Star Wars Fandom

If you’re into the famous space opera franchise that is Star Wars, you have probably heard of the Star Wars Celebration fan gathering. Whether you had the time and money to attend is another question. But anyhow, I was at a place in my life where I could fly over to Chicago, Illinois for the 2019 edition.

I am overall a loner when it comes to any convention or comic con experience. I like meeting up with fans, some of whom I have met online and podcasted with, and I haven gotten to know my cool hotel roommates and their Game of Thrones love. But I attend events unaccompanied for the most part.

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Boxtrolls Revisited

(To celebrate the release of Missing Link, we’re revisiting the stop-motion animated films of Laika this week and discussing why they’re so special. Today: The Boxtrolls showcases the kind of film, and filmmaking, that only Laika could make.)

Have you ever heard the nursery rhyme that sounded innocent at first? But then you grew up and you realized the lyrics had ghastly implications? Think of Ring a Ring o’ Rosie and its lyrical ties to the Black Plague. Think of Rock-a-bye Baby, where a baby falls from the branches. Think of the stop-motion movie The Boxtrolls, except it wears its ghastliness front-and-center, even as it is geared toward young minds. If Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens adopted a gremlin baby, they’d raise it to be this film.

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In a galaxy far, far away, a Togruta Jedi fought for the greater good. She appeared in a Star Wars television series called Clone Wars. She won my heart. She was badass. She was emotional. She was competent. She experienced failure, but plowed through her insecurities. She was the first onscreen forefront female Jedi of the Star Wars galaxy.

Star Wars fans know whom I’m talking about. No, not that Togruta Jedi – not the breakout character Ahsoka Tano. I’m talking about Jedi Master Shaak Ti.

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(This post contains spoilers for season 1 of Star Wars Resistance.)

Like its spiritual animated predecessors, Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars, Star Wars Resistance complements the Star Wars movie trilogies. In this case, it’s the Sequel Trilogy, with a tale of underdogs fighting their battles in other corners of the galaxy. This time, creator Dave Filoni and his team tells this story in a lighter cell-shaded palette than other Lucasfilm Animation productions.

Resistance begins with Poe Dameron, a star of the Sequel Trilogy, installing the hotshot pilot Kazuda Xiono (Christopher Sean) into a Resistance spying mission on the Colossus, a fueling and racing station located on an isolated ocean planet. As a blundering young adult from a privileged background, Kaz has trouble acclimating into his blue-collar mechanic employment as he keeps an eye on the First Order’s takeover of the platform.

Resistance takes its time to gain altitude. After lagging with low-impact episodes focused on Kaz, “The High Tower” finally anchors Resistance to a consistent tone of levity mixed in with comedy. From then on, even stand-alone lighthearted episodes like “Bibo” and “Platform Classic,” where the events don’t have much long-term impact, tended to stick the landing. Resistance’s strongest episodes lets its ensemble cast interact, harkening to the found family themes that made Rebels strong.

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From the first episode of Star Wars Resistance, I knew I was falling in love with the Colossus, one of the finest locations in the Star Wars universe. The Colossus is simple in concept: an isolated refueling station on a water planet, a speck from space. Yet it is inhabited by characters, an economy, colorful ships, a culture of racing, and a thriving community of humans, aliens, and droids.

With an eye-catching light palette, Resistance offers something different from previous Lucasfilm Animation productions in that it offers a glimpse of a lighter post-war era (before the shadow of war that will inevitably arrive when the events of The Force Awakens strike). The dimensions of Resistance owe much of its wealth of vision to Amy Beth Christenson, the show’s art director. You might recognize her name in other productions like The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and the Force Unleashed video games.

In an interview, Christenson told us what it means to be an art director on the show.

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This article contains major spoilers for the final season of Star Wars Rebels.

As the animated series Star Wars Rebels reached its finale, the death of Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus took its toll on me. With the paternal and youthful voice of Freddie Prinze Jr., Kanan was the anchor point to much of Rebels’ compelling dynamics, from his mentorship to young Ezra Bridger to his romance with the pilot Hera Syndulla. No wonder he was my favorite non-movie Jedi, and I knew him by an affectionate fandom nickname: Space Dad.

Like how showrunner Dave Filoni lost his father while crafting the pivotal “Jedi Night” episode, I also experienced the loss of my father. Reflecting on the high and lows of Star Wars Rebels, none of the drama hit as much as the loss of Kanan Jarrus, who chooses to stay in the fire to save his found-family, his apprentice, and the love of his life, Hera. As it goes when you’re mourning a fictional character, I told myself “No, there are more possibilities for Kanan Jarrus.” Why kill him off?

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Animated Films That Should Have Have Been Nominated

Poor Spider-Man got snubbed. Where is the 2018 Academy Award for Best Picture nod for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse? Sometimes a Best Animated Feature Film nomination by the Academy Awards isn’t enough. Spider-Man: Into the Verse broke technological ground, unraveled many multidimensional themes, set a precedence for the quality of superhero films, successfully borrowed the old, injected adrenaline into every combat scene, exploded with kinetic eclecticism, and celebrated the universality of heroism. It’s the film that will linger in my mind long after most of the Best Picture nominees.

While the Academy Awards’ Best Animated Feature slot gave a platform for animated films to be recognized to the public, some argued it had a side-effect of trapping animated feature solely into one category when said pictures contain multitudes that should transcend a singular category. An animated film can receive acclaim for qualities of artistry, design, story, and character, yet has trouble fighting the “it’s just an animated film” mentality.

Before the Best Animated Feature category debuted in 2002, Beauty and the Beast waltzed its way to the Best Picture nomination in 1991. Pixar hits like Up and Toy Story 3 scaled their way up the ladder for Best Picture nods when the category was expanded. However, plenty of animated films were left boxed in Best Animated Feature. Into the Spider-Verse wouldn’t be the only animated feature booted out of deserved higher recognition.

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reasons to watch the dragon prince

You seldom see a review of The Dragon Prince that doesn’t refer to its spiritual predecessor Avatar: The Last Airbender. You might recognize the name of Aaron Ehasz, the head writer of Avatar, as one of the creators of The Dragon Prince. Even Jack De Sena, the voice of our boomerang-wielding Sokka, leads as Prince Callum.

Many of the hallmarks between these two shows overlap. These two children’s animated shows are worlds apart yet close in resemblance. Let’s dive into the shared motifs of The Dragon Prince and Avatar: The Last Airbender and why they’re proof that you should watch the Netflix fantasy series, whose second season arrived today.

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shawn snyder interview

Science and spirituality intermingle in one man’s off-kilter quest for absolution. In this dark comedy To Dust, a Hasidic cantor by the name of Shmuel (Géza Röhrig) pursues scientific answers to his spiritual question. In Shmuel’s Jewish spirituality, the soul finds peace when it decays into dust. If the body isn’t dust yet, then the soul is still around. In his heart and nightmares, Shmuel senses his wife’s soul will suffer for a long time if her body doesn’t decompose soon enough.

Thus, Shmuel ventures outside his community onto a journey of blasphemy to bring himself peace. Hilariously, he ends up dragging along a community college biology professor (Matthew Broderick) onto his quest. With its dose of orthodoxy, To Dust is an unorthodox film about how far one man goes to take his grieving process into his own hands. Director and writer Shawn Snyder discusses the Jewish influences and how Röhrig and Broderick came to be.

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How Do I Love a Problem Like ‘Rent’?

How Do I Love a Problem Like Rent

The televised Fox production of Rent Liveother than the production hiccups that led to it being majorly pre-recorded rather than actually “live,” resurrected both the problems and affection I had with the original stage musical. The lyrics still resonated with me even if I now scratch my head at the story, characters, and the handling of the historical context.

In 2007, I was a middle schooler in Texas exploring the concept of sexuality. As a middle schooler under a conservative father, I understood sexuality and love as the traditional binary, male and female, husband and wife, bride and groom, boyfriend and girlfriend. My knowledge of queerness was developing. My father told me that marriage had to be between man and woman and that men holding hands or a woman marrying a woman is unnatural. Then Rent showed me a love duet between two men.

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