Breathing New Life into The Little Prince

There is a tiny book that has made a lot of impact in my life and that is The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Back in what seems like forever ago, also known as 2015, Netflix took on the extraordinary challenge to create a feature length film of the book. At first, I was sincerely worried. Would they be able to capture the same light-hearted innocence? Would they hint at the deeper life lessons hidden inside?

Turns out they did, and they did a stunning job of it. The movie makes me cry every time I watch it. It’s one of the few movies that even knowing that I’ll cry, that I still will watch regularly. I’ve seen it *gasp* more than Titanic. Hard to believe, but true.

The book all by itself is full of wonderful flights of the imagination and comes packaged in a lovely narrative frame using an older narrator, the Aviator to guide us through the pages. Taking inspiration from that literary framing, the movie took the idea one step further by framing it again from the perspective of a little girl who gets told the story when she needed it most.

It was a risk that I feel payed off. Not only did it give the watcher the opportunity to see the story through the eyes of a child, but it showed how that child changed. This little girl is the opposite of both the aviator and the Little Prince. Daughter of a hard working accountant, she was given no room for creativity in her life. She is destined to go to the prestigious Wentworth Academy and to do so must spend each waking minute hard at work studying and writing papers.

To emphasize the difference between the girls life and that of the story of the Little Prince, her scenes are rendered in clean computer animation which feels symbolic of the clean orderly straightforward life she is living in. The only break from the orderliness is the home of her neighbor, a raggity collection of angles and ideas that have all hunkered together into a modpodged whole.

When we watch the Little Prince scenes, they are created in breathtaking stop motion – all done with gorgeous paper crafting. It is as if the story itself has risen from the scraps of paper and colored pencil in which the Aviator has written it. If you still haven’t made up your mind to watch this movie, do it just to see how pretty it all is. You won’t regret it. It is truly art in motion.

The girl needs someone to show her what it means to be a child. If you recall, one of the biggest complaints that the character of the Aviator makes is that adults forget everything important when they grow up. They forget how to play and have fun and start believing all life is is work and being paid and in turn paying bills.

The story of the Little Prince is revealed to us one piece as a time as it is shared by the girl’s eccentric neighbor, a quirky elderly gentleman who once was the Aviator. He’s childlike in his fascinations with color and story and is always working on something wild and wonderful. It is him, not the story that get’s the little girl to finally pay attention to why wonder and play is so important.

Some would argue that they took a few too many liberties when it came to the movie’s ending. At the beginning, I was one of them. Instead of ending the story with the end of the book, they extended the story and showed what happened to the Little Prince when he became and adult and forgot everything important. It takes a journey of the girl to save him and remind him of what was truly important, his planet, asteroid B612 and his rose.

By saving him, the girl in turn saves herself from growing up too fast. She proves that she can enjoy the best of both worlds and be responsible as well as fun loving. She even shows her mother, who has the best of intentions but not perhaps the best tools, how to enjoy the little things.

In the end, the 2015 Netflix production of the Little Prince is both charming and profound, It’s a wonderful reminder of the things that are truly important.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

DragonHeart (1996) – No Good Trope Goes Untwisted

If there is one thing we can agree on, it’s that most fantasy books and movies tend to lean on a series of expected tropes. The 1996 DragonHeart movie tries so hard to twist many of these tropes that the outcome is, well different.

Hi everyone! As a survival tactic, I’ve turned to some of my old favorite fantasy movies, and this one has stood the test of time better than others. Even better, they’ve made a handful of sequels that are begging to be explored. Fun fact: this is one of the few movies accidentally acquired because I rented the DVD then turned it into the wrong Hollywood Video. Does that date me, yes it does.

Evil Overlord

Perhaps the biggest trope that gets twisted in this movie is that of the evil overlord found in King Einon. He’s greedy and kills indiscriminately and doesn’t hold to the vows he’s taken. Where this gets twisted is that he has half of a good dragon’s heart so lots of story twisting has to happen for this villain to get what he deserves.

The Good Bad Dragon

Dragons in most fantasy are either all bad or all good. They are only around to either roast precious damsels and hoard gold or dispense much needed help to the main character. DragonHeart has a bit of both. All the villagers seem to agree that dragons are always bad and out to heat and eat their livestock. However, the nobility have insider info on the dragons where they are good and can be appealed to for favors. Our noble-ish night Bowen skirts that line by using the good nature of the dragon to blackmail poor villagers.

Willful Ignorance

There has to be some suspension of disbelief in all fantasy storytelling or the audience wouldn’t listen at all. We are willing to accept the existence of dragons in order to enjoy a good tale. Most stories have a few times where the main character refuses to believe an obvious truth because we like the whole twisty-ness of it all. In DragonHeart, Bowen has been searching the entire British Isles to kill off all of the dragons. When he gets to the last one and has to make a deal, he doesn’t realize this is the same dragon that he feels betrayed him. It’s not until it’s relevant to the story that the dragon reveals himself.

The Noble Sacrifice (Um, Spoiler Alert…)

This one happens all the time. Someone super important to the story has to sacrifice their life in order to make victory possible. In DragonHeart this gets super literal. The bad king, Einon, can’t die unless the dragon dies because he has half the dragon’s heart. They literally have to kill the dragon to emerge from the battle victorious. It’s bittersweet and noble (and such a stupid waste of perfectly good dragon!).

The Charming Rogue gone Good

Our dear knight is a good guy at heart who has bad things happen to him so he feels justified doing less than noble things to get by. Think Han Solo. He’s a good guy but also needs money and happens to have a few tricks up his sleeve. Bowen is charming and everything a gal could want in a rogue, but ultimately has to save the day by doing the last thing he’d ever want, kill a friend – in this case the dragon.

My review of DragonHeart

DragonHeart is entertaining even after all these years. The CGI is great considering the year this movie was released and the story is interesting and has some nice twists. There are a few things that will always bother me. Namely, the script is super kludgy and obvious – no subtlety here. Also, I wouldn’t have picked Dennis Quaid for a Medieval period piece, like at all.

It was fun to see actors like Jason Isaacs and David Thewlis when they are practically teenagers, especially since they both were in important rolls in Harry Potter.

For it being family friendly, I’d say it’s fine for the majority of families. There is violence stereotypical to standard Medieval fantasy (not Game of Thrones, mind you. More like Conan the Barbarian), mild depictions of injury and blood, no offensive language, and one cringey moment of bedroom innuendo that doesn’t result in anything.

For sentimentality’s sake I give DragonHeart 4/5 stars


If you like Dragon stories, check out these two anthologies!

Jodi L Milner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil — Potential Gone Wrong

Hi dearest readers! I’m trying something new for a few weeks, if it works how I hope it might then it might end up a permanent change. I’ve recently started posting to Medium and am feeling my way around how to best share my articles with even more wonderful people like you. If it works well, it will also help me meet my business goals.

Enjoy.

To read the article – click here!

Added later – it appears that Medium and WordPress don’t like each other which makes it impossible to share a post preview here. Sigh.

Toy Story 4, a lesson about letting go

If Toy Story 1 taught us one thing as kids, it’s that our toys had this rich inner life that revolved around being the best toys they could be for their kids. This created a weird hoarding issue for many families. Getting rid of a toy meant the toy itself would feel bad about it for the rest of their little lives, or until they get incinerated in Toy Story 3. (Too soon?)

Either by a writers innate sense of creating balance in a long arc story line, or perhaps a rapidly declining likelihood of Tom Hanks willingness to voice Woody for the eternities, Toy Story 4 had one lesson – the importance of letting go.

A character-by-character study

Let’s start with Forky. He’s a fork that Bonnie has glued eyes and feet to. He doesn’t want to be a toy, he knows he’s meant to be disposable and that his destiny is a trash can. He spends the first half of the movie trying to throw himself away. He desperately wants to be let go because he doesn’t understand his importance to Bonnie.

In contrast, we have Woody who believes the worst thing that could ever happen to him is for his kid to no longer want or need him. He knows exactly who he is and what his role is supposed to be. He’s now struggling to adapt to change as Bonnie grows up.

Little Bo Peep is in the same boat as Woody. However, instead of fighting the change and the loss of her role as one kid’s toy, she has embraced her new lifestyle of being a toy who no longer has a kid. She has become a Mad Max style renegade vigilante of the playgrounds and goes from from place to place finding a new kids to play with. Compared to Forky and Woody, she has found fulfillment and happiness in her new role.

And finally we need to talk about Gabby Gabby, Toy Story 4’s unique villain. She was a defective toy right out of the box. The core belief that has driven her for an untold number of years is if she can get fixed, she can finally be loved. When she discovers that Woody has the part she needs, she will do anything and to get it.

The important lesson in Toy Story 4

Every toy in this movie had something they wanted. Woody wanted to take care of Forky because that was the best way he could take care of his kid. Little Bo peep wanted adventure and freedom. And Forky wanted to fulfill his destiny of becoming trash.

In each of these cases the toys needed to learn a valuable lesson before they could let go and move forward. What he learned that it was OK to let his responsibility to go to the other toys and let someone else take charge. Bo peep learned to make the best of challenging circumstances and do what she really loved. And Forky, dear Forky, learned that his destiny was much greater than being thrown away because a kid loved him.

Each one of us has a little bit of these characters hiding inside us. Sometimes we take responsibility for things that we should really let go to other people. Sometimes we need to learn how how to make the best of challenging circumstances. And sometimes the hardest part is figuring out who we really are and what our true destiny is.

What are your thoughts about Toy Story Four? Are you a Woody, Forky, or Bo Peep?


Exciting news!

I finally setup a mailing list to better help me connect to all of you out there in this wonderful community of readers. Sign up today and receive a free ebook of my short story “Breath” – a story about interconnection and the importance of seeking out one’s destiny. Click here to sign up today!

Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

Aladdin 2019, Hello Bollywood

Am I the last one to jump on this bandwagon? Yep. Am I going to use my usual excuse of literally not seeing the movie until last week again? Absolutely. After the whole fiasco with the live action Lion King, 2019, I had my doubts about watching another live action Disney. Hearing rumors of Will Smith being digitally painted blue didn’t help either.

But … I was pleasantly surprised. They took the original story from the 1992 Disney Aladdin, and breathed some new life into it, all without falling into the pitfall we call the uncanny valley. If they had decided to make Abu the monkey talk, then we would have had real problems.

What they did right

Any story that transports the viewer into a new time and place will have an inherent sense of wonder about it, and Aladdin is full of wonder. They created a gorgeous palace and city that felt full of history and culture. The costuming stayed true to the feel of the original animation, but was brought to life in a way that was both beautiful, colorful, and detailed.

Any story set in a foreign land that’s loosely based on a real one needs to be sensitive to offensive stereotypes and unfair comparisons. The very first Aladdin had a handful of these missteps that were corrected in a way that didn’t feel gimmicky. For instance, they swapped out the whole Aladdin runs through a harem bit. The harem is now clearly a school for girls.

Lastly, they framed the story in a new way that added a nice little twist at the end that I thought was charming. One of the biggest questions that the first movie struggled to resolved was ‘What happens to a genie when he is no longer a genie?” In the 1992 movie, Genie stayed magical and didn’t turn into a human. This didn’t seem right. So, the 2019 turned Genie human instead. Works for me.

What they got wrong

I know that CGI is a super fun toy and it lets movie makers create whatever they can dream up (and afford). But – for a critical audience, the best CGI is when you can’t tell there’s been any at all. Poor Abu got CGI slaughtered a few times. Nothing serious, just you could tell where real monkey ended and robomonkey began.

The use of fast and slow motion. This was a directorial choice. Guy Ritchie thought the chase through the market scene that happens when Aladdin runs parkour through Agrabah singing “One Jump” would be cooler if they altered the filming speeds. Dramatic moments were subtly slowed down and action sequences sped up. For me, it made it more silly than necessary.

Ugh, let’s talk about the awkwardness, shall we? Aladdin’s character is known as being a smooth talking, smooth moving street kid. The second he has to pretend he is a prince, all that smoothness flip flops into some amazingly awkwardness that had me hiding under a blanket. It was like 1997 all over again. I get why the awkwardness was important, Aladdin’s big message is that you have to be true to yourself. Whenever he wasn’t true to himself, he turned into a big lump of social disaster. A little awkward is great, funny even, but when it gets to cringe level, tone it down.

And Cue Bollywood!

As promised, let’s talk about how a film that’s meant to have very Arabic origins ended up just like a Bollywood style film. For reference, here’s some of the keystone needs of a Bollywood film:

“Standard features of Bollywood films continued to be formulaic story lines, expertly choreographed fight scenes, spectacular song-and-dance routines, emotion-charged melodrama, and larger-than-life heroes.”

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Bollywood-film-industry-India

Of the five criteria, Aladdin 2019 solidly hits at least three. The first and most obvious are the spectacular song-and-dance routines. The two that stand out are the parade welcoming Prince Ali Ababwa into Agrabah and then the wedding dance at the end of the movie. Both rely on large casts, bright costumes, tightly choreographed dances, and a catchy song.

The next of the three is the emotionally charged melodrama. Yep, we got that. Aladdin is playing a high stakes game with a princess, a sultan, and a nasty advisor. Melodrama is baked right in. Did I mention the tiger?

The last of the three is the formulaic story line. There are three wishes, we know what needs to happen, who needs to do what, and why it’s important. There’s an obvious enemy in Jafar. There’s an emotional problem where Aladdin needs to be true to himself. And there’s the secondary story line where the supporting cast may or may not fall in love. (No spoilers!)

All in all

I said it before, I’ll say it again. I thought it was a great movie. Fun to watch with the kids. Visually impressive. Good music. Entertaining story. It’s a great family movie night pick, or even a sing-a-long. My kids liked it, which is saying a lot.

I give the 2019 Aladdin 4 out of 5 stars, solidly good.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

Confession: I did not watch the 2020 Oscars

This isn’t a political statement, I’m not claiming wrongdoing from any side. If anything, this year’s Academy Awards had lots going for it. I just wasn’t one of the lots. In past years, the bleak months leading up to the Oscars are the perfect time to watch as many of the nominated movies as hubby and I are interested in. This year we managed to watch a handful of the nominees, by accident.

Cue drumroll. The ones we ended up seeing were Lion King (2019), Frozen II, How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World, Klaus, Avengers: Endgame, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Notice a theme here? We’re all about family friendly movies.

Watching the Oscars when you haven’t seen any of the best picture nominations is like watching the Superbowl when you haven’t seen any of the playoffs. There isn’t that emotional intensity of understanding the struggle. You don’t have any idea how hard people worked to get nominated. You simply don’t know enough of the story to know who to root for.

Add to that what’s been an insanity making busy schedule with large events every weekend for what feels like months, for us it wasn’t worth it. We taught the kids how to play poker instead.

Here’s three cheers to those who missed it, you are in good company. As for me, I plan on watching the following nominees/award winners over the course of the coming year:

  • Parasite
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Toy Story 4
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
  • Knives Out

Let me know if there’s an amazing movie that needs to be added to my list and why you liked it!

Psst! Klaus was one of my personal favorites this year, charming all around – and on Netflix. Go see it!

Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

Does The Lion King 2019 flirt with the Uncanny Valley?

Let me start out by saying that as a teen, I was obsessed with the 1994 Lion King. Everything thing about it was amazing. In fact, one of the very first CDs I ever bought was the Lion King soundtrack. It’s one of those movies I watched enough times that I can still quote the whole thing.

That said, I was not thrilled that they chose to do a live action version. The 1994 Lion King became a huge part of 90s pop culture. There is so much to live up to that if they fell short anywhere, they would disappoint millions. Including me. I’m a pretty tough customer.

Simba and Zazu (voiced by none other than the ever-amusing John Oliver)

Why we might have an uncanny valley problem

The uncanny valley is a phenomenon found when we try to recreate realistic humans artificially. We usually see this in CGI movies and robots. The idea is that the closer you get to recreating a lifelike human, the creepier it is until you nail it perfectly.

I’ve blogged about this before when I talked about the train wreck that is the live action Grinch movie (which is a super amusing post, if I say so myself) and again when I discuss the concept of the uncanny valley over on my writing blog. That post is far more academic and has graphs. Fascinating stuff.

With animals, the creepiness factor is different, but there is still a general unease when something is off. Finding Nemo cartoonized the characters to be cute and expressive and it totally worked. This new Lion King made the animals photo perfect. In fact, they used live action shots with real animals as much as possible, only adding in the mouth movements when they needed to talk.

For me, this flirted with the uncanny valley. Real animals don’t talk and it’s weird to see them do so in a way that’s super realistic.

Don’t get me wrong, the execution is flawless. The 2019 movie is still a beautiful story of loss and redemption. The music is still the breathtaking tracks from the original movie and has only been adapted slightly to fit this film. And because I loved the first one so much, I started disliking the new one because of the differences and limitations of using live action with CGI.

The Lion King is an emotional story. The characters need to be able to express those feelings. In a cartoon, the animator can exaggerate the facial expressions so that it’s clear what the characters are feeling. In live action using animals we lose all of that and have to infer what they might be feeling using context and body language only. This took away from the experience.

Scrawny Scar and his band of hyenas, ready to drop a hit single

Other significant changes

There were also a few updates to make the movie more politically correct, like removing the Nazi-like imagery from Scar’s big musical number “Be Prepared” and actually having Rafiki speak in Xhosa instead of whatever nonsense words he uses in the 1994 version. I agree with these changes as it shows sensitivity to today’s audience.

But there were also a few script adaptations where key scenes were either shortened, lengthened, or removed. That insightful part where Rafiki smacks Simba in the head and then says he shouldn’t worry about it because it’s in the past – gone. The funny bit where Timon is confused about how Nala wants to eat Pumba while still being friends with Simba – gone.

That lovely five-second bit where Simba flops down and sends a swirl of seeds into the air which Rafiki then finds? They turned that into a three-minute montage where we follow a tuft of lion hair that at one point gets eaten by a giraffe, gets pooped out, and then is transported by dung beetle. Really guys?

Also, the casting. While they kept James Earl Jones as Mufasa, which was an essential choice, they didn’t keep my personal favorite casting, Jeremy Irons as Scar. I get that this might have been a move to make the cast more appropriate for a story set in Africa – but Jeremy Irons performance was amazing and I missed it.

Mufasa! Oooh, that gives me chills. Say it again.

Summing up

I wanted to love the new Lion King like I loved the old one. The story was there, the magnitude of the African landscape was stunning, the voice performances were on point. But, it didn’t hold up to the original. Instead of enjoying it, I kept trying to figure out what they changed and why it felt different. For new audiences, like my kids, this will be their Lion King and they might come to love it like I loved the original.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen it?


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

TV Review: The Witcher, Season 1

It’s no secret that I have a thing for the Witcher Series, so when they released the Netflix series this Christmas, it was like a special gift just for me. I’ll make it very clear for those wondering, I haven’t actually played the games. (I know, right? They’re amazing and I’m missing out. Should I ever find myself with a grundle of free time, I know what I’m doing.)

**Disclaimer** Although I’m a YA fantasy writer, the Witcher is NOT YA appropriate by any stretch of the imagination. This review does not endorse any of the Witcher media by any means for anyone under the age of 18. It’s solidly in the same sensational vein as Game of Thrones with it’s use of graphic violence, explicit content, and language.

That said, it’s a personal favorite universe of mine, so I’m going to review it anyway.

Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia

The story:

The main character, Geralt of Rivia, is a witcher, a mutant human who has been created and specially trained to kill monsters. He has faster reflexes, better vision, and faster healing than a normal man. Because he is different, people hate him and he is treated poorly. Throughout season one, we see him take jobs to deal with monster problems and learn that although he’s really tough, he’s got a good heart and is making the best with what fate has given him.

We then jump to the next storyline which follows Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, better known as Ciri, the Cintran Princess. Hers is a story of survival. Her parents were killed when she was young and she was raised by her war loving grandmother, Queen Calanthe. When Cintra is attacked by Nilfgaard, Ciri flees the city and must find a way to stay alive while Nilfgaardian soldiers hunt her.

Then, there’s the much older story of Yennefer of Vengerberg, a powerful sorceress. Throughout season one, we see her journey from unwanted little girl to her coming into the fullness of her power. Sorceresses live much longer than normal people so her story starts much further in the past than the others. In this universe, sorceresses secretly, and often not so secretly, control governments and keep the kings and queens under their thumbs.

Within each episode we follow these three characters in three different time periods. As the season moves forward, these time periods come closer and eventually connect, but until then it’s hard to keep things straight. This happened because the source material is Sapkowski’s books and the majority of season one was pulled from his two books, The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, which are both collections of short stories.

Politics play a huge role in the witcher universe. Everything revolves around who has power, and who wants power. The sorcerers and sorceresses fight to maintain the peace between countries, using magical means if they must. When things go wrong and people get cursed, or when wars break out and the monsters who feed on death appear, that’s where Geralt comes in. Despite his best intentions, he gets pulled into the politics of the world as those contending for thrones and power try to use him to reach their goals.

Freya Allan as Ciri

My review

I’m not sure if reading the books made watching the series easier or harder to enjoy. I’d already formed ideas about what the different characters were like and knew which ones I wanted to root for. To be fair, the series did an amazing job casting the characters. As for the chopped up timeline, I think having read the books made it harder. The jumps back and forth were far more obvious and I was constantly trying to figure out if they skipped a part I remembered or changed it for the series.

That said, it did make things less predictable and I liked that.

Let’s talk Henry Cavill for a moment, shall we? Casting him as Geralt of Rivia at first worried me because Henry is far too pretty. Part of Geralt’s charm is that he’s got all these scars, each with a compelling story behind it. While I can see the potential for the series to start adding these scars with each season, I really wanted to see Geralt’s distinct facial scar that was a big part of his character in the games.

They also made Geralt more of a jock hero and pulled back when they could have shown how his character is not only well read, but is one of the best skilled witchers when it comes to reversing curses. Maybe this will show up later, but it feels like they dumbed him down, which I don’t like.

Did I like the show? Absolutely. Was it a good show? It had it’s challenges, but in all it delivered on what it promised. The costuming, sets, dialogue, and fight choreography were all excellent.

Almost forgot to mention Dandelion! Because despite everything, Geralt really needs a friend.

Recommendations

I’ll repeat myself here, The Witcher is not for kids. If you love a fantasy story that’s more complicated and doesn’t shy back from the uglier sides of life, you’ll probably like it. All of you who loved Game of Thrones, this will scratch that itch as well, with the added benefit that there is less gratuitous violence. The characters are compelling and complicated and the different stories interesting and unpredictable.

For sensitive viewers, proceed with caution. While the violence is justified, they do not shy back from showing some pretty gnarly wounds and death. They also have a tendency to jump cut to fairly intimate scenes without warning, which is jarring at times. Geralt has a favorite swear word that he uses enough that if you don’t like it, you might not like him.

I give Netflix’s The Witcher, season one 4/5 stars


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a Romeo and Juliet story?

Two households, both alike in dignity, In the Galaxy, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

I couldn’t help it. With the whole ending sequence the way it turned out to be I had to explore this idea that Rise of the Skywalker might be, in fact, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Star Wars is space fantasy at it’s most dramatic, so it totally fits here on my blog.

I’ll say this early on, this time I will be sharing spoilers so read at your own risk.

The obvious parallels

There are two forces in Star Wars, the way of the Jedi and the Dark side. As a generality, the Dark side has teamed up with the first order and has been a controlling force behind all their goals of expansion and dominion. The Jedi have always sided with the Rebellion, trying to keep a balance in the Galaxy and to shield innocent planets against unfair rule and taxation.

Montagues and Capulets = Palpatines and Skywalkers

In Rise of Skywalker, these two forces are embodied in two characters, who are the last surviving members of two powerful households and also the last reservoirs of power for both the Dark side and the Jedi. In the course of this movie, Rey learns that she is in fact a Palpatine. Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa – who as we remember was Luke Skywalker’s sister, making Kylo a Skywalker.

Let’s not forget a vital piece of information. Emperor Palpatine (despite being apparently vaporized during Return of the Jedi) wasn’t, in fact, dead. He’s still powerful and is still calling the shots behind the scenes in the First Order. He is the Montague. As the head of the more powerful house, he is irritated that the lesser house of Skywalker is alive and causing problems.

Kylo and Rey are compelled to be together

If there is to be a true comparison to Romeo and Juliet, there has to be some form of doomed relationship. Enter Kylo and Rey. If you classify obsession as a form of romance, then yes, Kylo is obsessed with Rey. He’s so obsessed, that he can form a force-fueled connection to her where they can interact with each other. Rey feels the connection to him as well but she fears what it means. This doesn’t stop her from ultimately going off on her own to face him.

Can we talk about the death scene?

The thing that makes Romeo and Juliet memorable and tragic is in the climax where a misunderstanding leads to the death of both of them. In the end of Rise of Skywalker, we see something achingly similar. Emperor Palpatine, now a stick puppet of his former self, wants to convert Kylo and Rey to the dark side and continue on his legacy. Throughout his life, he’s tried multiple times to get whoever has the strongest power in the force to strike him down and complete their journey to the dark side. Here it’s no different.

Rey faces him and refuses to strike him down. Knowing that she will never bend, regardless of what he does, he changes tactics like he did with Luke in Return of the Jedi and instead tries to kill her. This results in him gaining some of her power and making it possible for him to regain his former glory without dying. Kylo rushes in, fights briefly and bravely, and is swiftly dispatched off the side of a cliff and is presumed dead.

Here’s where our Romeo and Juliet bit comes in. Rey, believing Kylo is dead, knows she must destroy the Emperor and enters into an epic dual with him. With both Skywalker lightsabers, she deflects his lightning and manages to kill both him and herself in the process.

But alas! Kylo survives the fall and returns to the scene too late. Rey is gone. In the same vein as Romeo and Juliet, he tries to reverse the effects of Palpatine’s lightning damage by infusing her with his own force. This is the equivalent of taking the same poison. He is successful in bringing her back and they share a lovely brief moment, before he dies – finally finding redemption.

The rest of the story

While the elements listed above mirror Romeo and Juliet well, the rest of the story most certainly does not. The Rise of Skywalker had a big job to do. There were so many storylines that needed to find a sense of completion that this movie was destined to be complicated. Here’s a list:

  • Defeat Emperor Palpatine, the power behind the first order
  • Resolve the conflict between Kylo and Rey
  • Restore balance to the force
  • Give Luke a chance to redeem himself for becoming a bitter hermit in Last Jedi
  • Show all our favorite characters getting what they deserve.
  • Give Kylo a chance to be forgiven for the pain he caused his parents
  • Restore Rey’s lineage and missing past
  • Have one last epic space battle to end them all
  • Let us say one last goodbye to Leia

Did I miss any? Yea, probably. Like I said, it’s complicated and lots of these resolution points involve dead people. But, they did a brilliant job in weaving all this together without needing a single senate or lengthy (boring) council scene. Kudos to JJ Abrams and his team for making a brilliant end to a powerful story.

As for you dear readers – What did you think about the movie? What parts stood out to you as especially well done or interesting?


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

TV Review: The Mandalorian, Season 1

I was told (begged, pleaded) to watch the Mandalorian before watching Witcher, so being the rebellions little snark angel I am, I watched them both and alternated the episodes.

Yeah … on second thought that wasn’t the greatest idea. Give me some credit though, I was working with a complicated situation. I could only watch Mandalorian when the kiddos were around because, silly me, they wanted to watch it as well (two words: Baby Yoda). And because some of us struggle with sharing spoilers, we had to watch it all as a family. Fair enough.

The Witcher had to wait for when the kiddos were in bed and well and truly asleep, for … reasons.

Fans of Witcher know the reasons.

This review is totally about The Mandolorian, and not the Witcher, which I’ll tackle next week. Priorities, they get me every time.

The story

Let’s start with explaining the basic idea of the Mandalorian. Oh, and let’s avoid sharing any major spoilers as well (conscience, calm down, it wasn’t your fault). And let’s do all of this while remembering that there are uber fans of Star Wars out there that are so ready to debate over all the micro details of the history and culture. No pressure at all.

<cracks knuckles>

Mandalorians are people associated with the planet Mandalore and are typified by their armor and “supercommando” reputation. One of the big “no-no’s”, at least in this series, is for a Mandolorian to allow anyone to see them without their helmet. Remember Boba Fett? Yep, he was one of them.

In The Mandolorian, our noble main character, who they largely refer to as “Mando” is a bounty hunter and part of the bounty hunter’s guild, which (surprise, surprise) has it’s own set of codes and creeds that it’s members must follow.

Mando gets a job where he’s supposed to recover “the child” which all viewers refer to as baby Yoda. (Note, it’s not actually baby Yoda. But it is the same species.) Mando is to then turn “the child” over to Imperials. Because the Imperials are E.V.I.L., Mando can’t allow the adorable baby Yoda to fall victim to what might be something nefarious and terrible. He rescues “the child” and proceeds to protect him through all manner of trials for the remainder of the series.

OhMyGosh OhMyGosh OhMyGosh ….Squuuuueeeeeeee! I want one.

My review

I’ll give Disney+ credit, the production details and artistry in all the different settings, costuming, and musical scores were absolutely amazing. They stayed faithful to the locations we’d come to know and love over the course of the films and gave viewers an expanded look at the Star Wars universe. Win.

Possibly the best part of the entire watching experience was baby Yoda himself. While it is totally a marketing grab and the licensed products of just him are going to be LITERALLY EVERYWHERE, (you’ve been warned) he creates a perfect balance against Mando himself. His cuteness offsets Mando’s cold beskar exterior, his darling baby noises make up for Mando’s limited and to-the-point dialogue.

[I want one. Send me a Funko pop or make me an amigurumi one and I’ll be very pleased (thanks in advance).]

Compared to baby Yoda, Mando, with all his broodiness and macho armor and diligence to his creed, is kinda forgettable. He also bugged me, like a lot. Here’s this guy who’s supposed to be a super soldier and amazing at being a bounty hunter and the best of the best. What does he do? He gets thrashed in nearly every scenario. Thank heavens he’s got Beskar armor or he’d be toast.

Is it a solid story? Yes. It’s textbook hero’s journey for those following along. There are trials and failures and successes and cute baby yoda. All the elements are there and done well. But … it didn’t touch me. I couldn’t relate to Mando or the conflict he was working to solve. It might have had something to do with the helmet. Seeing a face is really important to be able to connect.

Recommendations

Star Wars fans – yes, you – if you generally like most of the Star Wars movies, then you will probably like this one. The acting is good, the dialogue isn’t cringey, and the story is solid. There’s more than plenty of action and fighting for those who like that, and enough human connection and emotional content for those looking for something more than just an action flick. Is it better than the prequel movies, absolutely. I’d place it as equal to The Last Jedi, with more hand-to-hand fighty shooty bits.

If you struggled with any of the latest generation of Star Wars movies, then you might struggle with this one. There are none of the characters that you’ve grown to love to anchor the story. For the characters in the Mandalorian, the viewer never is given the clues to how and where they connect to the rest of the universe. If you were looking for something super emotionally fulfilling, you might find this falling short.

I give The Mandalorian 3.5 out of 5 stars.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!