Archive for Opinion

The Ultimate Rebel: Kylo Ren and the Truth That is His Family

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“You have too much of your father’s heart in you, young Solo” snarls Supreme Leader Snoke at his apprentice, Kylo Ren, in the wake of the younger man having just murdered Han Solo. It is a clear taunt, part of a broader litany fired at the troubled Knight of Ren by the Supreme Leader – a dressing down that informs the character’s behavior for the rest of The Last Jedi. As part of that same passage, Kylo Ren is compared yet again to his grandfather, Darth Vader. It is a comparison invited and encouraged by Kylo, and the idea that he might not measure up to “the most hated man in the galaxy” is an easy way to wound him, as we have seen on multiple occasions.

Kylo Ren, the former Ben Solo, does not only draw his inspiration from the iconic Darth Vader however. Whether he likes it or not, the influence of his parents is indeed apparent in his behavior and his choices, as suggested by Lor San Tekka when we first met the character in The Force Awakens. It is these alternate influences that make Kylo Ren such a dynamic, exciting, and perhaps more terrifying villain than anything that has come before in Star Wars. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in many respects, and as the character channels his resilient mother and particularly his unpredictable father, we see the emergence of a new kind of challenge for this new generation of heroes to overcome in Episode IX. » Read more..

Star Wars Resistance: More Grown-Up Than You Think

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While it’s common for long-time fans to think of the Disney purchase and subsequent continuity reboot as a big dividing line in the Star Wars franchise, what you might call the “modern” era of Star Wars actually began much earlier in the form of The Clone Wars. Blazing its own path between Episodes II and III, borrowing liberally from the Expanded Universe without adhering strictly to its details, TCW in retrospect is a perfect example of how modern Star Wars storytelling would come to operate.

It’s also a great model for what future Star Wars animated television would look like—when Star Wars Rebels came along in 2014, despite being set deep into the Dark Times, some of its earliest episodes were lighthearted to the point of distraction. An entire episode revolved around stealing fruit. Sabine, only a little older than Ezra, could waltz into and out of Imperial facilities seemingly on a lark, with little apparent danger.1 Stormtroopers, even in death, were treated as jokes to a degree not seen on screen since Return of the Jedi, more akin to battle droids than truly lethal soldiers of an all-powerful Empire. Looking back, though, this tonal shock seems less about any reasonable expectation of what the show would be like (and on that fair minds can differ) and more about where The Clone Wars had left off.

Like many animated shows, TCW started in a very simple place with a very limited library of assets, and its protagonist Ahsoka had all the innocence and whimsy of Ezra and Sabine put together. But over six seasons and forty-plus hours of material it became something very different, and infinitely more complex—not just artistically, though definitely that as well, but in terms of the “seriousness” of its storytelling. It’s easy to argue that Ahsoka’s existence strengthens not just Anakin’s arc but the prequel era as a whole, but the fact is you could excise her completely without losing a vital piece of the saga—if not, Revenge of the Sith wouldn’t have worked in 2005. But even people who don’t know about Ahsoka and don’t care to might very well wonder why the clones turned on the Jedi so easily, or how the whole “Force ghost” thing worked, or what happened to Sifo-Dyas, or how exactly Anakin was supposed to “Balance the Force”. For better or worse, the prequels left a lot of open questions, and in choosing to address them, TCW became a much more mature show. » Read more..

  1. Only much later did we learn that this “spunky” young character had combat training and experience to rival even Kanan’s. []

A Symbol of Freedom and Defiance – Mon Cala and the Turning of the Tide

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The Clone Wars. The rise of the Empire. The Galactic Civil War. The formation of the New Republic. The resistance against the First Order. In a galaxy plagued by warfare and strife, few worlds have played such a pivotal role as Mon Cala. Its leaders, its peoples, and its starships have affected the course of conflicts and have fought tirelessly in defense of freedom and self-determination. Famous admirals like Ackbar, mighty starships like Home One and Raddus, and selfless leaders like Lee-Char have been key to the formation and success of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, the establishment of the New Republic, and the resistance against the depredations of the First Order. From the depths of Mon Cala to Endor and beyond, this is their story.

Calm Seas to Rough Waters

The world of Mon Cala, located on the edge of the Outer Rim, is far different from the mighty industrial planets located in the Core Worlds. Home to both the Mon Calamari and Quarren, this ocean world has extensive underwater settlements and surface cities designed for contact with off-worlders. Despite a past history of conflict, the Mon Calamari and Quarren established a joint society, under the guidance of a constitutional monarchy that provided a voice to all the settlements and peoples of Mon Cala. Renowned shipbuilders though they were, the Mon Calamari didn’t build large military starships. Instead, classes of exploration cruisers, merchant vessels, and passenger liners were the primary focus of planet’s famed shipyards. » Read more..

Re: Resistance – Hello Kaz!

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In light of there being four episodes’ worth of Star Wars Resistance out and available through some platforms, while others are limited to watching only the two-part pilot or (in the case of our international friends) nothing at all at the time of writing, it’s difficult to know what exactly to write about. I don’t want to overly spoil things for people who have not had the chance to watch all four episodes that I had access to, yet at the same time why read an article explicitly discussing the show if you have not watched any of it?

So here is my compromise: rather than discuss the ins and outs of the plot that has been thus far shown, since the plot itself is still very much a work in progress and will likely burn slowly over the season’s course, let’s talk about the characters. Specifically, let’s talk about character, the one that is both the most exposed, and most divisive, of the show: Kazuda Xiono. Kaz is our main character, a “gifted but green” pilot who begins the series flying for the New Republic and is recruited into the titular Resistance by Poe Dameron after catching the elder pilot’s eye on a mission in deep space.

He’s also the sort of personality that is pretty much instantly recognizable to devotees of Star Wars animation since he shares traits with the protagonists of every modern series from the franchise thus far. His youth and enthusiasm have echoes of both Ezra Bridger and, to go even further back, Ahsoka Tano. As with Ezra and Ahsoka, Kaz has a very distinct and strong personality which can certainly be off-putting for some people, but I believe that goes for most of the cast of Resistance in general. Especially in the pilot, everyone’s portrayals are dialed up to eleven to make sure we know who they are and what they’re on about, and we’ll start to get more nuanced as time goes on and the story spools out more. Like with Rebels before it, Resistance seems to be embracing a semi-serial form of storytelling, where each episode stands on its own but story elements and character moments bleed over to those before and after, interconnecting the whole series. » Read more..

Star Wars Resistance – Hopes and Fears

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Remember when Star Wars Rebels was being hyped up, back when all we had was some concept art and character ideas? No one knew what the show was going to be about, or what it would look like, only that the characters seemed fairly diverse and colorful. Then the character shorts started coming out, and immediately there was a backlash from some that derided them as being too “Disney-fied”, about the animation not being as good as The Clone Wars, that the show was too childish and ruining Star Wars forever, and so on.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Four years later, we’re less than a month away from the launch of a new Star Wars 3D-animated show, this one titled Star Wars Resistance in an effort to frustrate and anger those who prefer to use acronyms to classify the different series. Rather than teasing us out with concept art or character-based shorts, Resistance opted instead to wait until only a couple of months before release to begin showing footage via a teaser trailer and behind-the-scenes clips. The reaction was by and large the same as when Rebels was first shown off: a lot of very vocal dislikes in the YouTube comment sections and an otherwise general sense of excitement from the fan community at large.

Make no mistake, Resistance isn’t universally anticipated any more than Rebels was. Whereas Rebels had to contend with accusations that it was somehow replacing The Clone Wars, Resistance is the first major exploration of the universe leading up to the sequel trilogy’s time frame. Even leaving aside the toxicity in the fandom where anything related to the sequel films is concerned, there are plenty of people for whom elements of the show are simply off-putting, whether that’s the time frame, the characters, the animation style, or a combination of these and other factors.

So where am I, personally, regarding this show? As with Rebels before it, I’m holding most of my judgment until at least the first episode of the show is out and available for viewing. Judging a show’s entire worth by its trailer is a mistake in my book, so this isn’t an article proclaiming some sort of judgment of Resistance from the glimpses we’ve gotten. And besides, I’m going to watch it regardless of what the final quality winds up being because it’s Star Wars and an animated show and both of those things are right up my alley. But if I can, let me lay out some more specific hopes and fears for the show overall. » Read more..

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