Film

Our Whole Generation Needs To Watch “Love Jones”

On the 20th anniversary of the release of Love Jones, I used my snow day from work to see the film for a second time.

The first time, I finished it with a very negative attitude, immediately texting the friend who suggested it to ask why she loved it so much.

The reason why she suggested it was due to what I was going through in my current dating life: the ups, downs, and everything in between.

A little bit of background: Love Jones is a 1997 romantic film that intertwines love, poetry, and career choices between Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate) and Nina Mosley (Nia Long), and the highs and lows that come with it.

The two lovers struggle with admitting their true feelings for each other, and this notion is constantly tested throughout the film.

The movie has gained a cult following because of its unique take on love during the late 90s, a time when technology was starting to make real change in the way we saw each other.

After watching the film again, I realize why I had such a bad taste in my mouth the first time and why I fell in love with it the second.

It solidified how different things are nowadays in terms of dating and relationships: we hide our emotions behind a screen.

We text each other our affection with some emojis thrown in there rather than picking up the phone to hear the voice on the other end.

We say “I don’t care” instead of taking the risk.

We find ways to not be memorable rather than to be something the other cannot forget.

With my first (and only, for now) relationship, my boyfriend and I never necessarily asked each other if we wanted to be in one – it just happened.

We would only get on the phone when we needed to resolve an issue or when we were in a fight and needed to clarify things.

The first time we broke up, he did it through a text message because he was “busy with his boys.”

When we first said “I love you,” we would text each other constantly, repeating it over and over again because the feeling was so fresh, new, and alive.

However, there is a difference between texting it and saying it loud and proud.

Although things did not work out, our relationship and time together did teach me what I wanted in my next relationship and what I did not want, and for that, thank you.

With the man I was dating over the summer, we were very much out and about.

However, we were known as “bae” to each other and as “friends” to everyone else.

Love is weird man. Photo Credit: Johnny Lai/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This was the first time I did not feel like creating a label for us because “labels complicate things,” as most people my age tend to say.

With him leaving to law school by the end of the summer, we were able to talk and still do.

However, our talking is, yet again, by texting.

Do I remember his voice?

Hardly, but he did write me a poem, which I still have.

I can say he tried.

With the guy (I think?) I am dating now, we absolutely never get on the phone, and quite honestly, we have not decided what we are other than “just having fun.”

While I was OK with it at first, I realized I am a person who enjoys having labels because labels do not complicate what you have with someone.

If there are complications, it is because of you, that other person, or both.

Do labels mean I want a relationship?

Not necessarily.

It just means that we are mature enough to have a conversation and talk things through.

Darius and Nina confess their love for each other by the end of the movie and how they will make things work although they are on different sides of the country.

That is not necessarily saying that they will get into a relationship – they are going to work things through.

That is what I commend.

People say women tend to get caught up in the idea of a Hollywood romance.

However, who would not want a love such as the one in Love Jones?

A man who publicly admits his admiration through a poetry performance.

A woman who is set on her career but also is set on love.

A love that has Lauryn Hill singing in the background.

A love where you can remember the voice of the person you are into because you take the time to call each other.

See the movie for yourself and decide.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Amber Heard, Yet Another Case Of Victim Blaming In The Media

Recently actress Amber Heard has faced a lot of harshness and criticism after filing for divorce against her soon-to-be ex-husband, Johnny Depp.

Heard was granted a restraining order against Depp after a fight the two had on May 21st in which Depp threw his cellphone at Heard, allegedly hitting her in the face with it.

She filed for divorce on May 23rd and appeared in court a few days later with a bruise on her right cheek.

More evidence of prior abuse has been released. Photos of Heard surfaced from a dispute back in December of last year in which Heard has bruises on her face and what appears to be a cut lip, all of which she says were from Depp.

But, many people are all too quick to discredit Heard’s accusations towards Depp because in the divorce she is seeking a spousal settlement from Depp.

They claim she is making it all up simply to get money out of him.

Heard’s lawyers, Samantha Spector and Joseph Koeing responded to these accusations: 

“Amber Heard is simply a victim of domestic violence, and none of her actions are motivated by money. Amber is a brave and financially independent woman who is showing the courage of her convictions by doing the right thing against Johnny’s relentless army of lawyers and surrogates.”

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Her lawyers also say that her waiting until now to speak out is really no different than any victim of domestic abuse “(they) think first of the harm that might come to the abuser, rather than they abuse they have already suffered.”

Unfortunately, domestic abuse and violence against women have always been a far too common occurrence in our society.

These situations were once considered “personal matters” to be handled privately behind closed doors, but have recently been gaining more and more attention as victims of these acts began to stand up and speak out against their abusers and demand justice. 

However, these courageous women are rarely met with the support they need when speaking out against their abusers.

Often women who do so are immediately discredited as liars, as women who would make up such accusations to get attention, money from the abuser, or even for the sheer pleasure of slandering their name.

This recently happened to pop-star Kesha, whose attempt to pull from her Sony contract with Dr. Luke, a man who see claims who sexually and physically abused her for years, was denied in court because the judge claimed her accusations against were not enough. 

Similar things were also said to the dozens of different women who came out and said Bill Cosby had sexually assaulted them.

Heard and many of these other women had what the public always demands out of a women claiming to be abused: photographic or video evidence, police reports filed, eye-witnesses to back-up their stories.

And yet people in our society are still hesitant to believe them, but quick to call them liars.

This practice of almost never believing the victim is what causes women to stay in dangerous situations with their abusers for years.

We as a society need to step up and listen to them when they gain the courage to speak up, and not shame them for it.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: GabboT/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Here’s The Real Problem With “The Danish Girl”

By Kelsey D’Auben

The nominations for the 87th annual Academy Awards have received a great deal of backlash due to a lack of minority representation.

Despite this, many great films and great actors were nominated, and among them was Eddie Redmayne for his role as Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl.

The transgendered community has slowly begun to gain more and more of it’s rightful recognition in the media over the past year.

Actresses such as Laverne Cox and Jamie Clayton have featured roles in acclaimed Netflix series has been an amazing stride for the community, because transgendered people often receive very little representation in a very hetero/cis dominated media.

So when films such as The Danish Girl are released and widespread throughout the nation and praised as a powerful and inspirational story of the struggles of a transitioning person, it’s not hard to understand why there would be anger within the trans community over the casting of Eddie Redmayne, a cis male, as the leading role of a transgendered woman.

And Redmayne doesn’t play just any transgendered woman either, but the first trans woman to ever undergo full reconstructive surgery.

Lili Elbe is an important historical figure within the community and a movie about her is something that should ultimately be portrayed by a trans woman.

Lili Elbe is an important historical figure within the community and a movie about her is something that should ultimately be portrayed by a trans woman.

The Danish Girl is not the only project guilty of miscasting.

About Ray, which premiered at Sundance this past year casted Elle Fanning to play Ray, a young trans boy in early stages of his transition. And Transparent is a popular Emmy winning Amazon original series starring Jeffrey Tambor as an older woman in the beginnings of her transition.

Storylines featuring transgendered people are appearing more and more among television and films, and that’s a great thing.

Stories about transitioning and the struggles the trans community faces were almost non-existent until just a few years ago. However, it is not the fact that these stories are being told that is the problem. It is the way they are being told.

These stories are about trans folks and what being trans is all about, so to have it told by a cis-man not only makes it genuinely less authentic but also takes away the voice of the trans actor who is representing them. These are their stories to tell and by having cis actors portray their characters we are not letting them speak for themselves.

Many argue that the casting of a cis person is not due to cis-normativity, but because the actor is genuinely fit for the role.

Tom Hooper, the director of The Danish Girl used this same defense in an interview with Slate:

“I must admit I thought about Eddie Redmayne the very first time I read the script… I always have felt there was femininity in Eddie or his features, and I’d remarked on the fact that he’d been drawn to the feminine – he played the girl’s part in school plays,” Hooper told Slate.

Hooper did also say that he had actually cast several transgendered people in the film, giving them all cisgendered roles. But why deny them the chance to play the part of the one actual transgendered character in the film?

Simply placing a transgender actor in the background behind the cisgendered lead actor and hiding them by casting them in a cisgendered role does not count as representing the community in a film that is about them and their own history.

Miscasting is not a new problem in Hollywood. It has been happening for years, especially with characters of color.

Even recently the film Exodus received harsh criticisms for casting an nearly all white cast for a film set in ancient Egypt and Cameron Crowe, director of Aloha had to come out and apologize for casting Emma Stone as an Asian-American woman.

Miscastings of transgendered characters is no different.

“At this moment especially, I think this industry has a responsibility to put trans actors in trans roles,” Sean Baker, director of the Sundance film Tangerine told the New York Times.

“At this moment especially, I think this industry has a responsibility to put trans actors in trans roles,” Sean Baker, director of the Sundance film Tangerine told the New York Times. “To not do it seems wrong in my eyes. There is plenty of trans talent out there.”

Representation of the transgendered community is important, especially today.

By denying them the chance to represent themselves and speak for their own community even in the fictional world of television and movies we are not progressing as a society. We are only taking steps further backwards into oppression.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: torbakhopper/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Why Leonardo DiCaprio’s Golden Globes Speech Will Go Down In History

The 73rd Annual Golden Globes Awards Ceremony was a big night in Hollywood.

“A” list celebrities were out in force anxious to see who the winners and losers would be in what is often thought as the Oscar’s most reliable prognosticator.

Millions tuned in to see the likes of Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Schumer and Matt Damon glammed up, decked out and walking the red carpet smiling for the cameras.

But what made the night bigger than awards, terrible jokes and fashion faux pas’ was that in his acceptance speech for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, for his role in The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio did something not done since 1973.

When DiCaprio accepted his award, he paid tribute and respect to the Indigenous people around the world and brought attention to their issues:

I want to share this award with all the First Nations people represented in this film and all the Indigenous communities around the world,” DiCaprio said. “It is time that we recognized your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them. It is time that we heard your voice and protected this planet for future generations.”

WATCH: Leonardo DiCaprio Golden Globes speech

For those unaware, First Nations is a term used to reference the people in Canada once termed Indians. In the United States, the term is Native American.

What made DiCaprio’s speech special was that this was the first time since 1973 an important Hollywood actor during a major award ceremony acknowledged the serious issues that Native Americans and First Nation people are facing.

The first one to do it was Marlon Brando- sort of.

In 1973, Brando won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in The Godfather. Instead of accepting the award, Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American actress and activist, in his stead to stage a protest and refuse the award because of the treatment of American Indians by the film and television industries during the protests at Wounded Knee, SD.

Watch: Sacheen Littlefeather refuses to accept Marlon Brando’s 1973 Oscar for Best Actor. 

In refusing the award, Brando brought much needed attention to the struggles of Native Americans who were suffering in an era of corrupt government, severe racism, extreme poverty and crime rates resulting in the lowest life expectancy rates in the nation.

Fast-forward forty-three years, DiCaprio picked up where Brando left off.

In sharing his award with First Nations and Indigenous communities, DiCaprio addressed two very important issues: 1) Recognizing the importance of Indigenous history (a topic I have written on before) and 2) Protecting indigenous lands from attack by corporations.

There are few things more important to First Nations and Native Americans alike than their history and land.

Paramount to mankind’s physical survival is his connection to the Earth.

Paramount to mankind’s physical survival is his connection to the Earth. Tribes on both sides of the border teach that the Earth is our sacred mother and that mankind, as her children have a duty to protect her.

With respect to cultural survival, Tribal nations teach their traditions and customs orally from grandparent to grandchild through songs and stories. Cultural survival is only possible when accurate history is taught and protected.

DiCaprio’s speech – like Brando’s protest – comes at an appropriate time where Indigenous culture and land are under attack.

Native cultural survival has been threatened due to years of cultural extermination tactics designed to solve the “Indian Problem” such as the Indian Boarding School systems in both the United States, and Canada. The effects of these efforts to assimilate the “savage” and are still felt across Native communities today.

Since 1492, Native North American lands have always been under threat from government and corporate invaders.

Legislation such as the Dawes Allotment Act, an appalling piece of U.S. legislation, removed land from Native American tribes and unjustly gave ownership to non-natives.

More recently Indigenous lands are threatened by the Keystone pipeline project, fracking in the Dakotas, crude oil extraction of the Alberta oil sands and the suspiciously-passed Oak Flat copper mining legislation in Arizona to name a few.

And while it was cool to hear DiCaprio – the man who has played Howard Hughes, J. Edgar Hoover, Jack from Titanic and even the Wolf of Wall Street give a shout out to a portion of the population that is both misrepresented and underrepresented in film and pop culture – DiCaprio’s words were more than just a “Hi Mom!” moment on television.

DiCaprio’s speech signifies that some very important people in the world are aware of the struggles of Indigenous people. DiCaprio inspired many to keep fighting a fight that if won will yield benefits for Natives and non-Natives alike.

It’s not easy to do what DiCaprio did. Taking a political stand has the potential to ruin Hollywood careers. Littlefeather was an aspiring actress whose career never really got off the ground due in part to her speech at the 1973 Oscars.

But unlike Littlefeather and Brando, the reception to DiCaprio’s words seemed more positive, and even though the orchestra tried to play DiCaprio off the stage he kept speaking until we heard what he had to say.

In a world that has literally tried to exterminate Native Americans and First Nations alike, DiCaprio’s words injected a shot of hope, energy and pride to a people trying to stay true to their values.

All the best to you this award season Mr. DiCaprio, thank you for what you have said and may you finally win the Oscar you deserve.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Fights Fights and Fights/Youtube (Screengrab)

 

Here’s The 10 Best Christmas Movies From The Past 30 Years

By Tyler Wilson

Christmas is one of the best times of the year to snuggle up and watch a good movie. Here’s a list of the 10 best Christmas movies of the past 30 years (or so).

  1. A Christmas Story’ (1983)

This family classic will bring joy and laughter to everyone in your house, regardless of age. It is a movie about a young boy by the name of “Ralphie” who “convinces his parents, his teacher and santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940’s.

  1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ (1989)

Also a classic, National Lampoon’s family is anything from ordinary. This comedy is full of jokes, gags and tons of humor. The main character “Clark” is set on an adventure preparing his house for his arrival of his large family.

  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (2000)

Just because this movie was made by Disney doesn’t mean those over the age of 8 can’t enjoy it! The Grinch (played by Jim Carrey) is sure to make anyone chuckle, it is about a green “Grinch” who is very determined to steal christmas from a small village. Although his fate gets changed along the way.

  1. Santa Clause 3’ (2006)

Although this is the 3rd installment of the series, this is the one that truly gave everyone the warm feeling of Christmas. When Jack Frost attempts to steal Christmas from Santa Claus (played by Tim Allen) he must fight through time in order to save Christmas for kids all over the world.

  1. Elf (2003)

When an unorthodox Elf (played by Will Ferrell) is sent to New York to find out who he really is, he’s sent on an adventure through modern technology. This is a must-watch, the humor and jokes in this movie are promised to make the whole family laugh.

  1. Home Alone’ (1990)

When 8 year old Kevin (played by  Macaulay Culkin) is accidentally left at home while his parents go on vacation, he protects his house while two men attempt to break in. This is a very funny and great movie to watch with the family and has a nice “kid-like” point of view on things.

  1. The Polar Express’ (2004)

When a young boy is awakened by the sounds of a train late at night, he is greeted by a very exciting adventure to the North Pole. This is a thrilling family movie and will be guaranteed to make you feel like a part of the ride!

  1. Gremlins’ (1984)

This thriller is about the darker side of christmas. When a man gets an interesting pet called a “Mogwai” he’s given very strict rules. When these rules are broken he is sent on a very hair raising adventure. This movie would be better without the kids but it is still a very good classic and is a must see.

  1. A Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993)

When Jack Skellington (The king of Halloweentown) gets bored with his repeating lifestyle, he demands a change. When he accidentally stumbles into Christmas Town, he is greeted with an entirely new lifestyle. When he gets back he attempts to bring the idea to Halloweentown. Its is a great family movie and will make everyone feel good.

  1. Scrooged’ (1988)

When Frank Cross (played by Bill Murray) resents the idea of Christmas, he is greeted by the ghosts of Christmas past to get him in the “Christmas Spirit.” It will make everyone in your family get in the Christmas mood and will be sure to put a smile on everyone’s face.

Cover Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

No Internet, Leonardo Dicaprio Did Not Get Raped By A Bear

Despite reports to the contrary, world renowned actor and philanthropist Leonardo Dicaprio did not get raped by a bear in his new film The Revenant.

Drudge Report had exclusively reported that the actor’s character was raped twice by a bear in the survivor film set in the 1820s.

From Drudge:

“The bear flips Leo over and thrusts and thrusts during the explicit mauling.

‘He is raped — twice!'”

This of course is not even close to being true according to Fox, the studio that produced the picture.
“There is clearly no rape scene with a bear,” A Fox statement obtained by The New Republic said.

 

The film centers around the life of Hugh Glass, a real life explorer who was brutally mauled by a bear and left for dead. Glass survived the attack after a harrowing 200 mile journey to the nearest American outpost.

WATCH: Trailer for The Revenant.

Cover Photo Credit: Youtube (Fox)/ Screengrab

10 Reasons Why Luke Skywalker Is Actually Kylo Ren

By Daniel Mirolli (originally published on Medium)

Before people begin lobbing thermal detonators my way I’ve actually thought long and hard about this and tonight’s trailer release simply confirms my suspicions. Yes, much of this is speculation. Duh! None of us have seen the film and I’m not privy to any information that isn’t available to everyone.

So if you’re reading this before the release and I turn out to be right then, SERIOUS MIDICHLORIAN-SHATTERING SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

If not then the odds you’ve wasted a few minutes listening to a member of your fandom unsuccessfully navigate a trailer release are approximately 3,720 to 1.

So, here’s 10 reasons why Luke is to Kylo as Finkle is to Einhorn.

1. The Poster

You know, this poster. The poster everyone flipped their Force about because Luke isn’t in it.

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But he IS in it. I know that’s a “he said, she said” game but let’s do a head count.

Rey, Finn, and Poe? Check.

Han & Leia? Check.

C-3PO & Chewie? Check.

R2 & BB8? *beep* *boop* *whir*

Luke? …Luke? ….Beuler?

Be honest, does it make any sense to not have Mark Hamill in your poster for a movie that will cause box office records to pull an Alderaan (too soon)? Abrams and the rest of the Disney / Lucas Film studio aren’t thinking, well…

There’s more to this but for now let’s move on to —

2. The Cowl

We’re dealing with two ancient and opposing, albeit evidenced, religions in the Star Wars universe; Jedi vs Sith. Mysticism, symbolism, and color are very important. There’s a “reason” Jedi fight in bathrobes instead of a more combat ready, blaster repelling, MJOLNIR Mark VI armour (sweet Cortana, someone please create that side fiction) and it’s, “our Jedi Order says so”. Everything is to align itself with the ideas and mythos of their side of the force.

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Taken from the second trailer released for the upcoming film there’s little doubt that this is Luke and his trusty companion R2-D2 — the mechanical right hand is a dead giveaway for that. But look at the cowl the character is wearing.

Remember in Episode VI when Luke faced off against Vader in the final fight? He wore an all black outfit (actually throughout the entire film). Why this shouldn’t give us pause, let’s go back to Episode III.

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As Anakin progress in his use of the Force and his eventual awakening to the dark side his outfit begins to incorporate more black. I’m sure another fan will correct me on this but none of the Jedi Counsel, with the exception of Shaak Ti (and sometimes Kit Fisto) who is a certifiable badass, wear black.

The Jedi gravitate towards browns, tans, and whites; unassuming colors to help combat the pride that leads to comparison, anger, hate, suffering, and Yoda-speak. In The Return of The Jedi we see Luke wearing all black, facing off against his father, and being told to give into his hatred. Despite Luke’s dismissal of the Emperor’s offer there is a part of him intrigued by the dark side of the force — at the very least the desire to get shit done on his own (see: leaving the Ewok enclave to confront Vader mano y mano). Which leads us to

3. The Timeline

We know from the trailer that many years have passed between VI and VII. Luke changing sides is not something that would happen over night. Like his father, he needs time to strike out on his own and attempt to establish real change in the galaxy by defeating the Empire and establishing the Alliance (like Anakin initially did in the Clone Wars). But the Alliance is just that, an alliance! It requires the independent choice of a multitude of people, a change that takes much longer to realize than the bending of galactic will to a particular vision.

But that is a more effective route and it provides Luke more control. Remember when Luke was training on Degoba what Yoda says to him?

Luke is Anakin’s son. He has the same rebellious, assertive, Type-A tendencies. Now imagine, you’ve just defeated the Empire. The Rebel Alliance is in shambles but victorious. The Empire still has the more fire power. Coruscant is a distant legend. There is sudden peace and no clear leader. Chaos ensues with the Outer Rim warlords seizing the power vacuum left by the Empire. You have to try to remake the galaxy into the prosperous and functioning system it was before there was war, all without using the Force for attack, or a clone army and armada that you quite literally just inherited.

How long before you’d convince yourself you’d get more good done by using this once evil force to unite every world under a single banner? How long before you then had to rely on the Force for attack? How long before Yoda’s admonition for control became validation for your desire to control whole worlds?

4. Mark’s Age

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Back to practicality, Mark Hamill is old. Yes, Harrison Ford is older but that’s like comparing Achilles and Hector. We know from Abrams’ behind the scenes videos that he’s a fan of analog and puppetry over CGI. We also know that the force affords its practitioners sustained mobility in old age. To me, that means that while we know Mark did suffer an injury on set, it would behove Abrams to have a stunt double option for Mark readily available for all action scenes and that’s much easier if your old actor chooses to wear a mask.

5. Kylo Ren

So what do we actually know about this guy? According to the Star Wars Wiki, Kylo Ren was born sometime after the Battle of Endor. And while initial assumptions are that he was physically born after the Battle of Endor we also know one very important thing:

Kylo Ren is a title.

Leaked concept art.

Leaked concept art.

We also know that, while serving under Snoke in the Knights of Ren he was obsessed with Vader and is believed to have modeled his look and behavior after him. It is not a stretch to imagine Luke recognizing the frustration his father saw in establishing a new order and following in his footsteps.

6. Yin and Yang Film Cycle

If you haven’t caught on to this yet, the Star Wars franchise oscillates between a Sith and Jedi dominated story line, influenced by the Yin and Yang culture which the originally story was likely plagiarized from (The Hidden Fortress).

Odd Episodes = Sith Wins

Even Episodes = Jedi Wins

Episode VII will be a win for the Sith. And while there’s no guarantee that the new Disney/Lucas Films mashup will stop printing money at Episode IX the franchise does operate on a trilogy cycle. Which means that either Episode IX has to end with the Sith winning or something really interesting has to happen. But how does this all come together?

Queue Star Wars Magic:

7. The Pledge

Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary but of course… it probably isn’t.

Despite how new the 3rd trailer looked, we’ve been here before. New characters are introduced (Rey, Poe, BB8), someone discovers they can use the force (Finn), a baddie is revealed (Kylo), and we “rediscover” a wise mentor (He-Who-Shoots-First Han). This is identical to Episode I and IV.

From what I can gather, Force Awakens begins with the First Order beginning to fill the power vacuum left by the fighting through a unified assault (using Empire weapons and armada). The Jedi are viewed as a myth as evidenced by Han needing to affirm that all the stories actually took place. It’s true. The Dark Side. The Jedi.

In Force Awakens, Han plays the role of Yoda in Episode V — he knows about the past and a crucial detail to the present (one that he doesn’t reveal). And that’s fine, because we’re still meeting the new characters and learning how the world works. We’re establishing assumptions based on what we can glean from the plot until —

8. The Turn

The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled.

Episode II, V, VIII. Anakin turns, Vader is Luke’s father, Kylo is Luke. This is a far more compelling story line that simply a new bad guy is bad and Luke is absently being a hermit because Obi Wan.

Imagine walking out of the theatre on December 18th. You’ve just witnessed the First Order run train on the free world(s). Poe is a funny pilot. Finn is the most relatable and powerful character you’ve seen in a while. And Rey is a badass testament to Feminism (and ultimately Humanism) everywhere.

And while Han has been able to provide great intel on Kylo Ren and the First Order no one seems to be asking where this guy came from or what really happened to Luke.

But Han remembers. He remembers how he and Luke had initially set off to rebuild the galaxy together. How they had become frustrated after years of seeing little progress, already exhausted from their fight against the Empire. He remembers how Luke would disappear on missions, dressed in all black, saying that because he could use the Force he was better suited for single stealth missions. He remembers the unease Leia felt whenever she was around Luke. He remembers the first time he found the mask, in the floorboards of Luke’s X-Wing, and wondered who it belonged to.

Han knows who Kylo Ren is. He’s the sacrifice of principles for ambition. He’s the abandonment of freedom for control. He’s a friend turned an enemy — born out of the Battle of Endor. He’s Luke Skywalker.

9. The Prestige

But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”

Episode I, III, VI, IX. The birth of a chosen one, the hope of new life, the redemption of a father, the redemption of a son. Luke being Kylo affords the franchise an incredible opportunity; conversion. Remember the pattern of film victors? We’re set up to have the Sith win in XI. While that might make sense to usher in another three films, it’s entirely possible it ends with IX.

Episode IX allows for Luke to look himself in the mirror. Who knows what traumatic event this will be? Perhaps Leia will die? Or another pivotal character? The point here is that we get to see why Luke is like his father and, hopefully, better than Vader. Anakin died as Vader but Luke could still die as Luke. Remember, the battle of Jedi vs Sith is at base a religious conflict over the use of the Force. This is a battle won with ideas more than brute strength. If Luke destroys the idea of Kylo and the Sith, the Jedi (and by extension the Alliance it established and protected) win.

Because let’s be honest, this battle looks like it’s only going to go one way…

10. Abrams — The Easter Egg King

Photo Credit: Joi Ito/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Joi Ito/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Let’s face it, the guy loves leaving gotcha clues throughout his movies. As a fan I enjoy this. But, remember that poster from the beginning? The masked Kylo Ren ominously looming over everyone makes me wonder if Abrams didn’t purposefully request that poster to be able to point fans back to at the end of Episode VIII. Just a thought.

Alternative Theory — Clones!!!

I have to give my roommate credit for this one as he’s actually read the Timothy Zahn series of VII-IX. He pointed out that the final installment of that series, The Last Command, sees Luke encounter a clone of himself.

“Yes, Jedi Skywalker,” C’baoth said quietly from behind him. “He is you. Luuke Skywalker, created from the hand you left behind in the Cloud City on Bespin. Wielding the lightsaber you lost there.”

And what did we see in the released trailer tonight? Luke’s original lightsaber — lost on Cloud City during his battle with its former master.

1*js_bIA-Oyirb-gUC-buPjAThis story was originally published on Medium.  

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