Tag Archives: Star Wars

2020 Oscar Nominations arrive…

Yes, it’s that time of year again when award shows appear and Hollywood turns out to make some cringe worthy speeches.  You can find the list of nominees here: Oscar Nominations 2020.  The main reason I’m posting is that several nominations, and the only ones I actually care about tie into some of my recent posts.

Adam Driver is up for Best Actor for his role in Marriage Story, a particularly depressing look at a failed marriage.  However, I give Adam kudos because he was brilliant in it and deserves recognition for his breakdown scene alone.  My recent post The Rise of Ben Solo is obviously connected to his role in The Rise of Skywalker, but it is focused on Adam’s acting abilities, what he brings to his character, and his charity.  If you feel so inclined to root him on, perhaps giving something to his charity in honor of his acting would be highly appropriate given that the charity is Arts in the Armed Forces, and it’s an Oscar race.  See my post for the GoFundMe drive that is currently up to over $81,000 as of 1/13/2020.

And, last but not least, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is up for original score, sound editing and visual effects.  Truly we can all agree that John Williams needs to win this, as his music has touched us all whether we are Star Wars fans or not (we are!).  His scores are good enough that one should either listen to them on their own, or train their ears/brain to pay attention to the music as one watches the movie.  His scores are one of the best reasons to go see Star Wars films in a theater as you get to experience the music as it was intended to be experienced.  Another earlier post of mine, The Rise of Skywalker & John 15:13, touches on one of the main themes of the movie, and of the Star Wars franchise; Redemption.  Pay attention to the score behind the scenes as that redemption plays out.

Anywho, that’s really the only picks I’m paying attention to this year… let’s hope we get out of the Oscars without a new scandal to occupy everyone.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings, Of Interest, Reviews

The Rise of Ben Solo

This post contains SPOILERS for the latest Star Wars trilogy, especially for The Rise of Skywalker, so you have been warned (again; get outta here and go watch it on the big screen).

In my last post I talked about Ben Solo’s redemption and sacrifice and how that impacted the fans.  This time I want to talk about how that impact is spreading in the real world, and how you can participate if you’d like.

As many know, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren was played by Adam Driver in all three movies of the latest trilogy.  For some it took this last movie to see how well Adam was able to capture subtle differences when playing Kylo or when Ben was sneaking through, for others they’ve been a fan of Adam’s for a long while.  I have to say, his performance as Ben in Rise of Skywalker was fantastic.  He was able to take the material given him and literally show a physical change from Kylo Ren in Ben’s bearing, fighting style, reactions, emotions, the whole range with very little dialogue.

Ben’s redemption and death touched many fans, and made a whole new cheering section for Adam Driver as well.  Yes, some were incredibly angered by Ben Solo’s death and did not represent the Star Wars fandom in an upright manner.  However, on the flip side, one fan decided to show appreciation for the character Ben Solo and the real life actor who brought him to life so well, Adam Driver, and to focus fan emotions onto something worthwhile instead of screaming at each other on the internet.

Adam and his wife founded a charity focused on aiding troops and veterans in a very creative way; via theater.  Adam served as a Marine (he was with 1/1 Weapons Company at Camp Pendleton, CA) and wanted to give back, founding Arts in the Armed Forces, a not for profit focused on bringing the arts to service members, vets, and their families.

A GoFundMe; The Rise of Ben Solo, was set up by a fan with the (Adam Driver-appropriate) nickname of Matt the Radar Technician to benefit Arts in the Armed Forces in honor of Adam’s Ben Solo performance.  The donations started piling up, and then Adam himself got wind of the fundraiser and thanked fans personally for raising money… more donations poured in, and then Joonas Suotamo, AKA the nextgen Chewie himself, urged the fans to even greater charity by promising his own reprise of the #BenSoloChallenge.  Fans didn’t disappoint and reached the $75,000 goal and then some.  Go to the GoFundMe link and at least read the updates (especially significant is how this has impacted the fan who started this up), it’s worth a read.

Isn’t that amazing?  A good redemption story, a good actor, good fans with a good cause… sacred secular indeed.  A lot of people mock fandoms, but when one does something like this, something meaningful, to salute a job well done, well, it does a bit to redeem one’s outlook on humanity, doesn’t it?  So, after praying it over, and you can, why not join in?  The campaign runs for awhile longer (at least until 1/21/2020, and sits at almost $80,000) and if it’s over and you missed it, go to Arts in the Armed Forces and donate there.  My point here isn’t just to plug this one human effort at making a difference but to look at the phenomenon (that we’ve seen in fandoms before) and see something a little bit brighter than the norm.

Christians tend to admit a good story is tough to beat, and we believers know someone quite fond of parables.  There’s power in words, make yours good ones.  There’s power in actions, make yours count.

1 Comment

Filed under Christianity, Musings, Of Interest, Sacred Secular

The Rise of Skywalker & John 15:13

Yes, I’m finally going to let my Star Wars nerd flag fly, after all, I’ve already tackled Doctor Who, Star Trek, Breaking Benjamin, etc…  So, be warned; SPOILERS ahead for the new trilogy, and especially for The Rise of Skywalker.  If you haven’t watched it, what are you waiting for? It’s the best of the new 3, it is still in theaters, and I heartily recommend it.

So, Star Wars has been a part of my family since the original, and that included taking a toddler me to the theater… apparently my first Star Wars enjoyment came from R2-D2, and then morphed into a childhood crush on Han Solo.  Star Wars games, books, comics, movies, fanfic… it was all fair game, and in fact my online nickname “K’liska” came from a Star Wars fic I wrote many moons ago with my brother (I was a bounty hunter, but a good one, of course).  Star Wars has always intrigued those looking for something deeper in their movies, and George Lucas has shared some of the philosophical, cultural, and religious bits and pieces that informed his work, so it’s fair game here.

In the aftermath of seeing Rise, I quickly scanned the net to see what others thought of it all.  I always note what parts of a movie hit me and then see if it did the same to anyone else.  I wasn’t disappointed as the bulk of the conversation (and cursing) revolved around the culmination of Rey’s and Ben Solo’s storyline(s), especially in regards to Ben Solo’s death.

Ben’s story arc was one of redemption, and the evolution of a fractured, volatile, hostile loner into a man who discovered who he really was, and what he was willing to die for.  And die he did… which infuriated a lot of the fan base.  Ben wasn’t a Sith, but he was bad news as Kylo Ren; bad news in the sense that he committed one of the big immoral no-no’s; patricide.  Yes, he killed his own father, Han Solo.  Yet, there were many fans in a rager that Ben’s redemption ended in his own death, and didn’t that “set a dangerous precedent that redemption includes death?!?!”  Yes, of course it did, but it wasn’t a precedent; the precedent has already been set in human lore.

For sin comes death. It’s something that Christians should know from scripture.  It’s one of the huge lessons we are supposed to be learning down here, and it’s not a pleasant lesson to learn.  This is also what leads to the cross, and ultimate redemption via Jesus who died so that we might live. Yeah, yeah, I went there, so let me be clear; I’m not comparing Ben Solo to Jesus Christ, but I am saying death is (super)naturally connected to wrong choices.  In Ben’s case his death was a result of having to rush to save the day after a long series of bad choices and wrong actions, including Palpatine’s own immoral actions.  Jesus’ death was as a result of humankind’s bad choices all along the way of human history.  Ben’s death represented redemption, not only for himself, but also for Rey as well as his grandfather Anakin.

Christ took the idea “for sin comes death,” and put a new spin on it since He was the only sinless one; Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).  Now we see the value in a life laid down on purpose, for purpose.  I get why many fans were so upset over Ben’s death… we had just witness the rise of Ben Solo from the ashes of Kylo Ren, we witnessed the connection and love between Rey and Ben (romantic love or platonic love makes no never mind to me in this article), and the final vanquishing of the evil emperor.   Everyone wanted to cheer and be happy, but the world, even in fictional form, has consequences. Ben Solo laid down his life for his friend.  We, the fans, had just witnessed the greatest act of love possible.  It is heartbreaking in its impact, and that heartbreak leads to emotion.

Good stories (including the kind that play out on film) are meant to impact us and to teach us.  Good stories tend not to reinvent the wheel, but rather pull from story telling traditions that reflect actual reality and the human experience.  So we recognize Ben Solo’s sacrifice as an act of selfless love but we rage against it because it hurts.  That hurt is meant to teach us to live our lives in an upright way, walking tall, while the joy of seeing someone redeemed and saved is meant to make us celebrate and to be brave and to recognize the power of sacrifice.

The Rise of Ben Solo impacted fans enough that it took a real world turn, which I will write about in a separate article soon, link forthcoming (And, here it is: The Rise of Ben Solo).  In the meantime, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts dear reader, let me know what you thought of the movie, Ben Solo, Rey, JJ vs. Rian (lol), anything relevant you’d like to share…

1 Comment

Filed under Christianity, Musings, Reviews, Sacred Secular

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed; Final Review

I gave my first impressions earlier, the day the game was released, and after I’d played two levels in a previous blog post.  I’ve now completed the game one time through on the Xbox 360.  Well…there are pros and cons.  There are some spoilers, but I will label that section when I get there.

First, a couple of pros.  One of the aims of the game was to tell a story that provides another “connection” in the Star Wars universe.  Unleashed falls before Episode IV, and does indeed provide a bit of insight into the “goings on” prior to the movie.  I have to say that while I enjoyed the story, I really did, but it felt rushed.  There was not enough character content to make me really feel for any of the characters, until the very very end of the game, and by then it is a bit wasted.

The tie-ins with other games and movies were fun, and I like the new lightsaber “styles” and colors.  It was also neat using all of the force powers, and meeting new characters in the Star Wars universe.  The game menus were also straightforward, and saving the game wasn’t a hassle.

Now, some cons.  The in-game camera was horrible.  Not only was the viewpoint off during critical fights, the angle made you lock onto targets that you are not intending to.  You go to chuck your lightsaber at an oncoming enemy, and you wind up flinging it at a barrel sitting off to the side, all the while you are getting pummeled by said enemy as you wait for your ‘saber to return.

The game was too short, and as I mentioned above, you don’t really connect with the characters until the end.  KoToR this game is not, and it shows.  If you are a fast player, you could easily rent this game and beat it before having to return it…I can’t really recommend buying it for that reason alone.  Now, if you like to play through a game multiple times and hunt down every item, as well as play Live (which at this point, I don’t believe is possible), it may be different.  I don’t fancy XBox Live, so can’t really speak to that.

SPOILERS.  There are parts of the game that get tedious very quickly.  One of these was billed as a selling point to the game; when you have to pull down an Imperial Star Destroyer.  Ugh.  The “directions” the game gives you will not get the job done…I could “hear” Obi-Wan speaking to me (not the character); “Use the force…the game is lying to you…” which is basically what you have to do to pull the blasted ship out of the sky…  There are several other parts of the game that I found quite frustrating, not because they were hard, just tedious, as I said before.

There is a morality choice in the game, but it is an odd addition, since the “light-side” ending is the only one that flows with the movies.  You can indeed watch the dark-side ending on youtube, for those who don’t like playing the bad guy…yes, that is how I watched it.

The game was disappointing, only because I had such high hopes.  It’s not a bad game, and any Star Wars fan will probably like the storyline, but it does suffer by comparison to KoToR, and its own hype.  If you get the game with neutral or low expectations, you’ll probably like it better.  In short, it is worth playing, but IMO, it’s not worth buying at this price.

For those of you that care about such things; the violence is what makes the rating “Teen.”  There wasn’t any sexual content, or foul language that I can recall.  On the good side, the story is about redemption, self-sacrifice, and fighting your anger and need for revenge.

6 Comments

Filed under Of Interest, Reviews

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed; First Impressions…

In another post, I explained my relatively unique position of being Christian, female, and a gamer.  As such, I’ll periodically have video game reviews here at The Christian Scribbler.

Today, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, was…well, unleashed.  After work I went out and snagged a copy for the XBox 360, as I’ve been waiting for this one forever (I’m also a Star Wars nerd).  I don’t think anyone has to worry about spoilers, unless you don’t want to know anything about the game at all (then why are you reading this? 😉 )…I’m only on the second level.  This is truly a “first impressions” post.

So far, so good. The story is as advertised; you play Darth Vader’s secret apprentice.  The game starts with a bit of back story; and you get to play as Vader just for a bit.  After that, you, as the apprentice “Starkiller” are sent out to hunt rogue Jedi.

The gameplay takes a bit to catch onto, as I don’t really like to use my LB (left button) and RB (right button) as much as this game will call for; however, the game teaches you as you go, and also has an in-game tutorial you can pull up in the menu for your different force powers.

I can tell you right now that this really makes me miss Knights of the Old Republic (KoToR 1 and 2)…I prefer the gaming system in those RPG’s.  Unleashed is a lot more “linear” in that there are no dialogue trees as of yet; you are playing a linear storyline.  In my other post on games I brought up morality; in a game like Unleashed, you don’t really have a morality choice all the time…you are sent on a mission and are to complete that mission.  Also, you do not get to choose your dialogue, so far they are “forced” cut scenes with no input from the player…this may change later, I don’t know, you may get to choose missions and outcomes later too, don’t know that yet either.

The force powers are neat, but I have to be honest and say I don’t like having to do “combo” moves (button mashing) to do my force combo’s; it’s just not my preferred style of play.  I do like the force powers that are straight forward like force push, and force lightening.  One big gripe; what I call “cheap falls;” you can easily (and accidentally) fall off high spots and die…your guy may be bashing an enemy with a combo that you can’t break out of and walk right off the edge…

One of the side missions for every level is finding holocrons…and, yes, you have to search pretty meticulously to find them all.  They include force points, force powers (really the “spheres” you need to up your force powers), lightsaber crystals (Yes! you can change the color of your lightsaber, it starts as red, of course), etc…  That is actually a favorite addition thus far; certain crystals make your lightsaber blade react differently…for example I found a “compressed yellow” crystal that does change the color to yellow, and causes the blade to “ripple.”

You also get new outfits along the way…right now I suspiciously look very much like Raziel from Soul Reaver…hmmm…. Anywho, thus far I’m met two main traveling companions; a droid programmed to try to kill me like any good Sith’s robot companion (yes, you consider him a friend), and my new pilot.  Side note; you do indeed have to play as a male, no gender switching in this one.  I do understand; this is supposed to be like a “playable” movie, not a customizable RPG (did I mention that I miss KoToR?).

Also, you get to “visit” and hear about planets from other Star Wars games (like Battlefronts, and KoToR) ; some of the graphics look similar, though the “viewpoints” are different.

My opinion so far?  I like it…not a “love it” yet, but a “like it.”  I can tell I personally won’t want to play it in long stretches as the action is pretty non-stop.  Yes, the force powers are a lot stronger in this one, and are a main game point…the programmers definitely wanted you to use them a lot in fighting and in navigating the terrain.  Is it worth the money and the wait?  Can’t say yet…will keep you updated.  If anyone has any questions for me about the game, I’ll attempt an answer.

It is rated for “Teen;” thus far “violence” has been the main thing some may be concerned about…and as Vader’s apprentice you go after Empire soldiers and Rebels alike.

UPDATE: A more complete review by me can be found here: The Force Unleashed; Final Review.

4 Comments

Filed under Of Interest, Reviews, Sacred Secular

Video Games and Morality…

Christian.  Female.  Gamer.  I have to be in the vast minority (anybody else out there?).  I’ve been interested in, and played video games before the wonderful old atari system came out; on old (Apple) computers of course.  So obviously I don’t think playing video games is wrong.  What I would like to discuss, just because I find it interesting, is what about morality within the context of the world of a game?

For example, in one of my favorite games of all time; Knights of the Old Republic, which is based in the Star Wars universe, you can choose what kind of Jedi you become.  Do you stay a good Jedi, or start embracing the teachings and/or action of the Sith (“evil” Jedi).  Of course if you choose the Sith side of things, you aren’t a very nice person in the least.  So (some of you must be wondering) why would you ever choose to play the villain of the piece?

Well, you see, that is interesting too.  To get the fully story in a game, you play both sides, as each decision often adds to the storyline, and fills in gaps.  So, it’s the programmers who are really the immoral ones! 😉  To get all the details that you buy and play the game for, you must play both storylines; good and bad.  Some people cannot do it.  They can’t force themselves to even be verbally mean to a group of bratty kids (in game)… let alone turn traitor and kill a member of your own party.  Others of us don’t really have much of a problem with it, although there are things I absolutely will not do even in video games.

It’s just a fascinating concept to me.  No one mistakes a video game’s world with the real world, but we do know that even “fantasy violence” can disturb people, leave an impression, and give people ideas.  Now, there are games that are built solely around violence, such as the Grand Theft Auto games; and I definitely stear clear of those; however, many people gloss over the fact that even if you play the good side, the good storyline, you still wind up (usually) killing people, or at least other living creatures.

So what does anyone out there think?  Does your morality impact how you play a video game, the choices you make within the game?  Or, can you shut off your real life morality in order to complete the game?  and if you can, should you? For me, it is changing.  With youtube so accessible, everyone puts the “bad” storylines up where you can see the ending without having to actually play as a bad character.  If I have a chance to fill in the details without actually playing through the game as a “bad” character, I’ll take that choice.

One of the latest games with a clear good/bad choice that I’ve played was BioShock.  Without spoiling anything, there is no possible way I could have played the character as evil/bad…so I did indeed go to youtube and watch the ending.  Cheating?  I don’t consider it so, since I did beat the game as a “good guy.”  Now, if you would like to comment, would you kindly refrain from game spoilers?

12 Comments

Filed under Of Interest, Sacred Secular, Theology