early Rebellion Era

Solo : Hope Is The Key

Han Solo stands in the Hall of Fame as one of the most beloved characters in cinematic history. And he deserves every bit of that love.

I absolutely loved this movie, it was a love letter to Han Solo fans, Star Wars fans, and to the heart of Star Wars in general. Alden Ehrenreich was Han, a bit more wet behind the ears, but every bit the joking, self-assured, awkward risk taker that we come to know and love in the OT. He took many cues from the one and only Harrison Ford and it absolutely shows.

Han grew up trapped in childhood gang slavery, but he never let that mentality become his identity. The boy was born to fly, and fly he will.

Han interacts with multiple characters who are all suffering under oppression and despair in one way or another. Everyone is trying to survive. Han is in the same boat, but somehow, he emerges differently than the others.

The difference between Han and all of the other characters is one key thing : Han has hope.

Tobias Beckett admires this kid and his enthusiasm, but grief, fear, and greed have broken Beckett down to the place where he will always take the backstabber’s way out. Hope is for suckers.

Qi’ra lost hope so badly that even when she was offered a way out, a chance to be with someone who she loved and who truly loved her, she didn’t take it. She remained a prisoner to a life she truly hates because again, hope is for suckers.

Lando Calrissian knows everyone and is fully known by no one. He charms, seduces, tricks, and one-ups everyone around him. The person he seems most attached to was his droid, and she bought it. He’s not a terrible person by and large, but he’s a loner. It’s safer that way.

What I felt when the end credits rolled at the end of Solo was that Han’s supposedly crazy “idealism” enabled him to look at life above the smog and get a clear vision of where he wanted to go. He never gave up, he was willing to dream big when people told him to settle for less, and he valued life in a way others didn’t. Hope pushed him to be better than the evil he faced, and it got him farther than those who despaired.

If that isn’t quintessential Star Wars, I don’t know what is.

What Han walks away with is the world’s best friend, Chewbacca, the sweetest hunk of junk in the galaxy, and the reputation for the guy who made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Not only does Han accomplish all of this, but he actually makes other people’s lives better in the process. #whatascoundrel

It’s 10 years before the Rebellion begins to gain ground, while we get a taste of what is to come, the galaxy is still in a choke-hold from the Empire. It’s a rotten time to be alive. And yet, Han thrives.

Another 10 years will go by and during that time Han is going to pick up some more mileage. He’s going to grow more jaded and cynical, a bit more selfish and definitely more arrogant.

But Solo absolutely explains how and why Han was “converted” to the Rebel cause so quickly, it’s because in his heart he was a Rebel all along. And hope tastes familiar to him.

Hope Is The Key.

Star Wars Rebels : Foundations And Family

The number of words I could expend upon this series alone are in the tens of thousands. It’s my favorite of the animated series, contains some of my favorite characters of all time (not just Star Wars), and is some of the finest storytelling I’ve ever seen.

Star Wars Rebels was a new chapter in Star Wars history. It opened up a new mentality for Star Wars in general and rewrote a lot of old rules. It laid the groundwork for future stories and characters that didn’t have a place before.

To me, Rebels was about creating a foundation out of the rubble and death that followed Revenge Of The Sith. For the Star Wars universe in general, Rebels was a crossroads for every era, idea, and character presented on the big and small screen, and yes, even from some of the books. All stories connect in this one series.

And the foundation that supported that huge weight was this, family.

Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi padawan was forced to flee for his life after Order 66 and the death of his master. He is a beautiful person, kindhearted, intelligent, and highly skilled. But he feels like there is a question mark hanging over his life. When he is called upon to embrace his Force abilities and actually train someone else Kanan is regularly faced with is own insecurities and sense of inadequacy.

Paired with Kanan is Ezra Bridger, a young and scrappy Force-sensitive kid who, like Ahsoka, creates a fresh perspective for us to engage this story. He’s beautiful in his rawness and vulnerability. He often fails with less grace than Ahsoka ever did, but there is more flawed humanity to his character that is relatable.

Together these two create a master/padawan duo that really becomes more of a father/son connection, and it’s beautiful. Through the development of these characters we see what the Jedi COULD have been if they had embraced their humanity, loved deeply, had the grace to fail, and the humility to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Both Ezra and Kanan find themselves in this place repeatedly throughout their complex and rich character arcs, but it is never a liability. They always grow, and they take you on that journey of growth with them. By Season 4 you cannot even believe what they are capable of.

Hera Syndulla is yet another example of the foundations created in this chapter of the story. She grew up during the Clone War years and has been involved in conflict her whole life. She challenges the status quo and expectations of so many who’ve come before her, even her own father. But she does it because she knows something else is better. Her reach extends beyond just the series, she’s referenced in Rogue One, The Battle of Endor, and The Rise Of Skywalker. She stands on equal footing in honor with Kanan, and together they create this family environment that births the strongest Rebel cell in the movement.

Sabine Wren is a character who reveals more about the mysterious Mandalorians who can be viewed through so many lenses, but she gives us a directly personal perspective. Her clear appreciation for belonging to a family who accepts her regardless of her past mistakes shows that this is a more forgiving group of characters and a new culture. The old rules and ways of doing things died with the Republic.

Star Wars Rebels covers some redemption arcs that will never have the acclaim of big name characters like Darth Vader or Ben Solo, but they are every bit as important. The kind of Rebellion that our characters create is one where everyone is welcome, regardless of what you have done or what you once were, you can change. You are given a place at the table and an opportunity to contribute to building something special.

Forgiveness and rising to the occasion are common themes for this series.

This time of Star Wars is not about rebuilding what once was, it’s about creating something new out of the ashes. A foundation strong enough to hold up all that is to come, and that means something has to be different. The old corruptions of the too-stiff Republic and the narrow-mindedness cruelty of the Empire do not get to hold back what is being built.

People come first, love makes us stronger, and hope cements characters of various backgrounds into one united front. They are a family of Rebels and they are the foundation of something new.

Foundations And Family.

Rogue One : Sacrifice

This movie is like a punch in the gut.

And yet, it’s probably one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. Not only is it an absolutely beautiful movie to watch, but the message and purpose are brought across with such crystal clarity you cannot misunderstand it.

This movie was made with the intention of hearkening back to classic war movies. They were spot on. When you’ve seen classic titles like:

The Longest Day, The Sands of Iwo Jima, The Guns of Navarone, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Gung-Ho, Flying Tigers, The Battle of Britain, Mrs. Miniver, The Great Escape, you can absolutely see the resemblance. Long odds, heavy casualties, and sacrifice are common themes.

What Rogue One really wanted to communicate to audiences was the sacrifices that were made by hundreds of “little people” enabled our more famous heroes to succeed. This war was not won by Luke Skywalker alone, it was accomplished through the selfless actions of thousands. This movie honors all of those people in a stark and sobering way.

We watch them die for what they believe in.

Sacrifice, it’s a hard topic to cover and an even harder one to watch. But we wouldn’t be seeing the full picture without it.

The other topic that is introduced in this story was a theme begun in Star Wars Rebels that has been expanded upon in the recent movies and series. The Force is for everyone, and everyone has something to contribute. This new way of thinking does not lessen the contributions of some of our favorite Force-wielding characters, but it does remove some of their all-importance, and that’s a good thing.

The thoughts that I had spinning around in my head after this movie were unlike anything I have ever felt following a Star Wars movie. I sat there in the theater, stunned…and overwhelmed with gratitude.

This movie felt so real, because in essence, it was. How many times throughout history, how many times daily do brave people make choices to do what is right and end up sacrificing themselves for others? How many countless of lives have been laid down to build something better for future generations? Thousands, millions! I will never know all of their names, and I won’t get to thank all of them in person.

They knew that, but they did it anyway.

The sequence that captures this most dramatically for me takes place after Scarif has just ended and our entire Rogue One crew is dead. The Death Star plans that Jyn projected up to the fleet have been transferred to a disk and are now being passed from one Rebel to another.

And then…*a red lightsaber ignites*.

I saw A New Hope when I was 13 years old, Vader was not someone who caused me fear. But during this sequence for the first time I felt the fear of Vader, because I felt what those poor Rebels felt.

That whole, horrifying sequence is so intense. These Rebels are helpless before the silent might and power that is Darth Vader. They know that, he knows that, the audience knows that. So what do they do?

They don’t give up, they keep fighting even though it’s scary. And what that means is they die, each person taking up as much of Vader’s time as possible so that they buy time for the disk to get passed further down the line.

These men may or may not know what they are carrying. They for sure know they will never get to see the outcome of their efforts. It could be all vain, they still could lose.

But they sacrifice anyway. Each one of them.

Each person down on Scarif. Each member of the Rogue One crew. Each brave little ship in that Rebel fleet. And each tiny Rebel crew member who is nothing more than a blade of grass chewed up in the lawnmower that is Darth Vader.

It’s stark. It’s harsh. And it’s humbling, because we know it’s real. Sacrifice is a part of any war, any cause. Some of the greatest causes in human history have involved horrific sacrifices, but people made them willingly because they believed in what they were doing.

Rogue One is a fictional movie that captures these stark truths in a way that gives such honor to the reality.

Sacrifice.

Next, The Galactic Civil War and New Republic Aftermath.

#anewhope #theempirestrikesback #returnofthejedi #themandalorian

Read yesterday’s post, The Prequel Era here.

The Rise of Skywalker : My Thoughts In No Particular Order

I know, its been months and I am just now am writing about The Rise of Skywalker.

I actually missed it in theaters due to what we will call “a series of unfortunate events”. I did not see the movie until a week and a half ago.

I was frankly terrified.

I really do like The Last Jedi movie, but some decisions were made in that film that I found disappointing.

Add to that the fact that Disney has severely let me down in some areas recently *coughs* ENDGAME! Stories and characters that meant the world to me were not given their proper dues. It’s hard when you invest in something so deeply and then find yourself disappointed.

However, I am happy to report that I did enjoy The Rise of Skywalker and many of the choices made for the movie. It’s not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a good movie. Here’s what I liked about it.

Finn is a Force User.

Years ago I wrote an article where I stated that I believed Finn would also become a Jedi in the future. That did not happen, but I was correct on my belief that he was a Force user. To me, the way that the character of Finn was handled in The Rise of Skywalker is one of the most satisfying aspects of the whole movie.

Finn was an exciting and great catalyst character in The Force Awakens. I fell in love with him in about 2 minutes of him being on screen. His energy was contagious, his commentary hilarious, and the chemistry created between him and Rey made me a hard and fast FinnRey shipper.

I felt that Finn was severely underused in The Last Jedi. His sideline arc with Rose felt unnecessary, and while it did help his character reach a more confident decision about being aligned with the Resistance, it was still disappointing.

The Finn of TROS was the Finn that I wanted. He still had his boisterous spirit and deep, abiding loyalty, especially to Rey. And yet, he was more confident. I was actually surprised and delighted to see him being the grounded, more moderating character that bound the trio of Poe, Rey, and himself together. Even the way the three hugged at the end of the movie, he wrapped his arms around both of them.

Finn is a character with a powerful love for those around him. And that love continually draws them in and grounds them. Finn is a character who will forever draw people in, give them a place to call home and a person that they can always count on. Those people are a rare and precious breed.

Yes, the elephant in the room, FinnRey. I’ve been a very verbal FinnRey shipper since Day 1.

I still am. Here’s my current take on that duo following The Rise of Skywalker.

I think FinnRey is still very much alive and well. You are welcome to see that as a legendary friendship or as a potential couple somewhere down the road. I feel that both have legitimacy.

Finn did a fantastic job being there for Rey in this movie, having her back, and showing compassion for where she was at emotionally. The fact that he is also a Force User and could sense what was happening with her just cemented the bond that they already have. He’s going to be able to understand things about her that others cannot.

Finn was the person Rey could talk to and trust he would listen and care. He didn’t hold things against her, he had her back 100%. He cried for her. He verbally affirmed her. They spoke in a raw and honest way with each other that was beautiful.

I loved the moment when he sensed her death. The confirmation of his Force-sensitive instincts was so satisfying. And then his joy when he saw her alive was completely consistent with everything Finn has done with Rey since the moment they first met.

I fully acknowledge the beauty of the connection between Rey and Ben Solo. It was powerful and redemptive, more on that later. But I do feel that Finn and Rey have a lasting love for each other that can remain as is or grow.

In terms of the character that connected best with the other people of this movie, I think Finn gets the MVP award. Well done!

Humor

The dialogue between our primary trio was adorable. I didn’t expect that feisty static between Rey and Poe with Finn being the more mellow member. But it was darling and brought a great human element to a very intense, larger than life story.

The banter is what really reminded me of the original trio of Han, Leia, and Luke. But the Sequel 3 definitely had their own flavor.

Droids

We love our two-legged Star Wars heroes, but we all know the truth.

The droids have kept the galaxy running for years and it’s only because the villains overlook them that we’ve survived this long.

Reylo Vs Ren

About a year ago I wrote an article taking to task the idea that something as abusive and inappropriate as the Reylo ship could be romantic. It’s been one of my most-read articles and also received the most controversial responses.

I still stand by that article. I wrote it for the Kylo Ren that we had seen on display in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. The choices the character was making and the way he approached Rey were very perverted and wrong. Therefore the value of that article for the context that it is written is still standing.

True love involves sacrifice. It’s not about control, it’s about loving another person for who they are. It’s not all about what you can get out of them. Ben did not understand this previously. He had tried to control and manipulate Rey multiple times, and would often rage when she refused him. He wanted her to join his agenda. The above image shows who Ben was, and that was YUCKY!

Ben Solo thoroughly redeemed himself in The Rise Of Skywalker. And he proved his love for Rey to be true by pulling a move worthy of Eugene Fitzherbert himself…he sacrificed himself for the woman he loved and for the galaxy he had previously tried to rule over.

This Ben is a night and day difference from the person he once was.

Ben didn’t run from this mess he’d helped create. He didn’t cower uselessly in the shame of his past. He didn’t cave in yet again to the lies and Darkness that had haunted him for so long. No, he ran straight into the Light and gave everything he had to do the right thing.

The beauty that was Ben Solo’s redemption was very simple and straightforward in the writing. The transformation was shown in his costuming and outward actions. And the heart of it was conveyed through Adam Driver’s stunning and emotional performance. He had never looked so glorious, and while I have had so many mixed feelings about this character since the beginning, I have never loved him so much as I did at the end of this movie.

I really love that it was his mother’s voice that called him. He thought he’d gone too far, he could never come home. A prodigal who was unsure of their welcome often stays a prodigal. His mother’s voice opened a door, Rey’s compassion to heal him after she had mortally wounded him softened him even further. And the final gift came with his father’s memory (HELLO, HARRISON FORD) that gave him the courage to make the switch.

It was gentle, humble, and beautiful.

Oh, my lands, the Ben Solo that emerged! His face was soft and beautiful, he wasn’t swaggering or trying to look bigger than he was. His presence itself became enormous and filled the room. Light has a way of doing that. He was wearing all-black but the man was practically beaming!

Just look at his beautiful smile. It’s so gentle and sweet.

A Nod To Han AND Leia In Ben’s Redemption Story

3 people brought Ben back. The 3 people who loved him the most.

His mother, Princess General Leia Organa Skywalker Solo.

Rey.

And his father, Han Solo.

While I understood the symbolism in Ben throwing away the Kylo Ren lightsaber, my practical side panicked. “What are you doing? You have to go into a warzone, you need that, babe!’

But then I found it a wonderful tribute to the Solo blood running through his veins that Ben entered into the Emperor’s lair in a fashion exactly like his late father would have. Sneaking in boldly with a good blaster at his side.

The body language was so similar, he even pulled off that signature, super macho Han Solo move of picking off an enemy with a stray blaster shot over his shoulder. No looking necessary, it’s in the genetic code. Yes, he’s Han’s boy alright.

Rey passed him the lightsaber, Leia’s beautiful saber (such a pretty weapon) through their special Force connection that freaked me out until that exact moment. The sarcastic little nod to the coolness of what he just did to the Knights of Ren confirmed it yet again. THIS IS HAN AND LEIA’S SON!

Han and Leia were honored in Ben’s redemption in such a special way, it was appropriate and brought a lot of restoring grace to a previously tragic family story. Their gifts, the examples that they were, it was not all lost on their son, it did make a difference.

It Was A Palpatine AND A Skywalker Who Ended Him

It only seems fair that after all of the pain these two families have either purposely or inadvertently caused the galaxy that a representative from both should defeat the biggest foe, Palpatine.

I like poetic justice. Palpatine started the Force-sensitive Skywalker line when he used the Force to impregnate Shmi Skywalker with Anakin. And apparently (ahem, severe lack of backstory here) Palpatine actually had a son himself! How and why that happened wasn’t apparently considered necessary information. Either way, Rey was his actual biological granddaughter.

Clearly, her pretty genetics came from Mom’s side of the family. #yograndpasouglyhelostto70scarpetinabeautypageant 

Palpatine has always been an arrogant poop. His sense of superiority and control over everyone and everything has been almost as consistent as his success rate. Luke/Anakin Skywalker really threw a wrench in his plans in one of the most glorious upsets in cinematic history, but this guy is a cockroach who won’t go away.

It was time for him to be finished. How lovely that his own flesh and blood is the one who finished him.

The Voices Of The Jedi

My inner nerd was so pleased with this. Well-beloved Jedi characters from every era of Star Wars we’ve seen on screen, both in movies and shows, was given a moment of honor when Rey drew strength in the Force from them.

I rejoiced to hear Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan, Ashley Eckstein’s Ahsoka Tano, Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker (he deserved this honor), Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Kanan Jarrus (still a bit emotional over that one), and notably, Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn. And of course, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill as the Skywalker twins.

Old and dear friends uniting in spirit and voice for Rey, a character I have loved and admired since I first met her. It was a kind gift to the Star Wars fandom.

A Proper Ending To Reylo And Ben’s Death

True love is unselfish, and it involves sacrifice.

Ben Solo was not capable of this level of love when he was still wholeheartedly choosing to remain in the Dark Side. What he believed was love for Rey was tainted and perverted by his selfishness and control issues. It was pretty disgusting to me, but I gave them room to redeem him.

When Ben Solo goes charging into the Emporer’s lair, he’s not there for himself. He’s there for her, and to do the right thing. He’s running full force #punintended into the Light he has been running from so long.

I don’t know that Ben even believed he was going to make it out alive. I don’t know that he really cared. His actions had nothing to do with what he could get, and all about what he could give.

And he gave it all, he gives his very life Force to bring Rey back from the dead. The way he cradled her in his arms and looked at her with such gentleness and compassion won me over. Yes, dear boy, yes, this is what love is.

One sweet kiss, and then he was gone.

I’m not going to say whether or not that was a wise choice on the filmmakers part. I can live with it, I can also feel the grief of it.

If Ben Solo were a real person, I think it’s possible he may have been reconciled to the concept of death. In his reality, he wasn’t really ending, he was just going to go on into the Force…afterlife? He would be redeemed in the eyes of those who loved him, and he would be reunited with his family. It’s not that he committed suicide (nor would I ever advocate for that), but I think he was at peace with himself either way.

Rey is really the only person he had a connection with in the land of the living. I feel it may have been very hard for him to integrate into a friendship with the people he had tortured, killed, and hurt for so long. The troubled boy was finally at peace.

Rey grieved over him, there is no doubt of that. But I think their connection as special as it was will not be a burden or a regret to her, rather a sweet memory that gives her courage and strength in the future. I think she would be open to loving in that way again.

He finished well.

Kiss Poe Already

I feel that there may have been too much thrown into the basket for this movie. It didn’t wreck it at all, but it did mean that several new characters were created that were not given proper follow-through. We got a hasty introduction and not much more, it was a bit sloppy.

Zori Bliss is one such character. Keri Russel still shone through her brief moments on screen, and I loved the scene where she removed the visor so we could see her drop-dead gorgeous eyes.

But really? Really, girl?

Strange Planets, Space Battles, Bizarre Creatures, And Battles In Lit Corridors

Setting-wise, The Rise of Skywalker did extremely well in capturing the texture and landscape of Star Wars in a very vivid way. My mom even remarked when Finn and Poe were racing along the corridors on the flagship cruiser,

This! This running and fighting in corridors, THIS is Star Wars!

And given that her little five-year-old self was there in the theater at the beginning of all things, I believed her.

Rey Skywalker

I think it was a gift that Rey chose to become a Skywalker. And I loved it that her two masters, Luke and Leia were beaming at her as she took that name. In a way, I feel that she was raised by all 3 of our originals. Han, Luke, and especially Leia all had a hand in teaching and guiding her.

We are not supposed to hate the Skywalkers, for better or worse, we have seen this struggle through their eyes for 5 decades and multiple generations. They are a part of us. We are supposed to see them with honesty, grief, compassion, and resolve.

Rey has chosen to take the best pieces of all who came before her and will carry those things faithfully through her life.

Leia

I feel that Chewie’s inconsolable reaction to Leia’s death captured what we all felt at Carrie Fisher’s passing.

Leia, beautiful, strong, intelligent, compassionate, ever-faithful Leia. She’s the best the Skywalkers had to offer in my opinion, and she was and still is the Star Wars sweetheart of the world.

It’s only right that she is the one who completed the training for the last Skywalker and the ultimate Jedi, Rey. She brought her son back from the Darkness and left behind a Rebel legacy strong enough for others to pick it up and carry it.

The Rise of Skywalker

My sister pointed out the meaning of this title.

Rey was rising to become a Skywalker.

Ben Solo rose from the Darkness into the Light to reclaim his place of honor in the Skywalker line.

It’s very satisfying.

For 9+ Movies and Multiple Series Our Heroes Have Been Trying to Save The Galaxy…It Was About Time The Galaxy Saved Them

Star Wars has one consistent theme, a common thread that runs throughout every chapter and story.

Hope.

No matter how dark, no matter how heavy the grief, no matter how much larger the enemy being faced, hope lives eternally in the Star Wars story.

And despite the fact that among the Star Wars “fanbase” you can find some pretty nasty specimens of humanity, I believe that the franchise as a whole has been uniting people since 1978.

People from all corners of our world’s “galaxy” love Star Wars. People with different skin colors, backstories, occupations, and beliefs. A shared love of Star Wars can instantly close a generational gap or create a common ground for different people.

I felt that both of these special parts of Star Wars were honored in this beautiful, beautiful scene where the galaxy came to save the Resistance and defeat The Last Order.

And yes, I will find out all of these Easter Egg ships hidden in this moment. I was geeking out about Star Wars: Rebels ship The Ghost and that’s about as far as I got.

It was about time the galaxy quit cowering before the bullies while letting someone else take all of the hits for them. It was time that they stood up and fought back.

They did, and it was glorious.

……….

I’m sure there is more to be said, but I’m going to end it here. It was not a perfect movie, it felt like it needed another 30-45 minutes to fill out properly. But apparently, there are some people who won’t sit through a 3+ hour movie. Clearly, they are not Lord Of The Rings fans.

I can watch this movie and all of the movies proceeding it and not feel disappointed or feel that something I love has been tainted.

I know some people were thrilled with this movie, some were devastated. I fall somewhere more in the middle, but I can live with that.

And the best part is, it’s not over yet. The Skywalker Saga may be finished, but Star Wars storytelling is alive and well. I would love to see some more movies featuring my favorite Sequel characters, but I am also deeply enjoying the storytelling featuring non-main Saga characters. #bringbackezrabridger #themandalorian

So, what were your favorite parts? Did you agree with the choices they made? Can we all at least celebrate the fact that Chewbacca finally got the medal he so richly deserves? Would you like to see future movies featuring Sequel characters?

Bless you, friends.

Tron : Uprising – Awesome Things You Didn’t Know Were On Disney+

The original Tron made a splash in the film world in 1982 for a good reason. It was a pretty revolutionary concept and introduced a new type of “world-building” that the population was still wrapping their minds around.

tron original

In terms of a great story and character depth itself? Ehh…Bruce Boxleitner’s Alan Bradley/Tron performance stole the show from Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn/Clu. Kevin Flynn was not as solid of a character as I had expected, but then again he was only the protagonist while Tron was clearly the hero.

This classic was given a sequel in 2010 with Tron: LegacyA decent movie in terms of motivation and storytelling. The most compelling aspect to me was the idea of Sam Flynn being able to bring Quorra (a program from The Grid) back into the real world with him where she became as human as he was.

tron legacy

Tron and the Tron: Legacy sequel fully deserve their place in the sci-fi hall of fame. But the strongest member of the Tron family and storyline is not as well known, nor has it gotten the amount of credit it deserves. It was only given one season, but the world needs to know that this story exists.

*slight spoiler warning ahead

beck

Meet Tron: Uprising

Unlike the movies that start in the real world and insert real-world characters into The Grid, this story takes place entirely in The Grid and is told from the perspective of a program named Beck (voiced by Elijah Wood). He works as a mechanic and does not plan on becoming a vigilante or freedom fighter…until one of his best friends is derezzed unfairly by someone representing Clu’s evil establishment.

And a hero is born.

Tron is a legend, but no one has heard from him in years. They think he’s likely dead and gone due to the level of suffocating tyranny and control they live under. No Users have been seen or heard of in ages either.

Beck is on his own…or is he?

Over the course of just 18 episodes, we experience a deeply engaging and complex story where we watch Beck go from just another program to a symbol of hope and change on The Grid.

And he is mentored by none other than Tron himself, voiced by the one and only Bruce Boxleitner.

tron uprising

The voice pairing alone would have been a treat. Elijah Wood brings such a fresh vulnerability and openheartedness to the character of Beck, and Boxleitner gives great gravity and generousness to the mentor role Tron plays in this story. The development of Beck from raw recruit to a skilled warrior, as well as his and Tron’s rapport is stunning character work.

Other characters add spice and layers of complication. Fellow mechanics such as Mara (voiced by Mandy Moore) or Beck’s boss Able (Reginald VelJohnson) create interesting sounding boards for the character who struggles to balance his day job with his night work.

The good characters are balanced out with some strong villains, and a few…undecided characters.

The questions raised in this series are entirely relatable and applicable. Right and wrong, control vs freedom, why do we believe what we believe, do you fight for what you believe? Etc.

beck 2

The stakes are high, you feel the struggle of these characters so deeply and are rooting for their triumph. The villains are threatening and there are permanent consequences to many of the choices made by characters in this series. The finale was something special.

I had not seen either of the Tron movies when I saw this series for the first time. I was just on Netflix and looking for something interesting to watch. Normally I would be turned off by this type of animation, it’s not my favorite. The color palette, soundtrack, and look the whole show is so outside of my comfort zone.

But I gave it a shot, and then I couldn’t stop watching it. The fact that this show didn’t look like something I would love and I found out that totally loved it should be even higher praise for this beautiful piece of storytelling.

*Parental warning – this is an intense series. Characters are derezzed (killed), tortured, imprisoned, put through gladiator type games, betrayed, and lose people close to them. it is not a light-hearted series, but it is one of purpose and depth.

I felt more watching these 18 episodes than I do in many TV shows, and definitely, more than I felt watching the Tron movies. It is a crying shame that this series did not get a second season. So many worthless shows go on forever and then gems like this one are stopped at just one season.

My hope would be that more people discover it on Disney+ and ask for a new season. After all, that’s the gift of only using actors’ voices, it doesn’t matter if they have aged.  This show deserves to have more of the story told, and the story could easily be picked up where it was left in the season finale.

the grid

Check out Tron: Uprising today on Disney+ and please! If you love it, make some noise about it, it deserves a second chance!

Pixar Spark Shorts – “Smash and Grab” Awesome Things You Didn’t Know Were on Disney+

Fatherhood Feature: The Mandalorian

 

Thor 4, Why I Don’t Want It

Yesterday it was announced that Taika Wahiti (Thor: Ragnarok) would be directing the fourth installment of the Thor movies, starring Chris Hemsworth…

…wait, the fourth installment??? Did we actually ask for a Thor 4?

Without a doubt, there are going to be fans who are excited about this. Not all fans feel negative about the road Thor’s character has taken. Those fans are having a really great day right now, and I do not begrudge them that.

(Y’all, if Captain America 4 were ever announced you would hear me give the squeal heard around the world, so I get it).

I, however, am not at all pleased with where Thor ended up when the credits rolled in Endgame.

Please, stop disrespecting Thor even more than you already have.

I was a fan of the first two Thor movies. His first film was actually my introduction into the MCU and I loved it, I loved him.

angry thor

His transformation from Grade A royal jerk to a compassionate hero was lovely. I liked him and Jane together. I loved how powerful he was. I thoroughly enjoyed his involvement in both The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Ragnarok was a deep disappointment to me. To drastically change the tone of Thor’s storytelling and practically obliterate all ties to his earlier movies on the third installment of his series was awful to me. It felt like someone had accidentally picked up a Guardians of the Galaxy script and a “Thor” movie was made instead.

That being said, even I can admit that Ragnarok was a proper continuation of Thor’s character arc. Ragnarok pushed Thor to a place that 4 previous movies hadn’t been able to get him yet.

Thor became the king.

It was a nice arc and Ragnarok was a vital part of that.

thor background.jpg

Thor: He learns what truly makes a hero, he learns humility and kindness. He uses his might to protect rather than ravage. He begins to have an appreciation for humans. He learns what worthiness actually is as he becomes worthy of the hammer. It’s glorious.

The Avengers: He grows beyond just an almost patronizing appreciation “I must protect these infants” for humans and learns to see them as comrades and equals. He joins a team rather than fighting alone. He chooses what is right over family loyalty.

Thor 2: Again, he chooses what is right over family loyalty. His father is an idiot, Thor goes against his father and commits treason because it is right. He chooses to love someone even though it may devastate him later on. And he chooses to be honest with his father about his lack of desire to be king.

thor and his father

Age of Ultron: Thor sees the beginning pieces of Thanos’ plan as well as the future of Ragnarok. This sets him off on a journey of discovery across the cosmos and sets a lot of things in motion.

thors vision

Ragnorok: Through the exposure of Loki’s deception, Odin’s death, and Hela’s unleashing on Asgard, Thor has to finally step up to the plate to become who he was born to be.

thor gladiator

He loses everything, his father, his hammer, and his dignity as he is reduced to being a gladiator for sport. It’s a lot of hits at once. He feels very low but he refuses to give in to grief as his desire to take care of his people and do right by them is stronger. #hero

Against all odds, Thor makes it back to Asgard where has to fight his sister, the goddess of death, without his hammer. He is mighty but at this moment she is mightier. Until he ends up in a vision where his father reveals the truth, “Are you Thor, the god of hammers? The hammer was only to help you channel your power.” And the final bit of encouragement that we have all known about Odin and Thor, “I’m not as strong as you.” “No, you’re stronger.”

Next up is the most epic takedown and my favorite part of Ragnorok (THIS IS THOR) where the god of Thunder blasts his sister and her armies with his lightning because THAT’S who he is!

Ragnarok ends where Thor has to allow the destruction of Asgard in order to save the true heart of Asgard, his people.

He is down one eye but looks very regal and handsome as he is crowned king and takes his “throne” aboard a borrowed ship among the surviving Asgardians and a ragtag group of friends. His brother is at his side once more and we hear the same coronation music we began this journey with back in 2011. It was really, really nice.

thor in arena.jpg

  • Thor had to gain humility and perspective before he was ready to be king.
  • His knowledge of the greater universe enabled him to be exactly what Asgard needed when they needed him most. Odin could never have been what Thor is.
  • He forgave Loki and paved the way for them to rejoin as brothers and friends.
  • He brought Valkyrie back from her drunken despair and gave her purpose.
  • He saved Bruce and destroyed Hela.
  • He had to grow beyond the hammer and he did an awesome job. And it was THEN and only then, after all of this learning and connecting with other people that he became the king he was born to be.

Infinity War: Enter, Thanos. Thanos never played fair, so, I don’t blame Thor for any of this mess. To me, the Thor of Infinity War was the most glorious Thor I have ever seen. He was the perfect combination of all that he had been and all that he was becoming. He WAS the god of Thunder, his arrival on the field of battle in Wakanda is one of my top 3 moments in that movie.

infinity war thor

Thor still made mistakes (GO FOR THE HEAD) as did all of our heroes. And I knew Thor needed to have a meltdown at some point. You cannot lose literally everything and never break down.

Endgame: Thor tries to defeat Thanos, and while he does kill him, the damage done by that Purple Abomination cannot be undone. So Thor disappears into New Asgard and becomes a drunken pile of a depressed man.

chunky thor

Believe it or not, I was actually pleased with this. I needed Thor to be human enough to fall apart after all of the hellish things he’d been through. I felt that this was appropriate, all the more so for how handsome and grand he is. That beer belly didn’t bother me, the tears in his eyes just made me ache more.

Thor is brought back into the action by his friends who still believe in him. He contributes what he can to the plan, and then he goes back in time with Rocket (love this pairing) to the day his mother died in order to retrieve the Reality Stone.

I loved this part. I felt like it restored some of the first two Thor movies to us.

Thor is totally falling apart, and Rocket has to be the one to save the day. #thisracoongetsitdone

Oh! But that scene with Thor’s beautiful mother, Frigga! I loved, loved, LOVED that scene! I have always felt that she was an underused character, a rich well of untapped potential. Odin was a mostly rotten father, but Frigga? What a mother!

thor and his mother

Thor needs his mama, that great and mighty god of Thunder who has fallen so low just needed his mama to look into his eyes and actually see him.

He needed her to gently brush back his matted hair as if he’s still arrayed in royal robes and love him as only a mother can. She listened. She encouraged. She blessed him, and she told him with so much love and compassion to eat a salad. It was such a gift, that scene.

And that moment gave Thor the courage to face the final conflict against Thanos. He is still worthy, Mjolnir still comes to him. It’s a beautiful moment of encouragement for anyone who has ever faced grief and depression.

thor depression

He fights the battle well and we see once more, the god of Thunder is still with us.

thor endgame battle.gif

Thor is among the victorious Avengers who are still standing when the dust settles *sobs* and he returns to his people in New Asgard to begin a new life as their king. He’s been humbled and is raw, but he is still a worthy hero and he deserves a second chance, what a triumph…

…oh wait, no, he actually decides to become a homeless man and go traipsing around space with the Guardians?!?!

He leaves New Asgard in the hands of Valkyrie whom we have only known for a movie and a half? Didn’t he already give up a chance to be king once before, only to take the throne in Ragnarok because he was finally ready???

You mean to tell me that I just went through 6+ movies of bringing Thor to this incredible place of a complete arc where he actually became his own kind of king despite every obstacle —only to have him be treated like some half-eaten leftovers that the filmmakers wanted to put in the freezer to reheat later???

Thor + Starlord for about 5 minutes = funny.

Thor + Starlord for a long time = disrespecting both characters.

thor and starlord

Starlord was already given a raw deal in both Infinity War and Endgame. He was treated like a laughingstock and idiot. Is he sometimes an idiot? Absolutely. Has he been through horrible things and grown immensely as a character and made grown-up/mature/hard decisions on behalf of other people? YES! WATCH HIS DADGUM MOVIES! He’s saved the Galaxy twice!

And Thor, Thor is funny, but he is NOT a laughingstock! Stop it!

Both of these characters deserve to be worth more than just a laugh.

And as for Thor 4?

If Thor had actually made the harder choice to go back to New Asgard, face his people in humility, and try again, I would actually be looking forward to Thor 4. I am curious about this New Asgard, how the Asgardians and the humans interact.

Thor has almost become a child of two realms, Earth and Asgard, he would make a neat king. Would he find someone new to love? Would some more of those “ancient enemies” that the Asgardians seem to have a cabinetful of show up and we could see an awesome alliance of Asgardians and Norwegian fisherman against Said Ancient Foes? What is living in New Asgard like in 2023?

Thor’s choice in the final moments of Endgame was not only out of character for him, it pretty much stabbed in the back a beautiful character arc that has been in the works for 6+ movies.

I was so, so, so disappointed. Thor is one of the Big 3, both Steve and Tony had stunningly gorgeous arcs that ended appropriately for their characters. And Thor was left as a homeless man.

the big three endgame

Dear Marvel, I don’t know if you are trying to replicate the success of Ragnarok or what, but I sincerely doubt that’s ever going to happen. Too many people are disappointed, too much has happened. Let a dead thing lie, don’t try to stir it up again.

Marvel is more than welcome to prove me wrong, I wish nothing but the best for the people involved in this film. I’m not a crazed jerk who starts uttering death threats just because I don’t want a movie.

I just cannot fathom why Thor 4 would be their first choice when we have so many other, fresher characters to work with. You think Thor (who is a strung-out character) is a good use of your resources when you are literally the top dog right now???

ragnarok is it though.gif

#yesijustwantedtousethisgif #youwouldtoo

I have to wait on another Ant-Man and the Wasp but you have time for Thor 4???

For the first time in my life, I don’t want another Marvel movie.

So, are you #TeamThor4 or are you #NoMoreThor? What do you think the next installment will be about? Were you excited to hear about Thor potentially joining the Guardians? I’d love to hear any and all opinions.

 

 

How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World

*Major Spoilers ahead*

Fellow Dragon Riders…that was utterly magnificent.

What a beautiful, beautiful story. The animation was breathtaking, the music reached my soul, and the characters. Our precious, beautiful, real characters.

I was shocked by how deep this beautiful story was.

The Hidden World somehow managed to teach us about the 2 sides of love. Letting go…and committing. 

Commitment…

Hiccup has chosen to commit to holding on to Toothless over and over again. He’s fought against his natural instincts, his culture, and even the death of his own father in order to stay true to his best friend. He changed his culture to make room for Toothless. And Toothless has returned the favor every time. He’s saved Hiccup from death and even reordered the entire dragon social structure (his culture) by challenging the alpha in order to protect his best friend.

hiccup and toothless challenge the alpha.gif

Letting Go…

When Toothless discovered the new love of his life, the Light Fury, Hiccup let him go for the evening to be with her, a first for them. The truth is, he did not know the full meaning of this choice. If he could see into the future he may not have been brave enough to let Toothless go. How true to life that is, sometimes we open the door for these massive and often upsetting life changes without even realizing what we are getting into. Hiccup was opening the door to let his best friend and ally go, but he did it because he loves him.

The Hidden World showed the need that arises sometimes to let those we love go in order to reach their full potential and thrive. But at the same time, with Hiccup and Astrid’s love story, it showed us the value and need to commit.

hiccstrid

Hiccup and Astrid have been an incredible pairing since their first flight together. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other beautifully. It’s clear that they make a mighty leadership team.

Up to this point, they have remained merely a boyfriend and girlfriend. And that was enough for the context of that time. But today is a new day.

Hiccup has been a chief for a year, and it’s clear that he’s still very green in this position. He’s doing his absolute best, but he’s literally flying by the seat of his pantsYet another new threat emerges, and Hiccup reacts. He must protect his own people, but he is also torn because he feels the need to protect the dragons as well.

Astrid is still operating as an encouraging and playful girlfriend. She’ll tease him, give him a good kiss, and then fly off into the sunset again. She supports him in public sometimes, but she does so sitting down. I am speaking literally, watch the movie again.

We aren’t ready for marriage.

astrid and hiccup, the hidden world

I love the role of the mentors in this movie. Gober is not always to be taken seriously, but his comments to Hiccup and Astrid about the need for them to commit to each other so that they may lead their people with strength are words of wisdom.

hiccup and his mother

Valka’s words of wisdom blew me away.

He thinks he has to lead alone just because his father did.

Valka looks to Astrid, who is still hanging back while she watches Hiccup in emotional agony, struggling with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Go, he’ll listen to you.

In the darling flashbacks with tiny Hiccup and his father, we see that there was more to Hiccup and Stoick’s relationship than just the dysfunction we were introduced into in the first film. Stoick was a kind and tender father who was doing his utmost to lead his people and make the world safe for his beloved son.

stoick and little hiccup

And Stoick bore it alone. The scene of Hiccup walking down the stairs at night to find his mighty and strong father crying by the fire was so important.

Stoick did not have his queen. He did not have his better half, his light, his partner. He needed Valka. What might have happened if Valka had stayed? It’s possible she could have changed the culture before Hiccup ever had to. It’s possible Stoick and Hiccup may have never fallen out of understanding with each other. Stoick would likely even still be alive.

Valka knows all of this now. She now knows the weight and value of the position and place she gave up at Stoick’s side. She has the humility to accept her failure in that regard, but rather than sinking into the shame of that failure, she instead uses it to teach Astrid (the new generation) how to live better.

hiccstrid hidden world

Valka shows Astrid the value and honor of her position at Hiccup’s side. She makes Astrid aware that the need to commit fully to Hiccup isn’t just a future joy, it’s a necessity for Hiccup, for Astrid, and for the future of their people.

Hiccup cannot do this alone. And so Astrid takes up the challenge. She soothes his hurting heart, gives him encouragement, fights at his side, and puts everything that is overwhelming him into perspective. She shows him how to fly on his own two feet…thus replacing Toothless as the most important person in Hiccup’s world. 

toothless and light fury

There were so many mirrored moments from the first HTTYD movie in Hidden World. When Toothless has his first meeting of romance with the Light Fury, I was heavily reminded of the first scene where Toothless and Hiccup bonded.

Taming Toothless

This concept of discovering each other. Toothless regurgitates the fish that Hiccup brought him as a peace offering to share with his strange, two-legged friend. Toothless coaches Hiccup in what he wants him to do. Hiccup barely gets the fish down and then gives a large smile…that Toothless then attempts to copy.

smiling toothless

And my favorite, Hiccup draws his new friend. And Toothless copies.

In this scene, Hiccup teaches Toothless to be a personToothless is already deeply curious, intelligent, and noble. But the more time he spends as a part of Hiccup’s world the more person-like he is.

Enter, the Light Fury. She is beauty and grace itself, and she is all dragon.

Toothless has spent so much time with Hiccup that he is a bit lost on the traditional dance of the Furies and what he must do to impress his new lady love. He continues to look to his human friend for guidance, for just like Hiccup, Toothless has yet to learn to fly on his own.

Every scene with the Light Fury was so, instinctive. It was quiet, and yet it spoke volumes. This beautiful girl taught Toothless how to be a dragon again…and like Astrid for Hiccup, she replaces Hiccup as the most important person in Toothless’s life.

toothless and his queen

When Hiccup goes looking for his friend in the hidden world he finds Toothless seated as king of the dragons. He is comfortable, regal, at home. The look on Hiccup’s face is utter devastation. But it’s not just the crushing realization that he is going to have to lose his best friend, he is also overwhelmed with inadequacy.

He does not know how to be what his people need without Toothless. They have always relied on each other to fly. Toothless changed everything for him. Now he is beset on every front with enemies, questions, and problems, and his friend has found his place in the world apart from Hiccup.

Hiccup feels so small.

Whew. Did anyone else take that moment in the gut? This entire movie I was nodding my head. YES! Oh yes, I have felt this in my soul. I know what he feels.

The true conflict in this movie did not revolve around the villain, he merely put a face to a much bigger problem that brought the true struggle into the light. Hiccup and Toothless can no longer thrive together in the way they have up to this point. In order to truly grow, they must go their separate ways.

grimmel

Grimmel represented the problem that was going to continue to plague Hiccup and Toothless. Evil people coming after the dragons, and by extension, the Berkians. As chief of his people, Hiccup could not in good conscience keep endangering them. As alpha of the dragons, Toothless had to protect his people.

True leadership is not about control, it is more often about sacrifice and servanthood. Both Hiccup and Toothless had to give up being together as friends in order to do what was best for their own people, and for each other.

It hurt. It hurt a lot. The five-year-old child sitting 3 seats away from me in the theater was sobbing and I started tearing up on her behalf. I know, Baby. I KNOW! This hurts! This growing, changing, letting go, it hurts.

And yet…

Hiccup came into his own. His new partner, his lifelong partner, Astrid, stepped in beside him and gave him the courage to fly on his own. And he did. And he won.

hiccup flying on his own

Toothless and he fought together to save each other and their people. And then they said goodbye.

Another beautiful mirrored scene. When Hiccup awoke from the victory of his first battle where he and Toothless fought The Green Death, he was walking wounded. He was missing a leg. This represents his need for support. He almost falls to the ground when Toothless jumps in and holds him up. They have held each other up for years.

hiccup holding onto toothless

This time Hiccup is down a leg his new support steps in to hold him up, Astrid. She is his future.

astrid ive got you

Oh the symbolism. I love it!

hiccup saying goodbye

It hurts, but it is also so beautiful. It is so real. This is what love does. Love commits, love lets go. Love commits to doing what is best for the other one, and sometimes that means letting go.

Hiccup let go. His people were safe. He marries the love of his life and you know they will lead their people into a glorious future. He becomes a father, a tender, loving father by the looks of it. And he never stops being Toothless’ friend. I so deeply enjoyed the intimate scene at the end where Hiccup and Astrid take their children to go meet the dragons. We end on all of our favorite people (and dragons) flying together in the future they all fought to win.

I ended this movie with hope and joy. Yes, there is sadness, but there is also joy. So much joy. What a gift. What a gift.

I hope you enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Even if it hurt, I hope your heart was ministered to as well. There is so much truth and life to be gleaned here. I feel very blessed.

And yes…there are dragons.

How to Train Your Dragon: What Hiccup and Toothless Mean to Me

Netflix: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Frozen II

How to Train Your Dragon: What Hiccup and Toothless Mean to Me

…I looked at him, and I saw myself.

I know this is what Hiccup felt when he saw Toothless, but it’s an apt description for how I felt as well. I looked at Hiccup, and I saw myself.

15-16 years old, same age as Hiccup, I was at the beginning of a pretty horrible 5-6 years. I was sitting on my bed checking out this movie, How To Train Your Dragon, that everyone seemed so excited about. If I liked it, I’d show my family.

And I saw him. I saw a boy, an adorable boy. A boy who felt out of place in his world that only valued things he was not able to achieve. He didn’t know who to be, how to be. He was lost.

baby hiccup

But I also saw what lay beneath the surface, hidden below the aching loneliness and insecurity. A deep gentleness, his art speaks of that. A thinker, a planner, an inventer. And a friend.

The key to why How to Train Your Dragon is so special is not because there are dragons. Not because of the animation (which is breathtaking). Not because of the voice cast. Not even because of the amazing music. Music that I have listened to over and over again, sometimes during the hardest or emptiest moments of my life because it gave me hope and courage.

No, the key to How To Train Your Dragon is relationship.

That is the sole foundation, the common thread, the stone upon which the story is built.

Fierce Toothless

How to Train Your Dragon is the story of a remarkable friendship that not only shapes two remarkable individuals but also changes the course of the world’s history.

I felt like I was drinking from the fountain of youth during the scene where Hiccup and Toothless first bond. The colors, the movement, the soul! The connection of two characters who find not only belonging with one another but healing as well. It was so beautiful it made my heart thirst.

I was in tears when Toothless and Hiccup flew for the first time. Yes, of course, the music is triumphant, but they are free. So free. Out there in that wild wind and ever-changing and alive sky. That moment captured things in my heart that had been burning for as long as I could remember.

At that time in my life, like Hiccup, I wanted to run away. I felt trapped by my circumstances, by the strife in my family, by my own body as crushing anxiety caused terrifying symptoms to exhibit themselves. School became this heavy burden that I felt inadequate to bear. I wanted to leave, to find purpose and adventure somewhere else!

That was 6 years ago. In the time in between, somewhat like Hiccup, I have lost a parent through a divorce and the climax of decades of pain. I’ve had my world turned on its ear countless times. I’ve had to grow from child to woman under some very difficult circumstances.

And yet…I’ve learned to soar.

Flying Toothless

I always wanted to be free. As a child and teenager, I used to have these dreams where I found a stretch of rolling green hills. I knew that those hills ran on and on and on, into the wide open space of the West, into mountains and big skies. In the dreams, I would take off running into that world, nothing but me and miles of freedom. I could leave my problems behind me.

Running away. It would have been easy for Hiccup to jump onto Toothless’ back and take off into the sunset, never to return. He could have become a dragon-person like his mother, living apart from the human world. It was too hard to bring change, too hard to go against the grain. Too hard.

Hiccup does consider running away, but he is halted by the future love of his life, Astrid (a love story that deserves more attention on another day). Astrid has a way of calling the man out of Hiccup when no one else can. Not just the Man, the Chief.

hiccstrid

For that is who Hiccup is meant to be, he is meant to be a chief. A king, a leader, a pillar of strength for his people. This is who he is destined to be. Who people need him to be. 

Valka (Hiccup’s mother) had a very similar heart to her son, but she lacked his courage and determination. She lacked his hope. Valka never chose to return to her family and village, thus robbing them of the life and change she could have brought.

I had/have people who needed me to. I too have a destiny. And that destiny does not come in the solitude of those rolling green hills of my dreams. Hiccup finds freedom right where he is at, and because he stays and steps into the responsibility of who he was made to be…

he changes the world forever.

hiccup haddock III

I did too. I stayed. It felt like death sometimes, but I stayed. No, I hadn’t actually been planning on hopping on a plane to run away, but I was toying with the idea of running away in my heart. Checking out. Leaving it all behind to set off on a “grand adventure”.

Oh, what I would have missed. I might have missed changing the world forever. 

I’m free now. I have found the freedom I was looking for in the Heart of My King, My Abba Father. This thirst for the wild, alive skies? The rolling green hills? The adventures? He put those things inside of me, and now I know I do not have to run away to find them, I just have to run to Him.

I also found myself, in Him, in His freedom, in my relationship with Jesus and the relationships I built, I found me.

I’m a lot like Hiccup. I’m a peacemaker, a strategist, a warrior, an artist, a thinker, a friend…and a leader who thrives on connection.

Hiccup is the kind of leader that I aspire to be. He does not lead out of a desire for control, he leads to make a difference. People are drawn to Hiccup because he lifts them up, he brings fresh ideas and purpose to the table, and he draws the best out of everyone around him. Hiccup is a redeemer, he gives second chances and forgiveness willingly.

hiccup a warrior

We get to observe this type of leadership more so in Dragons: Race to the Edge the series on Netflix that takes place between HTTYD 1 and HTTYD 2. If you have not watched this series, I highly recommend it. It’s in this series that we watch Hiccup go from being a boy to becoming a man. A king!

You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon.

His mother is right. Hiccup is a noble leader with a fierce and gentle heart. It’s a long and often painful road that leads him to become who he was meant to be. I can relate to that. If I had known what my life held for me I don’t know if I would have gotten in line. 😉

But I’m here now. I’m me. And I wouldn’t have gotten this far if it hadn’t been for the relationships and connections that upheld me to this point…just like Hiccup and Toothless.

Hiccup and Toothless were two broken people who needed each other to fly. The strength of their friendship as they walked through those hard years together is what enables both of them to walk their own respective paths when the time comes.

God is everything to me. He’s the air I breathe, the dreams I have, the plans I make, the colors I love, the gifts I carry, the bright future I walk into. My mom and siblings have stuck by me through thick and thin, and we have held each other up in the dark of night and the light of day. I have a wonderful group of friends who I have laughed and cried with over the years. My circle is ever expanding, my ability to influence for truth and love is ever-growing.

I love my life. I love my story, even the ugly parts. Because the person I was destined to be is beautiful and I am going to change this world.

Taming Toothless

Hiccup and Toothless began their story together as youths, but they part ways as kings.

I feel as if I have grown up with Hiccup. I have been inspired and encouraged by this oh-so-human character and his oh-so-human best friend and the story of them facing life together. Like Hiccup and Toothless, I began this story as a youth, I am parting from this story as a queen.

However, unlike Hiccup and Toothless, my story is just beginning.

My relationship and connection with this story, with these characters has changed me. I am so sad to be saying goodbye, but I am so grateful for the journey. How To Train Your Dragon was and still is a powerful influence for good in my life.

One last battle. One last journey. A friendship to last a lifetime. See you at the movies.

hiccup and toothless, kings

Disney Live Action: Treasure Planet

Clearly, Disney has had wild success with their live action films. I learned much in MaleficentI cried in Cinderella. I was beautifully transported back to my childhood with The Jungle Book (I watch it over and over and over again). And I had all of my practical questions answered in Beauty and the Beast in the most golden, beautiful way.

What we are finding with these magical live action movies is not that Disney is incapable of producing a new story, but rather;

Disney is using their live-action remakes to deepen and flesh out the stories and characters we are already in love with.

Why is Maleficent so angry? Surely there has to be more going on here than not getting invited to the baby shower? Is there more to a true love’s kiss than meets the eye?

f07a5cab26f847f41979cf041948e2dc

Why is Cinderella so hopeful? There has to be an answer for it, a moment, a person who motivated her to have that perspective on life despite her circumstances. Is Prince Charming just a pretty face, or is there more to him? Why does the evil stepmother hate Ella?

b43b7d67565e6e1b9a319d4cf1e3e372

Why does Shere Khan hate Mowgli? What is the mindset of a man-cub who has been raised by animals in the jungle his whole life? Does he HAVE to leave the jungle, after all, this is his home and his family?

jungle book

Why is it that Belle finds understanding for the Beast when at first glance they have so little in common? What is it like being raised by a charming but eccentric inventor in a village that looks down on him? Why is Gaston so full of himself? Just how does it feel to be a servant of the prince who has been cursed all this time for a crime you did not commit?

d6a81aa3c4f6381638dab2e6f908bcc4

Disney took these stories from our childhoods and made them 3D. Turns out, there is more behind Maleficent than getting dropped from the baby shower list. Cinderella has an incredibly strong motivation to be who she is. Prince Charming is a real human with a heart, mind, and dreams. Mowgli struggles with trying to find his place in the jungle as he is still a human. Belle doesn’t have a picture-perfect life, she has been ridiculed, mocked, and feels like an oddity. The servants at the Enchanted Castle are heartbroken as they remember days in the sun when music, love, and life thrived, oh how they long for those days to return!

This formula is working. I cannot wait for DumboThe Lion KingAladdin, Mulanand so many more movies to come! I cannot wait!

Along the lines of live-action movies, I have an animated movie suggestion to send Disney’s way for a live-action remake. If you agree with me, let’s try to get Disney’s attention.

That movie? Treasure Planet.

treasure planet gorgeous

No, Treasure Planet is not as well-known as some of the other Disney classics, but in my opinion, it’s an often overlooked gem of a story and a treasure in the storehouse that Disney would do well to bring out into the light.

treasure planet fireTreasure Planet is a “treasure island” story, told in a science fiction/steampunk/space fantasy world. It features a deeply engaging story about Jim Hawkins, a fatherless boy in search of adventure and meaning. He falls in with charming rogue John Silver, a pirate with a bigger heart than he cares to admit.

 

treasure planet

This story deals with fatherlessness (something a huge majority of our world is facing), responsibility, betrayal, bravery, maturity, honesty, mentorship, fatherhood, and choosing to become someone better on behalf of someone you love. It has deep, rich themes, made even richer by the colorful and exotic world that it’s placed in. Just LOOK at this world!

treasure planet world

treasure planet world 2

treasure planet ship

Can’t you just imagine how beautiful this movie would be live-action? In the hybrid-filmmaking that combines beautifully crafted, physical sets with rich, intricate CGI? Can’t you just see the solid wood of the airship, the rough ropes, the creak of the many metallic costume pieces and props, mixed with a glorious CGI sky full of clouds, stars, and planets? Then we add in colorful characters from all across the galaxy, ship captains, inn-keepers, scientists, treasure hunters, and pirates! And ground it all with our deeply engaging and heart-rending character, Jim Hawkins.

jim hawkins in the night

This idea is even more plausible to me now that we have discovered Tom Holland. Can you think of anyone more perfectly suited to play the raw, untrained-yet-eager-innocent and sympathetic Hawkins? Nope, it’s like Tom was born for the role.

tom holland

Beyond the role of Jim Hawkins being given to Tom Holland, I’m open to any other casting. But. This. Is. Perfection.

jim hawkins

This movie live-action would draw new fans from an audience who hadn’t even seen the 2002 animated movie. It would be that beautiful.

Do you agree with me? If so, share all over and let’s make some noise and let Disney know what the people want. They have a treasure in Treasure Planet, and I for one want to explore this rich story/world deeper.

#liveactiontreasureplanet 

 

Star Wars: Every Story in the Galaxy

Back in the 1970s a creative guy named George Lucas made a little movie called Star Wars.

No one expected it to be a big thing. Sir Alec Guinness (who played the original Obi-Wan Kenobi) acted in the film because he’d always wanted to be a “children’s movie”. 

At best, they thought they might make a sci-fi cult classic that would gather a small but fierce following who met in basements and had mini-conventions. That was all they expected.

This is what happened instead…

3_death_star_millenium_falcon-crop-original-original

The world exploded, and we have never been the same since.

Why is Star Wars so popular? I had a friend of mine ask me a question along these lines recently. She’s an adult with grown children, and not super into many movies. But she loves Star Wars. “What is different about Star Wars?” she asked.

I could list hundreds of reasons why Star Wars is all that and a bag of credits, but we don’t have time for all of that today. Instead, I’m going to list the biggest reason I think Star Wars has resonated so deeply with millions of people internationally for generations.

Star Wars tells us every classic, cliche story we’ve ever heard, but they do it in an unforgettable way.

Star Wars is one of the most cliche-ridden sagas ever. We started our journey with a young hero possessing a unique “ability”, the old sage mentor, a rogue with a big heart, a princess, and a cute animal (or droid) sidekicks.

Original trio

They joined forces with the underdog (the Rebellion) and go up against Goliath (Darth Vader and the Empire). The hero uses his unique abilities at just the right moment to destroy the story’s greatest threat against all odds.

It’s not the first time this story has been told. Star Wars borrows from many classic stories, established religions, and other known influences. And yet, the world exploded.

See, we “complain” about cliches, stereotypes, and classics. But there is a reason those things became so well known. It’s because they are real, and we experience them on a regular basis.

Star Wars tells us all of the old stories. An underdog story.

A New Hope 3

A redemption story.

Luke and His father

People bravely fighting against all odds for a better future.

rogue one cre

Questions about free will.

the clones

Darkness vs the light. Free will vs destiny.

ben and rey

The danger of allowing your emotions to be manipulated.

anakin becomes vader

Mentorship. Family. Friendship. Growing up with grace in times of hardship.

our rebels

Choosing to not give into victimhood, but instead to stand on your own feet.

rey

Making the hard choices. Becoming a part of something bigger than yourself.

Han Solo

Stormtrooper Finn

Learning what true leadership is.

poe in trouble

And on, and on, and on.

And these classic stories are told in the most exciting and colorful way. With spaceships, planets, aliens, blasters, lightsabers, dark and light, good and bad. They are told with heart, with humor, with a connected history, a force that binds all of these stories together. With characters that feel like old friends.

Star Wars tells our stories.

I love our galaxy. I love the characters, the history, the messages, the hope. The fact that by now generations of families have all gotten to enjoy the same world and story as it is continually told. I love it all.

Happy May the 4th, may the force be with you!

Real Women: Jyn Erso (Rogue One)

6 Ways that StarWars: Rebels Differs From StarWars: The Clone Wars