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

Flynn Rider: Reimagining the Disney Prince

The 2010 Rapunzel story Tangled was an instant classic and remains in a place of high honor.

Much of this is due to the charming and roguish Flynn Rider, adorable crown thief- turned into the adventure partner and harmonizing prince we ladies dream about.

Was it his gorgeous face that caught our attention? Uh, well, yeah, that certainly helped.

His sense of humor? Mmmhhmm.

The smolder? It certainly did not damage his cause.

the smolder

 

As much as we love his charming exterior, what really sold us all on Flynn Rider was the way he changed the “face” and expectations for the classic “Disney Prince”.

The character that came closest to Flynn Rider before he hit the screen was most definitely Aladdin. Not only was he also an adorably mischevious thief, but rather than just a pretty face with a castle we were given a more 3-dimensional character who had his own backstory, own dreams, and own failures.

Still, Flynn Rider, or shall we say Eugene Fitzherbert took it to the next level.

Flynn Rider started out as a self-seeking jerk.

You are talking to a girl who loves the good guys. I have only fallen for the “bad boy” twice in my life and those two bad boys ended up becoming the best of the good boys. #edmundpevensie #captainhook (Apparently I go for dark good looks as well? Hmm…)

But it is wise to admit to ourselves that everyone is human, male or female.

We have imperfections, we have broken places, we have pockets of selfishness or places of retained anger. There are things about ourselves we would like to change and things in others we find hard to overlook. We’re really messy, and sometimes kind of ugly.

Flynn Rider is something of a scoundrel. He double-crosses his own partners-in-crime in order to keep the crown for himself.

When Flynn arrives at Rapunzel’s castle, he has an initial moment of awe over her beauty, but it passes like a cloud over the sun and then he’s back to scheming again.

Can I just say how much I love the fact that Flynn and Rapunzel broke the “love at first sight” Disney couple trope?

I 100% believe in love at first sight. It happens all the time in real life. I just think it’s a good idea to present more than one way for a couple to fall for each other. Many couples discover each other over time, building one step upon another. Such is the case for Flynn and Rapunzel.

Flynn Rider has eyeballs, anyone with eyeballs can see how beautiful Rapunzel is. He has a normal human reaction to her appearance and then he starts trying to pull one over on her. His own selfish needs and desires trump whatever reaction she just created in him.

#canayoneelserelatetothis

I’m not saying we need to stay here, by the grace of God and Jesus’ death on the cross I am redeemed from the selfish choices that I make, I am in the process of becoming more like Him every day. But I still make mistakes.

Flynn's agenda.png

Flynn’s plan to frighten Rapunzel ends up placing them in a situation of danger where Rapunzel’s indomitable spirit and open heart earns Flynn’s respect.

She takes a roomful of gross and scary (and anatomically incorrect) men and turns them all into mush by seeing beneath the surface and touching their hearts.

Follow that up with an epic escape from multiple foes that succeeds when it shouldn’t…

…yeah, Flynn looks at Rapunzel with new eyes.

He is impressed, there is more to her than he at first thought. The sweetest thing is that Rapunzel does all of this without the intention of winning someone’s approval or respect. She is merely being herself and is entirely guileless. It’s refreshing, tantalizing, and touches a long-hidden part of Flynn Rider.

Enter, Eugene Fitzherbert.

First respect, next we go to a new level. Vulnerability.

Flynn and Rapunzel find themselves in a dark cave with water rising. #thisismyworstnightmareminussomesharks

The idea that they are facing death gives Flynn the courage to reveal one of the most precious and tender parts of himself…his true name.

Eugene Fitzherbert. It’s soft and sweet. Rapunzel listens with such kind respect, she proves to Flynn that not only is she someone he can rely on in a pinch, but she is also a safe person to trust himself with. His true self.

The theme of revealing their inner selves continues by the fireside where Rapunzel reveals the story of her magic hair and Flynn tells her about that special book that gave him oxygen to dream during the tragedy of his childhood as an orphan.

Whoa, a sad orphan who used to read this book to the younger orphans? A kid who grew up and took on the name of his literary hero to try and build a life of plenty for himself to replace the history of lack and lovelessness?

I. Am. Intrigued.

We begin by seeing Flynn through the mask he has invented for himself – a careless and debonair thief who needs no one. #funnybutnotmarriagematerial

Within the course of about two scenes of tender and revealing moments, our perception is entirely changed to match what is this character’s truth.

eugene fitzherbert

 

Flynn is not a typical Disney prince. He is just as broken and in need as the princess is. He needs her as much or more than she needs him. They need each other in different ways.

It’s a beautiful picture of so many real-life relationships where you take two extraordinary individuals who each bring something neat to the table, but together they create something wonderful.

Together they end up helping each other heal.

Together, they dream a new dream.

We started with respect, leveled up at vulnerability, and now we bring in attraction.

Flynn is sooooo attracted to Rapunzel. She has had a deprived life in a way different from his, but no less real. However, her deprivation has made her kind, patient, and eager to enjoy every little thing.

The word that best describes Rapunzel is “wonder”.

The biggest dream of her life has just been to go and see these beautiful lights that fill the night sky on her birthday.

Flynn has been everywhere and thinks he’s done everything, it was all old news to him until he met her. 

Rapunzel reintroduces Flynn to the idea of wonder, and during that process, he finds himself deeply attracted to her.

I love the montage of this glorious day in the town that leads up to one of Disney’s best romantic songs in existence. It shows Eugene and Rapunzel falling for each other in such a sweet, specific way that celebrates life.

Falling in love with Rapunzel doesn’t just bring stars to Flynn’s eyes, we get to go so much deeper into the why behind his love for Rapunzel that we do with many other Disney princes.

Rapunzel reawakens the Eugene within him, reminds him of who he is, and gives him the courage to dream something far bigger than just a castle of his own.

Rapunzel and Flynn’s story reminds us the power of human connection to create change as well as the healing capability that true love can bring.

And what is true love? It has been said in passing in so many stories, but we actually get to see it lived out in Tangled in a way that blew my mind.

True love is a sacrifice.

He first respected her, then he allowed himself to be vulnerable with her. His attraction grew alongside hers, but Flynn’s love was proven to be real when he sacrificed himself for her without a single selfish thought…

…he actually dies for her.

Flynn’s sacrifice is not pretty, he gets stabbed in the back and is bleeding out on the floor. #thisscaredmesobad #disneybrokealltherules

There were no grandiose words or declarations of valor. There was no masterful sword fight against a dragon (the dude lost a duel to a horse, y’all), no sweeping in on a vine to rescue the girl. No magic shoe to gallantly slip on her foot.

He is weak and bleeding out on the floor. In hoarse tones he calls her to come close to him.

In a swift motion he uses the last of his strength to take a shard of glass and cut off all of her hair…freeing her forever from her lifelong bondage.

The shock of that moment hit me like a tidal wave in the same way it does for the other characters. Rapunzel can’t even comprehend the fact for a moment that her hair, the source of her magical strength as well as her hideous bondage is gone. Mother Gothel is in the throes of death (whew, that was ugly), and Flynn is dying.

As Rapunzel cradles a dying Eugene in her arms, they have such a broken and tender moment where they tell each other “You were my new dream.”

eugene dying

 

I love this! The word “dream” gets thrown around so often in our stories and our real world.

It gets watered down, misused, abused, and people practically kill themselves in the pursuit of what they believe to be their “dreams” only to reach the end and find themselves with no one.

Flynn Rider, or rather, Eugene Fitzherbert thought he knew what a dream was, and then he met Rapunzel. And she became his new dream.

The word “dream” is redefined for both of them as they realize that the true dream to is share a lifetime of meaning and purpose with someone you love. Together you create something bigger than yourself.

Flynn’s entire life has been about achieving his “dreams”. He actually finds out what his true dream is, and he gives it all up without hesitation in order to ensure that the woman he loves is safe.

This is pure true love. This kind of dream and this kind of love make so many other imposters fall away to ash in the face of something as deeply rich and full of potential as Rapunzel and Flynn’s love for each other.

It makes the moment when Rapunzel’s teardrop heals him all the more amazing as yet again, she does the impossible by simply being herself. The payoff of this movie is incredible.

We went deeper, therefore we celebrated bigger.

flynn and rapunzel rescued gif

Respect. Vulnerability. Attraction. Sacrifice. Joy.

flynn and rapunzel in tower

He’s the “perfect” man, physically the man has 0 faults. But Disney secreted a real-life, 3D human in a perfect package.

Flynn Rider completely reinvented the way we looked at Disney men and opened the door for characters like Kristoff, Kit (Prince Charming), Prince Adam (live-action Beauty and the Beast), Finn (Star Wars: Sequel TrilogyAladdin (live-action Aladdin), and so many more to come.

Flynn was so perfect it wasn’t even real, and yet, they managed to take the “perfect man” and teach us the beauty of imperfection as well as the depth and meaning of a true dream and the true definition of love.

To one of the greatest Disney characters ever created.

Flynn Rider, we love you.

flynn rider kind face

 

Aladdin

One Jump Ahead

“Riffraff,” “Street rat”
I don’t buy that
If only they’d look closer
Would they see a poor boy?
No, sirree
They’d find out
There’s so much more to me…

Speechless

Here comes a wave meant to wash me away
A tide that is taking me under
Swallowing sand, left with nothing to say
My voice drowned out in the thunder…

…I won’t be silenced
You can’t keep me quiet
Won’t tremble when you try it
All I know is I won’t go speechless
‘Cause I’ll breathe
When they try to suffocate me
Don’t you underestimate me
‘Cause I know that I won’t go speechless

To be heard.

To be seen.

To be known.

This, my friends, was the purpose of Aladdin.

I want to discuss a few scenes that stood out to me as hugely important for the story, but even more than that, they rang true for the world we live in.

Scene 1: Aladdin giving up his dates for the starving boy. Aladdin intervening on Jasmine’s behalf in the marketplace. Aladdin saving the girl from being trampled by Prince Ander’s entourage.

A combination of many small moments that clearly define Aladdin’s heart. He is a colorful character with large helpings of mischief and insecurities, but there is one overwhelming fact about who he is.

Aladdin is a prince

He is the diamond in the rough. Aladdin essentially lives hand to mouth, but he is not completely self-focused. He sees the needs of those around him and intervenes on their behalf.

It is this heart that wins Jasmine over. She’s seen enough glittery people to last a lifetime, what she longs for is substance. She finds substance in this street boy with a big smile and kind eyes.

Substance over style. Style fades, substance grows.

Scene 2: The Best First Date Ever

Likely the most iconic Aladdin scene in existence, the magic carpet ride where Jasmine and Aladdin get a chance to connect is beautiful.

In the animated movie, we see our two lovebirds fly around well known worldwide landmarks such as the Sphinx in Egypt or the Great Wall of China.

In this version, the landscape is far less defined or varied. I believe this was done for the purpose of enabling the audience to focus in more on the two people in the scene and their intentional interaction with each other.

One moment Jasmine is holding onto Aladdin’s arm as he makes a steep turn, another moment he’s handing her the “reins” so she can have a turn flying. They are singing together, he’s looking at her with pure delight because of her joyful response. She is enthralled with the opportunity he has given her to be 100% herself at this moment.

He loves conversing with her and he wants to hear what she has to say.

She SEES him. He HEARS her Aladdin

They communicate.

You can see the power created by these two. Aladdin’s life experience and mingled with Jasmine’s authority and education make them the perfect couple to lead Agrabah into the future. They share a similar heart that points them both in the same direction.

So many people are struggling with communication. So many people are involved in power struggles with one another that not only cause them harm, but also those around them who depend upon them.

Jasmine and Aladdin struggle, just like anyone else, but they persevere, and when the credits roll they have reached a strong place of connection.

Jaladdin communicating

Scene 3: Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar. Jasmine’s almost wedding to Jafar.

The new song “Speechless” is one that brought tears to my eyes. We need to be paying attention right here. The two cultures represented in this fictional world are the Arab/Middle Eastern culture, and the Indian culture. Jasmine represents both.

These two cultures are among the worst in the world for how horribly they abuse and oppress their women. Many Middle Eastern women are wrapped up from head to toe, they cannot drive, they cannot be educated, they cannot work, they cannot even go places without a male escort.

They are not to be seen and certainly not to be heard! Women are treated like despised objects or pretty toys to be used on a whim.

*This may not be the case for every woman or family in these countries, it is not in any way my intention to claim that or disrespect those who are from these places but not living this way. But the injustice I speak of is a true reality for millions, and we need to be willing to stand up and acknowledge that without fear of “offending” someone. These women deserve more courageous actions on their behalf.

In India, millions of women have been downtrodden for centuries. Many of the old traditions are harsh on women. If a woman cannot produce children (which is often the result of abuse or malnutrition), she is often scorned and abused by either her husband and or her in-laws. Women fear to walk to someplace as necessary as the village well for fear of being raped or murdered on the way. Oh yes, rape often isn’t even treated as a crime. Thousands of women have died from starvation, abuse, murder, malnutrition, or working themselves to death. 

These silenced, abused, downtrodden women are crying out for a voice.

Jasmine essentially a prisoner in a golden cage.

Jafar takes personal pleasure in controlling and silencing Jasmine.

The look of glittering delight in Jafar’s eyes as he forces her to speak vows of marriage to him turned my stomach. I saw that scene in horror, as I can imagine just how many precious women throughout history have found themselves in the same situation. Unlike Jasmine, however, there was no one coming on a magic carpet to give them a way of escape.

This scene was a cry for justice. A cry for the women Jasmine represents who are precious and beautiful, who have amazing things to share with the world. These women who remain unseen, unheard, buried.

jasmine giving a voice

I know I went out of order here, but let’s talk about Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar that happened before her forced almost-marriage.

She is being led away by the guards who were her own servants but a moment before. Her beloved father and handmaiden are unable to help her. She had to silence Rajah (who was glorious) to keep him safe.

In her mind’s eye, she pictures everyone else disappearing, every person who is an obstacle to what she knows is right. She cannot be silent, not this time!

Rather than just swallowing it again, Jasmine makes her stand.

She speaks out in a strong voice. She ignores the degrading words of Jafar and focuses all of her energy on speaking to Hakim, the noble lead guard who truly desires to do what is right.

Jasmine speaks to him personally, she knows his story and she cares about it. She appeals to his integrity and deepest desire to do the right thing. She exposes her deep heart of love and compassion for “my people”. And she gives him an opportunity to change his course of action. At this moment with the information they have, Hakim is a pivotal character for what happens next.

Jasmine sees him, she calls him by name. She knows his story and his heart, which means she has heard him. Jasmine does not speak on her behalf but rather on the behalf of her people, he and his people are her priority. And Jasmine gives him an opportunity to make a different choice, she gives him a chance to be his best self.

Jasmine true, sacrificial leadership.

Jafar may as well be a shadow in the back of the room, all of Jasmine’s focus is on Hakim and the future of Agrabah. She doesn’t attack, she doesn’t tear Hakim down, she builds him up with truth and calls the good man out of him.

It’s a beautiful, powerful, encouraging scene. While it seemed to do little good at the moment, it does truly change everyone’s future as Jasmine unconsciously opens her father’s eyes to her true worth as a strong and virtuous leader for Agrabah.

Scene 4: Aladdin Selflessly Walks Away

Both Aladdin and Jasmine are given opportunities to be heroic in the climax of this movie, but it is called Aladdin for a reason. When it comes down to it, Aladdin is the one who has to defeat Jafar.

Aladdin is not a brawny warrior like Hercules. He’s not a gallant and gorgeously arrayed prince like Phillip or Charming or even Beast once he’s been declawed. Aladdin is very simple and straightforward.

The reason Aladdin became “Prince Ali” and got himself involved in this mess was a noble one, he loved a girl and wanted to win her heart. During that time he has been stripped down to the core of his deepest longings and hurts, and he almost loses focus on who he is because of it.

Aladdin humbled

But here is where the diamond comes out.

Aladdin has the humility to recognize his mistakes and turn them into life experience. He sees the flaw in Jafar’s arrogant plan and manipulates Jafar into a natural course of actions and consequences. Jafar’s own pride and ambition lead him to the prison he chose for himself. #poeticjustice

Aladdin just saved the day. He could reason out that he deserves another wish, a wish that could elevate him in the eyes of the world and especially the eyes of the woman he loves. Instead, he again shows that selfless spirit and keeps his promise to free Genie even though it gains him nothing materially.

Aladdin just saved the royal family, an arrogant “hero” would demand recompense.

He does not. He looks at Jasmine, still loving her as much as the first day he met her, and he apologizes. He looks at everyone with humility and respect and walks away. #thisissosexy #jaladdinforever

As Aladdin walks out of the palace to return to Agrabah’s streets, he looks down at Jasmine’s hair barret with deep tenderness. He loves her and treasures her, and he always will. But because he loves her he is willing to walk away because he believes that is what is best for her.

True love Jaladdin

Jasmine has been treated as a pretty bird in a cage. Not a person.

A mere prize to be won, not a heart to fall in love with.

An obstacle to control or crush (I’m lookin’ at you, Jafar).

A child who must remain hidden for her protection. Not a mature young woman.

It’s all about what someone can get from her, or keep from her, or keep her from.

Jaladdin giving her his best.It was humble, it was peaceful, it was confident. Somehow Aladdin walks out of that gate with his head held high because he now knows his own worth, and he stayed true to his noble heart.

Yeah, I’d run after him too, Jasmine. #substanceoverstyle #diamondintherough #putaringonit #jaladdin

I loved that Jasmine runs to him on the street by herself. No guards, no entourage, no handmaiden or father. She may be the sultan now (a quick line that she uses to tease him) but she truly comes to him as herself. He heard her, he knew her for who she was when no one else did.

It’s humble, it’s normal, it’s sweet. And they have a beautiful kiss among their people, in the streets where they came together, in the streets of the place they both love.jladdin kiss

Jasmine knew her own worth but struggled to be heard. Aladdin doubted his own worth, he struggled to be seen.

 

Jasmine saw Aladdin, and Aladdin heard Jasmine.

And God saw that it was good, people. It was good.

Genie

Holy cow! Y’all, what? Robin Williams created Genie, and no one can ever replace him! Will Smith not only honored the character Williams created but he also didn’t try to replace him, he became his own Genie.

Genie took me by surprise multiple times, while he was not anywhere near as spastic as Robin’s Genie, he was regularly unexpected.

The Genie/Dalia romance was brilliantly used to fill in the story/characters and add a lighter balance to the romance scale. Jaladdin was dealing with heavy-duty issues that held kingdoms in the balance, Denie was talking about goats and boats. We needed both. #denie #jaladdin

DenieI can’t imagine being trapped and forced to do the will of whatever jerk happened to grab your lamp and give it a rub. If you actually consider Genie’s life, it’s pretty horrible.

Genie fell in love with Dalia, and he desired a normal life. He has all the power in the world and yet he’s as much a prisoner as someone in a dungeon. Dalia increased my longing for Genie’s freedom. When Dalia was being pressed down by Jafar’s dark power Genie’s sorrowful face for the woman he loves made my heart hurt. He was helpless to protect her.

This isn’t funny anymore, this is real.

The look of pure shock and deep emotion on Genie’s face when he realizes he is free was a beautiful moment. I loved the hug he gave Aladdin. The hug+his face spoke volumes.

genie and aladdin

I wasn’t overly fond of how the movie began, I felt it had a weak opening, but by the end, I was in love.

I did enjoy the first shot that skimmed over Jafar in the desert, Jasmine in her palace, and the torchlit houses of Agrabah.

But I felt that they rushed through the iconic scene of Aladdin weaving his way through the streets, stealing and smirking aka making a nuisance of himself. And since they made the decision to combine Aladdin’s first introduction with him and Jasmine meeting for the first time, I think they should have given it a less choppy, sped-up rhythm. It was an unnecessary sacrifice that bought them nothing.

I recognize that the filmmakers wanted to flesh out other parts of the story more, and I respect that. I just do not think they made the right call in how to carry that out.

Let’s talk Jafar.

I heard some people complaining that Jafar was too weak. He didn’t look or sound as scary as the animated one.

Ahem…have y’all seen the animated one? The animated Jafar is not anatomically correct. Animated characters are often exaggerated for effect or to bring across a specific message.

So please, drop that argument. This is supposed to look real, this is a real human playing this character.

And Jafar? Jafar was savage. 

Jafar was a perfect villain

Real villains aren’t always weirdly shaped with angry eyebrows and menacing voices. They are often normal-looking people with dark hearts. Jafar was a villain who was all too real, he reminded me of some true villains from history. Jafar was also supposed to be a dark reflection of Aladdin, someone who Aladdin could have been. Jafar even makes the comparison to Aladdin outside of The Cave of Wonders.

Jafar made my blood boil. 10/10 villain status.

This is the first live-action Disney Prince(ess) movie that I feel could actually support a sequel.

I have loved all of the live-action remakes up to this point. But I do not think that all of them need sequels. Cinderella was a very intimate, self-contained story. It was perfect. Beauty and the Beast was a more complicated tale, but it finished itself well at the ending. You feel whole by the end of both films.

While Aladdin also leaves you feeling deeply satisfied, you also have room for more.

REASONS ALADDIN CAN ACTUALLY SUPPORT A SEQUEL

I was utterly delighted in this movie, they got the big things correct and made room for fleshing out the story and characters. They delivered big moments and characters while also filling in a thousand tiny details (magic carpet building a sandcastle, anyone?)

Aladdin is my favorite old prince(ss) movie. I was so excited for this live-action version and I was not disappointed. I am enjoying myself immensely and I cannot wait for more!

a whole new world gif

Disney Live-Action Remakes: Not Losing What We Have, But Becoming More of Who We Are

Disney: Why Disney+ is a Good Thing

Frozen II

FinnRey Is True, Sacrificial Love

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen II

“LOOK!” My friend sent me a video link.

Frozen II? I didn’t know this was even ready yet, for some reason my brain thought it was next year.”

I watched the video after work.

Whoa.

Have you ever seen an animated trailer like this one? I haven’t. This is the most intense animated trailer I have ever seen.

There is zero dialogue. Just a faint okay under Elsa’s breath.

It’s all movement, facial expressions, music, and power. The power of the waves

elsa and the ocean 2

…the determination in Elsa’s face…

elsa and the ocean

…the ferocity and strength of Anna’s movements and facial expressions…

anna in midair

…the doggedness in Kristoff.

reindeer king

The wind ruffling through our beloved sisters’ hair, a wind that speaks of change, adventure, and new horizons.

our big three and sven frozen

And then the forest, the mountains, the fire, the leaves.

wind frozen

fire and ice frozen

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Frozen was portrayed to be a cute, playful princess movie. Awesome! We love those! We all went to the theater expecting another delightful Disney experience.

And then BOOM!

do you wanna build a snowman

Could somebody pick my heart up off of the floor, please?

The level of deep, raw, aching grief in Frozen was unlike anything I’d ever seen in an animated film. The level of loss! The missed love and life that both of our girls were robbed of in their childhoods because of lies and misconceptions.

Elsa’s oh-so-human outburst and relief on that mountain.

I know I left a life behind, but I’m too relieved to grieve…

let it go

Sweet Anna’s desperate need to be loved.

for the first time in forever

…I won’t be alone…

And then that beautiful sacrifice Anna makes to save her sister? An act of true love?

Whew! Way to go for the gut, Disney! Thank heavens we had characters like Olaf, Sven, and Kristoff. Thank heavens Anna has adorable mannerisms! Thank heavens there were some cute inside Disney jokes.

We might have died of grief if the sorrow had not been tastefully interspersed with lighthearted moments.

But we survived Frozen. These characters are a part of us now. We’ve accepted the grief and the loss because we’ve seen the brightness and hope of the future. Two follow-up shorts have shown us the beautiful love and connection our characters now exist in.

Frozen christmas

And when we’re to-gether…it’s my favorite place to be…

Frozen was such a deep, deep movie. An epic movie. A beautiful movie. An irreplaceable movie.

How do you top that?

This trailer answers that question- you go deeper.

I have a feeling we are in for one of the most epic, intense, and emotional animated adventures to date. Buckle up, Buttercup, they are holding nothing back.

You might say they are about to let it go.

frozen ii

See you in November.