On Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber
Jan12

On Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber

By Alexander Shaw This is in response to people still having a problem with that crossguard.   I’ll keep this short, because I could talk about Kylo all day. Firstly it’s symbolic of a character who has forced himself down one rigid path, one of brutality and zero compromise. Secondly every fighter in Star Wars had one style and stuck with it. I won’t look up the form names but Luke used his like a baseball bat, Vader thrashed his opponents like he was holding a riding crop, Obi Wan did that spinny business, Maul used the moves of a trained athlete showing off with a Bo staff, Anakin chopped firewood, Mace flung his arms about and pulled faces, Dooku adopted the body of a man forty years his junior and Yoda and Palpatine became formless CGI blobs that ignored gravity and helicoptered through the air, screaming. Quite aside from the fact that he used them to cruelly pierce Finn’s shoulder during a deadlock and win that fight, would it really, genuinely have benefited the character of Kylo Ren within this film if he didn’t have those vents, blasting off the excess energy? Would you not say in fact that it makes his character distinctive? More memorable? That the vicious, holy Templar aesthetic plays into everything he’s trying to be? Look at his ragged cloak, the hood, the blackness behind the visor. Think about what that says in our collective minds about what he has had to sacrifice to obtain this terrible, stalking power.   Alexander Shaw writes...

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Back to Basics (And Why This is One of the Best Things About New Star Wars)
Jan09

Back to Basics (And Why This is One of the Best Things About New Star Wars)

By Alexander Shaw MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS   Here are the three biggest issues that seem to keep turning up in the criticism of The Force Awakens… It’s just a remake of Star Wars Kylo Ren is a Weak Villain Rey is a Mary Sue Let’s take these three as major positives. For the first you need to jump outside your age and go back in time. If you’re 45 years old and were there for the original in 1977 then you will simply have to peel away everything that came after and focus on that initial feeling. If you are any younger you’re going to have to somehow go zen and forget the prequels, Return of the Jedi and even The Empire Strikes Back. Think about that big, blank canvas. Part of it beautifully covered in the epic first outing, with courageous heroes and dastardly villains rendered almost unilaterally in black and white, though not, notably coding either extreme solely in the positive or negative. Evil white Stormtroopers were fascinating, as was swaggering black-vested Han Solo. Take a look at this Kenner 12 figure card back from early 1978, less than a year after the movie launched, when the first action figures hit shelves. Obviously today they would have had them ready months before the movie launched but Star Wars was the line that changed everything about the way movies and merchandise were sold together as Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs (1987) so acerbically made note of. Compare it to the last cards of the Return of the Jedi line six years later when eighty more figures had been added, and that was in the years before Hasbro rendered every single background character in plastic. Do you see what’s around those first figures? Space, blackness… potential. Highlighting their special, singular quality. Abrams and company could have presented us with a deep and complex, moody, gritty, real-feeling story designed entirely to please people who wanted to see Star Wars finally do something new (as though TFA didn’t) and render The Force into shades of grey rather than simply dark and light. But like it or not, that’s what the prequels were ham-fistedly attempting. Remember the legions of robots controlled by space traders who didn’t ever really feel evil? The allegedly pure and true-hearted Jedi who turned out to be a bunch of confused cultists kidnapping children. The troubled hero who wound up murdering them all. Shades of grey all round, poorly defined with blurry, greenscreen edges and a distinctly less than triumphant result. By all means it was complex, so complex in fact that a movie about badass knights with laser swords,...

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