Geeky Reactions: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer

When it comes to Star Wars, I do my best not to let others influence my opinions. With the current state of the Internet that’s not terribly easy to do. Fortunately for me, I got to watch the new The Force Awakens trailer a few times, and then had to go help my wife with the Black Friday shenanigans at our local small business. Honestly, after being distracted all day long I wasn’t able to stalk the interwebs reading all of the inevitable criticism that that occasionally spews from the Star Wars community. That said, it’s time to talk about what I love about the teaser trailer for a film I hate that I have to wait until next year to watch.

All I want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas…

Can I please have that lightsaber? I’m sure there are people that are are making this the focus of their criticism. Really, what else do you have to criticize when there’s really nothing else there? For me, it’s the perfect blend of sci-fi and fantasy, and as a die hard fantasy-lover I couldn’t be more intrigued by what Abrams and Disney plan to do with weapons going forward. Lightsabers aside, the X-wings skimming over the water was reminiscent of the Episode IV trench run, and stunningly sweet. The Millennium Falcon’s evasion roll against the TIE-fighters was a classic Han Solo move that just looks amazing.

Outside of the visual effects, we saw two of the actors, not including the dark Jedi, or Sith with the broadsword lightsaber, some stormtroopers and a ball droid. The latter one was a little funky, but the rest was just plain badass. John Boyega in a stormtrooper uniform at first made me think we will get a look at stormtroopers beyond their masks like the clone troopers in the prequels and The Clone Wars. I think this is likely, but my other thought was closer to what Lucas did with Han and Luke in Episode IV. Is Boyega just posing as a stormtrooper? Of course, my other question is what the heck is going on? He looks not only disoriented, but freakishly out of place against the stark Tatooine backdrop. Speaking of our favorite desert planet, most of the action in the trailer not including the dark Jedi/Sith and the X-wings, is focused on Tatooine. Daisy Ridley’s character is seen for a moment fleeing some unseen enemy on a very boxy speederbike, and is quite clearly on Tatooine. Guess what planet the Falcon is evading TIEs on? Clearly Vader’s home world will be a major setting for the film.

I’ve played many Star Wars games, and read countless EU novels, and outside of the films where Hoth is the planet we encounter perpetual snow, the moment with the Dark Jedi/Sith we once again see snow. Is this a new planet, or perhaps one of the many EU/SWTOR planets covered in snow? Illum comes to mind, but that is the SWTOR player within making an appearance. Illum is the where lightsaber crystals form, and maybe, just maybe, that’s where our new lightsaber is crafted? I know it’s not technically canon, but without more information, all I can do is hopefully speculate.

Overall, I’m predictably more excited for The Force Awakens. Music, visuals, and actors are all on point in this teaser, and if that is any indicator, the film’s release is going to be something really unexpected. For me, if what Abrams did with the Star Trek reboot, and what Disney has done with the Marvel Universe is any indicator, the future of the Star Wars franchise is in capable hands indeed. I’m more than ready, but for now, I will hit the interwebs to see what the rest of the community thinks. If for some crazy reason you haven’t seen the trailer, and are reading this post, I pasted it below for your viewing pleasure. You’re welcome.

Raising Rebels: Droids in Distress

This week’s Star Wars Rebels episode went over quite well with my girls. All three, in fact. My daughters, Rowan and Zoey laughed at just about everything C3-PO, Chopper and R2-D2 did, and turned away when things got a little stressful between Zeb and Agent Kallus. At the same time, my wife and I both got a little teary eyed when Ezra saved Zeb. But before I get to what my daughters liked about the episode, I want to give my two credits on the episode as a whole.

My girls were pretty stoked for this week's episode

My girls were pretty stoked for this week’s episode

My second spin Star Tours last year

My second spin on Star Tours last year

I’ve watched Droids in Distress three times before writing this, and everything from the pacing to the cameos were very well done. I knew that both R2-D2 and C3-PO would be making appearances before my first viewing, but I’m glad they didn’t stick around as the episode ended. Don’t get me wrong, as many Star Wars fans do, I love those droids, but any “old school” characters joining the crew so early on, or for more than one episode, would seriously detract from the Ghost’s crew, and the relationship that we must have with them. I think Senator Organa’s interest in them as the episode ended was enough to get me excited about more “old school” characters making cameos going forward. I was also glad to get more of Zeb’s story in this episode. I think the connection between his past and Agent Kallus will make their next meeting fairly intense. Hopefully my girls will stay with it despite the darker themes. I really enjoyed the Star Tours references as well. My family goes to Disneyland every year, and as a kid, some of my fondest memories of the park were riding the Star Tours attraction. I thoroughly enjoy the new version of the ride, but something about Pee-Wee Herman yelling “comets!” or “I’ve always wanted to do this! We’re going in!” were at the forefront of my mind as I watched the scene in Rebels. A very fun nod to an old school Disney and Star Wars collaborative project.

Why wouldn't they try on Yoda hats?

Why wouldn’t they try on Yoda hats?

My girls loved the episode overall. When it ended, I asked them a few simple questions, hoping for the awesome that is a young child’s response to something fun they experienced. I asked them separately what their favorite part of this week’s episode was, and they both said: “The Force part.” I can’t help but agree. I mean, what child doesn’t try to use The Force to turn the lights off in their room, or to wrestle a toy away from their younger sibling? Granted, they both turned away as the fight between Zeb and Kallus unfolded, but when Kallus was poised to strike, and the Ezra committed to saving the Lasat, the Force push he delivers was both very Star Wars, and great storytelling. This moment worked on a number of levels. One, of course, is that Ezra instinctively uses The Force in a powerful way to save someone he cares about. Two, he saves the Ghost and it’s crew as a whole by stopping the Imperials at a crucial moment. Lastly, this action forces (pun absolutely intended) Kanan to train him for fear that his increasing powers, if not honed, could cause him to hurt someone he loves, turn to the dark side, or cause him to leave the crew altogether.

Overall, this week’s episode was great. I found myself wishing it was an hour long episode rather than 30 minutes, mostly because I just wanted more. I’m still a bit nervous about the inevitable entrance of The Inquisitor, and how my girls will respond, but right now we are having a blast watching Star Wars together, consistently, for the first time ever.

 

The New Tomorrow

A few weeks ago, it was reported that Disney is making preparations to once again revamp Tomorrowland and turn it into Star Wars Land. The Star Wars lover in me hit the roof with excitement, while the deep, deep rooted lover of Disneyland started to cry. To really work through the huge disparity of emotions I felt upon hearing this news, I’ll have to take a brief look at each of the warring fandoms that threaten to tear me dramatically in twain.

Hey Daddy, is the old Tomorrowland gonna be in here?

My girls were hoping The White Rabbit was at home:)

4 Months and Beyond

I’ve been a resident of California my entire life. My mom grew up in Pasadena, California, and because of the close proximity to Disneyland, she grew up going to Disneyland at least once a year. Fast forward a couple decades to 1979. I was four months old when my parents took me to Disneyland for the first time. Granted, I don’t have a single memory available from that first visit, but my parents continued to make the drive from the Bay Area to Disneyland every summer thereafter.

I have several very fond memories around Disneyland as a child. I remember my siblings and I sitting up late, no sooner than month before we were scheduled to make the trek, pouring over last year’s Disneyland map and plotting out what we would do first, and discussing at great length what worked well the year before and what didn’t. Even geekier than that, we would even sing our favorite songs from certain rides, attempt to recite the Spanish warning phrase instructing us to “remain seated please,” and of course, seeing who could say the Thunder Mountain Railroad intro the fastest. If memory serves, I won.

As adults, that feeling of being a kid in a place of constant joy, music and fun is still part of who we are. My brother takes his son almost every year, usually around his birthday. Lucky for them his birthday is near Halloween, so they’ve been able to do Mickey’s Halloween Party, and of course, ride the Haunted Mansion Halloween style.

I’ve not only had the joy of passing my families tradition to my wife, but after years of showing her “the Carr way to do Disneyland” we’ve not only carved our own style to tackling the two parks, but started several new traditions with our first daughter, and now with our youngest as well. I’m not ashamed to admit that one of my new favorite family traditions is the Princess Lunch at Ariel’s Grotto in California Adventure. Seeing my girls’ faces light up when Cinderella, Snow White and the rest of their favorite princesses stop at our table, all but makes the sometimes difficult journey from Fort Bragg beyond worth it. Being able to sip on a ice cold IPA is another bonus to this meal.

It's not everyday Belle drops by while your eating lunch.

Belle dropping by during lunch

Another one of our favorite family traditions is to take our pictures as Star Wars characters. Yes, the cheesy digital “facelift” of new and traditional Star Wars images with our faces Photoshopped in. I’m still waiting for the day when my girls get over their fears and watch the Star Wars films with me. (My oldest is even too scared to watch an entire episode of The Clone Wars!) Only then will they be ready to make their geeky father proud on stage at Tomorrowland’s Jedi Academy.

Minnie!!

Minnie!!

For the Love of the Wars

My love for Star Wars hasn’t been as ever-present as my connection to Disneyland but it’s pretty damn close. I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back at my grandmother’s house when I was five or six years old. One of my first memories was the scene where Yoda is giving sage advice to a young, stubborn Luke Skywalker. From that point on I was sold. I’ve made my love of Star Wars part of who I am. Although I didn’t own many Star Wars toys, every day I’d go to my neighbors house and play with his massive collection. I was so jealous of his Millennium Falcon toy carry case and countless action figures. Not too long after I got a Nintendo, so I eventually got to see his face wrinkled in jealousy.

Like most other Star Wars fans, I waited in line for the midnight showings for the prequels and re-releases of the original trilogy, I get several Star Wars collectibles and toys for Christmas each year, I’ve listened to almost every unabridged Star Wars Audiobook, and I have played just about every Star Wars video game ever created. Currently I spend my nights playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. Although I no longer write for them on a consistent basis, I’m one of the longest running contributors to TORWars.com, and help them cover community events near the Bay Area and San Diego Comic-Con.

Changing Tomorrow

When I heard that Disney was going to revamp my favorite land in the park, at first I was stoked. The ever hungry Star Wars fiend within was more than ready to consume more from the a galaxy far, far away.

Then, I started to think about what that meant. What people are forgetting is that there will be no more Tomorrowland! I’ve watched that land change several times over the years. Off the top of my head: The re-imagining of Space mountain, the removal and return of Captain EO, decommissioning the Skyway to Fantasyland and the People Movers, and of course, the overhauling of Star Tours.

IMG_4912

The kids fell asleep, so I soloed Star Tours…twice.

It’s this last point I want to address because it directly relates to how I anticipate feeling when Tomorrowland becomes Star Wars Land. When I heard that Disney was going to change Star Tours I immediately felt upset. Not only was I going to miss the ride completely during the construction period, but changing the ride meant changing the nostalgic feelings that go hand in hand with visiting the park every year. For me, a huge part of my yearly visits to Disneyland are that many of the things I love have never changed. The Jungle Cruise, The Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain have seen few if any changes since I was a kid. When I ride these attractions, I feel fully engrossed in how the child version of me felt the first time I rode it.

As most Star Wars fans know, the franchise seems to be synonymous with change. At least in the hands of George Lucas. When the new Star Tours ride debuted, I felt a mixture of “Whohoo that was awesome!” with “Aww what happened to Pee Wee Herman?” I knew the original ride by heart, and this new one changes every time. After a couple years I got over my nostalgia and fully embraced the awesome that is the new Star Tours attraction.

As far as the changes to Tomorrowland, I imagine my ability to walk through the Millennium Falcon, and ride speederbikes instead of Autopia cars will out weigh the part of me holding onto the Tomorrowland I’ve always known…eventually. I still have years to enjoy the most recent incarnation of Tomorrowland so hopefully, with this much time to let change sink in, I’ll be ready to get my Star Wars on for real in 2017.