Sparks reviews Star Wars

Be ye fairly warned, fanboys: SPOILERS AHEAD. What follows is a largely disconnected and rambling stream-of-consciousness thing.

So first, the stuff I didn’t like, or at least, had some second thoughts about.

I was kind of hoping the Starkiller Base wouldn’t look SO much like the Death Star. I know it was intentional, but they could have changed it up…a bit…more? I dunno. Of course, the similarities between this film and ANH are obvious and intentional, but the basic shape of the thing was so similar, I was thinking it should have been a bit different. Ya know. Whatevs, not a huge deal. We’re intro-ing a new generation to the wonders of the SW universe here, so, awesome.

Maybe I’m just getting good at seeing plot twists before they happen, but it was incredibly obvious that Ren was going to kill Solo in that scene. It was also obvious that Rey was Force-sensitive and was going to end up with Luke’s first lightsaber, and that Finn wasn’t.

I would have liked to know more about Captain Phasma. I hope they flesh her out more in the coming films.

BB-8 was just a little too cute. He’s just a cute little bulbous ball of love. He has a body and even a head and “eyes”. I’m not sure he needed to be SO anthropomorphized, look at all the love for R2-D2 and he looks like a rolling garbage pail. I realize this is very nitpicky.

Least favorite sequence: the Rathtars aboard Han and Chewie’s new ship. It was a little too thrashing about generic-action-sequncey for my tastes. It wasn’t really connected to the rest of the movie and just felt out of place.  The accent of the Bad Mafia Guys was ridiculous.

General Hux looks like he’s twelve. Nothing against the actor, he’s just…unbelievably young for a General. Are they so short on people they need to promote a nigh-21-year old? They have the manpower to staff an entire planet, for Yoda’s sake. A General in the US Army in modern times, for comparison, is the highest rank one can be appointed to during peacetime. Perhaps the First Order uses slightly different terminology, but it still struck me as odd.

Maz. Meh. Visually, the least successful character in the film. A little too gratuitously mysterious.

Things I liked:

John Williams. There will never be another like him.

Thank the good lord that they did a combination of practical special effects and CGI visual effects. They blended together well, and the movie is visually beautiful.

The lightsabers actually cast light this time around! I believe they were using new blades on the actual props the actors were using that were internally lit with LEDs, and they looked fantastic. I actually like Ren’s saber, I hope its imperfect nature will  be explored at some future point.

It was nice to see Ford back as Solo, looking grizzled and jaded. I’m glad that they made him go back to smuggling and being a sort of intergalactic “bad boy”. It’s what he does and has always done. I’m not sure that Han would have been super into smuggling live (and apparently somewhat intelligent) creatures around the galaxy.

Rey learning to fly the Falcon was great. John Boyega has a natural exuberance that he almost can’t hide in all his scenes, and I love watching him. Likewise with Ridley, she totally pulls off the tough, experience-hardened survivor. The vision…so much to unpack there. Holy shit. I thought she had found a Holocron at first, then realized how big of a nerd I am.


Exit, stage left.

j j j

You’re not a damn “realist”

You know what really grinds my gears? Someone asks that old chestnut “Are you an optimist, or a pessimist?” and someone just has to pipe up to say “I’m a realist”.

No you’re not. You haven’t even thought through what that might actually mean. This is a question about bias.

What they really mean when they say this – usually with an undercurrent of extreme smugness – “I see the world for what it is, unlike the rest of you poor saps who stumble around blinded by your ideologies. I’m level-headed and logical. You’re naive.”

To put it impolitely, these people are engaging in intellectual masturbation.

First off, I think those who ask the question realize that most people probably have both tendencies on a range of different topics, but the question is really about which direction a person skews overall, and most people do skew overall one way or the other. Second, and this is the crux of the matter: nobody has access to objective reality. Humans have nothing but a facsimile created by our brains a few milliseconds behind what’s “really” happening, through imperfect senses.

And the constructed nature of reality isn’t even that important, because it’s probably generally accurate. What is important is that every single person who has ever existed was the sum of their life experiences, their disappointments, their pleasant surprises, their parents, their friends, situations that have happened in their lives, their political leanings, the world and local events that have happened around them, a whole slew of moments cascading one after the other that were totally different from everyone else’s. And biases both perceptual and cognitive have shaped and molded all that gray and pink goo between their ears just like everyone else and to claim even jokingly that one is a tabula rasa, perfectly free and clear from bias and irrationality and experience that has shaped their worldview is laughable. To claim it seriously is the height of arrogance and glib superiority.

Second, when people say they’re an optimist or a pessimist, they’re describing their own bias, they don’t think that having a bias somehow alters reality. I think of myself as an optimist, but I don’t think that makes the stack of bills on my counter magically vanish, or will reverse global warming. Reality is full of things that aren’t clear-cut, that require interpretation, and we all interpret events every moment of every day because we have to, we don’t have access to objective unfiltered reality.

Of course you have biases. We all do. At least have the balls (or ovaries) to admit it.

I’m just being a realist.

Exit, stage left.

j j j