Review, Uncategorized, WordPress Trending

Spoiler Alert: The Force Awakens is Awesome!

No really, major spoilers ahead. If you don’t want to know intimate details about Star Wars Episode VII, turn back now.

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I went in not expecting very much, but still feeling hopeful for JJ Abrams’ vision of the Star Wars franchise. To be frank… It was the perfect throwback! From the opening crawl, I could tell that the whole product was created with respect and reverence to the original trilogy and the fans. The invasion of a Star Destroyer (or as I call them, Imperial Cheese) called the Finalizer across the screen gave me my first true sense of scale that had previously not been demonstrated, despite the prequels’ best efforts.

Scale is a cinematographic motif Abrams uses to paint a picture of the galaxy. The life-size Millennium Falcon is absolutely radical, and he constantly uses vast landscapes to contrast the intimate personal interactions – Rey scaling the crashed Star Destroyer, the tiny salvage yard on Jakku, the size of every battle matching the scale of what I imagine D-Day and the subsequent European land battles.

This Episode also parallels A New Hope (and Phantom Menace) with intent and precision. It follows the classic Hero’s Journey structure, allowing both of the new main heroes to experience the journey at nearly the same pace. To be honest, this was a risky move due to the nature of movie viewership. I found that the second iteration (which each character performed, neither lead overtook the other) always felt a little bit late. But without showing the two scenes side-by-side this would be impossible to fix.

The story beats line up with Episode IV naturally. However, what I loved even more was the cinematic parallel. The dogfighting was just an enhanced and more chaotically real version of what we saw back in the day, and the return to cockpit-view of the action took my breath away. A combination of long shots and jump cutting between specific characters allowed me to feel an emotional connection to the battle, and therefore the characters within the battle whom I had yet to meet. It was also a perfect way to surprise us with Po’s fate.

The First Order is a perfect evolution of the Empire that truly captures the grandiosity of the organization, while showcasing the evils of the dark side and casting in a [canonically] new villain in Snoke, who the truest of Star Wars nerds may have already identified, with a new hologram style that just fucking rules. The interactions of Dark Siders – specifically Kylo Ren – really had me on edge. We finally got to see on screen some of the dark side power that earned it the moniker.

Among the parallels to the previous trilogies, the meeting of Han and Kylo Ren on the bridge perfectly mirrored the meeting of Vader and Obi-Wan. The movie clearly laid the groundwork for their relationship and as soon as I saw their meeting, I knew this was that scene for Episode VII. The main cast watching the battle happen and reacting… I mean, the whole thing felt like a shot-for-shot remake of the same scene on the Death Star (and the lesser version in Phantom Menace) but on the way more epic Starkiller Base.

Without giving away too much, this episode had superb writing and timing. One of the things about the dark side is how it compounds itself. Things just pile on and on and emotion becomes the only fuel you can run on, and that’s when you turn completely. The pacing of this movie reflected that exactly and it made certain scenes way more dramatic. There was no respite for our main cast, hero and villain alike.

I find it beautiful that I can already tell the relationships of certain characters whose bonds remained unspoken throughout. It speaks strongly to the power of acting without dialogue as well as blocking, gestation…. it shows the balance between actor and director and the teamwork it takes to make a movie all it can be.

The introductions of the old cast were all surprises – I didn’t expect any of them to show up when they did. When I realized we didn’t have time to get exciting Luke stuff, I started to dread his inevitable cameo. But once that scene reached its pinnacle, the breathtaking view of that massive Island with oceans crashing into the rock faces brought that perfect contrast against the two of them standing there, silently acknowledging that the moment had arrived. I didn’t think anyone in the cast upstaged anyone else; character treatment felt extremely balanced, honest, and fair. But goddamnit, Mark Hamill, you just stole the whole fucking show for me, you sly dog.

Anyway, I could gush for hours about how great it was, but the bottom line is that the movie did everything I was hoping it would and addressed a lot of complaints by the fans. The reduction of fanservice, all clean and unmistakably Abrams cinematography and production (Bad Robot) left me feeling satiated by the movie in a way that I honestly hoped I would but expected not to. They didn’t reach too far, but they didn’t “play it safe” either. They clearly looked at the source material and – in true Disney fashion – took the best elements they could find, struck the rest from the record, and set the grounds to build a beautiful new galaxy. I have high hopes that this new trilogy will turn out to be the strongest yet.

As for Rogue Squadron and the other spin-offs…. I’ll wait to pass judgment until I actually see one. That feels like a reminder that Disney is evil and will drain our love of everything we ever cherished until there is nothing remaining in the human soul and we are but slaves to the entertainment conglomerate…

 

Anywho….

 

Bye!

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Just for fun, Uncategorized

Since I’ve Been Gone!

Okay all, here’s the good word!

I’ve been undergoing a loooot of personal development over the last few…. lifetimes. I’ve grappled back and forth with depression and various other issues, only to realize the fact of the matter is that I am Transgendered and most of my self-negativity comes from the fact that I have had to bury that for years.

I came out as a teenager and was met with some pretty radical social ostracization , as well as being sent to highly antagonistic counseling where the question was what made me “sick” and focused on trying to “cure” me before cooperating with transition goals.

Needless to say, I didn’t last long.

But after another 8 years of hiding it, I simply couldn’t and can’t anymore! So it’s on record that I am indeed Trans and intend to transition completely.

pizap.com14495088056771

So, there are some changes that come with it, including me being told again and again that if I’m not regularly blogging about it I’m doing some sort of disservice to the community as a whole. So, You can start expecting at least a short post every weekend (hardly scheduled yet, but I’ll get there).

Second, I figured out how to make my novel outstanding! For those who don’t recall, it’s a Crime drama with a supernatural twist. Except now, the supernatural is not the twist. The Hero’s Journey into the hidden world will now parallel his own journey in coming out and transitioning. There are a looot of themes that play into this throughout the story that I’ll probably go over once I start writing the final pre-revision draft.

Lastly, I’ve realized exactly what I need to do to leave the world better than I found it, and that is encouraging Transgendered people and people who otherwise deal with a ton of self-doubt and negativity and social stress to become the best version of themselves?

How do I aim to achieve this? Well, I hope that my personal insight can help to increase the impact to the audience of protagonist James-to-Jane Del within my novel.

The long-term version of this goal is still to complete the trilogy, and keep the protagonist’s gender a major part of the arc which will affect their interactions with what are currently very plain antagonists, and create a small body of work that people of any background can appreciate and relate to.

But, more immediately, I am going to become a personal trainer (a goal I’ve had for years, but lacked the confidence to pursue) and spend some time working towards building a clientele of people who suffer from body or gender dysmorphia, social anxiety, depression… people who are otherwise too intimidated to go to a gym. I want to become a trainer who works specifically with people who, like me until recently, are willing to let their mental and physical health dwindle because it’s just “too hard” to maintain it. The fact that I was finally able to get past that road block in this significant way tells me that others can too, and I want to make it happen!

The long-term version of this goal is to start my own safe-space gym where people of any background who simply don’t want to deal with the average gym rat can come to train without worrying about who they are, what they wear, how hard they can push themselves. We are all at different places, in different spaces, and I believe a gym that specifically reaches out to those who don’t believe in themselves.

My longest-term goal of multimedia publishing should be aided by both of these things. Everyone has a story to tell, and there are plenty of media through which to tell it! I’d like to see myself become a hub for people to share their stories with pride instead of shame, confidence instead of fear, and to become the type of person who may or may not be famous, but still manages to change lives all the same.

So, there it is! The situation as it stands, preparing to move forward.

If you’d like to donate to the cause, you can click here. I’m asking for $500. Whatever overage is left after I pay for my certification will go into building a clientele of people who need the type of help I offer. The link shares more details on that particular goal as well as my personal story.

If you can’t donate, I appreciate any shares, mentions, or whatever else you can do to help me leave this world a little better off than it is now!

Comment, follow, whatevs! I’ll be updating the blog more often. You can expect to read about martial arts, gender perspectives, whatever work I have time to do on the novel (mostly gonna be in summer 2016, I think), and other blogs that I’m loving the crap out of!

Thanks everyone for your support!

-JPA

 

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