Another Half Decade of Film

A little more than a week ago, I wrote about the first half of this decade in film, and a brief bit about why I appreciated each film. Today I am back to finish the decade.

2015

Furious 7
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Mad Max: Fury Road
Ant-Man
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Furious 7 is not the best Fast and Furious film, but it is the most emotional. Paul Walker died half way through filming, and finished the film through digital wizardry and his brothers’ help as stand-ins. I cannot watch it to this day without tearing up. It is how Leia/Carrie Fisher should have had her send off in Star Wars.

Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man are both solid entries in the Marvel universe, Ant-Man being funny as hell. Mad Max was the first in it’s series in many years, and the first without Mel Gibson as the star. I didn’t mind Mel being out, and it was a very fun and way more impactful film that I think it meant to be.

The Martian was based on a very popular internet book turned bestseller. (I am actually re-reading it now) and an excellent film starring Matt Damon. It is hard to sum up how The Force Awakens was both widely anticipated and feared at the same time. It was the first Star Wars film since Revenge of the Sith, and given how the prequels messed up, people didn’t want more bad Star Wars films. For my part, I really enjoy it as a solid Star Wars movie. This year had many good movies, but I gotta pick the Martian as my top film from 2015.

2016

Captain America: Civil War
Arrival
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Passengers

Holy cow I love 2016’s top films! My only complaint about Civil War is that given the scope of the story, it really should be an Avengers’ film. But I love everything about it. Arrival is based on a Chinese sci-fi novel and it is amazing. It is the most realistic alien encounter film I have ever seen, and the best family drama sci-fi as well.

Passengers is the best of what science fiction should be: a fantastic setting that tells a very human story and contains a horrendous moral dilemma. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are incredible. But the movie that wins 2016 is Rogue One. The cast is superb, the story tight and compelling, and the emotional arc is bittersweet. Couldn’t be better and a fantastic Star Wars story. Obviously, my pick for the year.

2017

Logan
Baby Driver
Wonder Woman
Thor: Ragnarok
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

It should be obvious by now that I love superhero films. Anyway, Logan was the first R rated X-Men film, and a very real character drama that happened to be about a superhuman. Such a good, emotional movie. Wonder Woman was the first superhero film entirely about a woman, and like the first Captain America movie was a period war film. I loved that it was set in World War One as it entirely complemented everything that Diana started out opposing in her very black and white world view. I loved Gal Gadot in this role. Thor: Ragnarok switched up the formula of the previous two Thor films and gave audiences a hilarious, wacky and wild thrill ride. I enjoy the everloving hell out of it every time I watch it.

Finally, Baby Driver is a musical masquerading as a car/heist film. Despite having the slimy but ever good Kevin Spacey in it, it is a great action film. Lastly, the Last Jedi proved the sequels could be very good. This Star Wars should have won awards, but the journey of Rey, Luke, and Kylo was piercing and thought provoking. My pick? Last Jedi.

2018

Black Panther
Avengers: Infinity War
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Mission Impossible: Fallout

Black Panther was a truly African film. I love that about it. Everyone that mattered in the story was black, and the film really had some important things to say about race, all the while masquerading as a superhero film. I mean, the final battle was literally staged on an underground railroad. I just wish Samuel L. Jackson could have been in it, or that James Earl Jones could have had a part. Avengers: Infinity War was a total gut punch, but you kind of had to have the Avengers lose before they could rise triumphant, but I didn’t think Marvel actually had the guts to go through with it.

Solo was great. I know many didn’t like it, or feel it was “necessary” but I loved it. Alden Ehrenreich was great as Han. And I always love seeing Chewie. Finally, Fallout was a great Mission: Impossible film. M:I should be about “how could they possibly pull this off” and I felt Fallout was the first to really cash in on that idea since M:I3. But my best from this year has to be Black Panther.

2019

Captain Marvel
Avengers: Endgame
Knives Out

Captain Marvel is Marvel’s first female superhero film and it is great. I love Brie Larson and the movie is very fun. Endgame fully ends the saga began with Iron Man in many more ways than one. Brings everything up from Infinity War and doesn’t cheapen the previous loss at all.

Knives Out was the break out film of the year. I expected it to be good as Rian Johnson, he of Last Jedi, wrote and directed it, but damn was it good. So much fun, so twisty, and just plain fun. But for this year, I have to go with Endgame. It was such a perfect Marvel film, and perfectly wrapped up the previous 22 films. Impossible to pull off and yet.

Let me know your favorite films from this half of the last decade. By the way, I found it really hard to pick an all time favorite from each year, and simply could not for the decade. All the films I highlighted were incredible and fun. Besides, it isn’t always about having just one favorite. Sometimes its ok to have two, or ten. Just enjoy what you enjoy, even if it isn’t what someone else enjoys. After all, the world is big enough for all of us is we share with one another.

A Half-Decade of Film

When the last decade ended, in 2009, I was finishing university studies and about to make a few major life changes. This time around I have much more ability to be reflective and to think about my favorite things from the past year and decade.

To that end, I have complied a list of my most memorable films from each year in this past decade, from 2010-2019. I really enjoy going to the cinema and watching a movie on the “big screen”. Films have a way of moving me out of my normal life and normal concerns and putting me into a new headspace, even if for just a few hours. I suspect that it does the same for most moviegoers.

For my end of decade list, I have a few comments about each film, and then will pick a top film from each year. That will culminate in a top film for the decade. It won’t be easy, considering my list and my tastes. Also, this is only the first five years. The second five will be a second post.

By the way, this is simply my list. Your list may, and probably should, look different. We all love what we love, and in our own ways. In fact, I would love to know your top films from the past decade, or any particular year. Leave a comment and let me know.

2010

Toy Story 3
Iron Man 2
Inception
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Tron: Legacy
True Grit

Toy Story 3 made me cry. I am not gonna lie. I really thought the toys were going to face their end, and I got choked up. It was an incredible story, and a great ending to the toy’s story. You’ll notice that Toy Story 4 won’t be on my list, and there is a reason for that. I think Toy Story 3 ended things so well. Iron Man 2 and Scott Pilgrim make the cut because I simply enjoy watching them so much. They are just so much fun. Inception is mind bending and fantastic. A great thrilling story that is a mystery at heart. And it has such incredible visuals. What’s not to love?

True Grit is a great character drama, so well cast, and wonderfully done. Tron: Legacy was the first film I saw in 3D, and the spectacle was well worth it. It is also a movie I will watch at almost any time. The music by Daft Punk is spellbinding. Beyond that, I love so many of the lines from the film. Top pick? It’s gotta be Tron: Legacy.

2011

Battle: Los Angeles
Fast Five
X-Men: First Class
Captain America: The First Avenger
Cowboys and Aliens
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I don’t go in for war movies as much as I did when I was younger. The human cost weighs too heavily on my soul. However, Battle:LA is a sci-fi war movie, and thus divorced from the usual “based on actual events”. I love Aaron Eckhart in this movie, and truly find it entertaining. Fast 5 proved that the Fast & Furious franchise could be something enduring, by taking the street racing genre to a heist film. Honestly, people though F&F was done until this movie. X-Men: First Class was the new beginning of X-Men films, and the amazing cast solidified the new series as well worth watching.

Captain America was a true period super hero film, though not the last. After a slight downturn with Thor and Iron Man 2, Marvel needed a hit to take them into Avengers and got it in spades. Many people dislike Cowboys and Aliens, but this is another film that I just really enjoy watching. A straight western, but with aliens, and with James Bond and Han Solo/Indiana Jones. What’s not to love? Finally, Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downy, Jr. I am a huge fan of both, and this film delivered on both in the same way the first Sherlock film did. Top pick? I’m going with Captain America on this one.

2012

Cabin in the Woods
Skyfall
Avengers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Horror is not my genre, but then Cabin in the Woods isn’t straight horror. It is a blood soaked love letter to horror with zombies (sort of). Anyway, I just really, really love it. Plus, its by Joss Whedon and I enjoy most of his cinematic work. This feels like a spiritual end to both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Skyfall is one of my favorite James Bond films. It to me is classic Bond. I have been a Tolkien fan since the first Lord of the Rings film was announced, and I think this Hobbit film was a great adaptation. Also, the 3D High Frame Rate was completely breathtaking and immersive.

Avengers was the culmination of everything since Iron Man, and successfully blended five movies and six heroes into an ensemble film that was the best of all that had come before. Now that the Avengers saga that began in 2008 is mostly over, people forget what a huge deal Avengers was at the time. I saw this movie in theaters more than any other film to date (surpassing 2008’s Dark Knight). Top pick: Avengers.

2013

Iron Man 3
Much Ado About Nothing
The Wolverine

Only three films really captured me in 2013, not to say that I didn’t enjoy others. Iron Man 3, a Christmas film, really carried on the legacy of Avengers while truly being about Tony Stark and not Iron Man. There are so many things I enjoy about it. Much Ado About Nothing was the little project that Joss Whedon did in between shooting Avengers and editing Avengers. I enjoy Shakespeare and this is Shakespeare done extremely well. The Wolverine is a solid entry into the Hugh Jackman/Wolverine story. I like it because it explores Wolverine without his signature healing powers. Imagine creating a super hero, and then taking away his powers? Yeah, this went there. Top pick: Iron Man 3.

2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Days of Future Past is an excellent, compelling story. The future X-Men go into the past to fix a mistake made by the past X-Men, but this isn’t a standard time travel flick. Both the old and new X-Men casts unite, and I love so much about this film. Best scene is young and old Charles Xavier having a conversation. It was an amazing trailer moment and incredible in the film. I cannot say enough about Andy Serkis and his work as Caesar the Ape in the latest Planet of the Apes films. This is my top one in that trilogy and the one I most often watch again.

Guardians of the Galaxy…Are you kidding me? What a gamble at the time, and what a hilarious, heartfelt, and fun movie. Yes. Yes. Yes. We. Are. Groot. Battle of Five Armies always makes me cry at the end. Always. From the death of Thorin to Bilbo’s farewell. It isn’t the best adaptation, but by the time I get there, I don’t care. Top pick? Guardians of the Galaxy.

There are the first five years of the decade. I will pick up with 2015 and the last five in my next post. Thanks for reading, and again, let me know what your picks would be.

A Toy Story

Twenty-two years ago, Pixar released it’s first feature film, a delightful romp through childhood from the perspective of the toys children play with, and history was made. I was eight years old, but the characters and the animation delighted me. Today, I am thirty, and I still find enjoyment and amusement from the antics of a few old toys.

Apple released watchOS 4 in recent days, the new operating system for its watch, and with it came a delightful new watch face: an animated Toy Story themed face.

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With the watch face selected, each time the wrist is raised, one is likely to see Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Rex, the Aliens, Ham, and other characters from the Toy Story universe. The characters are fully animated, and will often give a wave, check out the time above their heads, and smile at you.

They also get active! They will run away, or bounce across the screen, or dance – or, well, I don’t think I’ve seen everything they are capable of. I just know that every time I glance at my watch for the time, I smile and often giggle. It’s just plain fun and funny.

The thing is, I am clinically depressed. Joy and happiness are difficult things for me to feel and express. To have a thing as simple as a watch face bring a smile to my face and laughter to my heart is quite special. I will treasure those few seconds when Buzz, Woody, and the gang, light up my face.

Thank you, John Lassiter, for creating the magic of Toy Story, and thank you, Tim Cook, for bringing that magic to my wrist.

Star Wars: The Phantom Confession

At last I will reveal myself to the internet. At last I shall have catharsis.” – Darth Me

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The Phantom Menace premiered in theaters on May 19, 1999. I had just turned 12 two months before and I was ecstatic to see this new Star Wars film. You have to remember, in those days, Star Wars was a trilogy, a finished masterpiece in three volumes. It had been since 1983, four years before my birth. For my entire life, Star Wars was the best set of films there were for a nerd, young or old. It was “this colossus, this great legendary thing”.

A new film, a new trilogy, was announced. I scoured the young internet for news, images, clips, rumors and at dial-up speed, fuzzy jpegs revealed themselves for my viewing pleasure. Articles kept me fascinated. There wasn’t much being disseminated, remember, again, this was before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and every other network. We had no smart phones, no texting, no social media. I remember reading articles in actual magazines and the newspaper about this new Star Wars film. I cut out pictures from pages and savored images of Qui-Gon Jinn, whom I mistook for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jake Lloyd and Ewan McGregor whom I thought were playing Anakin Skywalker. I also remember savoring images of the Naboo starfighter: graceful, sleek, and deadly. Much of my information also came from LEGO, who had just signed a deal with Lucasfilm to produce Star Wars branded and based Lego sets. Most of my early spoilers came from LEGO fan club magazines that depicted ships, characters, and locations in brick form. Pepsi had also made a marketing deal in which every can of every variety of soda featured a different character image with a printed backstory that you could collect. Even Taco Bell got in on the marketing with their stupid chihuahua.  It was all glorious and amazing and wonderful. I annoyed my family and friends silly because I would not stop talking about the new Star Wars film. It was to be the best thing EVER.

A few days, or weeks, I don’t remember exactly, into the premier my dad took myself and my brother to a Saturday afternoon showing of The Phantom Menace and I floated into the theater. I absorbed every sound, image, and musical cue with delight … except … except, something wasn’t quite right. Jar Jar Binks wasn’t funny, like he was supposed to be. There were fart jokes, in the middle of John William’s grand score even! Some bits blew my pre-teen mind – Darth Maul versus the Jedi – podracers roaring around Tatooine, but mostly it was boring with a shine and long with excitement. I didn’t realize it then, but every time thereafter that I saw it, my smile was less broad and the twinkle in my eye shrank. I remember visiting my grandfather, perhaps the next summer, and convincing him to Pay-Per-View rent The Phantom Menace. It was a day long thing, where you could watch it over and over again for 24 hours. I must have watched it 8 or 9 times that day. Over and over again. It was amazing! It was Star Wars! but it wasn’t quite the Star Wars I loved and had grown up with.

Truth is: I loved The Phantom Menace. Even with Jar Jar and the fart joke. In those early days, I couldn’t get enough of it. It wasn’t until 2002’s Attack of the Clones that I began to become disillusioned. 2005’s premier of Revenge of the Sith arrived and I was in college. It failed to end the new trilogy properly, but I had lost my love. Star Wars was nothing more than the Old Trilogy, as it was now known, and the new films were dead to me. I even spent time methodically watching Menace, Clones, and Sith and tearing them systematically apart on my blog (which you can still read under the Star Wars tab). I made a reputation among friends and a presence online by hating the prequels.

But. But. I did love Menace. I thought Clones had good parts. I figured Sith was mostly there. I don’t know when or why I let other people’s opinions and acidity eat through my heart of enjoyment. I like plenty of badly written movies that are chock full of bad performances and cheesy effects. So I suppose now we are here, at the end of my vitriol to admit a love I once held dear.

I haven’t watched the Prequel Trilogy in years, now, and I feel a strange urge and longing to do so. Maybe it is the 11 year old in me that collected Mountain Dew cans for their images of Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn. Maybe it is the 12 year old that convinced my grandfather to let me spend a day watching a movie ad nauseam. Maybe it is the 13 year old that treasured old LEGO magazines and their pages of colorful LEGO Star Wars sets.

At least I am willing to admit it to myself, and now, the world that reads my blog: unabashed, unashamed, unfettered: I loved Star Wars The Phantom Menace a long time ago, and may yet love it. And that’s ok.

Embrace your famdoms, nerd out, rock on, love what you love. It makes you you and no one else. And that is the best thing ever.

Wonderous

This past week I took an evening for myself and watched Wonder Woman. Spoiler: it was a good movie and an excellent representation of what female superheroes should be.

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Beautiful. And I don’t just mean Gal Gadot, the Woman herself, but the entire movie. It was moving, fun, action-y, and thought provoking. While the DCU has been very lackluster and straight-out bad, they went where Marvel has yet to venture with all it’s success: a female directed, female led movie about a female superhero. From little girl Diana shadow boxing while Amazonian warriors spar to adult Diana deflecting bullets with shield and bracers above the trenches of World War One, this film delivered on almost all of it’s promises.

Without going into a bunch of detail, or long plot discussion, I will say this movie was excellently written, with witty dialogue, good themes, foreshadow, callbacks, delightful fight choreography, and great casting. As I write, I am listening to the score, and that is fantastic as well. From start to finish, this film was well constructed. However, it isn’t perfect.

I felt that a few moments were unearned, and that lessened my opinion, but not enjoyment of, the movie. First unearned moment, and perhaps a big one: when Wonder Woman and her love interest (I loved typing that phrase just now! finally not a hero and his love interest!) supposedly have sex. Earlier in the film, Steve and Diana discussed sex and reproduction, and Diana (having grown up on an island entirely populated with women) admits that men are necessary for reproduction but unnecessary for sexual pleasure (!) but seems uninterested in trying heterosexual relations for herself. But then, in what a few days, or weeks, maximum, she is inviting Steve into her bed and arms (again, supposedly, the movie suddenly cuts to the outside and shows nothing but gently falling snow and only implies the union). I do like that Steve was about to leave in the scene, having escorted Diana to her room, but then Diana herself invited him in and initiated the first kiss between them. It was nice to see Diana not only taking the lead on the battlefield, but also in the bedroom. Too often the man imposes himself in near sexual assault, so it was nice to see a reversal here. Still, though, the love story had barely developed by that point and I thought that it was unearned. Small quibble.

Secondly, it was a little ham-fisted setting up General Ludendorff to be the big bad, Ares God of War. I knew from the beginning it wouldn’t be him, as he was just a little too evil and intent on conquering the world, which no one really was in World War I. As I understand history, the war to end all wars was more about protecting self-identity and honoring alliances. Anyway, without a mustache to twirl, Ludendorff was too twirly for me to believe him as Ares. Interestingly, the guy with the mustache I missed completely as Ares until he showed up to reveal himself. I was thinking there was no Ares in this film, as the story was developing, and indeed didn’t need him to be for the story it was telling. (But what is a superhero movie without a big boss battle? A better superhero movie, in my opinion, but then, this is DC.) Anyway, the reveal of Ares I thought was pointless except to give Diana a boss to battle at the end while Steve was actually, you know, fighting for something.

Now, to the real Big Bad: World War I. In the comics, and history of comic-book Wonder Woman, she saves Trevor who I believe was originally a World War II pilot (and then every conflict thereafter? in updates) but never a WWI pilot. Setting the film in World War 1 was a brilliant move for the story they were telling, which was that Diana believed she could end war, and bad men, by killing Ares the God of War who was supposedly the machinator behind the scenes. If you have this set in World War 2, there is a clear Ares: Adolf Hitler. And killing him would have almost definitely ended the war then and there, thus proving Diana right without her learning anything about mankind or conflict. However, WW1 is a war without sense, purpose, big bad, or natural end. It was simply a meat grinder. Without a big bad to kill, even if you mistake Ludendorff for Ares, you must come to grips with the reality that mankind carries within each person the capacity for depthless evil and insurmountable good and it is a personal choice for each one of us which path we follow, God of War or no. This is a lesson that Wonder Woman learns the hard way when she does kill Ludendorff and nothing changes. It was, for me, the climax of the film.

Lastly, the final unearned moment of the film: Steve sacrifices himself to stop the Germans from gassing a bunch of people, and Diana goes ballistic, enabling her to defeat Ares, whom she is battling thus far without success, because she loves Steve and is devastated by his death. Like I said when I was discussing their maybe-sex scene, it didn’t really seem like she had loved him that deeply. Obviously he did her, but not her him, yet. Minutes ago she even thinking Steve was as evil as everyone else on the planet. And then he dies and she is all “but I love you!”. I just didn’t buy it. That and the unnecessary battle with Ares ruined the end of the movie for me, but not enough for me to not enjoy the movie as a whole. Bigger nit.

Wonder Woman, despite it’s flaws, is a good film, and a better one for what it is, the first film in which a female leads, and leads well, and where the men around her are equals or content to follow her obvious expertise. I enjoyed it, and will probably own it. I cannot say the same of any other DCU movies to date, or even in the future as I can foresee it.

Guardians of the Caribbean

Many movies are either sequels, prequels, remakes, or reboots these days, and I saw two of the former this month, and here we have a double review. I don’t have a whole lot to say about each film, but I did want to give my thoughts on both.

To start, in the heavens above, with Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2:

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I really, really love the first volume of Guardians. It is unexpected, raucous, hilarious, offbeat, and just plain fun. I was really hoping for more of the same from Guardians 2. What I got was mostly that. It went in different directions, while keeping the same elements in place. What I also got was a tale of fathers and daughters and sons.

Ahem: spoilers.

Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, meets his father who seems nice but then turns out to be a philandering, posturing, jack-ass who (I did say spoilers, right?) killed Peter’s mother. Gamorra’s adopted sister, Nebula, returns with a massive girl-on for Gamorra, who in her mind always seemed to steal their adopted father’s, “Mad Titan” Thanos, love and affection. When Peter finds out the truth about his dad, he turns on him, with help from the Guardians, and kills him, in the process realizing that the man who raised him, Yondu, was his real daddy. Finally, during the battle, Gamorra and Nebula realize that they both were fighting for the same thing: survival, and neither cared at all about their “father” and have more in common than they thought.

What I loved was the father/son/daughter storylines. I am a sucker for good family stories, and this one delivered the emotional goods. When (look, ye be warned) Yondu dies saving Peter from his father, I got genuinely choked up. When Gamorra hugged Nebula, I got choked up. Good stories do that. I also love the wacky Drax who might finally be healing from the loss of his family, and the odd-couple of Rocket and Baby Groot. When I wanted them, they were there, doing their shtick, but doing it well. The soundtrack was awesome, as in the first film, and I love getting more of the Ravagers and the crazy denizens of the galaxy.

For my money, Guardians Vol. 2 was exactly what I wanted. I look forward to what happens with the Guardians after they meet the Avengers and how Vol. 3 plays out.

Now to the seas below and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales:

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I also really, really, love the Pirates franchise. Ever have. Always will. Perpetually. Well, if I am honest, I don’t love On Stranger Tides as much, but I’m totally drunk with rum on Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. But this is about Dead Men…, and this film introduces a new element into the supernatural Caribbean which is ghosts. And zombie sharks. I shivered just typing that. No thanks. But I egress, or digress, either.

Anyway, Jack, who isn’t quite the same pirate he was without the Black Pearl, is reduced to robbing banks with Gibbs and other various miscreants. Enter (yup: spoilers here, too, matey) Will and Elizabeth Turner’s son Henry who is looking, like father like son, for a way to free his father from the Flying Dutchman. He, like most people in the Caribbean it seems, need Jack’s magical compass to find the Trident of Poseidon to do that. Jack, Barbossa, and a host of new and old faces race to find the Trident while being pursued by the aforementioned ghosts of a Spanish warship led by a ghostly and vengeful Capitan Salazar who has a score to settle, like most people in the Caribbean it seems, with Cap’n Jack.

Barbossa’s (still) daughter and Will’s son find the trident and save everybody. Except Salazar. He dies. And Barbossa, the elder and less hygienic. He sacrifices himself to save his daughter from Salazar. How touching.

I loved the call-backs to previous films in the franchise, and the epically beautiful fight scene at the bottom of the ocean over the Trident. I loved down-on-his-luck Jack and Barbossa’s not-a-witch daughter. I loved that the Pearl finally gets out of the bottle.

What I didn’t like is that David Wenham had so little to do as the British Navy’s representative at sea. I think his character just wasn’t needed at all and he was a waste of a good actor, sadly. The climatic final battle was too short. Also, and this was just bad luck, not enough of the pirates made returns, in cameo form or otherwise. And Jack’s compass, didn’t Tia Dalma give him that?

Despite the flaws, I loved this film more than the last one, but not as much as Curse of the Black Pearl. I cannot wait to go sailing with Jack, the curse-free(?) Will and the rest of the blaggards and see if Barbossa can outwit death a second, or is it third? time.

Yo ho and all that.

Princess, Sister, General

I could never figure it out, and it isn’t really stated anywhere, so as a kid I never knew. Was Leia the elder Skywalker, or was Luke? I know they were retconned to twins sometime after Star Wars and before Return of the Jedi, but still, logically, one is older. Who was it? I was one of three boys in my family, complete and whole, until my sister came along six years later to upset the established order and complete us all. It wasn’t really until I was six or seven that I began to religiously watch the Star Wars saga, so in my mind I became Luke Skywalker and my new baby sister was Princess Leia.

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My sister and I never played that way, that is, never acted out the Star Wars story together, but in my head I saw Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia as the twin sister I never had until I had a little sister, and then as my sister grew up to be a fierce, independent, wise, take-no-bullshit young woman she became Leia to my Luke.

We were raised differently, like Luke and Leia, as my parents doted on the only daughter, gave her her own room (where I had to share space with one or both of my brothers as conditions allowed), and in general lavished the favoritism upon her. I mean, of course my parents said they had no favorites, but really, three boys didn’t hold a candle my to parent’s little princess.

I never had my mind on where I was, or what I was doing, and was always craving excitement and adventure, like a certain young sand-locked farm boy, and my sister always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it and seemed to be driven in ways I wasn’t, like a certain young Senator from Alderaan.

I could stretch the metaphor and say that I like to wear black, and her white and interesting hair-dos but that would be stretching the truth as well. Suffice to say, we met late* in life and became a duo that learned to appreciate and love each other.

Now, as adults, past our “growing up” years, she is, as ever, driven, and I am wandering the galaxy in search of my own Force to guide me. She is the General: moving forward; I am the Jedi: mystically engaged with life’s triumphs and failures.

Given such a personal connection to the character of Leia Organa-Skywalker-Solo, I was deeply affected by the tragic death of Carrie Fisher last year. I had watched her all my life as she “grew up” as a character on Star Wars and I had followed her later life on social media. I always dreamed of going to a Star Wars celebration or ComicCon to meet her, and regret that I will now not have the chance to tell her what she meant to me. Like my sister, Fisher was feisty, funny, and familial. I am not the only one in the Star Wars community to view her as a surrogate-sister, and that was a role she embraced after a certain time. Certainly she was honest about her struggles with mental illness, substance abuse, and a dysfunctional family in a way that made me ok with my own depression and personal struggles.

I grew up knowing that women could be strong, resilient, heroic, steadfast, worthy, sexy, beautiful leaders and sisters and women all at the same time and that was because Carrie Fisher embodied that so well on screen and on the internet, and my sister was all those things and more in what I saw as a little mirror of Fisher.

It seemed at first a strange thing to be so sad at the death of a celebrity I had never met and who inhabited my star-struck fascination with Star Wars, but having come to this realization of what Carrie Fisher truly meant to me in such personal terms, it doesn’t seem strange at all anymore.

As I enter a world now robbed of Fisher, I embrace my sister all the more tightly and thank the Force that I was given such a wonderful gift and example of womanhood at such a young age, that despite not being twins, we grew to be very close, a closeness we share today.

Fisher is now one with the Force, and I have my sister to guide me always. I look forward to the next chapter in our Saga…

 

*If by being introduced when I was just 6 can be called “late” in life.