A House Divided

Star Wars fans divided blog post nerds

No, I’m not talking about the current state of American politics. I’m talking about Star Wars.

I am an…avid lover of Star Wars, this you know. So is my cousin. But when it comes to The Force Awakens we have vastly differing opinions. Mine is one of love and effervescence, his of skepticism and tentative acceptance. My love of the Star Wars Universe is not more fervent or deep or borderline obsessive than his and yet, get us talking about The Force Awakens and Disney canon novels and we seem to be at odds.

He is not alone in his opinion and neither am I. And yet, he and I sat in the same living room when word came down the pipes that there were going to be more Star Wars in our near and extended future. The excitement, the childlike joy in both our eyes was the same. That nerdy, little twinkle lives in both of us. So what gives?

I recently came across a new Twitter friend who was as equally dismayed about The Force Awakens as my cousin, but unlike my cousin, who is very excited about the upcoming Rogue One, this friend was not at all excited about it.

han-solo-carbonite-image.jpg

His Star Wars lives in a glass box. It’s incased in carbonite, in perfect hibernation, not to be touched or tainted by the outside world. Many fan people experience this when their favorite things get rebooted (i.e., Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, JEM, and most recently Ghostbusters.) Just like the mint condition toys that remain in their boxes with no scratches or scruff, so too should the movies remain. In some instances I agree and yet when it comes to Star Wars, I absolutely do not.

Star Wars is not the pristine tale of a perfect world. It doesn’t live high up on a shelf never to be touched by human hands. The Force is messy. The Jedi are flawed. The Dark Side is tempting. The stories of Star Wars are as scratched up as the humans who enjoy them.

Some poor sad soul out there might tell you that even the original trilogy is imperfect. Most fans will openly admit that the prequels are far from perfect. And there are some that call the new age of Star Wars an abomination, nothing more than a ploy by the House of Mouse to sell toys and keep us all tethered to consumerism.

Shaun-White-sell-out.gif

One could argue that all art, once it becomes popular, wrestles with that very dilemma. Make money and “sell out” or retain “freedom” by appealing only to the cult collective. Star Wars manages to walk the line between mainstream and absolutely nerdvana. No small feat.

Perhaps some of the fanboys and fangirls who aren’t excited about new stories from the Star Wars Universe are afraid. They’re afraid that what they love will be tainted by Muggles who don’t have the deep abiding love of that galaxy far, far away and are only in it for the pop culture references.

To be honest, I do have to bite my tongue when some poor little Muggle girl, who knows nothing, starts misquoting my beloved Star Wars.

giphy.gif

But it also opens the door for me to maybe make a new friend and to be a part of her story, even if it’s just to say “So, you like Star Wars, huh?”

Star Wars is and has always been about bringing people together. It’s a story of family and heroes and darkness and light. It’s all the best things put on a screen. And I count all Star Wars as my top favorite movies because they’re all connected for me. Sure, I have favorites. But the connecting story and the greater world of the Star Wars Universe is what I love. And if I get to see any part of that world, I find myself to be incandescently happy!!

After all, I am, at times, as poorly written as the love scenes in Episode II. I am, at times, as annoying as Jar-Jar Binks in Episode I. I, at times, obtain moments of triumph and victory like in the Throne Room in Episode IV. And I even, at times, experience heart break like with Han’s death in Episode VII.

We are human. And it’s easy for us to pick things apart. It’s easy to read into everything and see the bad and miss the good. I’m saying…be messy with me. You don’t have to love all Star Wars equally. But keep an open mind for what the future of the Star Wars Universe might hold for us. Allow it to play in the mud.

Don’t you think there were fans out there who were not eager for a sequel to Star Wars? People who thought it would suck? People who thought George was just out to capitalize on his success and make more money? Who cares if he was, we got The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi out of the deal. What would have happened if Star Wars had stayed in it’s glass box, high up on a shelf? Perish that thought!

Now What Do You Do?

If you haven’t yet seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, then I’d venture to say it’s only a matter of time till you do.

X-Wings Star Wars The Force Awakens recap blog

The biggest pop culture event of all time…even the Muggles want to be a part of this. There’s a lot of new people discovering the wonderful world of Star Wars. Maybe they just never devoted the time to watch all 6 movies before (or 3 if you’re a purist.) Maybe they thought it was kid’s stuff, but now are discovering the truth.

Inevitably they’re gonna reach a point where they’re going to wonder…”Now what?” It always happens after the excitement and fervor of a new movie dies down. It happens to me after binge-watching a show or reading a great book series or watching a new Star Wars movie. It’s hard because all you (I) want to do is immerse in the fictional world you’ve (I’ve) just been a part of. It recently happened to me after watching 4 straight seasons of Scandal. It happened after reading Harry Potter, but nowhere has it hit as hard as with the Star Wars Universe.

So…you’ve seen Star Wars. You’re in what Amazon likes to call a #Showhole. But there’s good news. This is where the fun begins. This is when you can start to discover what we die hard fans have been doing to stay in touch with that galaxy far, far away for years.

It’s called the Expanded Universe and it’s marvelous!

Here’s what you’re gonna do…If you’ve been living in a cave and have just emerged after 12 long years and haven’t had time to take a shower and get yourself to the movie theater quite yet…then Step 1 is pretty clear.

Complete Star Wars Saga. Episode I - VI

And if you haven’t gone back and watched the 6 movies that came before then…actually scratch that other Step 1… this is Step 1.

Star Wars Rebels Disney XD

Next up is the television universe created by Cartoon Network and Disney XD in the form of Clone Wars (seasons 1-6 available on Netflix) and Rebels (season 1 available on Netflix, season 2 currently airing on Disney XD.)

New Expanded Universe Novels by Disney Story Group

After watching all that, go to your local book store and pick up the newest novels in the Expanded Universe: Dark Disciple, Lords of the Sith, Tarkin, A New Dawn, Heir to the Jedi, Aftermath, Lost Stars, etc. These novels start to build the world around what you know and have seen on screen. They fill in the blanks and flesh out the questions. They also allow supporting characters to have rich story lines.

Star Wars Comic Books by Marvel

After you’ve read all that, head to your local comic book store and dive into the Expanded Universe created by Marvel Comics. The comic runs for Star Wars, Lando, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Kanan… The best thing about all this material is that is fits together like one giant puzzle. Each component working with the rest. It’s very impressive!

If you’ve done all that and are still thirsty for more. Go see Episode VII 2 or 3 or 12 more times so you know the dialogue by heart and then…

Go deep or go home.

Star Wars Legends Expanded Universe Timothy Zahn

The Star Wars Universe goes beyond Disney cannon. But I warn you, this step is not for the faint of heart. It involves heart break, misery and long hours reading amazing stories that are now considered mere Legend in the Star Wars Universe.

You wanted more and here it is! Silver platter not included!

An Imminent Threat

There is an imminent threat facing our culture and indeed the very fabric of our lives. Is it global warming? Nope. Terrorism? Nuh-uh. Uncompromising Bipartisanism? Fuhgeddaboudit!

If Twitter is to be believed, and honestly…why wouldn’t it be, then the most imminent threat facing us today is the “spoiler.” Thousands abandoned social media in the days following the release of Star Wars VII in an effort to avoid being “spoiled.” I myself got vain threats of what would happen if I, who saw the movie on Thursday, were to spoil a single plot point or character arc. When new episodes of television air, people live tweet the show (myself included) causing others to run from all forms media till after watching. A single hashtag can blow up the delicate balance of a viewer’s enjoyment.

WARNING THERE ARE POP CULTURE SPOILERS AHEAD….TREAD CAREFULLY!! (see what I did there!!)

No Spoilers Downton Abbey

I, myself, am a spoiler activist. I fight those who would attempt to spoil for another the crucial moments of a film as momentus as Star Wars!!! I actively delete comments in any thread I have control over that would attempt to do damage to another’s virgin ears. I am a champion of anyone who hasn’t seen a show or a movie yet but has interest in one day watching. I gingerly probe “Did you watch Game of Thrones last night” before blurting out “JON SNOW IS DEAD????” I blog with care, always making sure to warn of impending spoilers so no one is caught unawares. And yes, I do live tweet, but always using a hashtag so that it can easily be muted by anyone not watching the newest episode of Arrow in real time.

But not everyone cares so much about saving people from spoilers as I do. And I ask why? Why would you want to take the joy from another human being? Why would you want to watch the light go out of their eyes when you tell them that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time?? Do you also walk up to small children and tell them that Darth Vader is Luke’s father??

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world we live in, gentle reader. And I urge you to take a stand against the spoilers of the world. They will not prevail. If you’re interested in doing more to protect the unspoiled and thus bring balance to our very universe, here are some simple steps to take.

Step 1. Check Before You Wreck

Asking a few simple questions around the water cooler, the morning after a big show premier or episode, can help you gauge whether or not people were able to catch it. Try saying “Hey guys, did anyone watch that Sherlock Christmas Episode last night? Or try this “Yo, office friends, where my Whovians at?” (Ok don’t try that one. That one will get you beat up and possibly fired.) But you see where I’m going with this. Checking first will show your friends and colleagues that you care about them. That you don’t want them to be spoiled and further more, that you are indeed a friend to the unspoiled everywhere.

Step 2. Fire a Warning Shot 

Bloggers, tweeters, and the social media savvy have a responsibility to give fair warning before blurting out something like “SOYLENT GREEN IS MADE OUT OF PEOPLE.” or “THERE IS NO TYLER DURDEN!!” (Though if you haven’t seen Fight Club by now…shame upon your house.) A simple “Spoiler Alert” will give everyone the chance to abandon ship before reading something they aren’t ready to read. And isn’t that what life is all about in the end? Protecting the innocent. Saving hearts and minds everywhere from exciting and unforseen plot twists?

Step 3. Simply Keep It Shut

No one knows the excitement of discovering those twists and turns that surprising television shows and movies have to offer our minds, like I do. I watch so many shows I can hardly keep up. And I’ve now officially seen Star Wars The Force Awakens in theaters 6 times, so yeah…I like movies too. But when all else fails and people aren’t watching what you’re watching you have two options. You can just go ahead and burn the bridges or you can simply keep your mouth shut. It’s the hardest thing to do when all you want is chat to about your favorite characters, couples, etc. I mean…I came late to the Game of Thrones party so I knew that Ned was gonna lose his head. (rhyming doesn’t make it hurt any less.) But I knew there were even later comers than me. And did I run up and tell them what was to come? No. I let them find out and find their own ways to mourn. That is the right of every human being on this planet. Don’t take that away.!!

Don't Spoil It - Blog Post Nerd in the City

So…what can you do if you want to talk about plot points and spoilers without ruining the lives of your fellow man. I have the answers for you!

1. Facebook Groups are Your Friends

Or rather, Facebook groups can be a place where you can talk openly with your friends. In the wake of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, all I wanted to do was talk about Rey’s suspected parentage, Luke’s appearance and of course, Han’s death. But I also didn’t want to spoil. So a few of my nerdy pals started a group where we have been chatting in private about all turn of events ever since. And it has been wonderful. A safe place. A haven. A place where we could continue to protect those who haven’t seen. Because we care!

2. Real Life Still Exists

I know we live in a virtual world these days. I’m only able to communicate with most of my dearest friends over the phone, chat and social media. But I assure you, the real life sit down still exists. Phone a friend and take them to lunch so you know that you are speaking to someone who won’t be offended by your spoilers. Though it might be courteous to make a general announcement in the restaurant so those sitting around you aren’t in any danger.

3. Journaling Helps

My blog has long been a source of comfort and relief in the wake of a devastating series finale or a movie release like Star Wars. And again, as long as you give fair warning, then all that is said becomes fair game. And others who are in the same boat as you are can feel free to connect. You may even make a new friend. Isn’t that what life is all about? Making new friends because of shared commonality!

We’re all nerds! Everyone on this planet. Don’t let anyone tell you different. So choose to protect your fellow nerd. Go forth and don’t spoil it!!!

The Force is Awake

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens blog post NErds

Now that I’ve see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens for the 6th time, I feel like I can accurately and comprehensively share with you my thoughts and feelings and theories about it all. But before you go any further, let me offer you two warnings:

The 1st is the obligatory SPOILER WARNING. Because I’m doing deep. I’ll be up to my elbows in Jar-Jar quotes and Midiclorian references…wait…it’s not 1999. Regardless…there will be spoilers and I don’t want you, who haven’t seen it, to be spoiled. So if you choose to proceed…you have been warned about the spoilers.

There are SPOILERS ahead.

So many SPOILERS!!

Ok. The 2nd warning is about the tone of my “critique.” I put critique in quote marks because I have not the desire nor the ability to be critical of Star Wars right now. Thats not always the case, I guess. I have very strong opinions about Episode II: Attack of the Clones. But those opinions developed after many years and many viewings and many Conventions and debates and articles.  What you are about to read is enthusiastic. It’s positive. It’s hopelessly upbeat. I just can’t help it and I won’t apologize. So if you’re looking for a searing review or a critical eye…you’ve come to the wrong place. I absolutely, positively loved this movie (hence the seeing it 6 times thing.)

Now that you’ve been doubly warned, you may proceed…

PLOT

X-Wings Star Wars The Force Awakens recap blog

On my scale from Clones to Empire… I would give this a resounding Jedi! The plot itself greatly mirrors the events in A New Hope. Evil reigns in the galaxy. A misfit band, the Rebellion Resistance fight to stop them. A young person from a sandy planet doesn’t know the power that lies inside them, but after meeting an adorable droid is set on a journey of adventure and discovery that leads them to the Force. That adorable droid also carries secret plans that the Empire First Order is desperately trying to retrieve. The Rathtar gags mirror the Trash Compactor scene. And even Han Solo’s last stand against his son Kylo Ren mirrors Obi-Wan’s final stand against Kylo’s own grandfather, Darth Vader.

There have been complaints that this mirroring hurts the film in that it essentially is unoriginal. But I disagree. I think it makes it feel like home. The Force Awakens’ job (JJ’s job) was to create nostalgia and warm feelings inside, while trying to start the franchise on a new journey. What they have accomplished is making  this film feel comfortably old and excitingly new at the same time. No small feat. And where the prequels lacked things like shocking revelations (ie: Luke’s parentage or Kylo’s parentage) and witty one liners (ie: “I’d just as soon kiss a Wookie.” or “That’s not how the Force works!”) TFA has it all and then some. So I’d say that Disney’s mission is accomplished and the numbers don’t lie. TFA continues to break records as we speak!

And besides, Star Wars was never about the proven theories or even the deep character development, though those things are what makes it an everlasting saga. Star Wars is about the feels…the emotion…the shared experience of watching it with loved ones. That’s what Star Wars is about and this movie does not disappoint. From the very first words that scroll across the screen, “Luke Skywalker has vanished.” It grabs you by the short hairs and holds on tight till we finally glimpse that weathered face on the cliffs of who-the-hell-knows. If you didn’t shed a smidgen of a tear, then I daresay you may have embraced The Dark Side…

CHARACTER BREAKDOWN

REY

Star Wars The Force Awakens - Rey - Reactions blog

I don’t even know where to begin with Daisy Ridley and her performance as Rey. OUTSTANDING…STUPENDOUS…AMAZING? Yes to all three, but those measly words still lack the emotion that I felt watching a young, independent female take the lead in this film. I felt empowered. I felt represented. She was neither the love interest (“I know how to run without you holding my hand.”), nor the sexual object that her predecessors fell prey to. (ie: gold bikini and “accidental” midriffs.)

Rey doesn’t know the power of the Force that has lay dormant inside her. But we get to watch as she discovers it. From the moment Han Solo mentions the Jedi, there is an undeniable spark lit in Rey’s eyes. When Kylo Ren attempts to raid her mind for the map to Skywalker, Rey discovers she can fight back. And even more, she can use that power against him. And even tests this new strength on who she must surmise is a mindless drone (but is of course in fact, James Bond himself!!) As each power is unveiled she innocently steps forward to test her skills and in so doing, she tests her very being.

She’s funny (“I bypassed the compressor.”) She’s endearing (“I know how to run without you holding my hand.”) And she has all the makings of a truly great character. What we don’t know about her parentage and back story only serves to make her more intriguing and interesting. Let the great debate ensue about whether she’s a Skywalker, a Solo, a Kenobi or someone else entirely. I’m casting my vote for her to be a Solo!! If you want to know why…just ask! I can talk about it for hours!! 😉

FINN

star-wars-force-awakens Finn Reaction Blog

DANG! John Boyega hit this out of the park for me too!!! Again we have a character with very little backstory. Where is his family? Will we ever meet them? And does he get to kiss Rey eventually?? What’s going to happen when he wakes up? And why not put him in a Bacta tank? That always seems to help!! But I digress…Finn is no hero. At every turn he is actually trying to run away. He helps Poe escape so that he himself can escape the evil that he realizes he’s been apart of for far too long. And when Luke Skywalker is mentioned, he’s not driven to help the Resistance right away. It is when his new friend, Rey, is in danger that he is driven to help…to answer the call…until then, he merely gets swept up in the action.

He doesn’t have to get involved. He has no personal stake in the outcome of events. In fact, he even tries to run away time and again and even seeks an escape from Maz Tanata. But there is good in him! So much good that even he can’t fight his own nature and actually succeed in running away. That is what makes him charming and lovely and all the good words in the dictionary!!!

When Rey leaves him with the Resistance he is unconscious after his intense battle against Kylo Ren. The fact that Finn, a mere Stormtrooper, is able to hold his own against a Knight of Ren begs the question…how? He is passably competent with a lightsaber, a weapon he’s never seen in his life, let alone actually used. So how could he possibly hope to fight a Dark Lord like Kylo? Questions…questions and more questions.

POE DAMERON

Star Wars THe Force Awakens Poe Dameron

Is Poe single? Cause I’m super available!!! I didn’t think I could love anyone as much as I love Han Solo…scratch that, I can’t. But if anyone comes really close…it’s Oscar Isaac’s Poe. He’s cocky. He’s scruffy-looking. He has that hair! Dare I call him nerf-herder???

His relationship with BB8 is something akin to Luke’s relationship with R2D2. While his relationship to Finn reminds us of Han to Luke. I’m very interested to see more interaction between Poe and Rey. What kind of relationship will be in store for them? For surely they will meet and fight the good fight together. Rey, Finn and Kylo may be the central figures in the film, but Poe steals every scene he’s in and certainly deserves his medal in the proverbial Throne Room!!

Not only is Poe an outstanding pilot in the Resistance, fighting the good fight but he’s also able to keep his cool in the face of danger and even mouths off to scary, masked bad guys. He is EVERYTHING! And I cannot wait to see more of this character. Again, we don’t know much backstory. But with two movies in the wings, I don’t even care about any of that. I’m just eager for more and more and more!!

KYLO REN

Star Wars The Force Awakens Kylo Ren Reaction BLog

We know that he was Luke’s apprentice. We know that Supreme Leader Snoke seduced him to the Dark Side. We know that he is Han Solo and General Leia Organa’s son and that in the end his decision to kill his father was a tortured one, but that it ultimately helped him turn farther towards the darkness. And we know that his given name is Ben. What we don’t know is why? We have gotten to see Anakin’s journey to the Darkness and his motivations for turning and Luke’s journey to become a Jedi and his motivation for choosing the Light. But with Kylo we are coming in halfway into the story. Much has happened prior to the events of TFA. (Hoping for rich novelization to fill in some of those blanks.)

With Luke Skywalker as his teacher, Han Solo as his father, General Leia as his mother and dang…Chewbacca as his godfather (probably) what could ever motivate him to choose the path to the Dark Side? What is it about the Knights of Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke that was so enticing? It’s a bit of a head scratcher. But if this movie attempted to answer all the questions it throws at us, then it wouldn’t have been a great movie. JJ likes to present you with questions, (watchers of LOST know this very well) many questions. It’s what draws you in. It’s what will make us all return for Episodes VIII and IX!!

Adam Driver did a beautiful and tortured job, showing Kylo’s struggle. I felt like he really was conflicted with his choices. He is a young man, temper-mental, cocky, and yet still unsure of himself. He’s obviously very gifted in the ways of the Force. The way he freezes Poe and Rey in those scenes shows the strength he has. His talent is raw. It is not polished like an Obi-Wan Kenobi or highly trained like a Yoda. You can see it in his very lightsaber. It crackles. It spits fire. He wants so desperately to be great and powerful. But he is still so young.

In the final battle against Finn and then Rey, I did question how he could possibly Force throw Rey up into a tree and then have to put up a fight against someone as untrained as Finn. But…you see…he’d just killed his father. And I have to imagine that would rip up whatever light is/was still in him, causing a great disturbance inside of him. Who says that a bad guy has to be really secure in every evil decision he makes?

I like to think that murdering his dad haunts him. And in turn it influenced the way he was able to fight in the moments following that grave action. That’s my explanation…take it or leave it.

BB8

Star Wars The Force Awakens BB8 droid Reaction blog

Ummmm……there are not enough happy words to describe how much I adore BB8. He is just the cutest. And while he is not quite (i say quite because he is very funny) as funny as R2 always is, he takes over the part of secret carrying droid very well. He is in the thick of it all and survives. He makes friends. He makes jokes (lighter thumbs up anyone.) There is absolutely nothing they could have possibly done to make BB8 any better.

The scene where he is trying to get R2 to wake up is just everything good in this world. We can probably assume, given Poe’s affection for the little guy, that BB8 has been apart of the Resistance for  a while now. And yet he’s never met R2D2, who himself is a war hero!! Didn’t think there could possibly be back story questions about BB8 and yet…I have them.

MAZ KANATA

Star Wars The Force Awakens Maz Kanata reaction blog

I like to think of her as the new Yoda. Maz is very wise. And while she herself is not a Force user…she knows the Force and can speak intelligently to Rey about it’s power. She knows that Luke’s lightsaber is calling to Rey. Perhaps she senses the great power inside of her. I love that Maz knows Han’s struggles to stay away from Leia..from home. I want to know more about their history.

Lupita N’yongo did such a great job voicing this character. I LOVE that she calls Chewie her boyfriend. It immediately made me not just like her…but love her! Hoping for a lot more from Maz in the future. And dare I wish for many expanded universe novels telling her tales…I dare!!

CAPTAIN PHASMA

Star Wars The Force Awakens Captain Phasma reaction blog

This is perhaps my only minor beef with TFA. Too little of Phasma. As a Game of Thrones fan, when I heard that Gwendoline Christie was going to be in Star Wars, I was very excited. When I heard she was gonna be a lady Stormtrooper…I almost sprouted wings and flew!!! What a wonderful choice!! I don’t care if it was an eleventh hour decision or if that was the plan all along.

So, expectation and excitement were very high for this character, but then not only do we see very little of her, she is easily taken down and then placed in a trash compactor, which is a great nod to A New Hope, but a terrible ending for a potentially sick character! Apparently there will be more Phasma in our future, which is why my beef is only minor. I’d love for her to be the titular Boba Fett, but with far more onscreen time than fan favorite Boba got in the OT.

I think that she should have been the Stormtrooper that yelled “traitor” at Maz’s place and then proceeded to whip out that laser blaster weapon thing. How much more crazy cool would that fight have been if it had been her…Anyways. Cool character. Hoping for much, much more!! Would love to read a comic run with her headlining.

GENERAL HUX

Star Wars The Force Awakens General Hux reaction blog

Hux didn’t really do it for me. He’s a little young to have the gravitas of a Governor Tarkin. I’m not really afraid of him. Sure he’s blowing up planets like his forefathers did, but he just didn’t have the regal elegance I have come to expect from my British Imperial types. Even his Nazi rant about the Republic just sounded so forced. Though I dearly love Domhall Gleeson as Bill Weasley, perhaps that’s why I expected more bad assery and less petulance.

But, you know me…I have to find something positive! What I did like was the hatred between him and Kylo. I sense a history of them undermining one another to get into Snoke’s good graces. I like thinking that they could eventually have to figure some shit out and either band together or duke it out. Could make this character more interesting.

SUPREME LEADER SNOKE

Star Wars The Force Awakens Supreme Leader Snoke

Andy Serkis is here doing what he does best. Breathing life into computer animation. And what life he breathes! This life, the dark variety. Snoke is a character that is shrouded in mystery. How did he come to rule the First Order? Is he a Sith? Is he in fact Emperor Palpatine’s own former master, Darth Plaguies resurrected from the dead? Did he finally find a way to cross between death and life?

All we have are questions right now. But we know that Kylo is on a dark path towards whatever goals Snoke has laid out for him and now Kylo is about to “complete his training.” Mirroring Emperor Palpatine’s role in Darth Vader’s life. Again I wonder if that training has it’s origins in the dark ways of the Sith, given the givens of the Star Wars Universe. Only time and extensive reading of the new Expanded Universe will answer these pressing questions.

HAN SOLO

Star Wars The Force Awakens Han Solo and Chewbacca

He’s back!!! We’ve known for a long time that he’d be back, we just didn’t know how or in what capacity. But he is back at full throttle and smuggling once again, with faithful Chewbacca at his side. He joins the story in Act 2 when Rey and Finn find themselves aboard the one and only Millennium Falcon. They are attempting to get BB8 back to the Resistance so the map to Luke Skywalker will be secured. A noble mission, to be sure. One that our Han wants nothing to do with at first. He comes home to the Falcon with little on his mind other than Rathtars. Same old Han! Except it’s not, is it.

This Han is a father, we find out. A responsibility not taken lightly by him. The weight of Kylo’s betrayal weighs heavy on Han’s shoulders. With the proper prodding from Maz Kanata, Han is right back in the thick of it.

As I mentioned, we don’t know much…anything about Rey’s past. But I kept getting the feeling that Han knows something. He wants her to join his crew…that’s a rarity in and of itself. They finish each others sandwiches sentences. And when Maz Kanata questions Han about Rey, the camera pans away. Giving the impression that perhaps he knows more than he’s led Rey to believe. This would not be out of character for someone in the Star Wars Universe. Ben Kenobi was holding emotional hand grenades up his flowing Jedi robe sleeves, wasn’t he!

It’s all about the greater good sometimes. The needs of the many…ok that’s Star Trek not Star Wars. But you get my point.

I can’t mention Han without mentioning the big elephant on the handrail-less bridge. The final showdown between father and son. The epic moment when Han steps onto that bridge and calls out his son’s name, “BEN!” Kylo stares with remorseless eyes at the father who wasn’t able to bring him back to the Light. There is so much emotion in that scene…I cried at least the first 3 times watching the movie!!! Han is a favorite, a beloved part of the core of Star Wars and his light has been snuffed out by his own son. It was hard to watch. It still stings, but it was Han (and Harrison’s) chance to pass the torch to the new generation. In that context, I guess it makes sense. And JJ has never been one to shy away from those big, emotional moments.

GENERAL LEIA ORGANA

Star Wars The Force Awakens General Leia Organa

There wasn’t much screen time for the once and future General Leia Organa. Since the original Expanded Universe is no longer canon, we cannot rely on the books to shed light on all the years between Jedi and Force (not yet.) So we don’t know why, instead of banding together, Han and Leia split company in the face of their son’s turning to the Dark Side. But then again we also don’t know why Uncle Luke thought it best to turn tail and run…but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Leia is trying to run a Rebellion over here. One imagines that the pressures of motherhood stunted her otherwise promising career as Luke’s potential Padawan. And once Snoke began to rise in power and eventually sway her own son, perhaps Leia had not the will to try and learn the ways of a Force that is seemingly quite fickle at times. It not only took her father, but her son. What would cause her to want to learn it’s ways.

There is a tell tale scene in the trailer that was deleted. The scene of Maz Kanata handing Luke’s lightsaber to Leia, not to Rey. One would think that Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber might call out to Leia more than Rey. Leia’s force potential is something that I dearly hope will be explored especially because the disbanded EU explained it so beautifully. She clearly sensed Han’s death, and we know the Force is indeed strong in her. Too strong to fight against? One can only hope!!

LUKE SKYWALKER

Star Wars The Force Awakens Luke Skywalker

When the first major trailer hit the interwebs, the question on everyone’s mind was, of course, “WHERE’S LUKE?” Star Wars is a story of the Skywalkers. The story of a father and a son and the balance that is eventually brought to the Force through that family. How could you step forward into a new chapter of Star Wars with little to no Luke?

From the first word in the title scroll, we know that Luke is pivotal to the plot of this film. There is a map to Skywalker. The Resistance has it. The First Order wants it. The Jedi may be all but extinct, but Luke’s power is still very much a central theme of this movie. There is a light in Rey’s eye when she hears the name Skywalker. The tales are still being told, though truth has been warped and turned into legend.

One is led to wonder many things where Luke’s concerned (though don’t expect answers till 2017 and later!!) How on earth did Maz Kanata get hold of Luke’s blue lightsaber? The one that was lost to that ventilation shaft on Cloud City after Vader liberated his son from his hand.

Why, instead of choosing to stay and right things, would Luke leave his sister and his friends and the cause he believes in to go find an island in the middle of nowhere? Even if it is the island where stands the first Jedi temple? What answers could possibly be waiting for him? What could be more important than saving his friends? The very friends he left his training on Dagobah to go save, all those years ago? Have things changed so much? Were his newly turned nephew and potential niece/daughter/Padawan who knows nothing of her own Force sensitivity not enough to stick around for? And if Rey is his daughter, dear Lord in Heaven…let her mother be Mara Jade!!! (A girl can dream!)

Aside from all that, we get the much needed glimpse of that face we love. Though the lines suggest that he’s seen some things and has weathered all kinds of conflict, it is still and always will be a beloved face. Though one can’t help but wish that, instead of staring at Rey with deep sorrow in his eyes, he Force called his lightsaber from her and ignited it and the passion for the Light side inside of him. Thus setting the tone for what’s to come. Regardless, that ending held the power and momentum that we have come to expect from that little shaggy-haired farm boy from the remote planet of Tatooine!!

STANDOUT MOMENTS

Star Wars The Force Awakens reaction blog

Why choose from the stars in the sky? There were so many!!!

The moment that Han and Chewie come charging aboard the Millennium Falcon after what appears to be years apart from their ship.

How about the moment when Han and Leia see each other after their long and painful separation.

I loved when BB8 tried to coax R2D2 out of stasis for the cutest droid meeting ever!!! And then when they finally did meet and joyful beep boop beeps were had by all!!

Poe and Finn’s reunion after Finn believed Poe dead is endearing and heartwarming and has apparently launched a thousand “ships!”

It could be the moment Han Solo takes the step towards his son in the final act, and we all sensed that this could be the end and indeed it was for our favorite scoundrel.

Perhaps when we finally see Luke on that mountain top and Rey holds out the lightsaber that was lost to him years and years ago. His father’s lightsaber.

But for me, a moment that was beautiful and hopeful was when Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber comes careening out of the snow, not into Kylo Ren’s expectant hands, but instead into the hands of the untrained Rey. The telltale music swells. The blue light shines on her face as the red light shines on Kylo’s and a battle worthy of the title EPIC ensues!! It is truly a great moment in movie history and indeed in Stars Wars movie history as well!

I Love Star Wars Nerd in the city

Obviously I could wax poetic about not only this movie, but the Star Wars Universe for pages and pages. I could talk about music and graphics and costumes and effects and all kinds of things because it’s a deep and true part of my life!! But I’ll end by saying that I simply and truly loved it!! I don’t think I can rank it among the other movies quite yet. It stands on it’s own two feet and doesn’t deserve the comparison yet. So…love…that’s what I’ve got in my heart! Hope you enjoyed it as much or even half as much as I did. Let me know in the comments below or come connect with me on Twitter: @nerdinthecity for a more in depth chat!!

There’s a lot to look forward to in the galaxy far, far away and Nerd in the City will be with you every step of the way!!

May the Force be with us…ALWAYS!

Star Wars

Only 2 Months to go… I repeat! There are only 2 months to go till we will be feasting our eyes on Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens!!!
(Can you hear that? That is the sound of a fangirl losing her nerdy little mind over here!!!)

image

Here is the newest poster to drop today. With the new and final trailer dropping tomorrow night during Monday night football (clearly Disney’s effort to get more nerds to watch sports…all over that!)

First thoughts…
-WHERE’S LUKE?? Someone put out an APB for Luke!!!
-Leia’s hair! 😍
-New Death Star looking weapon!!
-Kylo, Rey, Finn, Poe!!!!! The gang’s all there.

No doubt we will all have many more feelings to share after tomorrow night!
It is really good to be a nerd right now!! Who’s with me?

Raising a Kid in the Apocalypse

The Walking Dead has taught us, the viewers, many valuable apocalyptic life lessons over the last 5 seasons. Season 6 kicked off with a bang on Sunday and I’m sure there will be brand new lessons to learn.

Perhaps one of the most intricate lessons we’ve been learning is how to raise a kid amidst a zombie apocalypse. Information that I’m sure will come in handy one day. Hey, if Glenn and Maggie make it, they may be able to benefit from Rick’s experience raising Judith and Carl.
image

1. Role Models are Important
image
Carol has become a surrogate mother to little Judith, in the absence of Judith’s deceased momma, Lori. Sure…she’s a killer, but it’s only ever been out of necessity and to protect the family. And if that means killing psychotic kids, disease-ridden women, crazy cannibals or the run of the mill zombie, then so be it. What better role model is there for a 2 year old baby girl, really?

2. Learning from Big Brother
image
Carl loves his baby sister. And sure…he had to kill his own mother, but she was a zombie. What’s a son to do? Plus big brother will be able to teach little Judith to shoot one day. And if she makes it through her terrible two’s, she’s gonna need those skills!

3. Father Knows Best
image
Rick loves that little girl! That much we know. Sure…he’s murdered countless people. Being the leader of the pack in a zombie apocalypse means making the tough call. And desperate times call for a swift stab to the temple. You better believe that Rick will do whatever it takes to protect his daughter from the evil undead of this world!! There is no greater love than this: that a man would lay down a score of zombies to save the life of his friends and family.

4. Home is Where the Heart Is
image
The farmhouse…er. The prison…uh-uh. Terminus…definitely not. Alexandria…ummmm. Ok, so home may be a fluid concept when you’re faced with hoards of flesh eating zombies. But that hasn’t stopped Rick from trying to find a place for Judith, Carl and Co. to call home. Is it his fault that just when they all get comfortable, everything goes to hell in a hand basket? No. He keeps hoping. He keeps trying. He keeps fighting. That’s what a good father does.

Here’s hoping the rest of season 7 is a little brighter for little baby Judith and her extended apocalypse family!!
image

I Dream of Comic Con

image

This is the first year in a while that I won’t be attending New York Comic Con. Trust me…I’m aware of all the fun I’ll be missing out on.
image The great thing about a virtual schedule is that you can over schedule yourself with no problem. So here’s my very busy virtual schedule for New York Comic Con! Hoping I’ll make it out there next year and never miss another one again!

Thursday, October 8th
11:00am – 88MPH: A Celebration of Back to the Future
12:30pm – Andre the Giant: The Man Behind the Legend

image

1:30pm- Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Panel
2:45pm – The Walking Dead: An Inside Look with Robert Kirkman
3:00pm – How Harley Quinn Conquered the World

image

4:00pm – Game of Thrones: A Panel of Ice and Fire
5:30pm – DC Superhero Girls
5:30pm – Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Sneak Peek
7:00pm – Sean Bean brings Legends to NYCC

Friday, October 9th
11:00am – Star Wars: A Galaxy of Fandom
12:15pm – Social Media for Creators
12:45pm – Felicia Day Spotlight

image

1:30pm – The Cute Side of the Force: Drawing Star Wars Creatures with Lauren Perry
1:45pm – Marvel: Iron Man and The Avengers
4:30pm – Once Upon a Time: An Evening with the Dark Swan
image 5:15pm – Screen Junkies Presents: Honest Trailers and Movie Fights
6:00pm – Marvel TV Presents: Agents of Prime time
7:00pm – Con Man: A Series 13 Years in the Making

image

Saturday, October 10th
11:00am – Chick’s Kick Ass: The Ongoing Epic
11:15am – Thrilling Adventure Hour
11:30am – Firefly Reunion

image

12:15pm – Disney – Lucasfilm Publishing Presents Star Wars: The Journey to The Force Awakens
12:15pm – Epic Reads Book Club
1:15pm – The X-Files

image

2:45pm – Marvel: Cup O’ Joe
2:45pm – Women in Geek Media: The Sequel
5:00pm – Netflix Original Series Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Daredevil

image

Sunday, October 11th
11:00am – How to Draw with Katie Cook

image

12:00pm – Lucasfilm Presents: Star Wars: A Galactic Readers Theater
12:15pm – Minority Report Panel
12:15pm – DC Entertainment: All Access

image

1:15pm – The Amazing Economics of Star Trek
1:30pm – Women of Marvel
1:30pm – Warner Brothers Televisions Takeover Featuring Gotham, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Blindspot, Supergirl and Person of Interest
2:30pm – Geek: Constructing Fandoms

If you’re going to NYCC, I hope you have a magical time!! And don’t forget to share pics on social!

Get ready to see a whole lot of this kind of stuff from sad fellow nerds who will be missing out on mecca:
image

Everyone’s a Critic

Do you remember the first time you ever saw Star Wars? Did you sit there analyzing the plot holes? Did you criticize the acting? Or were you drawn into a galaxy far, far away? Were you captured by the music and the scenery and the characters? Were you enchanted by it?

star-wars-birthday-party-logo-

These days, with the help of social media, everyone feels the need to analyze every little rumor, disseminate the plot till it barely makes sense anymore (I do it too sometimes.) The worth of a movie comes in the form of domestic and international tickets sales instead of whether or not it made you laugh or made you think or made you cry or if you had fun watching it. Or even plain old nostalgia. And nowadays we don’t even wait for the movie to come out. We rip it apart at the sign of the first teaser trailer.

We sift through this art form with a fine toothed comb till whatever comes out the other end is a sad representation of the original piece. We’ve all gotten our grubby little hands on it. So at some point it doesn’t look familiar anymore. Popular opinion has won out over any worth it might have had all on it’s own.

Perhaps the original Star Wars trilogy lives in a bubble (at least for me it does) because this generation that lives online grew up with it and it holds great value to those of us who were raised watching it.

And the truth of the matter is that there are not as many movies out there that deserve our child like wonder. But I wish more people would give that a try! When I go to see a movie, it isn’t for the mass appeal or whether or not a franchise will come out of it, it’s for the pure enjoyment of being transported to a world we don’t get to live in everyday. A world of spies, a world of magic, a world of superheroes… heck a world of plain old heroes.

There is still joy to be had at the movies if we just put down our critics pen and come to the movies with the intent of enjoying it. Will you occasionally be disappointed by a film you desperately want to love? See Star Wars Episode II or the most recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Ironman 2. It’ll happen, but the truth is that there are enjoyable elements in every movie out there. I detested Man of Steel, yet I can still name 5 solid things I really liked about it. Can you say the same? Can you try?

Cross Country Nerds

wpid-cross-country-nerds.png.png

A dear friend, who knows my propensity for nerdities emailed me, over a year ago, about a friend of hers that had just written a science fiction book and was looking for bloggers to read it and possibly blog about it. I always love discovering new books and authors and I really love to use my blog to highlight the great artistry and work that other people are accomplishing. So I eagerly started to read “A Time to Reap: The Legend of Carter Gabel” by Jonas Lee.  (check out my interview with Jonas and review of the book and then go forth and read!!) And I loved it! So I wrote a blog and connected with the author, Jonas.

Come to find out, we had much more than a love of science fiction in common. And we became instant social media friends! Tweeting the latest rumors about Star Wars and discussing shows like The Flash and Arrow.

It’s funny how these days you can become friends with someone and never see them in person. It’s a standard of our time period. I have countless friends on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook that I feel like I know well, but have never met and may never get the chance to meet. Or chat with face to face.

This is not the case with Jonas Lee. Tonight at 8pm est, we will be chatting live on Google Hangouts. Exploring topics like Star Wars, Marvel, DC, what it means to be a nerd in the 21st century, what it was like ‘growing up nerd,’ and anything else nerdy, geeky, dorky or otherwise! If you have something you want us to talk about, by all means tweet it to us at #CrossCountryNerds

He lives in South Dakota. I live in Florida. If not for the wonderful world of the world wide web, we might never have met. Watch what happens next and…

We hope to virtually see you lovely nerds there tonight!! Here’s the link: Cross Country Nerds