The Force Awakens – But I Still Have Questions

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD – TURN BACK NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED EPISODE VII YET!

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So, I took some mental notes while watching The Force Awakens that I wanted to share while it is still relevant.  AGAIN, do not read if you have not seen the movie yet!  It is spoiler rich!

 

  1. The music seems 90% recycled or refurbished to fit the new film.  We played a lot of Star Wars music in my middle school band, so, it’s ingrained in my brain to notice that.
  2. About a week ago I posted on the Is Luke Evil Now theory, where it was suspected that he was Kylo Ren.  The theory was very, very good and well argued, but, alas, it did not happen.   It seems like we fell for the trap that the director wanted us to fall for with his classic misdirection!
  3. I like that the film shook up some gender/diversity roles by having Fin (the black dude) and Rey (the young white woman in all the previews).
  4. Rey is clearly the person the Force Awakens in, so I expect her to be the daughter of someone important (since her family’s identity was never revealed).
  5. Rey was totally great, but Fin felt like he was borderline retarded and overly loyal for no logical reason.  Now, Fin was a Storm Trooper who just decided to bail on his job, so maybe he was just clinging to whoever said a kind word to him, but he seemed ready to jump into danger over people he had known for only a few hours (at best).  So perhaps that accounts for why he seemed kind of slow too, but I couldn’t help but repeatedly think to myself “is he this dumb because he’s a Trooper or because he’s black?  WHAT are they trying to say?!”
  6. Jakku is clearly a discount Tatooine so why bother to make a new planet that feels exactly the same instead of just setting the beginning on the familiar planet to begin with?
  7. Is Rey a slave that works for food, or did she work off her slave debt and now she works for food to survive?  I mean, if this was going to be a Watto situation, and we have no timeline for the lifespan of most aliens in Star Wars, then, again, why not just use Tatooine and Watto and let all the prequel haters groan a little?
  8. Why does Rey care about BB-8?  She immediately befriends the machine for no good reason.
  9. Fin gaining his own identity and rebelling against his Storm Trooper training made no sense.  If they are trained and conditioned, why did he appear to regain his personal ability to think for himself after seeing one fallen comrade?
  10. The New Order lost the one Storm Trooper in history who can actually hit his target.
  11. Why does Fin assume Poe died when no body was present?
  12. When Poe reappears, why do we hear Fin’s side of what happened at the crash, which we already saw, but we hear nothing about how Poe escaped or got back to the Alliance?
  13. When Fin ejects from the Tie Fighter he wakes up sweaty. You actually can’t sweat in a desert like that, the moisture is so low that the sun evaporates it before you ever had a clue you were sweating.  The Storm Trooper helmets, though, should have caused very sweaty heads. Ever have a Halloween costume with a plastic face mask on a string?  You were ready to throw it away half way through the night because you were so sweaty, now imagine your whole face stuck like that.
  14. How in the heck did Han Solo get his ship stolen from him, and he could track it so quickly after it was in space, yet he couldn’t find it for anywhere from 1-30 years while it was parked in a pretty desolate desert?  Didn’t they have to turn the thing on to get it to the junker’s place?
  15. How is the Falcon still running?  The thing looks half ripped apart and rusted when Rey takes it.
  16. Why does Rey keep calling Luke and Han myths?  The Empire collapsed 30 years ago, not 500 – how is this old enough to be mythology already?  Kids these days… *sigh*
  17. So, anyone can use lightsabers?  Not just Jedis?  A close range weapon seems like a really poor choice in an age where blasters can hit people from across the room.  So, since Fin can wield a lightsaber does that mean that we should stop assuming that anyone with a lightsaber is a Jedi?  I guess so…
  18. I’d love more information on how this new Storm Trooper recruitment policy.  The hinted at thing was that kids are abducted and raised to be soldiers, but, wouldn’t that have hugely negative side effects and cause people everywhere to revolt more and more against the First Order?  They don’t say they take orphans or accept recruits like an Army, but they are no longer clones and are “taken from families.”  It’s confusing as to why anyone thought this was a good plan when they purchased/custom made the last batch of Troopers.
  19. Our big baddy, Kylo Ren, is quickly revealed to be Ben Solo, Han and Leia’s son who went Jedi training and went to the Sith side.  But the kid looks nothing like either parent – more like Anakin cloned himself through his daughter somehow.
  20. Kylo Ren removes his helmet way too much – is the point not to help hide his identity (which I’m sure would be tarnished if his lineage were well known in the First Order)?  Ren doesn’t need the helmet to breath, and it seems very heavy (symbolic for carrying on Vader’s legacy), so if he doesn’t want to keep it on, why the heck does he even have it?
  21. For that matter, why does the First Order want a moody kid as their frontman again?  He seems to not be fully converted, and is repeatedly chastised by Snoke, yet, Ren is the face of this new Empire.
  22. Is there no couple’s counseling in space?  It seems like Han and Leia should have really been working their crap out instead of doing their default jobs from Episode IV.
  23. Is Leia not a Jedi too at this stage?  I get she may not have done the training, but if she is Luke’s twin, it stands to reason that she should also have at least minimal force powers without going into full Jedi training.
  24. When Rey touches Luke’s old lightsaber, she gets a vision of his robot hand transmitting information to R2-D2, yet she doesn’t get the actual information, nor does she see where Luke went (that would be too useful, I guess?).
  25. Right before that scene – how does BB-8 get down those stairs?  I was ready to see him do some awesome twirl/climb with his wire-thingys, but alas, he goes from top-of-stairs to bottom-of-stairs with zero gratification…
  26. All of these planets get blown up, quickly, and yet the audience is left with no emotional feeling towards it.  That action doesn’t even really push the plot forward, it’s just a nice visual effect to show the Empire’s power levels needlessly.  We don’t even know what planets just exploded – anything we happen to be familiar with?  Fans would like to know!
  27. Rey has an obscene amount of Jedi powers that she learns to work very quickly and without training.  Luke couldn’t do anything until Obi Wan told him that he could, but Rey seems to break all the rules and master everything on her own – which means she’s either got all the midichlorians (sp?) left in the universe coursing through her veins, or every other Jedi who went through training courses completely wasted their time.
  28. Harrison Ford either agreed to return for only “one more Star Wars movie,” or else Han Solo is not dead.  I did not get enough visual or emotional closure to feel anything when that scene happened, so I am skeptical that it’s all that meets the eye.
  29. Was Kylo Ren really conflicted, or was that just a ruse to get Han Solo close?  If Ren is wavering, again, seems like a weird person to have in such a powerful position.
  30. Did Rey chop off Kylo Ren’s hand?  It wasn’t highlighted enough to tell for certain. I thought I saw his head come off too, but I was mistaken.
  31. Why are the baddies still using Tie Fighters and the goodies still flying X-Wings?  These are iconic vehicles, and I assume the marketing people thought that the kids don’t care what toys they buy, but adults will be very likely to purchase nostalgia – so, profits are my only reasonable assumption for why 30+ year old vehicle designs haven’t become improved or replaced for the new movie.
  32. Since Luke is not Kylo Ren or part of the Dark Side, why in the heck is he on this hidden journey?  They say it’s to find a Jedi temple over his guilt of Ben Solo turning evil, but that seems like a very poor judgement call to just vanish with such a convoluted way of finding him.  I have to assume that Luke was afraid of being converted to the Dark Side (which he heavily favors by the end of Return of the Jedi).
  33. The film mentions that Luke was training the next generation of Jedi’s, so where are they?  If Ben was his only student, that is more of a dying hope than a training camp.  If he had others he was working with, what, did he just up and abandon them too because one student turned Dark?
  34. Does Luke not realize that people need him?  Obi Wan talks about feeling Alderaan get blow up, but here we see multiple planets get decimated, his close friend gets murdered, and Luke just stays where he’s at?
  35. If Leia became a General specifically to find Luke again, why does Rey go to fetch him without Leia?
  36. I would also like to know the circumstances by which Leia remained a Princess after Alderaan was destroyed, but she no longer has a royal title now.
  37. What has Luke been doing all this time?  Just standing on this tiny island’s mountaintop?  There’s no sign of food, shelter, or a Jedi temple anywhere in sight.
  38. Clearly, Luke is being shown/referenced as the new Obi Wan Kenobi as they look as identical as two non-related people can.
  39. Now, if Jedi are basically monks who cannot marry/love/reproduce, where do baby Jedi’s come from?  This film has again confirmed that the Force is essentially in your DNA and is passed down from parent to child, so if Jedi’s aren’t supposed to have mates – where do Padawans come from?  I guess Force-using parents aren’t a prerequisite for being a Jedi/Sith, but with this film’s muddy clarification on what “the next generation of Jedi” means, number wise, it stands to reason that the best way to promote the Jedi order would be for said living Jedi to have children.
  40. There is no hint or reference to Jar Jar Binks as an evil Sith Lord, which, after seeing that fan theory, I am very disappointed over…
  41. There is no end-of-credits scene.  In this day and age, everyone expects that from a live-action Disney-associated movie.

Watch Out for that Neverbeast!

I feel like I need to offer a PSA for other, unsuspecting parents out there.  Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast came out this past Tuesday.  In the aftermath I have learned that this was a planned series finale – and the story line may leave your kid balled up and in a puddle on the floor.

***SPOILERS****

When I watched Neverbeast with my daughter, I really had done no prior research and had no clue what to expect.  My daughter, who is seven, was a wreck after seeing Toy Story 3 and Big Hero 6, but, having seen five other Disney Fairies movies, I did NOT expect Neverbeast to be an emotional film.  While Disney is getting more and more into the habit of ripping out children’s souls and stomping them into the ground with the heavy, emotional experiences happening in their films, most straight-to-video Disney movies are geared towards a younger audience.  Because of that, they are usually very kid friendly and have plots that wrap up in a nice little bow.  This was NOT the case with the Neverbeast film.

To put this in a nutshell, Fairies find Neverbeast, Fairies fear Neverbeast, Neverbeast saves the day, then Fairies love Neverbeast.  Yay, end of the film, right?  Wrong!

When the movie should have ended (if it had taken in any consideration for the general age of the audience at all), it decides to continue.  Instead of our stereotypical Happily Ever After, it turns out that the Neverbeast, now a treasured part of Pixie Hallow, is about to go back into hibernation for 972 years.  Now, out of the dozens of ways the filmmakers could have handled this issue, they chose the gut wrenching route.  Just as I complained about in Big Hero 6, it is a frivolous and cruel ending.  After all, the Neverbeast was just invented in a writers room, which means his hibernation schedule was also just invented on a whim.

So, the last portion of the film is dedicated to the Fairies essentially tucking the Neverbeast in for a huge hibernation period.  Is it a joyful or happy event?  Of course not!  It’s a somber, tear-jerking nightmare where the Fairies make sure to stress to the Neverbeast that they’ll never see him again.  The Neverbeast goes to sleep, and the series is over.  Good golly, you’d think we just watched the end of The Sopranos for all the closure that finale gives us!  What ever happened to ending on a high note?

Clearly, this was the creative team’s way of saying their personal goodbyes to their work in the Peter Pan universe, but I am so tired of writers using a genre that was previously deemed “safe” for kids and turning it into an emotional roller coaster.  Could these people possibly consider the fact that sometimes we want our kids to watch a film to escape the harsher realities of life, such a loss and death?  And we can’t even see the Fairies moving on and being happy again in the ending?  I admit, some of these emotions are justifiable for the plot line (such as the first ten minutes of Up showing you why Carl was such a sad, lonely old man now), but, in cases like Neverbeast, it is completely unnecessary and manufactured for no real benefit, other than to make sure that you have lots of feels.

Long story short, this is one of those Toy Story 3 type of endings, and if you don’t want your child thrown headfirst into a tough, emotional journey, I would completely skip the Legend of the Neverbeast.

The Ending of Big Hero 6 *SPOILERS*

I am going to say this one more time, this post contains spoilers for the ending of Big Hero 6.  Please DO NOT continue if you do not want to have the ending ruined for you.

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Last Chance to click away!

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Alright, so I went last weekend to see Big Hero 6 with my kids, completely psyched up about this film.  Disney kind of dropped the ball on the market for boys too old to care about Toy Story or Planes, and this seemed to be filling in the gap nicely.  Plus, it’s based on a concept by Man of Action, a group of people I adore for their work on Ben 10 and Generator Rex.

Well, the movie ends, and I was told to stay for the bonus scenes in the credits, so, as names start scrolling up the screen and I look over to tell me daughter to stay seated, I notice that she is blood red with tears streaking down her face.  I asked what was wrong, but I didn’t really need to.  I already knew that the ending of this movie had put a lifelong scar across my daughter’s heart, and I knew that because I was in tears myself towards the end.

Baymax and Hiro enter into a teleportation portal to save a girl who had been trapped in there for a long time, I believe it was decades.  And, just as our protagonists are about to leave the portal before it closes down forever, with the girl in hand, BAM, debris hits Baymax and renders his flight capabilities impossible.  In, perhaps, the saddest moment in Disney history, Baymax tells Hiro that he can use his rocket fist armor piece to get Hiro and the girl to safety, but Baymax cannot fly any longer, so he will stay behind.  Then, the killer moment, Baymax asked Hiro to tell him that he is satisfied with his service so that he can power down.

Cue waterfalls under the eye of every movie patron.

Now, Hiro rebuilds a NEW Baymax, but the old one is lost forever.  In a particularly odd move, Baymax sneaks his personality chip into the rocket fist, essentially giving Hiro permission to create a new Baymax.  It was a rough ending, to say the least.

But, as I’ve sat and thought about that ending, with a heavy heart each time, I’m kind of annoyed.  Sure, you could say that there was a time crunch, so split second judgement calls came into play, but Disney made this film intentional depressing when it did not need to be.  Everyone loves Baymax, and there was no real merit to having him hit by the debris in the first place.

In fact, even if Disney wanted a punchier ending, where the heroes didn’t go in and out of the portal unscathed, Baymax still didn’t need to be left behind.  Baymax could have used one hand to grip onto the ship (that the girl was inside of, trapped in hyper sleep mode), or even Hiro’s hand, while the other of Baymax’s hands deployed the rocket fist.  Presto!  Instant salvation for everyone!

This beg the question, for me, why would Disney kill off Baymax so recklessly?  I haven’t read the comics to see if that’s an authentic event, but Disney often makes changes to story lines while creating a film, and I don’t feel like resurrecting Baymax, via building a new Baymax, takes any of the sting out of that heart wrenching loss of a character.  This is, quite arguably, the saddest moment in a Disney animated feature, and I would like to know why it needed to happen at all.

Certainly, other Disney films have had rough, emotional moments (Pixar films in particular).  We have the heartbreaker Toy Story 3, which has made everyone cry.  However, when Andy gives up Woody, there is pain to it.  We see him pause and have that moment of realization/regret, followed by Andy and Bonnie playing together.  While it’s a tear jerking moment, for sure, we get a sense that Andy is doing the right thing – it’s what Woody wanted, after all, and Bonnie is a fantastic little lady.  We also see Ellie’s death in Up, but that was at the beginning of the film (so we had some time to get over it!) and a crucial plot point as to why Carl was so grumpy and all alone – why he refused to give up his house and thereby ran away with it.  But, the ending of Big Hero 6 only serves to hurt people.  It shows that Baymax is heroic, it shows loss for Hiro, and they make it clear that Baymax will power down and not be suffering, but there’s not a lot of morning after that.  It’s a “death” that is frivolous to the story arch, and Hiro rebuilds Baymax moments later.  So, again, I have to wonder WHY did this need to happen?

All Star Movies Resort Review

Recommended:  No.

Roughly 60 days prior to our trip, we booked a room at the All Star Movies Resort.  We did the online check in and asked for a room in 101 Dalmatians – which was our only request.

Check in was scheduled for 3pm, and we were told we’d be texted when our room was ready.  However, we finally came to the resort on our own at 4:30-ish after still never receiving a text.  I went to check in and was given a room in Love Bug without any question or acknowledgement of our selected preference.  I was slightly hoping that, between our preference not being available and two of the people in my party wearing birthday buttons (which the cast member noted), we would be offered one of those room upgrades that I’ve heard happens randomly.  Alas, we weren’t offered anything but directions to our Love Bug room, and I left feeling disappointed.  I’ve also heard that if they are aware it’s your birthday at check-in, you get a birthday card from Mickey and the gang.  That is apparently a myth, not a fact… 😛

I like Herbie, personally, but we chose this hotel to celebrate my son’s 10th birthday and my 30th, and Toy Story and 1010 Dalmatians are the only two themes available at this resort that are relevant to him.  Mighty Ducks, Fantasia, and Love Bug are all relics that he’s never even heard of.  But, we decided that we could still walk around and see the other areas, so it would be alright.

Here’s a quick look at the different movie sections.  Toy Story definitely had to most things to do, with lots of things to climb on our pose with.

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These flamboyant outsides are about the end of All Star Movies’ impressiveness.  The food court was not very good and way over-priced.  And, come on, I can spend $35 for a night at Days Inn and get free breakfast, but I have to pay $8 for a nasty egg sandwich at a Disney Resort that charged me $100 for a night?!  No free oranges or cereal or even toast?  That just a little too money-grubby, especially when you look at how run down the rooms are.
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And, I have to add, I don’t know why all the quick service eggs at Disney World are soaking, dripping wet messes, but they do not taste good at all.  I had hopped that the bread would absorb up some of the wetness and make the eggs taste better, but they were just ick.  If you are not at a sit-down meal, do NOT order eggs at Disney World, I keep having the same experience with them over and over again, and I feel like they are not cooked properly.  And, as you can see from our highly priced breakfast, presentation or giving a darn about making good food doesn’t seem to be a priority over speed and a quick buck.

There is a lot of dingy, dirty places around the resort.  I understand that it’s getting old, but for the prices Disney charges, they should be keeping up with things.  For example, I could see some black colored mold on our bathroom door – it was bleeding through the paint where someone had just slapped some paint over the mold to “fix the problem” in the first place.  Now, I will look the other way when I’m paying $25 a night, but when it’s four times that price, I expect the room to be immaculate.  Disney, however, seems to believe that guests don’t have a choice, and since All Stars are their cheapest resorts, then you get what you pay for (even though it’s a lot more than any other decent hotel outside of the Disney property).

The pool was also pretty blah.  It had a Sorcerer Mickey fountain, but no slide or other interesting activities.  The Mighty Duck section also had a smaller pool that was even less impressive.  Neither pool was nicer than any other hotel pool in the Orlando area, and the Fantasia pool had a number of huge dead cockroaches around the perimeter.  Clean that mess up Disney!  One of them right near the steps was the size of my foot!
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There were not enough perks to make this hotel worth the cost of a night, in my opinion.  It is nice to see all the themed buildings, but I wouldn’t book this place again unless it was $50 or less for a night.