Rey Palpatine. Hear me out.

Here is the truth of it: I am a bit of a hypocrite in that I don’t read other people’s blogs and articles, especially when it comes to Star Wars theories. Pretty much the only one I’ve read is the “Jar Jar is a Sith Lord”, because come on. How could they possibly justify that (though there was some compelling proof). But I thought I would join the Rey debate because why not. However, since I don’t read theories, it is very possible that someone already came up with this exact thought. Ah well.

Rey is not a Skywalker

Originally, I thought for sure they would make Rey a Skywalker, simply because Star Wars is basically the Skywalker Family Drama. I never wanted her to be one; I will be horribly disappointed in the writers if she is. But I figured they would make her one. And that somehow, she and Kylo Ren had a past. Maybe he wiped her memories and dumped her on Jakku instead of slaughtering her because they are cousins. But I now believe there is enough proof pointing elsewhere, and against her being a Skywalker.

The most compelling proof: She has a core-world accent (British). I actually have no idea if it was an accident that Lucas had the Empire speak in British accents, and the Rebellion speak in American (for the most part). But the tradition followed, and more or less developed into Core Worlds = British,  Rim = American
Now, you might be saying Daisly Ridley is British, and therefore she will have a British Accent. Nothing suggestive about it. However. John Boyega is also British. And they had him fake an American Accent. But not Daisy. And everyone associated with the Skywalker family (Anakin, Luke, Leia, Han, Ben/Kylo Ren) all have Rim Accents.

Rey might be a Kenobi

Though I haven’t read any theory posts, it seems this is the fan favorite, and why not? Obi-Wan Kenobi, like the Skywalkers, had been present throughout the saga, and he is an amazing character. And surely he had a life while on Tatooine. But here is the proof that points to Rey Kenobi:

Rey’s Force vision – The fact that we here Obi-Wan’s voice twice, once saying her name, and once saying “These are your first steps”. However, Yoda’s voice can also be heard, and I highly doubt she is a Yoda.

Core Accent – Obi-Wan, like Rey, has a Core World Accent.

My Opinion: Rey is a Palpatine

Maybe this has already been argued. But this is my belief. Core-World accent backs it up. So does the soundtrack. Hear me out.

One day I was contemplating the Emperor’s theme (I contemplate Star Wars a lot), I was humming Emperor Palpatine’s theme to myself when I accidentally switched over to humming Rey’s theme. At first I LOL’d to myself. Then my jaw hit the ground.\

I know the John Williams likes to reuse small sections of songs he likes. You can be listening to Star Wars and hear Harry Potter, or Jurassic Park and hear Star Wars. BUT.

Palptine’s theme has been PURPOSELY reused before. The victory celebration at the end of Episode One. After all, while the good guys took a win at the end of the Phantom Menace, Palpatine took an even bigger win. He was named Chancellor, and it was a purposeful decision to hide his theme in the end of Episode 1.

There are definite tones of Palpatine’s theme in Rey’s. Take a listen:
Palpatine’s Theme

Now listen to the choral parts of the victory celebration:
Episode 1 Victory Celebration

Now Rey’s theme:
Rey’s Theme

Also, her super strength in the Force.

And then there is the fact that her first light saber move, a two-handed thrust, is exactly the same as Palpatine’s when he takes out the Jedi come to arrest him.

In Conclusion: 

I really don’t think that Rey is a Skywalker. And imma be super disappointed if she is. Rey as a Kenobi is definitely acceptable. I want Rey to be a Palpatine. Snoke, on the other hand, is a completely new character.

You are going to hear a lot of bragging from me if I’m right. Just Sayin.

Do you agree? Am I crazy? What is your theory? Leave a comment!

The Dark Side and the Light: Arguing with Yoda

Yoda: Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.

Luke: Vader… Is the dark side stronger?

Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.

Luke: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?

Yoda: You will know… when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, NEVER for attack.

Truthfully, I’d say Yoda is only halfway right. The Dark Side IS stronger.

Here is the thing: The Light Side NEVER wins a single fight. Obviously Jedi win multiple fights. But never against a Dark Side user when wholly under the influence of the Light Side. Yoda is right when he says it is to be used for knowledge and defense (I feel I must note here that I am talking about physical confrontations. It is hard to analyze other aspects of the Force from the movies).

The best the light side can do is defend the Jedi into a stalemate.
Examples:
Episode 1: Qui-Gon Jinn vs Darth Maul – Round 1

qg-vs-dm

Another stalemate by virtue of Qui-Gon being able to jump to his rescue. It was a short fight, and Darth Maul was only using half of his lightsaber. Realistically, if Darth Maul was a master at the two-sided, he would probably be better at it than with one side. Yet the very short fight almost took down Qui-Gon, and left him winded.

Episode II: Count Dooku vs. Yoda

yoda-1

Another battle that ends in a draw. I suppose there will be those that argue that Yoda would have won if Count Dooku had not escaped. But if the Force is guiding both of their actions, it makes no difference. Yoda’s main objective would be to stop Count Dooku. Count Dooku’s main objective would be to escape with the Death Star plans. One strength of the Dark Side is that it is uninhibited. If the best way to achieve his objective is to drop energy cells on top of Anakin and Obi-Wan to distract Yoda he will and does do it without a blink of hesitation. Yoda could have allowed him to do it in order to stop Dooku. Yet the Light Side held him back. He could not sacrifice Obi-Wan and Anakin for a winning blow. The idea that the ends justify the means is a Dark Side idea, and if Yoda had allowed that sacrifice, he would have won, but it would not have been solely with the Light Side.

Episode IV: Darth Vader vs Obi-Wan Kenobi

vader-vs-obi

We typically call Obi-Wan the winner of this fight, merely because of his statement that: “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” But I honestly don’t know I would call that a win. Obi-Wan had more powerful knowledge, but Vader’s dark side was stronger. I’d call this one a draw.

~~~

So that is it for the competitions ending in a draw. Now lets look at times the Dark Siders straight up win. Get ready for some of the most painful moments in the Star Wars Universe :}

Episode I: Qui-Gon Jinn vs. Darth Maul – Round 2

qg-v-m2

This is honestly the saddest moment in all of Star Wars for me. Qui-Gon is my favorite character (even have a whole blog post devoted entirely to his awesomeness). But in all honesty, his death is not surprising. Qui-Gon is the embodiment of the Light Side will of the Living Force. He may not hold to the code, but he is the perfect Jedi, and the perfect Jedi would be a Light Side user. In a physical confrontation, he has no hope of winning against a Sith.

Episode II: Obi-Wan and Anakin vs. Count Dooku

episode-2-anakin-and-obi-injured

Count Dooku might be my least favorite Sith… Ok, he’s probably my least favorite character period. Toss up between him and Grievous. But he destroyed the great Obi-Wan and Anakin. In the case of Obi-Wan, Dooku straight up beat him. Dark beats Light. In the case of Anakin, there are a lot of parallels with the Luke/Vader fight of 5 (ooh, I’m feeling a future post on parallels!). You can chalk it up to Anakin’s inexperience, or the strength of the Dark Side. But either way, Dooku has a resounding victory over these two Jedi.

Episode III: Anakin and Obi-Wan vs Dooku – Round 2

obi-vs-dooku

We’ll discuss the Anakin portion of this fight later. But just like in Episode II, Count Dooku destroys Obi-Wan. In record time, no less. Dark Side for the win.

Episode III: The Confrontation of Palpatine

palpatine-confrontation

I know a lot of people hate this scene. Somehow, in a matter of seconds, Palpatine manages to absolutely destroy a good handful of Jedi Masters like it is nothing. It is quick, I’ll give you that. But you have to realize just how powerful Palpatine really is. A Sith Master and an Apprentice are a match for the ENTIRE Jedi Order. Quite frankly, the Jedi Masters were not expecting it. I think they figured their sheer force of numbers would intimidate Palpatine, or that an old man they have known for decades would not brutally cut them down. But that proves just how little the light comprehends the dark. This scene may be too quick for some, but in the story itself it shows just how powerful the Dark Side really is.
Then we cut to the match between Palpatine and Mace Windu. Windu may think he is winning, but that just shows exactly how much power Palpatine has. He controlled that entire fight. In fact, I would be ready to argue that Palpatine would have kept that fight going indefinitely until Anakin showed up. And he only appeared to be losing to force Anakin to act.

Episode V: Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker

vader-luke

This is obviously a Dark Side win.  Darth Vader owned him from beginning to end of that fight. There is more to discuss about this scene, but it will come later.

Episode VII: Luke Skywalker vs. Emperor Palpatine

palpatine-luke

Luke: Never. I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.
Emperor: [angry] So be it… Jedi!
Emperor: If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed!
[shoots Luke with Force lightning]
Emperor: Young fool… Only now, at the end, do you understand…
[the Emperor shoots at Luke with more Force lighting]
Emperor: Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side.
[shoots Luke with another burst of Force lighting]
Emperor: Now, you will pay the price for your lack of vision!
[shoots more Force lighting]

Light Side Luke wins, right? Well, on spiritual level I suppose. The Emperor does fail to turn Luke to the dark side. But the Emperor wasn’t wrong when he told Luke “Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side.” Even Yoda could only intermittently counter Palpatine’s dark side powers. Luke would have died a very painful death at the hands of Palpatine, if not for Vader, which I will discuss in a minute.

~~~

So the numbers we currently have are 6 Dark Side wins, and 3 Draws. But what about those instances where the Jedi win, you ask? Well, let’s list them. Obi-Wan beats Darth Maul, Anakin beats Count Dooku, Obi-Wan beats Anakin, Luke beats Darth Vader, Rey beats Kylo Ren. So, that is 5 Jedi wins, but I would not say that they are Light Side wins. Shall we take a look?

Episode I: Obi-Wan Kenobi vs Darth Maul

kenobivmaul

Tell me what you see on Obi-Wan’s face. Is the the calm, cool, serenity of the Light Side? No. That is the face of a man who has just lost his teacher, his mentor, and for all practical purposes, his father. That is a man feeling heartbreak and rage. Powerful emotions. Emotions that fuel the Dark Side. A good cause, yes. But this win came because the Dark Side gave Obi-Wan strength.

Episode III: Anakin Skywalker vs Count Dooku

dooku_scared_to_death

Is there anyone willing to argue that this was not a Dark Side win? Anakin has been working hard to control his emotions. He was made a Jedi Knight, so the masters must have thought that he had made enough progress in that respect. But Count Dooku had just taken out his master, mentor, father, brother. Not to mention, there is the revenge aspect. Dooku did take his arm. And Palpatine was sitting there practically feeding Anakin Dark Side energy.

Episode III: Obi-Wan Kenobi vs Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader

kenobi_mustafar

I know Obi-Wan Kenobi is considered the perfect Jedi. If Yoda was the Heart of the Jedi Council and Mace Windu was it’s Head, Obi-Wan Kenobi would be its Right Hand. Yet we have already seen Obi-Wan succumb to the Dark Side of the Force for a victory. He grew so much since then. But the loss of Anakin Skywalker would be at least as traumatizing as losing Qui-Gon, if not more so. Obi-Wan’s final words to Anakin are absolutely full of Heartbreak, Anger, and Despair. Things a Jedi should never feel.

Episode VI: Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader

lukevaderrotj7

Luke is all over the place in this battle. The true war is not Luke vs Vader or Palpatine. It is Luke vs. the Dark Side. Every time Luke attacks or gains the upper ground he is under the influence of the Dark Side. Even Luke knows that he cannot win without the Dark Side because when he is trying to be a good Jedi, he straight up refuses to fight. It takes the Emperor goading him about losing his friends, and Vader threatening Leia to break that resolve. He destroys Vader with the Dark Side, which is why he throws away his lightsaber as soon as he realizes what he is doing. He let the Light take back control, which opened the door for Palpatine to destroy him.

Episode VII: Kylo Ren vs Rey

rey-v-ren

Rey is still hard to figure out. One more year and we may get some insight. I’m not going to speculate on her origins here. And honestly, the force is so mixed up right now anyways. Kylo Ren is the reason I have had to switch from saying “Sith” to “Dark Side User” because I don’t think that he and Snoke are Sith. But I suppose we will find more out about that in future movies. What we do know is that Rey is strong in the Force. So is Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren takes the necessary steps to plunge himself into the Dark Side, to all our tears and laments. He is actually trained. He has been training since he was young. Yet Rey beats him. Granted, he took a freaking bowcaster bolt to the side. And he never wanted to actually kill Rey, just have her join him. But she beats him. She wants to kill him. She might have, if the planet hadn’t started breaking up. And what brought about this great strength and intense emotion? Loss. She lost Han. She might have lost Finn.

Have you sensed a pattern yet?

I hope you have stuck with me up to this point. I do have a flair for the dramatic. I tend to want to lay all the pieces out and then make my point. I am an English Teacher, and I can force my students to note down all the parts before the final piece is put into place, and watch the minds be blown. However, I cannot force anyone to actually read a blog post all the way to the end. If you have, here is my real argument:

In a battle between straight Light Side and straight Dark Side, the Dark will win. It is Stronger. The best the Light can hope for is escaping alive. But there is something that is more powerful than the straight Dark Side:

The balance between the two.
A typical Light-Sider/Jedi taking his first steps into the Dark is stronger than the Dark Side.

Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to Anger. Anger leads to Hate. Hate leads to Suffering.

When a Jedi takes those first steps they become incredibly powerful. But not fear for oneself. In fact, the Jedi would lose fear for oneself at a very early age. It is the fear and anger of loss. Did you notice that loss is a part of every Jedi Victory over a Dark Side user?

Obi-Wan lost Qui-Gon.
Anakin feared he had lost Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan lost Anakin and the Jedi Order.
Luke feared losing the Alliance and his Sister.
Rey lost Han and feared losing Finn.

Fear and Anger can be a Jedi’s ally. When a Jedi can balance the Dark Side and the Light they are incredibly powerful. Which does lead to a Bonus Round:

Episode VI: Darth Vader vs Emperor Palpatine

vader-palpatine

Luke’s struggle between the Dark and the Light were exactly what made him so powerful against Vader. However, when he decided to turn his back on the Dark, he made himself vulnerable to Palpatine’s immense Dark Side power. But the street goes two ways. Just as a Jedi is stronger taking his first steps into the Dark Side, so too would a Sith be stepping into the Light.
Granted there wasn’t much to this fight. It was mostly just Vader chucking Palpatine into one of the universe’s infinite number of bottomless pits. But if the Force not only obeys commands but controls actions, it is definitely in control here. Palpatine is far stronger in the Dark Side than Vader is. He took out most of the Jedi Council by himself. But the Force was strong with Vader. He was finally and completely fulfilling the prophecy after all.
And notice, it is once again fear of loss that is the driving force. Vader feared losing his son. Not just physically, but to the Dark Side. Vader took a step into the Light in his final moments.
So add another score to the balance.

Counter-Argument and Proof

I know the counter-argument right now. If this is so, why does Anakin lose to Count Dooku in Episode II and to Obi-Wan in Episode III? Why does Luke lose to Vader in Episode V?
Balance.
In both instances with Anakin, he was too far gone down the path to the Dark Side. In Episode II he had just given into his hate for the Sand People and slaughtered them. He turned that hate towards Dooku for the friends and family Dooku had taken from him. He was stronger in the Dark Side than he had ever been. But without the Light to give him strength he was not strong enough to beat Count Dooku.
Come Episode III, however, Anakin had actually learned to walk the Balance, which is why he could beat Dooku this time. Even Dooku commented “You have hate. You have anger. But you don’t use them.” Well Dooku, he still beat you. Because he walked that line. Killing you, however, tipped him over the edge. By the end of Episode III, Anakin had pledged himself to the Dark Side. He slaughtered everyone in the Jedi Temple. He hated the Jedi and Obi-Wan for every loss and every perceived insult to his power. Anakin was stronger in the Dark Side than he had ever been. But Obi-Wan walked the balance this time and won.
And back to Luke in Episode V. You can chalk his loss up to inexperience if you want. It does play a role and we could leave it at that. But also remember the theme throughout Episode V. Luke has been struggling with the Dark Side the entire movie. His impatience with Yoda, his failure with the ship, and his failure in the cave all portray Luke warring with his fear, which weakens his resolve in the Light and doesn’t give enough power in the Dark. But by the time he faces Vader, he does have the necessary fear and anger of loss – Han and Leia were the reason he came. But he stepped too far. He hated Vader. Vader was the reason his Aunt and Uncle were killed. Vader killed so many of his Rebel friends. And most importantly, Luke believed that Vader had killed his father. Like Anakin, Luke had fallen too far into the Dark Side and he just was not powerful enough.

Conclusion

So what does all this mean? What was the purpose of compiling a comprehensive list of Force-User Fights? Honestly not sure.
Except to say that Yoda is not completely accurate when he says the Dark Side isn’t Stronger, because in a fight, pure Dark Side beats pure Light Side. A Balance will beat both. Balance is an incredibly important concept in the Star Wars ethos, and I covered the prophecy of Balance pretty thoroughly. But Balance does not mean all Light as the Jedi are wont to believe. It is an actual Balance between the two.

Does that mean every Force User ought to walk the Balance? No. There are different paths. There are powers in the Force that can only be obtained through study of the Light or the Dark. No Force User can master every power and discover every secret. And truthfully, I do not believe that anyone who walks the balance could ever be at peace.

But in terms of Strength: Balance, then Dark, then Light. Sorry Yoda.

Alice: Throught the Looking Glass

Alice was… Ok.

Synopsis:

After slipping through a mirror, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) finds herself back in Underland with the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Her friends tell her that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is in a funk over the loss of his family. Hoping to save his loved ones, Alice steals the Chronosphere from Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) to travel into the past. While there, she encounters the younger Hatter and the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).

Rating: PG For Fantasy Action/Peril and some language

Excitement Level: Moderate

First off, it has nothing to do with the actual book “Alice Throught the Looking Glass”. Alice just happens to get to Underland (Wonderland) through a mirror. I’m ok with that though. While I highly recommend reading the Lewis Carrol classics, they aren’t exactly Hollywood storyline material. So this is the storyline they came up with to fit the Hollywood story fits enough.
Of course, it is the continuation of the Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” that came out a few years ago. I only ever saw that one in theaters, but from what I remember, I like that one better than this one. But I honestly really only remember the characters from that movie, not the storyline. Knowing the characters was enough to pick up what was going on in this one, however.

It starts out a little bit confusing, mostly due to the previews.  In the previews, it shows Alice in an asylum. I mean, I had gotten the impression that that was the setting, and she escapes the Asylum to go to Wonderland. So when the movie starts out in a ship in the high seas, running from pirates. Words to the effect of “It’s Impossible! We should surrender to the Pirates” and Alice’s reply of “You know my feelings on that word!” And then they pull off the impossible kind of make it seem like this is some sort of mad dream or fantasy of Alice’s, hence she’s been put in an asylum.

It’s not. Apparently Alice is really the captain of a ship doing impossible things. So make sure you start out on the right foot.

Alice returns from her year long fantastical voyage to a mother who has been worried sick and a shipping company who was expecting her months ago. None of this phases her; she just wants to go out and sail again. But problems with this plan arise from old grievances, a world that cannot tolerate a strong, confidant young woman, and a mother who wants the best for her daughter, but the daughter and her do not agree on what is best.

These are all good themes, and stereotypes worth challenging. But instead of facing those problems in this world, Alice runs off to Underland, led by Absalom voiced by Alan Rickman (which was a little jolting and terribly sad. You will be missed, Alan).

Underland is facing the mirror problem: The Mad Hatter has gone sane and it is just about killing him. The rest of the inhabitants of Underland want the Mad Hatter back. But Hatter has become obsessed with finding his family who was killed by the Red Queen years ago. Which of course is impossible. Alice tells him so. And Hatter goes into a fury, saying that the real Alice, his true friend, would believe him and help him.

Enter Time Travel, and the rest of the movie. I’ll leave off on the plot right there (will talk more later, in a Spoiler section) and take a look at the other qualities of this film.

Acting: Of course the acting is great. It has a powerhouse of actors. I have absolutely no qualms about the acting. Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway, and really everyone else did a superb job,  just as they did in Alice in Wonderland. But there is someone new to this movie that deserves above and beyond recognition and notice:

Sacha Baron Cohen as Time Himeself. He might challenge Johnny Depp himself for the breadth and depth of the roles he plays. He is truly a gifted actor, and I REALLY WISH he would do some movies that I actually had any interested in seeing. In case you don’t know, he is most famous for movies like Borat, Bruno, and the Dictator. But he also did an amazing job in Sweeney Todd as Pirelli, and in Les Miserables as Thernadier. The man can sing and act. But for reasons best known to him, he prefers to do incredibly inappropriate movies.

His performance as Time was out of this world though.  I wish I could adequately describe it. He WAS time personified. You didn’t think about the actor underneath. He was fascinating and a joy to watch. The writers hit the nail on the head with the character, and Cohen completely brought Time to life.

Characters: Every iteration of Alice in Wonderland has always had fantastical characters who are larger (and smaller) than life and quite mad. I remember loving the characters in the first movie. But for some reason they really grated on me this go around. Maybe because they weren’t novel anymore. Or maybe I’ve *gasp* grown up some. But the complete lack of responsibility in almost all of the characters really irked me. Alice straight up runs from her responsibilities in the real world to Underworld. In Underworld everyone, including the White Queen, want Alice to mess with time and the fabric of reality to try and make Hatter mad again.

SPOILER WARNING

Themes/Importance: This movie really tried to tackle some very important themes, and I’ll give them A for Effort. Themes they tried to tackle were: Familial Loyalty. Following your heart vs reality, What it means to be a true friend, achieving the impossible, Asking and giving forgiveness, the means don’t justify the end, and overall girl power.

I really wish I could say that they did a better job at delivering on them. The problem is, they bit off more than they could chew, and their storyline required the characters to wade upstream of the morals they were trying to present, and required one particular theme to be placed in prominence, that being “What it means to be a true friend”.

Don’t get me wrong, being a true friend is something that is great to teach. Too many people and even children, are backstabbers and petty, only thinking of what they can get out of a friendship. But it is also dangerous to push the idea that friendship trumps all else.

True friends are amazing, and can save a life in a crisis. But here is the situuation: Hatter saw his family die years ago. But then he finds a little paper hat he made for his father in the dirt, and now believes they must be alive, and tells Alice that she must find them. When Alice tries to explain that is impossible, he becomes furious and claims Alice is not his friend, that the real Alice would believe him. Heartbroken, Alice and the others decide that the only thing to do is to travel back in time to try and save Hatter’s family.

This involves borrowing the Chronosphere from Time. Problem: Time tells Alice point blank that A) You cannot change the past, only learn from it. And B) The Chronospere powers the Grand Clock. The Grand Clock powers Time itself. And Time Himself. So using the Chronospere has the potential to destroy everything. But to Alice this is an acceptable risk, because her friend needs her.

Personally, I am not ok with teaching children this. In my opinion, a true friend would help Hatter come to terms with his grief and loss, not justify stealing and performing acts that could kill everyone. The ends do not justify the means.

They do try to address this in the very end. Alice does admits to Time that she should have never stolen the Chronosphere. But only after Alice and Hatter get what they want. It is hollow words.

I do love the moral themes that take place between the White and Red Queen; owning up to one’s mistakes and asking for forgiveness. That was done quite well, if late. And better late than never

The most clever part of this movie, which you miss if you aren’t actually analyzing it, is that the real world and Underworld — Alice and the Hatter — Mirror each other. Alice wants nothing to do with her mother and doesn’t want to become like her. Hatter wants to prove he belongs in his family, and wants them back. They find their salvation, in each other. Through the Looking Glass… Mirror Problems and solutions.

I suppose this movie is fun enough. And if you were in love with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland you’re probably going to want to see it anyways. If you’re on the fence, I’d say the tipping point is whether you’re the type of person who is willing to see a movie because one actor’s performance is amazing, then go. If you need the majority of a movie to be on point, then skip this one.

SCORE

Acting: 2/3

Characters: 1/3

Storytelling 1/3

Visual Effects: 3/3

Humor: 1/3

Importance: 1/4

TOTAL SCORE: 9/19

Burnt – Emotions. Friends. Enemies. Kitchen. Emotions Again. Burn em all.

Burnt — I know the movie came out a long time ago. But I am such a terrible procrastinator. I may never make it as a critic, because I can’t be timely about anything. But hey, we are well past the age that if you don’t see it in theaters you will never have a chance to see it again. And I don’t want to be stuck reviewing only new releases anyways. If there is a movie I think worth watching, even if it is 10 years old, I might review it.

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) was once a top chef in Paris until drugs and alcohol led to a meltdown that put his career on hold. After moving from New Orleans to London, Adam gets a shot at redemption when his former maitre d’ (Daniel Brühl) reluctantly hires him as the head chef of his fine-dining restaurant. Demanding perfection from his newly formed staff (Sienna Miller, Omar Sy), the acerbic and temperamental Jones gets a second chance to fulfill his dream of earning a third Michelin star.

Initial Excitement Level: Moderate-Low

Rating: R, for language throughout
Truthfully, I just wanted to watch a movie, and didn’t want to rewatch anything. I have mixed feelings about Bradley Cooper. He has been an acquired taste for me. The first two movies I saw him in were Valentines Day and Limitless, and he was such a sleaze-bag in both of them that my mind decided that he was a sleaze-bag himself (same reason I have a hard time with Amanda Seyfried, after seeing her as the dumb blond in Mean Girls). But overall, I only ever go to the movies with an open mind and ready to be entertained.

And it was amazing. Several of us sitting in the audience actually stopped and talked about how good it was in the hall. We did not know each other. We just needed to express our feelings right then.

BUT

Here is the thing. It gets horrible reviews online. 27% Rotten Tomatoes. 2 out of 5 stars. I have long since accepted that I am easier to please than most critics Or maybe I just look for and place emphasis on differentt things. All I can tell you is what I think and why. But be warned, the normal critics disagree.
Review

It starts in an interesting place. Adam Jones (the main character) has already burned every bridge in his life. And he has already a long way into overcoming his drug addictions. While there are mentions of his messed up past throughout the whole movie, we never see it. No flashbacks or anything. Which I think is a great storytelling decision. There are a lot of movies where we see both the destruction and the redemption process. But this story didn’t need it. Instead we start with him trying to not quite repair his dreams, but redo them. And instead of starting fresh, he pulls together his kitchen staff from the people he burned before and some undiscovered talent, using a combination of coercion, bribery, and slinging a thin rope across a the canyon he burned hhis bridges over. Needless to say, it is a precarious and volatile situation. 

And while I know nothing about how a kitchen works, If the show is any indication, it’s can be a precarious and volatile place as well.

They set the stage to explode. And it kind of does. Multiple times. And in ways that completely blindside you. In fact, the audience gasped out loud in several places. 
Overall the themes of love and hate, friendship, betrayal, revenge, passion, and discovering true redemption make this a drama that kept and held my utmost attention and shocked me more than a few times. And it is so well told. It is nice to have the director and writers assume that the audience is intelligent enough to connect the dots and make inferences about the story without having to be explicitly told everything. Mundane details are better left to the imagination than being hashed out.
Characters: 2/3

Acting: 2/3

Drama: 3/3

Importance: 2/3

Humor: 1/1

Storytelling. 3/3

Score – 13/16

Character Analysis: Qui-Gon Jinn

Obi-Wan Kenobi is a boss. No denying that. He is probably my favorite character overall. He killed Darth Maul as an apprentice. Raised, trained, and defeated Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One — the strongest force user the Jedi had ever seen. The novelization of Episode III, by Mathew Stover, describes him thus:

 This is Obi-Wan Kenobi: A phenomenal pilot who doesn’t like to fly. A devastating warrior who’d rather ot fight. A negotiator whithout peer who frankly prefers to sit alone in a quiet cave and meditate. Jedi Master. General in the Grand Army of the Republic. Member of the Jedi Council… Greatness was never his ambition. He wants only to perform whatever task he is given to the best of his ability. He is respected throughout the Jedi Order for his insight as well as his warrior skill. He has become the hero of the next generation of Padawans; he is the Jedi their Masters hold up as a model. he is the being that the Council assigns to their most important missions. He is modest, centered, and always kind. He is the ultimate Jedi.

All of this is beautifully poetic and completely true of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The problem is, he was considered the ultimate Jedi by the Jedi Order. And the Jedi Order was fallen.

Obi-Wan may have been the perfect Jedi. But Qui-Gon was the last true Jedi.

My favorite question, and the most important question to ask, is WHY?

WHY did an author ad that line? Why did a screenwriter put one scene before another? Why did the actor hesitate? Why did the direct have the camera cut to someone without dialogue just to see their reaction?
In the best stories, there will always be a BECAUSE. I definitely believe there are very clear WHYs and BECAUSEs for Qui-Gon. I will ask those whys and give those becauses.

The easiest thing to see, the first thing any casual movie-goer will see, is that Qui-Gon is always at odds with everyone. Thinking on it, he argues with literally everyone but maybe the Skywalkers (oh come on. We all felt that connection between him and Shmi). Let’s list them just for kicks-

  1. The first exchange between Master and Apprentice.
  2. Various arguments with Obi-Wan over collecting Jar Jar.
  3. Various arguments with Jar Jar, Boss Nass, Various Naboo importantes, and Watto. Have you noticed he never asks for anything? He makes demands.
  4. Arguments with Padme and Obi-Wan about his plan to bet their ship on a 9 year old who has never finished a race before.
  5. Argument with Obi-Wan over bringing Anakin along.
  6. Argument with the Council over the Sith
  7. Argument with the Council… And Obi-Wan… And the Council… And Obi-Wan over whether Anakin should become a Jedi/Chosen one.
  8. Getting the Last Word in: Dying request is binding Obi-Wan to train Anakin, with or without the approval of the council.

For someone known as one of the best diplomats, dude argues with EVERYONE. And never takes no as an answer. In fact… He never actually asks. He makes demands. Or straight up lies. Anything to get the mission done. Well, not so much the mission, but the will of the Force. Perfect Obi-Wan is sitting there trying to convince the Gunguns they need to do the right thing and help The Naboo. Qui-Gon just uses Jedi Mind Trick on the leader of a nation. He tries to do it again to make a merchant accept useless money. He bets the Queen’s Ship on a kid, and doesn’t even think to ask her first. Such tactics hardly seem worthy of the moral Jedi.

Why? There is a reason. But let’s start with Qui-Gon’s behavior from the very beginning in the first important exchange (and argument) of Episode I:
Kenobi – “I have a bad feeling about this”
Jinn – “Really? I don’t sense anything.
K- “It’s not about the mission, Master. Something elsewhere… elusive.
J- “Don’t center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs”
K- “But Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future.”
J – “Be mindful of the Living Force, young padawan”

Looking at this from a first time perspective: In the first important exchange of the movie, Qui-Gon disagrees not only with a young (handsome) Obi-Wan, but also Yoda himself! The only two Jedi we knew of from the Original Trilogy. This is how Episode 1 and this character are introduced to us and the world of Star Wars. Who is this upstart Master that would dare to say the two greatest Jedi (granted, the only Jedi we know) are wrong? Clearly he has no idea who Obi-Wan will become

Looking at this knowing how everything unfolds: The perfect Jedi knew what was going to happen from the beginning! This “diplomatic mission” eventually brought about the Clone Wars, the Fall of the Jedi, and the Rise of the Empire. Maybe if Qui-Gon had let Obi-Wan concentrate on the future a bit more, Obi-Wan could have seen a way to avoid it, right?
Actually…
Some of the most terrible things that happens in the prequels can either be traced back to Qui-Gon winning an argument or Palpatine’s careful scheming.

Let’s take a look at that:

Jar Jar: He’s obnoxious. Even Qui-Gon says he’s brainless. Qui-Gon just Mind Controlled his way out of Gungan punishment. The Trade Federation is attacking the Naboo. Obi-Wan reminds Qui-Gon “Master, we’re short on time.” Yet after a moment of thought he decides they need to take Jar Jar along.
Why?
He might help navigating through the core. Except for the fact that Obi-Wan is driving the Bongo and Qui-Gon knocks Jar Jar out partway in. Was that a mistake on the filmmakers’ part? Well, if you read this post, I’m going off of the assumption that there are no mistakes. So. I’m going to say that Qui-Gon again felt that taking Jar Jar was the Will of the Force. And in Episode I that turned out to be a good thing, because if Padme had never met him, she wouldn’t have thought, or had the connections, to enlist the Gungan Army. So that actually turned out good. But…
Episode II? Well, the only significant thing that Jar Jar does in II is to propose the bill that gives Palpatine Emergency powers. Powers he uses to grip the Senate and Jedi by the throat. Powers he uses to legislate the Clone Army. Which seems like a good thing. Except, oh yeah, the Clones were actually Palpatine’s plan to begin with. A ready made army to ensure that the Republic goes to war, effectively killing all hope of negotiation and a peaceful resolution. A Clone Army just waiting to enact Order 66.
Jeez, Qui-Gon. Shouldn’t have saved Jar Jar’s life back on Naboo.

Anakin. Far and away Qui-Gon’s biggest mistake.
He insisted on using the boy to podrace. Sorry, WHAT?! A 9-year-old boy who has never actually finished a podrace before. They make it out like it’s the only way, but come on. It’s a big planet. Just because Shmii (a slave) doesn’t know anyone friendly to the Republic does not mean that there aren’t pilots and traders around that probably do lots of business with the Republic. And would exchange their money for them. Obi-Wan tries to caution Qui-Gon against it. Padme (really wishing she had her Queen costume) tries to stop Qui-Gon as well. But eh… He knew there was “Something about this boy”. And that was good enough for him.

Didn’t occur to him that the “something” about Anakin was that he might destroy the entire Jedi Order and Republic.
Shoot, the Council knew it. Obi-Wan knew it. “The boy is dangerous, Master. They all sense it, why can’t you?”
Well, according to Qui-Gon, finding Anakin was “The Will of the Force.” Nuff said. Who cares what Obi-Wan thinks. Who cares what the Council thinks. Who cares that the Jedi Code forbids it. He was going to make sure Anakin “The Chosen One” Skywalker became a Jedi if it was the last thing did. Even if it meant tossing aside his current padawan like yesterday’s trash. Even if it meant defying the Council agian. Even if it meant breaking the Jedi Code, which he swore his life to. And in fact, binding Obi-Wan to Anakin was the last thing he did, with his dying breath.
Whoops, Qui-Gon. Shouldn’t have been so bull-headed. Right?

And that argument with the Jedi Council is apparently just another in a long line, according to Obi-Wan:
“Do not defy the council, Master, not again.”
“I shall do what I must, Obi-Wan”
“If you just followed the Code, you would be on the Council”
“You still have much to learn, my young apprentice.”

So what’s his deal? Why is Qui-Gon constantly defying the Council and ignoring the Jedi Code?
He seems to be unique in this. In fact, he is unique in just about every way. The only other Jedi we see ignore the code and defy the council is Anakin, and he was falling to the dark side. Is that Qui-Gon’s problem?
Hardly. He was an utterly devoted Jedi. But different how, and WHY?

He speaks of the Force in an entirely different way than every other Jedi. When Yoda and Obi-Wan are training others in the force* they speak of it like a tool. Use the Force. Let it the Force flow through you.
Qui-Gon? Constantly speaks of being “mindful of the Living Force” and obeying “The will of the Force”. His first lesson to Anakin is about how the Force speaks to them, and how he can hear the will of the Force.

No one else talks about the Force like this! WHY DOES QUI-GON?!?!

BECAUSE

Qui-Gon is the Last True Jedi. He did not care about The Code. He did not care about the approval of the Council. He does not care about the laws and morals of men. He only cares about following the Will of the Living Force.

  • At this point, let me say that if you haven’t read my post about Anakin and the Prophecy, go read that first. I’m not sure how much sense this will make if you don’t know my views on the Jedi Order and the Force. (Long story short is that the Jedi Order was supposed to be the religion of the Light Side of the Force. But after thousands of years in existence its priorities shifted, and it began placing more emphasis on following the Jedi Code and the Council than following the Will of the Living Force.)

All of those great Jedi- Yoda, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, Plo Kloon, etc.- were not wrong. They legitimately sensed the future Anakin would bring. What they couldn’t sense though, what Qui-Gon did, was that it was the Will of the Force. Anakin WAS the Chosen One. He brought balance exactly as he was supposed to. The Jedi Order turned away from the Will of the Living Force and relied held up the Jedi created Code instead.

The Chosen One brought balance to the Force by destroying both orders. Qui-Gon was the tool that the Living Force used to move the Chosen One into place.

Conclusion:

How do I know I’m right? Well, my midichlorian/Fallen Order theory fits perfectly with my theory on Qui-Gon. But there is one more scrap of proof.

Yoda: “In your solitude on Tattoine, training I have for you. An old friend has learned the path to immortality. One who has returned from the netherworld of the Force. Your old master.”
Obi-Wan: “Qui-Gon!”

This is an incredibly important line that is oft-overlooked as a storytelling device used to shore up gaps and make connections between the prequels and the original trilogy. After all, Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin all come back as Force Ghosts. Why didn’t the Jedi slaughtered in the prequels do this?

So the storytellers decide that someone has to teach them. And Qui-Gon is a name we already know. From the storyteller’s perspective that works, and makes it a relatively insignificant toss in.
But from the STORY perspective? It means that Qui-Gon was right. The man who never sat on the council. Who constantly defied the Code. Who apparently couldn’t sense what every other Jedi could. That man was stronger in the Force than any other who came before him.
Because he was the first to achieve immortality.

STAR WARS – otherwise known as MY LIFE (part 2)

This post is about love. *cue eye roll*

Yes, I would go so far as to say that I love Star Wars. A lot of people say that. Unintentional and unfelt hyperbole is a plague of today’s speakers. A lot of people enjoy Star Wars. A lot of people have very strong feelings about Star Wars. Not as many people LOVE it as I mean. This isn’t a superiority thing. But I have to explain this so you can understand how my future posts on Star Wars are going to work.

To explain my love, take this comic I saw from Cyanide and Happiness:

But+do+you+fucking+love+science+http+explosmnet+comics+3557_d444f7_5154671

If I were to change this to my version (and hopefully I’m not breaking copyright laws. I give full credit to Cyanide and Happiness for the comic and idea):

Love Star Wars

Now, I know it comes off as elitist. I don’t mean it to. I will talk Star Wars to anyone on any level. The other day an older man was asking me about my car (it’s a First Order Tie Fighter). After about two minutes of conversation it became apparent that he referred to A New Hope as Episode 1. So to try and avoid confusion I tried to just call them by name. He didn’t know the names. While it just about made my eye twitch to do it, I just followed his lead and we had a great conversation about how “Episode 1” pioneered film technology.

But what I mean to say is that when I make a post discussing an aspect of Star Wars, I’m going to approach it as everything in the movies exists, is canon, and wasn’t a mistake on the filmmakers part (unless they have actually said in an interview “This is a mistake, I shouldn’t have done it this way”).

So if I use Jar Jar, midichlorians, or Anakin’s moodiness to defend a theory, you’ll know why. Yes, I think Jar Jar is obnoxious. But he does exist. And there are certain points that he is incredibly key to the plot. So when I post about him, I’m going to forgo the customary rants and affirmations that he doesn’t exist in my world. Because Star Wars isn’t my world. I just live in it.

Because I love it.

 

How Anakin fulfilled the prophecy. And how the Midichlorians did NOT ruin your childhood.

This is a rant and rave post. Something I have been arguing for a year now.

Get your panties out of a wad. The Midichlorians did not ruin your childhood and did not ruin Star Wars. The Jedi Order, perhaps, but not Star Wars. And that is a very important distinction. I saw the light over a year ago, at SLCC FanX, in an open discussion panel on Star Wars mythology. Some of the ideas I got from there, and some I have come up with and fleshed out on my own,

Now, granted, I was never overly bothered by midichlorians in the first place. I mean, yeah it messes with the fact that the Force is an energy field the surround us, penetrates us, and binds us together. But apparently the majority of people were furious at what they saw as Lucas’ attempt to scientifize (sciencize? Scientificize?) the Force. But I just brushed it off as Lucas needing to somehow quantify Anakin’s connection to the Force, so he could easily be identified as the one who will bring balance.

Turns out the rage-monsters were right. Midichlorians were an attempt to make scientific something that is religious in nature. But here is what makes it ok:

Lucas did not ruin The Force. The Jedi Order did.

The Jedi Order (and Sith I’m sure) is a religion. Or they were supposed to be. There are a couple references to this in Episode IV-

Admiral Motti: “Try to to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes…”

Grand Moff Tarkin: “The Jedi are extinct. Their fire has gone out of the universe. You my friend are all that’s left of their religion.”

From the mouths of characters in the very first movie that came out. The Jedi Order was a religion. But it doesn’t really seem like much of a religion in Episodes I-III. A definite Order, yes. But not really a religious one.

Well, I choose to view this as purposeful. One thing that many people liked (or at least I liked) about the prequels is that it showed the Jedi Order at the height of its power. But the truth is, it is already in a state of massive decay.

The Jedi Order has been around for tens of thousands of years. Any Institution (religious or secular) is subject to decay and corruption given time. The Jedi are no exception. The Force became a tool to use and not something to be followed. They have given up following the Living Force in exchange for obeying the Jedi Code (Except Qui-Gon. But that’s a future post).
They also had tens of thousands of years to research the Force. And they discovered there is a correlation between midichlorians and Force sensitivity. I mean, this would be like Christians discovering the physical properties of the Holy Spirit. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And it shouldn’t be your focus. The Jedi were letting blood counts and Code rules guide their way to new Jedi, instead of letting the Force pick its own.

In short, The Jedi replaced Faith and Obedience with Science and Rules. And destroyed their own religion in the process.
Even Mace Windu admitted in Episode II says
“I think it’s time to inform the Senate that our ability to use The Force has diminished.”
Why would this be the case? Truthfully, the Sith can’t control the Jedi ability to use the Force. They can hide themselves, yes. Kill them, yes. But they can’t affect the Jedi’s ability to use the Force themselves. The Jedi are losing that ability because they lost their Faith, and they stopped listening to the Living Force. So the Living Force stopped speaking to them.

So to recap: The Jedi screwed up. The Force abandoned them. Stop blaming Lucas.

Now, onto part two: Anakin is the Chosen One to bring balance to The Force.

Knowing that the order is already in decay, the Force creates Anakin and a Prophecy. I remember when Episode I and II came out, everyone was speculating what this elusive Prophecy was.
Then Episode III happened. And then Yoda drops the bomb that the prophecy could have been misread, and neither Windu nor Kenobi argue it. And then, of course, Anakin murders the younglings and the Jedi Order is destroyed in a single night (or morning, or daytime. Depending which planet each Jedi was on.) Oh, and this: Obi Wan vs Anakin

In case you can’t read the tiny print, and for some strange reason you don’t have it memorized, you get Obi-Wan screaming
“You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them. You were to bring balance to the Force, not leave it in Darkness!”

No disrespect to Obi-Wan’s pain, but I feel positive he was reading a little too heavily into the prophecy. If it were that specific, Yoda wouldn’t have said it might be misread.

Lucas never told us the prophecy. It was never confirmed if the Jedi read it accurately or not. It was never confirmed what the “Balance” was, and if it was ever achieved (which is awesome storytelling, in my opinion. Let the audience draw a few conclusions on their own). The ones I have heard drawn were 1) Anakin eventually brought balance to the Force by killing Palpatine in Episode IV. 2) The Prophecy was indeed misread and he brought balance by destroying the Jedi (see this link, then start at the beginning of this comic and read them ALL). and 3) He brought balance because he left the galaxy with two Sith (Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader) and two Jedi (Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi). But here is my (obviously correct) interpretation:

Anakin brought balance to the Force by destroying both the Sith AND the Jedi Orders.

Both were well out of control. I have already explained how the Jedi Order screwed up their own ability to follow and use the Force. On the other side, the Sith Order had gotten way too powerful. Palpatine had gotten way too powerful. ONE MAN (using various apprentices as pawns) was able to bring the entire galaxy into civil war while controlling both armies, orchestrate the destruction of the ENTIRE Jedi Order, and construct a machine that would destroy entire planets in the blink of an eye. Both Orders were perverting their original purpose. So the Living Force hit the Hard Reset button on them in the form of Anakin Skywalker — A midichlorian infused virgin-born Chosen One who happened to have attachment issues and a not-insignificant rage problem. And he wiped them out. All of them.

In Conclusion: Both the Jedi and the Sith were out of Control. Anakin brought balance by killing everyone.

And I am SUPER EXCITED to find out what happens in Episode VII! (and do not tell me anything, I have not read any spoilers and haven’t even watched the trailers.)

Tell me what you think in the comments! If you want to disagree that’s fine, just don’t be mean about it.