Tag Archives: Film

Why I Loved the Last Jedi and Hate Canons

Let the past die

The Last Jedi is proving to be one of the most divisive installments of the franchise to date. Pretty much everyone and their uncle has written a thought piece about it and I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring as well.

WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD

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He’s still just a whiny teenager [Image: Lucasfilm]

Aside from the fanboys crying over representations of women and minorities, a lot of Star Wars fans are upset at Luke’s behaviour, seeing it as out of character and, as I keep hearing, “not-canon.” The thing is, this is an official Star Wars movie. It is therefore, officially, part of the canon. Imaginary Worlds did an interesting podcast recently about the idea of ‘canons’ and how maybe we’re living in a post canon world. In recent years we’ve seen the dismantling of literary canons, those that include only white men, as media outlets have put out their own more inclusive and diverse canons. One of my favorite articles written this year, which I highly recommend reading related tangentially to this but was rather called, “20 Authors I Don’t Have to Read Because I’ve Dated Men for 16 Years.”

I understand the criticism of Luke’s character and maybe everyone is totally right. Maybe this aspect of his character development didn’t bother me because I don’t care about Luke Skywalker. The fact that Luke no longer thinks the Jedi should exist anymore after a brief moment of weakness didn’t strike me as wrong or odd, but rather fell in line with who I always felt his character to be. Again, Luke is the one character out of the original three who, while being the main focus, I cared about the least. I was far more interested in Princess Leia being a badass and Han Solo as the rogue. I was even more invested in the droids than I was in Luke. The thing that signified a departure for me was the reveal of Rey’s parents.

Rey’s Parents

As with most fans I spent a lot of time speculating about Rey’s parents after the Force Awakens was released. After all, the previous 6 movies are about family specifically the

Rey

[Image: Lucasfilm]

Skywalker’s and their above average abilities relating to the Force. When Rey showed herself to have such mastery over the Force without any formal training, it seemed to indicate a continuation the legacy, she had to be a Skywalker in some way shape or form.

Providing that Kylo Ren is telling the truth, the fact that Rey’s parents were gamblers who sold Rey to junkers when she was young is shattering in the best possible way. As is the final scene, with the young stable boy seemingly using the force to grab a broom while staring up at the sky. The force isn’t just reserved for the ‘special’ people anymore; it moves through everyone, including the defeated. Which is what makes the Canto Bight scene so important.

Canto Bight

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Rose Tiko was one of my favouite additions. [Image: Lucasfilm]

This scene, and Finn and Rose’s side mission was a point of contention for a number of fans. It did feel a bit clunky and again, the criticisms of this scene are totally valid BUT it was still important. Finn and Rose’s gallivant around Canto Bight underscored the dirty underbelly of the Star Wars Universe. The scene showed what the world is actually like for citizens of this universe outside of the main heroes and villains. This is one of the things that bugged me about the original movies. There’s an evil empire and a rebellion, but there aren’t any citizens; no unrest among the masses. Rebellions are driven by everyday people; revolutions occur when populations are oppressed for too long. (Something the Huger Games got right). The Canto Bight plot sets this up, while also hitting the audience over the head with it. There are people in the galaxy who are ready to rise up, they just need the spark to light the rebellion. They have that spark now, the rebellion can begin.

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Why I Cried During Wonder Woman

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Princess Buttercup No More

 

This article also appears on Creators.Co

I went to see Wonder Woman the week that it was released and was immediately struck by how absolutely average it was. (Bear with me here). Superhero movies normally have a very prescribed formula, something that doesn’t appeal to me quite as much. Wonder Woman follows this formula through the origin, the journey and the final battle with a villain making it a very standard typical superhero movie. And that is what is so remarkable.

The fact that a female-driven movie followed the same structure and performed just as well as male-driven one is groundbreaking in and of itself. While there was a lot of hype surrounding the movie and a lot of wonderful reactions to it, the movie is largely entertaining and incredibly accessible to various audiences. Like other block buster action movies it seemed to drag at some parts but was overall satisfying. So why was I so emotionally wrecked by it?

I cried. A lot.

Looking online, this seems to be a common theme. Women are finding themselves emotional and crying during the battle scenes like when Robin Wright kicks total ass as Diana’s Aunt Hipployta or when Wonder Woman marches across No Man’s Land. There’s an emotional catharsis here. I doubt anyone would argue that Robin Wright’s character in House of Cards is not strong, she very clearly is, but it’s a different kind of strength. One that is more reserved though nonetheless important. There’s been a growth of these kinds of strong women in the media but there is something different about seeing females in positions of physical strength. I could have watched the Amazons fight all day.

There is the emotional catharsis of seeing women depicted in such a strong way and there is relief at how the movie is doing justice to the story; it lived up to the insanely high expectations set for it. For me, the most emotional part was seeing Diana as a young girl watching her Aunt and the other Amazons fight, wanting so desperately to be one of them. I was an emotional puddle thinking about the young girls who will see this movie and be inspired by these amazingly powerful women on the screen. It’s the same reason I get emotional when I see little girls dressed up as Rey or as characters from Ghostbusters. Representation matters and this movie shows why. In the wake of its release teachers and parents have shared their stories of young girls wanting to be Wonder Woman.

Diana is the perfect hero to accomplish what she does. She’s a fighter but she also stands for love and justice. They were a bit heavy handed with Wonder Woman’s message of “true love conquers all” and many reviewers complained about how saccharine it is. This message however, isn’t a bad one to be teaching young people, and is very true to the original Wonder Woman in the comic books. I keep hearing friends of mine complain about this and I’m tired of trying to defend it so I’ll just say that it didn’t bother me. (What did bother me was the character of Chief. It’s great to see a Native American actor represented on screen but the whole characterization was reductionist and made zero historical sense to me, but that is a whole other article. In the sequel, because there will be a sequel, let’s hope the demigod theories are confirmed).

I’m not, nor have I ever been, a huge superhero fan. Maybe if a movie like this had come out when I was younger I would have been. Not that I grew up in a barren wasteland devoid of any female role models. As I mentioned Anne Shirley was a heroine to me, as were the traditional “smart girls” like Hermione Granger and even Rory Gilmore to an extent. This speaks to my outlook on life and experience as an academic nerd. Not everyone is me and not all girls will relate to the same female characters that I did. It’s been said over and over, but I’ll say it again, representation matters and Wonder Woman is bringing us one step closer to a more well rounded pop culture environment for women and girls.