The Rise of Skywalker: Final Trailer & Ticket Sale!

Tickets went on sale around 8pm, then the trailer roughly an hour or so after that. I’ll be going to Disney Springs again to see the film in Dolby Digital. Unfortunately this time, we were not able to get our 10pm slot, so we snagged 2am instead. It’s fine — I took 20 December off from work and I’m looking forward to having myself a Star Wars holiday (I won’t return to work until the 26). 🙂

Welcome to Black Spire Outpost.

Bright suns! This past Sunday (4 August), I accompanied my friend Jane to her Disney Cast Member preview of Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Ever since this park was announced, I’ve been beyond excited to experience it. Our reservation for the preview began at 9am, just after the park opened to non-resort guests. The entry to Galaxy’s Edge is located just past the Muppet Vision 3D area and not too far from Star Tours, aka, the “Old Outpost”. It is marked by a large gateway and stepping through, you’ll enter a tunnel that will take you into the world of Batuu, a planet located in the Outer Rim on the edge of Wild Space. The theming of this area is beyond anything I’ve experienced in any theme park thus far. You will not see any Star Wars branding in Galaxy’s Edge and the only signs you’ll see are near the entrance. This will be a long read, so strap in.

IMG_2107-1

Gateway to Galaxy’s Edge.

As you enter Batuu, to the left you will find the queuing area for Rise of the Resistance, opening later this year on 5 December, as will as a couple of “Resistance Supply” kiosks. Continuing past this to the left, you’ll enter the marketplace where you will discover various shops, such Black Spire Outfitters, where you can buy some pretty decent costume pieces; I bought a faux leather belt there for my Rey costume. You’ll find Jedi and Sith robes and accessories here as well. Other shops include the Toydarian Toymaker where you can find items that resemble handmade goods, and the creature stall which features an adorable lothcat in a cage. Kat Saka’s Kettle and Ronto Roasters are food options located in this area. Kat Saka’s has Outpost Mix, a popcorn snack, as well as the specially designed Coke products. Ronto Roasters specializes in “exotic meats”; as such there is no vegan option, but vegetarians will find the breakfast offering of Rising Moons Overnight Oats as well as some unique beverages, including black caf. You’ll also notice the pod racing engine which has been turned into a barbecue pit tended by 8D-J8, a smelter droid. Refreshers (restrooms) are located toward the entrance of the Marketplace.

IMG_2216

Felucian Garden Spread (lunch), Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo

Exiting the Marketplace area to your left you will find Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. Some items here are only served during lunch or dinner. We had lunch here; there is one vegetarian/vegan option, which is the Felucian Garden Spread: plant-based “kefta” served with herb hummus, tomato-cucumber relish, and pita. The kefta is actually Impossible meatless balls. This reminded me of an item I had at Epcot during the Festival of the Arts earlier this year, which was the farmhouse meatball with lentil bread, spinach, marinated vegetables, and creamy herb dressing. (Apparently, for dinner, the Ithorian Garden Loaf is available: plant-based “meatloaf”, roasted vegetable potato mash, and seasonal vegetables, with mushroom sauce. Edit, 09/07/19: Upon going back to the park recently, I noticed this item is not available and I can’t find it on the official menus either, yet people have had it in Disneyland.)

Directly across from Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo is Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. Looking for Jedi or Sith holocrons? How about Princess Leia’s classic white dress or Qi’Ra’s gold Crimson Dawn necklace? Kyber crystals? This is where you’ll want to go. The senate dress is actually relatively nice — I’m extremely familiar with the construction of that dress because I’ve made several for myself over the last 20 years, so I had to examine it. The belt is vinyl (somewhat thin) as are the silver medallions adorning it. The dress itself is the first commercially made version of this costume that does not have shoulder seams and has the correct open, u-shaped hood. Both of these features are simple details, but I appreciated them. If you don’t feel like making or commissioning this costume and you’re not going for an elite costuming group’s approval, this is a relatively inexpensive option as it is less than $200, but still fairly accurate.

IMG_2158

The Millennium Falcon!

Looking straight ahead from between Dok-Ondar’s and Docking Bay 7, you’ll see the Millennium Falcon herself, docked here at Black Spire Outpost! You may even catch a glimpse of Chewbacca and Rey, if you’re lucky. This is where you’ll find the queueing area for Smuggler’s Run. If the wait is longer, part of the queue is outside, however it is mostly located in the shade and has good airflow. It was pretty hot and sunny when I was there, but it really wasn’t too bad with all of the shade. Honestly, there are many places in Batuu to sit and rest outside of direct sunlight, which is really nice. (But you should still remember to wear sunscreen!) Just before you board the ship, you’ll meet Hondo Ohnaka and he has a job for you: you’ll be borrowing the Falcon from Chewie to pick up a shipment of Coaxium for Ohnaka Transport Solutions.

Boarding the Falcon feels very similar to walking down the ramp to board a plane. You will enter the ride in groups of six; if you do not have six people in your party, a single rider or two may be added. Yes: Smuggler’s Run has a single rider line! As you enter the ship, you’ll be handed a coloured card with your assignment: pilot, gunner, or engineer. The card also has brief instructions for your role and you will hand this in just before going on your mission. In this waiting area, you will see some familiar sights, such as the Dejarik table and as you await your turn, you’ll have a little bit of time to take some photos and just enjoy being in this iconic vessel.

I rode Smuggler’s Run twice. The first time I was the right pilot (that’s Chewie’s spot!) which controls the up/down motion of the ride. I also got to take us into hyperspace…TWICE! The left pilot (Han’s spot) controls the left/right motion of the ride. Piloting will work best with two people who can coordinate well together; this is a role that will take some practice to be good at! It also has the best view of the action. Behind the pilots are seated the gunners, and behind them, the engineers. On my second time on the ride, I was an engineer; this job is very easy — you will be responsible for repairing the ship by punching flashing buttons or flipping various switches. I completed my engineer role with 100% success. I didn’t play the gunner role yet, but their job is to help defend the ship against attacks, of course. Allegedly there is a manual option or an automatic option for this role, with the manual option being the harder one. The points you score in performing your role will factor into your experience within the Play Disney app once that is up and running. Of note as well, this ride does not dump you out in a gift shop!

Upon exiting Smuggler’s Run, you may want to go to Oga’s Cantina, which is located nearby. Note that you may need a reservation; Oga was not taking walk-ins on the day of my visit, so I was unable to check the place out. Oga’s is where you’ll catch up with Rex, our old friend from Star Tours, now working here as a DJ. I’m looking forward to trying several things here, especially the Toniray wine. As you pass between Oga’s Cantina and Dok-Ondar’s, you’ll see a First Order TIE Echelon fighter with the First Order Cargo Shop to your left. On the right almost directly across from the cargo shop is the Milk Stand. At the Milk Stand, you can try both green (Thala Siren) and blue (Bantha) milk! There are alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of this frozen beverage. The alcoholic green milk is blended with tequila and the blue milk is blended with rum. Both of the milks here are a plant-based blend of coconut and rice milks, so vegans and lactose free folks can freely enjoy! I tried both and both were delicious.

As you leave the area where the Milk Stand is located, you’ll pass by another Refresher location on your way toward the Droid Depot. This is where you can build your own custom astromech unit! You’ll also find various accessories for your little friend. Next door to the Droid Depot, you’ll find Savi’s Workshop where you can create a custom lightsaber or purchase one that’s already been completed. Note that both of these experiences may require a reservation! This will bring you back around to the area by Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities and you have now completed your loop around Black Spire Outpost.

During my visit, the Play Disney Parks app was not yet functional. Once the park is open and this feature is integrated, the app will transform into a datapad when you are on planet, allowing you to scan objects around the area, “hack” into droids, unscramble transmissions, and translate the languages such as the main Star Wars alphabet Aurebesh. You will be able to take “jobs” and choose your allegiance — will you stand with the Resistance, join the First Order, or decide to be a scoundrel out for your own personal gain? 

Galaxy’s Edge opens to the public on 29 August and the Rise of the Resistance ride opens on 5 December.

No Star Wars at SDCC.

SDDC Unofficial Blog reported yesterday that there will most likely NOT be a Rise of Skywalker panel at SDCC. This has not been corroborated by Lucasfilm at this time, but it certainly makes sense that Disney would want to save this for D23 Expo. I guess that is one less panel for me to worry about getting into Hall H for. I must admit that it is a little disappointing, being that it’s my first time attending The Big One.

While the convention schedule has not been released, we are in the midst of panel announcements almost daily lately, some more detailed than others. SDCC Unofficial Blog has a running list of announced panels here.

It seems safe to say that the next big Star Wars news should be at D23 Expo, which will take place from 23-25 August 2019.

Dawn of Skywalker.

dawnofskywalkerSo today, the official Star Wars Japan Twitter account posted that the title of Episode IX in Japan would be 『スター・ウォーズ/スカイウォーカーの夜明け』.  That would read, in Romaji: Sutaa Woozu Sukaiwookaa no Yoake. The title is not exactly the same as it is in English as it translates to Dawn of Skywalker rather than Rise of Skywalker. Naturally, this has a certain subset of nerds talking, just like there was fervent discussion over whether or not ‘Jedi’ in The Last Jedi was meant to be singular or plural.

I am by no means a native speaker of Japanese, but I did study it for two years in college while earning my Bachelor’s and I’ve tried to keep up my study since then by using several apps (more on that soon perhaps). The word 夜明け translates to ‘dawn’ , ‘breaking dawn’, or even ‘daybreak’; you get the idea. In this case, it would seem to indicate a new beginning. This makes sense, as this film is meant to serve as not only an end to the sequel trilogy, but to the Skywalker saga as well. Whether or not that also means that ‘Skywalker’ will become synonymous with Jedi (as another word to refer to a Force-user), I’m not sure, but that’s an idea that I have liked a lot and won’t be surprised if that is the case.

Finally: Episode IX Trailer and Title!

So back in December of last year, it seems I was partially correct: the first trailer for Episode IX was released at Star Wars Celebration Chicago. And so was the title, not unlike the trailer / title reveal of Revenge of the Sith back in 2005 at San Diego Comic-Con. Watch the brand new trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker below.

Speaking of SDCC, I will be attending this year for the first time! I’m so excited. And so far, it seems likely that there will be a Star Wars presence in Hall H and I hope that I’ll be able to get in. If they do have a panel in Hall H, it is likely to be where the second, full trailer would be revealed. If, for some reason, Disney pulls out of SDCC, then anything Star Wars and Marvel would then probably be moved to D23 in August.

I’m not going to try to analyze the trailer at this time as I need to think about it some more; I’m still decompressing from SWCC, which I just got home from. I am very intrigued by what the inclusion of Palpatine — and they are not shying away from admitting that he is somehow in the film — means for the story. They did say quite a while ago that this film will serve to close out both this trilogy and the saga as a whole. Can’t wait! The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters 20 December 2019.

Now: when is Star Wars Celebration Anaheim?

 

A Timeline of Star Wars Announcements, or: When Can We Expect a Title and a Trailer for Episode IX?

nineThere seems to be a lot of buzz on the interwebs today about the possibility of getting a trailer for Episode IX sometime this month and it got me thinking about the production timelines of the other two sequel films and when their announcements were made.

Episode VII began filming 14 May 2014. The film wrapped shooting in September. On 6 November 2014, the title of Episode VII is announced to be The Force Awakens. Post production on the film was completed sometime in August of 2015. The first trailer for the film debuted 28 November 2014. Tickets went on sale 19 October 2015 and The Force Awakens opened in theaters on 18 December 2018.

Episode VIII began shooting 15 February 2016 and completed filming in July. The title of Episode VIII was announced as The Last Jedi on 23 January 2017; debate on whether or not ‘Jedi’ is singular or plural ensues. The first railer for The Last Jedi was shown on 14 April 2017 at Star Wars Celebration Orlando (and I was in the room, still cannot believe), at the end of the panel about the film; the panel and trailer were also streamed live online. The Last Jedi wrapped post production in September 2017. Tickets went on sale 9 October 2017 and The Last Jedi was released in theaters on 15 December 2017.

Production on Episode IX has not yet wrapped; it began filming on 1 August and I believe it is supposed to complete in February. It is highly unlikely that Disney will release a trailer before the film is completed. Moreover, we just got a second Captain Marvel trailer and are expecting the first Avengers 4 trailer / title announcement pretty much imminently; apparently its release was delayed until this coming Friday morning.

All of this to say: I think we should expect a title announcement in mid-late January or the beginning of February, and I firmly believe that the first trailer will be released at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, much like the trailer for The Last Jedi. (No, I’m not just saying that because, again, I’m going to be there.) Episode IX will be released 20 December 2019.

In Defense of Luke Skywalker

An article was published in Entertainment Weekly some months before the release of The Force Awakens which states that the central question of the sequel trilogy is “Who is Luke Skywalker?”

After all these years, we thought we knew him, but what if there was more to that Tatooine farmboy? Or… what if there was less?

jedi

Now that The Last Jedi is in theaters, we can start to answer this question. Who is Luke Skywalker? Luke Skywalker is a legend. He represents hope. He is also a human being who is shown to be  just as susceptible to making mistakes as anyone else in the galaxy.

A small, but loud, contingent of “fans” claim that the representation of Luke in this film is a great mischaracterization, that it “ruins” the idea of who he is supposed to be, that it isn’t “Jedi-like”. No one wants to believe that their heroes are capable of being misguided or wrong and that is understandable. I get it, I hear you. Even Mark Hamill initially disagreed with the direction that was decided for his character. Of course he would! He’s lived with Luke far longer than we have and his sequel trilogy arc [thus far] certainly isn’t what I would have envisioned for my favourite character either. It’s hard to reconcile this version of Luke Skywalker, a man who has lost all hope, with the man who refused to kill his own father and instead managed to save him.

Everyone — characters in the film as well as people in real life — have a preconceived notion of who and what Luke Skywalker is supposed to be based on the person that he was after the Battle of Endor. We expected him to accept the lightsaber from Rey and to begin training her with barely a second thought. But time changes people and Luke isn’t that person anymore; it’s been 34 years since the Battle of Endor and about six years since the destruction of his Jedi temple at the hands of his nephew, turd blossom Ben Solo. Leia trusted Luke with her son and in his mind, he not only failed Ben, but he failed Leia as well. You could even say that he failed Ben Kenobi. I’d also like to point out how similar this confrontation is to that of Obi-Wan and Anakin — right down to the lines, “I have failed you, Ben. I’m sorry,” and “I have failed you, Anakin. I have failed you.” My feels.

Luke’s insecurities brought about the creation of a monster. He talks about the legacy of the Jedi being failure, hypocrisy, and hubris which allowed for the rise of Darth Sidious. Luke’s own pride led to the rise of Kylo Ren and the destruction of everything he’s ever cared about. It doesn’t matter that he immediately regretted having even thought of killing his nephew because the damage was already done. In a way, it’s as if he repeated his father’s mistakes as well as Obi-Wan’s. Anakin was plagued by visions of his wife’s death and allowed these visions to inform the decisions that led to this happening anyway, and resulting in his own downfall. Obi-Wan was unable to prevent it and had to face Anakin, face his failure. Luke saw darkness in his nephew, perhaps he had visions of the destruction he would cause, but didn’t think of the fact that Ben’s choice had not yet been made; Luke’s assumptions caused his greatest failure and turned him into a broken man.

Luke is plagued by guilt and disillusioned with the very idea of the Jedi. His disappointment in himself, in his moment of weakness, and in his inability to prevent Ben’s eventual turn causes him disconnect himself from the Force altogether. He feels great shame in what he allowed to happen and he feels responsible for everything that has gone wrong in the galaxy. It is heartbreaking to see him this way, but it also makes him relatable. When Luke finally chooses to teach Rey the ways of the Force and why he thinks that the Jedi must end, he is a perfect combination of Obi-Wan and Yoda. I loved this and I wish we had gotten to see more of Luke as a teacher because I thought it was really special. Hopefully, we will get some Force ghost teaching action in IX.

When Luke has a change of heart and decides to join the fight after all, he does so by projecting an image of himself halfway across the galaxy from Ahch-To to Crait. The prolonged effort of this act absolutely exhausts him and he ultimately becomes one with the Force, having found peace and purpose in the act, and achieving true mastery of the Force like his mentors before him. I have seen complaints by some that this was a cowardly move, but in confronting Kylo Ren in this manner, Luke has denied him of his desire to strike him down. Surely this pissed Kylo Ren off even more as the experience made him look like a damned fool in front of the entire First Order. If Luke had been there, he most certainly would have died as well, but it surely would have been at Kylo Ren’s hands, and would have served no real purpose. As far as your average galactic citizen is concerned, Luke Skywalker somehow survived being blasted by the First Order and facing down their Supreme Leader before simply disappearing. It doesn’t seem to take very long for this tale to spread, as evidenced by the children retelling the Battle of Crait at the end of the film, on Canto Bight.

To make mistakes, to have faults, and most of all to admit to them, is human. And Luke Skywalker, whether you like it or not, is allowed to show that he, too, has faced struggle and had moments of weakness. He is not perfect, he is flawed. It’s not what we wanted, but it’s what we needed. And we will see him again, I’m sure of it.

So who is Luke Skywalker? He is a legend, a symbol, an inspiration — a spark of hope.

The Rebellion is reborn today
— the war is just beginning —
and I will not be the last Jedi.