Category Archives: blog

Awesome written content only.

The First Order Lands At SXSW

Check out these images of the press event for Star Wars The Force Awakens at SXSW!

image

In celebration of the documentary “Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey” premiering at SXSW Film Festival, The First Order TIE Fighter and stormtroopers landed in Austin today.  stormtroopers landed in Austin today.  The feature-length documentary, which is an in-depth bonus feature on the upcoming Digital HD and Blu-ray Combo Pack debuts at the Paramount Theatre on March 14th in Austin, Texas.  The TIE Fighter will be stationed at South Bites at SXSW throughout the weekend for festival goers to experience the landing!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is coming home on Digital HD April 1 and is available on iTunes and other digital providers for pre-order now. Fans can also explore all things Star Wars at iTunes.com/Starwars.  It comes home on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on April 5.

On Rebels, The Mutton-Chopped Tinman Gets A Heart

Quick note: this is not a full review, but rather a closer look at several aspects of each episode (with the presumption that you’ve also seen it). As always, SPOILERS from here on out.

On this episode of Rebels, entitled The Honorable Ones,  Agent Kallus – he of the mutton chops and the cool helmet – gains some much needed attention and deepening of character. Or put another way: he’s trying really really hard at this evilling business but is really just a doe-eyed softie and also can I hug him yet?

The Lasat version of hugging it out, apparently.

As much as I loved the episode, it was mostly one I’ve seen before-in countless other TV shows (I won’t list them, I’m sure you can provide your own list): plopping the antagonist into a locked room with (one of) our heroes, where they must set aside their differences in order to escape, during which time our hero learns that the bad guy isn’t all that bad. That he is, say, an actual human being with thoughts and feelings of his own. Almost like, I don’t know, an actual person?

‘Admit it! Say I’m a real boy!’

It’s all very rote, but I don’t mean that as a negative. Sure, it’d be nice to have more variety on the telly, but I’ll happily accept the same thing done very well (why hello, The Force Awakens). So today I’d like to highlight several scenes that I’ve seen pop up in other shows.

‘You’ll Get A Fair Trial’

Which is probably the safest thing to say when on the wrong end of a gun.

Crashed on an icy moon, Zeb and Kallus must quickly hitch a ride off of that rock before they freeze. Unfortunately, the only device they have to call for a space taxi is an Imperial transponder. Use that and the Empire will come knocking very quickly. Zeb, naturally, isn’t willing to do so, but Kallus tries to persuade him to do so by assuring him that he’ll ‘get a trial’. Zeb doesn’t think much of this – and the implication being that we, the viewers wouldn’t either, probably collectively uttering ‘oh you sweet summer child’ at Kallus’ naivete. But listen closely to what he says. Or rather, what he doesn’t.

I started this segment with the phrase ‘you’ll get a fair trial’ not because I misremembered the line* but because this is typically what is uttered in similar situations. It’s something said by both heroes and villains alike, depending on who’s in authority, and is usually all that needs to be said in the given situation. But there are some things missing in this instance: the fair bit. Why? This may be reading too much into it (have we met?), but I couldn’t help but notice that Kallus over-pronounced the last word-as if, say, he had been intending to add that little but important word but caught himself at the last moment and overcompensated.

*Well, not entirely.

There could be a number of things to explain this. Maybe David Oyelowo himself intended to say that but remembered just in time. Perhaps Oyelowo was injecting a twinge of pain into Kallus’ voice, or perhaps it was the cold. Maybe it’s just something entirely unintended. Or maybe Oyelowo realised, too, that Kallus, as blind as he was to the injustices perpetrated by his own Empire, knew just enough to know that Zeb’s trial would be anything but fair. Given the glimpses into his character later in the episode, I think this could be reasonably assumed.

But to move on, notice how he also doesn’t list Zeb’s crimes. In other shows, as here, this would be easily understood simply because we’d know from seeing the crimes leading up to that moment (what with Zeb spending the last year or two blowing up Imps for our viewing pleasure). And true enough this is what Kallus meant; but it’s clear that these two characters are not on the same page. Notice how Zeb quickly changes the focus onto his species. Of course it wouldn’t go well, it never does for Lasat, he says, because he’s guilty simply of being a Lasat. It’s a not very subtle stab at Kallus, admittedly, but it perfectly sets up, as a very gentle reminder, the later argument and revelation of Kallus’ boasting-to put it delicately.

Now look at the scene on a broader level: in other shows, heroes say it because it’s the right thing to do. Villains say it to get the hero in prison. For Kallus it’s a mixture of both – on top of pure self-preservation. He wants to survive, and the quickest way of doing that is to get Zeb to cooperate. But more than that, despite later alluding to having some misgivings about the Empire, he’s still loyal and still believes that they are what’s best for the galaxy. He honestly believes he’s the hero of this story! And that’s despite being a genocidal maniac – or rather, pretending to be. How messed up do you have to be, how much doublethink is going on in your head, to hold both those beliefs as true?

Homecoming

DON’T WORRY KALLUS, I SHALL GIVE YOU A HUG. And maybe some posters, because yeesh.

Our hero and villain part ways amiably, sometimes even warmly (which this show had to take literally) and the episode ends with a long parting shot of one or the other in a place of isolation, with the person most likely striking a pose of thoughtfulness or melancholy. Again I’m not describing the scene shown above, but rather painting, in broad strokes, similar scenes in TV shows the world over. How does this one stack up?

Well, yes, it does fit strikingly well into that mold, but it does it beyond the standard sad music/relying on us to have the sympathetic gut reaction at seeing a lonely person. We do of course have the moment of personal despondency, but it’s notable because it adds an extra layer to it. It shows, in a way that thankfully doesn’t make his pain about something or someone else*, just how uncaring the Empire is. Not necessarily in an evil way – but in an everyday way that leads to evil.

*Which is both problematic in and of itself as well as on a purely technical storytelling level.

It shows one of the key differences between the Empire and the rebels. Whereas the rebels are all warm a fluffy, the Empire barely notices that you’re gone. When Kallus, who appears to be fairly high ranking-enough to talk to an admiral seemingly on equal footing-is barely acknowledged, that offers us a glimpse as to how large that Empire is, and how small a cog* Agent Kallus truly is.

*Yes, I did mean cog, get your mind out of the gutters.

And though it does again demonstrate the evilness (evility?) of the Empire, that scale is the more important thing. Kallus’ time in the cave (smart, Rebels) had the potential to be life-altering. I don’t mean that in terms of occupation or what side of the war he’s on, but on the smaller, yet still important, scale of Kallus’ mind. This could severely alter his outlook on the Empire and how he acts from this moment forth. And this slight changing of his mindset would naturally be a Big Thing to him – and yet for the rest of the Empire his sojourn barely amounts to an ‘oh, were you gone?’. How is he going to take that?

 

It was fantastic to get a large fleshing out of his character with this episode, and the personal implications make me excited for what’s to come. Again, I don’t mean the possibility of Kallus becoming a rebel. I mean something much better, because looking back, Kallus’ actions have by and large been above board and this change will hopefully mean that our Spectres will get to face a worthy foe: a truly honourable Imperial.

Michael Dare

Why You Should Go to Dragon Con in 2016!

As usual, some of the Star Wars Report crew and fellow friends and fans of Star Wars will be attending Dragon Con 2016 this labor day, September 2nd through September 5th! You can purchase your four day pass here!

Dragon Con has been one of my favorite conventions to attend, and is the convention I’ve been to the most by far. So, here are the reasons I’ve attended Dragon Con faithfully since 2011, and why you should go too!

Because you have so much fun with your friends!

7375_10102355143515607_4835426686519225520_n 10152379_10102355142951737_4247478584617450512_n

155243_464587376898126_131667744_n

10626797_719479151447401_2610654451191889030_n

Because you have so much fun with fans!

10377524_452975624845759_8607951154296681917_n

10570256_452989864844335_5272920646702157081_n

11163790_978961572127368_1331383147219595901_n

300890_258654130824786_230190512_n 598731_464256910264506_587680278_n

Because of the amazing cosplay!

250116_464261646930699_2003141630_n 10600431_10102355140187277_8443262959863310810_n

10612918_452989791511009_4201438933725432242_n 10646987_10102355141020607_3811406445841973159_n

Because of the wonderful, annual parade!

185263_464259093597621_1877374179_n 426248_464238630266334_1890945010_n

426265_464241990265998_1556327573_n

598654_464224313601099_1049823674_n

20140830_112046

Because of the hours upon hours of amazing content across all franchises!

62573_463891080301089_941912761_n

252415_464237410266456_1310629934_n

198527_463890330301164_1300435639_n

297977_258175407539325_1029070086_n

Because the atmosphere is like a giant, happy party with all your geeky friends!

308218_258651337491732_251101863_n

20140831_004930

20140830_124215

Because the dealer’s hall and artist’s gallery have the biggest variety of geeky items to buy that I’ve seen at any convention I’ve been to!

250668_465053776851486_1158360477_n

284205_465043060185891_2022526017_n

10649514_452975814845740_1809932510995092006_n

Because, for Star Wars fans, it’s like coming home to an intimate family setting at the Star Wars track!

10653847_10102355139049557_8130541078802320766_n

12004853_978961648794027_7093517670262265833_n

10670177_452975988179056_4275710524385886592_n

997047_452996294843692_5754474633477555036_n

Because no matter how many times you attend Dragon Con, there’s something new!

20140831_232350

Because the Star Wars authors there are the most accessible that I’ve known them to be at any convention I’ve seen them at!

598888_464260720264125_990748245_n

We still miss you, Aaron, and keep you in our fondest memories.

1924375_452965401513448_854635443521062202_n

Because Dragon Con supports amazing charities!

20140830_110047

Remember, you can get your passes here, and hopefully I’ll see you all there!

~ Bethany Blanton

On Rebels, Family Shopping Trip Turns Into Murder Spree

Quick note: this is not a full review. If you want that, that’s totally fine, and we can help you out. But here we take some aspects of the show for further discussion. And as always, SPOILERS from here on out.

(Sorry, I really couldn’t resist the headline. This isn’t an anti-rebellion themed review, honest!)

Constant losses amongst Phoenix squadron in this week’s episode of Rebels, entitled Homecoming, can only mean one thing: road trip! Yes, our Rebels head to Ryloth, Hera’s home planet, and meet up with Hera’s father, Cham Syndulla. Good times were had, stories shared, Kanan met the in-laws (well, half of them) and, oh, stole a big honking Imperial hangar ship. Like you do. Then they went for ice cream.

‘You WILL add an extra scoop. Free of charge.’

This episode presented an intriguing question, one which was slightly buried underneath all the family drama: what takes precedence, the small war or the large one?

The Large War

By large war, I mean saving your resources, sometimes to the detriment of local rebel cells, so that you may fight on a much wider front – and concentrate on no specific one. Hera, of course, represents this ideology – and is the one that wins out. Which is a little bit unfair, since we’ve had a series and a half to explore her side of the argument, and is the side that our Spectres tend to favour (but ever then they rarely left Lothal in the first series). This is in contrast to Cham Syndulla, Hera’s father*, who has less than half an hour (though Ezra does briefly share this outlook in the first half of the first series, and Kanan briefly in the premiere of the second series before both get a pep talk and say ‘eh, whatever. Let’s shoot stuff’).

*Or ‘papa’ if you are a) French/of French descent, b) a Twi’lek or c) a horribly pretentious Brit

This form of warfare has many benefits: you can stretch your enemy’s resources thin and force them to expend more effort and energy to perform various tasks. For example, during the Napoleonic Wars Spain and Portugal were mostly occupied by French forces who plundered, raped and murdered many of the native people. This was, I think we can all agree, not a good idea. And so the locals rose up and formed rebel cells, called ‘guerrilleros’, who attacked supply lines, performed hit and run raids on camps at night, tortured and occasionally made very public examples of their prisoners (which I don’t condone, but can understand). For an answer, the French dedicated more troops to the protection of supplies, taking them away from the front line, and came down harder on the populace … which only generated more guerrilleros.

It also has the advantage of propagating, without much effort on your part, propaganda for your cause. Simply put, the more visible you are to the wider galaxy, the better known you will be. The better known you are means more potential recruits. Even if they don’t join, they will still have ears (if their species’ biology permits) to hear and hopefully evaluate your reasoning and help – not by arms, but in a quiet way – your cause by not aiding the enemy, or sheltering you in your time of need or simply just cheering when you hear some old guy in a hood is dead. Because nothing beats tyranny better than having the courage to speak your mind when your voice can be heard by those who’ll silence it.

'I beg to differ.'

‘I beg to differ.’

And being a smaller force does afford you more places to hide, and can make you much harder to hit, since you’re not wholly tied to one small area of operation (sorry, Alderaan). And though the entire galaxy is essentially hostile to you, you can quickly become safe because you can masquerade as civilians and simply blend in … with the other civilians being horribly repressed by the government. Bit of a trade off.

These are just a few examples, and there are downsides, too: your own forces can be stretched thin, and one serious defeat can knock you out of the game entirely. It also means your victories are going to be minor as well – and we actually see this in the episode itself. Cham’s goal was to destroy the ship, I remind you, so that the people of Ryloth can see that victory, know that there is reason to hope and may rise up. Any other episode of Rebels and this would have been the Spectre’s goal, too. Not today. Instead they want a place to hide. A place for supplies, rest, maybe watch space netflix (holoflix? Please let this be a thing) and generally ensure that they live another day. Not exactly heroic but still very important. And it’s generally a good goal. It’s like that old joke: ‘I don’t have to outrun the lion. I just have to outrun you’. If all else fails, if the Death Stars aren’t destroyed, if the rebellion’s fighting force fizzles out and their armies have about as much bite as a toothless granny, then that desire to survive and live on just might see them to victory. Because they may not have to beat the Empire, they just have to outlive it.

Still, it is a lot more fun to watch the Death Star blow up rather than watch Hera and our Spectres grow old.

The Small War

I usually illustrate my point with a photo, but this is literally the only photo that doesn’t involve betrayal.

That said, there is some merit to fighting the small war (represented by Cham Syndulla’s crusade), to fighting for your home planet – and nothing more. This is somewhat lost in the episode, what with Cham’s becoming ever-so-slightly unhinged and inevitably betraying Hera.

I have been waiting SO long to use this!

I have been waiting SO long to use this!

I was a little miffed at this, mainly because the show implied (though never outright stated) that this was largely a bad idea. This is a common trope in storytelling, called ‘villain has a point‘, wherein the baddie brings up a valid idea, but it is then dismissed simply because the villain thought of it.

Let’s ignore that, because there are some solid reasons for waging the small war. The first is a similar fallacy that Cham buys into – and to a certain extent the Spectres also: false equivalence. This states that you can focus your efforts on A, or you can help B. You can’t do both. As the episode aptly shows towards the end, you really can help both parties – and that’s because people can generally care for more than one thing at a time, which is something this fallacy tends to forget.

Following that line of thought, it’s entirely natural and understandable for people to care more about their home than some far off place. The problems start when a person only cares about their home and not the far off places, as Cham perfectly illustrates, and which our Spectres, Numa and Unremarkable Background Twi’lek* admirably provide a counter example. That same love of your home can provide a very strong will to fight, one which can often eclipse ideological fervor.

(*Whose character went down in Star Wars lore as the one responsible for the famous joke:

A: Knock knock.
B: ‘Who’s there?’
A: Unremarkable Background Twi’lek.
B: ‘Unremarkable Background Twi’lek who?’
A: Exactly.

It never really caught on.)

But there are military benefits to fighting locally, too. Because it is your own home, you will naturally know it better than an invading force. And you are much more likely to come across aid and friendly civilians than not. Because the war front is necessarily much smaller than a galaxy-wide conflict, you’re better able to develop and concentrate your forces in larger numbers. And though that battles themselves may be smaller, that doesn’t mean they’re any less necessary or important. And the more of a nuisance that little local cell becomes, the more resources the enemy pours into it. Just look at Lothal – well, you can’t, because all those Star Destroyers are in the way. Due to the actions of one small yet effective splinter cell the Empire has poured a significant portion of its military to on fairly insignificant target.

But, of course, all this does paint a rather large target on your back. It being your home planet, you may be rather unwilling to leave it, to such an extent that even your planet, and not just you, becomes the target (sorry, Alderaan).

So, which is better? As stated, I personally believe each is a worthy fight. Different people can focus on different issues, just as long as they don’t impede or thwart the others’ attempts. If only Cham had learned that.

Michael Dare