Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Review and Criticism of Solo: A Star Wars Story

Hey, everyone

Last Thursday I went to the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story, so I decided to write a criticism and review of it. If you're one of those types who doesn't want to read the whole review, I'll sum up my review right here: better than expected, but still doesn't meet its potential or the legacy of Star Wars. 4 out of 10.

But if you'd like to know more about the movie, what I liked and what I didn't, then let's go through it. I'm not going to do a synopsis or summary of the plot, but there will be spoilers. So let's begin by looking at the characters.


1. Han

Han Solo is played Alden Ehrenreich. Other than his name, I don't know much about him. So what was he like as Han? Well, he wasn't Han. Any time I was reminded of the fact that he was supposed to be Han, my dislike for the movie increased because he just isn't Han.

Harrison Ford's Han Solo is a laid-back and experienced character. He might be brash at times, displaying more balls than brains, but Ford's Han was never overcompensating, as if trying too hard to impress everyone. Ford was balanced and exact; Ehrenreich isn't.

Some may argue that the Han we see in Solo is supposed to be that way because this is a story of how Han became Han, but I just don't see the two characters aligning. The only times I liked Ehrenreich in this role was when I forgot he was Han, and that's not good.

2. Chewbacca

Chewie is Chewie. You can't really screw him up. I did however find it ridiculous that Han had to speak Wookie in order for Chewie to stop trying to kill him, which was something else that disturbed me: I don't know what planet they were on, but the Empire had captured Chewie and were keeping him prisoner in a pit, feeding him dissenters and deserters, which I don't believe Chewie or any Wookie would do. I don't believe sentient species would eat other sentients.

But getting back to the other point about Han speaking Wookie, it was pretty dumb since Chewie understands Basic. It was also played off as a joke despite the gravitas of the situation as Chewie tries to drown Han in mud. Not to mention, given Chewie's strength, there's no reason the Empire wouldn't have used him in a capacity to make use of it. And given how easily Chewie actually escaped his imprisonment after Han suggested it to him kind of paints Chewie in a negative light, like is he not intelligent enough to discern his own escape? There were a lot of things wrong with that scene.

3. Lando

Honestly, Donald Glover's Lando Calrissian is one of the better parts of Solo. He's not as smooth or as charming as Billy Dee Williams, but he's not far off. However, Lando is a bit of a dandy in this movie. There's one whole scene that takes place in his closet where his many capes and loud, colorful shirts are hung up. There are three whole racks. At one point, there's a fire on the Falcon, and Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) beats it out with his cape and Lando complains. So I think they went too far with that aspect. True, Lando did own a cape in periwinkle blue in Empire Strikes Back, but he was never a dandy. Fortunately, Jonathan Kasdan's claim that he's pansexual is never brought up by Lando himself or reflected in any of his behaviors.

4. Qi'ra

Qi'ra kind of sucks. Some people blame it on Clark's acting, calling the Queen of Dragons wooden and being the only thing she can do well, but for my siblings and I, we didn't like Qi'ra because there was too much of her in this movie.

It's not surprising that a movie about Han Solo would have a girlfriend for him, as he is a bit of ladies' man, but Qi'ra was so central to the plot of Solo. Her importance as a character was tiresomely overstated, and it wasn't until a terrible eleventh hour plot twist did we find out why. Seriously, everything she did or that revolved around her was "because of plot." Let me explain why.

Solo opens up on Corellia somewhere in the slums where Han has just got his hands on a substance called "coaxium," which is basically spaceship fuel, specifically for hyperspace travel, and it's a controlled substance because the Empire is hoarding it. Han intends to use it as his means to barter for transport off Corellia with his girlfriend Qi'ra. Long story short, Han makes it through the checkpoint and she doesn't. So he joins the Imperial Navy so he can become a pilot and get back to Corellia to save her.

Three years pass and Han is a part of an invading army on another planet. He manages to escape the planet by joining a shyster, Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his heist crew. They go to the heist, they blow it, and then Han, Chewie, and Beckett go to smooth everything over with the gangster, Dryden Voss (Paul Bettany) who hired them to do the heist. While waiting to see him on his yacht, Han "just so happens" to bump into Qi'ra. This pissed me off because Han is two planets and three years removed from Corellia--what are the chances that he'd meet Qi'ra while she's working for Dryden Voss while Han is working for a space pirate who is working for Dryden?

Going on from there, Qi'ra and Han's relationship is rekindled, and it kind of sucks because she seems more compatible with Han than Leia. That sucks because Han has a kid with Leia and a relationship that spanned 20+ years--if Qi'ra is as actually compatible with Han as she appears to be, why doesn't she end up with Han? I mean, I know why Qi'ra doesn't, but again though, that's "because of plot."

Add to these problems, Qi'ra knew the martial arts Teras Kasi so she could take out Dryden Voss at the end of the movie. And then before the Kessel Run, while they're on Kessel stealing raw coaxium, they cause a scene where they accidentally liberate the mine's droids and slaves. During this scene, the workers who aren't slaves try to re-establish order by shooting the slaves and droids. At one point, Qi'ra comes running out of the Falcon, screaming, and lobs two gigantic grenades in exactly the right places, blowing up men and gun turrets alike. Not only is her timing highly suspect, the combat yell she did came off as awkward and funny, and where did she get those grenades to begin with? Were they just on the Falcon somewhere? And why didn't Lando or anybody else have them when they got off the Falcon?

Basically, everything that Qi'ra is and everything she did was "because plot." She had no agency or free will of her own, which is made abundantly clear when after she kills Dryden, she reports in to the head of the Crimson Dawn, the crime syndicate that Voss is a part of, as the new boss in charge of Dryden's operations.

5. L3-37

Oh, boy; L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Or should I say, "Leet," as in the hacker language? L3 is easily the worst character in Solo. Her big characteristic is that she champions droid rights. Yes, you read that correctly. Droid rights and equality are her bag. It's actually L3 who starts the diversion on Kessel by removing a restraining bolt from an astromech so she can access a computer terminal. Then at her suggestion, the astromech begins freeing all of its compatriots.

The other problem with L3 is that she's the one to suggest that Lando has a romantic interest in her. Obviously preposterous, or at least, it would be if script writer, Jonathan Kasdan hadn't come out with a tweet a few weeks claiming Lando is a pansexual. Now, because of that, when Qi'ra asks "How would that work?" when L3 says she's considered being in a relationship with Lando, some of us take that to mean "How would he be able to have sex with you?" as opposed to "How would a droid and a human date?" which is what the original joke probably was until Kasdan ruined it.

Add to that, L3 has a long drawn out death scene where Lando nearly gets killed to salvage what's left of her, and then Han nearly gets killed saving him. There are a few problems with this scene:

1. Since L3-37 is a droid, her death is inconsequential. I was rolling my eyes vehemently during the scene because I would've simply ripped her CPU and memory out of her head, installed them in a new droid and--bam!--she's back. After all, when we get new computers, all we do is transfer over our old files and don't blink an eye when throwing away the older model.
2. L3-37 doesn't have the build up nor is she sympathetic enough of a character for us to care about when she gets killed. She's here, she's queer, then she dies, and nobody cares because she hasn't done anything worth liking or praising her for.
3. Those of us who found her extremely annoying and a representation of everything that's wrong with social justice warriors were beyond pleased to see her shot, so her death didn't mean anything to us.

But the problems with L3 don't end there. One thing that you must keep in mind about Star Wars is its timeline. Solo is a prequel to A New Hope, but a sequel to Revenge of the Sith and there's a major galaxy wide event that takes place in Revenge of the Sith. That is the Clone Wars: the war in which the Republic fought the Separatists. For that war the Republic used cloned soldiers whereas the Separatists used... droid soldiers!

To put that into perspective, Solo probably takes place about ten to fifteen years after Revenge of the Sith. If that's true, then most of the galaxy, specifically the civilized parts or the systems that were apart of the old Republic, probably have a deep, ingrained fear or even loathing of droids. The idea that they could be free and equal to sentient species is therefore absolutely terrifying, and makes L3 look worse.

Not to mention, I can't help but wonder what would happen if L3 actually had the time to discuss her political beliefs with the two most popular droids in SW: C-3PO and R2-D2. What do you suppose those two would say to her? I don't think either of them would be hip to her message, especially since neither one is really treated all that unfairly or poorly. True, Han does get a little irritated with 3PO a few times, but Leia and Luke treat him just fine. And then with R2, Luke's practically his best friend. Why, even Poe Dameron calls BB-8 "buddy." I don't think droids are as badly off in Star Wars as L3 thinks.

But there may be a saving grace to L3. A YouTuber called Boofire191 made a video where he theorized that L3 is actually supposed to be a parody of Kathleen Kennedy. He argues that since Lord and Miller were taken off Solo so late in production that they may have actually been removed because they were making fun of Kennedy and the liberal politics she has forced into this current generation of SW movies.

Personally, I don't buy it. If that were true that would mean Kennedy would've seen herself in the droid and made Ron Howard change her character when he took over production. Seeing as how he didn't, I'm going to guess Kennedy had other reasons for firing Lord and Miller.

6. Tobias Beckett, Dryden Voss, and Enfys Nest

The rest of the major players are Tobias Beckett, Dryden Voss, and Enfys Nest. I don't have much to say about Enfys (Erin Kellyman) despite the fact she is the center of a rather unusual eleventh hour plot twist, most specifically that she is actually a teenage girl and that she isn't a gangster, but is actually stealing materials for the fledgling Rebellion. Dryden Voss meanwhile is just your typical slimy bad guy. There's nothing much to say on him.

But Beckett does bother me. Acting as Han's mentor for most of the movie, at one point he tells Han "If you think everyone's going to betray you, you'll never be disappointed," and that ends being true for him. When it's revealed that Nest is actually a good guy, Han cooks up a plan to help her so that she can take the refined coaxium to the Rebellion rather than give it to Dryden. Han tells Beckett what he's planning, and Beckett goes and betrays him to Dryden.

However, Han thought Beckett might betray him, so he fed him some misinformation. One bit is that Han was going to take Dryden fake coaxium while the real stuff left with Enfys Nest. What actually ends up happening is that Han does take the real stuff to Dryden while a decoy Enfys Nest lures away Dryden's men before being ambushed by the real Enfys. This then creates a stand-off between Han, Dryden, Qi'ra, and Beckett. Beckett draws his blaster and Dryden's guards, and rather than killing Dryden and siding with Han, he lets Dryden live and takes the coaxium for himself.

While I could definitely predict that Beckett was going to betray Han, I'm still bothered by it because regardless of who wins the stand-off between Han and Dryden, the victor is of course going to go after Beckett next. And with the sort of mentor-protégé/buddy-buddy relationship that Beckett has with Han, it makes no sense for him to ultimately betray Han. I mean, why would he want to burn that bridge when by this point in the movie, Han has proven himself as a pilot, a decent shot, and at least cunning enough to fool even him? It's more in his best interests to try to smooth everything over with Han and kill Dryden than it is to let the stand-off to follow its course.

By betraying Han, Beckett guaranteed his death either way. Dryden would've hunted him down ruthlessly, and Han, learning from his mistakes, wouldn't make the same mistake twice and do exactly what he ended up doing which was shooting first. Not to mention, how the hell did Han get ahead of Beckett if he left Dryden's yacht after him? Beckett should've taken the route Han did.

Things I Liked

So, with the characters out of the way, was there anything I liked? Well, there were two cool things.

1. The Train Heist

Early in the movie, Han and Chewie join Beckett's heist crew. Their target is a train car containing millions of credits of coaxium. Besides being quite rare and very dangerous, even in its refined form, but especially in its raw form, it's heavily regulated by the Empire, making it quite valuable on the black market. Beckett's team is hired by Dryden Voss to steal it, but Enfys Nest and her crew crash the party. In the end, however, no one gets it and the train car blows up a mountain.

The train heist is visibly spectacular, taking place in ice-covered mountains and on a suspended, twisting track. There was something about it that was reminiscent of the prisoner train from the Nintendo 64 game Rogue Squadron. However, the heist just didn't feel Star Wars-y to me. It was a cool piece of cinema, but it honestly reminded me more of the movie The Chronicles of Riddick. I think the idea of a "train heist" is too mundane of an idea for an epic and operatic piece of fiction like Star Wars. Or maybe I had issues with how it was executed: separate the rear of the train from the desired car, attach 4 tow cables to the desired car, detach the front of the train, blow up the bridge and just carry the car away with the ship. It didn't really have that Star Wars flare. It was too practical and not fantastical enough.

2. The Kessel Run

Despite the mundaneness of the train heist, there was nothing mundane about the Kessel Run. This is also where most of the special effects budget went.

After leaving Kessel with raw coaxium, Han, Chewie, Qi'ra, Lando, and Beckett are on borrowed time to make it to a planet where they can refine the coaxium before it gets too warm and destabilizes. Unfortunately, Lando is injured, so Han takes his place as pilot. But it's not that easy. In order to make it to refining planet, they have to make the Kessel Run, which is a particularly dangerous hyperspace route. In the original EU, the Kessel Run contained something known as the "Maw black hole cluster." It was this series of black holes that made the Kessel Run so dangerous. As a result, ships had to navigate around them which gave the Kessel Run a length of 18-parsecs. Han Solo's famous boast that he did it in less than 12 comes from the fact that he skirted much closer to the black holes than other ships and used their gravitational pulls to slingshot the Falcon across the run.

In Solo, while the Kessel Run is still a space route, it now however travels directly through a thick nebula full of billions of tons of gas and planet-sized asteroids that constantly collide into each other. The only way through the nebula is a well-navigated and maintained "tunnel" lit with space lamps--spamps. When the crew escapes Kessel with their stolen cargo, they run into an Imperial Star Destroyer within the tunnel that was contacted by the mine to prevent their escape. The Empire of course launches TIE fighters to go after the Falcon, and Han is forced to take evasive action. How? By plunging right into the nebula.

Dodging asteroids and incoming fire from TIE fighters, Han and the crew manage to navigate the Kessel nebula thanks to L3's navigation computer which Lando rips from her body and plugs directly into the Falcon. But things don't remain rosy as they run into a gigantic, space squid--a spuid--that's straight out of Lovecraft's literary universe. They escape it by tricking it into going into the Maw's central black hole by jettisoning the escape pods, but as a result, they get too close to the Maw and can't escape its gravitational pull.

Suddenly, someone, I don't remember who, gets the idea of putting just a drop of raw coaxium into the Falcon's engines hoping the temporary boost of power will let them escape the Maw. It does, but not until the Falcon's engines short out for a second before switching back on and speeding them out. Han and Chewie then make the jump into hyperspace just before they can be crushed between two planet-sized asteroids crashing into each other.

Honestly, it was a pretty cool scene. But I did think it was a little too dramatic seeing as how this is a prequel, so we all already know that Han, Chewie, the Falcon, and everybody else survives. The other problem I have with this scene is that it's far cooler than anything Han does in the original trilogy. I'm sorry, but I really think the greatest and coolest moments of Han's life should be when he's a part of the Rebellion and fighting against the Empire. After all, after you narrowly escape a black hole, a Lovecraftian monster, and being smashed between two asteroids, what fear does a person have left of facing the Empire?

Things I Didn't Like

So then, now that I've covered the good things, what was wrong with it? Pretty much everything. I've already covered what was wrong with the characters, so I won't really touch on them, but I will try to break down further what Solo did wrong, however, it was pretty much everything.

1. Conditions on Corellia

Starting with the beginning of the movie, Corellia is in a right state, and I didn't like it. I mean, I'm not saying that Corellia can't experience poverty or have slums, but as the planet that cracked the code on hyperspace and has the best ship yards and builders in the galaxy, Corellia shouldn't look like Haiti. Not to mention, it's also a core world like Coruscant, and it's been mentioned in the EU before that citizens of the core worlds generally had positive opinions toward the Empire as their galactic reach stabilized every system they controlled which included boosting their economies and increasing the standard of living.

For the young Solo, who joins the Imperial Navy in the movie with the sole purpose of becoming a pilot so he can return and rescue Qi'ra, Han should've actually joined the Empire out a sense of admiration, duty, and gratuity as the Empire improved the living conditions of his home planet. Then, as he goes through training and gets deeper and deeper into the Empire, that's when he starts to become jaded as he learns the awful truth behind its machinations. That makes more sense.

2. Drifitng Landspeeders

I don't know why the landspeeders drifted in this movie. We've never seen that before. In A New Hope, Luke never put the pedal to the metal, cranked the wheel to one side, and pulled up on the e-break to see how sideways he could get his speeder, so why are landspeeders suddenly drifting like this is The Fast and the Furious?

To some extent, it makes sense from the perspective of physics as the speeders don't have any tires. Without tires, the speeders don't have any grip or friction with the ground, so why wouldn't they slide? But seeing as how Luke was able to pilot his speeder without sliding it, and seeing as how this is Star Wars and not Tokyo Drift, landspeeders should not be drifting.

3. The Movie is Self-Aware

The most cringe worthy thing about Solo is how self-aware it is. It knows it's a Star Wars movie, and therefore it doesn't take itself seriously. Any time it can make a joke, it does. And every time there is one, you get the feeling the actors want to break the fourth wall by looking into the camera and saying, "Did you get it?"

One such joke was when Han went to go join the Imperial Navy. Not only was there a recruitment booth like you might see at your local mall, but there was also one of those crappy recruitment posters above the booth--it was actually a hologram, but you know what I mean--with a pre-recorded message saying something to the effect of "Explore the galaxy in the Galactic Empire!" and a ringtone version of the Imperial March played along with it. I audibly sighed at this part.

4. Han Solo

Speaking of recruitment, this is also when Han gets his fabled surname of "Solo." When he goes to join the Navy, the recruitment officer asks for his family name, "who his people" were, and Han admits to only ever being by himself, hence the officer calls him "Solo." I hated this, not just because it was a bad joke, but also because after he befriends Chewie, he may as well call himself Han Duet or Duo. I've never speculated on the origin of Han's last name, but it never occurred to me that it was because he was the only person in his family. Why, in the Lucasian EU he had family members, like Thracken Sal-Solo. I much preferred it when Solo was just his family name, and not a cringy commentary on how alone in the galaxy he is.

5. Changes to the Falcon

As we all know, the Falcon's iconic design looks like a burger with a bite taken out of it.

Classic Falcon
But according to Solo, this isn't the original design of the Corellian YT-1300 freighter. No, apparently, it had a front end that jet out from it and that "bite" is filled in.

Solo Falcon
According to Lando, it's supposed to be an escape pod which is weird for two reasons:

1. The escape pods are supposed to be located on the sides of the Falcon at the end of its conical shaped bulges.
2. In Return of the Jedi, when Lando and Wedge blow up the second Death Star, there are some missiles that are fired out of the Falcon's "bite." This begs the question: were those missiles added later when Han decided he had no use for an additional escape pod, or did someone just plain forget that that was supposed to be a missile bay?

Either way, it just kind of sucks and new Falcon design, as short lived as it is, just looks dumb.

6. Hyperspace Fuel

Frickin' coaxium! Frickin' hyperspace fuel! Seriously, when has this ever been a concern for anybody in any of the Star Wars movies? Apologists of the sequel trilogy are quick to mention The Last Jedi, but honestly, The Last Jedi was terrible. To some extent, it feels like the whole low fuel crisis was shoehorned into TLJ so that the characters were working against a time limit--it was a forced plot point to increase the tension.

Meanwhile, fuel is never mentioned in the OT or the prequel trilogy except for in The Phantom Menace when after the Naboo ship runs the Trade Federation's blockade, we hear the captain say, "We're losing power." Notice that he says they're losing "power" and not "fuel." Also notice how when Qui-Gon went to find replacement parts on Tatooine, he never mentions needing fuel. Why is this?

Well, besides the idea that the Star Wars ships running on fuel seems like a really mundane detail that never needs to be brought up, it seems to me that according to many EU sources, all ships had their own power plants and reactors. Not to mention the way repulsion works in SW is via engines spitting out ionized particles, and you don't get ionized particles by burning fuel. But, hey, don't take my word for it. Let's take a look at the TIE fighter. What does "TIE" mean? Well, it's an acronym for "twin-ion engine." And guess what, it can only be an "ion engine" if it produces ions.

Thus, I'm forced to conclude that the pilot in Phantom Menace must have been referring to a power leak in the ship's reactor or its power plant. And thus, it seems doubly strange that the SW universe would go technologically backwards from self-contained ionization reactors to internal combustion engines. And as a quick aside, I'm forced to ask why is it that the Raddus from TLJ was so dangerously low on fuel, but none of the First Order fleet were? Oh, that's right. So we could have a forced chase scene. Look at that, you can see the plot working. (You should never be able to see the plot working.) So screw coaxium.

7. Good Guy Han

The character of Han Solo has gotten a bad wrap over the years. Many believe him to just be a scoundrel. Very few people have ever seen him as a hero despite the fact he had a redemption arc in A New Hope and it was he who pursued Leia in Empire Strikes Back, and he was the one who was upset with Leia when he thought she was in love with Luke instead of him in Return of the Jedi. Han is not a bad guy--he has a sweet, chocolatey center. Leia even says to him "I knew there was more to you than just money!" after he and Luke blow up the first Death Star.

However, the OT doesn't go out of its way to show that Han is a good guy. What the OT actually did was it gave him the chance to prove he was a good guy through realistic life decisions that we all struggle with and they were spread out across the OT. But in Solo, not only do we see Han make the right, moral choice time and time again despite his persistence that he's an outlaw and a rogue, Qi'ra even says straight to his face that he's the "good guy." And when it's revealed that Enfys Nest is working against Crimson Dawn and the Empire for the sake of the Rebellion and Han goes to tell his plan to Beckett in hopes he'll join him in doing the right thing, Enfys asks Qi'ra what Han is doing, and she responds with "I think he's going to help you."

Basically, Solo beats you over the head with the fact that Han is a good guy, not a bad guy. But for those of us who have seen the OT, we don't need to be told that--we know that already. And anyone who can read the between the lines of Han's actions can see that he's actually the good guy. And this gets especially annoying when you see Han's arc in A New Hope as a redemption arc. By bashing the audience over the head with the fact that Han is secretly a good guy, he has no need for a redemption arc because he doesn't need to be redeemed. He was always going to do the right thing, regardless of what he said, and that takes away all the tension of the Death Star trench run and ruins the surprise when Han saves Luke.

Thanks for that, Solo.

8. Soundtrack

Man, did the music suck in this movie. It wasn't Star Wars-y. One or two tracks were adapted from John Williams' original score, but the rest of the music was terrible. The scene in which Han first experiences hyperspace, which is weird because as a soldier in the Imperial Navy, I'd think he'd experienced hyperspace dozens of times during his service, the song that plays is strange. It wasn't really exciting, which is probably what it was trying to be, but instead it just fell flat. It was more joyous and soothing than anything else, which really doesn't match Han's personality.

9. Too Many 11th Hour Plot Twists/Too Long

My last major complaint about Solo is that there are too many eleventh hour plot twists, which as a result, made this movie about 15 to 30 minutes longer than it needed to be. We didn't need the twist that Enfys Nest was actually a survivor of Crimson Dawn's ravaging, we didn't need the twist that she's helping the Rebellion, we didn't need the twist where Beckett betrayed Han, we didn't need the twist where Qi'ra betrays Dryden, and we didn't need the twist that the head of Crimson Dawn is f*cking Darth Maul!

I seriously can't put into words how much I hated that twist. It's especially vexing for me because I think Darth Maul is super overrated and wish he had died at the end of The Phantom Menace. Seriously, he doesn't deserve to live after being styled on by Obi-Wan like that. Darth Maul: lived like a bawler, was styled on by a padawan, ergo, he deserves to die like a bitch.

Not to mention the fact the movie beats you over the head with the fact that this is Darth Maul you're looking at just in case you forgot who he was. At first, you see his robo-legs, then he lets down his hood revealing his face, he Force pulls his lightsaber to himself and then turns it on for all of ten seconds for no discernible reason, and the whole time, "Duel of Fates" is playing in the background. This movie is about as subtle as a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.

And finally, we didn't need the twist where Qi'ra betrays Han's feelings for her and her feelings for him, despite the fact she tells him a couple of times how much her fond memories of him is what got her through her darker moments. Seriously, she could've fallen out of love with him, but then there wouldn't be any awkward tension between them when they inevitably run into each other again in the sequel that will never be made.


So, now that I've picked the movie apart, what do I rate it? Well, I already said I give it a four out of ten. On Uncle Ethan's scale of soy to steak, I say Solo: A Star Wars Story is a vegetarian omelet. It has potential, but never quite meets up to it. It's not as bad as a full soy breakfast, but it would be a lot better if it had actual substance, some actual meat rather than a bunch of fiber, which is just filler and helps you defecate.

The biggest problem with Solo is that it isn't a Star Wars movie. Seriously, The Last Jedi, terrible though it may be, actually felt like a Star Wars movie. Solo however was merely inspired by SW. I would call Solo a Star Wars-inspired heist, crime thriller with elements of sci-fi action and adventure. It's definitely not worthy of the name Star Wars. It is neither a space opera nor a science fantasy movie. There's nothing more to it than what it is, and that's not Star Wars.

In the end, I do not recommend Solo: A Star Wars Story. Just spend your ticket money on a pizza and watch A New Hope again. You'll be far more satisfied.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Being A Writer #2: A Horrible Truth

Hey, everyone.

So this Being A Writer is a little dour and a little sour, and largely dependent on the individual writer, but for many it's true. Let's look at it a little deeper.


Most of the world still carries a bias against self-publishing. To many, traditional publishing is the only way to go--apparently, if people front your cover design costs, you're worth being read. Unfortunately, this isn't a strict maxim. Ever heard of 50 Shades of Grey? I hear it's not that good. Meanwhile, Twilight, while written well, it doesn't deserve the hype. But I'm getting a little off topic here.

For many of us self-pubs, we hardly ever see any real money from our writing. Now, there are ways to boost the odds of course: Facebook and Amazon ads, press releases, podcast interviews, and even having a team of beta readers who buy the book first day and leave their real reviews a few seconds later. But if you're broke and don't have connections, and if you're not big into self-promotion, no one will really care about your book, even if it's the best book in the world.

But! Like I said, these are all conditional from writer to writer. Some self-pubs do quite well for themselves. However, I fall into the group of writers that write on a wing and a prayer. All I really have in my life are a few friends, who don't buy my books, and some family members, who are very supportive, but still don't buy my books. And the only family member I have who does read everything I've self-published doesn't even believe in my future as writer. So... yeah.

No doubt about it, regardless of what stage you're at when it comes to writing, whether it be outlining, writing, editing and proofing, publicizing, or you're already well-established, it is a challenging gig. And from what I hear, it's getting more difficult all the time for traditionally published writers. Apparently, the advance they give you is supposed to be used for advertising, and if the book flops, they may just take the advance back. Yikes...

But, I'd take a bad day at this over a good day of almost everything else. And my intention with this post is not meant to scare you or complain. I admit, I was not in a good place when I created this entry to the Being A Writer meme, but instead of letting this one get you down, use it as an opportunity to prove me wrong. Say to yourself, "Yes, they do. People do care when I publish a book. And they're going to buy it, and you, meme/Bryan C. Laesch, will just have to wallow in your failing career while I go on to make millions."

Good luck.

If you enjoyed this sobering Being A Writer post and you want to stay in the loop with whatever I write, please consider joining my mailing list or even supporting me on Patreon. $1 a month keeps me from doing "real" work, and I really appreciate that.

Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

Amazon: My Author Page
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7 Reasons Why It's Difficult Being Friends with an INTJ

Hey, everyone.

Originally, this was going to be a post on what it's like to be friends with an INTJ. Unfortunately, the topic was a bit too broad and I had no idea how to really cover it. But when I asked myself "What is it like being friends with an INTJ?", I answered "it's difficult, but rewarding." This of course begs the question "why." Why is it difficult to be friends with an INTJ, and why is it rewarding?

After brainstorming a couple of reasons, I found that I could make two posts out of this topic: 7 Reasons Why It's Difficult Being Friends with an INTJ, and 7 Reasons Why It's Rewarding. Therefore, this post will cover the former.

So, why is it difficult being friends with an INTJ?

1. We don't trust easily.

This first reason is more about why it's difficult to become our friend, but its theme is echoed in some of the reasons below.

INTJs are naturally suspicious buggers. I don't know if it's due to our learned cynicism or our natural curiosity, or maybe it starts out as curiosity, which is then rewarded and reinforced, and then becomes a learned suspicion/cynicism, but that's why we don't trust easily.

Any interest you show in us will be met with curt questions so we can try to discern the true reason for your friendly intentions. INTJs don't want to be used or manipulated, and when we find out we have been bamboozled, nothing forestalls our judgment... and it shall be severe.

We also have a great appreciation for honesty. We're honest with you, and we appreciate it if you're honest with us. That way, neither one of us has an advantage over the other. But it's not always easy to be honest with people.

2. You're constantly being judged and tested.

Some of you may be aware of the fact that women are always testing men. They do this to make sure they have found a man who embodies the qualities they desire. The same is true of INTJs--we're constantly evaluating you, your actions, choices, and words. We want to make sure that the company we entertain represents the same mindset we do, or at least, one that is not immediately objectionable.

There are times in the elementary stages of a friendship where we may purposely ask open-ended questions and see how you answer them. This is of course a test. You pass, kudos. You fail, sorry, but I don't want to waste my time on you. Ultimately, we just want to make sure that you're our sort of person. Unfortunately, we have quite discriminating tastes, so not very many people are our sort. And if you're deemed not to be, we don't hesitate to cut you out.

3. We don't always like explaining ourselves.

I've already established that honesty is an important quality in a friendship, but if someone isn't up front with you, can you really trust him? Many think that INTJs should keep this in mind for themselves, but we INTJs would argue that we do keep this in mind; it's just that there are other reasons why we may not explain ourselves.

One of them is that we believe our reasons/explanation to be too long to go over. We don't want to waste your time or ours, and we're sure that it will take a while to go over. Another reason is that our explanation is complicated and has many facets to it. There's a lot to look over and grasp. Sometimes we don't always understand all those facets ourselves, so how could we explain it to someone else? More often though it's because we don't think you can or are willing to understand--we're afraid you may not care.

In a tiff I had recently with a friend of mine, I didn't explain myself because I thought it was obvious why I was upset. I just couldn't believe that she didn't understand where I was coming from. Which I admit is strange; if she can't get it without me telling her, why wouldn't I just tell her so she could?

However, sometimes the reason is just simply because we think our explanation is selfish, immature, or embarrassing, and we'd rather drop the whole thing than allow it to tarnish our reputation. (A good friend should allow us to get away with it!)

4. We have a perspective that is different from pretty much everyone else's.

It's no secret INTJs see things differently. The NT combo can be quite difficult for some people to grasp. On the one hand, we believe that anything is possible, but we also believe in rationale. We may also perceive an instance in a different light from others, giving more weight to an open-minded perspective, even if it is naively hopeful. Here's an example:

On one of our local radio stations, a woman wrote in about an occurrence she had with her boyfriend. She wrote that they had been together for a few months and they had already been intimate many times. After one such intimate session, she told him she loved him and he responded with "Roger that!" So her question was whether or not she had moved too fast with the "I love you" and screwed up her relationship.

Now, the radio DJs and personalities were quite convinced that she had blown it, but my perspective was more open-minded. For one thing, I wanted more context to the story, like is the guy a notable goof ball or a joker? Is "Roger that" something he says a lot? What tone of voice and what sort of facial expression did he say it with? What sort of person is the woman herself? Is it possible he thought she would've understood such an answer? See, there are a lot of questions I need answered before I'm willing to give a conclusive answer because I can totally see someone responding to "I love you" with "Roger that." I think I have a few friends who would totally do that, too, and completely mean it as an "I love you, too."

I know I'm stretching with this example, especially since to MBTI nerds I don't have to explain myself when I say "INTJs see the universe differently." Generally, they know what that means immediately. But again, in our heads we have this perspective where we're trying to balance "what's possible" versus "the logic of what's probable." And it can be quite trying to indulge us in this exercise as we try to find an answer when things seem so clear cut to you.

5. You can go weeks or months without hearing from us.

Are you the sort that loves hearing from your friends? Can't go a week without at least a phone call or a text just saying "Hi?" Well, you may not enjoy being friends with us then. Seriously, we're about as introverted as anyone can be. We rarely have the desire to be around others, and unless it's a strong desire, like the longing for the company from a cute and cuddly ENFP, we can usually survive without that desire being fulfilled.

Not to mention, the misanthropy is strong with us in general. For the most part, we can do without people. Don't misunderstand me; we do enjoy the company of our loved ones: friends, family, lover, and dog, but we also thrive on alone time. Therefore, we're not likely to reach out to you. Unless you're really close to us or friends with us on Facebook, you'll go so long without hearing from us that you may begin to think we're no longer friends or that something terrible has happened to us.

6. We think about cutting you off when things don't look so rosy.

INTJs are ruthlessly efficient and extremely guarded. Ergo, if the friendship looks like it's going tits up, or there's something about you that we just can't figure out or square away, we consider giving it the axe.

In our darker moments when we get moody, we may even think that you don't actually care about us. Thus we'll take a page from reason number two, but based on the principle of reason number five and go completely dark on you just to see if you notice our absence and/or care.

It may seem drastic to be so willing to destroy a friendship without ever putting any effort into salvaging it, but that's often because we assume the worst and make decisions on our own. I'm honestly quite surprised how many times I've thought about cutting my friend Jessica out of my life, but then she surprises the hell out of me by digging herself out of that hole. I don't know if she knows it intuitively that I'm planning to cut her out, or if I just don't give her enough credit for being the amazing person she is, but she somehow always manages to make me change my mind. It's almost as if my friendship is truly worth something to her and she'd be poorer without it.

(It's strange to me that she'd think that way, but I am extremely touched if she does.)

But the point is, if things look bad or get frustrating, we act unilaterally and do what we think is best for us--not the relationship.

7. We're not comfortable expressing our emotions.

When you get to know someone real well, you often get attached to that person. A social link or bond develops. And the longest lasting bonds--the strongest ones--are often forged in the hottest of fires. The two friends go through some sh*t together, regardless of who's sh*t it is, and their relationship emerges all the stronger.

The problem with this is that it often involves emotions and deep, personal feelings, and you know how INTJs feel about those. We don't give them much exercise. On one hand, we don't want our painstakingly, self-crafted image to be tarnished, and on the other, we don't want to show ourselves at our most vulnerable. Not to mention how embarrassing or childish we may seem when we dig really, really deep down.

As a result of all this, INTJs can be hard to get to know. Sure, we'll tell you our hobbies and where we hail from, but that doesn't mean you know us. As a result, we keep many people held out at arm's length, never getting to know them and never allowing them to know us. And even if you do break the friend barrier, that doesn't mean you'll be passing into the BFF barrier anytime soon, or at all. There's an image on Pinterest that says of INTJs' close friends that they are "often those who have seen you cry." That's not a hundred percent accurate, but... it isn't inaccurate.

And those are the seven reasons why it's difficult being friends with an INTJ. I'm sure there are definitely others, but these are the most obvious. If you guys think I've missed any, feel free to comment about them. Also, if you enjoyed this post and you want to stay in the loop with whatever I write, please consider joining my mailing list or even supporting me on Patreon. $1 a month keeps me from doing "real" work, and I really appreciate that.

For next week, it's hope that I'll cover the seven reasons why it's rewarding to being friends with an INTJ, but we'll see. But until then...

Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

Amazon: My Author Page
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Twitter: BryanofallTrade
Youtube: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar

Weird Moments with INTJ #2: Rompers

Hey, everyone.

I'm back with another Weird Moments with INTJ.


So what's the deal with rompers? Why do INTJs know what they are? Well, I wouldn't say all INTJs know what rompers are, but this particular Weird Moment points to a specific peculiarity about INTJs.

As you may know, INTJs are reservoirs of knowledge. We pursue it and soak it up. And being Jacks-of-all-trades, we soak up knowledge about the strangest of things. Our collections of knowledge is one of the most eclectic collections of knowledge you may ever come across. Within my own, not only will you find detailed definitions of specific articles of women's attire, but you'll also find knowledge on firearms, Medieval fencing techniques, dog training, a decade's worth of Heavy Metal trivia, whip cracking and whip making techniques, writing principles, rules of English, Italian, Spanish, and German grammar, and random bits of trivia about my friends.

But the fact that we're information sponges doesn't completely explain this Weird Moment away. It's one thing to know what a romper is, it's quite another to be to call up that information when needed. And that's just the thing about INTJs--we practically have perfect recall. We know what we know and we know where we learned it. When it comes to obscure bits of knowledge, you can count on your local INTJ to know it for you. We're a walking encyclopedia.

If you enjoyed this post about why INTJs know what rompers are and you want to stay in the loop with whatever I write, please consider joining my mailing list or even supporting me on Patreon. $1 a month keeps me from doing "real" work, and I really appreciate that.

For next week, it's hope that I'll cover the seven reasons why it's rewarding to being friends with an INTJ, but we'll see. But until then...

Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

Amazon: My Author Page
Facebook: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar
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Quick and Dirty INTJ Thoughs #3: Others' Emotions

Hey, everyone.

I'm back with another Quick and Dirty INTJ Thought. This one is all about others' feelings. Yuck!


It is often said that INTJs can't read or predict people's emotions. This is pure crap. Of course, we can. It's not rocket surgery or brain science. It doesn't take a genius to know that no one likes being called "fat," even said person is severely obese, it's not that hard to work out that a woman doesn't like having her outfit criticized if she went to great lengths to dress herself up, and it's not that difficult to assume that an artist would be angry if you told him you could crap a better painting.

I'm not sure where the stereotype originates that INTJs can't read of predict people's emotions. I figure it mostly comes from our passive faces after laying down the factual truth about what's wrong with a person. In society, it's rude to point out a person's flaws, regardless of how honest or factual those points are. And since most people are bothered by confrontation, or even flustered glares and crying, they stray away from laying down the truth.

But here's the thing though, once in a while I find an image on Pinterest that says, "Don't tell anyone your problems. 80% don't care, and the rest are happy you have them." INTJs take notice of that 80%--we see them quite clearly. Hell, we ask ourselves if anyone actually cares how we are when they ask us.

(Side note: It would make for an interesting social experiment to just make up some crap the next time I get asked and see if I can't discern the difference between faked or real compassion. Like, if I told my bank teller that I was having a bad time of it because I haven't been laid recently, would she care enough to volunteer her own body or a friend's to make up for my bad time? Probably not, but I'd love to see her reaction.)

Getting back to the point, it seems to me, an INTJ, that if people did care about your problems, they would try to fix them in some way, according to their own power and ability. As for the schadenfreude people, I'm not sure if they're actually happy that we have that problem or if they're just relieved it isn't them with that problem, either way, it's not good.

So, you know, INTJs see all this crap and think this crap, and we don't bother putting in the work just to seem polite. If we do, it's mostly because it makes our lives easier or less inconvenienced. But for the most part, to us it's all about honesty. We'd prefer honest apathy to false compassion, just like how a salesman prefers an honest "no" to a lying "maybe." We've both got business to conduct, and we don't want to waste our time with people who don't care about our business.

But INTJs can totally read and predict people's emotions. We just think you're better off telling someone who actually gives a damn because God knows we don't.


If you enjoyed this quick and dirty INTJ though and you want to stay in the loop with whatever I write, please consider joining my mailing list or even supporting me on Patreon. $1 a month keeps me from doing "real" work, and I really appreciate that.

For next week, it's hope that I'll cover the seven reasons why it's rewarding to being friends with an INTJ, but we'll see. But until then...

Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

Amazon: My Author Page
Facebook: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar
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Thursday, May 24, 2018

How I Would Re-Write Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Hey, everyone.

I typically don't write movie criticisms for my blog, but as I have an idea for an original Star Wars story, I wanted to see if I could use the Disney SW sh*tstorm to my advantage to drum up readers. So, to all those new to my blog, welcome.

But this isn't my original story idea. No; for this series, I'm going to discuss how I would re-write the prequel and sequel trilogies because they both suck. One has bad characters, a bad story, and boring politics while the other has bad characters, a bad story, and bad politics.

So, let's start off this re-write for The Phantom Menace the way any Star Wars movie begins: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Setting the Stage

Concerning Yoda and the Sith

Before we get to the story proper, we have to set the stage. When it comes to the mysticism of Yoda, I believe he should be a very wise Jedi and not prone to physical fighting as he was in the prequels. Some say that's bollocks because there is a twenty year gap between the prequels and the OT which is plenty of time for Yoda to have changed. While I agree it is, the problem with that is that Yoda is almost a millennium old. When he finally kicks the bucket, he's almost 900 years old, which would put him at about 880 during the prequels--Yoda should be pretty set in his ways by 880. He shouldn't be prone to wild changes in opinion anymore. He's been around too long and seen too much to be wishy-washy or a flip-flopper.

Having established the fact that Yoda is really fricking old, I would like to cover something else about Yoda--his connection to the Force. Before filming of The Last Jedi began, Mark Hamill admitted to having some preconceived notions what Luke would be like as an old man. One of his preconceived notions was that Luke would be more-or-less of an all-powerful, all-wise Jedi Grand Master. There's nothing wrong with this idea, but when we factor in that Luke is only in his mid to late 50's in TLJ, if we apply this idea to Yoda who is 880 years old at the start of the prequels, how powerful and wise do you think Yoda should be?

Personally, I think he should be so powerful that he's practically untouchable by Palpatine and Darth Plagueis. Extrapolate this further and the whole duel between Yoda and Count Dooku is just mental masturbation. Yoda should be so powerful that with a stray thought, Dooku would end up splattered against the far wall and be nothing more than a red stain. You may argue that this is unbefitting behavior for a Jedi, and while you're right, Yoda is still powerful enough that he could render Dooku a complete simpleton and then probe his mind to find out anything he wants to. The only reason why he doesn't is because of either bad writing, "the Force doesn't work like that," or no one has ever thought of the Force in these terms before.

But the point is that Yoda should be so powerful in the Force that with a wave of his hand, every single council member should crap their pants in an instant.

So, if Yoda is that powerful, how does Palpatine get to be Supreme Chancellor without arising suspicion?

Here's where I would bring in Darth Plagueis. I know that he's mentioned in the Palpatine novel when Palpatine decides to kill him, but I would keep Plagueis around for at least a little while. Another thing I would do is banish the Rule of Two. Why? Because it's stupid. While I understand that keeping evil organized is a great challenge because evil always wants to eat its own, I believe that a truly evil master would allow for as many evil apprentices to exist as possible. Why? Because every time the master is challenged and wins, he becomes stronger until his power is absolute, or if he loses, the apprentice that succeeds him is truly that much more powerful that he truly deserves to be the master.

(Think the new Star Wars and its toys are all rubbish? Here's a conversation just for you.)

In my setting, I have Darth Plagueis, Palpatine, and another top apprentice who I will refer to as Darth X. What's their plan? They want to see the Sith rule the galaxy. How do they do that? They manipulate the galaxy into a colossal war, which allows one of them to become Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, acquire complete executive power, and then reorganize the Republic into an empire. But what are their obstacles? Answer: Yoda, the Jedi Order, and the fact that peace is now the rule and not the exception of the galaxy. So how do Plagueis, Palpatine, and Darth X go about starting their galactic war?

Step 1:

Plagueis is somewhere off in the Unknown Regions in an ancient Sith or dark side temple where he's using artifacts, holocrons, and human sacrifices to magnify his dark powers, and is hiding himself and preventing his apprentices from being detected. He then uses his amplified dark powers to cloud the minds of the Jedi, specifically Yoda, but he does it so discretely that the Jedi Order has no idea it's happening.

Step 2:

Palpatine enters the Republic as a senator, and thanks to Plagueis disguising him, he's able to rise to a position of power, influence, and popularity from which he could make a bid to become Supreme Chancellor.

Step 3:

In order to expose the personal weaknesses of Chancellor Valorum during wartime and get Palpatine into office, Darth X whispers a few choice words into the ears of a few choice systems and begins the Separatist movement. Then when the Republic reacts and tries to keep the systems from leaving, he manipulates them into pushing back and guerilla warfare erupts.

So far so good. But now we must introduce our other major players into the story: Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan.

(Like guns and Star Wars, but hate Kathleen Kennedy? So does this guy.)

Concerning Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme

First thing I'm going to do is throw out the idea that Padme and Anakin are kids when they first meet. It was a terrible idea, not to mention, who would elect a 14-year old girl to queenhood. Maybe a single country, but not an entire planet. I'm also going to say that Obi-Wan is already a Jedi Knight and not an apprentice. Sorry, but Qui-Gon has no reason for existing.

The First Act

So the movie would open the way Attack of the Clones did with an attempt on Padme's life because she's one of the few senators in the Republic still fighting for peace and trying to prevent a galactic war. Palpatine, the other senator from Naboo and feigning concern for her safety, advises her to get a bodyguard in the form of a Jedi Knight, which is a clever ploy to begin the killing off of the Jedi as the assassins going after Padme are Sith warriors trained by Plagueis.

From there, Padme would be assigned a bodyguard in the form of Obi-Wan, and because the Jedi Order is concerned for her safety, they order her off Coruscant and into hiding. She refuses to go, but accepts when Palpatine gives her his word that he'll fight the Military Creation Act in her stead. So Padme and Obi-Wan leave Coruscant and start heading to a safe house on some mysterious planet that isn't Naboo because that's like the first place the assassins will look after she disappears.

But one of the assassins, let's say Darth Maul, manages to trail Padme and Obi-Wan, and he shoots them down, marooning them on a strange, uncivilized planet. If you really want to be picky about this, it can be Tatooine, but I really think it should be a different planet as in the OT, Uncle Owen was Obi-Wan's brother, not Anakin's, thus we still have the Tatooine-Skywalker connection, and there's no need for the plot convenience that Anakin is also from Tatooine.

Anyway, while they're marooned on this planet, Obi-Wan senses a disturbance in the Force...

The Second Act

This disturbance in the Force is obviously Anakin, who for whatever contrived reason, stumbles across Padme and Obi-Wan. Now, Anakin is originally described as being "noble" and "giving without thinking of anything in return." Because of Anakin's natural generosity, he offers to fix their ship. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan, who can't believe the size of the aura surrounding him, is at first suspicious about his intentions, but Padme, who is a young woman in her prime, is quite taken with the handsome, generous, and handy young Anakin, so she starts making eyes at him and the like.

As for Maul, he finds them on the planet, but he doesn't confront them immediately. He knows Obi-Wan is a Jedi and he can feel Anakin's natural aura, so he sends word out to his buddies and waits for them to join him. Meanwhile in the Senate, Palpatine feigns strategic losses and gains in preventing the Military Creation Act. He gains more Senators to the cause of stopping it, but they're weak-willed senators with very little influence while losing those who are big, powerful obstacles to the Act. He himself even begins to show his own resolve waning.

(Want to know why the Star Wars prequels suck? Grab a beer and some pizza rolls, and click here.)

To add to the drama of above, there would then be a few scenes with Darth X pushing the Separatist leaders into taking bolder and bolder military strikes, maybe even mentioning the idea of creating their own army, possibly from clones. (Hint, hint.) While that's going on, the Jedi Council and Republic is sending out ambassadors to meet with Separatist leaders in an attempt to keep them from leaving the Republic, but this is just a clever ploy to assassinate the peacekeepers. Don't worry though, Darth Plagueis is covering their actions or at the least, preventing Yoda from seeing what is causing their deaths.

Back on the uncivilized planet, Anakin finishes the repairs on the ship. Maybe he asks a question or two about why they were shot down, but for the time being, Padme and Obi-Wan dodge the question. Then, as Obi-Wan starts prepping the ship for take off, Padme lags behind working up the courage to ask Anakin to join them. But she never gets the chance as that is when the Sith warriors attack. Obi-Wan does his best to fend them off, but Anakin gets to the cockpit and takes off, rescuing Obi-Wan in an overhead fly-by.

They're not out of the clear just yet as the Sith warriors have a blockade prepared. But Anakin, thanks to his natural piloting abilities and his uniquely high Force-sensitivity, is able to maneuver around all the Sith ships and make a hasty jump to light speed. After the jump, Padme comes clean about who she is and why there are people trying to kill her. Obi-Wan then chimes in that their attackers belong to the long-believed-extinct faction known as the Sith. Knowing this is a huge problem that has to be dealt with, he makes plans to send word back to Coruscant as soon as they drop out of hyperspace.

(Sick of the bullsh*t coming out of Lucasfilm? So are these world class "gentlemen.")

In the meantime, Obi-Wan openly confronts Anakin and tries to learn his story. Anakin merely says that he's just "some guy" who's always had a natural affinity for machinery and piloting, and he currently lives with his aging mother, taking care of her. When Obi-Wan asks about his father, Anakin says he was just some "fly-boy" or "laser-brain" who shacked up with his mother for a while before jetting off. In my story, Anakin is not a virgin birth, a space Jesus--Spesus--nor is he any sort of "Chosen One" destined to balance the Force. He's just an ordinary pendejo who's especially sensitive to the Force. And because his father was never around, this makes him particularly susceptible to familial ties, such as his mother, or even a possible future son who could redeem him.

Obi-Wan then comes clean with Anakin about his unusual potential in the Force and asks him if he'd be interested in joining the Jedi Order. Anakin is hesitant at first having heard a lot of unflattering things about the Jedi, including indoctrination and a terribly strict lifestyle. Obi-Wan assures him things aren't that bad, and even gives him some preliminary training on the ship just to see what he makes of it.

This is also where Padme begins really flirting with Anakin because now she's super impressed with the fact that he could be a Jedi. She even flirted a little with Obi-Wan when they first met, but he rejected her because Jedi are called to deny themselves and their personhood to give everything they have and are to the call of the Light Side of the Force. But in Anakin, Padme sees a more rational and rebellious mind that even if he does become a Jedi, he would totally still date on the DL.

(Like comics and Star Wars but tired of soy-based entertainment? Discover the uncle you never knew you had.)

The Third Act

The last act begins with tensions in the Senate getting worse. The Separatists are growing bolder and the Republic's and Jedi Order's ambassadors aren't returning. Chancellor Valorum's nerves are shot since he doesn't know what to do. Palpatine meanwhile steps up and shows himself to be quite cool-headed and confident despite fighting the Military Creation Act. Palpatine begins demanding any kind of action from Valorum, but since he can't deliver, a "Vote of No Confidence" is called. Palpatine puts his name in the running for Chancellor and he seems a near shoe-in.

Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan finally drop out of hyperspace and Obi-Wan makes contact with the Jedi Order telling them about the Sith. The High Council is of course startled as they believed the Sith were extinct, but this does begin to answer their questions about the missing Jedi and Republic ambassadors. They begin to suspect a Sith plot to take over the galaxy through the war, but they only speculate about it from the angle of the Separatist movement and not within the Republic as they have no reason to suspect it.

(Are you a geek or a gamer? Maybe both? Well, this guy has got videoooooos for you.)

Obi-Wan's call with the Council is cut short when they're attacked by the Sith warriors who planted a tracker on the ship as Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padme were fleeing. As they drop down to the planet that was supposed to be Padme's "safe house," Republic fighters are scrambled and they are able to prevent the Sith from attacking them as they land. But there are more Sith than Republic and they shoot down the fighters. The Sith land on the planet and after exiting their ships, we get an epic action/chase scene with Obi-Wan engaging the Sith as needed and Anakin shooting those he can while escorting Padme to the safe house. Hell, there are even some Republic troops and security personnel who join the fight.

Eventually, Anakin and Padme end up in a room where they should be safe, but they're actually cornered by the advancing Sith, who are slicing their way through the Republic security forces. That's when Darth Maul finds a secret way into their room. He duels Anakin as Anakin managed to salvage a lightsaber off one of the Sith he killed earlier. But as Anakin isn't trained very well, he does sustain a few injuries while Maul toys with him. Anakin begins relying more and more heavily on the Force, specifically fueled by his negative emotions such as fear and hatred. While powerful, he lacks control, and Maul manages to incapacitate him.

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Maul advances on Padme and gets ready to kill her just as the other Sith warriors enter the room. One of them grabs her, but just before the deadly blow can be struck, Anakin's fury rises to a terrifying crescendo and the entire safe house groans under his power. The Sith warriors are choked, flung, crushed, and otherwise mutilated as Anakin manages to draw himself up and approach Padme. It is only at this point do the Sith begin to realize they f*cked up. They try to battle Anakin, but he kills them all.

Anakin finally reaches Padme and he collapses into her arms. While she was scared during the whole ordeal, she's more relieved to be alive than scared of anything Anakin did. As they embrace, Anakin says something to the effect of "I'd never let anything happen to you," and their embrace goes on for longer than a "just friends" hug. The camera pans back and Obi-Wan is shown to be standing in the door way. While he's amazed and terrified at Anakin's potential, he notes that there is good in Anakin, and if fostered, Anakin can become a great Jedi.

Finally, back on Coruscant, Palpatine has won the election to Supreme Chancellor, and amid more and more aggressive attacks from the Separatists, as well as being informed by the Jedi that a more sinister and more powerful enemy may be behind it all, Palpatine feigns sadness as he signs the Military Creation Act.

And that's how I would re-write The Phantom Menace. Some of you might say that this is just an amalgation of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, but that's the point. Nothing happens in Menace that couldn't have been covered in Clones, which is where the prequel story finally gets going. This allows for more important things to happen in Clones, such as showing the great toll the war takes on the galaxy and it allows room for Ahsoka Tano to be a movie canon character now.

Anyway, that's it for now. I will return later with my re-written version of Attack of the Clones later, or maybe I'll cover Soylo: A Soy Wars Soyry as I am going to see it. In the meantime, feel free to enjoy the rest of my blog, and it you like my writing, please consider joining my mailing list or supporting me on Patreon. And for everybody who wants to know what my original Star Wars story is about, here's the pitch:

A new dark empire known as the Goeth Domination is gaining in power, but is still quite small. In their search for more power, they go to a desert planet seeking an ancient Sith holocron, but a newcomer to their team, known as the Knight Errant, has outed their operation to the Republic. In response, the Republic asks the Jedi Order to investigate and they send two Jedi Masters along with five promising padawans along with a regiment of troops. While the Jedi seem to be outmatched by the Domination, one of the padawans is drawn to the Knight Errant who possesses a unique understanding of the Force.

Look for the first chapter of Star Wars: The Knight Errant to drop sometime next month.

Keep writing, my friends.

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