One of the most anticipated movies of the year came out December 14th and the internet has been abuzz about its merits and detractors ever since the end credits finished rolling.
While people went out to see the film in droves and it hit box office gold overnight, critics, professional and armchair alike, have been taking potshots at the latest film in the Star Wars universe. And while I can take the professional critiques, some of these fans need to cool their jets just a bit and put things in perspective.
As I offer some thoughts, the obvious warning about spoilers should be taken into account.
Like Yoda chastises Luke Skywalker about obsessing over the ancient Jedi texts, I think some fans forget this is a movie set to engage audiences and tell a story along the way. Part of the problem with The Last Jedi is that it is a middle film and, like a middle child, it may not get the love afforded to the firstborn and the youngest of the clan.
Sure, some could criticize the middle of the film (which I thought did a fine job), but the movie succeeded in pulling me in, surprising me with some scenes (like the silence during the destruction of the Star Destroyer and, of course, the fight between Kylo Ren and Uncle Luke), and making me laugh when I didn’t expect to do so in an action film.
Since most of the critics haven't written anything lengthier than a blogpost since college, I would like to look at this front a writer’s perspective. I have written reasonably good indie novels, but fairly bad scripts to date. My first attempt at a screenplay had more holes than Alderaan after Darth Vader and Co. paid a visit (too soon?) and my second one wasn't much better. I am learning from my mistakes on script idea #3.
So I understand to some small degree the challenge before Rian Johnson – to write a script that would appeal to people who saw the first trilogy in the theaters (like myself) and those whose only experience with Star Wars prior to The Force Awakens was on a TV or computer screen.
In addition, you need to honor the last generation (Luke and Leia), hand the baton off to the next generation (Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose and Kylo Ren), pay homage to the previous films (anyone catch the double sun and echo back to Tatooine?), stun us with a few plot twists, and provoke a belly laugh or two to change up the pace a bit. Oh yeah, he had to direct the movie as well.
Thankfully Johnson decided to write a good action movie with humor and homages back to earlier elements in a story that began back during the Carter administration. Considering the task he was given, I for one, think he did a very good job.
So, sit back, relax and watch the movie as it was meant to be enjoyed: with child-like wonder and an adult sense of reflection and circumspection.
And to quote Obi-Wan Kenobi (and now Vice Admiral Holdo): “May the Force be with you. Always.”
Whether in response to a classroom assignment or in the form of a few lines of verse for a special someone, many of us experiment with poetry at one point or another.
But, let’s be honest, we rarely get past goofy haiku or lines with either questionable rhyme or meter (or both). That’s not the case with Tania Runyan. She’s honest-to-goodness, coffee-drinking, wine-sipping, sarcastic, fiddling queen whose verse has won her awards and invitations to present her work around the country. Her latest volume, What Will Soon Take Place, is a provocative collection of pieces reflecting on the themes she sees in the Book of Revelation.
When did you first realize you were a storyteller?
Believe it or not, it started on a specific day in second grade, when my babysitter (who was actually just a few years older than I) decided to mix things up a bit. She had two posters on her wall, one of a koala and one of some other animal that was cool in the 70s. “Let’s write stories about the animals,” she said, and immediately I was hooked. Inspired by Three’s Company (yes, my parents let me watch it in second grade), I created animal roommates with all manner of goofy interpersonal conflicts. That day, I said I was going to be writer when I grew up. I kept writing and never stopped.
What do you love about the writing process?
I never cease to be amazed by the mystery of it all — how one minute you sit down, and a minute or two (or an hour or week or year) later, a story, character, image, or metaphor that didn’t exist before takes shape.
And it’s hard to imagine life before those words came to be. Yes, it’s sort of like having children in that way, except the creative process is even more mysterious than that of human reproduction. What part of the creative process is intellect, and what part is imagination, imitation, or Spirit? I love that I don’t know.
What is the hardest part of being a writer?
There are so many projects I want to work on and so little time to write them all!
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere, and I mean that truly. However, my poetry tends to draw on a lot of biblical themes and imagery from modern suburban life.
What are you working on right now?
A memoir about growing up in California. A “how-to” book on form poems. Down the road, a book on open adoption co-written with my son’s birth mother. And about a dozen others in the back of my mind!
Find out more about Tania's love for verse, and helping high schoolers compose solid college entrance essays, at her website.
I've been writing stories and taking photos since I was old enough to hold a pencil and stand behind a tripod.