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.

A Summary Of Star Wars : Prequel Era

The Phantom Menace : Origins

It’s not the greatest-made movie in existence. We will now pause awkwardly for a moment of silence over Padme’s stiff everything. “I’ll try spinning, that’s a good trick.” And Jar Jar’s near attempt to get everyone he supposedly likes killed.

Despite all of it’s flaws, The Phantom Menace still shines out as an important chapter in the Star Wars story because of the origins it creates for multiple story points, characters, expectations, and future possibilities.

Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor’s performances are the shining stars of this movie, along with the un-tapped (at the time) potential for Darth Maul.

Duel Of The Fates is one of the most iconic and exciting moments in Star Wars, and its one of the most gorgeous bits of soundtrack. It’s in my top 3 favorite lightsaber battles, probably because I am an Obi-Wan Kenobi fangirl through and through.

The gift that was The Phantom Menace to me is 3 things in particular. And no, Darth Vader’s origins don’t even make the list.

The birth of the character Obi-Wan Kenobi and all that he represents – The High Ground.

The birth of the now well-traveled villain Darth Maul and all that he represents – Despair And Chaos.

The Phantom Menace himself, Sheev Palpatine – Patient Deception and Longstanding Evil.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is such a pivotal character in the Star Wars storyline. It can be argued that he is responsible for some if not THE best of the entire Prequel Era, and his hand in raising the next generation of Jedi Skywalkers even after his devastating losses with the first are incredible. He crosses paths with and influences some of the finest characters in the Prequel and Rebel Era (even the Sequel Era).

We are given a complete set-up and expectation of that beautiful depth of character in the scene where we see him overcome the pit he has fallen into after the death of his beloved master, Qui-Gon Jinn. Obi-Wan is the young and untried warrior in this scenario. He proves his deeper wisdom and life mentality in just a few moments.

He uses his losses such as supposedly vulnerable low ground, dead master = extra lightsaber, and his grief to his advantage. He literally slices his enemy in half when he retakes the high ground. It’s a position he will maintain for the rest of his life and beyond his death, Obi-Wan NEVER gives up the high ground, even when those around him fall. And because he makes those choices, he creates a foundation for the future generations to succeed.

Obi-Wan is represents the best of Star Wars and its heroes, aka The High Ground.

Darth Maul was not much more than a pretty face when he was introduced. I can remember being a tiny child and seeing him plastered all over posters at Walmart. To me, HIS face was what represented Star Wars, not Darth Vader’s well known figure. #90skid

For a long time Maul was a well of untapped potential, but in more recent years Star Wars creators such as Dave Filoni have made use of this character to show a very complex side of this galaxy caught in conflict.

Without releasing to many spoilers, I will say Maul has risen to the level of my favorite Star Wars villain. He’s utterly despicable in every way, and you feel a hatred for him, but somehow that is balanced out with an acknowledgement that he is yet another broken person who has been misused, abused, and thrown into the blender that is Sheev Palpatine’s thirst for power.

The consistent interaction between him and his oldest foe, Obi-Wan creates a parallel and a contrast all at once. They are two characters who have both been lied to and caught up in a war they did not create.

But with those circumstances they made their own choices of their own free will. One chose the high ground and compassion, and one descended into madness and desperate chaos that caused even more pain. It’s a brilliant bit of character work.

Sheev Palpatine has had his dirty fingers in this mess from the beginning, and here we see that beginning. It’s even more startling now that we know he is responsible for using the Force to impregnate Shmi Skywalker and create Anakin Skywalker, his future apprentice. I appreciate the role we see Palpatine in during this film, he’s all flattery, benevolence, and supposed humility. Often evil takes the appearance of good in order to work its deception, Palpatine is a warning to us all. And shadowy threats are often scarier than known ones. He wears the shadows well.

Also, he deserves this much, R2D2 is given his proper introduction in that we are shown his first insertion into this story when he! Surprise surprise! Saves everyone. This darling droid will not get a moment’s rest until almost 3 generations later because he will be saving people and literally keeping this galaxy running for multiple movies and series.

Origins.

Attack Of The Clones : Escalation

This is my favorite “bad” movie, bad as in the writing is often cheesy, some characters make questionable choices, and we all find ourselves wondering just how Padme fell for this so-unstable Anakin in the first place. And yet, it’s a good time. #obiwanmakeseverythingbetter

The purpose of this movie shows us the escalation that takes place for multiple plot points and characters. Some of this is done knowingly, some just happens.

The Clone Army is revealed. And a host of questions, stories, triumphs and tragedies is begun.

The Jedi become entangled in a war that contributes to their eventual destruction.

Palpatine maneuvers himself into an even more integral place of power and influence. Yeah, we can really see how much it hurts you to have to accept these emergency powers, bub. #tinyviolins

The First Battle of Geonosis kicks off the Trade Federation conflict into a full-scale war and launches the complex and intriguing era of The Clone Wars.

Anakin gives into his passions in two ways, his love for Padme, and his anger towards the Sand People who murdered his mother. #sandpeoplearetheworst

I’m really not someone who thinks his mistake was loving Padme, this whole Jedi emotion denial thing was a stupid idea in the first place. Plus, other Jedi characters are shown as stronger and wiser because they have engaged their emotions.

No, Anakin’s problems arose from issues that were deeper than him breaking the rules to marry Padme. He was born as a slave, and separated from his mother because stupid Jedi rules. You want to talk about grounds for fear, separation anxiety, and control issues? They practically asked for this kid to have problems! He was manipulated by someone cunning who affirmed him at just the right moments. And he also just made some really stupid choices in his low moments, personal responsibility is still a factor here.

We see the escalation of all of this mess and his emotions in this movie.

Escalation.

The Clone Wars : How Did We Get Here

The Clone Wars is some of the best storytelling the small screen has to offer.

The Prequels have a much-deserved reputation for sloppy character work and massive loopholes in the plot.

The Clone Wars fixes all of that. It retroactively corrects some of the greatest problems the first three movies present and answers so many of the screaming questions.

How did we end up here?

How does such a valiant warrior with so much potential turn on his dearest friends and destroy the very things/people he’s fought so hard to protect?

Do clones have rights? What do they believe?

How do you win a war you were always meant to lose?

What’s right and what’s wrong?

How in the heck did Palpatine get this far with no one noticing?

Were the Jedi right? Where did they go wrong?

The amount of time put into the relationships of characters alone makes this series a golden gift to the Star Wars storyline. Anakin and Obi-Wan are truly shown to be the brothers that you thought they were. Anakin as a character is one you come to love and admire as you see him at his best.

Padme Amidala is given a chance to shine forth as a hero who used her gifts beyond just wearing the largest headdress in the room. You see the strengths that Leia inherited as well as the energy and idealism Luke carries.

We meet the Jedi, for better or worse.

Obi-Wan is again very British and it’s beautiful.

We meet the characters and planets caught in the conflict, torn apart by other’s greedy ambitions. Sometimes those journeys bring joy, sometimes grief. But we almost always learn something.

We see the crafty hand of Palpatine weave this inescapable web that drives everyone towards this horrible climax. We watch him prey upon Anakin and feed into his insecurities like a lamb being fattened for the slaughter.

The Clones are no longer faceless beings, but real, living men. We get to know them by name. We fall in love with them, we feel their pain, their anger, their courage, and their questions.

And of course, Ahsoka Tano. One of the brightest, boldest, and most dear characters in the Star Wars universe. The creation of a young and impressionable character who would be growing into womanhood during this turbulent period was a stroke of genius. Ahsoka is allowed to be outside of the events in Revenge Of The Sith, therefore her story is able to be approached with fresh eyes.

Ahsoka is a grounding character in this time when friends will become foe, joy turns into tears, and many things that were once counted on (The Republic/Jedi) will fall into ruin. Ahsoka is an anchor who will never change being who she is, regardless of what happens.

How Did We Get Here?

Revenge Of The Sith : Death And Rebirth

“You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you!”

We got people sobbing over Jack in Titanic who wasn’t even smart enough to climb up on the end of the lifeboat, time to get over that, folks!

THIS! THIS IS A REAL TRAGEDY!

Revenge Of The Sith is a movie where Darkness wins the day. It’s awful, absolutely awful, and it’s supposed to be. Betrayal is a bitter pill to swallow. Lies and deception lead to death, and we taste it full “force” in this movie.

Watching someone we have come to love such as Anakin (if you have seen The Clone Wars, you love him) try to kill the people dearest to him is such a raw picture of just how far fear and lies can take you. It’s a dire warning and harsh consequence.

The Republic is gone.

Freedom is gone.

Trust is gone.

The Jedi as they were are gone.

Padme, bless her loving heart, is gone.

Obi-Wan’s dearest friend has betrayed him.

And yet, a glimmer of hope emerges. Two tiny children are born into the world that represent the future of the galaxy, Luke and Leia Skywalker.

Often out of great tragedy and death there is some amount of rebirth. It’s too early to see what it will become, it’s too soon to feel the joy over the grief, but it’s present. A tiny, flickering little flame of hope.

We can never go back to what once was, that much is gone forever, a permanent death has happened. But even in the ashes of that death, there is rebirth.

Death And Rebirth.

Next up, the height of The Empire and the beginning of the Rebellion.

#solo #starwarsrebels #rogueone

Height of The Empire, Early Rebellion Era read 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.

The Rise of Skywalker Trailer – 9 Things

Did you all catch The Rise of Skywalker trailer during the football game tonight?

So, our final trailer leading up to the movie premiere in December. In honor of it being the 9th and final movie in the Skywalker Saga, here are 9 things I noticed about it – for better or worse.

1. Finn…and Rey?

I’ve not been shy about how much I want Finn and Rey together. Their immediate connection and relationship in The Force Awakens are one of the things that made me fall in love with the movie instantly.

They are two broken people who have come together and are helping each other heal. Rey gives Finn something to believe in, Finn is the first person who comes back for Rey in her entire life – showing her that she is indeed valued and loved.

finn

The first voice we hear in this trailer is Finn’s.

I am so glad, I felt like Finn took a bit more of a backseat in The Last Jedi and FinnRey wasn’t even a feature of that movie at all! I deeply missed their dynamic of being together, but that ending hug we got on Crait was a huge indicator that none of the love between them had grown cold.

Not only are all of our characters back together, but I get the feeling that we will get to see once again that Finn and Rey dynamic that we fell in love with from Moment 1. I can’t help but believe Finn’s stirring line,

It’s an instinct, a feeling. The Force brought us together.

is likely aimed at none other than Rey. He’s speaking with a softer tone, as you might if you were talking to just one person or perhaps a small group of people.

Whether this line is aimed at Rey or not, it’s a beautiful testimony to the entire heart of this Saga as well as how far Finn has come as a character.

He’s a believer, 100%. 

reyyyy

Excuse the blurry image, but even with the lower image quality, it’s not hard to read what Finn is saying here (plus you can hear it in the trailer). This image is almost an exact copy of his face and body language in The Force Awakens when Kylo takes off in his ship with a kidnapped Rey. Finn is screaming her name in desperation.

Given that this appears to be the same place we have seen Kylo and Rey clashing in a lightsaber duel, I imagine whatever follows this image is pretty dramatic. #bringiton

This character wears his heart on his sleeve, and I love him for it.

Finn and Rey are right back where they belong – together.

2. The Ghost

the ghost

As a big Star Wars Rebels fan, I would be remiss if I didn’t give this a shoutout – The Ghost is actually flying directly to the back right of The Falcon. This is huge for the Rebels’ storyline!

Ezra disappeared right at the beginning of the Original Trilogy timeline. It’s 30+ years later, so he would be in his late 40s. Other characters will be even older.

Is this a much older Hera still flying her ship with the Resistance? She’s just the type of warrior to stay in the fight for the long haul.

Is it her son flying his mother’s famous ship? Did Sabine and Ahsoka find Ezra like he asked and are they the ones piloting the ship????

It’s a really, really big reveal, and I’ll just bet we get Dave Filoni to weigh in on it before long.

3. This Movie Is Beyond Gorgeous

Would you just take a moment to soak in the number of textures, landscapes, colors, and movement of this movie??? There are about 3 different things happening in this image below.

gorgeous shot

This iceberg planet is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in Star Wars.

iceberg star wars

Even the “getaway” device is filled with bright, colorful yellow powder! It’s almost like the filmmakers are celebrating the joy that is this Star Wars story all throughout this movie!

color explosion

4. C3PO

I think Anthony Daniels is about as adorable as they come – C3PO? Not so much.

3po

I’ve never been a huge 3PO fan (although I do have a pair of 3PO socks that I love). He always seemed to be bumbling his way through situations (or slowing everyone down) while R2D2 did the actual heavy lifting.

Seriously, if R2D2 had been taken out a long time ago the Emperor would still be ruling and every one of the heroes would have died.

But over time I have come to appreciate this incredibly “British” droid. He was made to be a human companion and helper, far more suited for aiding a senator (as he does Padme Amidala in The Clone Wars) than he is for fighting in a scrappy Rebellion.

But he’s made it this far, he’s done his best, and it would appear in this trailer that our old and sometimes annoying Gold Friend may be saying his final goodbye.

And I cried. Dadgum it, 3PO! I. CRIED! Han SOLO would have cried at that! #manytissueswillbeharmedintheviewingofthismovie

bye 3po

5. The People of the Resistance

One thing I deeply appreciated about The Last Jedi is there were scenes with “background” characters such as Paige Tico’s brave sacrifice that made sideline characters feel like the feature character for their moment. 

Rogue One was an entire movie made about the “little people”, the behind-the-scenes heroes who lived, loved, fought, and died for this cause of freedom. They are the foundation our bigger heroes stand upon, without them none of this exists.

It is my great hope that in this movie that theme will be continued.

Rebellions are built on hope…

And they are built on beautiful, normal people who stepped up and said, “Count me in.”

dom and rose

Shoutout to whoever gave Rose this fantastic new hair look (I couldn’t stand her old one even though I liked her). Also, it looks like we have Billie Lourde’s character as well as Dominic Monaghan’s character shown in the background. I am anticipating awesome things!

6. Palpatine Is STILL Being A Huge Drama Queen

creepy throne

Isn’t this throne just a bit…extra?

Not really. For all his evilness, Palpatine has a work ethic even I have to respect. Plus he’s been sitting in the shadows somewhere, scheming and planning for 30+ years. A guy’s gotta have a hobby.

But what’s his angle here? I suspect he’s interested in bringing Rey and Kylo together, this line seems to point to that idea,

Your coming together is your undoing…

Did you notice that it appears both Rey and Kylo are searching for something in the shell of this ancient Death Star? What are they hoping to find?

rey and kylo death star

 

It also appears that Rey and Kylo have laid their differences aside for a moment to join forces to destroy the Emperor? 

kylo and rey

Hmm, given that this creepy little old man has the stamina of a cockroach with a rotten life insurance policy, I find his easy demise hard to believe.

This floating chair throne is giving me major Thinker vibes (Season 4 of The Flash). The dark stillness of the room and the slow floating towards Rey is somehow the creepiest thing ever and her body language says that she agrees 100%.

rey and palp

I don’t know what Palpatine’s game plan is, but he is fascinating and an extremely cunning villain, so a final takedown of this menace will be beyond satisfying.

It’s time. Your day has come, Palpatine. We will get the last cackle.

7. Poe Dameron and The Spark

chewie, poe, finn

We’re not alone, good people will fight if we lead them.

The purpose and meaning of the Rebellion/Resistance have never been put into words and ideas more clearly than in the Sequel Trilogy. Despite the huge setbacks of the Original Trilogy, the numbers have never been lower for the heroes than they were at the end of of The Last Jedi.

And yet, they flew away from Crait with their shattered band of 7.5 people with a hope burning in their hearts because they knew the truth.

poe dameron hope

Star Wars may be a fictional world, but it is based upon reality. There is a gem here that we all need to hold onto.

Friends, we aren’t alone! Good people will fight if we lead them! So many people in this world are just waiting for someone to be brave enough and step up and say, “Let’s do this.”

That potential is inside all of us, regardless of the odds. We love Star Wars because it reminds us that no shadow, no Empire, no First Order can keep us from standing up and fighting back…and winning.

Light will always win over Dark, Light has the victory. The very music of this trailer is the music generations of us have been in love with for decades, but it has never sounded more hopeful than it does in this movie.

8. Rey And Her Identity

rey they know me

Everyone keeps telling me they know me, but no one does.

I do.

Seriously, Kylo? Are we still on this?

One of my absolute favorite things about Rey is that she doesn’t stay under a Lie for long.

It’s an old and tired song, but an effective one.

I know who you are…and it totally fits my evil agenda for you to believe everything I tell you.

Palpatine did it to Anakin. Maul tried to do it to Ezra. Palpatine tried to do it to Luke. Kylo tried to do it to Rey.

Our identity is everything. If we don’t know who we are then we get nowhere. We need to know who we are, why we are here, and where we belong.

Rey’s background makes her terribly vulnerable in this area, and Kylo tried to prey upon this vulnerability in The Last Jedi.

You come from nothing, you’re nothing…

…but not to me.

He tried desperately to get Rey to place her entire sense of purpose and value in him.

kylo

And she said no.

Rey always says no.

Confronting fear, it’s the destiny of a Jedi.

Rey’s biggest fear is that she is worthless. Everyone in her entire world until BB-8 and Finn arrived cemented the Lie that she was the dirt beneath people’s feet.

But the fire, the spirit inside of her knows better. 

And rather than running from this fear, rather than hiding from the world and her life, she has embraced it and jumped in with both feet.

I am worth something. I do have a purpose. I can make a difference. I won’t give up. I don’t have to believe what anyone says. 

I know who I am…

Rey is can be a role model to all of us. She’s stunningly beautiful in her vulnerable and confident humanity.

force with you always

9. So. Much. Joy.

Can you feel it?

Can you hear it?

The heartbeat of hope. And hope and joy often hold hands.

Star Wars has always been about hope. But joy has not always been present. We’ve seen beautiful moments of celebration.

Han and Luke returning to Leia after they destroy the Death Star.

The triumphant parade in The Phantom Menace.

The bonfire and dance in the Ewok Village.

finn woo yeah falcon

But we have had some pretty horrible lows.

“You were my brother, Anakin, I loved you.”

Han’s death.

Losing Caleb Dume.

Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order.

Luke’s final kiss to his sister.

We have faced devastating grief in this story.

But the way this trailer made me feel?

Just look at the characters, look at their faces.

smiling at chewbacca

Han used to look at Chewie like that. #iamfeelingsomanythings

They are still fighting for freedom, for survival. They still might die.

lando and chewie

But they are doing it together.

fighting together

They are going to enjoy the ride for however long it lasts. They are going to celebrate the victories, no matter how small.

They are going to live to the fullest in every moment.

whoooo

They are going to find strength in each other.

leia and rey

And they are going to charge into the battle strengthened by the truth of what they believe in.

riding horses

The gift that Star Wars has been to the world is immeasurable. The joy, the connection, the hope, and the delight it has brought people is beautiful.

Star Wars is timeless because it is the story of us, told in a galaxy far far away.

I love it. I am so excited. I’ll see you all in the theaters.

leia and rey 2

I can hardly wait for December to arrive, but in the meantime, we have a nice little consolation prize in The Mandalorian that will be available on Disney + November 12th. 

Other articles you might enjoy…

Star Wars: Every Story in the Galaxy

Star Wars Resistance: 10 Reasons Every Star Wars Fan Needs To See It

Solo: A Star Wars Story

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Avengers Endgame: Steve’s Past, Or His Future

If you haven’t seen the Avengers: Endgame trailer by now, then drop everything and take a moment to inhale this heroic humanity…

Aside from Scott Lang being the delightful goober that he is (I would have died of misery if I hadn’t had his comic relief during Ant-Man and the Wasp to ease the tension of this year’s movies)…

…the best part of this trailer to me is Steve and Nat.

I was originally very disappointed with Infinity War as I felt that everything was off.

For the large variety of unique and beloved characters the Russo Brothers had at their disposal, I felt like some characters were given all the spotlight while others (like Steve and Nat) were left backstage. Add to that the ridiculous melee that took place in Wakanda that was in complete opposition to that country’s entire infrastructure, I was unimpressed.

Some time has caused me to view a few aspects of the movie more gently.

No, there is no excuse for that ridiculous melee. Sorry, Mr. Russos’, there is no excuse. The most basic military strategy available is to NOT pile all of your warriors and resources in one big mass and yell “charge” at the enemy!

infinity war melee

I don’t care if you have a Force Field or people with powers. It was a gross misuse of your resources and insulted my intelligence. You made it even worse by placing the world’s greatest soldier, Captain America, and the King of the World’s most advanced technological and military nation, T’Challa, at the head as leaders.

king and captain

That was an insult. I don’t care if you thought it looked glorious, especially Thor’s stunning entrance, it was insanity and we all knew it. Here’s another article that shares some (not all) of my sentiments regarding this film.

But, there is nothing I can do about that now. The mess has been made. People are gone (PETER PARKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). I have read a few articles since then that have given me a bit more perspective.

I now know that showcasing characters like the Guardians, Tony Stark, Dr. Strange, and Bruce Banner was a conscious choice.

They are reactive characters and when something happens, they react immediately. Characters like Steve, Nat, Falcon, etc tend to dig in and deal with the problem at hand, saving their reactions and or breakdowns for after the fact.

Therefore, as was shown by the trailer above, and confirmed by an article I read, we will actually be getting more of The First Avenger and The World’s Greatest Spy, Steve and Nat, in Avengers: Endgame.

It’s been theorized and practically confirmed that time travel will be the solution to defeating the Mad Titan and getting half of the universe back. Actors have been spotted in their Battle of New York costumes from the original Avengers movie, which leads us to the conclusion that we are going to be blasting to the past to save the future.

Natasha: This is gonna work, Steve.

Steve: I know it is, cause I don’t know what I’m gonna do if it doesn’t.

These dramatic and beautiful lines come right on the heels of a quick scene where we are shown Steve looking at his old compass from the 1940s, the one containing a cutout picture of Peggy Carter, his first love.

Mixing this highly emotional moment with the idea of time travel obviously leads many fans to this question: after he saves the world (again) will Steve choose to return back to his original time and be with his first love for a lifetime? Will we actually get to have that dance?

My answer?

No.

And…yes.

the nomad

First, on a practical note, both Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter have been major power players, forces of good in world history. To misplace them, to change their destinies would be to rearrange the Marvel Universe as we know it.

Peggy Carter’s story was continued in the brilliant series Agent Carter that was ended far too soon. Oh, yeah, Dear Disney, if you are looking for another pet show that needs a renewal on your streaming service, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN THE QUEEN OF MARVEL HERSELF! It’s ridiculous that this show hasn’t been renewed already.

Peggy Carter

In the short 2 seasons that the show was allowed, we saw just what a huge impact Agent Margaret (Peggy) Carter was going to have on the world. She runs circles around literally everyone else. She’s faster, stronger, smarter, and has the best lipstick in the business.

Peggy would go on to fight Hydra as well as forces from other worlds her entire life. She created SHIELD. She was vital to keeping the world as stable and safe as it was by the time Steve awoke from his chilly beauty sleep. In Agents of Shield, Season 2 during Hydra’s big “coming out party” (contemporary to The Winter Soldier) it was revealed by high-level Hydra baddies that the one reason they hadn’t revealed themselves sooner is that they had to wait for Peggy Carter to retire.

They knew she’d kick their face in. So let that sink in, folks. Peggy Carter singlehandedly kept Hydra at bay for 70 bloomin’ years.

It is obvious that Steve Rogers will forever be a part of Peggy’s heart. Even as we watch her learn to let him go and move on with someone equally special and wonderful, we know that Steve lives on in her legacy.

The bond between Steve and Peggy is still deeply obvious in that beautiful and gut-wrenching scene in The Winter Soldier. Steve’s grief at Peggy’s funeral speaks of the still deep connection that is never going to end. We know how special these two were to each other, and how special they remain to us.

Sad Steve

I don’t need to tell you all how different the world would be if Steve stayed in the past. We’ve seen that play out before our eyes.

My point is this…it just doesn’t work to change the timeline. I am an avid Flash fan, believe me, peeps, I know what I am talking about.

steves smile

Point 2, Steve Rogers is not the same man he was in the 1940s.

The story of Steve Rogers is one of triumph and tragedy. The thought of being ripped away from your entire world and everyone you hold dear is horrifying, to some, a fate worse than death.

But of all things, we know that Steve Rogers is not a quitter.

i can do this all day

So he didn’t quit. He jumped back into the fight and kept going.

Steve has had a busy arc. He started out as the knight-with-shining-shield of his day, Captain America: The First Avenger. Next, he was a man out of time who tried really hard, Avengers. Steve integrated himself with the world following that event, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He made some friends and kept fighting the good fight. But something wasn’t sitting right. He was told it was his problem, he needed to get with the program. Good thing Captain America is actually terrible at following bad orders because he ended up being right.

After that Steve wasn’t going to apologize for what he believed to be right. He also showcases a rather frightening belief that fighting is kind of his destiny. Avengers: Age of Ultron. There is no world for him outside of this never-ending battle. No picket fence, no wife, no mini Steves running around. It’s a natural place for his character to go. He’s tired.

Next up, Captain America: Civil War. Steve chooses what he feels in his gut to be right, and he chooses the person who needs him most over being the status quo Captain America. He drops the shield and goes to discover who he is outside of Captain America.

Tony Stark to Peter Parker : If you’re nothing without the suit then you shouldn’t have it.

The above statement is a good one for any hero. Having seen Steve from his slim beginnings, clearly, we all knew that Steve Rogers is more than just a suit. But I think Steve needed to remind himself of that.

Avengers: Infinity War. We didn’t get much of Steve, but we saw was quite clear. He is not apologizing anymore. He’s going to take care of this world whether we like it or not. #hot And he’s still a really, really nice guy. He looks a bit tired, and yet, there is burning energy that wasn’t there before. Perhaps he hasn’t accepted the fact that his future is decided yet? It’s like he’s freshly alive, freshly awake…

Future.

Steve is not the same man he was in the 1940s. I believe he loved Peggy Carter with all of his being, but that is a past dream. It just a beautiful memory now. He still has the same noble heart, but he’s tread different soil. He’s got family here. He’s made a mark on the world, and he may actually want to stick around to appreciate it.

cap endgame

I do think we may finally get our dance scene. It has been teased before and we have walked away disappointed. Despite the fact that Steve needs to move on, it would be appropriate to have one dance with his best girl. I believe Nat (whether she is just a friend, or more) would fully approve. Heck, she’d help him fix his tie and take photos for him on the dance floor!

nat and steve endgame

Life is not about trying to recreate every perfect and beautiful moment from the past. Our good memories are to be treasured, but life is about living in the here and now. It’s making the most of this moment that you are currently living.

If whatever “this” is actually works, and Steve makes it out (there are substantial rumors that he may not actually be leaving for good), Steve Rogers has a future here. 

Characters have to keep moving forward or they become stale. Steve is moving forward, and if he has a future in this world, it’s going to be here and now with either Sharon or Nat (please be Nat, PLEASE BE NAT).

Welcome home, Captain Rogers.

steven and nat endgame