A new Star Wars movie is here, and that is always guaranteed to get my attention. The most recent trailer I have seen came to me via io9, and it is long, beautiful, and gives a flavor without, apparently revealing too much. There are porgs, and there is Finn, Phasma, Kylo, Leia, Snoke, and Luke.
I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I undoubtedly will sometime in the next few days. This blog post is just a way for me to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper before going in to see the movie. I’m doing this because, even though I love Star Wars, the movies can be problematic. Only one of the series hasn’t disappointed and left me with an aftertaste in my mouth when the credits roll, at least in some way.
Only the original 1977 Star Wars had an unequivocally upbeat ending combined with no missteps in the design and storytelling. In the Empire Strikes Back, Han was captured. Return of the Jedi had the ewoks, the stupid, cutesy ewoks. The prequels had Jar Jar, and a lot of other problems too. Rogue One killed a bunch of cool characters for no good reason, I mean sure they aren’t in Star Wars, but it’s a big galaxy people, they could have just been somewhere else. Finally The Force awakens had Starkiller Base. This was so stupid it was upsetting, especially when Han says ‘There’s always a way to (blow them up)’ pointing out the fact that it’s just another superweapon with a weakness.
To try and get my feelings about going to see the movie, a mix of trepidation and excitement, to come into clear focus, I took a look at the latest trailer again. The first thing I have to say is that the gorilla AT-ATs are dumb as hell. The trailer starts with soome AT-AT walkers trudging forward across an icy landscape, most of them the new gorilla-like AT-M6s. Gorillas walk on their nuckles because they can rear on their back feet and bring their front paws into play. I doubt these giant beasts will be doing tha, so why the gorilla paws?
Popular Mechanics says:
The Force Awakens’ Starkiller Base was just a super-sized version of the Death Star, the AT-M6 is the same formula applied to an AT-AT. But it gets worse. The AT-M6’s front legs bend at the wrist and the knee, essentially making it a giant gorilla instead of a bumbling elephant. The rationale behind this design is that the thick arms accommodate a bigger gun. In apes those long arms, the result of millions of years of evolution, help simians get around on the ground and in trees. But in robotics terms, the advantage of a long-armed humanoid design would be to transition between modes of locomotion, whether walking, climbing, or swinging. It’s a geektastic idea that a walker will clamber over some massive defensive wall, tearing down a rebel base like Mecha-Kong. But if the agility of the original AT-AT is any indication, that simply isn’t possible.
The trailer I watched had some lightsaber practice, done alfresco on top of a rock in the ocean. I love the Jedi training segments, and I’m a big fan of Luke training with Yoda on Dagobah, so that should be a high point. It looks like it is going to be hitting all the beats of the original training with some new twists on the old ideas. I’m all for that, and I’m intrigued to find out what Rey is all about.
There is a shot of the young apprentice Jedi diving into water, probably as part of her training. I think she has to do this to get into some sort of cave of visions, like the tree on Degobah where Luke saw Darth Vader. I found that enigmatic scene very intriguing and I can imagine that Rey will have her own demons to confront. That’s another thing I’m looking forward to.
There is a tie fighter in the trailer, too, and this looks like a very nice, understated design, unlike the gorilla AT-ATs. It is an incremental improvement on the tie interceptors on show in Return of the Jedi. I have always loved the design of tie fighters and these tie interceptor variants are even cooler. Unfortunately, in the driving seat there is a character who is often described as a whiny little emo git. The trailer is even teasing us with the idea that this twerp might even kill his mum, Leia. I will be so, so disappointed in this movie if moody boy ends up killing both his parents. I’ll be watching that particular space battle with my fingers crossed, hoping that the Princess makes it through. It would be great if Kylo got hit by a stray laser blast too, and the team behind these movies went back to the drawing board to come up with a new bad guy.
Seeing Princess Leia in the trailer, played by Carrie Fisher, is emotional, but also very welcome. She was criminally underused in The Force Awakens, and I’m hoping we will see more of her this time. That doesn’t mean she has to have a lot of screen time, but I do hope her contribution will be dignified and meaningful. She should be a very famous and important figure in this universe, and her appearance in this movie should reflect that.
We see some lovely alien worlds in the trailer, well one at least, a world where red crystals are to be found below ground. It looks very beautiful, and I think it is an idea that suits the look of Star Wars very well. There is something a little strange about this environment once the battle starts however.
It looks a bit weird when, with every impact, the red crystal is pulverized and thrown into the air. The surface is white, but just below is pure red. It looks very nice and colorful, but somehow I don’t buy it. How would a planet’s surface actually behave like this?
There is a lot of love for the porgs all over the Internet, but I’m not a fan. I also hate the ewoks, I hate BB8, and now I hate the porgs. I don’t like anything that is specifically designed to be cute, in order to move merch around Xmas time. If something ends up being cute by accident, like R2, that’s fine, but the porgs look cynical to me. I hope I’m wrong.
There is something a little off about this image, beautiful though it is. It doesn’t look like part of a movie. It looks more like concept art done with some kind of digital painting application. I can only assume that there is too much CGI happening in the shot, and not enough of, well anything else. The metal architecture looks like CGI, the fox looks like CGI, and the cliff with its red crystals looks like CGI. I hope there aren’t too many scenes where absolutely nothing real is going on. It would be disappointing to see this movie looking more like another CGI heavy blockbuster than a real film.
Like I said, I am feeling a horribly enjoyable mix of trepidation and excitement as I look forward to seeing this movie. I enjoyed The Force wakens, despite its faults, in fact I gasped in delight when the Millennium Falcon was revealed. I’m hoping this one will be just as good, and maybe even a little bit better. My tickets are booked and a review will appear on this site as soon as I’ve seen the movie.
Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy) Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy
The first book in the Dark Galaxy Trilogy, always the best place to start, is Galaxy Dog. It’s a little more old-school and fun than a lot of the sci-fi that is around at the moment. It has spaceships, robots, battles, and brave warriors rebelling against an evil empire. Click the book cover and go to the storefront you prefer to buy it now, or follow this link.
This is a universal book link (UBL) and you will be greeted with a page displaying all the places the book is available online. Just select the storefront you prefer and, if you want, also make this your default bookseller. From then on, every time you click a UBL you will be taken directly to the book you are interested in, on the storefront you prefer. The UBL even allows you to go to the Amazon store that matches your region.