Tag Archives: STAR WARS

Analysis of The Force Awakens — Finn: Born for One Purpose, Destined for Another

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Like Rey, Finn is on his own hero’s journey. It starts with the death of fellow trooper FN-2003, aka “Slip.” This trooper’s identity was established in the anthology novel Before the Awakening and confirmed in the Visual Dictionary. Slip was the weakest link in Finn’s unit and Finn was reprimanded by Captain Phasma for helping Slip during training simulations, where Finn otherwise received top marks.

It has also been revealed that the trooper Finn fights on Takodana is another of his former teammates, FN-2199, aka “Nines.” I think that information would have added to that fight, needing only a simple line from Finn using Nines’s name, though I also think that character should have been Phasma. I found her character to be completely disappointing and underused. Having her defeat and almost kill Finn would have made her far more interesting and worth all the marketing hype.

While Slip’s death was the start of Finn’s turn in the film, it is cemented by the slaughter of the captured Jakku villagers. However, Finn is not yet a hero and spends most of the film running from the First Order. Finn does have moments of bravery and enjoys the feeling he gets from Rey believing him to be a Resistance fighter. But this is little more than a childish game when he reveals to Rey that he has been lying to her. He wants nothing to do with being a real hero, though he sincerely desires the safety of Rey. It isn’t until the attack on Maz’s castle and the capture of Rey that he becomes a true hero, willing to risk his life for others, and for a greater cause. Continue reading

Analysis of The Force Awakens — Kylo Ren: A Villain’s Journey

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Kylo is tied with Rey as my favorite new character. Having searched out spoilers, his characterization was actually one of the few surprises of the film for me. I suspected long before seeing the film that he was Han and Leia’s son and knew that he was a Vader fanatic, but his volatile and emotional nature were new to me.

Kylo could have easily been a carbon copy of Vader, but he is nothing like the focused and confident Sith Lord of New Hope and Empire and is much more like the Anakin of the prequels. In fact, I like his characterization and performance more than that of Anakin. He is less pouty and whiny while still conveying a conflicted and emotionally damaged person. Adam Driver gave an incredible and nuanced performance, even when hidden behind the mask.

While Kylo is trying to be like Vader through his appearance and actions, it is all a facade. One of my favorite moments showing this is when he has an unguarded moment with Snoke while out of his helmet. When Hux, a rival for Snoke’s approval, comes into the room, Kylo immediately straightens and puts on a stoic face. He is embarrassed by his show of weakness to someone he sees as an inferior and competitor. Continue reading

Analysis of The Force Awakens — Droids: Faithful Companions Old and New

Droids

BB-8:
BB-8 is a great achievement in conveying emotion in a non-humanoid droid. It is hard to match R2, but I believe BB-8 lived up to the challenge. BB is immediately likable with an almost childlike personality. The emotion he shows at Poe’s apparent death; the hesitation to lie for Finn; the thumbs up; the sad, questioning bump into R2 (which nearly made me tear up); all of these make BB-8 an instant classic in the Star Wars universe.

C-3PO:
3PO interrupting the reunion of Han and Leia was a perfect introduction and a wonderful callback to The Empire Strikes Back. While he is in most ways the same old 3PO, he has had some changes over the last thirty years.

According to expanded canon material, 3PO has received a promotion as the “spymaster” of the Resistance’s droid spy network. In the novelization, 3PO made the mistake of not activating BB-8’s tracking signal before his mission to Jakku. His solution is to send a message to every active spy droid, stationed around the galaxy, to search for BB-8. The droid in Maz’s castle in one of these spies.

There is, unfortunately, one single criticism I have for 3PO. The oddly dull finish of the costume makes it look more plastic than metal. I have to wonder what the reason for this is. Is it supposed to be another mark of his age, or is it just a design mistake? Either way, I found it slightly distracting on repeat viewings.

One small mystery is the origin of 3PO’s red left arm. In the film, it simply serves to show the passage of time on the character. The Visual Dictionary mentions that his arm is a memento of another droid’s sacrifice. The novel reveals that he has the ability to replace it at any time but has some sentimental attachment to it; however, he does go back to a golden arm by the end of the film. The full story of his red arm will be told in an upcoming comic book on March 30, 2016. Hopefully, it will be worth the rather long wait.

R2-D2:
Almost as sad as Luke’s absence from the film was the revelation that R2 has been in low power mode since Luke’s disappearance, in what is essentially a coma. While it was a sad reveal, accentuated by being hidden beneath a dusty old cloth, it is also a perfect storytelling device that shows the impact Luke’s absence has had on our old heroes. R2 is a touchstone to Luke as his faithful companion, and his inactive status removes us even further from Luke, while also acting as the frustratingly inaccessible key to the final piece of the puzzle to Luke’s location.

An interesting reveal from an Entertainment Weekly article is the original source of the map pieces that R2 and BB-8 are carrying. According to co-writer Michael Arndt, the backstory of the map can be found in the original film. When R2 plugged into the Death Star to find the location of Leia’s cell, he also found a map in the archives leading to various Jedi temples. Luke later used this map, along with the help of Lor San Tekka, to explore these temples.

Arndt acknowledges that the timing of R2’s awakening was convenient, though he explains that when BB-8 first tried communicating with R2 his boot cycle was triggered, which took time due to his deep coma-like state. But in the end, they simply wanted an emotional return for R2 rather than a logical one.

Until next time: May the Force be with you. Always.

Chris “Darth Hound” Miller

Nope. Still want to punch him.

Rebels Returns With Royal Resplendence

Reminder: This is not a full review. If you want that, that’s totally cool, no hard feelings. I’ll just be over here, crying. Anyhoo, here we take a few points of the show for discussion. And, as always, soilers from here on out. Spoilers, too, I suppose.

You would not believe how long it took to find that last R word.

Star Wars Rebels has returned! And it has a much beloved film character! And in this episode, entitled ‘A Princess on Lothal’, we see – oh never mind that. We both know: Leia’s back! Did you see the bit where she went pew-pew-pew! And things went boom, and clearly I should not have had that energy drink before writing this.

Pictured: her resting face for much of the episode.

First, something that jarred me. For some reason I had expected to see Leia as being new to the whole ‘being an amazing spy’ bit, and that she would be unsure of herself, and yet the Leia we got was a fully formed hero. Don’t get me wrong, she was great – but as great as she was, there wasn’t much depth on display, not much personal growth (though that’s somewhat unforgiving, it’s only one episode). So instead, I want to take another angle to this. Continue reading

Analysis of The Force Awakens — Poe Dameron: Loyal Hero of the Resistance

Poe

Though he doesn’t get as much screentime as the other young newcomers, Poe has great impact on the plot of The Force Awakens. He is quickly established as a very skilled and heroic character, someone who is willing to risk his life for the Resistance, yet he is not without humor, even in the menacing presence of Kylo Ren.

Though he has been compared to a young Han Solo, Poe believes absolutely in the ideals of the Resistance, being the proud son of two former Rebel fighters (who can both be seen in the comic miniseries Star Wars: Shattered Empire). He is not the reluctant hero that Han was for much of the original trilogy, but is more like a combination of the idealism of Luke and the cocky confidence of Han.

Poe, taking after his mother, began his career as a pilot for the New Republic, but he soon became frustrated by their lack of concern over the First Order. After his superiors denied his request that an attack by TIE fighters on a freighter be investigated, Poe broke from a mission in order to perform reconnaissance on the First Order, which led to Poe engaging and escaping from two dozen TIE fighters. This insubordinate move, as recounted in the anthology novel Before the Awakening, gained the attention of Leia, who recruited him into the Resistance.

Poe’s escape with Finn from the First Order felt like classic Star Wars, both humorous and thrilling. The filmmakers could have created a more antagonistic relationship between Poe and the defecting stormtrooper, but I like Poe’s almost immediate acceptance of Finn, with Poe acting as Finn’s early mentor and role model. I also liked that it was Poe who named him Finn, refusing to call him by his dehumanizing trooper designation, and that he immediately embraced Finn as a friend when they saw each other again at the Resistance base.

While more ambiguous in the film, the story of how Poe escaped from Jakku is detailed in the novelization: after the TIE fighter was hit by the Destroyer, Poe lost consciousness. Finn, not able to help Poe, made the decision to eject before they crashed. Poe regained consciousness in time to gain some control over the ship and landed it as best he could. Though suffering from a concussion, Poe escaped form the TIE, his jacket becoming pinned in the cockpit. Poe then left the crash site before collapsing. When Poe awoke, he had temporary amnesia and began wandering aimlessly. He eventually remembered who he was and what had happened. Poe came across a local and was able to persuade the alien to give him a ride to the nearest town. After a brief encounter with brigands, Poe was able to get to a town and make his way offworld with the help of a merchant.

According to an Entertainment Weekly article, Poe was originally going to die in the crash, but by the time Oscar Issac accepted the role, thinking it would be a small but key cameo, Abrams had already changed the story so that he lived and was instrumental in destroying Starkiller Base.

Intriguingly, the novelization hints at possible love triangle between Rey, Finn, and Poe. In the novel, Rey first meets Poe at the Resistance base as R2 brings up his half of the map. As the crowd celebrates, they randomly hug each other, then both awkwardly introduce themselves, Poe “mumbling” his name and Rey searching his face and finding she “likes” it. I have to wonder if this idea will come into play in Episode 8 or 9, though there would have to be a new setup. It would certainly create some interesting tension between Finn and Poe, possibly even a more dark version of Han and Luke’s early rivalry over Leia.

Until next time: May the Force be with you. Always.

Chris “Darth Hound” Miller