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May the feels be with you

After a second viewing, I think I might finally muster something slightly more coherent than "FEEEEEELS! SO. MANY. FEELS."

Here there be SPOI-lers
Sing this to the MAIN theme
The spoilers are here

(Okay, hopefully that's sufficient for any alternative means of reading LJ that I'm not up on.)

Those kids, man. Poe isn't exactly chopped liver either, but it's Rey and Finn who really blow me away.

As crazy as it's going to drive me for the next two years (at least), I kind of like not learning right away where Rey came from. At least one look Han gave her could be interpreted as knowing/suspecting who she is, but could just as easily be Were we ever that young and when the hell did we get so old? On top of her tremendous Force gift, her aptitudes for piloting and engineering positively scream Skywalker, of course, and I'm a little bit torn about whether I want that to be the case.

On the one hand, it's a big galaxy, and maybe some of that spectacular talent should be spread around a little bit. Anakin came out of nowhere, after all (quite literally, according to his mother -- it makes me want to bang my head on things more than anything else in the prequels, but the fact remains), and there's no reason another prodigy shouldn't. It would be a bit unexpected and interesting.

On the other hand, the expected is often what the fairy-tale core of Star Wars calls for, and this might be one of those times. Rey's interaction with Han and Leia (and even with Kylo Ren) doesn't bear out the pre-release speculation that she's their daughter, but she could be Luke's. Sure, it's obvious, but that additional resonance is probably called for as she stands poised to save Luke's soul as he did Vader's, albeit from very different demons: guilt and regret.

When a behind-the-scenes image of Luke was released a while back, my immediate response was "Wow, he looks like Ben. I approve." And there's certainly that echo going on too -- Ben knew all about isolating himself with his regrets, until a brilliant young flame sprang up on his doorstep. So it would still work for Rey to be the standout among the Force-gifted children he hasn't taught, without her being his own.

Which of these things do I want to see more? I'm still not sure. :-)

Wherever she came from, she is MADE OF SUNSHINE and more than a little bit of steel, and I love her lots and lots.

And Finn! Brave, clueless, adorable Finn, imprinting on Rey like a duckling and rejecting everything he's ever known because "it was the right thing to do." Talk about a bold storytelling choice -- the reign of the grimdark antihero is barely past its zenith, and they write a guy who's been brainwashed since birth to follow orders without question and place no value on sentient life, yet who has developed a conscience entirely on his own, with no outside influence beyond watching innocent people fight for their home and holding a comrade's hand as he dies.

Finn is the walking, talking embodiment of the belief that people have an inherent capacity for compassion and morality, and I am 100% there for that.

Obviously he has a tremendous amount to learn about being, y'know, a person, but so far he's navigating that steep learning curve pretty darn well. I hope somebody (Poe, perhaps? It doesn't seem like his style, but he's the closest thing to a genuine friend available right now) will know the right thing to say when it really hits him that they just blew up a planet-sized base full of basically everyone he knows. I'm not sure I would. Because if he spontaneously found the will to get away, what if some of them could too? They've never had a choice, and now they'll never have a chance. That's a tough thing to face for people with actual experience making their own decisions. Finn's been doing it for, like, two days, and the consequences have been huge.

Bonus: Daisy Ridley and John Boyega doing press are unbelievably adorable. :-D

Han. Oh, Han. It was perfect, really, and I saw it coming a mile away, and I cried. I think I held my breath from the moment he stepped onto that catwalk (seriously, Solo, you've lived in this universe for how many years and haven't noticed that confrontations on catwalks never, ever, EVER end well?) until the lightsaber ignited, even though I knew. And then watching it hit Leia, and Chewie's howl, and oh, the FEELS.

And jeez, what the hell happened to create Kylo Ren? "Too much Vader in him" is the barest beginning... and perhaps a bit of an excuse on Han's part? I want to know more. A lot of it is easy to guess -- presumably this Snoke character got to him in the throes of adolescence, complicated by his parents having obligations and his uncle being weird, and maybe his gifts being not as prodigious as is expected of Skywalkers. (Rey showing him up on sheer instinct shook him hard.) The Dark Side is nothing if not a shortcut that turns into a trap, but how he got so firmly caught... Tell us more, please?

But I do think there's the right amount of "Tell us more, please?" at the end of this movie. A lot of questions were raised; a few of them were answered.

This isn't a review, just a babble of the things rattling around my head. Overall, I LOVE IT A LOT. That'll do for a review. :-)



( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 20th, 2015 07:41 am (UTC)
Word to everything you just said.

Particularly the catwalk....and the reaction shots.

I will always want more Leia. Always. Every time. But I'm hoping we got Lots Of Han because, well, we won't next movie...and I'm hoping I get more Leia next movie.

I really like your assessment--much the same as mine--of Luke having turned into Ben even more strongly than I'd ever have expected as he hid out. I'm looking forward to more.

I will admit that her voice being so very different was rather distracting to me. But I still love her.

And Rey and Daisy and Finn and John...they're all four AWESOME. And they Run So FAST!

I like your reading on "Were we ever that young?"

I, too, am looking forward to more, but felt like we got enough story AND enough anticipation. I want to see it again...and I rarely even go to the movies *once*.
Dec. 20th, 2015 04:33 pm (UTC)
I would have loved more Leia too, and hold out hope for more later. There's also the reality of what Carrie has the spoons for. She hasn't done a feature in ages, and this afforded her the opportunity to ease back into it, and for Abrams to gauge how much wiggle room the schedule might need to accommodate potential bad days.

In Han's case, reality dovetailed with what worked Really Really Well in the story (as heartbreaking as it is). As Jack said in the car after, they can't ask Harrison to keep doing that stuff, but Han doesn't know how not to. He'd just keep doing it until his body finally didn't let him anymore. So this was just about the perfect way for him to go out.

Luke... There was always the risk that he would go to this place, and just like Obi-Wan it's particularly tragic for such an optimistic and outgoing person to be driven there. It was done in small ways more than once in the (now de-canonized) EU, but they couldn't tell years and years of story with Luke Skywalker completely absent.

But they always had that thread of his feeling the burden of being the only one who could teach and being keenly aware of the vast gaps in his own knowledge, that bone-deep fear of Getting It All Wrong. This story structure allows for the full consequences of that fear being realized (and you know there's no way Ben turning was all his fault -- sounds like there was trouble brewing there before his parents ever sent him to Luke -- but all the new Jedi were his responsibility and it's impossible for him not to feel that), and it's devastating but right.

It's the new generation's turn to shine, and his turn to be saved. And I love that.

Edited at 2015-12-20 04:57 pm (UTC)
Dec. 20th, 2015 05:53 pm (UTC)
TOTALLY true about Carrie. I worry about her; she struggles SO much, and I think it's nowhere more clear than when mom came along with her to an event and helped speak for and with her; Carrie was clearly REALLY overwhelmed. I'm SO glad that Gary went along to England; she clearly is calmer with him and whether he's an "official" service dog, he's clearly part of her daily coping, and I'm glad she has him.

TOTALLY agreed about both Harrison and Han.

TOTALLY agree about Luke. That fear of getting it wrong, that burden of being the ONLY one...and yet one who is insufficiently knowledgeable and trained...agreed on "Devastating but right." And YES: I love that it's Luke's turn to be saved. And at least he went somewhere green and alive to hermit up, rather than somewhere as dead and desolate as Tatooine... Gods, but that location was gorgeous.

I do love that Ben was named for Obi-Wan.

I also am in awe of Daisy. She is AWESOME. ...And a *ringer* for Kiera Knightly/Natalie Portman/Young Leia...it's clear to mea that, from appearance alone, she's somehow related, imo. Also...she's so FAST. Her running...man...I remember having the daring and energy and fearlessness to RUN full-out like that without fear of injury. Man, is THAT a long time ago!

I think one of my favorite things about Han and Leia in this is that there is no acrimony. They are not bitter about being apart, they are not angry at one another, and they have each forgiven the other. They still struggle with being angry with themselves, each of them, and with their own guilt and grief, but they are each entirely able to be entirely compassionate to the other one and see that we cope and grieve in our own ways...and, in each case, they both ran for what they knew best. I love LOVE that scene.

I also love that his final scene was because he loves *both* his son AND Leia. He goes out on the catwalk, yes, to buy time, but also hoping against hope that this might work...and because he can't *NOT* try...for himself, for Leia, and for Ben. And, ultimately, Ben's redemption (because I utterly believe it will come) will in part come because he cannot deny his father's love and sacrifice in the interests of making an attempt to save him.

I'm fascinated by the opposite struggle from Ben: he's not fighting to fend off the Dark Side, but to push away the Light, to try to deny something that still pulls at him. It's a fascinating dichotomy: Luke and Anakin were fighting to hold onto the Light as the Dark tugged at them. Ben, on the other hand, can't *rid* himself of the Light entirely, though he seeks to. And the truth that Anakin turned his back on the Dark Side...that seems to have been somethin ghe has overlooked, denied, something...and that will be important too. I like that I see #lovewins as the coming thematic note.

Abbie pointed out that it's just...wrong...to her that Han's last years were spent having lost his son, being without Leia, even having had the Falcon taken away. I think it's fitting for that to be where his life went: he still has Chewie...and he's still pulling shenanigans on folks around the galaxy and being a rogue, but ultimately, he is mostly isolated: it's what he knows. And it's sad. It's tragic. It's unfair. But it's HIM, despite that it's sad.

And realistically...this is a true reckoning for the years after a huge revolution: taking out one base in a powerful, galaxy-wide structure of government and oppression...it won't just magically end that oppression. Even thirty years on, I entirely believe that they're still fighting. It's very Henry IV: even though one wins, there are still battles to be fought and fought and fought. It's exhausting and there is no simple, easy, or total win. And it's sad that, no matter how much they sacrifice, they will never have peace in their lifetimes: all of them are doing this for future generations, with hope.
Dec. 20th, 2015 07:38 pm (UTC)
I do love that Ben was named for Obi-Wan.

It weirds me out slightly, just because Luke and Mara's little Ben (and he's always little to me, because I gave up on the novels when he was still a toddler) is still a Person Who Exists In That Universe in my head. But it's nice. :-)

ultimately, Ben's redemption (because I utterly believe it will come) will in part come because he cannot deny his father's love and sacrifice in the interests of making an attempt to save him.

Yes, and yes, and yes!

Ben, on the other hand, can't *rid* himself of the Light entirely, though he seeks to.

Yes, this. He explicitly equates it with weakness, which... I can sort of see where the seeds of that would come from, to be exploited? Especially if the "too much Vader in him" came partly in the form of wanting to Solve All The Problems Once And For All Right Now Complications Schmomplications, which was a big part of Anakin's fall.

And the way he talks to that helmet -- clearly Snoke has engineered false visions or other "signs" of what Vader would want him to do and live up to that are the exact opposite of what he would get from Anakin's actual spirit. How desperate for validation did he have to be to fall for that, to the point of rejecting the lifelines offered by the people who actually love him?

And a *ringer* for Kiera Knightly/Natalie Portman/Young Leia...it's clear to mea that, from appearance alone, she's somehow related, imo.

Part of my waffling is wondering if that might be a little bit of a red herring. I've also joked that -- with her smile and her voice especially being SO like Keira Knightley -- maybe she's actually related to Sabé. Which led to the more serious thoughts of "well, at least from Naboo... oh, crap, Palpatine was from Naboo..." Aaaand then I stopped. :-D

And it's sad that, no matter how much they sacrifice, they will never have peace in their lifetimes: all of them are doing this for future generations, with hope.

Sad in its way, but the message is such an important one. They never once question that it's worth doing for those future generations.

Edited at 2015-12-20 07:43 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - amilyn - Dec. 21st, 2015 03:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 20th, 2015 10:22 am (UTC)
I haven't seen it yet but I'm not avoiding spoilers; it sounds like it's archetypal enough that nothing is coming as a surprise. (I *am* trying to protect my husband, who desperately wants to remain unspoiled.)

From your description, Finn sounds a lot like Aeryn Sun. Not in personality, by any means, but in backstory.
Dec. 20th, 2015 04:51 pm (UTC)
The comparison occurred to me too, and it's extremely apt. The picture painted of Stormtrooper life is very much like that of the Peacekeepers. I love the new dimension it introduces to the universe.

It's one they had to do somehow -- after showing so much of the clone troopers' humanity in the prequels, they could hardly go back to treating non-clone stormtroopers as inconsequential props -- but I think they've chosen a really effective way to go about it.

And yes, archetypal all over the place, and I love it. :-)
Dec. 20th, 2015 08:29 pm (UTC)
I have a different theory about Rey. I don't think she'll be a Skywalker. I'm going to suggest she'll be a Kenobi. Obi-Wan's granddaughter.

Because Star Wars totally is about families and legacies, so I think it's highly likely that she'll be from a family that we've heard of before. And there aren't that many recognizable names to choose from. Obi-Wan was a good looking man in his youth... traveling the galaxy... being heroic if not also mysterious. He could easily have had a kid he didn't know about.

Plus it would mean that Luke would be teaching his teacher's progeny, which is the cyclical sort of thing mythologies love.
Dec. 21st, 2015 02:44 am (UTC)
Ooh, that's an intriguing notion! And certainly as possible as anything else at this point.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 21st, 2015 05:06 am (UTC)
And super cool in a general sense. <3
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 21st, 2015 05:04 am (UTC)
Reeeeeyyyy!!! *squeeing forever*

REY OF SUNSHINE. (Nope, not even a little bit sorry.)

(Besides, "Luke" means "light giving." So, even less sorry, on account of the I SEE WHAT YOU PEOPLE DID THERE.)

Edited at 2015-12-21 05:05 am (UTC)
Dec. 22nd, 2015 04:11 am (UTC)
Oooh, nice catch!

Edited at 2015-12-22 04:11 am (UTC)
Dec. 22nd, 2015 04:32 am (UTC)
Purely accidental - struck me when I typed MADE OF SUNSHINE above. :-D *curtseys anyway*
Dec. 21st, 2015 12:47 pm (UTC)
Loud and ringing endorsement for everything you've written here. One thing about Poe - I desperately want his last name to really be Antilles, but that's probably one family legacy too many.

How cool would it be, though, for Rey to be an Antilles? (I don't know why I'm hung up on Wedge right now.)

I'm sure that Kylo Ren (Darth Tantrum) has always had serious anger issues. It runs in his blood, probably on both sides, since we know nothing about Han's birth family (apart from the books, which still don't give much info). I'm equally certain that Snoke (Darth Serkis) took wild advantage of that weakness and the pressure of ever living up to the Skywalker/Solo names. Can you imagine being a kid in those shadows? Rough.

While on the subject of Ren, I thought it was very amusing how the stormtroopers in the hallway outside one of his meltdowns acted like it was something they'd encountered numerous times before, because I'm sure it's a regular occurrence. "Uh...he's at it again. Let's go down B corridor instead."

I love Rey like burning, and I think she's amazing. I feel it's pretty telegraphed that she's Luke's kid, and that he probably left her with Max von Sydow (sorry, didn't catch his character's name). She, being a Skywalker and prone to the Reckless Intrepid, probably bolted when she was old enough because she was feeling stifled.

Also, I *adore* Maz Kanata, and I'm already impatient with all of the racism accusations around that character.

Edited at 2015-12-21 01:10 pm (UTC)
Dec. 21st, 2015 03:00 pm (UTC)
How cool would it be, though, for Rey to be an Antilles? (I don't know why I'm hung up on Wedge right now.)

It would be way cool. No such thing as too much Wedge love. :-)

So many people were doing marathon rewatches of the earlier movies in preparation for this, and there was just no way I could swing it. It's been years, other than bits and snatches when they happened to be on TV. Planning a proper sit-down with IV-VI over the holiday.

I'm sure that Kylo Ren (Darth Tantrum) has always had serious anger issues.

*snerk* Somebody on Tumblr tags all their posts about him with "darth pissbaby."

Can you imagine being a kid in those shadows? Rough.

I really can't -- and neither could his elders. With the exception of Leia, to some extent. But her talents were well-suited to what was expected of her, and we've never seen any sign that she wished for something different. Her sense of duty is the thing that gives her strength when things get tough. It must have been nearly impossible for her to grok that the same thing she leans on was, for Ben, more weight.

"Uh...he's at it again. Let's go down B corridor instead."

Oh, man, they all see it coming! It's hilarious, and at the same time underscores what Han said about Snoke using him for his power. He's hell on both morale and the equipment budget, and everyone has to put up with it because anger is what the Supreme Leader wants from him.

The more I think about it, the more impressed I am with Adam Driver. In the limited time we get to see his face, we see how tired he is of maintaining that pitch of negativity. It must have seemed so freeing at first, when that overflowing well of anger suddenly had somewhere to go and could do things for him, and it all seemed so easy. And now that fuel is running out. He's exhausted and terrified, and spends the entire last act of the movie reacting like a cornered and wounded animal.

Dec. 21st, 2015 03:17 pm (UTC)
Re: 1/2
He's exhausted and terrified, and spends the entire last act of the movie reacting like a cornered and wounded animal.

Her ability to resist him scared the shit out of him. He started his tailspin in the interrogation chamber and never quite stopped falling.
Dec. 21st, 2015 06:36 pm (UTC)
Re: 1/2
Definitely. And even before that, that sad bit talking to Vader's helmet, and then how obvious it was that he identified with what he pulled from Rey's mind -- the loneliness, and the vision of the ocean and the island. (Was Luke [consciously or unconsciously] calling to anyone and everyone with the senses to listen, or just to his kin, or was something doing it for him?) The cracks were already there, and her resistance blew them wide open.

And with the way that Snoke seems to be not merely using him but using him up, I shudder to think what "complete his training" signifies.

BTW, "Darth Tantrum" is my new favorite thing, and I'm using it everywhere I can. :-D

Edited at 2015-12-24 07:40 pm (UTC)
Dec. 21st, 2015 03:00 pm (UTC)
he probably left her with Max von Sydow (sorry, didn't catch his character's name).

They didn't drop it, and I forgot both times to check the credits. IMDb says Lor San Tekka. I'm very curious about him, and the fact that they didn't tell us squat about who he was -- and the way he talked about the Force and wrongs needing to be set right -- makes me think we'll hear more later. And you're right, it would pretty much have to be in connection with Rey, who's right there on Jakku.

Though if he was keeping an eye on her, it was from a distance -- in her vision, it was Unkar Plutt saying "come on, girl" and pulling her away. (And I just realized her reaction to Finn grabbing her hand might not just be independence.) Which might not be literal -- visions are tricky things -- but still points to Luke making what I'd be tempted to call the same mistakes Obi-Wan made with him. But maybe he's gained a different perspective on his own upbringing, and...

Oh! *headsmack* What were we just saying, about the weight of expectations on Ben? They're not super specific about timeframe, but the general idea of how long it's been since Ben turned matches up pretty well with the age difference. So Luke, having just had his own nephew turn on him and destroy everything he's started to build... how do you prevent that from happening again with this still-innocent five-year-old? Well, remoteness and ignorance ended up working out pretty well for him...

She, being a Skywalker and prone to the Reckless Intrepid, probably bolted when she was old enough because she was feeling stifled.

Definitely. We were talking about where she learned to be a pilot in that limited environment. Since she knows so much about the modifications that were made to to Falcon, even though it "hasn't flown in years," it seems likely Unkar Plutt discovered her talents early on and made full use of them to help him tinker and test his acquisitions. Then she got a little older and either became too much of a handful and got kicked out, or left on her own.

What's interesting -- by its very unSkywalkerness -- is her absolute determination to wait until "they" came back for her, apparently without even a clear memory of who "they" were. Kylo senses her loneliness, but no bitterness or anger. If she has abandonment issues, she's buried them so deep even she can't find them. She just... waited. Of all the things Luke had to learn that she's got a head start on, patience tops the list.

Maz Kanata is MARVELOUS. <3

Edited at 2015-12-21 03:01 pm (UTC)
Dec. 21st, 2015 03:19 pm (UTC)
Re: 2/2
Maybe her patience and ability to instinctively control her fear and anger are the clues that she's not really a Skywalker...I'm really liking the hints that she might be a Kenobi.
Dec. 21st, 2015 06:42 pm (UTC)
Re: 2/2
So many possibilities! It's so much fun to have them again in this universe. :-)

One thing about setting off all this speculation (which you know they're just sitting back and cackling about -- I sure would be!): It's cool, and it does matter, but not as much as her being Rey. Which is true of Luke as well -- being "the son of Skywalker" ultimately wasn't as important as being him, and learning who that was and to trust himself. That's what made him the hope of reviving the Jedi in a relevant and meaningful way.

Which ties back to one of the reasons I love Maz, and specifically her line "I am no Jedi, but I know the Force." We've seen multiple ways to fall to the Dark Side, but that's the first assertion in movie canon that there's more than one right way to connect with the Force.
Dec. 22nd, 2015 04:26 am (UTC)
RE: Re: 2/2
Maz, and specifically her line "I am no Jedi, but I know the Force."


For all the Jedi and Sith talk, it makes no sense for something that's "an energy field created by all living things...[and]...binds the galaxy together" to be something exclusive to these specific (small) groups of people.

It also helps me reconcile one* of Yoda's WTF-were-you-thinking?!?! moments from the prequels: "He's strong with the Force but too angry, we won't train him" is moronic from a "so you're gonna let him be a loose cannon/Sith fodder instead???" POV, but "his anger makes it inappropriate to train him to use it as a warrior does; he should use/connect with it some other way" actually works.

*Nothing will *ever* justify "Balance needs to be restored to the Force: So let's wipe out one entire side to make that happen!" 800 years old he may be, and mighty strong with the Force, but Yoda hasn't the sense of a cucumber when it comes to understanding prophesy. ("Gee: balance ended up being 2 on their side and 2 on ours... who could have foreseen that??? *galactic headdesk*)

Edited at 2015-12-22 04:28 am (UTC)
Re: Re: 2/2 - wiliqueen - Dec. 22nd, 2015 04:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2015 02:48 pm (UTC)
RE: 2/2
I LOVE all the discussion here! THANK YOU! So much echoes from me. I read that JJ Abrams said Max Von Sydow's character was like a layman deacon of the Force. He didn't have Force abilities, but was a devotee of the belief system.
Dec. 23rd, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC)
RE: 2/2
Interesting! And the kind of person we need to see more of, really.
Dec. 22nd, 2015 05:38 am (UTC)
Yes, I love that we're left wondering about Rey (is that the official? I've been reading a series of books this week with a "Rae", so I must have just gone there w/o thinking). And I agree with the possibilities for interpreting the way Han looked at her (of course, at the time I was still trying to figure out if she was his daughter, but they hit a point about midway where it would have just been stupid to have ducked that reveal).

And it really took time to really piece Finn's story together-- and that's o.k., it worked to get the explanation for why *he* *suddenly* broke rank in pieces. [He wasn't a clone, or mindless, he was a kidnapped/brainwashed kid, and one who had always worked a science job (here I don't think "sanitation engineer" is a euphemism: someone does have to design that stuff), facing actual battle for the first time (and how low were they getting on trained troops in that area that they had to send him out?), pulled out of whatever pre-game pep talk mentality might have let him just do what he was trained to without thought by the death of a comrade (one I assume he knew and was not a soldier either), into stopping and actually looking at just what was happening around him.]

I had a few moments wondering how he was dealing with shooting individual storm troopers, but I actually hadn't thought about the mass destruction of his entire detachment. Yikes.

And Han: Oh, I was an idiot, but I didn't see it coming. Wishful thinking clouding my judgment, maybe [*remembering being 14 and saying "who the hell cares about _Luke_?!?! are you serious?"*], but I was waiting for Kylo Ren's "help me because I don't think I can do it" being throwing *himself* off the catwalk, rather than face the internal struggle any more. I didn't think it was going to end happily, but I also wasn't convinced [or educated on rumor/spoilers/info] that he was any more of a continuing character than his opponent General Whatsit. Oh, Han...dammit! :(

But that really just underlines what I walked out of the theater unable to shut up about (sorry, lizbetann! ;-)): How beautifully this one managed to mix old and new. I don't think there was a single classic beat from the original that this one didn't hit--and yet *somehow* (and I'm still boggled by this) it managed to be organic, and not a series of awkward, or even painful, shout outs. You have them going to get help leading to a Cantina scene--but the setup, purpose, happenings, and result were different enough that I could recognize the clear-as-day parallels, and yet not be at all distracted by "oh, and here's the new Cantina scene...".

With the characters there was enough shifting around that that helped: Ray was the Force power from nowhere in the desert, but Finn was the clueless innocent. Ray kept saying she had to stay on Jakku and couldn't get involved, but Finn is the one who walked out only to come back and join in. Maz was clearly Yoda... except when she wasn't. I desperately need to see it again, because most of the crossing parallels that were clear ijn my mind as I walked out have blurred over a couple of days. But I still remain in awe of the ability to hit every damned beat of the original--Ray watching her brand-new guide in life Han killed at a distance, too far away for her to help; the cantina; so many of the flying shots that were open echos of the earlier work; and many more I'm spacing on, right down to Luke's reveal at the end being almost frame-for-frame our first view of Obi-Wan in the desert--and yet never have it feel forced, cheap, or anything but organic to the current story.

Dec. 22nd, 2015 05:38 am (UTC)
As for Kylo Ren: Having the Force be as strong with you as it runs in this family is more of a curse than anything else. And it makes sense: That much power? To even learn to control it, let alone manage to keep it away from the anger, pride, petty jealousies, and lapses in judgement that come with being an imperfect human being? Anakin fought all his life with it, before and after Vader. Even in the original trilogy Luke struggled a lot with it, and that was with a clear cause to follow and a painfully clear warning of the risks and consequences right in front of him at all times. Ben Solo? Not sure what happened, but I suspect that the psychosis (I *love* "Darth Tantrum"!) was less a cause of his Darkside tendencies and more a consequence of them. I'm sure we'll get more details later, but for now I'm assuming that he had Anakin-style issues while training. With Vader dead and the rebellion at least nominally sucessful, I think he lacked the clear "this is why I do it, and do it this way" maturity (I know!) Luke was forced into by events. I'm thinking Luke is the outlier in having survived the family curse sane and Jedi.

Of course, Luke's own lack of training, lack of knowledge of how to train, and presumably utter terror of what might happen if he got it wrong probably put deeply unfortunate, but possibly unavoidable pressure on the situation. But I'm pretty sure what might have been originally little more than teenage rebellion (with great power comes a great amplification of the consequences of normal human behavior and feelings), ended up breaking him when he found himself trapped. He didn't so much "break and go to the Dark Side" as much as "go to the Dark Side" and then break from being unable to commit fully to it--presumably a consequence of having had a presumably loving, supportive family and Luke at least attempting to make sure he understood why the Dark Side was bad.

Just look at him with Vader's mask: looking to it as a talisman, constantly trying to convince himself he was on the right path. And he didn't even end up grabbing onto a selfish reason to keep himself firmly Dark Side once he'd hit a point of "gone too far to be redeemed" (I assume): he's doing it to avenge Vader, to complete Vader's work. He clearly has never had any actual contact with ghost!Anakin and only three people were there to see Anakin redeem himself at the last moment (and two of them are dead)--so he has no idea Vader didn't die as he lived. But Vader (raised a nobody and a slave) wanted power, control, respect. Kylo wants to do this *for Vader*. His very DarkSide mantra is remarkably selfless and noble at heart.

I do think there's the right amount of "Tell us more, please?" at the end of this movie. A lot of questions were raised; a few of them were answered.

I agree: The end result is a perfect balance between the X-Files/Lost mistake of not answering enough, and just wrapping up the end neatly in a bow. It didn't end on a cliffhanger--the immediate, essential questions and problems were answered and resolved. But there are so many more non-pressing questions open. It left so much glorious room for speculation to hold us until the next movie. ;-)
Dec. 22nd, 2015 06:28 pm (UTC)
Not sure what happened, but I suspect that the psychosis (I *love* "Darth Tantrum"!) was less a cause of his Darkside tendencies and more a consequence of them.

It's all of a piece, I think, one big destructive circle. Small angers and fears combine with innate power to act on them, and it escalates. Bringing me back to what I hit on somewhere in the comments here, that he seems so tired of having to keep up those levels of anger and hate in order to fuel his power. And when he has a moment to think about how he got there, he's been primed to conclude, not that it's not where he should be, but that he's not doing it well enough.

I'm thinking Luke is the outlier in having survived the family curse sane and Jedi.

He absolutely is, and that's got to be something that eats at him big-time. Recognizing that would also be a reason not to push Leia to train, which she evidently chose not to do. As desperately as new Jedi candidates were needed, I can't seem him pressing the point if she didn't want to do it. Nobody should go through what he did, or anything remotely resembling it, unless they go into it with their eyes open.

And it leaves me wondering about Ben, and the possible discrepancy between how much choice his family thought he was given and how much he believed he really had. If, in his heart of hearts, he didn't really want to be a Jedi at all, but felt he couldn't let them down? Not being "good enough" (and he definitely has a massive bugaboo about that) would be that much worse.

Kylo wants to do this *for Vader*. His very DarkSide mantra is remarkably selfless and noble at heart.

It is. It's definitely the seed of what will ultimately save him, one way or another.

And it's fairly clear what he wants to finish that Vader started -- we need only recall the latter's pitch to Luke about bringing order to the galaxy. The name of the new faction is certainly no accident.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 24th, 2015 05:55 pm (UTC)
I can see it as both, in a weird way? Shades of Anakin's obsessive need to Make Everything Right For Everybody, and failure to see the arrogance and narcissism of thinking he could ever know what that is, let alone be The One to make it happen.

Baby Jedi Killer (I'm never letting that go, GEORGE)

Oh, HELL no. My squee at watching Rey (or even going back and watching Luke) wield that lightsaber is tempered by queasiness at the thought of what Vader did with it. (And he was Vader at that point; he had bent the knee and accepted the name, despite deluding himself that he could somehow still be Anakin to Padmé.) I will forever get a slight wince from anyone touching it, and that is entirely on George.

because imaginary grandpa can never be disappointed in him

This is ABSOLUTELY true.

I do think he's convinced that the First Order is what the galaxy needs, and that the "weakness" of the compassion of the Jedi as a concept and his family as actual people is standing in the way of that. He imagines himself to be sacrificing love and happiness and all those things so that others can have them in safety. And yes, it's a convenient delusion to explain away the desire to be Important and Powerful.
Dec. 22nd, 2015 06:12 pm (UTC)
It is indeed Rey. Because why stop at light when you can also invoke royalty? They are straight-up trolling us, I swear.

Finn just said "sanitation." (My brain also tried to fill "engineer," but I confirmed on second hearing that it's not actually there.) Which, given the tech level, still implies operating and maintaining equipment, if not developing it. So he could still have been placed on that track due to technical aptitude.

I hadn't heard/read anything whether Kylo was going to be ongoing either, but I had a Bad Feeling at least from Leia's "There's still light in him" line (echoing Luke's similar one about Vader). It felt too early to redeem him, and the suicide possibility never occurred to me, though it probably should have.

100% agreement on the balance of old and new, for all the reasons you mention. It doesn't hurt that this is the selfsame visual universe that made Abrams want to be a filmmaker in the first place, and that so shaped his sensibilities. But there was SO much craft, from so many talented people, involved in making the finished product really and truly match up to that magic. "In awe" is absolutely the right way to put it.
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