On a previous Saturday I admitted to the crime of using 12-inch action figures to play the Star Wars role-playing game. The Dungeons and Dragons RPG world was horrified. You are supposed to use scale-appropriate metal miniatures. How can you simulate combat without small figures on a grid? I have to confess. It was via x’s and dots on graph paper. But we didn’t use the action figures to represent ranges and lines of site in combat. And one of my players was my niece, an actual girl. So, I guess, to be honest, we were actually playing with dolls.
But it helps to have a lot of dolls.
Emperor Palpatine, Snow Trooper, Obi-Wan, Jar Jar, Quigon, Droid Soldier, and home-made Mace Windu
We started play after the first two movies in the Prequel Trilogy.
Wicket, Imperial Walker, Astroboy (What’s he doing there?) Darth Vader, Little Anakin, and Boba Fett.
We got creative with stories.
Jango Fett, General Grievous, and Admiral Akbar
Robot from Lost in Space, R2D2, Slave Girl Leia, and a Green Orion Slave Girl Dancer from Star Trek
So there is evidence available to my offspring to help them have me committed to an institution. The truth is, these are not even all of my Star Wars Dolls. So this morning’s confession session is now at an end, though all of the horrible truth is not yet revealed.
There is controversy about this movie. Fanboys were disappointed that they were so far wrong about what is really important in this movie. Fan theories were all way off base. And that was a good thing. The movie was the best Star Wars movie they have ever made.
I took my family to see this movie at a Thursday matinee a week ago on a regular screen so I could actually afford it, and we watched good battle evil once again. And all the usual things were set up to be a replay of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But this smashed all expectations. The evil side very nearly won. And the good side lost almost everything. So, in many ways, this whole movie reflected reality in America. Except, of course, for the fact that Emperor Snoke is actually quite smart and crafty.
But the thing that makes this such a flaw-filled perfect Star Wars movie is how the story builds on everything that came before to make a coherent and very wise theme. Threads of ideas that exist in all of the previous movies (except the Christmas specials) are drawn together and woven into a whole thematic cloth. The Jedi tried to bring balance to the Force, and they failed because they thought balance was the same as the Light Side winning out over Dark. Anakin Skywalker brought balance to the force by bringing back the Dark Side, and then Luke came along to bring the Light Side into balance. Of course, the rise and fall of Light and Dark will occur over and over again.
This movie isn’t just another hero’s journey where Rey finds a master and learns what it will take to defeat evil. Master Skywalker does not actually take her on as a student. He is dealing with his own demons and refuses. So the hero must learn the lessons on her own. But she falls into the pattern naturally that Luke recognizes. And Luke’s hero journey has not yet concluded either. Luke recognizes his own past in Rey. Master Yoda reappears and still teaches him something he needed to know. “Failure is the greatest teacher.”
Rey shows signs in this movie of becoming the hero that win it all in the end. But this is Luke Skywalker’s moment. He learns from his personal failure with Ben Solo. He steps into his old role as the light that guides the rebellion. He creates a final duel with Kylo that calls upon him to use greater powers of the Force than we have ever before seen from a Jedi of the Light Side. And he doesn’t win the battle. He only delays Kylo and the First Order long enough to save Rey and the Resistance. It will be up to others to fight on in the next movie. But Luke has finally proved that the Jedi don’t always fail when the next power surge rolls through the Dark Side. Metaphorical victories count too. Surviving is a victory in itself. No movie has ever been so relevant to my own life and struggles. I have to fail so I can learn too how to win.
So, yes. I am a completely uncritical critic. I only report on the things I love about movies. I never quibble over how it should have been done differently, or how it disappointed me. I actually loved the prequels, and Jar Jar Binks was one of my favorite characters. But I loved this Star Wars movie more than any of the ones I have seen so far. And the next one may surpass it. Miracles do happen. But this movie was the perfect thing at the perfect time in my life to accomplish everything I want a movie to do for me. I loved it. I wouldn’t change a thing, even if I had the power in the Force to do it.
This is just an extra post to make up for one little oopsie I made. You couldn’t really read the speech balloons in the previous post because I made them too small for the post size. So I took a tiny bit of dynamite and blew them up. Besides, I need to test my computer security system as it keeps saying someone is stealing my WordPress posts.
The danger presented by Star Wars collectibles lies in the fact that there are so @#$%! many of them. If you try to collect one of everything, you will will be in the poor house for seven generations. (Yes, I intend to leave my collection to my children to do with as they please. I don’t expect the curse to go along with it. My kids are smarter than me.)
But this is only the beginning of the Star Wars crap that I have to share when blogging about collectibles. These are the Luke, Han, and Leia dolls that I have collected over time My Kenner Luke and Leia are not pictured here. Being the oldest 12-inch dolls in my collection, from 1978, they don’t look quite as good as the rest despite my repairs and rehabilitations. So I actually have five Lukes, two Hans, and four Leias. I threw in R2D2 because he and slave girl Leia were a set.
It is my intention to show you this soul-crushing collection bit by bit because it can be daunting otherwise. Stay tuned for further episodes… or be on the look out if you really desire to avoid them. I do realize that old men who play with dolls are a little off and likely have toxic cooties.
At long last I got to see it, another thrilling Star Wars movie. I couldn’t wait for it to reach the dollar movie theater where I could actually afford it, so I saved up my money to take the family to the theater in Valley View Mall off LBJ in Dallas. (This is a doomed and dying mall that no one ever goes to, so the tickets cost only half as much as elsewhere… but it was still necessary to go an hour early to get tickets before it sold out.) I have seen every single Star Wars movie within the first two weeks of its run, dating back to the original Star Wars which I saw in college at Ames, Iowa in 1977. And I confess to loving every minute of every one of the movies. I even like Jar Jar Binks as a character, which gets me kicked out of the Serious Star Wars Aficionado Club for reasons I still don’t understand.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm 2015
I was predisposed to passionately love this movie. And I understand why the critics are saying that it is the exact same plot as the first Star Wars movie, Episode IV; A New Hope. I am not going to review this movie here because I could not do it without those dreadful spoilers that I had to duck for weeks in everything I read about the movie. Things happen in this movie that directly parallel the first movie, and that means an unexpected death that tore my heart out as much as when Vader kills Obi Wan Kenobi in the original. Over time, through movies and books and role-playing games, these characters have become real people to me. I care deeply about what happens to them. I almost had to care deeply about what happened to us as well.
Yesterday was a bad-weather day in Texas. Tornadoes ripped through the Dallas area last night. Eight people were killed as three different funnel clouds touched down and did damage in the area. As we left the theater and started out for the restaurant where we would get a meal, a tornado warning started ringing on our cell phones and the tornado siren started blaring. My sister-in-law and her family, visiting from San Antonio, took refuge in the mall we had just left. They told us that the theaters on the top floor of the mall were evacuated as they sheltered there. If we hadn’t gone to a matinee, we would’ve been interrupted during the movie. As it was, we made it to Chili’s Restaurant just ahead of the wind and rain. We had dinner while the rain poured down, and the Independence Bowl on the restaurant televisions kept getting interrupted by weather coverage like you see above. We watched the danger zones creep by on three sides of us as we ate burgers and tilapia in a glassed-in restaurant. Needless to say, our relatives were unable to join us as they cowered back at Valley View Mall. The after-movie party and discussion proved to be almost as thrilling an adventure as the movie itself.
But I simply can’t help myself. No line or threat of sell-out or adverse weather condition is going to come between me and a Star Wars Movie. I loved it. And if I’m still alive when the next one comes out, I’m watching that one too… no matter what. I love Star Wars!