poor unfortunate souls: the decline of the great Disney villain

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“You’re speechless, I see.  A fine quality in a wife.”

“She shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die.”

“Long live the king.”

You recognized all those lines, right?  They’re quotes taken from the mouths of some of the greatest, most evil villains ever to grace (deface?) the screen: Jafar, Maleficent, and Scar.  Disney movies might be marketed to kids but that doesn’t mean they write weak, limp-wristed villains.  From the evil queen in Snow White to Gaston to Ursala, Disney villains have been alternately terrifying and fascinating children (and adults) for decades.

But a conversation with a fellow Disney geek made me realize something: great Disney villains are becoming scarcer and scarcer with each passing year.  The only one that comes to mind from semi-recent years is Mother Gothel.  She is one of the most wicked, well-developed villains in any Disney film.  But other than her?  Well, spellbinding Disney villains are kind of rare.

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Before I go any further with this, a couple of caveats:

  1. Just because I don’t view every recent Disney villain as being a great villain doesn’t mean I don’t like them as a character + appreciate the writers’/voice actors’ skills.
  2. I do appreciate how some Disney films are going with antagonists (human or otherwise) instead of straight-up villains.  It adds variety and can actually make the story more interesting and rich.

Okay, so here’s my biggest quibble with recent Disney villains: there are too many ‘plot twist villains’.

You know what I’m talking about.  The villain originally appears as someone good, someone who you’d never suspect (if it weren’t for this trope being used soooo much)…and then they turn out to have been the Big Bad all along.  There are a trillion examples of this type of villain these days (and it’s not just limited to Disney).  King Candy, Hans, Professor Callaghan, that villain in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Ernesto de la Cruz, Charles Muntz…the list could go on and on.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having this type of villain. (Except that it’s come to be very expected these days.)  When done well, this trope can add a ton of angst and depth to a story (also, it can be one thing that makes me absolutely loathe a villain – see: Alexander Pierce and Mysterio).

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But there’s one problem (in my opinion) with having so many Disney villains follow this pattern.  And it’s that they don’t get development as a villain/enough time to be villainous.  Classic Disney villains were really allowed to cut loose and ham it up – just think of Ratigan or Ursula or Maleficent or Hades or Prince John All superb villains.  It’s a blast to watch them take control of the movie and be all evil and villainous and soooo entertaining. (Also: Disney villains need to get more songs these days!)  I know that if every single villain was so over the top it would get exhausting.  We need quieter, more methodical villains too (like Jafar or Frollo).

I guess what I’m saying is that I want more villains who revel in their evil plots, who are unabashed and unashamed, who do everything possible to make the hero’s life miserable.  You know why?  So that when they are defeated, it’s as glorious and satisfying as possible.  I may enjoy villains, but there’s something so right about them getting their comeuppance.

Again, I’m not saying that Disney never does ‘plot twist villains’ well.  They’ve created several great ones.  But maybe it’s time for them to return to their roots (especially considering all the remakes we’ve been getting) and come up with some more epic, iconic villains.  They went in the right direction with Mother Gothel and Bowler Hat Guy (from Meet the Robinsons).  They can write amazing villains, no doubt about it.  And I’d love to see more of them.

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Do you agree that Disney villains have become a bit lame?  Or do you totally disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

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my (totally not) definitive ranking of every major Star Wars movie

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Why ‘not definitive’?  Well, I’ve seen most Star Wars films only once (and it’s hard to rank them definitively because of that).  But I have a ton of thoughts about practically all of them and rankings are fun, so yeah.  I might post an updated ranking when I rewatch all the films in preparation for Rise of Skywalker (for which NO ONE had better give me spoilers when the time comes).  So, without further ado, here are my Star Wars film rankings (from worst to best)!

#10 – Solo

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I was almost surprised with myself when I put Solo at the very bottom of this ranking.  But I’m finding it hard to think of anything I like about it.  Enfys Nest was cool.  I enjoyed seeing Han and Chewie’s friendship begin.  Lando made me laugh.  But other than that, this film was dull and forgettable.  I struggled through one viewing and haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the film fully since.

#9 – Attack of the Clones

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When you have to literally force yourself to sit through a movie, you know it’s bad.  There are so many things wrong with this film – and very little right.  The only parts I actually enjoyed were Obi-Wan’s pursuit of Jango Fett and, um…I’m trying to think of any other good bits.  Can’t come up with any.  Oh!  Really, actually loved the whole arena fight and how resourceful Padme was and how awesome all the Jedi were.  Very, very cool.

Other than that, though, Attack of the Clones was simply awful.  I can forgive some awkwardness between Anakin and Padme because they’re both so young.  But their relationship crossed the line from awkward to toxic very quickly (why Padme didn’t turn and run when Anakin did his whole psychopathic “I killed them.  All of them.” is beyond me).  Just no.

(The only reason this is ranked above Solo is because I like some of the characters better than Solo’s characters.  Mostly Obi-Wan.)

#8 – The Phantom Menace

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Honestly, this film is only better than Attack of the Clones (IMO) because of Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Padme.  They are the only parts of the this film that make it more watchable and enjoyable than AotC.  Padme is probably at her best in The Phantom Menace: strong, determined, smart, and overall a joy to watch. (It also helps that she’s not infatuated with a whiny teenager.)  I can’t say enough good things about Obi-Wan + Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of him.  And Liam Neeson is always cool.

AND the three-way fight between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul may possibly be my favorite lightsaber battle.  It’s intensely personal, the visuals are amazing, and just…yeah.  Awesome. (And sad.)

Other than all that, The Phantom Menace isn’t the greatest.  I don’t really care about the bad acting (and there actually isn’t too much of that).  But, again, it’s boring.  And a bit weird in places.  And Jar Jar drives me up the wall.  There are elements of a good, or even great movie in The Phantom Menace, but it mostly misses the mark.

#7 – The Empire Strikes Back

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Okay.  I know that most Star Wars fans consider Empire the best Star Wars movie of all time.  I know that.  But I had a hard time liking it.  I think it’s because I found Luke, Han, and Leia supremely annoying for a lot of the movie.  There were some spellbinding action sequences and plot twists (though can the I-am-your-father thing really be called a plot twist anymore?).  But Han and Leia bickered like five year olds throughout most of the film and Luke was alternately whiny and foolishly headstrong.

Maybe I’m seeing it all wrong.  I’ve only watched Empire once and my opinions could very well change the next time I see it.  But right now, I’m not finding a whole lot to love.  I did like Yoda more than I thought I would.  The whole Han frozen in carbonite (I almost said kryptonite, haha) was genuinely emotional. And I LOVE how Luke reached out with the Force to get Leia’s help.  But overall, I would have to say that Empire isn’t my cup of tea.

#6 – Return of the Jedi

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Everything from this film and upward is super hard for me to rank.  Super hard. (Except for my number one pick, which has always been non-negotiable.)  I just wanted y’all to know that.

So.  Return of the Jedi.  This film genuinely delighted, intrigued, and moved me in several places.  I know many people think that the opening escape from Jabba’s palace takes too long and doesn’t add anything to the plot, but those scenes were among my favorites.  Really, really awesome how everyone works together to bring off the escape. ❤ 

And then you get into the meat of the story – the conflict between Luke and Vader, the Rebellion and the Empire.  It’s all really good and interesting.

Overall, I found myself liking all the characters a LOT more in Jedi than I did in Empire or A New Hope.  So that made me happy.  I didn’t love the Ewoks but at least they weren’t as annoying as Jar Jar.  Return of the Jedi is, in my opinion, a solid Star Wars film that wrapped up the original trilogy really well. (And I actually think it’s great that George Lucas put prequel Anakin as a Force ghost in the last scene – it made me Feel Things.)

#5 – The Last Jedi

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As I’ve already mentioned, I didn’t hate The Last Jedi.  I actually really enjoyed it.  I don’t ship Finn and Rose and I didn’t care much about their little subplot but everything else was BRILLIANT.  Luke and Rey on the island.  Poe’s storyline.  Rey and Kylo’s connection and the stunning fight in Snoke’s throne room.  Luke’s final stand.  Luke and Leia.  Almost everything about this film is utterly beautiful and poignant.  It’s basically my aesthetic (visually and emotionally).

#4 – The Force Awakens

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I remember having insomnia and deciding to watch The Force Awakens for the first time.  I got my phone and rented it from Google Play.  The bedroom was pitch dark and I held my phone in my hands and it was like holding the galaxy in my hands.  The opening fanfare, the stars, the alternately bright and tragic story…it was an amazing feeling/experience that I’ll always remember.

Anyway.

HAN SOLO’S DEATH BROKE ME.  Just felt like getting that out of the way.  It’s horrible and gruesome and made me hate Kylo a hundred times harder.  I know Harrison Ford wanted it and was probably super happy about it, but I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS, OKAY??? *tears*

I love the rest of The Force Awakens though.  Rey is an amazing heroine.  Finn and Poe steal the show.  All the little nods to the original trilogy made my day.  And the overall coolness factor of the different planets and character designs and costumes is undeniable.  I look forward to watching and rewatching TFA a bunch of times in the future.

#3 – A New Hope

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I remember watching this with my dad for the very first time. (Isn’t that true for so many Star Wars fans?)  I thought A New Hope was one of the coolest, most amazing movies in the world and I’d have rewatched it a million times if I could have.  I was maybe twelve or thirteen and I had never seen anything like it.  I bought a book of the film that I think was literally from the seventies (I found it at a flea market).  It was like a longish storybook with a bunch of photos from the movie throughout the text and I read it so many times.

I remember that Obi-Wan was my favorite character right from the start.  And he’s remained my favorite character in the franchise ever since.

A New Hope may not be my favorite Star Wars movie.  But the little ache of nostalgia that it calls up inside of me (coupled with the memories of my dad and how he talked about seeing it in theaters as a little kid and loving it too) makes it the most meaningful Star Wars film to me.  I still remember my reaction to certain scenes so, so vividly (which is rare for me).  Kind of amazing. ❤

#2 – Revenge of the Sith

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I realize that it’s kind of weird to have Revenge of the Sith in the second-to-best spot in a ranking of Star Wars movies.  But there are a few reasons for why I put it so high on my list.  First of all, Anakin’s fall from grace (when it finally happens) is incredibly well done.  It’s insidious (haha) and heartbreaking and completely believable, the way Palpatine preys on Anakin’s fears and offers such a ‘good’ solution to them via the Dark Side.

Additionally, I kinda grew up watching the Clone Wars TV show so the characters/setting/mood of Revenge of the Sith is familiar and nostalgic for me.  RotS isn’t a perfect film by any means, but it’s a personal favorite of mine.  Easily the best film in the prequel trilogy. (Plus, I love villain stories and prequels in general.  So that bumps up my ranking as well.)

#1 – Rogue One

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Nothing can match the perfection of this film. (At least so far.)  This post is super long already so I’m not going to dig deep into my love for Rogue One.  But everything about it – story, characters, music, fan-service, battles, ending – is perfect (in my opinion).  And let’s just leave it at that for now. 😉

So.  Tell me – how do you rank the films?  Do you agree or disagree with my rankings?  And how were you introduced to Star Wars?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

why I love Shawn Spencer (but not Peter Quill)

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“Um…Eva?” you might say after reading the title of this blog post.  “What exactly do these two characters have in common?”

Well, they’re both snarky, wisecracking problem solvers who’ve lost their mother (one to divorce, the other to death) and have an affinity for all things 80’s.  Additionally, both Shawn Spencer (from the TV show, Psych) and Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord from the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy…and other films) are ENTPs.  I, on the other hand, am an ISTJ – which means I have a lot of trouble getting along with (or even tolerating) ENTPs.  

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After watching Infinity War, I told one of my friends (and all you readers, I think?) that I didn’t like Peter Quill.  Not at all.  I thought/hoped that Guardians of the Galaxy might change my mind, but it only confirmed what I’d already known: Peter Quill and I would never be friends IRL.

But yeah, cool, whatever.  I accepted that and moved on.  However, I recently got an urge to rewatch a bunch of Psych episodes that I love.  And as I did so, I realized two things: Shawn and Peter are [almost] the same character and…I really, really, really like Shawn.  How could this be???  To answer that question, I set out to write a blog post documenting the whys and hows and wherefores. So join me as I try to figure it out!

*dramatic music plays*

As I said above, the differences between Shawn and Peter aren’t so wide at first.  They each walk a fine line with being troubled by their past, restless in their present, and unconcerned with their future. (Relatively speaking.)  And they each annoy me, in similar ways.  As an ISTJ, it drives me crazy when people constantly make jokes (especially during serious moments or about serious things).  Shawn and Peter both do that.

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Still, there’s something of a difference.  Shawn is capable of being calm, level-headed, and utterly serious when the situation demands it.  And, unlike Peter, it doesn’t have to be the most dramatic, life-or-death situation ever.  Shawn tones it down when he senses that people need a different side of him to lean on, to vent to…anything.  Peter, on the other hand, uses humor to distance himself from practically anything that could cause him emotional stress, strain, or even just an awkward conversation. (Which is kinda selfish at times, IMO.)

I do get Peter’s point of view.  So often, I try to escape or avoid emotional situations or moments (though not with humor, because that’s just not me).  But when someone really needs you, you’ve got to give a little.  When your girlfriend (who apparently you love more than anything) is having a SERIOUS CONVERSATION with you about YOU HAVING TO KILL HER (maybe) you don’t need to BE SILLY. *is greatly annoyed*

Shawn, however, allows himself to be vulnerable with the people he loves, with the people who need him.  He’s a funny guy, sure, but he always comes through when people need him to.  And I know that Peter does the same…kinda?  I’m not really angry with him for trying to beat up Thanos and ‘ruining everything’ (because it was obviously part of the one, winning future Doctor Strange saw).  It’s more that I see Peter as being really selfish in most situations? (Except the absolutely most dire ones.)  Idk how to explain it?

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He wants to save himself from having to deal with anything – like helping Thor or being straight-up with Gamora – and so he deflects with humor all. the. time.  It annoys me because um, yeah, I do see myself in that kind of coping mechanism (except I go the whole ‘ignore everyone’ route instead of the jokes thing).  But it also annoys me because, well, it’s annoying!  Imagine being Gamora and having all your attempts at a serious conversation shot down.  Uggggh.

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So I guess this whole thing is about Shawn being kinder and softer and somewhat less selfish than Peter.  Shawn’s jokes aren’t always on point (and, trust me, I’ve been irritated by him more than once).  But overall, I can accept/like/love him as a character far more easily than I can do the same for Peter Quill.

Do you like Shawn and/or Peter?  I’d love to chat about them with you in the comments!

Eva

why Kong: Skull Island disappointed me

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So, I had this character study of a favorite fictional character planned for my next blog post (still working on it!).  Then I watched Kong: Skull Island…and I have to complain/rant about it for a bit.  So yeah.  That’s what we’re doing today. *grins*  And because I love making lists, here are three reasons why this stupid movie was suuuuch a disappointment…

The story lost its vision.

Kong: Skull Island started out extremely promising.  In a little prologue set during 1944, an American airman and a Japanese airman both crash onto a mysterious island.  They’re continuing the fight that began in the skies when, suddenly, Kong appears.

Cut to black.

Then we get the credits, which are Very Serious and use stock footage from the 40’s-70’s to explain that the world is getting worse and worse and Is There Anything That Can Be Done About It?  After that, you have these two scientist types who want to investigate a previously uncharted island.  The Vietnam War has just ended, the country is still kinda in turmoil, and they want to explore the island before the Russians do. (Well, that’s what they say at the time.  You learn later that that isn’t exactly the reason.)

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It’s a reasonably interesting set-up, right?

But here’s my problem with Kong: Skull Island’s story.  The first half hour of the film sets up these juicy questions and issues.  One character who goes on the quest is an anti-war photographer who falls in love (kinda?) with a former SAS operative and butts heads with a warmongering military officer.  There’s so much potential for conflict there!  All those ideologies colliding and being forced to work together to survive?  Awesome.

Not to mention that the film treats the invasion of the island and the disruption of its inhabitants as a commentary on the wrongness of the Vietnam War.  So many things, deep and powerful things, could have been said and shown throughout the movie.  But instead, it devolved into a bunch of monsters gorily eating people and fighting each other.

The cast was utterly wasted.

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(No, I don’t mean they were drunk, lol.)

It should be a crime to assemble (no pun intended – you’ll get it in a second) such a stellar, amazing, talented group of actors and then proceed to squander all that talent.  The cast was what made me eager to see Kong: Skull Island in the first place.  They got Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and Brie Larson together in one movie (not for the last time, y’know) and RUINED IT.

I literally know none of their characters’ names, so…Tom Hiddleston was the only slightly good thing about this movie.  His character didn’t get much development (no one did, except mayyyybe John C. Reilly’s character) but he was pretty cool and, um, very attractive. 😉  Probably the only time I’ve actually been attracted to Tom Hiddleston. (Weird, I know.  I just don’t really find him all that appealing as Loki – most of the time.)

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Samuel L. Jackson turns into this madman who hates Kong because Kong killed some of his fellow soldiers.  I guess it’s an okay character arc and Jackson tries to sell it, but there’s so little for him to work with.  The characters are paper thin and the script is flat and dull.  So much acting ability, so little to do with it.

And don’t get me started on Brie Larson’s character.  She probably had the most potential to be an interesting character – she’s an anti-war photographer going on an expedition that is more than a little militaristic in tone.  There were so many opportunities for her to have interesting conversations with various characters.  But instead she was demoted to ‘the woman who screams whenever the monster appears’.  Uggggggh.  I would have loved to see her go toe to toe with Samuel L. Jackson’s character (they have great [platonic] chemistry, as seen in Captain Marvel).  But no.  That didn’t happen.

So many missed opportunities.

I just…didn’t care.

Like I said above, the director/writer kind of acted like the invasion of the island was an allegory for the Americans going into Vietnam.  But the metaphors quickly become muddled.  Was it good that they came to the island?  Bad?  Does anyone care?  I certainly didn’t.

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There was also some interesting moral ambiguity with how Kong seemed to actually have a soul?  Or at least be able to think like a human?  Idk?  It’s all very weird and wasn’t explained well.  I tried to like the film, but there were no well-rounded characters (with the exception of John C. Reilly) and the stakes didn’t engage or excite me at all.

(The monsters were pretty cool though.  I liked seeing them – especially Kong – smash stuff.  And I liked that it was set in the 70’s.  Cool aesthetic.)

Have you watched Kong: Skull Island?  What did you think of it?

Eva

three reasons why I love prequel stories

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Prequels aren’t everybody’s favorite thing.  I get that.  But I recently watched the Star Wars prequel films and while I didn’t love them, they did get me thinking about prequels and why I enjoy them so much.  Here are three of my reasons!

Prequels add depth to the original story(ies).

One of my favorite book series is the Lunar Chronicles.  The series’ villain, Queen Levana, is practically pure evil…but you don’t really get to know why until you read the prequel novella, Fairest.  There, you find out that Levana was abused by her older sister and suffered from unrequited love for years.  None of that is an excuse for her villainous behavior, but it does deepen her character/motivation.

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Another one of Marissa Meyer’s books, Heartless, is a prequel to Alice in Wonderland.  Now, I’ve never read Alice.  But I know that if or when I do, I’ll find the story that much more interesting (at least the part with the Queen of Hearts).

And then there’s the Star Wars prequels.  I know I’m treading on thin ice here and I really don’t want to defend the prequels as a whole.  The Phantom Menace was barely tolerable and I had to force myself to watch Attack of the Clones all the way through. 

But the three prequels do add an extra dimension to the original trilogy.  You’ve got to admit that.  You really get to know Anakin/Darth Vader and Padme (not to mention Obi-Wan).  The Star Wars universe expands.  And overall, I feel like the prequels (particularly Revenge of the Sith) give certain lines and character moments in the original films more depth. (All the stuff Obi-Wan says about Anakin/Vader for instance.)

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Prequels allow you to spend more time in a great storyworld.

Usually, stories receive prequels because fans enjoyed them so much.  And with that, you often get a greater exploration of that story’s world and the characters in it.  Right now, I’m specifically thinking of Monsters University, which I LOVE (far more than Monsters, Inc.).  I’m so, so glad they made a prequel.  The world of the Monsters films is fun, colorful, and quirky – staying there a little longer is always a good idea and the prequel made that possible.

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The same holds true for the Star Wars prequels.  I love all the new worlds and cities and moons that you see in the prequels (especially because I half grew up watching The Clone Wars TV show and so many of the locations are comfortingly familiar).  The Star Wars universe is super cool – I’ll even sit through Attack of the Clones just to see more of it.

Prequels are a great opportunity for fan-service.

You know one of the things I love in prequels?  It’s when you see something for the original film/book but it’s not yet in its final form (even though the prequel was created after the OG story).  Example: the tech in Monsters University is rougher and not as advanced.  Or C-3PO in The Phantom Menace.

Throwbacks like that are a huge part of why I enjoy prequels so much.  You’ll have quotes, too, that are like throw-forwards to the original stuff. (Obi-Wan: “Why do I get the feeling you’ll be the death of me?” *snickers*)  Additionally, prequels often focus on fan-favorite characters.  Like Mike in Monsters University!  Or Puss in Puss in Boots (the Shrek prequel).  So much fun.

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Anyway!  Those are three reasons why I like watching/reading prequels.  What about you?  Do you hate the Star Wars prequels?  Do you prefer Monsters University to Monsters, Inc. (PLEASE SAY YES)?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

in defense of Luke Skywalker

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The last several days have been a Star Wars-induced haze because I’ve been catching up on all the movies I never saw before.  All that’s left for me now is the prequels (I’m talking about catching up on the Skywalker saga – not the spin-offs and weird holiday specials).  I was especially interested to watch The Last Jedi because I knew it was shrouded in controversy.

My thoughts on the film in general are better saved for a different post (spoiler alert: I thought it was great, even better than The Force Awakens).  Today I want to focus on Luke – and the wild discussions and accusations regarding his character in The Last Jedi. 

Even though it might seem like I’m incredibly late to the table/the Star Wars fandom in general, I have been a fan ever since I saw A New Hope when I was ten or eleven.  So I do have Thoughts and Feelings about these characters.  (And, by the way, if you hated The Last Jedi, hated Luke’s arc, all of it…that’s totally okay with me.  I understand we all approach stories differently.  This is all my personal opinion about a, you know, fictional character.)

The Controversy

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So, from what I can make out, most of people’s complaints about Luke have to do with two main things: the fact that he thought (for one second) of murdering a child.  And his abandonment of literally everything after the whole Ben Solo fiasco.  I’m going to take on these issues one at a time and see where it goes…

Luke is not a child killer.

Everyone understands this.  Everyone knows that Luke didn’t kill Ben.  But sometimes it’s hard to separate what he thought of doing from what he actually did. (Okay, and maybe Luke was lying to Rey about his intentions.  But who are you going to believe?  A whiny, emo Darth Vader wannabe or a Jedi warrior who has a track record of integrity and uprightness?)

I think we all need to remember who Luke’s father was. (I know, I know – it’s impossible to forget.  But stay with me.)  Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, of course, but before he was Vader, he was a Jedi apprentice.  He had the potential for light and dark inside him and Luke had to know (or at least suspect) that Obi-Wan waited and waited and hoped and waited some more for the light to win in Anakin’s heart.

Except that never happened and millions of people suffered and died because of that.  Luke had to have been terrified of creating another Vader, his father’s shadow hanging over him even as he pushed those thoughts away and focused on training Ben.  Especially when Ben began exhibiting some tendencies toward the dark side – he had to have, or else why would Luke have probed his mind in the first place?

Alternately, maybe the worry of Ben going bad – any of the students going bad – was what led Luke to be suspicious of Ben in the first place.  Paranoia, you know.  Fear is one of the hardest emotions to contain and it’s especially insidious because once it’s there, it grows even as you try to ignore it. 

Luke probably snuck into Ben’s room (tent?) that night, fearful of what might be in his mind, but assuming (or hoping) that he’d find nothing.  So when he did detect whispers of darkness (future or otherwise), he freaked out.  His instincts took over, his instincts as a Jedi warrior tasked with rooting out the dark side, and he drew his lightsaber.

But he didn’t kill Ben.  He didn’t.

And then everything went horribly wrong anyway.

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Leaving the Jedi, ignoring the Force.

This is, I think, the larger sore spot of the two: Luke retreated from his failures (supposed or real), went to a lonely island, and closed himself off from the Force.  So many people have said that he would never do that, that the writers were idiots, that this isn’t the Luke they know. 

However.

(Oh my word, I have sooooo many thoughts in my mind right now.  How to untangle them?)

First of all, I think that Luke may have felt he didn’t deserve to be a Jedi anymore.  Fear is one thing that can turn a Force user to the dark side and I believe Luke was incredibly fearful. (As detailed in the previous section.) 

He was afraid of failing Ben the way he figured Obi-Wan had failed Anakin.  He was afraid that Ben would turn to the dark side and he’d have failed Leia and Han too – his sister and his best friend.  And when Luke saw that fear reap awful consequences, he ran from it all.  Which, of course, was another type of fear.  So maybe he didn’t feel worthy to wear the Jedi mantle, to use the Force and take on the innate responsibilities that entailed.

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I’d also like to point out that Obi-Wan did the exact same thing Luke did: he hid away in some forgotten corner of the galaxy.  I don’t think Obi-Wan did it because he was an introvert or something.  He did it because he felt so keenly his failure with Anakin.  And Luke is the Obi-Wan figure in the sequel trilogy.  I think most of us kind of thought Han was in The Force Awakens, but Han is Han.  He wasn’t ever Rey’s mentor or teacher (if you think about it).

Then there’s another thing.  I don’t feel like we really got to see Luke process his feelings/grief until The Last Jedi.  Just think about it: in the course of the original trilogy, he endures almost unspeakable amounts of trauma.  His aunt and uncle are brutally murdered.  His beloved mentor is also murdered.  His hand is chopped off.  He finds out that one of the most evil, brutal men in the galaxy is his father.  Then his father dies soon after being brought back to the light.  And through all this (and I’m probably forgetting some stuff), we don’t see a lot of the grieving process.

Yes, we do see some.  But there isn’t a lot of time for introspection when you’re running from and then taking down an evil dictatorship.  I’m sure that after the dust settled, Luke found time to grieve his father.  I’m sure he did.  But Return of the Jedi didn’t show that, we don’t really think about it, and then when The Last Jedi does show the grieving process (I’ll get to that in a minute), we don’t know what to do with it.  Gone is younger, more gung-ho and interested Luke Skywalker.  What we get instead is someone who is reaching the end of their life – and who is believably going through the five stages of grief.

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First, there’s denial.  Luke has been living in denial ever since the whole Ben Solo thing went off the rails.  He’s secluded himself, told himself that the Jedi aren’t needed anymore, that life will go on just fine without him.  And it does, until a strange girl shows up, begging for his help (on behalf of his sister no less).

Then there’s anger.  Luke’s past has caught up with him and the resistance needs him again and he doesn’t want anything to do with it.  So he resorts to anger (which is another emotion that can tempt someone to the dark side, I might add).  Bargaining comes when he tells Rey he will train her…but only to show her why such training is unnecessary (and get her to leave).  He becomes depressed after Rey goes, after he tells her what he’s done – so depressed that he goes to destroy any last vestiges of the Jedi order.

Finally, of course, there’s acceptance.  With Yoda’s help, Luke accepts that the galaxy still needs the Jedi.  Still needs him.  And he rises up to meet that challenge, as he’s done so many times before. (Also, who didn’t cry when R2 played the old tape of Leia?)

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Whatever anyone might say about The Last Jedi, I love how it gave me an appreciation for Luke Skywalker that I never had before. (I mean, I did quite like him in Return of the Jedi.  He was cool.  And more mature.  The Last Jedi, however, was where I really, really liked him.)  Luke Skywalker started out as an archetypal hero – the everyman thrust into strange, exciting new circumstances. 

But through the course of the Skywalker saga, he’s become so much more.  He’s become a complex character with shades of both darkness and light, weakness and greatness, the mystical Force and messy, human emotions flowing through him.

And it’s amazing to see.

Eva

mini movie reviews {#12}

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narnia.  from my instagram.

Feels like a long time since I last posted something.  Life has been crazy busy – my family joined a new church and there are a lot of church-related activities going on.  I also picked up a new copywriting client, so that’s great (but also time-consuming).  Annnnd I have my writing.  So yeah, I struggle finding time to blog (and finding topics to blog about).  Anyway, you guys seem to enjoy my mini movie reviews, so here are some more. ❤

Thor: The Dark World (2013) – I had to see what many term ‘Marvel’s worst movie’ at least once, right?  Well, I did.  And yeah…it’s pretty bad.  Not the worst superhero movie I’ve ever seen but definitely the worst Marvel movie.  Loki was fun, as always, but Thor almost felt like a side character in his own movie (and since I have a newfound appreciation for Thor…).

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Minority Report (2002) – I know I’ve done a mini review of this film before but YOU GUYS IT’S SO GOOD.  John Anderton is hands down my favorite Tom Cruise role and one of my all-time favorite cinematic heroes in general.  You’ve got a breathtaking sci-fi world on the verge of becoming a dystopia.  You’ve got so much action and emotion and every single cast member acting their socks off.  It’s just…incredible.  You need to watch Minority Report.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – So sweet!  Tom Holland is one of the best things to ever happen to the MCU – his Spider-Man is adorkable and funny and actually looks/acts like a teenager.  And Vulture was a pretty good villain (a rarety for Marvel).  Super (haha) excited for Far From Home now.

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Dumbo (2019) – Not as bad as all the critics say.  Sure, it’s not going to wow anyone the way other Disney remakes have, but it’s a solid adaption of Disney’s original film.  And I prefer it because the aesthetic + the realism + the characters.  All three are better than the original and ‘Baby Mine’ actually brought me to tears in this adaption.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – I wish I hadn’t known ‘whodunit’ going into this film.  Takes some of the zest out of the experience.  However, I still really enjoyed it.  The costumes + scenery are to die for (lol) and when you have such a great line-up of experienced actors…it’s usually got to be good.

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Josh Gad surprised me by being Not Annoying.

Shrek 2 (2004) – So, when I first watched Shrek, I was totally not expecting to like it.  Just didn’t seem like my thing.  But as I watched and then rewatched it, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the heart and soul and general zaniness of it.  Shrek 2 wasn’t quite as brilliant but it helped me remember just how much I love the Shrek universe.  It’s odd, but it’s not so odd that I can’t connect to it.

Dead Poets Society (1989) – I’m never going to be able to read Midsummer Night’s Dream without crying now.

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Doubt (2008) – Um…I don’t even know what to say about this movie.  It’s thought-provoking and confusing and, yeah, really confusing.  Basically, this Catholic priest is accused of child molestation but nobody really knows the truth of it and even after this long, tense investigation, the film never tells you what actually happened (or didn’t happen).  Hence, ‘Doubt’.  I still don’t quite know what to make of it.

Have you seen any of these movies?  Do you have any ideas for blog posts that you’d like to see from me?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva