Real Women: Jyn Erso (Rogue One)

I imagine most of you have seen Rogue One by now. If not, do not read further as there will be spoilers included. And if you have, then welcome, Fellow Star Wars Fan. We are forever changed after seeing that film.

There is so much to say on the subject of Rogue One, I have several articles waiting in the wings, but for now, I would like to focus on the titular character of the movie:

Jyn Erso.

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) joined the annals of Star Wars history as yet another deserving Star Wars leading lady. She owned her role beautifully and brought a level of human authenticity to the Star Wars world that was unlike anything I have yet seen. Not to say that the other Star Wars leading ladies have failed, quite the contrary, but their stories and roles are drastically different from Jyn’s.

Rogue One was such a raw and personal movie that it was only going to succeed if it’s characters were equally raw and personal. Jyn had a brief, but fiercely important role to play in the timeline of Star Wars. And because she played that role so well, she will never be forgotten.

I want to share a few specific things I found deeply attractive about this character, and why I am adding her to my list of real women in cinema.

1. She was scared.

Based upon earlier trailers for Rogue One, I was not at all looking forward to Jyn’s character. To me, she came across as untouchable and sarcastic. In fact, before the re-shoots, I have a feeling that may be closer to Jyn’s original portrayal. But more on that another day.

When the final trailer came out I was delighted to see that she actually appeared to be far more human than I had first believed.

My secondary impression was correct. We first meet Jyn as an innocent child, yet another victim of the Empire’s cruelty that robs her of both her mother and father. She’s a sweet little girl with braids and a stuffed doll that she drops when fleeing the Storm troopers.

little-jyn

As a young woman, you can still see that haunted and frightened look of a child in her huge eyes. She doesn’t walk around with a chip on her shoulder and an exaggerated swagger (she’s no Solo after all). Instead she goes through life with her head down and keeps running. Even when she is “rescued” by the rebels she attempts to flee. Her fighting reactions are that of a cornered animal rather than a fierce warrior.

frightened-jyn

To me, this is far more accurate than if they had made Jyn some fierce and untouchable warrior. She has quite obviously gone through terrifying things, and she just wants to feel safe. She just wants her daddy back. Is there anything more human than that?

2. She was compassionate

One of my absolute favorite moments in this entire movie was when Jyn saves the little girl during the raid in Jedha. She looked at that child and saw herself, and despite the fact that she has a huge survivor’s instinct, her instinct to protect that baby was stronger. Cassian tries to call her back, but she ignores him and runs into the crossfire. She scoops up the terrified little lady and returns her safely to her mama.  As much as that moment frustrated Cassian, he was also deeply attracted to it. Compassion is a rare quality, but it’s also one of the most alluring.

Jyn’s compassion extended further when she learned the truth about the Death Star and was given the information about how to destroy it. Her earlier instinct to get in, get out, and survive is once more overridden by her desire to protect others. Jyn’s heart for others is even bigger than her beautiful eyes. These moments were a beautiful illumination of her true heart, and made her an unforgettable character.

3. She was hopeful

Hope, like compassion, is a rare quality. Jyn has a lot of reasons to stop hoping. She has been haunted and hunted by the Empire since childhood. They have taken everything from her and millions of others in the galaxy. She could just throw her hands up in despair, but instead, she chooses to grab onto hope and charge into battle with it.

Cassian was raised his entire life in this Rebellion. He’s used to sleepless nights, long odds, and big regrets. He doesn’t give up, and yet, even he seems to be awakened in a new way by Jyn’s hope and determination. Jyn’s sweet little quotation during the Rebel council,

“Rebellions are built on hope,”

was actually his original statement. And yet, Cassian’s reaction to her hopeful initiative is like someone coming alive again. It’s as if he is hearing that concept in a completely new, and reachable way. He is going into battle with a fresh countenance and renewed sense of purpose that only Jyn was able to awaken.

jyns-rallying-hope

Hopeful people heal and rally those around them. Hope is like an infectious disease, it cannot help but spread. Jyn’s hope was beautiful and rejuvenating. She rallied an entire organization, a group of incredible and effective individuals around her because of her hope and determination. I have a hard time believing a jaded and sarcastic character would have been nearly as effective.

4. She was beautiful and ladylike

Despite the fact that Jyn was in one, practical outfit, went through multiple battles, killed storm troopers, climbed towers, and did a million other “dirty” things, she was such a lady. Being termed a lady has nothing to do with keeping your clothes clean or staying out of harm’s way, it is an overall bearing and way of carrying yourself in any situation.

Jyn felt so feminine to me. She wasn’t seductive once, she didn’t try to gain attention for herself, she didn’t constantly have to advertise how smart and capable she was. And yet, by the end of the movie during that dreadful and wonderful beach scene, you could see in Cassian’s eyes how much he loved her.

She was not unnecessarily crass and she wasn’t hardened and bitter. She was strong and tender.

Jyn was so, so beautiful. Her beautiful heart and wonderful character came out and clothed her as brilliantly as if she had been a member of Princess Leia’s court. Her daddy’s sweet nick-name Stardust was perfect for this lovely girl, for she sparkled and cast light like a beautiful star.

jyns-face

*****

I loved the character work done with many of the characters in this beautiful and heartbreaking film, and Jyn was one of the finest. Gareth Edwards and Felicity Jones can be proud of what they accomplished with her, she was a wonderful character to grace the screen and I hope we have the privilege of seeing many more women like her in the future.

As I said above, I have more Rogue One articles waiting in the wings. I would love to hear from you all as well. What did you love about the movie? Did you love Jyn Erso as much as I did? What is one thing you thought they incredibly well?

Like Star Wars? Here are a few more articles you might find interesting.

5 Reasons Why Finn Is Still Going to Be a Jedi

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

Why Ezra Bridger Will Ultimately Choose the Light Side

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Why Ezra Bridger Will Ultimately Choose the Light Side

Season 3 of Rebels is only 2 days away!

Season 2 wrapped up with a show-stopper finale that left us with so many questions and very few answers.

Is Kanan blind for life?

Is Ahsoka truly alive after her duel with Darth Vader and will we ever see her again?

But I think the biggest question on everyone’s mind is….

….will Ezra turn to the Dark Side?

Our last shot in the Season 2 finale was of Ezra Bridger seated alone in his room, full of anger and sorrow. As he sat there, the Sith holocron he collected at the Sith temple opened in his hand, a sign that he had tapped into the Dark Side of the Force. And, for just a moment, his eyes had glowed orange.

Ezra has been a volatile member of the Force wielders since the beginning. His biggest moments and steps forward often come piggybacked on intense emotions. Ezra himself is a person who feels things very deeply. When he loves, he overcomes any obstacle to fight for his loved ones. And when he is angry,  he becomes an almost unstoppable force. Ezra is also fiercely protective, he hates seeing the innocent suffer and he wants to protect all those he loves from harm.

Darth Maul definitely manipulated Ezra’s fierce emotions during their shared time in the Sith Temple. Maul senses in Ezra a powerful Force user, one that Maul would like to use for his own agenda. Ezra showed some pretty concerning signs by tapping into his anger, sorrow, and hate to accomplish things while he was in the temple. There is no doubt that he was beginning to toy around with the Dark Side.

Still, here is my biggest question.

Is all of that enough to truly turn Ezra to the Dark Side?

And to that, I would say….

….no, it isn’t.

Here’s why.

1. Ezra’s No Anakin Skywalker

Anakin Skywalker is everyone’s go-to guy when it comes to an example of someone turning to the Dark Side. Well, of course he is! He is actually the only main hero-turned-villain that we have ever experienced. However, Anakin’s story has led to some over-generalized statements and black and white beliefs about how you turn to the Dark Side that simply don’t add up with regular human, or alien nature.

Yoda anger GIF - Yoda anger hate GIFs

This is probably the most over-used and wrongly applied statement in Star Wars history. In this scene, Yoda was speaking about what he sensed in young Anakin Skywalker, a specific person. He sensed much fear. Yoda was concerned about where Anakin’s unstable soul might lead as he grew in the Force. There is a downhill pattern created by continual choices made out of fear, anger, and hate. And the consequences of those poor choices always leads to suffering. I don’t deny any of that, what I take issue with is applying the one situation and character to every new character who hyperspeeds onto our screen.

We all know what happened to Anakin Skywalker. He was volatile and reckless, he gave into fear, hate, thirsted greedily for control, and he hurt the ones he “loved”. Anakin came up against the hardships of life and he chose the Dark Side to fix them instead of clinging to the Light.

People pull the above quote and Anakin’s story out of the hat every time a good Force-wielding character shows any hint of anger or poor decision making. But that’s not very realistic, nor does it fit into this larger story and huge cast of characters we have been introduced to. The only character we have thus far seen this apply to would be Anakin himself.

Despite the fact that Star Wars is a galaxy far, far away, a place full of strange worlds and species, it is still a story that reflects our reality. Every great story has to reflect our reality in order to make sense in our minds, if it doesn’t, we reject it because we know that things don’t add up. I know for a fact that I don’t become a serial killer every time I get angry and react; so why is it assumed that will happen to any Force-wielding hero who gets angry and reacts in the Star Wars world?

People in reality feel things. We feel sad, we get angry, we face fear. We loved people, we lose people. Hardships and experiences change us. We go through times of triumph, and times of trial. Some of us wander but are eventually brought home to the Light again. Some of us give into the Dark Side and never come home.

We make good choices, we make poor choices. We face the consequences for both. We are regularly faced with a question of, “Who am I and how am I going to live my life?”

This is our reality, and since Star Wars must reflect our reality, that means it is also Ezra Bridger’s reality. And if the makers of Rebels understand that as well as I hope they do, then they know Ezra Bridger is no Anakin Skywalker, he is his own person.

Ezra Bridger is on a journey. He has had people come and go in his life. He has loved and he has lost. He has been frightened, angry, devastated, happy, and he knows what it means to love and be loved. Ezra is us, a person trying to navigate life in a scary world, where the Light and the Dark sides are both pulling at him.

Anakin Skywalker lived his story and made his choices, for better and certainly for worse. He chose wrong for the majority of his life. But his pattern doesn’t instantly become every other character’s. Let Anakin Skywalker be, Ezra Bridger is no Darth Vader.

2. Anakin Was Easily Seduced Because He Was Alone, Ezra Is Not Alone

“I know you have to go, but that doesn’t mean you have to go alone.” (Kanan)

“We support you. We’re family.” (Hera, Season 2, Ep 11)

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, Rebels has a family structure. Our characters are not isolated and alone, they are not left vulnerable. Those who are alone are more susceptible to deception.

Palpantine preyed upon Anakin’s sense of fear, lack of control, and isolation. He made Anakin feel safe and in control, two things he had always craved. Obi-Wan Kenobi was Anakin’s strongest support, but he was absent on the day that Anakin really needed backup the most. I believe had Obi-Wan been there the day that Palpantine turned the tables, Anakin wouldn’t have given into the Dark Side.

But instead, Anakin was alone. He was frightened, he was angry, and he craved power. And he was seduced.

Ezra spent several years of his life alone on the streets of Lothal. He shares the characteristics of Anakin in that he has felt isolated. However, Ezra is now a part of a family who will never let him go. They are his greatest strength and his greatest allies. When one member of the family falls down, the others crowd in to carry that person through.

ezras-support

Ezra may wander, he may struggle, but he will never be lost. His family will not lose him. The power of the Dark Side pales in comparison to the power of their family bond.

3. There is No Room For Family In the Dark Side

Family is everything to Ezra. It matters the most to him. The Dark Side is no place for family, it has no room for love, compassion, and unity. Even if Ezra is drawn in somewhat by the illusion that he can have greater power by using the Dark Side, he will eventually be repelled by the fact that the Dark Side comes in conflict with the thing that matters to the most to him….his family.

rebels

“I already lost my parents, I’m not about to lose my new family.” Ezra (Season 1, Ep 13)

4. Ezra’s Legacy IS One of Hope

From childhood on, Ezra has been surrounded by hopeful and good people who are willing to stand up for what they believe it. It began with his parents, who would broadcast messages of hope and resistance to the desperate people on Lothal.

the-bridgers

Ezra was bitter and angry about his parents’ disappearance for a long time, but truly, deep down, he was just heartbroken. He loved his parents so much, he loved their courage and their hope. The Bridgers planted a seed in Ezra’s heart that took root and the finally bloomed when he met the crew of The Ghost.

“What’s wrong with us?” Ezra 

“We have hope; hope that things can get better. And they will.” Hera (Season 1, Ep 10_

Even after learning about the death of his parents, Ezra’s hope shone out like a lightsaber. He no longer carries their memory with regret and sorrow, he now sees the beautiful legacy that they have left him. It is a legacy of hope.

There is no room in the Dark Side for hope, it chokes the life out of anything beautiful and hopeful. Hope is who Ezra Bridger is, who he was made to be. From the moment he was born he has been surrounded by people of hope.

Ezra may have forgotten that part of who he is for a short time. I think at one time or another we all forget who we are when the pain and anger gets strong. But, those who are lost are often brought home again, especially when they are surrounded with the people they love.

Ezra has a wonderful family who will not let him forget who he is. Ezra’s family is everything to him. He will wander, but he will come home again.

rebels-ss2-finale

Ezra is going through a difficult time right now, no doubt about it. His soul is weary and his heart is torn. He has made some poor choices and some mistakes.

However, he still carries a huge heart of compassion, a sense of right and wrong, and a deep desire to do good. Ezra has grown into a very self-sacrificing person during his time with the Rebels. None of these characteristics fit into the Dark Side, they are the complete opposites.

Ezra Bridger is a hero. Like all heroes he will struggle, he will be tempted, and he will make wrong choices. He wouldn’t be a realistic hero if he didn’t experience those things.

But he also wouldn’t remain a hero, if the Light didn’t ultimately prevail.

ezra-bridger-hero

 

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

Both Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars The Clone Wars have been a wonderful addition to the Star Wars canon. Making serial stories for the small screen has enabled Star Wars storytellers and fans to dig into some of the meaty details and behind-the-scenes plots that just cannot fit into a 2-and-a-half hour movie time.

The Clone Wars took on the great task of filling in the very rich and colorful background that we were given only a taste of in the Prequel films. The world that Anakin experienced as a boy and Jedi was far richer than was the world of Luke Skywalker. The movies only had time to skim the surface of all of this material, but in The Clone Wars we were given a chance to experience this vast world on a episode by episode basis.

swtcw

We learned about the clones, senators and rulers, the underworld of Corusant, smugglers and bounty hunters, many different Jedi, and multiple unique races and cultures. Clone Wars gave so much more meaning to the Prequels by filling in  the background and giving us all of the individual stories that fed into the bigger story.

Star Wars Rebels is another great gift to the Star Wars universe, but it is a gift uniquely its own. Here are 6 ways that Rebels is different from The Clone Wars.

1. Rebels Keeps it Simple and Intimate

The Clone Wars was layered and complex. Even though we had a primary group of characters (Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka, Padme, Captain Rex), we were introduced to literally hundreds of new characters and story lines, and we only got a fraction of the available stories. The Clone Wars was a very busy series.

Rebels by contrast, is very simple and intimate. We have 6 main characters (Hera, Kanan, Zeb, Sabine, Ezra, Chopper) that we stay with all the time. Even our cast of background characters (Ahsoka, Kallus, Rex, Commander Sato) is kept to the minimum. This enables us to just focus on our Rebels, day in and day out. We see everything through their eyes and perspective.

rebels

The Empire destroyed the connections and layers of the Republic. It destroyed trade, government structures, and long-living groups like the Jedi. Even as it encompassed most of the galaxy, the Empire managed to disconnect the peoples in the galaxy more than ever before. Therefore, it makes sense that we are going to experience fewer people at a time, fewer people are having shared experiences that they can communicate about.

This simplicity also sets the stage for our Rebels to begin fighting to join with other rebel forces. The Empire knows it cannot face a united front, so it fights tooth and nail to keep people apart through military and propaganda. In Rebels we get a front-row seat to the beginning of the unifying of the Rebellion. It starts small, but we know it will become something more.

2. Animation

The animation of The Clone Wars was very angular and structured. There were far more harsh angles and lines. This kept up with the fast pace of that series where a large-scale war was constantly raging.

clone-wars-animation

Rebels by contrast has very soft, rounded animation. It is richly colorful with layers and tones to both the settings and the characters themselves. This animation is very approachable and puts you at your ease with the more focused pace of the series.

rebels-animation

Both series have used the beautiful designs created by the talented Ralph McQuarrie, but the animators also managed to give each series its own unique look, thus separating them in our minds.

3. Rebels Has a Family Structure

This is one of my absolute favorite aspects of Rebels, and it goes along with the smaller cast and more intimate setting.

While The Clone Wars showed us people in all occupations and social levels, we never experienced a “family”. Everything was formality and rules. Sure, we knew that Obi-Wan and Anakin loved each other as brothers. Anakin and Padme carried their love as husband a wife secretly. And we especially know how much Anakin loved and cared for Ahsoka as a mentor and older brother. But none of these things could ever be acknowledged because of stifling rules and protocols that ended up contributing to the downfall of the Jedi and the Republic.

A family unit and affection is the strongest bond known to anyone. It’s stronger than any government, organization, or group. That is part of why our Rebels are so strong and effective, because they are a family first.

The writers have recognized this fact and how much we love it about their show, as a nod to it they even put in beautiful lines and scenes that accent the “family” side of Rebels.

Kanan and Hera love each other deeply. They have this subtle current of love that is built on shared strength and experiences. They function as husband and wife or mom and dad. This gives the rest of the crew something to depend on and take comfort in.

kanan-and-hera

“Kanan’s family, and we do anything for family.” Hera (Season 1, Ep 15)

“Alright kids, make mom and dad proud.” Hera (Season 2, Ep 1)

“He takes after Hera sometimes.” Kanan (referencing Ezra, Season 2, Ep 9)

“Sabine, you’re sounding more like a Jedi than a Mandalorian.” (Hera)

“Well, I guess I’ve just been raised right.” (Sabine, Season 2, Ep 13)

Hera has a tenderness for those on her crew that is very motherly. She makes Sabine feel acknowledged and understood. Ezra finds deep comfort and sympathy in his and Hera’s shared hope. Zeb and Chopper would be lost without Hera’s gentle compassion and strong leadership.

hera-and-sabine

Kanan’s attitude towards the crew of The Ghost is one of protection and leadership. He prioritizes their well-being first and values each of their skills. He has taken Ezra under his wing with a very fatherly hand and Ezra soaks it up like a sponge.

protective-kanan

Sabine, Ezra, Zeb, and Chopper fall into place under Kanan and Hera’s strong leadership. They all love each other and fight fiercely together. They are able to be brave because they know their family has their back. Each of them knows what they have lost, and they deeply value what they have gained….a new family. This love drives each of them to be better.

“I already lost my parents, I’m not about to lose my new family.” Ezra (Season 1, Ep 13)

4. Rebels is in a Harsher, more Primitive Setting

The glamor of The Clone Wars seems to be just a distant memory, just like the Republic is.

clone-wars-glamor-2

All that once was has fallen into ruins and is now under the dark shadow of The Empire. We were introduced to some very poor and desperate corners of the galaxy in The Clone Wars, but since the Empire came into being more systems have fallen into poverty and despair.

tarkintown

This sets the stage beautifully for the ragged Rebellion that will welcome Luke Skywalker in just a few years.

5. Tying Together the Republic, and the New Hope

The Clone Wars filled in the missing years between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the SithRebels fills in the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New HopeIt sets the stage for not only A New Hope, but also the upcoming story of Rogue 1 where we will get more of the behind-the-scenes story.

Rebels has done its job beautifully in taking the last remnants of the Republic and Clone Wars, and tying that in with the new generation. We have gotten to see beloved characters from the Prequels and Clone Wars series such as Obi-Wan (via hologram, but perhaps more one day), Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, Hondo, Sentaor Bail Organa, and Tarkin.

old-and-new-clw-rebels

As we have revisited these old characters and few of their stories, we have also been seamlessly introduced to the new generation of characters. Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, and more to come in Season 3.

princess-leia

Rebels has been a place where the past is meeting the future.

6. Rebels Introduces a New Generation of Jedi, One That is Much Stronger

The old Jedi Order has been wiped out. Kanan Jarrus is one of the few remaining Jedi, and he has now taken on Ezra Bridger as a padawan. As far as they know, they are the only ones in the entire galaxy. Kanan, whose training was cut short by Order 66, never officially reached “Jedi Knight” status. He was forced into hiding as a teenager, and since then has developed his own methods of survival and fighting.

Kanan has a much more loose and raw way of fighting than the Jedi of old. He can wield his fists and a blaster as well as he does a lightsaber or the Force. He doesn’t just rely on Jedi knowledge, but also his own wits and tricks of the trade to accomplish his goals. He’s scrappy and agile. And let’s be honest, he’s really, really good at it.

Kanan’s version of being a “Jedi” is also far more familiar and less formal than the Jedi of old. He doesn’t hold Ezra and those around him at arms length and keep all emotion at bay. Kanan engages his feelings for those he cares about, and he isn’t hindered by those emotions, he is empowered by them. This is so much more natural than the emotional sterility that the Jedi of old attempted to practice.

Kanan is the perfect mentor and father figure to Ezra, who is also scrappy and skilled. Ezra is very down to earth, he feels things very deeply, and he has skills outside of just being a Jedi. These two are a master/padawan match made for each other. Ezra loves his master like a father. He trusts Kanan, he takes comfort in Kanan.

My favorite scenes involving these two is when Ezra experiences something so horrible or sad that he starts to weep. Kanan doesn’t tell him to be quiet or get control, he holds Ezra in his arms and comforts him. This is natural, the Jedi of old were not.

ezra-and-kanan

Kanan and Ezra open the doors to introduce the new breed of Jedi, a breed that isn’t steeped in stale tradition and zero emotion. This new kind of Jedi is more compatible with the galaxy as it is and far more effective than the aloof old Jedi. Kanan, Ezra, Luke Skywalker, Rey, Finn, and hopefully more in the future are all members of this “new” order.

Rebels has been a delight for Star Wars fans old and new. A major shout-out and thank-you to the makers (we love you Dave Filoni) and actors behind this amazing series. You have given us a new Star Wars family to fall in love with and cheer on.

*****

Star Wars Rebels Season 3 premieres Saturday, September 24th on Disney XD! And I for one, cannot wait to return to a galaxy, far, far away. Keep fighting Rebels!

Star Trek: Beyond- Parental Review

The third installment in the incredibly popular reboot, Star Trek: Beyond was everything I could have hoped for and more.

This movie was the cleanest movie yet and a heck of a lot of fun. A great story paired with great characters, humor, and the clever cunning of the Enterprise crew which has been a delight in every film.

This movie was unique in that the writers switched up character pairings into new sets that we haven’t seen before. This enabled us to get a fresh view of characters in a way that was fantastic. Bones and Spock, people, those scenes were absolute gold.

While I don’t appreciate and endorse every personal choice made by Kirk’s character, I do love  him. My favorite thing about Kirk is how intensely he loves his crew and how he will do anything for them. He has grown a lot in his sense of maturity, there is a heavier gravity to his character in this film than the previous two. But never fear, the traces of the rascal are still there. He’s unorthodox in his methods, and that’s why he’s the best captain Starfleet has.

Spock was delightful in this film. His emotional progression has been steady and engaging for all three movies. I liked him in the first film and I have not stopped. His awkward way of putting things is one of my favorite aspects of these movies. His facial expressions have only gotten better each movie. I do hope he and Uhara eventually tie the knot in this series, I have enjoyed the deep love and maturity of their interaction.

Uhara was the same beautiful, classy, and intelligent woman as always. She is one of the best female characters I have seen on screen. My favorite thing about her is that she is not just her body, she is so beautiful, but that is merely the lovely frame holding her heart, soul, and spirit. I plan to write more on her in the future.

Bones. Oh my word! Bones has always been hilarious with his poor-timed pessimistic lines, but this movie gave him more of a spotlight. It was awesome. He was perfect. I won’t say any more for fear of spoilers, but seriously, Bones was the MVP of this film.

Chekov. Oh Chekov, seeing him was bittersweet given the recent death of the actor, Anton Yelchin. I was happy to see that he did have a more prominent role in this film and got a lot of screen time beside Captain Kirk. No one could know that his death would happen when making this film, but this movie couldn’t have been made in a better way to preserve his memory.

Scotty. Simon Pegg co-wrote this film and you can tell. It has a distinctive flavor that is unique from the previous two, while also being cohesive. Scotty was very sweet and we go to see a new side of his character in his interaction with new alien girl, Jaylah.

Sulu was on top of things as usual. He has guts and focus that make him perfect for his role. He has never been my favorite, but he is a strong asset to the team.

Jayla. I had rather expected her to be a kick-rear, emotionally sterile character that is good in a fight, but not really enjoyable. She was actually much more approachable than I had anticipated. Her character was young and vulnerable, and actually quite funny. I hope that she will be in the next film.

This entire cast is made up of strong men and women characters, and even better, a stronger team who are all pulling for each other. No sacrifice is too much. That relational aspect has been incredible in every one of these new Star Trek films, and it was the thing that held them together during the chaotic events of this movie. The characters of these films have shown both their strengths and their moments of vulnerability. They are well-rounded and engaging.

One of my favorite things in this series, the aspect that really drew me in first, is the colorful visuals. They are stunning! To often space looks boring and black. Sure, planets are colorful, but often space travel seems dull and boring. Star Trek has always been a visual feast that I have enjoyed.

Now, here are the nitty-gritty details to help you decided if this film is suitable for your family.

Sex/Nudity- During Kirk’s Captain’s log entry, he mentions the potential situations arising from having a crew made up of both sexes, leading to a small montage:

You see crew members give each other meaningful looks.

One couple is kissing and walk into a room where they shut the door behind them.

A door opens and a man is shoved out, shirtless. And fully-clothed but indignant alien girl throws his shirt at him in a huff. This montage is very brief.

Kirk is shirtless when washing his face.

A camera angle zooms in on Zulu’s left hand at one point, revealing a wedding ring and a photo of a little girl. During a stop-off at a space station, Zulu goes running up to a man and little girl, his partner and their daughter. They embrace and walk off together with the child. No kisses are exchanged.

Violence/Gore- There is a lot of blasting, explosions, people are sucked out into space, some punching, etc.

The villain’s minions blast people with a green blaster that seems to age and suck the life out of them, leaving them gray and lifeless. You only see a closeup of one person after they have been shot. A main character is threatened with a similar weapon and the edges of his face begin to gray, but he is not killed and is fine.

Two people are hung upside down in a machine that sucks the very life out of them. They scream in torment. The sounds are the most disturbing part.

A  minor character is disintegrated. Later on another character is disintegrated, but it is not horrifying.

Kirk and the villain exchanged blows that leave them bloodied.

A character has a shard of metal stuck in his torso after a bad landing. Another character rips it out and quickly cauterizes the wound while the injured character yells. It’s not graphic.

Language/Profanity- The cleanest one yet. I only heard a few words and only one or two times per word.

kicka**

b*s*a*d

h***

d***

oh my g*d

Two uses of the word horses***. Used for comic relief during a moment when one character is in a lot of pain.

Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking- An alcoholic toast between friends celebrating a birthday, and then later champagne at a party. Everyone drinks responsibly and there are no drunken scenes.

Frightening Scenes- A ship is attacked violently and taken down, people are killed, at least 3 violently, the villains are aggressive and show no remorse, a city is attacked and people are screaming.

Heroes/Role Models- There are great many heroes in this film. As I have said before, the love and teamwork displayed by the crew of the Enterprise is inspiring and beautiful. The characters are willing to make sacrifices to protect those that they love. Each person knows their role and does it well so that the whole team can function. They are brave in the face of long odds, and they are willing to protect the innocent. No one is ever left behind. They are creative and resourceful.

Talking Points

  • Why is being on a team so important?
  • How can we be good team members?
  • Can we be brave for those we love, even if it means we might get hurt?
  • How do we make sure no one is left behind?
  • Are you willing to make sacrifices for those you love?
  • Are you willing to protect those who cannot protect themselves?
  • Where do we find our identity?
  • How can we persevere and find the hope to keep moving forward?
  • What do we do with fear?

I enjoyed this film thoroughly and I look forward to the next one. Good news, Chris Hemsworth has been confirmed to be in it. To what extent, we don’t know yet, but I cannot wait.

I hope this movie enables you to go where you have not gone before and enjoy a fantastic story! Live long and prosper!

*****

Check out my other movie reviews here!

Captain America: Civil War – Parental Review

Finding Dory – Parental Review

Ghostbusters- Parental Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons Why Finn Is Still Going to Be a Jedi

When the trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, it seemed that Finn was going to be our primary new Jedi figure. After all, he was the one wielding the light saber and going toe-to-toe with Kylo Ren, our Dark Side baddie. While I think that we all guessed Rey was going to be Force-sensitive via her genetic line, we really didn’t know how involved she was going to be with the battle between the Light and Dark side.

I was surprised and delighted when Rey stepped into the Light as a very strong, very Force sensitive character. She handled the role with grace and humility, so I didn’t resent her at all. I think the filmmakers did a beautiful job of creating a balance in all of their main characters, giving them equal parts of strength and vulnerability. Finn and Rey in particular took turns looking out for each other.

Still, after the first viewing, I felt a bit of disappointment that Finn didn’t end the film with a clear direction as a Jedi. I really enjoyed watching him wield the lightsaber, even though I also totally ate up Rey kicking Kylo Ren’s rear.

However, after reading a theory or two, and watching the movie several more times (I do want to give credit to some of these sources for pointing this out to me,  I am borrowing some of their ideas along with my own), I have come to the conclusion that Finn along with Rey will become a Jedi character. He is Force-sensitive, but perhaps in a less obvious way than Rey in this film.

Here are five reasons why, started with the weakest up to the strongest.

1. His Strong Sense of Justice and Compassion

Finn good Stormtrooper

During his first battle, Finn never fired a single blast. He knew that what he and his fellow Stormtroopers were ordered to do was wrong. He felt horror and sadness at the death of his fellow soldier. When ordered to murder the villagers, Finn couldn’t fire because he instinctively knew that what was happening was wrong.

Later, in the small Jakku outpost, Finn saw two creeps hassling a young woman. He didn’t hesitate to jump up and try to interfere. Granted, he soon saw that Rey could handle herself, but his heart was in the right place. He assigned himself the job of watching Rey’s back even before he knew her name.

The Jedi were supposed to be protectors and peacekeepers in the galaxy. It was instinctive for them to protect life and especially those who were preyed upon by evil. Finn struggles a bit with this, his desire to protect Rey is warring with his own fearful instinct to get away from the First Order.

But by the end of the movie he is no longer waffling, instead he runs straight into the doors of Starkiller base to rescue his friend. His love for Rey pushes Finn to embrace what is already inside of him, the heart of a hero and a warrior.

2. He Broke Through An Entire Life of Brainwashing

Stormtrooper Finn

He has been raised by the First Order from babyhood. He never knew his parents. All he has known and been taught is the First Order. Practically speaking, the idea that someone would break out of 20 years of brainwashing in just a few hours is pretty far out there, even for a galaxy far, far away.

Still, Finn did it, and it’s quite obvious there is no going back for him. He is clearly thinking for himself and even harbors bitterness and hatred towards the First Order. I think the only logical explanation for any of this is that Finn must be Force-sensitive. No other Stormtroopers reacted the way he did, even though they went through the same motions.

3. Wielding the Lightsaber

Not just anyone can pick up a lightsaber and do well with it. True, Finn has been given excellent military training, something they did a great job showcasing. But he has never handled a lightsaber before, and twice in this movie he wields one with decent amount of skill for a beginner.

He even managed to go toe-to-toe with Kylo Ren for a bit there in that last duel scene. Granted, his anger was up over what Kylo just did to Rey (a little righteous anger never hurt anyone in a lightsaber fight, ask Luke and Obi-Wan), but he holds his own pretty well for a rookie. Kylo Ren is supposed to be this incredible warrior who wiped out the new generation of Jedi, and yet, he gets his rear handed to him by an ex-Stormtrooper and a sweet girl from Jakku.

4. Kylo Ren Sensed Finn Through the Force

Kylo Ren Dark Side baddie

Kylo Ren would be proud to know that he is like Grandpa Vader in the fact that when he senses something via the Force, we all know it. Both villains pause and raise their helmeted heads slightly when feeling something.

Right before departing Jakku, Kylo Ren ordered the massacre of the remaining villagers. The other Stormtroopers opened fire without question. Finn stood staring in horror. He was still standing there when Kylo Ren walked by to head back to his ship. If you notice, Kylo pauses mid-step, looks up slightly, and then turns to actually stare at Finn, who stares back. Kylo felt Finn before he saw him.

Later on, right after Kylo has killed Han Solo, Rey screams in agony. Kylo looks up at the platform where Rey and Finn are standing, but he isn’t looking at Rey, he’s glaring at Finn. The camera even zooms in on Finn’s face. There are very few coincidences in the Star Wars Universe, and you should NEVER mistake a unique camera shot for a random choice. Something is being alluded to there.

5. Finn Felt/Heard the Death of the Republic When No One Else Did

This is by far the biggest tell-tale clue that Finn is Jedi material. When the beams of destruction were sent out from Starkiller Base towards the Republic Planets, Finn was preparing to board a ship with smugglers headed for the Outer Rim. No one around him had noticed the bright red beams in the sky, he himself hadn’t seen them yet.

But he pauses, and cocks his head as if hearing something. Listen carefully, you can hear screaming. But from where? No one around him was reacting yet, however, the people on the Republic planets were screaming. This is very much like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s reaction to the destruction of Alderaan in Star Wars: A New Hope.

I think this is the best clue that Finn is, indeed, a Jedi.

The trailers were cleverly made to make us believe that Finn was the primary new Jedi, a misdirect from the truth that Rey was actually the biggest Force-user in The Force Awakens. But perhaps the filmmakers used their own mind-trick on us. Maybe Rey is now being used to distract us from the fact that Finn will also become a Jedi.

This will be a new experience for Star Wars fans. We have really only ever had one new Jedi to focus on at a time. First it was Luke Skywalker, then Anakin Skywalker. In the animated series The Clone Wars we saw the conflict through the eyes of growing padawan Ahsoka Tano. In Star Wars Rebels our new Jedi character is Ezra Bridger.

Always one at a time. But, this is a new time, and a new generation of Star Wars, so why not shake things up?

I believe that Finn and Rey are going to take turns in the spotlight as we see their journey to fulfill their destinies. And I love it. They have an awesome dynamic that is fresh and engaging. They are both relate-able and endearing characters who bring out the best in each other.

We will see Finn come into his own as a Jedi.

*****

What did you think of Finn? Do you agree that he is in fact Force-sensitive? What are your hopes for him in Star Wars Episode 8?

Check out these other fan theories as well! You’ll find that we all came to some very similar conclusions.

http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/star-wars-force-awakens-finn-force-sensitive-fan-theories/

http://moviepilot.com/posts/3695753

Great video here!

 

What Pacific Rim Got Right About Lead Characters

I didn’t see this movie until just yesterday. The news surrounding casting choices for Pacific Rim 2 brought the film back to my attention. I had read feedback saying that the movie was all visuals with poor acting and storyline. I had my expectations set for moderate, but when I actually saw the movie I was blown away.

The visuals were unbelievable. This movie had to be incredible in 3D. Watching the battles between the massive Jaegers and Kaiju gave me a giddy feeling that only the greatest action movie battles can offer. I found the concept of connecting two people through “the drift” to be creative and fascinating.

The music was fantastic. I will listen to that soundtrack again and again.

But the aspect of this film that stood out to me the most was the characters. Yes, the characters. The ones that were said to be “poorly acted”.

Characters are in my opinion, the most crucial part of any film. Why? Because characters are the closest point of connection between a film and its audience. We have thoughts, characters have thoughts. We have struggles, characters have struggles. We have emotions, characters have emotions. A character doesn’t have to be a human in order to connect with us, it could be a little cowboy doll, a dog, or a talking tree.

I have noticed that many action films tend to rely on large explosions and intense gunfire exchanges rather than on good characters. Many action film characters are one-dimensional robots. For the men, they are filthy mouthed robots with muscles and stubble. For the the women, they are also filthy mouthed robots with muscles and chests. There is very little that I find approachable about these robot characters, and I most certainly do not end the movie feeling connected to them.

Pacific Rim could have limped along with action movie cliches for characters. They had visuals, battles, and explosions that were more impressive than most. I anticipated action movie cliches upon going into this movie, but what I found instead was a lovely cast of lead characters who had depth and personality. By the end of the film I felt very connected to them and wished to see more of their stories. Now, on to these surprising characters.

Raleigh Beckett

Raleigh Beckett, a former Jaeger pilot who lost his brother to a Kaiju. At first glance, I had anticipated Raleigh to be yet another muscle-bound fighter with a chip on his shoulder. I was so wrong. Raleigh, while bearing sorrow and scars, was actually about the nicest guy you could meet. He was brave, smart, and the most capable pilot available. But he never flaunted this fact, not once. Even when enduring taunts and slights from young Hansen, he kept a straight face and held onto his dignity.

You got the greatest view of Raleigh’s character when you watched his interaction with Mako. He instantly picked up on her skills and potential, and he wasn’t afraid to speak up for her. He valued her as an equal in their job, but at the same time he treated her like a lady. He is proof that chivalry can exist without chauvinism.

As an equal he believed in her skill, never gave her a hard time when she failed during the first drift, and was delighted to have her on board with him.

As a gentleman, he told her that she looked good in the uniform (which she rocked). When young Hansen was badgering Raleigh and Mako in the hallway following their near-destructive mind drift, Raleigh said nothing about the slights to himself. But the moment Hansen started calling Mako obscene names, Raleigh stepped forward in her defense and gave Hansen a good whooping. I’ll admit, I found that scene incredibly satisfying. And then, as the Gispy Danger was drifting down to destroy the breach, Raleigh made sure Mako got out in her pod first before he worried about himself.

Raleigh and Mako

Raleigh was relate-able in that he readily admitted to his emotions. He was deeply saddened over his brother’s death, and traumatized by the shared feelings he had experienced.

He was brave, stepping up to do a job that was likely a suicide mission. He treated those around him with respect. He knew his skills and was confident in them, but didn’t feel the need to flaunt those skills or prove himself. He was kind and encouraging to Mako.

I would love to see more male heroes like this in action films. Raleigh Beckett was a breath of fresh air. His humanness in no way compromised the strong, effectiveness of his character; but rather, it enhanced it by allowing me to connect with him. I want to see more of Raleigh Beckett.

Mako Mori

Mako Mori, one of the programs “brightest and best”. Mako was everything that I could have dreamed up for a female heroine. She was strong, intelligent, and capable. But the thing that delighted me the most about her character were the softer aspects. She was very feminine, and she carried herself with a sweet humility that was refreshing. She was gentle and vulnerable, her character showed real emotions regularly.

Somewhere along the way, Hollywood decided that strong women characters needed to sterilize their emotions. Perhaps this was an over-reaction and poor attempt to compensate for the over-dramatized emotions women displayed in older decades of film. I don’t care for either extreme, since real women in the real world are a mix of both strength and emotion. I don’t know about you all, but I am ready for some real women characters that make me feel.

I felt when I watched Mako. I connected with her. She wants a chance to fight against the evil monsters who haunt her dreams and destroyed her family. She has worked very hard to get where she is. At the same time, she respects Marshall Stacker Penecost and knows that his negativity towards her involvement stems from love.

Mako wanted an opportunity to fight, but she didn’t insert herself to the point of becoming obnoxious. That’s fine, because her eager willingness is all that she needed to catch the attention of Raleigh Beckett, who went to war for her right to become his co-pilot. This created a fantastic point between the two characters where their separate character threads became woven together.

She didn’t fight it when Raleigh stood up for her, nor did she throw his efforts back in his face like many female characters would. Instead, she accepted it gratefully which gave her character all the more dignity and legitimacy.

Mako was adorable, strong, and endearing. I loved everything about her, from the soft way she spoke, to her blue hair, and her non-air-permitting hug of Raleigh during the end scene. Mako Mori was exactly what a strong female character should be. She was a real woman who I connected with and would love to see more of.

Marshall Pentecost

Marshall Stacker Penecost. He actually fit into a very typical action movie role of the veteran leader with a soft side. I don’t really mind those roles though, as this type of character lends a gravity to the story and creates a reference point for the other characters to revolve around. Plus, these types of characters are usual played by legends such as Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, and in this case, Idris Elba.

I greatly enjoyed seeing (and listening to) Idris Elba in this role. He has a rich and handsome quality to him that is riveting. He wasn’t unnecessarily harsh, had clear motivations for his actions, and the thought of him raising a tiny little Mako was simply adorable. His death at the end of the movie was a fitting and majestic end to his character.

I really have no idea why this movie didn’t do well in the US. There were many moments that just thrilled me in my movie-fan soul. Seriously, watching the Gipsy Danger drag a cruise ship into battle to use as a weapon was so exciting. My life-long movie dream was fulfilled when Raleigh said, “Let’s check for a pulse.” on the dead Kaiju, and proceeded to blast it to death beyond a shadow of a doubt. No one ever makes sure the enemy is good and dead, and it often comes back to bite them in the rear. Future action heroes could use some pointers from Raleigh Beckett in just about everything. The music made me feel energized and excited. The characters were awesome. Oh, and a shout-out to the little girl who played mini Mako Mori, she SOLD that role amazingly. How many kids do you see who can pull off intense emotions like that little lady did?

I am so excited to know that there is a sequel in the works, Pacific Rim 2: Maelstrom. There is very little known about the movie as of yet, beyond the fact that it was just announced John Boyega will be playing the lead. His character will be the son of Idris Elba’s character. John Boyega brought new life to the screen in The Force Awakens back in December, and it is rare that I have connected with a character as quickly as I did with Finn. I look forward to seeing what both he, and this sequel have to offer.

What did you think of Pacific Rim? What aspects of it blew you away? Were there any aspects of the film that disappointed you? What was your favorite moment? Did you also connect with the characters?

*****

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