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Friday, May 26, 2017

Links and Updates

I have some news: I have a new job! I've been offered (and accepted) a Library Assistant position, and my training starts at the beginning of next month. This naturally means I'll have a lot less time to post on this blog, but I'm looking forward to the work ahead of me. Among other things, it'll speed up the process of getting my plane ticket to England!
It's been a rough week in terms of global news, with humanity continuing to prove its commitment to Being Awful, and even my usual remedy of unwinding with books and shows didn't do much to help considering the season finale of Into The Badlands. (Let's just say that 2016's trend of fridging female characters has continued).
But there have been other fandom treats to distract us, many of which I'm sure you've already seen...

Including, no doubt, the Vanity Fair spread on The Last Jedi. There's a lot to absorb here: Captain Phasma without her helmet, a last name for Rose (it's Tico), and Kylo Ren's scar. It's a little bigger than it looked in the trailer – which is good – though still not the disfiguring mess I thought it would be.
The posing of the characters again leads me to believe that Finn and Rey will probably spend a lot of time away from each other (with Poe, Finn and Rose making up a new sort of trio) and only meeting up again in the final act. I hope I'm wrong.
And of course, General Leia. She looks incredible, and I'm already feeling the twinge of disappointment in knowing we'll never know what Episode 9 had in store for her.
Yet having read the accompanying article, there are some passages that don't sit particularly well with me. Take this comment from VF editor David Kamp:
“I had presumed (wrongly) that JJ Abrams and Larry Kasdan might have sketched out an arc for the entirety of the current trilogy. But as Rian Johnson told me, it really was a creative handoff—'Over to you, Rian.’ And Rian is handing off to Colin Trevorrow in the same way. He said he’s made a mess that Colin will somehow have to clean up. ”
And now this from Kathleen Kennedy on Carrie Fisher:
“She was having a blast,” said Kennedy. “The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, ‘I’d better be at the forefront of IX!’ Because Harrison was front and centre on VII, and Mark is front and centre on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.”
Is anyone else having trouble reconciling these comments? As flat-out horrifying as the first statement is (there's no planned arc? SERIOUSLY??) it doesn't jive with Kennedy's assertion that Carrie/Leia would have been front-and-centre of Episode 9. How could she possibly know that if there's no story plan in place?
Maybe it's just misdirect, maybe I'm just misreading – but now the idea that Colin Trevorrow is in charge of wrapping up the trilogy, with no sense of any locked-down story arc is ... worrying.
No to mention this exchange on the David Kamp question/answer page:
Question: Do we learn anything about Snoke's identity? Does he get a fight scene?
Answer: I asked Rian Johnson about Snoke—Who/what is he?—and Rian was fairly up front in saying that Snoke is not a character he particularly gets into in TLJ. Hmmm.
Response: Hot damn. I'll bet you nobody knows. Like, it looks to me as if Abrams and company didn't even have any dialogue, or even any idea of a plot for after Rey met Luke. This is suggested by the fact that they didn't film anything other than what we saw and had to actually go back to Skellig to film for Episode VIII.
It's highly likely that JJ didn't have any idea who Snoke is, and neither did any of the Lucasfilm crew, and instead, JJ opened a box that Trevorrow will have to solve.
But hey, there are other fun tidbits: Rose has an on-screen sister named Paige, Laura Dern plays a high-ranking Resistant officer called Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, there's a casino planet frequented by the wealthier side of the galaxy, and Poe apparently gets slapped by Leia. 
***
To stay on the Star Wars bandwagon, here are some interesting videos and photos I've spotted this month...
First, this fantastic 8-bit version of The Last Jedi trailer:
I grew up with the likes of Monkey Island and Indiana Jones: Fate of Atlantis, and I'd willingly play this if it was a real thing. Honestly though, where do people find the time to design these things?
If you haven't already seen this adorable Jyn Erso cosplayer – well, check it out. She went to a con armed with plans to the Death Star to give to every Princess Leia she saw – and I can't have been the only one crying over what she did with the last one...
Finally, here's an interesting vid on the characterization of Rey and Jyn Erso in their respective films:
Here's the thing: I like Jyn. I know this because whenever I hear criticism about her, I feel the need to defend her. But like many other female characters I've enjoyed in the face of fandom dislike (Laurel Lance and Guinevere spring to mind) I can also recognize problems in the way they're written.
But even though I generally agree with the points made in this critique, there's room for disagreement. No, Jyn doesn't have a lot of control over the choices she makes: but isn't that kinda the point? She's a pretty extraordinary protagonist when you think about it: she has little interest in the conflict, arrives at locations too late, fails to save her father figures, barely gets any chances to fire her weapon – heck, she doesn't even survive her final mission.
Consider Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark – he has a similar run of failure throughout that entire film, and I've always felt that Rogue One worked best when it was demonstrating just how powerless the rebels were when up against the full might of the Empire. They were two steps behind for a significant part of the film, and ultimately their "great victory" wasn't a battle or a direct confrontation, but a simple transmission of information; a tiny sliver of hope slipping through the Empire's defences.
But in saying all that, I never thought we'd get a chance to contrast and compare two female protagonists in two Star Wars films. I mean, how cool is that?! I still feel a bit dizzy thinking about it.
***
But Star Wars wasn't the only massive science-fiction franchise to send out new material this year. And it also follows the trend of female protagonists (plural). Behold the first trailer for Star Trek: Discovery:
Seeing all the complaints and nit-picking that's going on in various message boards is fairly exhausting, so I'll just say that as a casual fan of the franchise, who is only really familiar with Star Trek: Voyager (which I know is generally considered the worst of the TV shows) I thought this looked pretty good.
It's a bit disappointing that it's a prequel, as I'm sure we've all had a gutsful of prequels by now, but there's no way I'm missing out on Michelle Yeoh as a Star Fleet Captain.
As I don’t watch The Walking Dead, I only know Sonequa Martin-Green from Once Upon a Time, where she was (as you might expect) completely over-the-top vilified by the fandom. I always chuckle when actresses of hated characters go on to have much better careers than whatever actor they were despised in favour of.
Here's the final Orphan Black trailer, which certainly has a sense of finality about it:
One thing though: are we going to see Cal again? Granted, I wasn't hugely invested in his character, but he is Kira's father who disappeared with no explanation. Given that Michiel Huisman has been released from his Game of Throne commitments, it's a little strange that the show didn't snap him up again. I'd be happy with just a cameo.
An interesting new trope that I'm surprised has taken this long to be articulated: Born Sexy Yesterday.
A little random, but remember Angels with Filthy Souls, that movie-within-a-movie in Home AloneHere's a fun little article about what it was like to make it.
Last month I made a post on the Underworld franchise. By complete coincidence, The AV Club has also written one.
Watch this cute crossover in which Kara Danvers promotes Wonder Woman:


An interesting take on toxic activism (or as I like to call it: disingenuous activism, since most of the time the people who hitch social issues to fandom don't really care about said issues, but want to elevate their grievances – usually to do with shipping – to the level of a moral crusade. I feel a much larger post on this phenomenon is brewing...)
And best of all: remember this photo and accompanying Twitter post that described Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o thusly: " Rihanna looks like she scams rich white men and Lupita is the computer smart best friend that helps plan the scans"? And how it went viral and was commented on by Rihanna and Lupita on their Twitters?
It's actually happeningFor real. They're making a movie on this exact premise, based on that Tweet. Of course, it opens up a ton of questions on whether the Twitter user who came up with the idea will be compensated, but – wow. I'm still rather speechless about the whole thing, but I think Twitter has finally justified its own existence.

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