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SJW Murder of Star Wars Continues With Keri Russell Interest

Dan Arndt

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Fellas, there’s just too many women in space. Asian women, brunette women, middle-aged women, purple-haired women, little orange grandmas. Back in the good old days of sci-fi, you knew where you stood. Men were real men, women were real props, and little furry creatures from Endor were little furry creatures from Endor. But that’s all changed now. There’s no room for the white men anymore. And despite the very serious and not at all childish outrage over Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, the monsters at Lucasfilm have decided to add yet another woman to Star Wars, robbing bread from the mouth of the underprivileged white, cis male and making our space wizard laser battles too unrealistic to watch. According to Variety, JJ Abrams has ruined his sterling reputation as a hero of the resistance by eyeing Keri Russell for a new role in the upcoming Episode IX.

Russell, who has previously ruined films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with her gender, was on a list of actresses wrongly considered for the role. Eventually, the “executives” at Lucasfilm decided to begin talks with Russell just before July 4th after several meetings with their prospective actresses. The role is reportedly “action heavy,” something women can’t do even though Russell has tried her best to do “stunts” in shows like The Americans (where she won an Emmy, probably for being super hot or something), and the aforementioned Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Russell has previously worked with Abrams, who is writing and directing Episode IX, on Mission Impossible III, where she filled a woman’s natural role as damsel to be rescued by strapping white hero Tom Cruise.

While they’re still in early talks with Russell for the role, her experience with Abrams and the attractiveness of a role in Star Wars means there’s a very good chance she’ll take the part. Abrams will have to cast two more roles for the film as well, roles which will hopefully make the cast more realistic by adding more white men. Abrams, of course, took over from creative genius Colin Trevorrow after “creative differences” with the fools running Lucasfilm caused a split. Production begins on Star Wars: Episode IX later this month and will release May of next year.

I have my ticket pre-ordered. That’ll show ’em.


Image courtesy of Walt Disney

Author, Editor, Podcaster, Media Junkie. Currently working towards an MFA and trying to get a sci-fi novel published. If you have a dog, I'd very much like to pet it. Operating out of Wichita and Indianapolis.

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If only Keri Russell actually had won an Emmy… Maybe she will, but I kind of doubt. I have lost faith in the idea that people who vote on these awards have any clue about good TV.

Television

Star Wars Resistance: Episode 11, “Bibo”

Angelina

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Star Wars: Resistance

So…Star Wars: Resistance is back from its winter hiatus! Should we celebrate? Not yet, I’d say, because “Bibo” is more like a filler/breather episode meant to tune the audience in after holiday break. It has nothing substantial to add to series’ lore or to its overarching plot, yet it still manages to entertain and to help us dive back into familiar Colossus atmosphere.

Spoilers ahead!

Recap: Neeku Finds a Pet

So, we’re back at The Colossus, where Synara presents Kaz with a chance to loot a salvaged Clone Wars-era fighter for repair parts. All nice and good, until they find a small, cute but awfully stinky creature stowed away inside the rusty husk. And until Neeku decides this small critter would be his pet from now on.

Actually, Bibo is really cute

A bit of slapstick ensues, as Neeku tries (without any success) to teach his pet some obedience. It turns out the newly christened Bibo can (and actually will, if no one stops him) eat literally anything. Especially if it has something to do with starships.

By the by, Synara has a call from her pirate leader, who informs her about Kaz and Poe’s Resistance affiliation. The call is of course interrupted by Kaz appearing to ask for another repair part…or, rather, to spend some time around Synara. Who masterfully pretends not to see his advances, and I can’t really blame her for that.

They go on a salvage dive together, hoping to find other fighters from the same squadron as the first.

As Bibo continues to wreak small-scale havoc in Yeager’s garage, it turns out Neeku really loves his new pet dearly—so much so he’s ready to leave Yeager’s service if he insists on his “no pets”rule. Neeku’s devotion is so strong, Tam asks to cut Bibo some slack. And even goes on to support Neeku after he loses Bibo in the station’s maze of corridors.

And while Kaz is busy fighting sea sickness and Synara’s too pointed questions about his real identity, a big tentacled monster is leading its way to The Colossus, and of course it’s looking for Neeku’s pet. And, well, we learn the aptly named children from Tehar might be Force-sensitive, as the girl, Eila, turns out to have profetic dreams.

Meaning, she dreamt something like this, poor soul!

All that results in Neeku having to choose between his pet and station’s safety, and of course he makes the right choice. however hard it is for him.

Review: On Caring for Each Other

While the episode doesn’t advance the story in any way, it managed to checklist/remind the viewer of all the plot-relevant details, while telling a cohesive self-contained story.

We have Synara playing an important role in the story, which reminds us she’s the primary Chekhov’s gunwoman of this show. Seeing her really care for the station and really enjoying her new work as a salvager, it’s obvious she will be made to choose between her allegiances very soon. On the one hand she has people who actually care–be it about each other or about common causes–and on the other hand she has her (high enough) place in pirate crew and a lifestyle she’s accustomed to…

I just hope Kaz with his inept wooing wouldn’t do anything with her decision.

Speaking about Kaz, this episode also reminds us both of his strengths and weaknesses. He’s still not good in either social interactions or actually not tripping on things, while still brilliant in flying and able to think and act quickly in a stress situation. Also it’s kinda sweet that he doesn’t really bother Synara with his feelings, trying to do something good for her instead. Well, “trying” is a key word here, but still: seeing a guy not forcing his niceguying down a lady’s throat is always a treat.

Also this episode went a long way to show us Tam Ryvora’s caring and friendly side. Which I really liked, and especially I liked that it was not treated as something special or unusual. She just is really a caring person who would look after her co-workers and help them any way she can. But when those co-workers act as jerks…well, she will call them out on it.

All the plot lines, in the end, converge on the main idea of the episode, which is: to love is to care for those we love. Which is actually quite close to being the idea of the whole series.

Neeku being ready to protect his “smallest friend” even at the whole station’s cost is equally ready to give it back to its mom even though his heart(s) is/are really breaking. Because he sees the critter really is better with his mom, not with him. All the while whole Team Fireball is ready to set aside their discomfort if their friend—Neeku—needs his pet so much. Even Yeager, the one most annoyed at Bibo’s existence, is ready to help Neeku find it.

Because he cares. Because they all care.

Thoughts, Moments, Theory Fuel

  • Neeku harboring so strong feelings for his just-found pet makes sense if we remember he has no close friends and is mostly isolated because of his quirky behaviour.
  • Tam Ryvora calling Yeager out for making such a fuss about Neeku’s pet while never really reacting with due severity on Kaz’s (much more destructive) mistakes was great.
  • The girl from Tehar, Eila, having profetic dreams must be a Chekhov’s gun. I look forward to see how it goes off!
  • Will the tentacled creature return in the series finale, like the wolves and the space whales did? We’ll see!
  • Synara now knows how to set the alarm on.
  • The Are you trying to incite panic? – Yes! Exactly! Everyone needs to panic right now! moment was really funny.

Images courtesy of Disney

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Television

Game of Thrones Season 8 Teaser Really Wants to be Meaningful

Kylie

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2018 was a magical, Throne-less year, even if it officially won its Season 7 Emmy for Outstanding Drama in September. I’ll admit—I may have taken it for granted. Because here we are, less than a fortnight into 2019, and HBO has decided to grace us with the news that the biggest critical darling (for reasons still unexplained) is going to be back on our screens April 14th. April 14th. That’s basically 4 minutes from now.

Of course, HBO didn’t simply tell us the date; no no, we needed a Teaser Trailer of Extreme Significance to accompany it. And this one is…special. Look, I may not have been amazed at the three-second exchange between Dany and Sansa from the Golden Globes teaser, but at least that involved what was obviously an actual clip from the new season! In fairness, it’s not exactly unheard of for season release dates to be dropped in some kind of weird CGI ice and fire video featuring old dialogue. But this one was clearly planned and staged, it features three main actors, and the budget is certainly better than that of “people sit in chairs” from last year. Here, just check it out for yourself:

There’s a little here we can talk about, though I’m guaranteeing you the millions of hot takes that are currently clogging up Twitter will place far too much significance on this. “Oh my god, does that mean the Starks are all going to die?!” Probably not. There’s a reason I picked the Hall of Faces promotional picture for this piece—sometimes showrunners Benioff and Weiss just like to play up the idea that anyone can die, before shrouding Jon in plot armor so thick that he can survive plunging into freezing cold waters in full furs whilst surrounded by the army of the dead without an eye-blink.

They’ll probably be fine.

I do feel like I’m being uncharitable. In concept, this is not a bad teaser. Jon walks by the statue of Lyanna, and we hear a Lyanna quote. Good stuff, seeing as that’s his mom, which I’m assuming Bran will get around to telling him at some point (even if he never passed that on to his sisters). Jon also gets the last walk-by quote when looking at the Sean Bean statue, about how he’s still a Stark since he has the blood. Relevant, I think.

Sansa and Arya, meanwhile, are both shown walking past Cat’s statue with her voice-over, and here’s where my eyes began rolling to the ceiling. For one, it’s a little odd that Cat has a place in the Winterfell crypts at all, but you know…small potatoes. Then, the one Cat quote they picked was her awful, self-flagellating monologue she gave to the walking anachronism. There was a bit more to her character than not being instantly welcoming of the child that bore a significant political risk to her own children! A thing that bothers me too is that Sansa and Arya are shown in association with this quote. I guess they’re both girls, so manly, slow-clapping Ned couldn’t possibly have said something that stuck to them. But Cat’s quote had diddly squat to do with them (these are actually all about Jon), and it’s only going to further push the ridiculous notion that Sansa is somehow struggling with her loyalty and support of Jon. Hopefully Arya’s presence neutralizes that reading a bit, but I know this fandom pretty well.

Finally, the Starks meet up together in the crypts—which is nice and reminds me of that time Sansa, Bran, and Arya had happy bonding and trial-planning times together completely off-screen—only to see statues of themselves! Lost twist ending confirmed! This is purgatory!

Or, I don’t know, something about danger and stakes and “no one is safe on this show” (except everyone who clearly is).

Then the trailer just gets unabashedly Weathertop-esque as what’s likely to be the Army of the Dead approach. Maybe Uncle Benjen can be a last-minute Strider for the third time in a row. But you know, it’s more or less the same thing as Cheryl‘s minty-fresh breath from that trailer for Season 7. There’s a bigger threat, and every teaser is going to end with it.

All in all, I’m not particularly over or under-whelmed. This was a very expected trailer, and probably a long day for Sophie Turner, Kit Harrington, and Maisie Williams. I love that Bran was excluded for ~reasons~ that I’m sure are as difficult to explain as his three-eyed crow nature. But frankly, can we take that alone as proof that Season 8 is not, in any way, going to have the “same ending” as A Song of Ice and Fire? This show is going to do what it wants, as it sees creatively fit to do so. Which is why any “meaning” to be found in it falls flat. It’s conceptually fine and technically lovely. But as has been the case, if a plot point needs to happen, even for something like a Stark death, it just will. If they need to randomly prosper instead, then they will.

And now we have only three months to prepare ourselves for the millions of articles on why that makes for the most compelling TV possible.


Media courtesy of HBO

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‘A Dog’s Way Home’ Needs a Tighter Leash

Jeremiah

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To be perfectly honest, if I were a child I’d probably love A Dog’s Way Home. I say this not just because the children at my screening seemed riveted and on the literal edge of their seat seats. No, I say this because I remember loving movies like Benji the Hunted and The Adventures of Milo and Otis.

It goes back even further though. Hollywood has long peddled movies such as Black Beauty and The Black Stallion at youngsters and the grandparents who accompany them. These movies exist for families to go and experience uncomplicated stories with cute little animals braving the horrors of the world.

A Dog’s Way Home is harmless enough but unless you have children or have a special affinity for this genre of movie it may well be, as it was for me, excruciating. While I used to enjoy those movies, I have long since gotten over them. One could argue that I’m poorer for it.

Charles Martin Smith is a wonderful character actor from movies like No Deposit, No Return, and Starman. He has directed such movies as the infamous Trick or Treat and, in its own way, the equally infamous Air Bud. A Dog’s Way Home somehow bridges the two together.

For most of the movie, we follow Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) played by Shelby the dog, a cute and expressive mixed pit bull. She embarks on a four hundred mile journey to return to her owner Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King). We’ve all heard stories like this before. Stories where a dog, cat, or some other animal travels a great distance to somehow miraculously find it’s way home. These stories have great power to them because for us, I imagine, it challenges our perceptions about the inner lives our pets lead. Maybe there is something more to these animals than just sit, heel, and beg. Add to all of that the basic simple draw of the basic human desire to return home.

Home need not be the place you grew up or even where you were born. After all, Bella was born in the cellar of an abandoned and run down house. Her mother and siblings were taken by animal control. She was raised by a family of cats who also lived in the building. Eventually, Lucas and Olivia (Alexandra Shipp) find her and take her in.

No, home is where we feel “safe from all alarm” as the song goes. It’s why movies such as O’Brother Where Art Thou cast such a lasting spell on the psyche of its audience. Even the story of which it’s based, The Odyssey, is about characters who yearn to be back with their loved ones.

All of this is not to say A Dog’s Way Home is any good. I love Bryce Dallas Howard. She is often the best thing about movies that I don’t generally like. Here though, as the voice of Bella, less is more.

The script, written by W. Bruce Cameron and Cathryn Michon, makes Bella a constant insufferable narrator. Cameron, who wrote the book the film is based on, seems to misunderstand the differences between the mediums. In a book, the narration is necessary in order to give us insight into Bella’s fear and emotions.

But dogs are far and away the most expressive of animals. Often times Howard’s voice-over feels insulting to children. She is forced to say such lines as “I was so happy.” My hatred of children is well documented, but even I am forced to argue on their behalf. Surely a child is able to tell when a dog is happy or sad without being told so. If not, then we may have more problems then we are aware of.

Cameron and Michon can’t seem to make up their minds how they want A Dog’s Way Home to be. For much of the movie, it is a harmless saccharine sweet piece of fluff. Even with poor Howard’s inane dialogue. But at times there were moments of manufactured drama that seem out of place.

For example, the home where Lucas and Olivia found Bella. It is a crumbling house amidst a row of condemned houses owned by Gunter (Brian Markinson). Gunter is the greedy landowner whose plans to renovate the street are foiled because of the rumors of cats living in the rubble. The animal control department, the same ones who took Bella’s family, claim there are no cats. Spoiler alert: there are still cats living there.

Gunter is the villain in a movie that clearly doesn’t even need a villain. Much like Bella doesn’t need a voice, A Dog’s Way Home almost goes out of its way to make itself more complicated than it needs to be. Gunter, enraged by Lucas and Olivia’s attempts at forcing him to employ the barest of due diligence, lashes out.

He labels Bella a Pit Bull. Here’s where A Dog’s Way Home gets interesting, sort of. In Denver under the law, “pit bull,” is extremely vague. It’s a catch-all term that encompasses any animal deemed dangerous or a threat to public safety. The whole first act of A Dog’s Way Home is set up for what seems to be an attempt at exploring the pitfalls of breed-specific laws and regulations.

Lucas and his mother Terri (Ashley Judd) make the difficult decision to move Bella out of Denver at a friend’s house. Lucas and Olivia will find a house outside Denver and collect Bella then. But Bella runs away before Lucas can come to get her.

Believe it or not, I am not a monster. As much as I was bored to tears in A Dog’s Way Home and as much as I prayed for a power outage, or for the projector to malfunction, anything to save me from the tedious time at the movies, parts of it worked. Smith from time to time, scales back Howard’s voice over and allows Shelby the dog to just do her thing. At these moments I found myself, much like the little girl in front of me, absorbed by Bella’s plight.

Moments such as when Bella saves a man buried alive from an avalanche only to be found by an interracial gay couple. No, you didn’t misread that sentence and I’m not exaggerating. The order and contents of that sentence are exactly correct. Gavin (Barry Watson) and Taylor (Motell Gyn Foster) have moments with Bella which are simple and effective. We are allowed to just watch without being told what anyone is feeling or thinking.

When Bella leaves to continue her hunt for Lucas, we feel the pang of loss both for the men and for Bella. But nothing prepares us for the hard left turn involving Axel (Edward James Olmos). He’s a homeless Veteran who adopts Bella. He keeps her on a leash and eventually chains her to his body and promptly dies. She is left to die of starvation and dehydration.

Don’t worry, unlike most modern day dog movies, Bella lives. She is discovered by two kids who are about to have their own Stand By Me adventure. Their discovery of Bella is soon overcome by their discovery of Axel.

I haven’t even mentioned the part where Bella basically raises a cougar cub or the subplot about how pets and animals make for good coping therapy for veterans. For a movie that doesn’t have much under the surface, a lot happens above it. Heck, even the legendary Wes Studi shows up at the end. He plays the one character with anything close to resembling common sense and rationality. A welcome reprieve in a movie oftentimes filled with idiots.

Smith tries in vain to tie all of this together into a cohesive story and to some degree he succeeds. Shot by Peter Menzies Jr, the film is pretty to look at and at times borders on more of a nature documentary than a movie. Many scenes involve blatant CGI so as to not put Shelby or the other animals in danger. Although one scene where Bella is concussed by a police car as it skids to a stop jolted me out of my seat.

A Dog’s Way Home is nothing if not sincere in its aim. It just wants to be a little story about a dog trying to get home. I didn’t particularly enjoy it. But I found myself charmed by the little things it did despite my stubborn curmudgeonous demeanor.


Image Courtesy of Sony Pictures

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