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Sat, Aug 13, 2016, 7:46am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Sins of the Father

@Dougie -- wow, some people are just harsh. This episode is great because surely, more than any other, it turns the Trek Universe from "yet another new Alien this week" into a rich one full of political intrigue, repeated encounters with the same people, and the glorious stories that would follow later in the various Klingon-Romulan-Cardassian power struggles that would follow. It all started here. And it all started brilliantly.
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Sun, Jul 24, 2016, 3:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

There are some valid criticisms about this film, but Daisy Ridley having a British accent is hardly one of them... Also, wasn't there a scene where Kylo Ren and Snokes actually discussed her unique talents? Before the "bring ... her ... to ... me" line?

I've seen this one four times now, including three cinema viewings -- a record for any film, so I did like it. When I saw it on DVD it felt a bit flatter, though. Perhaps it was the smaller screen; perhaps the already-derivative plot was wearing even more thin. But there are too many things to like about this movie, I think. Rey is awesome -- perhaps in a too perfect way, I can see that, but for some reason I genuinely don't care. There's something endearing about her. I could put this down to Ridley's fine work, or maybe like Finn I'm too enamored to see the flaws in her relative lack of them. That scene where she was able to save herself from the attackers early on, as FInn was running to save her, was brilliant I thought. And why not? It's the perfect counter to Leia's relative passiveness in A New Hope, where to be sure she stands up tall to Vader but otherwise falls quickly when attacked and spends a lot of the time in a cell or otherwise powerless while the men do all the hard work. What that means for TFA and feminism is anyone's guess but I seriously enjoyed watching it -- although as a counter to her all-round badassery in this film it seems clear that she has to come off worse in the next confrontation with evil.

I think her complexity, though, will come from discovering who she is and where she comes from, and that is useful because Luke already did the "flawed hero" thing in this story, so it serves to differentiate the two. Prior to the famous line in Episode V, Luke's background was a relative non-issue (indeed if I remember correct, it wasn't established that Vader was Luke's father until after ANH anyway) so it's a different way of developing a character. I hope it's not too predictably resolved -- although on the other hand as Star Wars was initially meant to be a story about the Skywalker family (and not Qui-Gon...), it's hard to see her being anything other than a Skywalker.

I also loved Kylo Ren, and think he's one of the finer villains I've seen. Oh, hes not intimidating as Vader is for sure, but then isn't that the point? He's intimidating in a different way as he's totally unpredictable and out of control. I suppose there's an allegory to be drawn with the different nature of modern societal "villains", essentially randomers who draw on the experience of the far more sophisticated and, while never in total control, still end up being deadly. I enjoyed him all the same, his "wannabe badass" nature played off well. Again, this is kind of the point -- when he removes that mask you aren't supposed to be intimidated; perhaps even, feel a little sorry for someone obviously so young nevertheless being so evil.

I also liked Finn, although his set-up is rather too rushed and I don't think the film does enough to explain what drove him to reject years of mental conditioning. But he seemed well-intentioned and also had some decent comic material. Well, it made me laugh anyway.

The only real weakness of the film -- aside from that monster-in-the-tunnels scene that I think should have gone for a more nuanced introduction of Han Solo -- is the plot, of course. Too derivative. They sort of try and get out of this by even openly admitting it: "oh, just like the last [two!] Death Star[s] then?", but StarKiller Base goes down too easily anyway, and it would have been better for it to either have still survived the film if it had to be included at all. On the other hand, I think some of the character dynamics make it a better film in some ways than A New Hope was. They end up being paced very similarly, and TFA is (unavoidably) more convincingly connected to its world's past than ANH was.

Since ANH came first it remains the better film in the end, but I would rate TFA higher than the prequels and possibly on a par with, or even slightly better than, ROTJ. Although that would appear to depend on whether I'm judging it by my second viewing of it or my fourth one. Better than the prequels, anyway, that could have been awesome but were poorly executed.
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