You can only pick one: who’s it gonna be?
p.s. Sean’s Rise of Skywalker review below.
You can only pick one: who’s it gonna be?
p.s. Sean’s Rise of Skywalker review below.
Honestly, I never thought this day would come. In 1983 there were rumours in the playground that George Lucas had nine chapters of Star Wars planned, but it seemed made up. None of us would have have predicted that a fourth Star Wars film would be released 16 years later, and none of us could possibly have foreseen that another 12 years after the disappointing prequels wrapped up, the third trilogy would kick off. It’s been more than 42 years in the making, which is essentially my whole life, but at long last Star Wars’ ninth chapter has finally arrived.
Picking up more or less where The Last Jedi left off, Rise of Skywalker immediately confirms that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is back and hasn’t lost one bit of his galaxy-dominating ambition. With a whole fleet of Star Destroyers at his command and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) at his side, the Emperor’s goal is to destroy the Resistance’s rebels once and for all. It’s up to Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and Finn (John Boyega) to lead the Resistance into battle against the Emperor and finally foil his dark plans, with the help of many old friends along the way.
By any objective measure, Rise of Skywalker is probably the weakest film of the final trilogy. Clearly spawned from a checklist of items that needed to be addressed, Rise of Skywalker is exactly the sum of its parts. Fortunately, its parts are very well-crafted and they fit together to close out the Star Wars ennealogy as well as this fanboy could have hoped. Some of J.J. Abrams’ choices are not entirely satisfying on their own, but combined, they provide some closure, some redemption, and a whole lot of Return of the Jedi flavour. The choice to borrow so liberally from RotJ, in particular, grants a satisfying symmetry to the whole affair.
An argument can be (and has been) made that Rise of Skywalker plays it too safe. No doubt that is a conscious choice by Abrams and an understandable reaction to the (unfair) hate The Last Jedi received for trying to take these films to new places. The choice to emulate the final (and weakest) movie of the original trilogy is one such safe choice, and overall, I agree that Rise of Skywalker plays it safe at every turn. But isn’t that beside the point?
Rise of Skywalker takes us to where we’ve been and in revisiting these familiar places gives us a final showdown between good and evil where the fate of the galaxy is at stake, where lightsabers and force lightning flash while a small rebel fleet takes on impossible odds, where working together for the right cause offsets a shortage in numbers, and where good always finds a way to win. That is the only way the Star Wars saga could have ended, and that’s exactly what Rise of Skywalker delivers.
Over the weekend, Sean and I did a 24 hour Star Wars movie marathon. That’s all 10 movies: Episodes I, II, III, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rogue One, Episodes IV-VIII, quite a recap going into Episode IX next week, a nice refresher. I’d only kinda seen Episodes I-VI before this – Sean made me watch them once, but I was pretty high on pain pills after a back surgery and clearly didn’t remember much. All I knew is that I really didn’t connect with them as much as people who’d grown up with them did.
Having now rewatched them properly, I think I know why I don’t love the original trilogy: it’s made for kids. So if you were a kid when you first saw it, you probably feel all warm and fuzzy toward it. But if, like me, you were a grown up, well, it’s harder to excuse a lot of its flaws. I was routinely unsettled by the characters’ coldness – every time there was a big battle, they’d immediately celebrate their victory with high fives and hugs all around, no word of sorrow for literally hundreds or thousands or a whole planetful of their friends who were just slaughtered. And the so-called romance is completely passionless. You’re telling me Han Solo is a cold fish? Really? I’m pretty sure a scoundrel like him would be making use of all the supply closets and cargo holds in the Millennium Falcon. I’d bet there’d be boxes of condoms falling out of every console on that ship. But what really gets me is the overly simplified concepts of Light and Dark. There’s good guys and bad guys and nothing in between. I thought Luke Skywalker was a bit of a wiener in Episode IV, but Mark Hamill grows him into a hero over the whole of the trilogy and I suppose George Lucas wanted to tell his fellow nerds: look, we can be heroes too. Darth Vader, meanwhile, is pretty much the epitome of villainry – the way he looks, talks, breaths, walks, it’s all so imposing and threatening. I love him as a bad guy and have a hard time getting over that he wasn’t the bad guy boss, and an even harder time understanding how quickly he was ‘turned’ by Luke in the end. I know that as a 6 year old, little Sean was relieved that Luke’s dad was now ‘good’ but big Jay (god I hope that doesn’t stick) feels quite conflicted about it. It’s just a little too easy, and unearned. Plus, the dude has slaughtered millions at this point. Sparing one hardly seems like adequate contrition.
Anyway, all that to say it’s a total relief when we finally get to the newer movies, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. They are so much more emotionally and thematically complex that I respond to them on a whole different level. They’ve made me cry, while the previous ones didn’t even make me feel. The Last Jedi in particular feels like a real triumph in cinema – after I saw it in theatres, it grew on me the more I thought about it, the more I traced the themes of failure and perseverance and hope and redemption. But it’s only now, having watched all of the films in quite succession, that I can truly appreciate all that this film accomplished. The Last Jedi is more or less Luke’s film. He’s been in exile but Rey tracks him down, determined to gain his help for the Resistance. But Luke denies her. He is a beaten up old man who just wants to be left in peace. He doesn’t want to fight anymore. The fight has gone out of him. He suffered a major setback in training his nephew, Ben. He couldn’t keep Ben from turning to the Dark side. It even brought out some Dark in Luke as he contemplated ending Ben before he could turn into Kylo Ren. Ever afraid of the Dark, Luke runs away in shame and sadness, to a quiet life of contemplation. He turns himself off from the Force. And he’s not the only one who is suffering. His sister Leia may still be fighting, but it’s taken a toll on her. Now she knows that even victories come with a cost. She is emotionally exhausted, and burdened. And that’s to say nothing of her son, whom she has lost. It was shocking in The Force Awakens to learn that Han and Leia shared a son, but losing him tore them apart, as grief does to so many parents in mourning. We see how much life has changed Han – still a plucky, trouble-making smuggler, but also a grieving father keening for even a glimpse of his fallen son. Luke too is changed – no longer the young boy filled with optimism and confidence. He has seen too much, suffered too much. His wisdom has made him weary. It’s hard to see Luke without hope, but it reminds us of his master Yoda – he too had exiled himself in the face of failure. In fact, he only broke his exile to train Luke. And now here we are, some 40 years later, with a new young Jedi and Luke is the teacher. A reluctant teacher, of course, because Luke has been so disillusioned he’s lost his faith, yet he can’t help but step up in exactly the way that his teacher did before him, even giving his life for Rey in the same way that Obi-wan did for him. When Luke’s cloak flutters empty to the ground it’s a direct call-back to Obi-wan’s own demise, and a brilliant cinematic moment.
I liked The Last Jedi for having the courage to show us failure. Every other movie (and by no means do I just mean Star Wars) shows us heroes facing down impossible odds and overcoming them. This is a new kind of test: how to get knocked down and get back up again. How to keep going in the face of failure. How to let go of the past. And these films mean that last bit in more ways than one, literally passing the torch between the older generation and the new, but teaching both that only by letting go can we truly move forward.
Video evidence of our movie marathon:
Edna Mode is a fashion designer to the stars, and by stars I mean super heroes. She is the bespeckled wonder responsible for suiting up The Incredibles and she has one golden rule: no capes. Clearly no one in a certain galaxy far, far away cares to follow this little nugget of common sense. There are capes nearly everywhere you look. Every dramatic exit is done with the flourish of a cape. So even though we can all agree they’re a stupid sartorial choice, let’s indulge ourselves with an ode to Star Wars’s sweeping capes and the people who wear them.
[By the way: did you know Sean and are watching 24 hours of Star Wars movies? What else could inspire such a post?]
10. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill): Luke is not normally prone to capes and yet this teeny tiny glimpse of one could just as easily held the #1 spot as #10. It’s part of his big reveal and proves a flair for the dramatic runs in the family.
9. Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits, Episodes I-III): as a Senator, Bail Organa indulges a certain stateliness. This guy’s got more than one cape in his closet and he doesn’t care who knows. You might start to think that the Rebel Alliance might have been more successful had they only cut all the capes – I bet you could build a death star or two for the price of their dry cleaning bill.
8. General Grievous (Episode III): I can’t help but feel that this dude wears such a suspiciously huge cape that someone should have guessed that he was hiding something underneath. In fact, I am routinely surprised and disappointed by what the so-called Force fails to pick up. Some pretty big stuff, to be honest, that even your average intuition could have detected. It doesn’t take a jedi knight to figure out that big cape = big trouble.
7. Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie, Episodes VII-VIII): I never watched any Star Wars growing up but even I couldn’t fail to pick on some of the iconic images so persistent in popular culture. I recognized storm troopers as the bad guys of Star Wars long before anyone told me they were but to be honest, as a kid I always imagined that they were robots. I wasn’t cured of this delusion until The Force Awakens, when I learned there were humans inside that molded plastic. The uniformity of their uniforms (if you’ll forgive my redundancy) spelled machine to me – perhaps being a woman I just have an innate fear of wearing the same thing as someone else (who wore it best?) and Captain Phasma feels me. It’s hard to really distinguish yourself in a suit of armour but she accessories with this somber one-shouldered garment.
6. Padme (Natalie Portman, Episodes I-III): Padme also has an awful lot of capes, even when you sort them from the similar appeal of the long jacket, the cloak, the robe, and the poncho. No matter how you slice it these folks sure like to have a piece of cloth flowing behind them, announcing arrivals and departures. Is it dangerous around all these ship engines? Definitely. Awkward in battle? Absolutely. And yet: total capetown.
5. Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn, Rogue One): I think Krennic’s capes are a direct reflection of his lack of confidence. He’s insecure, so he tries to impress people with his vestments. He certainly looks important but capes don’t make you competent.
4. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, Episodes VI-IX): Kylo Ren is a lot like his father – petulant and temperamental with a well-developed emo side. It’s no surprise that the cape appeals to him as well. It helps a young guy who perhaps isn’t fully respected yet cut an imposing figure.
3. Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch, Episodes V-VI): for some reason, lots of little boys were absolutely taken with Boba Fett because of his ‘cool armour’ which is baffling to me. Boba Fett is a boring, unnoteworthy character as far as I’m concerned. But he’s got this little torn piece of canvas dangling from his shoulder, so he’s not without vanity. He may never show his face, but he wants you to know he’s an individual.
2. Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams, Episodes V-VI): this dude may be a scoundrel and a cheat but he’s charming and well-dressed and let’s face it, a bit of a scene-stealer. We learn in Solo: A Star Wars Story that the Millennium Falcon has a cape room in it, that’s how much Lando loves his capes, so it’s hard to pick just one. Plus, Williams has a knack for using them in a commanding but flashy way. He wears the cape, the cape doesn’t wear him.
We recently visited Disney World’s new Star Wars land, Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios, where imagineers ingeniously have used 14 acres to create the village of Black Spire Outpost, on the wild frontier planet of Batuu. Batuu was mentioned in the novel Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances and Black Spire Outpost was very briefly referred to in Solo: A Star Wars Story, so while this planet on the “Outer Rim of the Unknown Regions” has technically always existed in the canon, it wasn’t already familiar to fans, allowing for a whole new Star Wars experience.
We spent several days exploring Galaxy’s Edge and we happened to come home on the very day that Disney was unveiling its new streaming service, Disney+, which means we immediately watched The Mandalorian and it was like we hadn’t left at all. Its sets made me realize just how much attention to detail is present on Batuu, in Galaxy’s Edge. Imagineers worked closely with LucasFilm and it honestly feels so immersive and convincing it’s like we might have stepped out of any one of the films, or indeed this new show. The team cited Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art for the original Star Wars trilogy as a basis for the architecture and aesthetic look of the land which does indeed feature 41m tall (135 foot) spires standing amongst the rockwork that are intended to be the petrified remains of massive trees of an ancient forest. Black Spire Outpost was once a thriving trading outpost which has more recently faded in importance, so it’s now the perfect kind of place for people to hide out, which means it’s crawling with smugglers, bounty hunters, and rogue adventurers – hang around long enough and I’m sure you’ll witness an arrest. The town is run by the First Order of course, with a heavy storm-trooper presence, but there are knots of Resistance as well, so think twice about who you talk to. The parked is signed primarily in Batuu’s fictional Aurebesh language and it stays true even when it comes to merchandising in Black Spire’s many shops and markets, which means you won’t find anything that’s branded Star Wars because “Star Wars’ doesn’t exist within Star Wars canon. But you will find a wooden storm trooper doll, or a card game native to the planet; a toy stall is run by an actual Toydarian. Even their Coke bottles don’t look the same.
The stuff going on in Black Spire Outpost while you’re there is said to be set between the most recent film, Episode VIII – The Last Jedi and the upcoming film and last in this trilogy, Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. You’ll find lots of familiar and impressive stuff – a TIE Echelon and THE Millennium Falcon chief among them. Using the Disney Play app on your phone, your ‘data pad’ remembers all of your Black Spire achievements and failures. If you do a less than stellar job on Smuggler’s Run (in which you fly the Millennium Falcon), it may cause problems for you when you visit the Cantina. Walking around the park will even sound like Star Wars thanks to John Williams’ score.
I can tell you all about it but really it needs to be seen, and to that end may I present Jay, Matt and Sean visit Galaxy’s Edge, frequent the Milk Stand for green and blue milk, find the Droid Depot to build a new R2 friend, ride Smuggler’s Run with increasing competence, hear the musical stylings of DJ 3-RX in Oga’s Cantina, and find out what a Ronto is. Plus Sean builds a custom light saber in Savi’s Workshop and is visited by Master Yoda himself.
And please like and subscribe while you’re there – it helps us enormously!
Blue milk first appeared in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, the first installment in the original trilogy. Luke drinks it during a meal in his home on the moisture farm on Tatooine, no big deal. Not even a hint of blue mustache, unfortunately.
According to Star Wars Fandom, blue milk, also known as Bantha milk, is also used in ice cream, butter, yogurt, and of course in blue milk custard. It is widely avaialbe on Outer Rim planets such as Tatooine, Lothal, and Lah’mu.
Mark Hamill was not a fan of its taste: “Oily and sweet and euch! Triggered your gag reflex. But I said, ‘Look – if they gave me blue milk, you bet I’m going to drink it on camera, because what other chance am I going to get?’ So there’s an indication that I’m an underrated actor – I gulped it and acted like I liked it without vomiting.” Bravo!
Green milk made an appearance in a much later film, The Last Jedi (though it wasn’t the milk that killed him…or was it?). Green milk comes from thala-sirens, which we know because we literally see him milking one’s teat and drinking it down thirstily on the spot. The good news is it must have tasted slightly better this time around; according to Hamill, the green milk was coconut milk that was colour graded in post production.
You may have heard that Disney World (and Disney Land) have very recently opened up Star Wars wings in their theme parks called Galaxy’s Edge inside which there just happens to be a milk bar, serving both blue and green milk, and you know the first thought through my head was “I’m making Sean drink that!” If you’re reading this around the time it was posted, now would be a good time to head over to our Twitter feed (@AssholeMovies) to see this thing go down live.
Actually, there’s little to fear from Disney’s blue milk, other than the price. Neither comes from any earthly animal, but instead have somehow been extracted from the tiny tits of coconuts and rice. Blue milk tastes of dragonfruit, pineapple, watermelon, and lime while green milk tastes like orange, passionfruit, orange blossom, and grapefruit and they’re served frozen, sorta like a milkshake.
If milk doesn’t quite do it for you, you can bypass the milk bar and head straight for Oga’s Cantina, much like the spot where we first met Han Solo. As you might have guessed, Oga’s is run by Oga Garra, a Blutopian. The Cantina is found in Black Spire Outpost on planet Batuu near Smuggler’s Alley which is all recreated on Disney property for fans to enjoy. Pilot droid RX-24 is the cantina’s DJ and he’ll be spinning tunes for Disney guests as they order from a weird selection of drinks like the Fuzzy Tauntaun, the Jedi Mind Trick, and of course, the Blurrgfire for which the establishment is known.
Update: Watch Sean build a custom droid and drink along with us as we visit Oga’s Cantina:
Yeah yeah, we’re in Disney World, no big deal, you’re tired of hearing it. But guys: we’re here for a LONG time. We’re seeing all the things! And we’re hanging out extra long time in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.
Disney built an entire outpost in their Hollywood Studios park – that’s 14 whole acres devoted to recreating a slice of planet Batuu. The deal with building this place was that every single thing that happens inside it is official Star Wars canon. Matt, Sean and I are now officially part of the Star Wars universe. But so are a whole host of surprising things. Like Coke. There’s a lot of thirsty Earthlings visiting Batuu right now, and they like to drink familiar carbonated beverages, so Disney has had to import Coke to a galaxy far, far away, and now that’s canon too. The Coke bottles look like grenades, excuse me, thermal detonators and are labelled in an alien language (Aurebesh), as is nearly everything in Batuu. At $5.49 a bottle, they make for a fun souvenir and amongst the cheapest – as long as you don’t mind being strip-searched and detained for hours in the Orlando airport and missing your flight home. Cause yeah. They look like grenades. Even replica grenades are banned on airplanes and TSA has been very squeamish about these. They immediately called them a no-go but seem to have reversed their decisions, but whether the agents can tell the difference when your checked luggage is another matter. Are you willing to risk it? At any rate, these have proved popular enough that Disney is limited purchases to 3 per guest, to prevent hording.
Galaxy’s Edge will not only look canon, it will sound canon too. Composer John Williams composed a music theme for the park, and there are another 29 original compositions that make up the planet’s ambient music. Over in Oga’s Cantina R-3X the DJ is spinning tracks from his booth but you can check out his playlist on Spotify right now if you like – search for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Oga’s Cantina: R-3X’s Playlist #1. Here’s a little sample of what Disney is calling “A PULSATING GALACTIC-TECHNO REMIX OF A CANTINA CLASSIC.”
Disney is in the habit of being very meticulous about details, so you know even the bathrooms are themed to within an inch of their lives. In fact, they’re not even called bathrooms but ‘refreshers’ while you’re in Galaxy’s Edge. If you pee on Batuu, that’s canon too! I think I’m just going to spend like 80% of my time yelling that at people. Little girl crying over spilled ice cream: “That’s canon!” Matt reapplying sunscreen: “That’s canon!” It probably won’t get old. But if it does: “That’s canon!” The slightly weird thing is: every day at Galaxy’s Edge is the same day. It’s always repeating. So though everything is canon, it’s contained to just a single day in the universe, thus, probably not that consequential. I mean, I can’t say for sure. Introducing the likes of me might just have some monumental effects. If you hate The Rise of Skywalker, it’s probably due to some ripple effect I’ve had from walking around wearing a Millennium Falcon dress. Yeah that’s right: mama don’t mess around. I have a Little Bo Peep dress for Toy Story Land and an Alice In Wonderland dress for Magic Kingdom and an Up dress for Animal Kingdom (those of you with good memories will no doubt remember that I wore an Up dress to meet Dug and Russell when I visited them earlier this year; yes I bought a 2nd Up dress. Sue me! It was necessary!) – in fact I have a park-appropriate dress for all 9 days of our visit, just I did for all 6 days of our previous one. Yes that’s 15 Disney dresses. What, is that weird? It’s not weird. It’s canon!
Anyway, I bought my Star Wars dress from a site called Her Universe, which specializes in all things Fangirl. I have never ever used that word for myself and I never will again, but Ashley Eckstein brilliantly saw a hole in the market for geek stuff for women, and she created an online store to fulfill the need. A couple MORE cool things about Eckstein: 1. all year long, Disney has been releasing special, limited edition mouse ears designed by the likes of Coach, Heidi Klum, Betsey Johnson – and most recently, Eckstein, who put together a Princess Leia pair that I hope hope hope are still available when I get to the park, and 2. Eckstein was already canon because she voices Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars. This woman’s got Star Wars squirting out her wazoo and I didn’t even mention when she had her motherfucking wedding reception at Walt Disney World!
So yeah, Galaxy’s Edge is legit. Legitimately legit. You can visit Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities for Jedi or Sith Holocron artifacts should you want them. You can make your way to Mubo’s Droid Depot and assemble your own custom droid. You get to pilot the Millennium Falcon. You can eat fried Endorian Tip-Yip and wash it down with blue milk. A little Batuu lingo: “Bright suns” = hello; “Til the spire” = goodbye. Prices are listed in Galactic Credits, which seem to be roughly (totally) equivalent to USD, which is a shame for us Canadians and our currently underperforming dollar. And if you’ve got 200 spare Galactic Credits you might ask around for some scrap metal. What you are indeed wanting is Savi’s Workshop where you can put together your own freaking light saber, but since light sabers are contraband, let’s keep that on the down-low.
Today we’re building droids and visiting Oga’s Cantina, so hop on over to our Twitter feed (@AssholeMovies) and take a peek, see if anyone’s got a blue milk mustache or a thermal detonator in their handbag. Yeah, that’s right, I just made Twitter canon, bitches!
Don’t forget to play along with our Disney Bingo card!!