The Force is Fit for Fans

n a world where sequels and prequels run rampant, it was as no surprise that Disney would bring back the Star Wars franchise. What was uncertain was the quality of the films would be produced. The Disney brand almost certainly lends to a viable sequel but fans were left with a taste in their mouth after the mediocre prequels from years before. Add J.J. Abrams (someone with good idea but usually ruins them when he executes them) and the trepidation for The Force Awakens was mighty.
While I understand not spoiling the story, I really don’t like not knowing what the story is about and the movie handles that in the first two minutes. Basically Luke has disappeared after a tragedy involving training new Jedi. Han and Leia have drifted apart; Han has gone back so a life of smuggling but Leia is still looking for her brother. Meanwhile, a new crop of heroes join in the pursuit of Luke: Rey, an orphan abandoned on Jakku, Finn a Storm Trooper who defects, and Poe Leia’s best fighter pilot who is instrumental in battle against The First Order. I’ll keep these spoiler free (I’ll save those till the very end past the photos).
The movie pays homage to the original three films. But this becomes one of the few drawbacks. The first fifteen minutes are pretty much recap of things that have been done in the originals. This quickly gets boring but doesn’t last very long. The movie quickly begins to stand on it own while blending past characters with future characters seamlessly. But you can create checklist of things from the originals and play a drinking game with it. A cantina? Take a drink. A villain with a screwy voice? Chug! The only issue is that the end but I won’t discusses it until after the cut.
With a strong story, The Force Awakens looks great. CGI and technology have come along way but it still visually feels like Star Wars. The characters are developed as the movie progresses with out falling back on stereotypes. Abram does not screw this up. This was a fear I had after Star Trek but here he doesn’t stray away from the things original fans loved but made it accessible to a new generation. Luckily, he doesn’t have to back up his work in the sequels; this won’t be like Alias, where after the second season everything went down hill. I thank Disney for this, for there dedication of not ruining the legacy.
If you’ve seen it, then we have SO much to discuss. Skip down to below the pictures and we’ll kick some ideas around. If you haven’t seen the film, move along there is nothing to see here.

HERE BE SPOILERS
Let’s talk that ending. While it was imperative to see Luke, condemning her travel to him into a five minute time span stinks of the issues that plaque the prequels. Plus, Luke never says anything to Rey when she finds him. This is the moment where he should have announced who her parents were. But nothing was learned or benefited by this exchange. The film could have easily ended with her getting the Millennium Falcon and taking off and then cut to Luke watching and waiting for her arrival. While this is a small issue, it could mean that the pacing for the next film will be ruined.
Parentage is a big issue. With Luke being the last Jedi, we knew that Kylo Ren and Rey had to be related to someone. They came right out about Ren to move the story with Han along. But the writers fed you bits and pieces as they went and overly hinted at her being Luke’s daughter. But could this be a red herring? I certainly think so. I believe that she will be another child of Han and Leia’s. Since twins run in the family and the fear of the force going to the Dark Side, it’s not a stretch to think that they separated her from her brother to keep her safe. What proof do we have in the film? There are two notable moments: the first being when Ren take off his helmet and the two share a charged moment. It wasn’t sexually and was more than just the force clashing between them; it was loaded with recognition and importance. Plus, they looked a lot alike. Next, you have Han’s paternal feelings for her. This is odd in the loner and its possible that he doesn’t know that she is that second child. This also repeats themes from the first films which The Force Awakens has done since the opening minutes.
And finally, I should address Han himself. Many people had no idea that he was going to die and have intimated that I had been spoiler spelunking before I went on opening night. This is outright insulting. In fact, I knew because Ford has been talking about it for YEARS. Just by reading interviews with him, I have known his desire for Han’s death and that it would happen this film. ( While, I don’t make fun of people who didn’t figure it would happened, I was pissed that people would throw hate my way.) But I knew this info before I knew that Han would be such a pivotal role in this movie. Han has arguably been the character that was the moving force in the franchise (the only other character we could argue would be the Darth man himself), and he continues to be so in the Force Awakens. I don’t say this to belittle the other characters. But it will affect the upcoming films. We now know that all the characters would show up in the next film (Star Wars often overcomes death, so this won’t be an issue), but what will the films be like without him as a driving force?
I look forward to the next film and am very annoyed that it will be so long before we get the next installment. But that does give us plenty of time to develop our fan theories.

What Now? Fall’s New Shows

Every fall networks try to peddle their news shows hoping that they find a wide audience. Often my favorite shows like Dollhouse don’t make it very far, but shows that I abandon after three episodes, like Bones, continue for years. It’s why I like to get into established shows even though each year I try out a few new ones. Here’s my take on the new Fall shows. We’ll see what lasts on what doesn’t.

Best Bets

Elementary

This is by far the show I am most excited about this Fall. This modern day tale of Sherlock Holmes transplants Holmes to New York City and played by Jonny Lee Miller. Fresh out of rehab, he and his live in sober companion become consultants for the police department. But here’s the twist: Watson is played by Lucy Liu and she has a past of her own. These two must overcome their pasts to move forward with their future.

Miller is a fantastic actor and will add so much to the role of Holmes. I really look forward to see the chemistry between him and Liu. But don’t expect to see the two romantically involved. Instead they will have romances of their own that will be complicated by their living situation. I find this a very fresh approach as women and men as co-workers.

Chicago Fire

Jesse Spencer as a fireman.

Well, really I need to say more than that. This Dick Wolf creation (Law & Order) delves into the lives of the Chicago Fire Department. Part procedural, part character oriented, this drama promises to be more than just eye candy. I am excited to see something other than a police procedural, reality TV show, or worn out sitcom this season. Chicago Fire should add flame to a boring Fall season.

WTF?

Revolution

15 years after the world looses electricity a group of survivors try to restore power to the earth. This J.J. Abrams vehicle sounds as interesting as Alcatraz and just as short lived. The show will focus on the quest to turn the power back on, but not on how or why it was turned off.

Millions of questions spring to mind. How can all the power go off? In 15 years why haven’t they used water wheels and such for rudimentary electricity? Why does the preview show someone with electricity? Where did they find all those swords?

I remember when JJ Abrams made good TV and that ended with the third season of Alias. His radical premises may have charmed some, but I have no patience for contrived plots and confusing story lines.

Animal Practice

This comedy about a veterinary practice features an ad that shows vets and techs rushing with an injured dog on a gurney being check our by a monkey. It all goes down hill from there. The show center around a man who works for his ex he now runs the veterinary hospital. On of the cast even told Entertainment Weekly that they knew the show was a long shot. If the cast feels that way, what is the point of the show’s existence?

On the Fence

The New Normal

From the mind of Ryan Murphy comes a semi-biographical tale of two gay men and a surrogate. Add to an already tense situation a racist grandmother and the show has the potential to make a statement. Even though the show presents the liberal and conservative sides of the gay parent argument, the show is already being banned by certain stations. You have two crowds for this show: those that want it gone and those that want it to succeed because of the egalitarian content. This show will succeed or fail not based on the quality of the show, but because of the hype.