Star Wars the Force Awakens - title

So where do I start ...?

... With the Mary Sue protagonist?

... Or the McGuffin plot device?

... Or the uncomfortably rushed pacing?

... Or that the uncomfortably-rushed plot was a complete rehash of the first movie's plot, starting with hiding a secret document inside a droid and culminating in a trench run to blow up yet another Death Star?

... Or how about the other fan-service?

... Or the shallow character arcs?

... Or the completely throw-away characters like Phasma?

... How about the weak, forgettable original score?

... Or even how the lack of the 20th Century Fox fanfare made the title crawl feel weird?

Yeah, I came out of the movie with a very sunken, disappointed feeling. Heck, at first, I wasn't even sure if what I had just seen was even better than the prequels. But I'll give The Force Awakens some credit and say that it is better than the prequels. Despite Rey coming off as a Mary Sue, and despite that all the other characters have arcs that are completed within the first ten minutes of the movie (if an arc exists at all), the characters and performances are much better than what we got in the prequels. I thought that the friendliness and camaraderie between the heroes felt a bit forced, but that was partly the result of the rapid pacing of the movie. The Millenium Falcon seems to warp back and forth across the galaxy three times over the course of the movie, and hyperspace seems to allow virtually instantaneous transit now (another problem that Abrams carried over from Star Trek). Is travel instantaneous, or did these characters spend days or weeks bunking on the Falcon?

Star Wars the Force Awakens - running from TIE assault
Rey feels like a Mary Sue character who fulfills a multi-film development arc in the span of a few minutes.

Rey is a Mary Sue character whose entire development occurs in the couple minutes that she's strapped into an interrogation chair; although I loved the witty subversion of the "damsel in distress" trope in the beginning of the film: "Stop holding my hand, I know how to run!". LoL. Fin's arc is basically complete within the first ten minutes of the movie. Kylo Ren has a shallow arc that is left unresolved so that it can be further explored in the subsequent films (I'm assuming he's probably going to have a redemption arc similar to Vader's in Return of the Jedi). Han and Leia don't have arcs, as they just have backstory. All their character development happened off-screen in the thirty intervening years. And I'm OK with that. I didn't expect Han and Leia's relationship to work out anyway. They had nothing in common except the fight against the empire. Once that was over, Leia was likely to go back to being a diplomat or politician, and Han would have to turn his back on the life of crime and mercenary work that he's good at in order to find a respectable job and avoid being a source of scandal and controversy. That wasn't going to happen!

So all the backstory made sense to me, and was all pretty much what I expected. That is, until the political situation came up... So there's another republic now (makes sense), and that republic is the dominant governing power in the galaxy, right? And then there's this small, Cult of Darth Vader that calls itself the First Order. The First Order isn't the empire (or even the remnants of the empire), but they use the empire's stormtrooper armor, TIE Fighters, and Star Destroyers out of reverence for Vader. And they hold no actual power or influence, right? They don't even recruit soldiers from the general galactic population. They either kidnap children, or grow them in test tubes to be raised to fight as stormtroopers (and maybe even as officers, as suggested by the youthful General Hux). The only sympathy or cooperation that they receive is from fear and intimidation, which for some reason, the republic is either unwilling or incapable of doing anything about?

And then there's this resistance that Leia is supposedly in charge of, and that everyone in the galaxy seems to know about. What are they resisting? They're not resisting the republic. They seem to be resisting the First Order, and that they are sanctioned by the republic but not an official part of the republic. Well why not? Why are they still a small, ragtag group of former rebels that are apparently hiding away in secret bases? Why isn't the "resistance" just the republic's army or some sort of special operations unit? I'm sure that this sort of stuff will be explained (and hopefully make more sense) in the follow-up movies (or maybe it's already been explained in official books or whatever), but that doesn't change the fact that it made no sense in this movie. It's just another example of J.J. Abrams seeming to have no comprehension of the size and scale of the universes that he's working in.

Star Wars the Force Awakens - X-wings incoming
The political situation is very poorly explained. Who are the "Resistance",
what are they resisting, and why aren't they part of the new republic's official military?

The overall plot works well enough for the first two-thirds of the movie. [More]

Walt Disney Pictures presents: Star Wars

I'm really not sure if I should be cringing at the news that Disney is buying Lucasfilm. Apparently, they have already started planning for "Episode 7" to be released in 2015, and for a new Star Wars film to be released every 2 or 3 years after (probably indefinitely, until they stop making money).

George Lucas is being retained as a "creative consultant", but it is yet to be revealed just how involved he will be.

This could be very good news or very bad news for Star Wars fans. On the one hand, Disney seems to be intent to milk the franchise for all its worth and could very likely drive it into the ground with the inevitable straight-to-dvd released (see Bambi, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast). This could be good news for the more feeble-minded fans who happily eat up anything with the words "Star" and "Wars" and the Lucasfilm logo on the box.

But can we really say for sure that Disney will further tarnish the franchise any more than Lucasfilm has already done with the prequel movies? After all, Disney has a track record of making pretty good movies. Their handling of the Marvel film licenses has been respectful at the very least. Sure Captain America and Thor didn't blow critics away, and Iron Man 2 received mixed opinions. But considering that all those movies were really just feature-length teasers for the exceptionally-well-executed Avengers movie, they turned out pretty well.

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Prometheus promotional poster

Prometheus is a disaster of almost Phantom Menace proportions. Its script is a comedy of stupid that makes the Three Stooges look like Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, and Albert Einstein.

This movie lost me completely about 10 or 15 minutes in, when Noomi Rapace's and Logan Marshall-Green's crackpot archaeologist characters (Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Halloway, respectively) are explaining their mission to the newly-awakened crew of the Prometheus. They tell the crew (consisting predominantly of scientists) that they had discovered stone tablets all around the world that depict giant men pointing to a particular constellation in the sky, and that they believe that these tablets constitute an invitation from humanity's extra-terrestrial creators that they should visit them in space. They dismiss the possibility of coincidence by saying that a.) the art lines up exactly, and b.) the particular star cluster was too far away for any of those primitive cultures to have been able to see with the naked eye, and so aliens must have told them. The hypothesis itself doesn't upset me on its own. But when asked by a mohawked, punk geologist what actual evidence they have to believe that aliens had intelligently engineered life on earth, Shaw responds that she has none, but it is what she "chooses to believe".

These two crackpot archeologists' wild-ass hunch, thus became the basis for a trillion-dollar space expedition in which scientists and engineers were drafted into without even being told where they were going or what they were doing.

Now, if this silly setup had ended up being my only complaint with the movie, I'd let it pass, and Prometheus probably could have turned into an excellent science fiction (or space fantasy) movie. Unfortunately, Damon Lindelof's script is unbearably bad, and is completely dependent on every character (despite being scientists, engineers, and a hyper-intelligent andriod) being dumb as a rock.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011 11:13 PM

Booty from Ren Faire 2011

in General | Women and Relationships by MegaBearsFan

This weekend, I attended the Age of Chivalry Renaissance Faire at the Las Vegas Silver Bowl park. I was only able to make it on Sunday, since I ended up sleeping in too late on Saturday. And I managed to come away from the event with a neat little piece of loot: a Klingon Bat'Leth from Star Trek. It's a cheap knock-off, but it still looks pretty damned authentic, so I'm very pleased with the find.

Bat'leth from Ren Faire 2011

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In my previous blog, I discussed my experience with the 2002 XBox game Steel Battalion. At the end of that blog, I mentioned that I had read that Microsoft and Capcom are developing a new Steel Battalion game, and that I would give my opinions on such a game in a future blog.

Well, I didn't wait long to write that "future blog".

Here it is!

According to this Joystiq article, Capcom and Microsoft are developing a Kinect-enabled version of Steel Battalion for the Xbox 360. The game is titled Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor and looks more like a remake/reboot than a true sequel.

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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